Nilda Follini’s Legacy: "This Isn’t Money - This is Love" February 2006
When international speaker and business and personal coach Patricia Varley looks back on turning points in her career, her grandmother stands out as her mentor on the spirituality of money.
Affectionately called Gram, Nilda Follini came of age during the Great Depression. Patricia tells the story of Nilda’s early job as a secretary whose male boss advised: “Nilda, always have your own money. Put the house in your name!” It had such a strong impact on her she passed it down to generations of women in her family.
Born from Italian immigrants, Nilda and her husband George operated a successful construction and contracting firm that built the roads, bridges and infrastructure of post-war New York City. Initially, Nilda would type the proposals while George managed the construction and his brother Charlie the business deals. As a businesswoman, and strong supporter of her husband George, one of Nilda’s favorite sayings was, “Money isn’t the root of evil; the love of money is the root of evil!”
Even as their business prospered beyond their wildest dreams, Patricia remembers Nilda as the family “matriarch with a heart” who eschewed an opulent lifestyle. Instead she invested in a beach home in Connecticut and an ocean front condo in Florida where the extended family is urged to gather, as well as family trips and cruises that bonded the generations together. Ever generous to family, friends and community, Nilda often writes “This isn’t money – this is love” on sticky notes and attaches them to her gift checks.
Patricia’s grandparents also spent money educating their three daughters, seven grandchildren and now 20 great-grandchildren, a testimony to Nilda’s adage: “Money is like manure, keep it on one spot and it will smell. Spread it around and it will fertilize and make things grow.” Perhaps most critical, Nilda mentored her daughters and granddaughters in money management, teaching them to take care of themselves financially. Today most of Nilda’s female offspring own their own businesses and have saved and invested for their futures.
Patricia sought Nilda’s advice after founding her speaking and executive coaching business, asking Nilda to review a proposal Patricia had made to conduct workshops for a major financial services company. Patricia remembers Nilda standing up after she saw Patricia’s $2,000 per month fee and saying with conviction: “Now, listen to your Grandmother. You have to know your worth as a woman and a professional. Charge $4,000!”
Despite her regard for Nilda’s wisdom, Patricia kept her proposal at $2,000 (not feeling at the time she was worth $4,000). Patricia got the contract and learned from the client that she had left a lot of money on the table. According to Patricia, “Gram knew I learned my lesson. She never once said ‘I told you so,’ and I never undercharged for my services again.”
Proof that the lesson stuck? Today Patricia counsels business executives and professionals to reinvent success from the inside out by reclaiming their wholeness, by knowing “what they are worth.” Based in Naples, Florida, she works nationally and conducts workshops and makes keynote presentations for associations and corporations. For more information, visit www.patriciavarley.com.
Women’s Perspective’s director Rosemary Williams was struck by Patricia’s powerful stories about Nilda. “Many of the women who attend our workshops undercharge for their services. I just got an email from a reader who doesn’t know how much she is worth!” notes Rosemary.
The mission of Women’s Perspective is to help women claim their worth and inspire them to align their spiritual and economic power for the compassionate use of money in the world. Sounds like something Nilda could appreciate, doesn’t it?