Mihaela Jekic, Ph.D. learned at an early age how fleeting money and possessions can be, and what really matters in life. Her family lost all their possessions – house, car, clothes, everything material – in the war in Bosnia that raged in the early 1990’s. Overnight, they found themselves as refugees with no home or country. Mihaela witnessed an economic collapse where banks went under and national currency became nearly worthless due to breakneck inflation. Without a penny to their name, but filled with optimism and hope, her family eventually started a new life in North America when Mihaela was 13 years old. Mihaela quickly learned English as a new language, excelled in her studies and went on to earn a Master’s and Ph.D. in engineering on a full stipend. During this time, Mihaela became the gold medal-winning captain of her varsity fencing team, earning the Athlete of the Year award for her entire university of over 25,000 people and a bronze medal at the Canadian national championships. She also got involved in her university’s entrepreneurship program and started her own technology company. She went on to raise over $100,000 in start-up capital locally and in California. Like many startups, this one did not work out, but it gave her vital insights and experiences. After graduation, Mihaela took a position to create programs that help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and access start-up capital. Mihaela eventually left her job to start her own consulting practice – on her terms – while enjoying spending time with her two young children. Mihaela is deeply thankful for the opportunities she has had in her life, afforded by the lessons learned as a child, and the pursuit of passion over possessions. She is passionate about giving back and helping others live a life with no limits – one that truly resonates with who they are.
Mark Lancia has been able to travel the world and pay cash for a good house by the age of 30. What enabled him to do this is not an inheritance, high paying job, or luck in the stock market. It was simply seeing possessions and money for what they are: tools that can either trap us or set us free!
Mark wrote Money for Meaning because he has seen many good people suffer financially, living check to check and in debt as indentured servants to banks – with limited choices. Mark knew from experience that it didn’t have to be this way, and that it has little to do with income or our starting point in life. Mark grew up in a lower middle-class neighborhood; his dad was a postal worker and mom an Avon lady. He went to a bad public high school, with several individuals who later became convicted murderers. Despite the downward pull of this culture, Mark rejected this path and graduated from college with an industrial engineering degree. During this time, Mark was also a professional musician, playing hundreds of shows, recording four albums, and performing in front of tens of thousands of people.
During his first job out of college, Mark started out being overworked and underpaid like most of America. He decided to make some real changes in his approach to money, which has resulted in an incredible freedom. Following his interests and passions, Mark became a leader in lean principles and cost savings, focusing on eliminating waste not only in industry, but also in the lives of many individuals. Through many trials, Mark figured out an approach that was truly effective in helping people live joyful, fulfilled lives, unconstrained by debt and finances – an approach that has far more to do with personal beliefs than income.