A former professional female basketball player, Genai Walker, was accustomed to measuring her performance by numbers. When she was ready to move her career beyond professional sports, she noticed the relatively small number of powerful women of color in finance and decided to make that her next challenge. Genai credits her passion for people, her competitive drive, and her love of numbers as the driving forces behind her success as a financial advisor.
Tell us about your transition from professional basketball to the world of finance:
After my professional basketball career, I wanted to utilize my degree from college. I noticed there was a lot of disparity among women, minorities, and athletes in how they view and save money. So, I figured the best way [to use my degree] was to get into an industry where hardly anyone looked like me and become a trailblazer.
What were the key challenges when getting into the world of finance?
I think the challenges are that the world of finance is ever changing, and you have to change/adapt with it or you will get left behind (technology and stock market). Also, there is an abundance of information to take in. It can be overwhelming and frustrating when you first start, however, if you are willing to ask for help and/or leave your comfort zone, then you can be successful. In my industry, there are all types of financial advisors, and sometimes you like to compare yourself to others. Life isn’t fair, so I have learned that the cards I’m dealt are just that, my cards. I can either wait for pity or handouts, or I can show the world why my cards are worth seeing.
How are you able to apply your personal strengths to your professional life?
I am very courageous and passionate, so I am able to apply those things daily in my practice. I am asked regularly to do speaking engagements or financial seminars in front of complete strangers or to meet potential clients for the first time face to face. During those times, I have to figure out quickly how to break the ice or keep conservations interesting.
What motivates you?
My motivation comes from being competitive all my life. I don’t get too excited about recognition, awards, or monetary values. I truly always want to win at life, and all the bells and whistles are just a bonus.
How did you discover your passion for humanity?
I first discovered that I was passionate about people when I worked as a telemarketer in college, where I was truly intrigued by how complete strangers responded to my pitch. In addition, I first discovered my love of numbers and finance while I was a bank teller. At that time, I wanted to learn everything I could about how money affects people.
What is a lesson that you have learned along the way?
I have found that only you are in control of your happiness. People will offer their opinions on your life, and what they are doing or what is best for them, but at the end of the day, I have learned that life is short, so I need to make my own choices and stick to them.
What do you not let get in your way?
I never let a bad day get in my way. Similar to basketball, I might have played horribly one game and lost, but there is always a next game (day) for me to prepare for and be better.
How do you create a sense of purpose in your life with your work, family, career, etc.?
I am creating a purpose in my life by trying to impact everyone that I come into contact with positively. I never meet a stranger, so when I am around people, they will know I am there and very relatable. So, with great purpose comes responsibility, so being a good role model is very vital to my purpose.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
I would tell myself to open an IRA and put money in it, and write down all of your goals and don’t stop until they come true.
What are 3 things you want other women to know?
1) Be strong, confident, and know your worth.
2) Learn another language.
3) Never be afraid to be the only woman in a room.
What's one thing you’d change in the world if you could?
If I could change anything in this world, I would find cures for the current incurable diseases that plague our world and cost hardworking people millions of dollars in medicine and hospital costs.