Malcolm “MJ” Harris is the CEO of National Care Financial Group, one of America’s largest minority-owned financial services firms which services clients nationally from offices in DC, LA and NYC. He is also a motivational teacher who has been featured by Oprah, Huffington Post and Black Enterprise. Check out our intimate interview with him below.
How are you?
I’m good. It’s great to talk to you.
Do you have a morning ritual, or a certain way of starting your day?
I start my day by deciding my intention for the day. Normally, my intention is less about a specific outcome. Instead of [saying], “I’m going to do this much business,” it’s more something like, “I will have overflowing opportunity and abundance.” It’s not only a matter of saying it so I can attract it; it’s a matter of saying it so I can open my mind to all the opportunities that are already around me to make my intention a reality. I do that, have some coffee and then listen to an inspirational video or podcast.
What is success to you?
Living the life that you desire.
Everyone has different reasons that motivate them, what motivates you?
What motivates me is having the awareness that I am the only person with the power to change my life; and that I’m the only person with the power to make my life into what I desire. Therefore, since I’m the only person with that power, I recognize that if I don’t get up every day and do the things that I know are going to build toward the outcome I desire, it’s not going to happen. What motives me is that I’m in control of my life and I have to make it into what I want.
Who inspires you?
My mother inspires me. She and my father ended their relationship at a very difficult time in her life. We had very little money. As a single woman with two children, she got a master’s degree, remarried and then got another master’s degree. So, she inspires me because my mother taught me about work ethic. She taught me that it doesn’t matter what your challenges are or how limited your resources are, you can change your life.
What are her thoughts on your life?
It’s so funny, we were walking down the street after dinner maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago, and this group of women and one guy came up and went berserk: “It’s MJ! Oh my gosh! My daughter watches you in Tampa! My cousin watches you in LA!” They were going bananas. Those moments happen, but I’m normally not with my mother. It was very surreal to be in that space and see my mother’s reaction. She was smiling from ear to ear—beaming! One of the women said, “I know you’re so proud of him.” My mother looked and said, “I’m so proud of him!” I think that moment perfectly encapsulates how my mother feels about everything that has happened in my life. I think she is just overjoyed with the true pride any mother would have for seeing her son really being his best self.
What is something that makes you feel vulnerable? How do you deal with it? Is there a specific moment you remember when you felt vulnerable?
I live in a space of vulnerability, which means that I’ve made a very conscious choice that I’m always going to bring my full self to the table. But I’ll tell you, when I think about a specific moment when I feel vulnerable, it is when I’m about to go on stage. Because when I go on stage, or on camera, anything like that, I’m always sharing some part of myself. Sometimes it’s something someone has heard a thousand times or sometimes it’s something new. For me, it’s a very vulnerable experience to do that. But I choose to do it and embrace it; and I recognize that kind of vulnerability is a good thing. It’s a good thing when you get that feeling in your gut that you’re about to really let it all hang out—go with it! Because the more vulnerable you are, the more connected you can feel with people, and the more people can embrace whatever it is you’re doing. Whether it’s [selling] a product or service, or whatever it is you’re putting out there, they’ll embrace it that much more.
“We have to be willing to daydream. I think about not only what I want, but what it will be like to achieve what I want, and what feeling I will have when that moment happens.”
You talked before about the power of attraction. Do you have any tools or steps you follow to attract certain things into your life?
I think the number one thing is that I am crystal clear with myself about what I want. I will also give myself the mental space to almost daydream in way. I think as adults we have to be willing to daydream. I think about not only what I want, but what it will be like to achieve what I want, and what feeling I will have when that moment happens. I put myself in a position to mentally live within the thing that I want, while I’m working towards it.
Do you have anything you will not allow in your life?
I will not allow any person or situation that does not value me for all of who I am.
My story is going to be as limitless as I decide.
In watching your videos, you suggest changing the way you tell your story to overcome self-doubt. What was a specific instance in your life when you had to do this?
There hasn’t been a specific instance. It’s been a daily thing. I grew up as a black gay man in America. That’s my reality. I think it’s hard to grow up as any form of a minority in America and not have negative stereotypes projected on to you. So for me, what I had to do on a daily basis—even in my industry (finance) where African Americans are something like less than 20 percent of the industry, and if we talk about CEO’s, we’re almost non-existent in the ranks of CEOs—is to decide that my story will be a reflection of what I decide to be. My story is not going to be a reflection of what the status quo is or what society says I should be. My story is going to be as limitless as I decide.
You mentioned growing up a gay black man in America. Do you have any thoughts on the social climate and current racial tension in our country? Do you have any advice for someone who might have come from a similar background?
Two things: The first thing would be: do not allow any part of your identity to limit how you view yourself. I’m a black man, so I can’t deny those experiences, some of which I’ve experienced myself. However, I cannot allow the challenges in society to in any way limit my view on myself. I am limitless. It doesn’t matter what one ignorant person may say. Their view of me is their problem – not mine. Don’t internalize the way other people view you. The second thing is your money is your greatest tool. It is your power. So, use your money to influence change. It’s one thing to talk and complain about change, it’s one thing to fuss on social media about what happened and what should have happened. It’ a whole [different] thing when you say, “I am only going to direct my financial resources to the politicians who reflect my best interests. I’m only going to direct my money to businesses that support my community; and invest money within my community; and support the special interests that align with my best interests.” Use your money as your power.
“I don’t believe happiness and wholeness are based on achieving a certain outcome or goal. Wholeness is based in the awareness that you are limitless.”
For you, what is the key to wholeness?
They key to wholeness is recognizing that I can do and be anything that I desire. I don’t believe happiness and wholeness are based on achieving a certain outcome or goal. Wholeness is based in the awareness that you are limitless. You could be in your worst circumstance possible right now. But, in recognizing you are limitless, it completely changes your mindset on where you are right now, because you recognize “this is nothing but temporary. I am getting out of this.”
What has empowered you to follow your dreams?
I’m aware that I deserve everything that I desire. If I don’t go after it, it won’t happen. [I] consciously place myself around people who are following their dreams too. It’s an amazing thing that happens when you put yourself around people who are either living in their dreams or are actively working towards [them]. It inspires you to do the same for yourself.
You seem pretty interested in happiness and finance. How do you feel they are related?
I think happiness and finance are extremely interrelated. Money gives you options. I believe options open us to more opportunities to create happiness. While money can’t buy you happiness, it can buy you opportunity to do many things that can bring you comfort, happiness, and joy. I think it’s impossible to talk about financial empowerment without also talking about emotional empowerment. Money is an underlying theme in all of our lives.
What would be some steps you’d suggest to someone trying to become more financially stable?
Reduce your expenses as much as possible, and increase your income as much as possible. [Lowering] your expenses creates more money for you to be able to save, pay off debts, and invest in your future. The reality is that this is something anybody can do. Whatever it is you are currently doing, you need to make sure you’re getting paid the maximum amount of money possible for it. If you’re going to take the time do it, you need to get paid the most possible for it. If that means going to class to gain more skills, you need to put that time and energy into it. It will pay off. I also believe you should create multiple streams of income. If you can keep your expenses low while maximizing your income, that’s going to allow you to start building wealth and have more options for how you want to live your life.
How would you advise someone who might feel it’s too late or he/she is too far in debt, whatever financial situation they’re in?
I would tell them to change the story they’re telling themselves. If you have breath in your body, you can change your life. Take ownership and responsibility of that. You have to be clear on that. But, if you feel like you’re too far-gone, then definitely engage a professional. There are many people out here that have experience and training that can help you. That’s what we do at the National Care Financial Group. We help people change their financial future. What a professional can help you do sometimes in a matter of weeks is something that might take you years to accomplish on your own.
Is there anything you try to do while on vacation?
When I’m vacation I love to try new things. The last time I was on vacation I explored a rain forest. I like to look for local art. I have a lot of artwork. I love going to shows. I love eating local foods. I love all the new experiences that can come with a new location.
Do you have any favorite places you love to go to or any dream destinations?
I’m looking forward to going to the Maldives. But I love to go Hawaii. I love it. It’s stunningly beautiful. The weather is nice and it’s super laid back. It’s very calm and quiet.
Is there anything you haven’t yet achieved that you’d like to?
I think the best is yet to come! The list is infinite. My personal goal for this stage of my life is to help create one million new millionaires around the world.
Are you devising a plan to achieve that?
Absolutely. I have one of the fastest growing African American owned financial services firms in America, National Care Financial Group. That’s a huge start. I also have motivational and wealth building videos that receive millions of views every month around the world, and a new book on the way. I’m intentional about being a vessel for changing people’s lives.