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Neale Godfrey Headshot

Dream It, Design It, Do It

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For as long as there has been someone with an idea, there has been someone else to list the reasons that idea won't work. Life is full of obstacles and naysayers. Even laws and mores can conspire to keep us from chasing our dreams. Don't let them win.

After proving myself as a young professional, I was fortunate to be given a chance to go though the global credit program at Chase Bank. The bank was founded in 1799 and now, in the mid 1970's, I was going to become one of the company's first female executives. Did I have to work longer hours than my male counterparts? Yes. Did I have to be more prepared? Yes. Did I want to prove I was an equal? Was I thrilled to do this? Yes.

Times were changing -- slowly -- and I soon became president of The First Women's Bank. Why did we need The First Women's Bank? Because, before the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, you could still be denied credit just because you were a woman.

Long days, long nights and long weekends of work often had me overwhelmed by the feeling of being torn. I was constantly pulled, mentally and physically, between the people who meant so much to me -- husband, friends and eventually kids -- and career.

Maybe you can't have it all, but you sure can have a lot.

I'm proud of the cracks I made in the glass ceiling -- at Chase Bank, as President of The First Women's Bank, as the creator of The First Children's Bank at FAO Schwarz in NYC -- and my two wonderful children.

"Work-life balance" sounds tidy and efficient, but humans, especially moms, can't compartmentalize so idyllically. I never felt like I was "in the moment" -- my mind was always in the place I wasn't -- and I always felt guilty. I was the only working mom in our community, but even stay-at-home moms can't be everywhere.

Figuring out how to prioritize and organize helped me to break through my own ceiling of guilt. I learned to become CEO of my own life. To be true to myself as to what my passion is, and to be transparent with my kids. I couldn't be at every lacrosse game or recital, but I could be at the most important ones. I couldn't stay at work so late that I would miss spending some time with my kids.

During my career in banking, I became increasingly aware of how unequipped most of us were to deal with our personal finances. The reason was clear to me: no one taught us -- not our parents, and not our school teachers. The subject of money was taboo. I wanted my kids to be prepared and to grow up to be money savvy, so I would teach them.

I explained my plan to my kids and we set out to look for books but couldn't find any. Then, they challenged me, "If you can't find a book to teach kids about money, why don't you just write one?" I was taken by surprise and didn't come up with an answer quickly enough before I heard, "Are you scared?"

The truth is that I was scared but I wanted my kids to learn to be empowered and there is no better way than by example. That was twenty-six books ago.

You can't beat yourself up for not being Superwoman -- she's overrated. If you have bought into the myth of "doing it all," you are going to feel torn in a hundred directions and guilty about not being present for any of the things you are doing. But, if there is a problem that can be fixed -- fix it!

The more things change...

Now I have a new title -- "Grandma" -- and I love it.

I grew up with books. My kids grew up with TV. My grandkids are growing up in the age of tablet computers and cell phones that are more powerful than the computers that NASA used to get men to the moon. So, I decided it was important to create an educational game app that would be a fun, high-tech way to connect with today's kids to teach them about money.

I've lived my life by dreaming, designing and doing! I just had to learn the language my grandchildren were speaking and listening to -- the language of gaming. Of course I was "scared." Just like when I started writing books, I threw myself out there. My mother always said, "What's the worst that can happen? They say 'no.'" My favorite character is Shrek, so I called Tom Hester, who created him. He's now my partner. Two of the most popular games? Guitar Hero and Call of Duty, I made the call, and now they are my partners.

The goal of the game is for kids to rescue endangered animals, but players first build a budget to buy food, shelter and toys to make the animals happy before they can be released back to their natural habitats. Kids learn how to earn money by playing fun games, save money to reach their goal of rescuing the animals, spend their money wisely on cool items in Bull & Bear's Marketplace, and donate a portion of their earnings to charity.

The free ios (iPad/iPhone) app, Green$treets: Unleash the Loot!, released last month and I am very proud to say it quickly reached a #1 ranking in the Educational Games Category on iTunes!

Have you encountered "naysayers"? How have they shaped your life? Please share your stories in the space below.

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