Jeanne C. Smith,
President and Lead Life Planner
I’ve really had an interesting life so far. I graduated from UAB with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1976. I trained in many areas of healthcare but was always restless, never content until I became an entrepreneur. I decided to scratch that itch and started a home care business from nothing. I named it Holistic Health Care, and within 5 short years, it was sold to a hospital. I was 33.
Despite getting a good deal, I felt empty and restless with no purpose or direction. I was raising children, so I had plenty to distract me from my inner voice. It said, “What are you going to do? Where will you go? How will you top this?” As time passed, the voice grew louder.
I’d been a successful business owner. I knew success required a plan. Shouldn’t a successful life require a plan, too? Yet, I didn’t stop and listen.
To silence the nagging voice, I jumped into a commitment of time and money with no thought of whether the values I treasured – creativity, independence, curiosity and helping people – would be utilized in this new endeavor. I went back to school to feed my curious spirit which lead to a Master’s degree in Nursing in 1993. The problem was another degree only put me right back into a system that frustrated me, stifled my creativity, and did not support independence.
Was I living my vision, or was this simply my future by default?
After graduating, I toiled at jobs feeling unfulfilled…until my mother called. She asked if I would like to take over her business. Even though I barely knew anything about what she did, she wanted to teach me. How do you say “no” to your mom?
I had finally found an environment that supported the values I treasured. I wonder what would have happened if I had a life plan when I was 33. How much faster would I have been living my vision?
Over the years, I’ve moved the practice forward to life planning. My broad scope of experience in healthcare and financial matters enable my clients to achieve a measure of success far greater than simply having money available for life events. I create personalized plans that allow my clients the confidence to achieve the future they want.
Practice Manager and Associate Life Planner
My top three core values (or the qualities that make me, me) are Self-Direction, Power, and Achievement. It’s something I’ve always known, but only recently has it become clearer to me. As I look back, I can see how these values moved me forward throughout my life.
I had a wonderful upbringing with supportive parents and amazing brothers. I was a quiet and reserved kid, and that introverted spirit hasn’t changed much. At a young age, I realized I had a talent and love for mathematics. With math, my talent allowed me to achieve high grades in class while it spoke to my logical mind with its black or white/right or wrong nature.
I discovered another passion at age 12. I became a trumpet player and a member of the school band. Music gave me a self-directed outlet for my creativity. I could decide how much I practiced and how much I cared. It became central to my self-perception and my social circle. In addition, music greatly influenced my decision to attend the University of Alabama and to join the Million Dollar Band. In the end, I graduated in 2004 with a double degree in Finance and Mathematics. (I bet you thought I left that behind!)
As a young twenty-something with many possibilities, I listened to society’s expectations and took a position at a large corporation. Does THIS sound familiar? The path of a “successful” person is to graduate from college, work at a large corporation, get married, move to the suburbs, have 2.5 kids, and retire at 65 to a life of golfing or gardening. Without checking in with myself or my values, I did what was expected of me.
Have others’ expectations ever caused you to make a decision that wasn’t right for you? Well, I have.
After spending more than 4 years adrift in my career, the 2008 recession caused a major career change. I was downsized in 2009 during a terrible job market. Feelings of inadequacy and disappointment bubbled to the surface. Hadn’t I done what was expected? Why didn’t it work?
After many months of job interviews, I joined Marca Life Planning later that year. I’d found a firm where I could honor my values. As with most small businesses, each team member wears many different hats. I could achieve goals even beyond my job description by volunteering for assignments. After I’d shown initiative, I could pursue projects that I felt passionate about and move toward a self-directed workload that includes my work as an associate life planner. In my current role as Practice Manager, I manage the day-to-day operational activities of the firm which honors the core value of power. By honoring my values, I was no longer adrift and found happiness in my career.
The newest chapter in the story of my career is professional coaching. Through the International Coach Academy, I am pursuing education to become a Certified Professional Coach (CPC). Coaching works in tandem with life planning to bring our clients from good to great. I am committed to helping others succeed at life while they strive to grow, get better, and reach their potential.
I’m tired of living the status quo and want to be honest about who I am.
The question is…are you ready to join me?
Growing up in a small, rural town in Alabama was very influential on who I am the values that are important to me – hard work, love of family, honesty, and humility. I spent my childhood outdoors, swimming, riding horses and ATVs and, more often than not, working. My parents instilled in me a strong work ethic and taught me the joy and rewards of a hard day’s work. I used it to thrive and enjoy school.
When I was 16, I realized a passion for music that had – according to my mother – lied dormant since I was a child. She recalls a time when I was very young when I watched a high-school drumline in the hometown Christmas parade, and I was transfixed. She jokes that I was destined to be a drummer. That destiny was fulfilled during my sophomore year in high school when my closest friend (to this day) suggested I join the drumline. It was a turning point in my life when drumming and music became a great passion to satisfy my creativity.
As I began my college career in the business school at the University of Alabama, I was performing well, but I didn’t have a clear direction. During my second year, the same friend asked if I wanted to play in a touring band. I seized the opportunity and travelled from Florida to Virginia for three years to play for a growing fan base. As is often the case, the group eventually disbanded, and I went back to school to finish my degree. As I continued my studies, I began to develop an interest in finance and how this field could help families improve their quality of life. I graduated with honors with a Corporate Finance major and Economics minor.
After college, I began my career in finance with a large corporation and moved to Birmingham to begin that journey. It didn’t take long for me to realize a large corporation wasn’t the right environment for me, so I searched for a new opportunity. In 2006, I joined Marca Life Planning and have been able to pursue my professional interests in a vibrant, growing firm.
Through my work, I continue the values of hard work, love of family, honesty, and humility. I respect those who have diligently worked to accumulate a nest egg for themselves. As an advisor, I use my conservative approach to craft plans to help our clients live comfortably today and in the future.
Client Services Specialist
There are three things you should know about me.
I am a lifelong learner. I love using my creativity to organize. I want to help others.
My journey is constantly evolving, and my work experiences are a vital part of that journey. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t working. My first job was at fifteen years old when my grandmother drove me to work after school. While getting my Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Auburn University, I worked at a local bookstore. During college football game days, I learned customer service in a pressured environment.
My next experience was at Southern Progress as I was pursuing my Master’s degree in Communication from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. My internship consisted of revamping the organization of product development. Since then, I have dabbled in everything from publishing at Cliff Road Books to fundraising for the Shelby County Education Foundation. I even wrote for a bathroom reader and planned events that raised thousands of dollars for local schools.
I am always looking for new things to learn and ways to improve. I am motivated to continue learning and striving to help those I encounter.
I was hired as the Client Services Specialist at Marca Life Planning in early 2015. In this position, I learn constantly and use my skills to help others. I work every day to maximize customer satisfaction and strategize creative solutions. I can’t wait to get to know you and be a part of your journey.