We had the good fortune of connecting with Morgan Lester and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Morgan, do you have a budget? how do you think about personal finances?
In actuality, everyone has a budget. It’s simply a matter of having an active or passive role in your budget. After a decade of suffering I finally gained some financial literacy in my late twenties. In the wake of that period I came to understand financial competency as a movement for equality. Men are taught that seeking wealth and valuing money is ambitious, honorable and tied directly to masculinity. Women are taught that seeking wealth and valuing money is shallow; and, core feminine values are empathy, caregiving and relationships. For this exact reason I’m a huge fan of discussing money as often as possible. And, I’m a huge a fan of encouraging women to budget, invest, and negotiate.
Because I’m a business owner with flexible earning potential my budget strategy is flipped from the traditional approach. Rather than saying, “I earn X. My housing budget is this percentage of X, my grocery budget is this percentage…” I set a baseline earnings goal to meet my monthly expenditure needs, including attributing to savings and leisure then I proactively work toward that goal. As a safety net, I keep 3x this monthly baseline in an account separate from my savings in the event that I am unable to meet that goal. This approach has two components; the cut and dry mathematics, and a positive money philosophy.
In order to maximize your earning potential you must proactively choose an abundance mindset. So many people live in fear of spending their money despite having plenty of it. If your approach to money is fear of not having enough and fear of spending it then that will be true whether you make 20K per year or 120K per year. It sounds cheesy but I meditate on my positive money mindset. Pro tip: I also have an auto savings account that transfers money from my checking into an investment savings on my behalf.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career intention is to be more of an entertainment entity. Create and produce and perform and so on. Kerri Kenney-Silver, Thomas Lennon, and Robert Ben Garant are crushing that game with “Reno 911!”. If Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Olivia Wilde had a baby that followed in the footsteps of Tyler Perry, I’m going to be that baby.
As a creative, of course I want to spend all day pondering ideas; but, as the Waller-Bridge-Wilde-Perry baby I have to put in the work. I typically work 6 days a week and make it a point to learn the technical knowledge, contracts, programs like After Effects and Movie Magic. I take classes on script writing and work in positions like 1st Assistant Director.
I started by simply taking jobs on my friends’ smaller projects then pushed myself to fill in the gaps on my own work. That’s when I learned After Effects to create one film’s end crawl; and, graphic design to build marketing materials. The reality is, I know I won’t be great at these things when I start but I’ll either end up great or understanding the fundamentals to communicate as a producer.
My producing partners and I make an original short form series end-to-end; and, that is the ultimate practical application. We’re the writer’s room, the showrunners, the producers, the actors. I’ve made the website, the marketing materials and run the social media. It’s insanely rewarding. You can literally see our growth from Episode 1 to 18. It’s called “Tabitha TV” and we’re very proud.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I have a friend visiting from out of town we will start the day with a coffee from Victor at Kings Road Cafe – the best. If it’s a Sunday we’ll swing into the Farmer’s Market on Melrose Place. Throughout the week we’ll find time to eat at Oaxaca Madre on Fairfax, Sticky Rice in Echo Park, Robata Jinya on 3rd or Sushi Park on Sunset. If we’re lucky we can go to The Greek Theater for a show, Griffith or Bronson Canyon for a hike, Venice Beach for some people watching and Kibitz room for some late night live music.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
When you work in entertainment, so many people are integral to your forward progress and success. I’m so lucky to have hoards of peers cheering me on, some in the trenches with me on passion projects or new ideas. I’ll name a few and risk damnation for not honoring everyone. My dear friend, Aaron Greenberg, always makes himself available to offer his professional knowledge, feedback and assistance. My great friend, Peter Huyck, is the true champion of his friends and has gone to bat for me on many occasions. My manager and good friend, Ryan Glasgow is the ultimate ride-or-die partner in business and in life. My best pal, Ceilidh Jeans, who co-produced my first web series with me. My best pal, Jack Robinson, who co-produced my second web series with me and is always on tap to for advice. My business partners, fellow producers and indie creators, Danielle Argyros and Courtney Stewart who are not only the other two legs of our company tripod but incredible friends to boot. These two women are integral to my success and I would be lost without them.
There are so, so many people that have helped me to where I am today; but, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my partner, Shane Martin, who has taught me so many elements of business, finance, creativity and is my in-house sounding board. He is a true inspiration.