Coming Back From Rock Bottom with Mills Bender
Have you had a rock bottom moment in your life? In this episode of Best Year Ever, Rob Cressy is joined by Mills Bender, CEO of Mills Knows Bills, as they talk about how she overcame having only $1.50 in her bank account, how to come back from adversity, and set yourself up for success.
Here’s the podcast version:
Connect with us:
- Rob Cressy – Instagram: @rob_cressy – LinkedIn: /cressy/ – Twitter: @RobCressy
- Mills Bender – Linkedin: /ameliabender/ – Website: https://millsknowsbills.com/
Transcription of the podcast:
(note: what follows is an AI-generated transcript from this video. Please be mindful that the transcript may not be 100% accurate)
First question, tell me one thing you do to create your best year ever. Well, , as you know me, Rob, I am a hundred percent type A, so I actually plan out my schedule with intentionality, so I block off time to hang out with my family. I block off time for myself. I block off time for my faiths and, and I make sure to fill up my calendar with the items that are most important to me first, and then I fill in the gaps with the items that are not as high on the priority.
I absolutely love that. And you are speaking the d n a of everything that I live and coach a k a, live by design, not by default. And I was actually reading a book, uh, this weekend that talked about the people who put the pebbles in their glass first and had no room for the rocks, as opposed to putting your rocks in first.
Then you have room for the pebbles, then you have room for the water to where all of a sudden you reverse engineer how and what you priorit. And you can actually fit more into your life by putting things that are most impactful in your life as opposed to the way that the world often operates on small things that don’t matter, which oh, by the way, the world is designed to try and capture your attention from Absolutely.
And that’s exactly the analogy that I heard a few years ago, which is why I started blocking off my schedule the way that I do. And welcome to Best Year Ever, a podcast designed to inspire growth and impact so you can create your best year ever. And I’m your host, Rob Cressy, and I am Oh, so excited because joining me today is Mills Bender, founder and c e o of Mills knows Mills.
Mills. Great to have you on the show. I’m thrilled to be here and chatting with. So Mills, over the last month, our relationship has gotten hot and heavy as it relates to, uh, new relationships in my world since the start of the year in the best way possible. And of course, you and I are both parents married, living in other parts of the world, so of course we’re not talking about anything other than new relationships into our world,
And it started because you and I are both part of ap. And we jumped on a call together and boom, just like that. We hit it off and we started to look for ways to help each other and work with each other. And in that conversation, you said something that was the origin for this podcast and you said, Rob, I had a wake up moment in my life, and the second you said that, I was like, boom, this is what we’re gonna start the podcast with.
So mill. Can you let us a little bit, can you let us know a little bit about the wake up moment you had in your life? Yes. So in fall of 2014, I woke up to check my bank account balance cause I wanted to grab dinner with friends that evening. And I looked at the balance and I had a dollar 50 cents in my bank account.
No savings, no credit card, no backup plan. It was what it was one 50. . And that was my moment of saying, well, you gotta figure something out and you gotta figure it out now. Okay. So I want you to take us deeper into that moment because uh, it’s one that is real, but I can’t imagine that was the first time you’d looked in your bank account to realize things are starting to go down.
So sort of take us into, uh, the realization process because many of us have moments in our life in. Things aren’t going well, but then we can just very easily just put them away and not think about them, or, uh, oftentimes it has to become the catalyst for change to where all of a sudden the thing that is the lowest moment ends up being a blessing in your life because, What I love being able to do is share stories from others who have been there, because success so often is seen as like, oh, look at where they are.
Things have always been good or always been easy for them without realizing the transformation that has happened over the course of the years or the decades to get you to become that person. Absolutely. So little bit of of history and and timeline within that year, fall 2014, when. I was maybe six weeks into my freshman year at university when I had that dollar 50 cents moment.
So leading up. to that dollar 50 cents moment I had all of summer before I started my college career, where I realized, oh, well this, this money thing is gonna have to be a responsibility for me when I go to college at one point. Uh, that’s the problem for future mills to figure out. And so all of summer, I just kind of kept brushing it under the rug.
I started my first semester and I had checked in on things here and there. I wasn’t making a ton of money. I. A couple scholarships and stipends, and I was in a situation where my parents had blessed me with having my college paid for. They set up Florida prepaid for me, which was great. However, all of the other expenses needed to then be figured out on my own.
So things like dining out, hanging out with friends, entertainment, all of that was on me. And so the beginning of that semester, I got that money. And at first I was doing okay with budgeting it, but it, it really didn’t last long clearly, cuz six weeks later I found myself with a dollar for these cents in my bank account.
And I couldn’t keep making future mills figured out because there was no buffer, there was no margin for error anymore. And so at that moment I had my, I call it my come Jesus moment. . I needed to face the music and I needed to realize that no one was gonna come to my rescue. I needed to come to my rescue.
I needed to put my big girl pants on. I needed to study finance, not because I wanted to make a career out of it, but because I clearly was uneducated in this space, and if I didn’t learn how to manage my money and start asap. , it was just going to get worse. And so that’s what I did. I, I decided to study finance in college.
I changed my major to it and again, I didn’t think I was smart enough. I didn’t really think I was gonna love it. It was really a means to an end, cuz I realized regardless of what career path I pursue after graduation, I was going to need to manage money. And if I can start learning how to manage it right now, when there’s nothing else to.
Then I would be setting myself up, setting myself up for future success through my learning. I just so happened to fall in love with it. I absolutely love that. And I wanna break down formulaically, what you said, and we’re gonna apply this to a holistic nature for everybody listening or watching right now.
So that wherever you are, you can see the things you can create in your life based on Mills Bender’ story. So number one, you said I was uneducated. So a lot of times people will use the excuse of, I don’t know, dot, dot, dot, to stop them from creating whatever it is that they want in their life and for. You went a step further than most people would do and you turned it into your major.
But imagine present day life or whatever it is that you’re challenged by. Uh, to take a phrase from the obstacle is the way you turn what is currently limiting you, and you get extremely educated on the thing. That way you can turn it into a strength. And for me, when I look at my entrepreneurial journey, , uh, I saw, uh, adversity and obstacles in the number of people and business owners who quit and gave up on their dreams as the thing for me to specialize in, because I was like, all right, I’m starting this journey that has an extreme failure rate.
It’s extremely hard. You’re on your own and you’re gonna oftentimes have neverending challenges that you don’t even. Therefore, I’m gonna educate myself on being the person who specializes in overcoming adversity. Absolutely. And I think, I think we as humans put this pressure on ourselves to be perfect and we don’t give ourselves permission to suck at something new.
You enjoy the things you enjoy because you’re good at them, but how do you start enjoying other things if you don’t give yourself the opportunity? Learn new things, which is why I think I’ve, I have fallen in love with finance and money management because I didn’t put the pressure on myself to be perfect with it right away.
I learned the skillset out of true curiosity, and then happened to become good at it, and as I became good at it, I fell in love with it. All right, so this will bleed us into number two then. And this is all around self luning beliefs and self-talk. So when you’re sitting there at the dollar 50, the thing that is not serving you is the story that you’re telling yourself of the things that you can’t do.
The fears, the judgments, the self looming beliefs. And this is when, and I obviously know this from experience, when you feel the empt. When the anxiety and weight of the world that you can physically feel on yourself and in your body feels like the most, and it’s the thing that stops the majority of people from ever taking forward action.
And this podcast is created in the name of growth. So that’s for people who say, I want growth in my life. And that includes creating with challenges and pain in the lowest moments of your. And I’m curious from your perspective, mills, uh, the power of building up that story in yourself, knowing where you’d come from.
Hmm. Well, I think it’s important to mention that I didn’t get to that point of confidence by myself. I think I, I sat with. that pit in my stomach and that overwhelm for just a little bit of time. And a few weeks after I had that experience, I actually ended up meeting my now husband, Joe, and he was one of the people in my life who encouraged me to change my major.
I had been thinking about it, but again, I didn’t think I was smart enough at the time. After some conversations back and forth, he said, you know, what’s the worst that can happen? You’re doing the major for yourself anyway. It’s not like you’re gonna have a career in it. There’s nothing to lose. And so surrounding myself with people who were encouraging while also realizing that the only thing getting in my way was myself and, and just removing myself as that barrier.
I went full throttle for it. So I didn’t just try to learn finance. I tried to learn the most difficult aspects of it. I, if I was not afraid of a class or of an internship, I was not putting enough. I was still getting in my own way, I would say. And so really coming o coming, overcoming that self-limiting belief stemmed from.
Having people support me as well as realizing that if other people can do it, I can do it too. I just need to stop getting in my own way, as others have gotten out of their own way and I make, I need to make sure that we highlight something that you said that is so important. It is both a rare trait yet mills in the circles that we run in an extremely common invaluable trait, and it is those who take adversity and turn them from a challenge into an opportunity where by design we are doing harder things.
Things that we have never done before. Mm-hmm. . And the reason this is so important, Is because it can feel so many leaps away when you’re sitting there at zero or an oftentimes negative zero, where you’re just like, nothing is going good for me. Yeah. To all of a sudden become the person who says, I gotta throw it all on me.
I’m taking on all challenges. I’m turning myself into a superhero. and not, not allowing yourself to think that the person in the future future can do that, but not me right now in the present. And I’m curious how you flipped that switch, because I’ve flipped that switch to where it’s a superpower for me now.
And was it easy? But I, I feel the currents of being all in mm-hmm. in what you’re talking about. And for me, that was the same thing where, uh, when you’re all in, that’s where you can create this lens where challenges are opportunities, but when you’re half and half or you’re not even present or doing the things, oh, I could, I could never do that.
And I’m curious, uh, what that looked like for you. So you wanna know what the. Like that moment was the, the, the light bulb switch because not everybody can, even right now, not everyone can understand how you can go from dollar 50 cents to, I’m gonna take on harder challenges in the name of being better.
I mean, out of desperation comes innovation as you and I both know. And so when your back is against the wall and you have no other options, the. , only thing you can do is go up. If you’re already at your lowest point, the only way you can go is up. And I think I, I don’t remember the exact moment, but I remember really feeling an internal shift where I was in a situation and I felt like everything in my life was fixed.
and then I realized it’s not, it’s fluid, it’s variable. There’s going to be highs, there’s going to be lows, but whatever low I’m in right now does not mean it’s permanent and I get to do something to help get myself out of the low. And I think maybe that stems from some not getting too personal, personal trauma that I had growing up.
and I realized that that person who I was when I was younger is not who I am now. And that scenario does not define who I am, but it helped shape me into a better version of myself. And I’m the type of person who believes that when something does not go as I planned, It’s making space for something better instead.
And it might not feel like it in the moment, but it’s making me go in a different direction. It’s, it’s this closing a door in one in my face, so that way I can go into the better door down the road. And so that’s just something I’ve, I’ve embodied over the years of. Just self-reflection therapy. And I’ve, you know, talking with people surrounding myself with a lot of other great individuals, and it’s not, it’s not a skillset that came naturally to me, but I, I think it’s something that every day I try to improve upon.
So it, there isn’t really a set moment for me. I think actually, actually how personal do you want me to get on this, Rob? Let’s do it. Okay. Um. . All right. I’ll try not to cry. So I actually do remember the moment now that I’m talking about it. I was maybe a couple weeks after that dollar 50 cents moment, and I never, I never really associated the two together, but maybe they are very much aligned.
Um, I was in a relationship with a guy, this was before Joe, who wanted to push my boundaries physically, that I was not comfortable. And as he tried pushing those boundaries, a suppressed memory had resurfaced of something that happened when I was really young.
I remember, um, sorry.
I have faith. I’m a Christian and I remember I was on campus driving and my, my little truck that I had and the weight of this memory, Was sitting on me so much, and I was just driving in circles at this point because I, I was so broken. I couldn’t go home yet. I was crying in my car and I was talking to God, and I remember I got so angry.
That I started screaming at God saying things like, how could you let this happen? Why did you make this happen to me? I was so little. I don’t, I didn’t deserve that. I don’t deserve it. And
I screamed so loud at one point that the silence and the quiet response back was deafening. and I heard God say to me, are you done? This isn’t about you right now, and I know you’re hurting, but there is something bigger at play for you and you don’t need to carry the weight of this pain.
You don’t need to carry along. And I’m using this to make space for something better.
that’s when I started my therapy journey and as I was talking with my therapist, um, and starting to heal myself, I got, I got to understand how I could communicate around that trauma. And maybe a month or two later, a really good friend of mine had something happen to her and she called. and because I knew what it felt like, I was able to help her and I was able to talk her off at the lunch.
And, um, that personal experience, although very difficult, really changed my perspective when it came to overcoming really difficult things in my life, whether they were emotional, mental, physical, finance. . And so the mindset I had after that was it, it doesn’t matter what happens to me because it’s not about me, and whatever it is that does occur with me in it is so that way I can better myself, make space for something better, but also use my story to help other people.
So yeah. Thank you so very much for sharing that, um, with all of us. I know there’s just so much power in there and I love you for sharing that and being willing to, because. You just gave a piece of gold that is the highest level of leadership and it is selfless leadership. And I’ve had experiences in my own way in life, uh, similar to that.
And my mindset always is to take a challenger or, uh, Alabama head coach. Nick Saban has a quote that says, never waste a. And the lesson in all of that is when something challenging happens, whether you, you lose a game or something, extremely traumatic happens in your life to never waste it. And it’s very easy for a lot of people to go down the rabbit hole and just allow it to affect them today, this week, this month, this year, the rest of their life.
Or we can embody courage and. And transform weakness and pain and everything that would limit every person in the world. Anyone looking at this would say, of course you have the right to, um, sit there and be down and, and the, the level of this becomes, I’m not going to waste this because there is someone further on down the road that I don’t even know that.
Mm-hmm. is going to need to hear my story and even think about this story. Right. This. That there are multiple levels of this story for you and the way that you’re able to help people, and we never know who is listening or watching or when something is gonna come into our orbit, but someone needed to hear this today because you can turn anything going on in your life.
Into not only an opportunity, but God forbid you become selfless and you say, this story of mine is going to help somebody else who is in that exact same position. And I know what it is like to feel that. And quite frankly, that is why I am a coach, because I have lived this life for more than a decade. I was at zero.
I know what it’s like to be broke, to be all in on your dreams and want things more than anything in the world. I know what it’s like to not be this person. I know what it’s like to cry on the floor. I know what it’s like to live with anxiety for years at a time. I know what it’s like to live off my credit card for a year and a half being more than broke.
Like all of these things and our story is here to help others, to show them what’s possible. In mills bender, there’s one word that you said that I don’t believe has been said on my podcast before that I love because there’s a good chance it’s gonna become a mantra or a creation for me. This is how you’re inspiring me, and it’s the word embodied.
You said, you em embodied, and then.dot the best version of yourself. And if we’re looking for the keys to creating your best year ever or anything that you want. Your ability to embody whatever it is that you want and who you want to become. Cuz Mil Mills you talked about, I had this feeling and a lot of these things are invisible and they’re accessible to us, both good and bad whenever we want.
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, uh, as we wrap a bow on this, Uh, the next thing that formulaically I heard from you is setting yourself up for success. Mm-hmm. . So we talked about getting educated, we talked about our self-limiting beliefs and our self-talk. Mm-hmm. and turning the difficulties in our lives.
Not only the opportunities, but into using that story to help other people. And we do all of this to set ourselves up for success because we know that the seeds that we plant today, yeah, it’s amazing to, to wake up with good vibes and gratitude and love for each other and all of these things, and that resonates a way of being for yourself.
But this starts to become the lifestyle by design. And Mills Bender. At the very beginning, you talked about intention. This is the power of intention where you’re intentional about your thoughts and your actions and your habits and your routines and the things that you’re doing and your self-talk. Yeah, you’re gonna win today, but, oh baby.
Do you set yourself up for success in the future? ? Yes, . I mean, I think it’s, I think it’s important to also realize that it’s, the work that you put in today is not always going to give you immediate. And I am for anyone who knows me, I’m not the most patient person in the world. If I see something, I want it handled right now.
Um, and I think what. I’ve really worked on is becoming patient, realizing that the work I’m doing today is going to take time to come to fruition regardless of what aspect of my life it is. You know, it takes a long time to get a million dollars in your bank account. It takes a long time to make sure that that team members is trained so that way they can bring in their own book of business.
It takes a long time to heal from trauma. It takes a long time to heal from surgery, right? Like there’s so. . There’s so many aspects in our life, and I, I would argue most aspects of our life that require such a huge amount of patience. And so not trying to rush the process, enjoy the journey, be intentional.
All of these little layers end up growing and compounding into creating. Your best self, the best year ever. And understanding that when things don’t go as you have planned, it doesn’t mean that it, it’s no longer a good year. Makes it a difficult year maybe. But we get to learn from those, those difficult years cuz it shapes us into who we are and we continue to be consistent in our efforts.
It doesn’t need to sway our efforts of being intent. In mills. I’m smiling right now because I am about to give everybody a gift because, uh, it was either a week or two ago, I spoke to your mastermind and you said, Rob, there are two things that these people want. They want to amplify and elevate who they are, and they want sustainability across all areas of their life.
And what I am going to do. I’m going to post this podcast first, and then what I’m going to do next is in my audio feed. I will then share the conversation from that mastermind there because I believe there will be so much power. For everyone to know, one, this story first, and then two, that story because all of this tied together is about setting yourself up for success because creating your best year ever and showing up is the ideal version of yourself.
Is something that happens on a moment to moment, day by day basis, where there is both patience in urgency and you literally live in the paradox at all times. You do. You get to design your life. From a place of love and freedom and harmony and creation. And when you start to see the world this way, cause this is where the next levels come for people like you or I where we’re introduced to the concepts by learning them and then we slowly start implementing the things that we’re learning.
And then we do that for one month, one year, five years, 10 years, whatever the amount of time. And you start to, uh, almost become addicted to learning and growing and getting better, to the point to where you now only want to be around other people who are about this life, and those people are now transcending everything that you already believe in by sharing their stories of how we’ve all gotten to this point by overcoming all of the things that had previously limited us and stopped.
And we all have our own challenging, transformative story to share with the world. But ultimately that’s how we have all become successful is by going through this process and we’ve designed how to am amplify and elevate who we are. We’ve understood the power of consistency to create sustainability in all areas of our life.
I, I a hundred percent agree, and I think dropping that mastermind conversation is gonna. phenomenal. And I, I said this to you recently, but I’ll say it again for everybody listening. I still have people texting me about how great of a conversation that was. In fact, a lot of people have also said the best guest speaker we’ve had in the Mastermind.
So you really made an impact. And it’s, it’s interesting how you talking about creating harmony in, in your life and consistency has. significantly more impactful for them than just the, the practical knowledge of doing this in their business or this in their personal life. So thank you for, for coming and changing their lives cuz it’s been great for them and I took a lot away from it too.
You’re welcome. And I’m curious, why do you think that is? I obviously understand the practical knowledge, but I always like to look at sort. , uh, what was created that allowed the transformation to happen to where all of a sudden the light bulbs just started going off for everybody. Mm-hmm. . So, um, I actually was in a leadership program in college and one of the things that they talked about was getting to the root cause.
And basically if, if I were to talk about hunger and homelessness, right? If you’re trying to create social change in hunger and homelessness, there’s this element of reaching somebody’s short-term needs of making sure that they have food, making sure that they have clothes on their back and a place to sleep.
But the root causes going deeper and saying, well, why is this group hungry and homeless? What is, what is getting in their way of achieving their version of success? What are the obstacles that need to be overcome? And by identifying the main point that, that’s the root cause, if you’re able to target and, and fix the root cause, you’re able to create long-term success.
So when it, when it came to. , the mastermind groups. I’ve been having a lot of people come in and talk about the short term of business and personal life, financials, all of that, because they need to do something right now to fix it. But a lot of times people get in their own way when it comes to having sustainability in the short term because they’re not fixing the root cause.
And I think you came in and talked about the root cause. Which is finding the harmony, finding the consistency, finding the sustainability, which ultimately impacts someone’s long-term success. So you’re, you basically took what everybody else talked about on a practical knowledge, and you helped elevate that and amplify that because you got to the root cause, you targeted and pinpointed the main issue, which allowed them to basically run with everything else that they’ve.
Oh Mills, that helps me so much, and thank you so very much for sharing, and everybody’s still listening and watching right now. Take note of that, go to the root of everything going on in your life. And for me, the reason for all of this is because I’m so process oriented of designing the best version of myself.
Starts with the root of creation of everything. As Ed Mylet says, the bigger the dreams, the deeper the foundation. Cool. Let’s get to the foundation of everything that we’re doing so that you can literally build a happy life for yourself. Because foundationally, you’ve done so from the roots of creation.
Absolutely. That’s, I’ve not heard that quote. That’s a good. So Mills Bender, thank you so very much for coming on here and sharing your story and inspiring me and inspiring so many others. Where can everybody connect with you? So easiest way I would say is follow me on Instagram at Mills Knows Bills. If you have any questions, just.
Slide onto to the dms. I promise I don’t bite. I love having conversations about money. Business life doesn’t matter, but that would be the best way. Um, also, if you wanted to follow us on YouTube, we post videos every month. That’s also Mills knows bills and Mills is highly recommended for both following her as well as working with her.
If you want to level up on the finance side of. Uh, she is someone who can definitely help you out there, and I wanna hear from you. Is there anything that we talked about that inspired you to think or take action? You can hit me up on all social media platforms at Rob Cressy, sending tons of good vibes your way.