Dr. Renée Baker: The Importance of the Journey
By: Madison Green
“Take the chains off the door, take the chains off the door” this is Joe Clark. These are the words from the famed movie in 1989, Lean On Me where Renee Baker was an extra on the scene. Extra is just one of the words used to describe Dr. Baker and I mean that in a very positively. She’s been making big waves since then by changing the lives of countless people by being the change she wants to see in the world through her work leading financial advisor diversity and inclusion, mentorship, community outreach, and sharing her extensive knowledge about financial literacy. During her debut on TEDTalks she reminded the audience of the disparity between the Black and White wealth gap. Her message was clear and concise, she explains to the global audience the importance of not just
understanding the causes of the racial gap, but also working together to figuring out the steps necessary for closing this gap.
Dr. Baker reminds us that what got us here doesn’t necessarily need to keep us here. Together we have an opportunity to reshape the financial landscape for generations to come. She added, the conversation needs to shift to the view of overcoming, rather than just anexplanation. Dr. Baker stated, “It won’t be easy, but through encouragement and empowerment anything is possible. It won’t be easy, but it’s time to disrupt the status quo and take actionable steps to circumvent the barriers that exacerbate the racial wealth gap.
” Earlier this year, Dr. Baker was selected as the 2022 Business Women of the Year by Tampa Bay Business Journal. Upon receiving the phone call of her selection, she stated that this left her feeling both surprised andand honored. She felt emotional because this nomination illustrated how all her hard work has had a positive impact; although she has only been in Tampa for a short period of time. “It is nice to be recognized by the community but
more importantly it’s about being a role model for young women, especially young women of color that may not be accustomed to seeing someone that looks like them in executive positions.” According to Dr. Baker, there were three women who worked at Raymond James Financial who were recognized as honorees for the Business Woman of the Year, which speaks to the level of representation of women in business, financial industries, and the measures of success accomplished.
As a child, Dr. Baker was quiet, well-spoken, and kinda nerdy (her words) growing up. “As a child, I would watch and listen. That was how I learned,” said Dr. Baker. “I am still a nerd (proudly) and have those moments when I’m quiet, watching, and listening. But today, I balance that to use my voice and speak up respectfully on issues that matter and lead efforts for long standing change that help drive growth and create revenue.”
She realized the value of being authentic to oneself is critical, and it’s important not to shrink to fit someone’s version of who they think you should be. This realization shaped the person she is today–honest and authentic to her values. The trust and courage she places in herself have helped her reach her current success– something she aims to help others realize. “I have a heart of service. Helping others aligns with my purpose in life to serve and inspire others. It’s amazing when people can see what is possible and realize their dreams.” In addition to her self-assuredness, Dr. Baker has always placed a high value on family from her childhood up until today. The importance of interpersonal relationships has helped her find the avenue most beneficial to her goals.
As a woman in finance, being underestimated is not an unusual occurrence, but Dr. Baker makes sure not to doubt herself. As she prepared to move to Tampa Bay, she recalls some questioning her decision to leave New York. She even had some people telling her that she would not be successful living in the South as a Black woman. “That was preposterous. Those words and the cold weather were left behind as she boarded the Amtrak Train headed South to Tampa, Fl. Her decision to move to Tampa was well thought out and very strategic, with clear intentions. Dr. Baker wanted to work at a company where she could add value and be successful- one that shared her values and focused on putting people first.
It was also vital for her to be a culture add and be part of an organization where she could help bring a positive change as part of her journey to personal fulfillment. Raymond James Financial was the perfect match. They provided an environment of teamwork and support. As a result, she and her husband navigated their voyage to Tampa.
She adds how she will always look upon her experience with Raymond James Financial as a significant and beneficial boost to her career and her work to bring about positive change.
Dr. Baker says, “I have the honor of working with some of the best financial advisors in the industry, outstanding leaders, and a wonderful team of associates dedicated to putting people first and I get paid for it.”
Dr. Baker emphasizes finding those who support your goals – her husband, daughters, and parents are her biggest supporters. She notes the significance of finding people who support you and stand by your side through thick and thin.
HERE ARE TEN THINGS DR. BAKER OFFERS TO ENTREPRENEURS
1: Answer the question “Who am I?”
“This isn’t a question about your business–this is about you. I’m always surprised when I speak with Entrepreneurs and they can’t answer that question and define who they are based on what they do.
2: Have a business plan and know your end goal
3: Build strong relationships, “do the right thing and treat people well.” These relationships will help you to grow both as a person and in business.
4: “Know your financials”–What’s feasible now? What are your financial goals?
5: Communicate with your clients and listen. Building trust with clients is important for long term success. “Understand marketing and invest in it until it hurts.”
6: Strategize! Take a step back and look at the big picture of what you want your business to look like.
7: Don’t rely on chance or luck. The world of Entrepreneurship likes to throw curveballs! Have a back-up plan, look at the likelihood that something will or won’t work, consider all
the factors that play into an action’s results.
8: You’ll likely make some mistakes–you’re human! Just make sure you learn from them. “Doing the same thing and expecting different results? We know the definition.”
9: Finally, take care of yourself. Don’t forsake your own health or wellbeing–part of Entrepreneurial success is you!
10. Understand that doing what’s important to you takes courage and determination! It won’t always be easy, but in the end the reward of all that hard work speaks for itself