Advising Women in Tech with Danika Waddell

Brian Thompson chats with Danika Waddell, founder of Xena Financial Planning. As a certified financial planner, registered life planner, and certified student loan professional, Danika focuses on helping women who are in tech or otherwise receive equity compensation.

On the episode, Danika shares her journey to starting her fee-only firm in 2020, including why she made the entrepreneurship leap and how she’s managed the extremely fast growth. She also discusses the importance of having difficult conversations with clients and how she defines success.

Episode Highlights

Mission-driven businesses are meaningful.

For Danika, the idea of a mission-driven business comes back to doing meaningful work. When she started in the finance industry nearly 10 years ago, that sort of meaning was missing from her job.

“When I got into this industry almost a decade ago, what I was doing previously was very transactional, and I just felt there was something very lacking,” she said.

Danika wanted to have more meaningful relationships with clients, leading her to pivot from accounting to starting her own financial planning firm. Now, she regularly gets the opportunity to have a deep connection with clients.

“There’s something just so satisfying about having the types of engagements with my clients in exactly the way I want to have them, and being able to show up for my clients in a way that I’m not restricted by my employer or anything like that,” she said.

Uncertainty can lead to growth.

Danika wasn’t expecting to start her business. After a crisis at her old firm, she decided very quickly to try entrepreneurship. She first defined the types of clients she wanted to serve and how she wanted to serve them, then she created a space for herself and her clients to be fully who they are at all times.

“I’m thrilled about what happened because I was comfortable enough that I probably would have never done this if I wasn’t forced to,” she said.

Define success by impact – not dollars.

Danika emphasized that making money is not the priority of her business. While she does take into account revenue and sustainability, she measures her success by impact – not dollars.

“I definitely do not define success by the numbers,” Danika said. “I do define success by the impact I’m having on clients.”

For instance, Danika felt great success in supporting a long-term client through a car purchase. As she thinks about growing her business further, she wants to help more people feel that kind of empowerment.

“I’m not done,” Danika said. “Success to me will look like reaching more people. I don’t know how that’s going to happen yet, but I know that it is going to happen.”

Resources + Links


About Brian and the Mission Driven Business Podcast 

Brian Thompson, JD/CFP, is a tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. The Mission Driven Business podcast was born out of his passion for helping social entrepreneurs create businesses with purpose and profit.

On the podcast, Brian talks with diverse entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Listeners hear stories of experiences, strength, and hope and get practical advice to help them build businesses that might just change the world, too.