I got into financial planning because of a cleft lip and palette.

I am the first to admit that the story of how I got into this industry isn’t exactly typical.

I didn’t grow up admiring the Wolf of Wall Street and dreaming of wearing power suits in mirrored office buildings in the financial district.

I had no idea where my life would lead. In fact, for a lot of my childhood I assumed I would need to hide my appearance in whatever career I chose.

That’s because I was born with a cleft lip and palette,a birth defect that affects 1 in every 600 babies. When I was forming in my mother's womb, the roof of my mouth and my upper lip didn't quite fuse together. Over the course of my childhood, I had several surgeries to try to correct it. By the time I was eight years old, the effect of this on my teeth was quite severe.

I was bullied mercilessly for my crooked smile, and I took to hiding my mouth behind my hand. My self confidence plummeted.

When I was 14, I moved in with my friend and her parents and got a job at the Flying Club in Smiths Falls. I buttered toast and served breakfast to the self-proclaimed “rich old men” who patronized the club. I always ducked my head and kept my mouth closed when I smiled, but I tried my best to be friendly despite my lack of confidence.

One man in particular became a favourite customer of mine. I always enjoyed serving him and looked forward to his chats.

I must have made an impression on him because the next thing he did changed my life.

It was like something out of a movie, and to this day I still can’t believe it happened.

He pulled my friend’s dad aside one day.

“Is there nothing they can do about that scar on her lip?” he asked. “She is such a sweet, beautiful young girl but I can tell that she has no self confidence whatsoever. I am assuming it is because of that scar.”

My friend’s dad was taken aback. He told this man that it wasn’t the scar that caused me so much shame, but my teeth. I had gone to such great pains to hide them, that this man didn’t even realize what they looked like!

My friend’s dad hardly even had time to take a breath before the old man made a declaration that changed everything.

“Listen, I’m old. I've got a lot of money. I'm not going to live forever. And I'd really love to help her. So you take her, get her teeth fixed, whatever the cost is. I don't care. Send me the bill and I'll take care of it. The only thing I ask is that you don't repeat my name to anybody.”

To this day, I've never repeated his name to a single soul. Not even my husband.

I don’t believe I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for him. Without the confidence my new smile brought me, I don’t know that I would have had the courage to chase down my dreams.

He was able to change the trajectory of my life forever.

I knew then that I wanted to be able to do that, too. I wanted to be able to change people’s lives for the better and help them accomplish more than they ever thought possible. I knew the power that having money could wield for the better, so I set my sights on the financial world.

I wanted to be worthy of his gift. I worked hard to lift myself out of my life’s circumstances and get to where I am today. In essence, I was my own first client.

I still think about that man almost every day. I wanted to pay it forward somehow, while still honouring his wish to remain anonymous. So I created the Pulse Wealth Management Smile Fund. A portion of everything that we earn goes towards paying for the smile reconstructive surgery of a child with a cleft lip and palette.

So all of the people who work with me are paying it forward, too.

And that’s something to smile about.

Book a call with me to discuss how I can help you change your life for the better while you help change a child’s.