Dr. Roshawnna Novellus has life down to a science. She earned over $600,000 in scholarships in the pursuit of four degrees, bought a house at 22, and currently leads a successful career as a speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Her understanding of money and desire to help others better understand money is underscored with her founding of Novellus Financial.
Known as “The Wealthy Yogi,” finance has always come easily for Dr. Roshawnna Novellus. Early in her career she was able to make a lot of money and gain status quickly, but she soon realized that it was not enough on it’s own. She had to learn that making time for your own spiritual well-being is equally as important as work.
Her Agenda caught up with Dr. Novellus for insight on how to accomplish your dreams while maintaining your mental and spiritual well-being.
Her Agenda: What brought you to Atlanta?
Dr. Novellus: I did a summer program called SURE Georgia Tech. I had never met other techy people who were also very social who I identified with, so after I worked in corporate america for about seven years in D.C., I decided that I wanted to come back to Atlanta, because I loved that comradery.
Her Agenda: What gave you the inclination to drop everything you were doing with opening your own business in Miami to pursue your dreams in Atlanta?
Dr. Novellus: The Miami business wasn’t working out, so it was time for me to leave. At that time I had already quit my job and I went all in on becoming an entrepreneur, so the fact that it wasn’t going to work out didn’t mean to me that I was going to just quit and fail. At that point in time I had to figure out a plan B. Once I came back to Atlanta, I said “what can I do?” and I started brainstorming, talking with colleagues and friends about how to start my own business, what I needed to do in terms of registration and employees, and all of the logistics. It took me about three weeks to have my own office spaces, employees, and to be up and running with my new business venture. I’ve been pressing on ever since.
Her Agenda: How did you get the nickname “The Wealthy Yogi”?
Dr. Novellus: The wealthy part is a little obvious because I’ve always been someone that’s really good at money that wanted to multiply money. I’ve always helped friends and colleagues increase their net worth. The yoga part came a little bit after. I’ve always loved practicing yoga, always loved fitness, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I decided to put yoga as number one. In that year I decided to go to Thailand to get my yoga teacher certification, and while I was there I realized that a lot of times we as Westerners complain about things that we don’t have, but in reality we have everything that we need. I had an “ah-ha!” moment there which told me that if people make financial decisions with mindfulness and intentions, they’ll be better off in life. And that is where the Wealthy Yogi immergerd.
Her Agenda: How has yoga impacted your ability to manage your life?
Dr. Novellus: It has had a major impact. I am the typical Type A person whose default is to live in the future. I always crave new goals and I have to often times put a pause on that and just be in the present moment. Traditional yoga often has movement practice. You can’t daydream or think about your tasks while you’re doing it because you’re in the present moment trying to make sure you’re synchronizing your breaths with your movements. Outside of that, yoga is just being in a mindful state at all times. You can do that no matter what you’re doing. After I studied the practice, I started implementing it more and more in my life, so it’s easier for me to self correct when I’m getting stressed out. It’s easier for me to know what my body needs and what’s important in my livelihood to help me be more effective at making decisions both in my business and in my personal life.
Her Agenda: You bought your first house at 22. That’s impressive. How did you do it?
Dr. Novellus: When I was 22 the lending criteria was very relaxed, so as long as you had a good job, you were able to qualify for a mortgage. I had a couple friends who also recently purchased a house, so I said “if they could do it, I could do it.” I used their guidance. I had other 22 year olds telling me how to buy a house, and I was able to close on my first house. It was in Laurel, Maryland when I was 22, a week before I started my job as an engineer at John Hopkins applied research laboratory.
Her Agenda: You received over $600,000 in scholarships. How did you do it?
Dr. Novellus: I decided that I didn’t want my mother to worry about how she was going to pay for me to go to college. She was a teacher. I met with my guidance counselor and I said “what do I need to do in order to go to college for free?” So he [said] “you’re doing all the right things. You have straight As, you’re also a cheerleader, you’re obviously well rounded, but you need to apply to as many awards as possible.” He gave me a pamphlet of local awards and I found a directory of organizations that have scholarships programs, so I wrote a letter to over 200 organizations telling them about my goals and aspirations and asking them for the opportunity to apply to their program. I included a self addressed stamped envelope when I mailed the letters. Out of that I received several responses. I got a lot of $250 awards, $500 awards, in addition to some larger awards. By doing that I was able to pay for all 11 years of my college education, and all 4 degrees. I did that in high school and I applied for a couple more awards like the Gates Millennium Scholarship during my freshman year of college. It paid for 5 years of bachelor education, 3 years of masters, and 5 years of doctorate. So I won that as well and I sent thank you letters to all of the organizations. A lot of them gave me extra money because a lot of recipients don’t send thank you’s. People and organizations like personal touch, so I sent “because of your money I was able to not have a job, I was able to get straight As my first year of college and without you this wouldn’t have been possible so thank you,” and they really appreciated that. I was able to ride that out for my whole college experience. That was great.
Her Agenda: What is the single most important thing to remember when attempting to “live the life of [your] dreams”?
Dr. Novellus: You have to live your own life, not somebody else’s. A lot of times we compare ourselves to other people. This person has this car, lives in this place, or is traveling to this destination, but that doesn’t matter. What do you want? You may not even like the beach, so why do you care about this person going to the beach? You have to live your own life and know what you want. You won’t be able to live your ideal life unless you stop, push away all the noise, and figure that out for yourself.
[Editor’s note: This feature was published on October 17th, 2016 and has been edited for length and clarity.]