Founder, Jizo/Manjusri LLC
YWomen in Business Accelerator instructor
Mariko Gordon joins the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center team as the instructor of its new YWomen in Business Accelerator, a ten-week program designed to assist woman-owned businesses with mapping out the next stage of growth with more confidence and better outcomes by developing their financial acumen, mastering fundamental business principles, understanding financial statements, and removing money blocks.
Ever passionate about the intersection of business, investing, and psychology, Mariko’s career led her to found Daruma Capital Management LLC in 1995 and grow it into a $2.5B institutional money management firm. In 2022, she launched Jizo/Manjusri LLC, through which she now offers business coaching, financial planning, and financial education classes to business owners, solopreneurs, and individuals. Although based in North Carolina, thanks to word-of-mouth, social media, podcasts, guest coaching/teaching, and her newsletter, her clientele spans Europe and Australia.
“I really love working with people who are starting their businesses and want to get in the right mindset about money and finances. I love unlocking that potential,” Mariko explained. “Everyone has a money lineage, a genealogy, but I think women, in particular, get a lot more conflicting messages about money and business. This can be very aversive or intimidating for them. I like to help people de-weaponize the meaning they make from money or their business results. I help them accept the reality of where they are financially so they’re not fearful and avoidant but can take action in line with their deepest desires.
How can you handle your finances in ways that are congruent with your values and learn tools to help you be more effective? How do you have money not be loaded for you, so your decision-making is grounded? Some of it is information, and some is their relationship with decision-making. There’s so much power to be unleashed, and I love helping to facilitate that. Business can be a creative, life-affirming act. Helping people access their own internal resources, make the most of what’s available to them, express themselves, and trust that they’ll be able to manage—that’s a beautiful thing.”
Mariko is bi-racial—her maternal grandparents are from Okinawa, while her paternal grandparents moved to New York from Tennessee and South Carolina. She was raised alongside her parents’ small businesses in the French Caribbean and Hawai’i, then majored in comparative literature at Princeton University. Later, when she worked on Wall Street, she was often the only woman and person of color in the room. This made her more aware of the need for diversity in the investment management field.
“I’m atypical in terms of my personal background and in how I look at the world. I have that outsider perspective. It just means I see things,” she said. “Humans trust people who are like them, and trust is very important when entrusting your money to someone. When you don’t look like everybody else and are a money manager, you may as well embrace your ‘otherness.’ I was willing to be very different in my marketing materials, and when I talk, I’m very passionate. It made me memorable, and that was a benefit.”
Mariko was thrilled to learn about the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center through Director Marla Momi Musick, whom she’d met as part of the Hawaiian community in New York City. She’s looking forward to working with the Center’s clientele. “I’m really excited to unleash the power of female entrepreneurship,” Mariko said. “You really get to know someone when you study their business; their unique energetic fingerprint is felt in all aspects of their business. ”
Mariko offers the following advice to her fellow women entrepreneurs and small business owners: “Focus on the process, not the outcome. Don’t make meaning from your numbers. By that, I mean, let’s say you have an unprofitable year. If your kid has a fever, you’re not going to say, ‘I’m a bad mom.’ You’re going to get curious. How high? How long? Any other symptoms? If there’s a ‘bad number’ in your business, you should feel the same curiosity. A bad result can come from a great process. It can come from circumstances beyond your control. The more you can get comfortable with your business financials, the more you can look at them with curiosity instead of shame. The more curiosity you have, the more expansive the range of solutions you can come up with to tackle a business challenge. Look at your numbers with curiosity rather than shame, and you will be more likely to thrive."