Earn Your Leisure is leading the movement to educate urban communities on finance, business, and entrepreneurship
Financial literacy has become a hot topic on social media, but for years the topic was reserved for MBA graduates, Ivy leaguers, and the white middle class. Although well-intentioned, many Black parents weren’t equipped to school their children about stock options, real estate investments, debt management, and the importance of ownership or life insurance simply because they, themselves, did not have access to that information. Even today, many working-class communities of color still don’t have access to the economic resources shared by prestigious business institutions and outlets. Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings, however, are changing the narrative through Earn Your Leisure, a financial podcast that has ballooned into a wildly popular, multifaceted platform that is changing the face of wealth.
Before launching Earn Your Leisure (EYL) in 2019, Bilal and Millings were teaching financial literacy to public school students in the Bronx, NY. While working as an elementary school physical education educator, Millings incorporated financial literacy into his lesson plans during summer school classes. At one point he asked Bilal, a financial advisor, to lecture his students about money. Eventually, the longtime friends built a complete curriculum on finance for the students. Meanwhile, Bilal also started building a robust social media presence by sharing financial information and wanted to expand his reach by starting a podcast. Naturally, he asked Millings to co-host and the two launched Earn Your Leisure to discuss the money plays behind sports, entertainment, and business along with the latest economic trends. On the show, Bilal and Millings dig into the backstories of celebrity entrepreneurs and renowned business owners like billionaire Mark Cuban, NBA legend and business titan Shaquille O’Neal, and social entrepreneur John Henry.
“There were a lot of business podcasts or business platforms [that gave] a lot of fluff, a lot of motivational stuff,” Bilal tells BLACK ENTERPRISE. “I don’t really want to hear that. I want to know exactly what’s going on, and how did you do it?”
During the first few episodes of Earn Your Leisure, Bilal says he and Millings took “deep dives into case studies. That was the original premise of Earn Your Leisure. It was like pop culture mixed with Harvard Business School.” He added, we were “taking case studies of like Airbnb and breaking them down.”
Empowering The Culture
Their formula worked. Just seven months after their launch, EYL accumulated more than 6,500 subscribers and an average of 20,000 plays per episode by July 2019. Today, the show has amassed more than 5 million downloads as well as a whopping 422,000 YouTube subscribers and 702,000 Instagram followers. The hosts believe their following has grown because they’ve been consistently serving disenfranchised urban markets with content that’s authentic, palatable, and economically empowering.
“We created our own niche as far as in the financial literacy space. We took a different approach to it,” said Bilal. “For years, you had to wear a suit and tie in order to really be taken seriously and speak about business. And you had to shave your face, [but] we come in with beards, hoodies, and sneakers and hip hop lyrics.” He asserts, “the best marketing tool was us just being ourselves.”
Millings says the key to scaling their audience was intentionally targeting underserved communities that historically lacked access to financial tools and resources.
“We added value to a community that needed it,” says Millings. “We mixed our barbershop conversations with Wall Street and it just took off.”
In addition to the podcast, Bilal and Millings created Earn Your Leisure University, an online education platform offering dozens of courses across 35 different industries. They also launched the EYL podcast network, which currently produces and distributes shows like Inside The Vault with Ash Cash and Market Mondays with investor Ian Dunlap. Furthermore, the duo secured a deal with iHeartMedia and Charlamagne Tha God’s groundbreaking The Black Effect Podcast Network earlier this year.
Putting Plays Into Practice
Bilal and Millings aren’t just empowering a new generation with economic gems and exclusive interviews; they’re also applying the lessons to their own lives. For instance, Millings says Dunlap changed the way he saves money.
“When we sat down with Ian (Dunlap), I remember him telling us ‘listen, we used to tell you that you needed six to eight months savings to be secure.’ And I remember, he was like ‘nah, my new theory is we need 60 months.’ And it took me off guard,” Millings recalled. “I said, ‘60 months? That’s almost five years of savings!’” Dunlap, however, explained that creating a bigger savings fund is the foundation for generational wealth.
“When you accumulate a certain level of wealth, it won’t be about you anymore, it will be about your family and your generations that will live on without you. And so that became my mindset now,” says the educator.
Similarly, Bilal says their interview with Wallstreet Trapper, a stock trader and YouTuber, moved him to open a custodial account for his son.
“That’s something I didn’t have for my son. I already knew about it, but just him talking about how much money he had for his daughter really encouraged me to really go forward and put money into my son’s account,” he says.
“I utilize everybody that we have brought on the platform that actually has anything to do with stocks,” says Bilal. “I pick their brain, I ask them different questions, and I learn from them as much as I possibly can offline.”
The Future of The Movement
From scaling their online university to opening a private equity firm, skies the limit for the EYL brand, and the hosts are aiming big.
“We want to grow in the online education space and be the biggest online university like rivaling a Phoenix University,” says Bilal. “I think we have over like 9,000 members in EYL university. So, we want to get that up to like 50,000 or 100,000 members.”
He went on to reveal that he and Millings aspire to own a fleet of trucks and 100 real estate properties, open a private equity firm, and create a financial literacy curriculum for multiple schools.
“I feel like there’s nothing that we can’t do,” added Millings. “We’re just ambitious enough to believe that we can do anything. And so, you might see us in some films, you might see us in some short TV slots. It’s really limitless.”
Ultimately, he says they’re on a mission to bring EYL back to its roots in education. “One of my passions is to get back to that and sprinkle these seeds throughout communities that need us.”
Watch the Earn Your Leisure co-hosts’ full interview on The New Norm with Selena Hill below.