Message from the CEO: Running on Empty

Hello FinGym Friends and Family!

Years ago, I published a blog, Financially Blonde, and every Monday was themed “Music Mondays” where I took a song and tied a financial lesson to it. For those of you who don’t know me, music is a very key component of my life. I’ve never been great at an instrument and I’m certainly not meant to sing outside of the shower or karaoke; but everyday when I was growing up, I locked myself in my room and listened to my alarm clock radio play songs that made me feel less alone, less awkward and better about life. Eventually my music listening graduated to a tape deck, followed by a CD player, followed by Napster, followed by an MP3 player, followed by an iPod and now to Spotify. 

If you’re ever around me whether at work, at home or in the car, the odds are very high that music will be playing. And music has certainly saved my life these last 21 months. So, as I sit here and think about what I want to communicate in the last week of 2021, the song that is playing in my head is Running on Empty by Jackson Browne. I feel like it’s a sentiment that most of us have felt these past 21 months, but certainly these past 12 months. 

When I think back on the past year, I think about so many times where I felt like I was running on empty, whether it was the energy to get out of bed, the feeling of hope, the desire to go to work or even just the will to make dinner for my son. 

The ongoing struggles with Covid, vaccine rollouts, ever changing mask regulations and global infection rates were constantly in the background. In addition to the world struggles, there were significant challenges facing Financial Gym, from deciding what to do with our physical spaces to weathering the Great Resignation to managing employee burnout and morale and investor expectations; and they never seemed to stop. Once you handled one problem, another one was just around the corner and equally more challenging. On top of this, I struggled with navigating my teenage son through remote learning, attempting to play sports and managing his anxiety and depression of the world going on around him. And if all of this wasn’t enough, I thought I’d give online dating a shot. Talk about a glutton for punishment! 😉

So for most of 2021, I felt like I was doing nothing but running on empty. But as I sit back and reflect on the year, I’m not thinking about the times where my gas tank was low, I’m thinking about all of the ways that it miraculously got refueled. Because to me, that is the beauty in all of this. No matter how many times I felt like I just couldn’t go on for one reason or another, just when I needed it most, fuel found its way to me, and it came in many different forms.

It came from my leadership team, Alicia, Bridget and Caitlin. No matter how dark the days were, there was always one of these women who found a way to pick me up, help me brush myself off and continue to push forward. In a world where it feels like you’re constantly in battle, there is no one I’d rather be in a bunker with than these three amazing women. 

It came from the greater Financial Gym team. There were a number of times where I scheduled check in meetings to see how the team was doing, specifically Joy Liu, and what started as a meeting for me to uplift them, they did the reverse right back for me. They helped me laugh and also cry through some really painful moments and as I’ve read from many online reviews, they’ve helped you do the same as well; and I’m blessed to call them teammates and family. 

Emotional fuel came from my son, Will. For a 15-year old boy, he has a great sense of reading my mood and whenever a day seemed particularly difficult, he always seemed to know that I needed a laugh or I needed him to take out the trash without asking or I needed to watch 8 hours of Star Wars movies with him. He is truly one of the best roommates you can ask for.

I also found a fuel source from my boyfriend (yes, online dating actually worked out for me). As I faced another employee’s resignation and contemplated resigning myself, he continually listened to me and reminded me of the 8 years of hard work I have put in up to this point. He reminded me of the important work I set out to do and despite the immense headwinds, he reminded me that this team and I have accomplished so much and still have more work to do. He just said to me the other day “You know that one day when you write your book that you’ll laugh at sh&t like this and wonder how everything still clicked despite what seemed like everything working against you.” His energy and positive vibrations are exactly what I needed to fill up my gas tank. 

And finally, the precious fuel for making it through 2021 came from our clients at The Financial Gym. It always feels like a minor miracle to me that on particularly bad days, I always get an email notification of a 5-Star Review from a client sharing a breakthrough that they’ve accomplished because they joined the Gym. If you ever need fuel for your tank or inspiration on a tough day, you can go here and read the over 300 stories of life changing journeys this team has gone on with people. Whenever I think about throwing in the towel and giving up, I think about our Financial Gym community and the millions of people we have yet to touch and it fuels my tank to keep pushing our very important mission on. 

So I’m writing this to you, filled with gratitude and joy for my sources of fuel in yet another challenging year that we’ve had to face. I’m taking this last week of the year to fill the tank even more because we have an exciting 2022 in store for the Financial Gym. There will be changes, there will be growth, but most of all, there will be a team of amazing people ready to meet individuals where they’re at financially (no matter where that is) with compassion, empathy and grace and help them get where they want to go. With all of this in my life, I know I’ll never truly run empty. 

Thank you for being on this journey with us in 2021 and we’ll see you in 2022!


Shannon McLay

Founder & CEO       

Message from the CEO: Running on Empty is written by Shannon McLay, Founder and CEO for

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