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Episode #21 | Sharon Epperson: Brain Aneurysm – A CNBC Correspondent’s Life and Death Experience

“I find myself extremely fortunate to have suffered what I did but still be able to do what I’m doing now.”

– Sharon Epperson

In the financial advisory community, we talk constantly about preparing your finances for the unexpected. But that often feels esoteric. In September 2016, our guest, CNBC personal finance correspondent Sharon Epperson, sustained a brain aneurysm and nearly lost her life. I’ve known Sharon for about a decade now, and distinctly remember when the shocking news came out. This was any family’s worst nightmare. The way Sharon has willed herself back to life and the lessons she learned along the way about what is—and isn’t—important in life are striking.

About Sharon Epperson

sharon epperson true wellth podcast

Sharon Epperson is CNBC’s senior personal finance correspondent. In this capacity, Sharon is a lead contributor to CNBC’s “Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow.,” a multi-platform financial wellness and education initiative in partnership with the micro-investing app Acorns. She also contributes to NBC’s TODAY and NBC Nightly News. Sharon is the author of the book, The Big Payoff: 8 Steps Couples Can Take to Make the Most of Their Money-and Live Richly Ever After.

Her personal finance expertise has been featured in numerous publications, including The Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostThe Boston Globe, SelfEssenceEbony, and TIME, where she had covered business, culture, social issues, and health as a correspondent prior to joining CNBC. Sharon received her bachelor’s in sociology and government from Harvard University and a master of international affairs degree from Columbia University.

Show Notes

Sharon is committed to improving financial literacy, particularly in underserved communities. For example, she was invited to the White House during the Obama administration to speak about financial literacy and to moderate a public meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability at the Treasury Department. She speaks frequently at conferences and events for local and national organizations, colleges, and universities about many facets of personal finance.

An adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Sharon has also taught courses at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Hearing her experience of a literal life and death situation—through the lens of someone this deeply entrenched in the world of personal finance—Is very thought-provoking. Our conversation gave me much to think about with regard to life’s priorities. I hope it will do the same for you!

Manisha’s Top Takeaways

  1. You never know what life is going to bring, so be prepared to make the best of whatever may come.
    Of course, this is not a new idea. In Sharon’s case, rather than dwell on the pain of her experience, she sought out different ways to live her life, including paying it forward with something we didn’t have time to go into in our podcast conversation. In September 2018, she and her family established the Sharon Epperson Chair of Research through the Brain Aneurysm Foundation to provide grants for research on early detection and innovative treatments.
  2. Don’t overlook estate planning.
    It’s critically important to have all estate planning documents in place, including appropriate disability insurance for your situation. As Sharon pointed out, while we can’t control the markets, we can control our preparedness in these two areas.
  3. Find your tribe
    What hit home for me was Sharon’s advice about having hobbies, spending time with loved ones, creating and nurturing your tribe, and giving back to the community. While this is timeless advice for having social, emotional, physical, and financial stability, the need to support each other has never been more apparent.

Other Major Topics

  • What is like, logistically and emotionally, to recover from brain surgery [5:10]
  • The experience of dealing with disability insurance companies [10:00]
  • Sharon’s advice to young people about the role of work in their lives [16:00]

Resources Cited in the Episode

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