Head of CreditWise on Family, Education and Giving Back
By Harold and Rachel Earls of Earls Family Vlogs
January 7, 2020
Harold and Rachel Earls, the husband and wife team behind the popular YouTube channel Earls Family Vlogs have their hands full with two kids, 485K (and counting) YouTube subscribers and a community of supporters behind their Earls Family Foundation. They recently moved to Washington, DC, and as part of their partnership with CreditWise, sat down with Chris Gatz, CreditWise lead and father of five, to discuss the importance of family, education and giving back.
Q. Thirteen years at Capital One is impressive! Tell us a little about your career journey and what you have learned about being a good leader.
A. Thirteen years seems like a really long time when you say it! It’s been great and has felt like it flew by likely because I’ve held three very different roles while at Capital One. I started in an analytical role, then moved into a more strategic role and now I’m in a leadership role with CreditWise. I’m excited to be working alongside software engineers, designers, product managers, business analysts and marketing teams to grow this financial tool, CreditWise, to help customers and non-customers monitor and improve their credit and understand what is impacting their credit history.
The other thing that has been awesome for me is being able to bring my passion for education to work. I am a mentor to five Capital One associates, who are earlier on in their professional journey. I value sharing my insights and learnings over my years with Capital One with them.
Q. We currently have our hands full with our two boys and busy careers but want a big family as well. What is your advice for work/home life balance and how to set the family up for success?
A. So first let me say, it's not easy. This has been a long journey for me and my wife. We've grown so much over the 10 years that we've been parents together. Our hands are certainly full, but we love our kids, and we're excited every day to take on that challenge.
As far as advice goes for work and home life balance, one of the things that my wife and I do is always get really clear on what things are most important to us. If we can align on the things that we want to do for our family, we can make clear decisions using those principles. So for example we've both said that we want to be involved in all aspects of our kids’ lives. For me, that means being ready to take time off from work to go on a field trip or chaperone a school event, because I get to see my kids in a different setting with their classmates and friends. I get to know a different side of them and if that means I have to work a little later the next day, that's a tradeoff I'm willing to make.
We also make sure to carve out a lot of time to be together as a whole unit with five kids. There are a lot of activities going on and it's easy to just say, “Okay you take those three kids; I'll take these two,” but we make sure to set aside a dedicated amount of time to be all together.
Q. We recently moved to DC for Harold’s job. What are your favorite activities to do with your family here?
A. My wife and I are both from the DC area and now live in the same town where we grew up. One of the things we love about this area is that even though we live outside the city, everything is accessible. It's an easy drive to get to all the museums, cool restaurants, sports and arts DC has to offer. We also love taking advantage of the beautiful mountains and nature that’s right in our backyard, from hiking in Great Falls Park to one of our favorite family traditions, apple picking in Shenandoah. On top of that, we are a big sports family, so it's been awesome to celebrate all the amazing wins for DC sports the last few years!
Q. Outside of your job, what are you passionate about?
A. The first thing that comes to mind for me is education. It's not surprising, for someone with such a large family, that I would like kids a lot, but education has always been at the center of that.
The roots of this passion stems from when I was growing up and serving as an assistant soccer coach, learning from my dad. As an adult, I’ve had the opportunity to coach a soccer team for 10 years. Before our players went off to college, my wife and I put aside some money to create a scholarship fund. We were able to send three of our players off to college with some financial assistance. Two of those players were the first in their family to go to college. Being able to help others who didn't have all the blessings and opportunities I've had in my life go off to college and further their education is something that I'm tremendously passionate about.
I also spent a year teaching physical education here in the DC area and then a year in an AmeriCorps program working at Adams Elementary in DC. I really enjoy being a role model for both my own kids and kids that I have had a chance to teach and coach over the years.
Q. What is the one piece of financial advice you wish you were told when you were younger?
A. I was fortunate to grow up in a great family. My mom and dad, who live about a mile away from me now, and are still a big part of my life, were role models for me in just about every aspect. That being said, we never talked about credit or finances. They helped me by setting a great example, but I didn’t get to see the behind-the-scenes stuff when it comes to things like credit. I had to learn that, like so many others, on my own.
I wish I had advice about building credit earlier by using credit responsibly, because the first time I went to buy a car, after first starting my job at Capital One, I couldn't get the loan. Despite having a job and money to make my payment, I had never even had a credit card and didn’t have enough credit history. I had to go ask my dad for help and while I was fortunate enough to have someone to co-sign the loan for me, I would have loved that foundational financial knowledge early on.
Because so much of my learning was here at Capital One, I was excited to lead the CreditWise team and help impart financial knowledge to our millions of users in a tool that's free for anyone whether they are a Capital One customer not.
Q. What does success mean to you?
A. It took me a while to learn what success meant to me. I was someone in school who tried to get perfect grades, get perfect attendance and marked my success by things that are easily measurable.
So, when I entered the professional world I was focused, almost entirely, on just achieving measurable outcomes like salary, promotions, how many people report to you, thinking that was how everybody around me was defining success. I went through multiple years of my career like this.
But over time, as I learned more about what was important to me, I realized success for me was centered around helping other people and bringing my passion for education and teaching into my job. I have been so fortunate to be able to connect the dots in my professional life and personal life by helping CreditWise users feel more prepared with their financial futures and my own team feeling empowered in their career.
I went from trying to make others happy to really making myself happy, and through that I've become even more successful in every aspect of my life.