Cin Fabré, WOLF HUSTLE: A Black Woman on Wall Street

Cin Fabré, WOLF HUSTLE: A Black Woman on Wall Street

Zibby speaks to Cin Fabré about her electrifying debut memoir Wolf Hustle: A Black Woman on Wall Street. Cin describes her ambitious journey to becoming a stockbroker (she started at age 19?!), the unrelenting harassment she suffered in the workplace, and her hopes that her book will promote financial literacy and normalize conversations about money (especially among women!). She also shares the details of a potential film adaptation, her new adventure living with her family in Europe, and her favorite hobbies and book genres.


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Cin. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” to discuss your memoir, Wolf Hustle: A Black Woman on Wall Street.

Cin Fabré: Thank you. I’m really happy to actually have a conversation. It’s so sweet to be on a call with someone that gets books and understands the writing, the process. I don’t think I could ever get tired of this, actually. I’m glad to always have this conversation.

Zibby: I’ll just settle in then. That’s great. I also never get tired of hearing about how authors end up writing and their process and their lives. A memoir is such an act of generosity when you share your story. Why don’t you tell listeners a little about, why did you decide to share your story? Let’s just start there. Then we’ll go into your actual story. Why write it? Why share it?

Cin: There’s so many different reasons why I wrote that story. One of the main reasons is when I saw my nineteen-year-old — she’s nineteen now, but I saw her as a teenager just starting to struggle because they have the presence of social media, something I didn’t have when I was a teenager, and how that was affecting their lives. I have four kids.

Zibby: I do too.

Cin: Great, so you understand. I remember having more conversations with my friends, being out with them. It wasn’t all about chatting and texting. Granted, because we didn’t have those type of devices then, that’s probably why. That’s the obvious reason. I love the face-to-face conversation even to this day. What I wanted to show my kids was, this is what I used to do. I know that telling that to them goes nowhere. They don’t get it. I get it. I get that they don’t get it. I can’t say, I used to pay a dollar for this. Okay, Mom, great, that was twenty-five years ago. No one cares about that. I’m like, if I write it — I know when I read something and it’s more visual, you incorporate it differently. You absorb it differently. This was a great way. Instead of having sporadic conversations about saying, “Hey, this is what I did as a kid. This is how I persevered. Not saying our lives are the same, but I wanted to show you a different perspective of what you can do,” that was one of the main reasons.

The other one was, I was always seeing the same narrative of Wall Street. It was always white men on Wall Street. Wall Street, twenty-five years, hasn’t changed since I’ve been in the business, but there is other people in the business that represent Wall Street. I feel like even growing up, women never wanted to really, necessarily, talk about finance. It was like, that’s not something we talk about. We can’t tell you how much we paid for our house. We can’t tell you how we’re investing. I’m like, we should talk about it. Let’s talk about the nineties. Let’s talk about Wall Street. I was there. I lived it. For me, I want people to feel like it’s a welcome space; they don’t necessarily feel like they don’t belong. There are other stories besides the same one that we keep seeing. We saw Wolf of Wall Street. We saw Boiler Room. We saw Wall Street. It’s being replayed on loop. This is my take. This is what happened for me. I was like, I’ll just write about it. That’s the best way to get people to understand it.

Zibby: I’m so glad you did. I love that in the book you spend almost the first half really immersing us in your family history, your childhood, how you got there. By the time you get to Wall Street, we’re totally in it with you. I feel like I am walking in. I’m going out of that optometrist’s shop. I’m like, okay. That is such a badass thing that you did, by the way. That is so cool. Why don’t you tell what age you were when you were working and how you decided to go into this business. It’s so untraditional. It’s just so bold and awesome and amazing. Just tell that story. I love that.

Cin: My first intro to Wall Street, without telling too many people that haven’t read it, was in high school. I had never heard about what a stock market was. I was like, wow, what is it? That’s obviously just lack of resources and having that information. As I was working as a high school kid in eyeglasses, I rose really quickly to one of the best salespeople where I was actually being recruited to different stores. By the time I’m nineteen, I’m making fifty, sixty thousand, which twenty-five years ago wasn’t chump change. It was a good amount of money to make as a kid. I think for a lot of people, they’re like, this is great. This is good money. You’re doing really good. I always knew there was more. I knew there was no limit on what I could do. When this woman walked in and she told me she was a stockbroker one day as I was selling her glasses, that, to me, was like, wow, if she could be a stockbroker, I could be a stockbroker. That was literally my moment. I was like, oh, my god, I could be a broker too. Anyone can do it. That’s literally what I was thinking. It was like, anyone could do it.

Zibby: You describe her as so disheveled and all of this stuff. You’re like, her? Okay, yeah.

Cin: I’m like, wait a minute. I actually love that she was that person. When we think about Wall Street, we’re intimidated by everything we know about it, the money, the flashiness, the suits, the watches. That will keep a demographic of people out of the market. They’re like, I can’t do that. I’m not that person. When I saw her, I was like, I definitely got this girl’s number. I could do this. Just a couple of weeks later, it all came down. I got a foray into it by a guy that I knew that was like, “Hey, Cin. I think you’d be great for the –” I was like, okay, I can do this. Literally, that’s how I go in. I know that I’m summarizing it real quick. What’s important for me is for people to understand I never had any doubt that I could be a stockbroker. I never once thought I couldn’t do it. There was nothing that made me feel like this wasn’t my house. I never felt like a guest. I felt like we’re all building this house together. I want to stay in this house. What do I need to do to make sure I stay? It’s kind of like Big Brother. You want to stay in that house. You don’t want to go. I just had to figure it out. I figured it out. One of the most defining moments was me standing up to my boss at the time and just saying, I need to do something different. I think that is how I was able to propel forward to being able to become a stockbroker and then landing the biggest client of the firm. It was really fun. It was a great time.

Zibby: You had this one passage — is it okay if I read this? — early on about your ambition. You said, “My ambition has always devoured all of the oxygen in the room so that I can grow bigger, sparking to catch and expand hungrily beyond the neatly kept boundaries that polite society says that I shouldn’t cross. Fire keeps no borders, and neither do I. I am not afraid to burn those who cross me. It is how I have always lived my life, whether it’s scrambling to sell lunch tickets to make a few dollars in high school or surpassing the expectations of the good old boys in the boardroom. A fire is always in motion, and I’ve never stopped moving forward.” It’s so good.

Cin: I love that you read that. You know what’s funny? With your own book, when you’re writing, you never get tired of reading it. You could read the same thing twenty, thirty, forty, fifty times. Sometimes the way you interpret it, it’s interpreted so many different ways by other people. They see things that maybe I didn’t know when I was writing it. The way they interpret is, for me, so inspiring because someone has said, oh, my god, I read this, and this made me think this way. I felt this way. Even when you’re reading it, I still have these chills because I still feel the same way. Nothing’s changed. I feel that energy. I feel that fire. I feel that desire. More importantly, it’s the passion. Passion will take you anywhere and everywhere you want to go in this world. I truly believe that. It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be that you want to be the best teacher. It could be that you want to be the best nurse. It could be that you want to be the best judge. Whatever it is, if you’re passionate about it, you’re going to find a way there. For me, my story is to tell people, I get that there’s a lot of things going on. I didn’t have the same kind of — I want to say because of, obviously, COVID — we’re so much more exposed to the world because we have social media. We have the internet. I was kind of shielded from that. I was able to put my head down and just focus on what I wanted to do. I also knew when to pick my head up, which was really important. I was able to say, I want to do something. Nothing was going to stop me. I think it’s important in the times that we’re going through right now that people hear that message. Don’t forget about it.

Zibby: I think being driven is amazing. You just have that drive. You have to keep going. It’s great, especially if you find the right lane to put your drive in, your car charging forward. Sometimes you just don’t know if you’re in the right lane or not. Clearly, you found your lane for a while. You write in the book about waking up with a cockroach on your lip, in your mouth. To go from that to dealing with all of these people and situations and then having to combat these horrific men you interacted with — the guy, especially, that I can’t stop thinking about who showed you all those pictures of his nether regions as you get into work, the idea that this was so commonplace and okay for so long when now you can’t even have a sanctioned relationship start in the workplace — this was all going on. It’s just insane. You wouldn’t take it. You were just like, no. They turned and skedaddled. It was so cool.

Cin: Thank you for saying that. I think that so many people, when they think about standing up for yourself — sometimes, believe it or not, you get punished for being on the defense. Sometimes it’s always about how you should turn the cheek and look the other way and be a bigger person. We’re forgetting that when you’re in a situation where you’re the minority, whether it’s race, whether it’s religion, whether it’s gender, or however you identify, you have to say something. You have to make your path. You have to stand up for yourself. If not, then we’re saying it’s okay. For me, I was like, oh, no way. There’s nothing special about these guys. Literally, I still feel that way. There’s nothing special about them. There wasn’t anyone there that couldn’t do what I thought I could do just given the opportunity. It is about opportunity. When you even mention having the roach in my mouth and growing up that way in the projects, I shared that because I want people to understand that I’ve had it. I got it. I’ve been there too. I’ve had a lot of things happen. I don’t write everything in the book, but I give you a little bit of the life that I led and why it was important for you to see where I came from and where I knew I could go had I put my mind to it. That’s what was really important for me to show in the book. Even with all the obstacles, I still found a way to find some humor in it, believe it or not. I had to laugh. You laugh a little bit at your pain because that’s what gets you going.

Zibby: I totally agree. There’s sort of no other way through. If you want to make it through, you have to laugh.

Cin: You have to.

Zibby: One other paragraph that you wrote, and then I’ll stop reading. You said, “Mosquitoes are relentless. Swat one away, and it will come back undeterred to bite you again and again leaving angry red welts that you can’t soon forget. It feeds off you, gorging itself, and it will not stop until you are forced to kill it, squashing its little insect body against your arm or thigh, smearing your own blood across your skin, a streaked reminder that it stole from you. The men at my firm, and I’ll hazard a guess everywhere else on Wall Street, were mosquitoes. It’s too bad I couldn’t squash them with a simple, sharp slap.”

Cin: You know what? Even in winter, they were there. At least with the mosquitoes you know at some point they’re going away. This was all year round. If it were that simple, we’d all be in a better place. We wouldn’t be worried about what mosquitoes carry and getting bit and scratched. For me, knowing that they were always going to come, I think to be prepared mentally was why I needed to always be ready for them. When you know that, that puts you in this frame of mind all the time. I got to be on my game. I have to be sharp. I have to be the wittiest. I have to find a way to let them not get to me because they’re going to survive no matter what happens. I may not. Knowing that they were always coming for me was always like, all right, I got you. I got my net ready. That’s actually a really great paragraph. I hope a lot of people can take away from that because I know people are still going through that in the workplace now. I think the nineties is something we really don’t talk about. Honestly, Zibby, I don’t know for you, but the nineties was one of the best decades ever. Everything happened in the nineties. We’re talking about music, drugs, money, New York pre-9/11. It was happening. It was popping. I’m trying to bring us back to that a bit because we can still have a good time. We just have to find how we get there and how we learn to enjoy what we have. To me, that was really important to talk about, the things that happened in the time that I was growing up, because I take away only good things, really.

Zibby: It still shocks me that the nineties weren’t yesterday. I know that sounds ridiculous. I’m like, yeah, of course, the nineties were amazing.

Cin: Remember Palladium?

Zibby: Yes, yes. Oh, my gosh, I finished my — I shouldn’t even say this. The day I finished my last final in high school before Christmas break, some other people had finals the next day, but the rest of us went to Limelight. It was so cool.

Cin: Limelight was so cool. That’s fun still. To me, that’s still great. in Chelsea, I’m like, oh, my god, Limelight’s still — you know.

Zibby: Your book is kind of the bug spray that people need against the mosquitoes. If there’s one thing, they can put this all over themselves.

Cin: Just hold it up.

Zibby: What about the lesson you’ve taken away in terms of dealing with wealth for the lifetime of — you have an author’s note at the end where you encourage people to take better care of their financial lives and make some plans and not get sucked in or be unprepared. When you’re making a lot of money, you can feel like it’s going to happen forever. Then one day, it stops. What then? How do you plan for that? I do also think that is something that is not talked about, especially with so many celebrities and athletes. Then what happens next? Can you talk about that a little bit?

Cin: The irony is I walked into the business not knowing anything about Wall Street, about finances. That wasn’t something that I had access to. When I left Wall Street, I had more information, but it wasn’t anything that was given to me. I had to do the research. Even when you mention now, athletes and celebrities and entertainers that are not necessarily talking about money, it’s funny because money is still some type of taboo to talk about. We should talk about it because that’s how we all do better, if we have information. Not having that information is really, really important on how we move forward. I think it’s important for our kids to learn about how to work. My kids all have to work. Everyone knows that you give gifts a couple times a year, but anything else in between, you have to find a way how to make your own money. If I’m not here, who is going to provide for you? That’s why I think that information is important. Also, this generational wealth gap that we have right now, that’s directly linked to financial resources and financial literacy. I think that it’s something that we should all take very seriously. I think it will change the way how we move through life if we have that information. I also think it’s important about how we are able to change the dynamics for the people that are coming up behind us. That was important for me to write that because I will never be able to escape that I walked into this business not knowing a thing about money.

Zibby: Tell me about your life now. Can you do a fast-forward, a preview or something, without giving away the book? Where are you putting the drive, aside from writing this book? Where is it going? What are you up to?

Cin: One of the things, I’m in negotiation, even as of in the next day or so, depending on when this is being broadcast, I’m in negotiation for this as a film. That’s going to hopefully — I can’t give, obviously, too much information. That’s where I’m at with this. I think a lot of people saw something that they’ve never seen, which was so amazing, about the interest that I had in the book. It’s funny because I kind of wrote the book — I was like, this would be great for television or screen one day. That was one of my goals. To know that that’s going to happen is very exciting. What’s important to me also is the message that I relate throughout the book about where you come from, how you take that information, how you move with it. I’m also on my second book. I’m writing something totally different from Wall Street. The themes of it is, it’s a little bit how I was able to live my life and take that information and how I was able to move forward to my next hustle. I got a lot of people emailing me about, what was your next hustle? What’d you do after? You kind of left us on a cliffhanger. Can you talk more about your brother? That is actually in the works. I’ve been enjoying living in Europe with my family. We lived in Portugal, Lisbon, for a year. That was really different for the kids. Now I’m here in Paris. I think I’ll be here for the foreseeable future, but I’m in New York a lot. I’m going back and forth all the time. To be honest with you, I’m all about just chilling. In my book, you can tell, as much as I love to be hardcore, I like to relax. I like my two-hour lunches. I love just walking into stores for an hour. I like to just enjoy. I really love to enjoy people’s company. I love to laugh. As I look at you, you have these big dimples that I’m staring at. They’re so big.

Zibby: I know. Sorry.

Cin: It’s like you have one smile and two extra smiles hanging out over there on the side. I think this is a great time to just really be accepting of you’re at in life. For me, that’s what I’m doing. I’m just trying to enjoy life and do it my way.

Zibby: I love that. That’s amazing. Work hard. Play hard. Isn’t that another nineties, eighties maximum? Why did you go to Portugal and then Paris? How did you pick those?

Cin: I love Lisbon. I thought it would be a good place to reset. Especially coming after COVID, I wanted to be able to never be stuck in one place again. That was hard for everyone. I’m sure you get it. If you have four kids, it’s hard to balance all of that and stay sane. I was like, we need to all reset somewhere. It was a great place to reset. Paris, to me, there’s something beautiful about it. I love that you can just sit on a corner. You could be by yourself. People are smoking or drinking. You don’t need to have ten people around you. People enjoy themselves here. For me, Europe is just one of those things that I always said I would come to and live. That’s what I’m doing. These are my French elves here, Dobby and Creature. I got them eight years ago. They’re on this rug. You see his little bag there, his little French bag. I really encourage people — if anything COVID has taught us it’s really to try to just enjoy yourself. Enjoy others. More importantly, travel when you can.

Zibby: Totally agree. Now I want to come to Paris and sit on the street corner.

Cin: You’ll have a friend here. You can come.

Zibby: I love it. Yes, I will call you. Tell me about reading. What do you like to read? Do you like to read? What do you like to read? When do you like to read?

Cin: That’s a good question. I pretty much like everything. I don’t have one specific genre that I will say, I only read this. If it makes sense, I’m going to read it. I’ll even look at a cookbook for two days and be like, oh, man, what do they put in this? That looks yummy. Obviously, I have to say I love nonfiction because I wrote one, memoirs. I also like thrillers. I love the suspense of who’s going to caught. Who is it? I love stuff like that. I really love anything that just makes sense at the time to read. I actually love historical fiction. I like to go back in time. When Bridgerton came out, I already knew these words. My wife was like, “How did you know to say that?” I’m like, “Because I read that stuff all the time.” She’s like, “Oh, I didn’t even know that.” Believe it or not, I like old-school stuff like that. Besides that, I love softball. I love a good craft cocktail. I love taking long, meaningless walks nowhere. I’ll just walk for hours and hang out. That’s Cin in a box, really.

Zibby: That’s Cin in a box. I feel like you could brand that. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Cin: One of the things is what I first heard when I wrote my book. I remember someone was like, you know you have no followers. You have no social media. It’s funny because I told the person, you know — I’m still pretty much at the same — I’m a little bit better. I have this thing where I really believe that even if someone is telling you you can’t do something that’s not norm, be the anomaly. I’ll be the different one. I’ll try something someone said I couldn’t do. I love that one of the things you posted was about women in publishing. That’s really important because there’s not enough of that. I’m sure people have said, that’s tough. That’s really hard to get into. Someone has to do it. Someone has to be the first. Someone has to go in and say, there’s space for us. If there isn’t, make space. That’s what I will always tell people. Even if you’re at the disadvantage, I always saw myself as the advantage. I’ve never ever looked at myself as someone that was at the disadvantage. Going in with that mindset has always helped me go forward and not to have self-doubt.

Granted, I know that it’s easy — sometimes people can mistake arrogance — don’t mistake my confidence for arrogance, ever. What’s important is, for me, I had to have that. Those types of lives that we all live, everyone has to build something to protect themselves. For me, it was like, I know that I can do whatever it is I want. Fake it until you make it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I know some people are against that. I’m like, why not? What’s wrong with that? Do what you have to do to win, within reason, obviously. I don’t have a problem with that. I’ve never had it. When I walked in, I thought I was a stockbroker too. I was like, oh, yeah, I’m a stockbroker. I just don’t have a license. I’m going to get there. If you can think it, you can do it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Even when I was writing the book, I remember someone’s like, have you ever written anything? No, but today will be my first day. I’m going to try. Here I am today having a conversation with you and hopefully inspiring other people to go do the same and reach for whatever it is they want to do.

Zibby: That’s so awesome. That gives me goosebumps. That’s amazing. I feel the same way. I’m like, I’ll figure it out. Let me try it. Everybody doesn’t always go to everything with the whole guidebook already written. We all have to figure it out, so we might as well do what we want to do even if it sounds hard. I’m not afraid of hard. Hard is just something . I’m simpatico here. Cin, thank you so much. This has been such a pleasure. Thank you for your book and for sharing so openly about your feelings, your family, your career, your life. It was really moving to read. I won’t soon forget it. It was really impactful. I’m really glad you shared your story.

Cin: Thank you for having me. Also, I’m inspired by so many other authors that are writing and telling their stories as well. I think that we have that group that we all get it, how hard it is to do things. When we get to a certain place, I hope that we all share. Sharing information is so important. Hello to every other author out there. I’m rooting for you.

Zibby: It’s so sweet. I love it. Thank you, Cin.

Cin: Have a good one. Take care.

Zibby: Have a great day. Buh-bye.

Cin: Bye.

WOLF HUSTLE: A Black Woman on Wall Street by Cin Fabré

Purchase your copy on Amazon and Bookshop!

Check out the merch on our new Bonfire shop here.

Subscribe to Zibby’s weekly newsletter here.

You can also listen to this episode on:

Apple Podcasts