Decision Dialogues
Decision Dialogues

Episode 28 · 8 months ago

2021's Key Takeaways and Reflections

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

On episode 28 of Decision Dialogues, Mark Willoughby and Jennifer Faherty come together to discuss the first year of the podcast and many of the key takeaways guests have provided through sharing their experiences and stories. They talk about when it comes to decisions, the importance of passion, a life cycle, and the difficulties inherent in mixing personal business finances. They then outline exciting changes for the podcast in 2022.

Get the full show notes and more resources at ModeraWealth.com/DecisionDialogues

Are you paving the way for the life you want, facing decisions that may affect you personally and financially? The decision dialogs podcast, brought to you by Modera Wealth Management, presents personal stories about navigating through life's pivotal moments, narratives that we hope will inspire you as you create your own story. You'll learn what influence their next steps and gain insights that could help you with your own critical choices. Welcome to decision dialogs. The decision dialogs podcast, brought to you by Madera Wealth Management, presents personal stories covering pivotal moments and their impact on one's overall financial goals. My name is Mark Willoughby, I'm a principal and wealth manager at Madeira and I'm joined by Jennifer Faherty, Chief Client Experience Officer of Madeira. We've served as the host and interview for decision dialogs over the past year or so and as we come close to the end of the year, we thought it would be interesting to do something a little bit different on this episode and take some time to reflect on the last year of shows and do a little recap with some of our takeaways from the guests that we have interviewed over the past twelve months and before I bring Jennifer in, we do want to thank all of our guests over the course of the last year. We couldn't have obviously done this without them, and everybody has been extremely generous and sharing their experiences, their journeys and and some very interesting journeys. There have been so welcome. Jennifer, it's great to have you on the show. Hi, mark, thank you, thank you so much. Yeah, you know, it has been such an interesting year and so we definitely wanted to take some time to reflect on a few key learnings and share our perspectives as financial planners. So, you know, looking back on the past...

...year and Gosh, now over twenty episodes, you know, what are some of the common themes and action points that you think we saw and you know, might want to reflect on today? Yeah, and, and it's a great point, Jennifer, we've spoken to so many different types of people over the past year. They truly have come from so many different backgrounds and each of their stories are so unique, but they're definitely, as you and I have discussed, there definitely have been some common threads running through as we put distance between the interviews and the twenty guests that we've spoken to. I think they've been three overarching sort of areas that you and I can talk about today, and I think the first one is the passion that all of our guests have brought yeah to the podcasts and and the purpose that leads from that passion. So I think will spend a few minutes talking about the passionate purpose, overarching team. I think the second big thing that we've seen is is sort of there's a life cycle to the decision making and you and I can kind of there's a couple of different nuances to the life cycle of decisionmaking, but I think we can, we can talk for a few minutes on that. And then I think the last one, which is particularly challenging, I think, for many of our guests who are entrepreneurial, is is the sort of mixing of personal with business finances. So I think those are the three main areas that we've seen and before we dive in, Jennifer, anything else that you'd like to add to those three before we dive into passion and purpose? No, I would say those are really the three that that I saw as well and and honestly, as you know, as you mentioned, it's amazing,...

...you know, how we had so many guests on the show coming from so many different types of businesses. But you're right, you know, starting, say, with this passion and purpose. You know, that is definitely one thing that they all had in common. They really did all start their businesses because they had some kind of story, you know, that they shared with us that led them to really want to pursue perhaps a different path and maybe what they originally thought of. So I think that's a great place to start. Yeah, and as you're talking, Jennifer, I can't help but think of you know, we were lucky enough to meet a lot of folks who have actually taken the plunge. Right. So many people get into into a certain job, get into a comfort zone and maybe never push out of their comfort zone. So for me, the fascinating thing talking to each of our guests is the fact that we're talking to folks who, you know, they were doing okay, let's say, incorporate life, but they came across this this sort of passion that they engaged with and then they took the plunge, which is, you know, part terrifying, part exhilarating, you know, part really just inspiring in terms of the stories they broughtup. So I like to start with one of the more recent stories, one of the most recent interviews that we did, which was a gentleman. I mean the name doesn't really matter. His name is Eric Melser, but for me we interviewed Eric recently and he had spent the first fifteen years of his life on Wall Street M as an investor relation professional and essentially, if I can try to wrap this very quickly, you know, he was doing fine and he's Wall Street John and how he came across his purpose. He related the story to me. He essentially married, he's got four kids and he was sitting down...

...with one of his boys. He's four boys, and his young son asked him, you know, what did you do today dad? This is after his son had told him what he did at school. And his son asked them this a couple of times and and Eric sort of struggle to answer it. And Eric had always been interested in athletics and staying fit and taking care of himself in team sports and another athletic endeavors, and he basically decided that he would take the plunge and set up his own essentially great Ninja was the name, is the name of the firm that he set up, company that he set up, and it's essentially to work with young kids to develop, one on one, personalized their ability to Devlote, you know, to generate more grit and resilience in their life by engaging in these obstacle courses. HMM, that his startup company put together. So I just found it amazing that Eric was able to identify something that he was passionate about and then launch into a business endeavor. Yeah, and that's a right story and and I'll also add, you know, that reminds me in some ways that sometimes the passion comes leader. You know, certainly we spoke with some entrepreneurs and business owners who kind of always had an interest in a certain subject and kind of maybe always had in the back of their mind that maybe they wanted to start something. But then you have others like Eric, as you mentioned, that it kind of came later from a conversation they they had. You know, this case with with this a family members son reminds me actually of the first podcast that we had. We had a guest, Monique de Mayo, who was working in corporate, if you remember? Yeah, I remember Monique. Yeah, love to marketing and was was doing very well, was very successful and...

I'm much sure I remember she did have some entrepreneurial spirit, you know, with her family history, but I'm not sure she ever thought very consciously that she would open up her own marketing firm. But her passion was ignited when she came across you know, some some challenges, biases, I will say, in in corporate. You know, that kind of ignited a passion to really start her own her own business and kind of pursuing her own course. So I love just hearing these stories of how the passion comes from different places. Absolutely and and if I remember right, on a tangential note, I think Monique was unique, if I remember this correctly, that she actually works with her husband, yeah, the same marketing consulting firm. So the memory now there's yeah, it's well, you tend to remember things like that. Yeah, Jennifer, because if I think of working with my wife, and and I love my wife dearly, but I don't think we would work together well in an Entreprenur, Entrepreneuri and every breed. But, but, but it is fascinating to me that there have been a couple of our guests have actually launched on these entrepreneurial challenges along with their spouse, HMM, and partner, which is an amazing it's inspiring to me to see that happen, because talk about bringing the family together in a family business. That's it's amazing. The one thing I would say, and funny enough, I think you and I can talk to this to Jennifer personally. Yeah, that you know, as we were preparing for this podcast, one of the things you and I talked about was that intersection, almost like that venn diagram, if our listeners can remember the concept of the venn diagram, is that intersection of your passion on the one hand, MMM, which I think is the most important thing, your skills and experience on the on the other side, you know what what you've developed skills in, and then recognizing our market need for your skills...

...and experience allied with your passion. I think it's that's what has come through loud cheer for me. So the folks who are really pursuing their passion that they've sort of found that intersection of those three things. Yeah, that's so important. And you're right. I think you said that passion is the most important and I agree with you, because you need that passion to it's almost like your why you need that, especially when things start to get tough, you know. I think you need to have that, have that be very clear and kind of front and center to pull you through those challenging times. It's also not enough to have just passion. You want to make sure that you have you marry that with your skill set and then, of course, the market. Need make sure that the business is viable. All three are really, really important and interestingly I would love to hear your story actually of how you got started as a business owner. But for me, my passion was ignited in financial planning later in life and, interestingly enough, I was not very experienced in finance. It was ignited because because I saw that there was this need as a young mom, you know, somebody had to ask me some questions about my own, you know, personal finances and I was embarrassed that I didn't know the answer. Yeah, and it kind of got me on this new found passion where I started educating myself about, you know, what I needed to know as a young parent, and I realized that that wow, this is so important for women to know especially, but everybody to know. Yeah, and so I started getting this just again, this new found passion myself. But of the three areas, I didn't have the skill set, interestingly, so I actually had the passion. I knew there was a market need, you know, for for personal finance and financial advisors,...

...but then I had to go back and get my CFP. So that was kind of how my journey was. So it's interesting. All, you know where you can start off as a business owner. Know, you beat me to the punch, Jennifer, because I was going to ask you you know how you ended up finding your path and how you woke to journey. And for me, candidly, it's it's very similar to your story. So I won't spend too long, but but like you, I was ten years into my career. I was in finance and for me it was just a job. That's fine. Many people are willing to settle for their career being just a job. For me, I felt, you know, as I approach my s, I was in my late twenties, I realized I needed to figure out my why, I needed to figure out my purpose and what I really wanted to do was combine my professional life with a purpose and I was lucky enough, at the age of thirty that I discovered this area of financial planning and and, like you, decided, wow, if I can combine my financial knowledge that I've spent ten years developing in my career, go back to school, like you said, and study for another credential to equip me to be a good financial planner, financial advisor, if I can do that and bring my knowledge to help families sleep easy at night about their finances and their investments, my attitude was, where do I sign up? And it was just like one of those light bulb moments in my career where I realized, you know, wow, I can make a living doing this, doing what you love. Yeah, doing what I love to do, by just, you know, being there for families as they handle their finances and all that comes with that. It was just a a real lightbulb moment for me and and I think that's what we've seen for many of our guests,...

...is that they have that light bulb moment, maybe not so early in their career, but they have that moment at some point where they decide, okay, I've developed some skills in the professional world. I see this need in the marketplace for this good or service and I'm passionate about it, so let's go for it. So, yeah, so I think that that, for me, has been one of the most inspiring parts of our podcast, is just listening and he hearing people's stories about their passions and how they've pursued it, wearing their journeys and stories. That's right. No, let's talk about the life cycle of decisionmaking. That's kind of the overall theme that we've put on this where, once our guests have found their passion and their purpose, how they did throw themselves into the effort of building and enterprise business. And I have a couple of of the guests in mind, Jennifer, but I'm going to I'm going to go quite here for a while and just get your thoughts on how to frame this particular area. Well, you know, with a life cycle of decisionmaking in a business, I mean where to start, right? I mean there's so many decisions you have to make as business owners. I would say in the beginning, right, once you make that decision, I'm going to, you know, open my doors. You know, it's really if you're looking at, you know, the finance of it's really about cash flow and how you're going to stay afloat. I mean there's a lot of hopefully you build your runway, which I think we'll talk about a little bit later, but it's really kind of just that all the decisions have to go into the startup, launch phase. But if it's successful, then you have a whole other set of decisions to make and under maintenance and management and just people, you know, if you want to bring on more of a staff. And then now even you know, one of our guests has like the taking his business public, so that at a set of financial supervisions...

...that he probably might not have even anticipated. So, you know, I would just say there's so much to say about this topic because the life cycle is, you know, hopefully very long if you're successful in your business, and and really varied based on the stage you are in. And let's be unapologetically the financial planners that we are here, Jennifer, and let's you know, we have seen guests who do take the time to build capital and build that sort of treasure chest of money that they have saved diligently over the years because they know that they ultimately want to set up their own firm and as planners, you know, that is obviously the guidance we would give anybody looking to launch an entrepreneurial venture is to build one to two years of dry powder so that you can give yourself the oxygen to build your business, because the you know, launching early on is tough and the business might not go as well as you projected to go. So as planners, Jennifer and I would strongly advise anybody looking to strike out on their own that cash balance into your reserves early on. But we've also had guests to haven't quite done that, and it doesn't mean that it an't work out. It's a lot to do with your appetite for risk, we think. Hmm, we think that entrepreneurs, by their very nature, obviously are are open to risk taking, but we would definitely ask planners advised people looking to do this. You know, build your cash reserve first. Yes, absolutely, as much as possible. Really have that runway prepped and and a really good plan in place for that. I mean, and we talked to guests, certainly, as you mentioned, who had that runway built and then also who had maybe a second income,...

...either their spouse or some other. One guest I remember slept on her parents couch for a while, you know, to just make sure that her runway was kind of could be longer. But if you don't have that kind of plan in place, or maybe you have that plan in place but the business shifts. You know, I think one lesson learned it was was to actually take the lessons learned. So one guests I remember Terry Lions that we had on the show, not so much about runway but just maybe made some financial decisions that, you know, I would say regret. Maybe that's a strong word, but that looks looking back, she maybe have done things a little differently. But one thing that came out of it was that she did like pivot and really look at the lessons learn from that. I think she talked about two thousand and eight kind of going into a little bit more debt than she wanted to based on certain business decisions, but just her ability to pivot was pretty admirable and taking those lessons learned, because sometimes you don't know. You can have a plan of place, as we know, whether it's a business plan or a personal plan, is we work with clients on where you can plan. You we want you to plan, but things happen, circumstances happen that you might not anticipate, so the abilities kind of go back and reflect and pivot quickly, I think is a is a really important lesson. I distinctly remember that lesson learned from Terry when she was, in her words, overly generous with their staff in the credit crisis of two thousand days and it really put her back for two or three years coming out of the credit crisis. And then when the pandemic occurred a couple of years back, she was a little bit more disciplined about how she managed her finances and how she managed the firm and she was able to basically recover from the pandemic much more effectively than she recovered from the credit crisis. I think the other thing I wanted to bring up at this point too, about the life cycle theme...

Jennifer was you know, many of our guests had had this passion to launch a certain business or launch a certain service because that's what they want to do for the rest of their life is actually hands on deliver that service. I'm thinking in particular about one of our podcast guests, Dr Samira Out, who is an endercnologist, and her real passion was for working with patients to manage their diabetes, to manage their nutrition, and really she's had a lot of success with that. She's she's launched out on her own with one other DR partner, but that's what she continues to want to do, is is be hands on with the patients and as her practice grows, she was very clear and saying that if it grows very well, she's going to want to bring in somebody to help her manage the practice, because that's not her passion. She wants to stay really in touch with her patients. But you and I spoke to and you mentioned the podcast guest Chioh Wang. Do you want to talk a little bit about cheer because I think she was a little bit different. He saw the opportunity in the market for a packaging company, but I think his idea was to be the sort of chief executive of this venture. Are there any other guests that you can think of that kind of display a contrast in this area? Sorry, I'm putting you on the spot. Well before before I get to that with Shay Wang. I mean it's amazing story I think I'm actually really exciting because when we interviewed him, he, you know, he's his company box was already really successful, but now it's gone public, so it's even there's even an evolution since, I'm saying since our show aired. But I loved his story because he started out, you know, first in corporate and kind of building up his reserves and runway, which we talked about, then having this idea of delivering some kind of common supplies...

...like paper, towels and and kind of toiletries to your door, so like a delivery service, if you will. So he had this idea really like a start up to start up and his garage. I think he had pass pictures or showed us pictures of him and a colleague just working in the garage like packing boxes, right, and now they are the huge success story. But I think in his mind he always had that path somewhere in mind, that he wanted to build it but eventually, you know, being full management and run it, you know, not necessarily be always on the ground and kind of that you know, small, organic, kind of stored he wanted. I think you always envisioned a bigger trajectory. Yeah, and and wanting to be more as as like a CEO of a larger company. And I when I hear those two contrast it sort of reminds me of your and my career path, Jennifer, because, just very briefly, you know, my passion when I came into the financial planning space was to work with families and a little similar to box, our firm Madeira, you know, experienced a lot of growth and and I went in the operational direction to help grow the firm. And just recently, you know, I've almost turned full circle and realized, you know, my real passion is to work with that least. So I've taken a step back for my operational responsibilities and now I'm returning to working with families, hands on, kind of like what Dr Samirra Doud likes to do with her diabetes patients. So, and I think your career has followed a somewhat different path to my. Yeah, you know, I came in, as I mentioned, really wanting to help families and individuals with their finances and, you know, worked for many years as an advisor one on...

...one with clients, and now my path has evolved where I really love being more in the management side of things and and really looking at how we can grow the business and how it can help advisors do what they do best, working with with clients, but more on the management side. So I think it's it is interesting to kind of the evolution of one's path, you know, and how it can start off one way and end up another way sometimes. And really it's I think of just the quote not know thyself. Yeah, I know THY business, I guess, knowing like what your skills and passions are and how they evolved, and then and then also knowing what's right for the business. Right. So perhaps with Dr Samir a Dout, she might have thought, you know, probably it's best for her business toody else manage it, because she does what she does best with clients. So you kind of have to know when it when doesn't make sense to outsource in the business or hand over the reins to somebody else for management. Or maybe that's something you want to do yourself because it's good for you but also good for what you're trying to build. And I think that's a great segue, I think, to our our last overarching take away from the conversations with our podcast guests, which is this intermixing between personal and business finances. You know this is a particularly challenging one if you're a if you're a startup entrepreneur. I think it's fair to say that it's almost impossible to distinguish between your personal and your business finances because you've made this decision to throw yourself into a passionate endeavor to launch a new startup firm and as financial planners you know, as we advise our clients, it is so hard for us to see that. HMM, because for us it's so important that you do separate, to the extent you can, the two realms of personal and business. Easier said than done...

...when you're starting out of business, but I think that it's enough to say from my perspective here that to the extent that your firm grows and is successful, you really want to separate your personal from Your Business Finances as early as you can, because, although this business is your baby m you do have to find a way to separate it so that you can ultimately look at your personal balance sheet, your personal cash flow, as the family's cash flow, and sort of be objective about whether the business is being successful enough to support your family's needs. Jennifer, I'm not sure what you would add to this particular area. Yeah, I would say it is hard to do. I acknowledge what you're saying and that that point, because I think it is really hard to separate. But just to emphasize again, the earlier you can do that, the better and the more you can try to keep that objective hat on looking at both the personal on and the business finances. I think it's important, and I hate to keep honing in on this whole passion idea of that, but because you might have start a business because of this passion or this just an interest as developed, that makes it even more important to keep that rational. So, you know, we want we you know that the intersection between emotional and rational is, you know, not so neat and not a clear, you know, black and white line, but the more you can kind of see when you need to make a very rational financial decision for the business, I think the better off you'll be in, you know, doing that by tactical things like having different accounts, of course, but then also, you know, maybe separating processies and systems and even people who are running maybe the financial part of it versus the other aspects of it, and...

I think you've set me up perfectly, I think, for really one of the last points we wanted to make before we start rupping up here, Jennifer, which is that you know, you've got this situation where you've got an entrepreneur who's passionate about what he or she is doing and we're asking them to be objective. It's just none possible. Right on your own, left your own devices, it's almost impossible to be objective about this business that you're building, which for us, highlights the importance that, as soon as you can, you really need to consider bringing in outside advisors to help you become objective about the difference between your personal finances and your business finances, whether that's an accountant, and I know this sounds of serving, whether it's a financial advisor, whether it's some sort of business advisor or lawyer, you really will be best served in the long term if you can get one or two or more ideally, a team that works together. That will help force you to be objective about what you're building and how it serves your family and how it serves your employees. And the ironic thing about this, and Jennifer and I talked about this. You know by bringing in those advisors they will bring in creative ideas that on your own, you might well miss or overlook. Very true. So, while usually what's good for you is going to be good for your employees and sometimes you need an advisor with experience and different areas of running a business to highlight the opportunities to you. Because if you bring in something that's that's ultimately going to be financially effective for your family, it should also be effective for your employees and will increase their loyalty to your firm and hopefully increase the success of your firm going forward. Yeah, now, absolutely, and I think whether team you put in place, you know it's great be because it's it often is just a sounding board to write. So it's to...

...two purposes. A sounding board so you can just get things off your chest and kind of think through things, but then also get to get that proactive advice which ultimately you're still a the decision maker, right. We were talking about our our podcast of called decision dialogs. You know, you're still the decisionmaker as the business owner, but you're able to kind of come and you're able to gather expertise from different advisors, different people who might have other experience that you might not have and then ultimately carve out a different paths or a decision that you want to make from there. So definitely having that team, objective team who's there as your own sounding board, but also you can draw on some advice and get them advice from really important great. Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you and mark. Absolutely so. As we wrap up, I think, Jennifer, there's a couple of things you want to share about our podcast going forward. Yeah, so we're really excited. We've had a great first year and thank you, you know, to all of our guests, of course, and all of our listeners. We're really looking forward to starting a new year. We will be bringing back our guests, but we will be switching up the frequency to make it monthly, but we'll still be back in two thousand and twenty two. And in addition, we've gotten some feedback from our listeners that you'd like us to end our podcasts with a few key takeaways, so we will be doing that. You'll see that change starting where will end each episode with one key takeaway from our guests or interviewer and in the spirit of that key takeaway. Let's start right away. So, just as a quick recap of the themes that we've been seeing throughout the year. The three main takeaways, and we believe that this supplies whether you're thinking about starting a business, whether you've already started or whether you're well down your business path. There are a few things you want to validate and assess.

Number One, refer back to that then diagram that Jennerfin I talked about, that intersection between your passions, your skills and experience and the market need for what you can offer. This number one. Number two, as you experience growth in your business, it really does become increasingly important to separate the business and the personal. And number three, along those lines, at some point you really do need to consider bringing in outside external advisors. Its sounding boards, somebody who will act as your trusted advisor and presents opportunities that you might not think of yourself. So thank you all for joining us today and we hope to see you in the New Year. Thank you, mark. Thank you for listening to decision dialogs. We hope you found today's stories helpful for your own decisionmaking. If you like to listen to more episodes, you can subscribe on your preferred podcasting APP or visit our website, where you'll also find show notes and important disclosures. WWWOOD WELLCOM forward slash decision dialogs. This has been a production of twin flames studios.

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