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008: Tom Corley – Studying the Wealthy to Cultivate Rich Habits

Tom Corley is a CPA/CFP and holds a Master’s Degree in Taxation. He also is the best-selling author of the Rich Habits book series, which include, Rich Habits , Rich Kids , Change Your Habits, Change Your Life , and Effortless Wealth , among others. Tom understands the difference between being rich and poor, having experienced it firsthand at a young age.

Today, Tom shares his story of overcoming adversity and what inspired him to research the wealthy and launch over 200 daily habits. Tom identifies specific habits that are critical to financial wellbeing as well as which ones to avoid and expounds on why it’s incredibly difficult to break out of poverty.

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Key Takeaways

00:55 – Tom Corley shares how his experience with money growing up impacted his career and adult life greatly

09:25 – Studying the wealthy and the inspiration to start the Rich Habits book series

15:15 – The importance of knowing what to do and what not to do

20:04 – Pushback and criticism Tom has encountered throughout his career

29:06 – A scientific explanation for the formation of a habit

32:46 – Why it is so difficult to break out of poverty and Tom’s mission of outreach to the poor

37:35 – Two habits people can work on today to improve their financial wellbeing

41:29 – Two bad habits to avoid

47:02 – Jonathan thanks Tom for joining the show, lets listeners can go to follow him and his research and teases a future conversation with Tom

50:55 – Hustle culture and how to turn it off

52:47 – Tom’s next big project

Tweetable Quotes

“Almost always the things that happen to you as a child follow you into adulthood. It’s not just the emotional experiences, it’s the habits that are forged in childhood.” (03:53)

“The money lesson I learned growing up was don’t save, because if you save somebody in your poor family is going to take that money from you.” (05:28)

“I’m in the self-help and personal development space along with Tony Robbins and all these other people that I’ve met. And they always focus on what wealthy and successful people do. I always say, that only gets you halfway down the football field. It’s nice to know what to do, but you also have to know what not to do.” (15:15)

“The way habits work is when you start a new behavior that you want to forge to become a habit, the group of neurons lights up in your brain. Now, once you start repeating that behavior, after a couple of weeks, the basal ganglia – which is sort of a golf ball sized mass of nerve cells in the brain – sends up a dendrite. And then the dendrite communicates back to the prefrontal cortex that this could be a habit.” (29:06)

“Passion is the brain’s way of alerting you to the existence of an innate talent that you possess.” (39:36)

“I came from a household that was rich and that was poor and let me tell you, rich is great. Being poor sucks. I want people to know that I know what both sides are like and you’ve got to do whatever you can to get out of poverty.” (45:17)

Guest Resources

Tom’s Website – https://richhabits.net/

Tom’s Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thomas.c.corley.3

Tom’s Twitter – https://twitter.com/RichHabits

Tom’s YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/RichHabits10

Tom’s Books:

Rich Habits – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IDJGVT4/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Change Your Habits, Change Your Life – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/9388247132/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i5

Rich Habits, Poor Habits – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N0T44BD/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

Rich Kids – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NF3ZZJA/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i3

Effortless Wealth – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B087KTPBM7/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4

Books Mentioned:

The Millionaire Next Door – https://www.amazon.com/Millionaire-Next-Door-Surprising-Americas/dp/1589795474

Mindful Money Resources

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Episode Transcription

Jonathan DeYoe: Welcome back. On, uh, this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Tom Corley, who’s a CPA CFP, has a master’s in tax, and is the best selling author of the Rich Habits series of books, including rich habits, rich kids, change your habits, change your life. Rich habits, poor habits, and effortless wealth. His work has been seen by 100 million people in 27 countries. I’ve been reading his kind of tough love money message myself for about ten, maybe 15 years, and I’m happy to have him on the show today. Tom, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.

Tom Corley: Hey, Jonathan. How are you doing, my friends? Good to be, uh, on. I’m glad.

Jonathan DeYoe: So where do you call home, and where are you connecting from?

Tom Corley: Yeah, so I was originally born and raised in New York, and now live, uh, down by the Jersey shore in, uh, long branch. We’re a couple of blocks from the. I just. My office is in Aberdeen, Matawan, New Jersey. I don’t know if you know where that is, but, uh, they call it over the bridge, exit 117, 118 on the Garden State Parkway. That’s how people measure where you are in New Jersey. We’ve got a CPA firm here, financial planning firm, and I do my rich habits, author work, and my speaking business and all that stuff right from here.

Jonathan DeYoe: It sounds like you spent your whole life on the east coast. Have you spent any time in any other part of the country?

Tom Corley: Well, I think the east coast is it. In terms of living. I’ve been relocated a few times working for big companies, so didn’t like that. But mostly in the east coast, but traveled all over the country, uh, mainly because of the rich habits. I also traveled a little bit when I was an assistant tax director. Had responsibility over about a thousand people in the States. And Puerto Rico and in Canada. So I did quite a bit of traveling in those areas. And my speaking stuff has taken me all over, not just the United States, but Vietnam, Australia, Ireland. So it’s been pretty cool. I have to say I really enjoy this journey that I’m um.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I’m always curious about talking to finance people, what they learned about money as a kid. What’s the financial story that you had growing up?

Tom Corley: My story is an interesting one because we were rich and then we weren’t. My father’s, it’s a long story, but in short, my father’s, uh, tool distributor business, which he owned most of the east coast, Sears, JCPenney, there was a hardware store, I can’t remember the name, just all of the big names back then. He distributed tools to and his warehouse burned to the ground. And in short, almost overnight we became poor. And so what I experienced growing up, I was nine years old when that happened. But I tell this story a lot because it did shape my money story. Oftentimes, not oftentimes, almost always, the things that happen to you as a child follow you into adulthood. It’s not just the emotional experiences, it’s the habits. The habits that are forged in childhood. Most of our habits come from our parents and uh, from mentors and from people that are in our inner circle as we become adults. But I remember when I was in the 8th grade, we were graduating and I shoveled snow and I mowed lawns and I did all that sort of stuff to make money because there was no money in our house. And I saved up about $150. And I remember I told a bunch of close friends, probably about 15 of them, that I was going to have an 8th grade graduation party. And then I mentioned it to my mother about like a kid two weeks before, and she’s like, we can’t have a graduation party, we don’t have any money. And I said, well, I saved up $150 from all the work I was doing. And almost immediately, as soon as the words came out of my mouth, that $150 was gone. So I had to cancel the party. I uh, had a second experience where I started working right after I graduated college. And I saved up about $4,000 because I wanted to buy. They had a car, a cool car, back when I was just graduating college was called the Ford Fiero. It was Jonathan, the coolest looking car, and I was convinced it was a chick magnet. And so I saved up $4,000 and uh, somehow my mother found out about it. And the next thing I knew, I was giving that $4,000 to my father. So the money lesson I learned growing up was don’t save, because if you save, somebody in your poor family is going to take that money from you. And that is actually a very common story among poor people. That’s why poor people struggle as adults saving money, because they have forged the habit of getting rid of any money that they have, because somebody’s going to take it from them and, uh, you’re going to give it up voluntarily. If there’s love in your heart, that’s just the nature of being a good human being. But that’s the lesson that you learn as growing up poor. And that stayed with me. It took me a while to shake free of that.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I remember actually the Ford Fiero, it was not the coolest car. I’m going to push back on that a little bit.

Tom Corley: You know, it had the flip up lights. Yeah, I remember, uh, the only other car that had that was the Mazda Rx seven, which was a cooler car, which I ended up getting later on in life because I guess because I didn’t get my Fiero or whatever, but that was my dream car. That was my dream car. Wow.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, in college, that’s an interesting dream car. Tell us you learned this really striking lesson as a kid. How does that translate into your career? You’re entrepreneurial. You mentioned you work for some larger tax firms. How does that translate into, I’m going to develop this career path in finance?

Tom Corley: Well, I think I went into accounting. It’s really a simple story. I was beginning my sophomore year in college, and I was working as a janitor 20 hours a week. We didn’t have any money for college. So the school I worked for, Curtis high School, they were public schools, New York public school. And they were so kind. They said, look, you can work from 330 to like eight, basically giving me about 20 hours a week that way, and then go to school full time. So that’s what I did. And I remember I was in my beginning of my sophomore year, and I said to my dad, I’ve got to matriculate. I’ve got to pick a major. And he said, pick accounting. You’ll never starve. And he meant it. Parents always want their kids to be okay as adults, functioning adults, and not to worry. They didn’t have any money and they couldn’t help me. So you’ve got to pick a good major that allows you to live a middle class or upper middle class lifestyle, because otherwise you’re going to struggle in life. So it meant a lot to me. We never starved, Jonathan, so I want to dispel that notion. We didn’t have food scarcity, but we were always on the verge of being homeless. It was just a thing we always worried about. But it meant a lot to me when he said that. So I didn’t particularly like account. I’m still not crazy about it. I like what we can do in helping people and businesses. I like that part of it. Adding value to the lives of others through our knowledge and our skill sets that I like. But the science of accounting, it’s boring. And uh, everybody who’s involved in it will tell you the same thing. It’s not a, uh, surprise to anyone who’s in it, but critical.

Jonathan DeYoe: It’s boring, but critical.

Tom Corley: And boy, let me tell you, when it comes to business having an accounting background, my God, within a minute I can look at a financial statement and I could see where all the skeletons are buried. So that’s an important skill set to have if you’re running a business. And so I think that gave me a bit of an advantage in terms of pursuing the entrepreneurial path, I guess because I knew financial statements and I knew how all that stuff worked and I’m able to take that with me into the different businesses that I have and apply all of that. And it’s been a real big asset to me.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, okay, so grew up with kids, as kids, the difficult experiences, not a lot of money, end up being, I think, pretty successful as a CPA at a national accounting firm, have the entrepreneurial bug. Where does that lead to? Studying the wealthy? How did that happen?

Tom Corley: Well, so I took over Seraphis and company as a CPA firm back in 2004. And I think almost immediately it was like within the first three or four months I had this client who I didn’t know, they wanted to meet with me, a business client, and it was urgent, so I had to meet with them at like 08:00 one night. And they came to my office and this guy, big guy, big burly guy, and he had a auto repair, auto body shop or something like that. He was very intimidating figure in the office. Anyway, everybody was intimidated by him. And I remember Charlote who worked for us at the time said, oh my God, nobody likes to deal with him. So I’m like, oh great. So I meet with this guy and he is very intimidating. Big guy, 64, something like that, 280 pounds, something like that on that range. And he sat down, he says, you’re my accountant, uh, you’ve been the accountant for this company when my father owned it, and then when I took over. And so now I need you to help me get a line of credit. And I said, okay, um, I have some business, some banking relationships. I’ll, um, make some phone calls. And he says, well, I need it by this Friday. It was Tuesday. I said, well, that’s not going to happen. He got mad at me. And so I said, you’re just going to have to calm down. If we’re going to have a conversation as adults, you’re going to have to calm down. And so he did. And I explained to him that banking relationships take months, years to develop. I said, you’re not going to get a line of credit from any of my banking relationships. I promise you that. Not by Friday. I can absolutely dispel that notion from your head. Never going to happen. I said, if you think that that’s a shortcoming of me, fine, go to somewhere else. Go to another accounting firm. Go to anywhere. They’ll tell you the same thing. It’s impossible. So at that point, he broke down, he started crying, and I realized there was more to this story. And what happened was he took over the business from his father, and he did a good job, but he got divorced. And when he got divorced, he started tapping into his line of credit. Ah, over a ten year period, it grew to, I think it was close to $400,000. He was basically taking $40,000 a year. And I talk about in the book, rich habit for not such good reasons. Prostitutes and things like that. It was stupid, but it wasn’t a lot of money a year, but it added up his salary as an auto repair. Auto body guy should have been around 125,000, but it was 165,000. And he would draw from the line of credits and bring it into the business, and then he would pay himself a salary. And then we use some of that money for nefarious purposes. Bad habits, really. Not nefarious, just bad habits that he had. And so he broke down, started crying, and he told me the whole story. And he said to me, what are your successful clients doing that I’m not doing? What am I doing wrong? What’s causing me to fail? And it took me a while to figure out that he was spending $40,000 a year on this stuff. It happened at a lunch that we had, and I realized I was asking him all the wrong questions. All these months, trying to figure out what was wrong with this business. Nothing was wrong with this business. He was paying himself too much and he was using that money for stupid reasons. And so I started. I realized I was asking him m all the wrong questions. And then I, uh, had a light bulb moment. The aha moment. There’s got to be some information out there on the web as to why some people are rich and some people are poor. And I started looking at everything, and I got this book called the Millionaire next door. I read through that.

Jonathan DeYoe: Dr. Thomas Stanley.

Tom Corley: Yeah, it was a good book, but it didn’t answer the question. Know, most of the people in that book were doing pretty well, and he didn’t peel the onion in terms of where did they start, how did they get to where they were. He just sort of highlighted certain attributes, data points about the individuals who were truly wealthy and the, uh, individuals who just had high income. So it didn’t help me. And that aha moment I had was, I’ve got to do my own research on this. Got it. And being a CPA, we’re really good with numbers, you know, that and data. So it took me a while, but I came up with a list of what I call my 20 question list. But it’s really 144 questions broken up into 20 categories. And over a five year period, I asked 233 wealthy people and 128 poor people these 144 questions. And I gathered all this data, transferred it over to excel worksheets, and then summarized it into what’s become known as my rich habits research summary. And I lean on that research summary all the time for my articles and for other things. But it’s, uh, really such a valuable tool, basically, in three columns. Because there’s a rich column, poor column, and then there’s the self made millionaire column, because out of the 233 m millionaires, I think 24% of them had inherited their money, right? So they weren’t self made. 177 of the 233 individuals were self made. They came from either poverty or the middle class.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I’ve heard you reference that number. Actually, I think I heard you reference 87% in preparation for this. I think I heard you in an interview, say 87 millionaire.

Tom Corley: So I think the real value is in the 177 self made millionaires. Totally. And the poor people. And the poor people, I always like to say, because most of this, I’m in this self help, self personal development space with Tony Robbins and Robin Sharma and all these other people that I’ve met doing speaking gigs. And, uh, they always focus on what wealthy people do, what successful people do. And I always say, that only gets you halfway down the football. Know, it’s nice to know what to do. But you also have to know what not to do. Right. That what not to do. And that what to do is how you score touchdowns and how you become successful in life, because you can have all the rich habits in the world, Jonathan. But if you have an equal number of poor habits, you’re going to be on a treadmill, you’re going to be running really hard and going nowhere and scratching your head and saying, what am I doing wrong? Like that one client said, what are successful people doing that I’m not doing.

Jonathan DeYoe: In this current environment, political environment, our economic environment? I think that statistic, 87% of millionaires start with nothing. They don’t inherit it. They built it themselves. I think that’s hopeful. Should we take hope from that and be more hopeful?

Tom Corley: Yeah. In a free country, in a country, know, in a socialist or communist country, rich habits mean nothing. They’re meaningless. You know, in a free market economy, in a country that embraces the free market system, yes, anyone can become wealthy. And in America, the politicians, in order to get votes, because let’s face it, most people are living in poverty or the middle class. In order to gain votes, they have to appeal to the poor class or the middle class. And the best way to do that is to tell them it’s not your fault, and we’re going to go after the bad, evil people who are the wealthy people, because they’re holding you back. Wall street, the wealthy people, they’re the reason you’re poor and stuck in the middle class. That’s not true in America. Most of the people who become wealthy, there’s a bell curve when you’re talking about millionaires, and in that bell curve, that 99% of the millionaires they have between. This is why I chose 3.2 million as the starting point, the benchmark, the threshold, if you will, for evaluating whether or not somebody’s wealthy, 3.2 million to about 10 million. Is that 99%? That’s it. There’s outliers who have significantly more money, and there’s outliers on the other side that have less than 3.2 million and still are, uh, wealthy because of their standard of living. But in that bell curve, that’s it. That’s most of the millionaires. And so I’m trying to appeal to those people. And those people, almost all of them, uh, depending on the wealth x report that comes out every year, that vacillates between 78% and 85%. 86% are self made. They come from poor, poverty, or middle class. In my rich habits study, I think that was 76% came from poverty or the middle class. So I’m trying to appeal to those people with my rich habits. If you want to become a billionaire, like Elon Musk, or know the rich habits are only going to get you so far. They’ll help you, no doubt about it. But what is going to make you a billionaire is luck.

Jonathan DeYoe: Right?

Tom Corley: You have to have an enormous amount of luck.

Jonathan DeYoe: Right?

Tom Corley: It’s just the facts. Luck is the number one ingredient to becoming a billionaire.

Jonathan DeYoe: Right?

Tom Corley: But not that bell curve, not that 99%. It’s not luck. Uh, you create your own luck in the form of what I call opportunity good luck. And that’s by having good habits, pursuing opportunities, calculated risks, educated risks, not lottery risk type risks, not gambling type risk. You create the opportunity for good luck to occur in your life by doing certain specific things every single day, over and over and over again. And one of those things is you read. To learn whatever it is in your industry, you’ve got to become, uh, almost expert in what you do. Have, that expert knowledge. If you’re skill based, you need to have that expertise, that virtuoso skill set. So it depends on what you do for a living, but you have to practice if it’s a skill set, and you have to read if you’re a knowledge virtuoso. That’s what I’ve been trying to share and get the information out to that group, that bell curve of people that want to become millionaires, like those millionaires. Between 3.2 million and 10 million.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. The majority of millionaires, like the normal, run of the mill millionaire. I read your work academically, more or less, right. These habits work. These habits don’t. If you want to be really successful, try these success habits. And I find myself wondering if you get any pushback or criticism for it.

Tom Corley: Oh, boy. When I was on the show, you know, he had me scheduled for one segment, which in the radio world is, uh, like five minutes or something like that. And he had me on the show because Yahoo. Finance had interviewed me, and they came out with the interview, and the interview went viral. In fact, it was farnoous terabe. I have to thank her for introducing me to the world or introducing the world to me so farnouch in that when I was doing the interview, I remember asking her, Kate, her producer, I said, what’s, like, the hit rate that I can expect on this? And she said, well, if you get 50,000 hits, then it’s really good. I said, well, how much is the most that you ever had? And she said, oh, we’ve had as much as 400,000 hits. And I was a little deflated, jonathan, to be honest with you, because this is Yahoo finance, I figured they had millions and millions. So anyway, the interview came out in, I think it was July. The interview came out in July, right? Mid July. And within 24 hours, we had 2 million hits on it. And that is actually when I knew that my rich habits struck a nerve, that there was a need. Up until that point, to me, it was just an obsession. I guess I thought that this was something that could change people’s lives, that people would be interested in. But after that Yahoo finance interview went viral, and then one of the listeners, or watchers, whatever, was Dave Ramsay. And I, uh, remember the day, it was, like, July 13 or something. And I remember coming home late from a client meeting, and I think it was 09:00. And my wife, I, uh, walked in the door, and my wife said to me, some guy named Dave Ramsey has been trying to get a hold of you. I go, Dave Ramsey? And I’m thinking in my head, I don’t have any clients named Dave Ramsey, right? And I said, he goes, no, he’s on the radio. He’s been talking about you all day today. I was like, what? What are you talking about? And she, yeah, yeah. So I went downstairs, got online, and Dave archives his shows at the end of the show. So I listened to his show that day, and I said, holy crap. He was talking about my rich habits for, like, an hour. And he said, we got to get this guy on the show. And his producer, I finally got in touch with his producer. The funny thing is, I called that night, and I got Rachel, his daughter, and she said, oh, my dad’s been trying to get a hold of you. And she gave me the producer’s name, and I called him the next day. And that Friday, I was on the Dave Ramsey show. I was supposed to be on for five minutes that they told me adamant about that it was going to be five minutes. That’s it. So Dave’s going to ask you certain things. You got to make your points. And they were nervous about me because they didn’t know me. And, uh, you’re always nervous as a radio host. I would be, too. So he got comfortable with me in about a minute, and we were on for a half an hour, and he has 8.8 million listeners. And I got a call after I was done with the interview, because it’s live. And, uh, it was my friend Bill King, he’s a CPA. And he said, I nearly drove my car off the road. I was listening to the Dave Ramsey show. And then, uh, here’s my best friend, tom Corley is on the Dave Ramsey show. It’s comical. I got calls from everywhere. People were like. I was like, man, this guy is really powerful. He has a lot of listeners. That opened the door, and the next thing I knew, I think, jonathan, I think I sold 30,000 books in a week. And that month, maybe 50,000. And I had just one stupid book out, a paperback. That was it on Amazon. I had no ebooks. I had no audiobooks. I had no books written in Chinese. Complex or simple, I had one book, and it exploded on Amazon. I was ranked. A lot of people don’t know this about Amazon, but you are only truly a best selling author when you break the top 100 in Amazon in that country. Amazon has different locations around the world in the United States. I broke the top 100, and I was actually at number seven. Number seven. I was ahead of Tony Robbins. He had come out with a finance book. I don’t know if you remember that finance book he came out with. I was ahead of Tony Robbins. I was ahead of Dave Ramsay’s own book. I think, um, the only one author was ahead of me for two books, and it was, uh, J. K. Rawlings.

Jonathan DeYoe: Oh, wow.

Tom Corley: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: And she sold millions. That’s good. So did you. I’m, um, going back to the question from the Dave Ramsey show or from the other things. Did you get any criticism for it? Were there people that said, like, this is crazy?

Tom Corley: Sorry, I went off on a tangent there. So what happened after the Dave Ramsey show is CNN just went hostile on Dave Ramsey, and I. And this is proof that the media actually does no work at all. They kept referring to me as Tim Corley. Now, my brother Tim Corley, works for the DEA.

Jonathan DeYoe: Wow.

Tom Corley: So that pissed him off a little bit. And so I had to call up CNN, and I said, you got to stop with the Tim Corley crap. He’s a high level DEA agent. Stop. My name’s Tom Corley. Do your homework. They listened to the damn show, and then they couldn’t even get my name, so. And Dave Ramsey was. For two days, he was talking about the fallout. I mean, they were ripping us about how we were beating up on poor people. I wrote the book for poor people. I was poor. Don’t tell me what I’m doing. I’m helping poor people. They were just spinning it to fit the narrative, which is poor people are good and wealthy people are bad. And that’s all there is to it. It’s black and white. And they did not like the fact that we were holding poor people personally responsible for their poverty. They did not like that at all. And, um, I spent probably six or 7 hours responding. Stupid of me, but I did responding to all the comments on CNN, and there were thousands and thousands of comments. I had probably ten people that I would not let off the hook. And I kept going back at them, and they finally raised a white flag and they said, we surrender. We’re not going to argue with you anymore, because they couldn’t win the argument. But that was what the feedback fallout. Oh, my God. Dave Ramsey will not ever have me on his show again. Never. Not in a million years after that. Because I can only imagine what he went through me, what I went through. He’s a, uh, celebrity. What he must have gone through, I can’t imagine, like the advertisers, what they must have been saying behind the closed doors. Oh, my God. But it was really bad going back.

Jonathan DeYoe: I do read it academically, and I’ve read it for 15 years now. And I think it’s like all you did was say, here’s good habits, here’s bad habits. Follow some good habits and it’ll be beneficial for you. Right? So what do you say to folks when they say, uh, I can’t do it. It’s too hard. Tom, you don’t understand my struggle. What do you say to those who suggest that you are blaming people for.

Tom Corley: Their lack of many? I have a whole one of those brown binders filled with comments, emails and stuff that I get from people all over the world that have told me how the rich habits have completely transformed their lives. So all I can say to those people is, look, perhaps you’re doing it wrong because I always highlight the importance of starting small. You can’t. Like, I had a friend of mine, Pat, who, he runs a big insurance agency, and he said, you know, he called me up one morning, he goes, uh, I’m so down right now. And I said, what’s the matter, Pat? He goes, well, remember that rich habits list that you and I created? I think I created like eight things. We collaborated, and we came up with eight rich habits that were sort of specific for his know, for him and his career. And I told him then I said, just follow one or two of these initially. Maybe one. And he said, you know, I have been doing this for three months, and I’m, uh, having a 40% success rate. I said, what do you mean a 40% success rate. He goes, well, I’m only able to follow three out of the eight rich habits at a time consistently. And I said, pat, I said, I’ve never tackled more than one rich habit at a time. I said, are you out of your friggin mind? I said, I told you one or two rich habits at a time. It’s impossible to do more than it’s. You’re going to give up. He goes, well, that’s what I feel like doing, giving up. So we pivoted, and I told him, uh, all I want you to do is focus on this one rich habit. This is the only thing I want you to focus on. Ignore all of the rest. And then when it becomes a habit, because you have to understand how habits work, and I do. The way habits work is when you start a new behavior that you want to forge to become a habit, the group of neurons lights up in your brain. Now, when that behavior, when you start repeating it after a couple of weeks, takes a couple of weeks of repetitive behavior. The basal ganglia, which is in the sort of a golf ball size mass of nerve cells in the brain, sends up a dentrite. It’s how you receive information through dentrites. The axons send information, dentrites receive information. So the basal ganglia, uh, sends up a dentrite, because the prefrontal cortex says there’s something going on in the brain. This may be a habit. The brain likes habits, wants to form as many habits as possible. So it instructs the basal ganglia, send up a dentrite, see what’s going on, sends up a dentrite, does a reconnaissance mission for about two or three weeks, and then the dentrite communicates back to the prefrontal cortex. This could be a habit. And so the prefrontal cortex says, okay, designated as a habit. So then the dentrite becomes a permanent fixture, like building a highway in the brain. Once that happens, and it takes about six, depends on the habit. But you can form a habit overnight. Don’t get me wrong, you can, but most habits take about six weeks to forge really hard habits, like learning how to swing a tennis racket or a golf hit a golf ball or hit a slice if you want to, or a hook if you want to. Those things take longer. But the average run of the mill, plain vanilla habits, they take about six weeks for the neurons to be marked by the basal ganglia as a habit. And once they’re marked as a habit, they’re marked forever. Now, where a habit can be formed overnight is when the emotional center of the brain, where the behavior gets the attention of the emotional center of the brain, then the emotional center of the brain, not the prefrontal cortex, communicates to the basal ganglia and says, send up a dentrite right away and mark it as a habit. We like this. Now, think of cell phones. Right. You literally can download the TikTok app and become addicted overnight. Well, that’s because you’ve activated the emotional center part of the brain, and it instructed the basal ganglia. We don’t want any reconnaissance mission. Make it a habit immediately. And why does the emotional center have that power? Because the emotional center of the brain has been around millions and millions and millions of years longer than the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is relatively new. I would say it’s 600 to 700,000 years old. In terms of humanity.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, we’re still figuring it out.

Tom Corley: Yeah. So the emotional center of the brain, which is the limbic system and the brain stem, have been around since humanity has been around. So it’s far more powerful. You want to know how I know that this is true? When, if you’ve ever seen car accidents and the victims of the car accidents, there’s videos on this. They go into a state of shock. What is a state of shock? State of shock is when your prefrontal cortex is shut down. Why does your brain shut down the prefrontal cortex? Because the fight or flight system takes over. That’s the limbic system and the brain stem for survival purposes. It doesn’t want the prefrontal cortex to evaluate or think, or maybe I should go do this, or maybe it shuts it down, says, you’re out of the picture. This is about survival, and the person goes into shock. That’s how powerful that part of those two parts of the brain are. They literally can shut down your consciousness. Shut down your consciousness. Amazing.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’m curious, because this actually brings up a whole nother topic, and I didn’t intend to go here, but in the last couple of years, there’s been a lot of research on people who exist in poverty simply can’t make the rational decision. They simply can’t, because it’s a poverty mind. It pulls away the ability. So is that what you’re saying, is that we’re stuck in our middolls? We’re stuck.

Tom Corley: Here’s what’s going on with poor people. We all have bandwidth, meaning our brains have certain bandwidth or capacity to deal with things during the day. This is decision making. This is analytical stuff, choices. Uh, we only have so much bandwidth. What happens with poor people is their bandwidth is taken up predominantly by financial emergencies. They’re constantly under financial duress, and they’re thinking constantly about this bill, about that bill. Something went wrong. Maybe the furnace broke. How am I going to fix it? So their bandwidth is taken up by all this stuff. Now, when your bandwidth is taken up, that means you don’t have the cognitive ability to think your way out of a problem. That’s why it’s so hard when you’re poor to break out of poverty, because you don’t have the bandwidth. I can tell you I wrote rich habits for poor people. Almost no one who’s poor has read rich habits. I think out of the 500,000 books that I might have sold around the world, I bet you about 1000 were purchased by poor people. They just don’t have the time. And I learned this as an author, a new author. My demographic, my target market was poor people. It turns out the people that were buying my book were people in the middle class on the verge of being upper middle class. They were the lion’s share and rich people, people that were not uber rich, but rich. The Uber rich won’t have anything to do with my rich habits. The people that are just about wealthy or getting wealthy and want to get more wealth, these are the people that are buying all of the books.

Jonathan DeYoe: So is there anything we can do to reach out to the poor people? What do we do then to help those people? Because I think I have that. I’d like to help them too. I come from poverty as well, sort of like you do. So how do we reach them?

Tom Corley: Well, that’s why, I guess my mission has been, since I figured this out in 2012, that I needed to, a better way to get to communicate to poor people. I started, um, what I call conquer the media, and that’s tv, radio, Internet, and print. I like to say the author business. Writing a book is like the first serve in tennis. The rest of the match is about promotion, is about promoting the book. So I’ve been devoting. I write every day. I have my hour and a half, 2 hours a day that I write. That’s never going to change. But I also spend about two or 3 hours a day dealing with the media. And so I just had an article that came out in success magazine this April may edition. I try and keep the relationships in the media because I believe success magazine is a bad example. But CNN, CNBC, ABC, Yahoo Finance, a lot of even poor people get those feeds on their phone. Uh, TikTok I don’t actually promote myself on TikTok, but I have people that do that just without me even knowing who they are. And if that’s helping, I tried Twitter. I’ve been a big advocate of Twitter because poor people don’t have a lot of bandwidth, and 144 characters works for them. That’s one of the reasons Twitter is so successful, because people have limited bandwidth and Twitter just fills that need, that void that they have, that limitation that they have. So I realized that early on, and I said, twitter is going to be my main thing. And so, uh, I do a lot of very active on Twitter, and Twitter is what got me the Yahoo finance interview, and it introduced me to Michael Yardney, who was a co author of Rich Habits, poor habits, and I’ve done speaking engagements in Australia because of it. So it’s been very valuable tool for me. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Besides that, speaking engagements wherever, you know, in poorer neighborhoods, I do that.

Jonathan DeYoe: So I hope that we can help a little bit with spreading the message, do our little part. I know that I’d recommend this, right? There’s a list of 300 behaviors and ideas that are your rich habits research summary, and I recommend people go and grab that and sign up for the daily. Like, I’ve been getting the daily for a decade, and I don’t read it every day, but every day I read it. It’s interesting, it’s helpful, it’s, oh, here’s just one habit. Work on this one thing. So I think it’s very beneficial for the listeners. The purpose of this podcast, similar to your purpose, is to help people who have sort of, um, limited access to professional advisors like us to start making better financial decisions. So I like to ask two very specific questions, and you’ve kind of begun this a little bit, but just very simple in the simplest way possible. What are the two, I was going to say three. But what are the two habits that people can start working on today, this week that will improve their outcomes and their financial well being?

Tom Corley: Well, so everybody, even poor people, work. They may not be thrilled at the job that they have, but I would say to the poor people, if there’s anybody listening, is, what would you like to do? Right, make a list. Make a list of ten things, other careers that you would like, and then spend six months and immerse yourself in reading about everything about that career. Learn everything you can do an hour a day. I know you have limited bandwidth, you don’t have a lot of time, but remember, this is an investment in yourself. Right? So this is 1 hour. If you can’t do an hour, do five minutes. But my point is, make it a habit every day of reading something related to that one particular career path that you think you would like to do. Do that for six months. The next six months, what’s number two on your list? The next six months. What’s number three? The reason I’m saying do this is because what I’ve learned from my research is that it takes about six months for you to figure out if this is something you’re really passionate about. Why? Because after six months, you’re either going to drop it and move on to the next thing and start studying that, or you’re going to say, screw that, I want to learn more. That’s when you know you’ve tapped into something. This is an innate talent you might possess that’s been exposed through this process. And then you’re going to say, I don’t need to look at anything else on my list. I’m going to devote myself to really understand everything about this industry because I really dig this industry. I think I could do this, and I really like it. And that’s the passion, is the brain’s way of alerting you to the existence of an innate talent that you possess. So that’s what I would tell the poor people, is just do that. Reading is important. You don’t have a lot of time. You don’t have a lot of bandwidth. I understand that. Devote five minutes at a minimum and maybe more, and just keep at it. And eventually you’ll find something. It might be even in your industry. You might say, well, I don’t hate what I do for a living, but I don’t make a lot of money at it. Well, then learn everything about the industry. See if you actually really like the industry that you’re in. Right? Read every day. Learn every day about the industry. Learn more and more and more. Read books about people that are in the industry. And the more you figure out about the industry, the more you’ll learn whether or not this is the right career path for you. And here’s the interesting thing. When you do find that thing that makes your heart sing, that’s when your life is going to change. And you’ll be surprised at how much time all of a sudden you have available to do the diligence and the reading, because you’re going to be passionate about it. And you’re not going to sit and watch Netflix as a means of escaping what is your life. You’re not going to want to do that because, you know, now you’re going to be creating a new life because passion has just told you, uh, you may have an na talent in a particular field, and if it’s skill based, then maybe reading isn’t what you need to do. Maybe it’s practice. It’s not. Maybe it is. If it’s skill based, you have to practice. Same rule, six months. Practice some skill. If you really like it, you won’t move on after the six months. You won’t be able to. Your brain won’t allow you to. If you are able to move on after the six months, it’s because your brain says, yeah, this skill I’m not too crazy about.

Jonathan DeYoe: Right. And I know that there’s, uh, the flip side of that coin. Right. There’s a lot of temptation, distraction, and noise out there. Netflix, you mentioned. Right. Can you describe what is the one bad habit or the two bad habits that really get in our way? That if we can decide tomorrow, hey, let’s not do this thing anymore.

Tom Corley: I would say the news. Reading the news, if you read the news on a regular basis, you’re wasting your time. The news is all crafted to create. To stir the negative emotional center of the brain. It’s to create fear, anxiety. That seems to be the way that they get readers. It’s the thing that’s been the most successful for them. And, uh, there’s nothing that you are going to be able to do to change, uh, world events and national events. You can’t change your government by listening to the news. How you can change your government is by becoming successful in whatever it is that you want to do and then using your resources to help move mountains. Right. You can do it that way, but, uh, you’re wasting your time. If you’re listening to the news.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’m shocked at that. I sort of have a gut sense that that’s probably true. And I also am very pulled to listen to the news and to read things and to check out what’s going on in the economy and this and that and the other thing. And it’s a very constant daily poll.

Tom Corley: The other thing I want to mention is most people have an inner circle. If your inner circle is filled with a bunch of negative people, they’re going to affect you with their negative habits, their poor habits. So you want to start associating with people that have the habits, the life, the habits, the things that you want in your life. You want to start associating with those types of people that have those things because they’re going to affect you with their habits. And, um, habits spread like a virus throughout our social networks. That’s a fact. And you want to alter your inner circle, push out or devote less time to the people in your inner circle who are negative, have a negative mindset, and focus on people that have a positive mindset, because they’re the ones that are going to help lift you up, uh, out of the life that you’re in and bring you up to the next level. Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: And if you can find four or five people that are at your level, just above your level, and you guys hang out together, striving for the next level, uh, yeah, that’s a huge support.

Tom Corley: Yeah. And you can find them in the non profits, local, community based nonprofits. You can find them in gyms, uh, those kind of clubs, any clubs that you have around you. Most of the nonprofit groups are really good people that are running them.

Jonathan DeYoe: So just a couple of wrapping questions here. Uh, what was the last thing, Tom, that you changed your mind about?

Tom Corley: Dogs. Dogs. I hated dogs. Now I love dogs. My kids got dogs. My kids got dogs. The second thing is TikTok. I hated the idea of TikTok, and now I have a routine every day. It’s usually in the bathroom where I’m watching certain, uh, if you follow TikTok, if you like something on TikTok, it’ll feed you that, more of that stuff. So, of course, what do I like? Self help and stuff like that. And I’m also into science fiction and, uh, ufos and things like that. So I find TikTok that the few minutes that I have in the bathroom, I can’t believe that I’m actually doing it, but I do it. And. Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: Bad habit creeping in.

Tom Corley: Careful. Listen. If you’re going to have a poor habit, make it only a couple of minutes long, I guess, is my recommendation.

Jonathan DeYoe: Is there anything that people don’t know or often don’t remember about you that you really want them to remember and know?

Tom Corley: Yeah, I think people have this perception because I’m a CPA, I’m a financial planner, have a master’s degree in tax, that I must be one of those privileged few. I came from poverty. I worked as a janitor to get my way through college, and if I can do it, and I came from a household that was rich and then was poor, and let me tell you, rich is great. Being poor sucks. And I want people to know that I know what both sides are like, and you’ve got to do whatever you can to get out of poverty. It is not how human beings were supposed to be. And I hate to say it, but there’s an element in society, I call it the deep state, but I don’t want to get into that. And I write about it. I’ve written articles about it, how it’s institutionalized, that there’s an agenda out there, and they want more poor people than they want rich people. And you’ve got to fight that. The deck is stacked against you in a lot of ways, but I’m an example that you can break free of it. I did, and, uh, I could have been a janitor the rest of my life. I was actually my favorite job that I’ve ever had. But I chose to continue a life of improvement. And I guess that led me to the rich habits research. And here I am. Uh, and if I can do it, anybody can do it. And the other thing I want to point out, I started out in life with, uh, I’m writing an article about this now with a 90 iq. I got tested when I was a kid only because my brother Timmy had 140 IQ. So they tested both of us. They tested me for a reason, because they thought I was really maybe something wrong with me. My iq. I got tested on my iq in 1993. I didn’t have a choice. My company made me get tested, and I didn’t want to because I was nervous about it. And I tested at 136. So for anybody out there that says I’m not smart enough, that’s bunk. Your iq increases depending on how much you use your brain. It increases over time. I’m an example of that.

Jonathan DeYoe: That’s great. I hadn’t heard that. That’s awesome. So tell us, uh, how people can connect with you.

Tom Corley: Yeah, just richhabits. Net. You go on there and you could subscribe to my daily, uh, blog. And I have some free e books you can download, and you can get my research summary if you want. You just sign up and you get. Absolutely.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’d recommend it. And we’re going to make sure that’s all in the show notes as well. I just want to know, Tom, thanks for coming on. It’s been a great conversation.

Tom Corley: Well, thanks for having me on, Jonathan. I really do appreciate it. It was fun.

Jonathan DeYoe: All right, so if you have a second, I want to tease a future conversation, if you don’t mind, uh, asking another couple questions.

Tom Corley: Sure.

Jonathan DeYoe: Okay. So, Tom, thanks for coming on. I wanted to just tease a future conversation with you, if you wouldn’t mind doing this again at some point in the future. I think we’re kind of the same generation. I’ve learned today that we have a similar background, different parts of the country, but come from very little and have built something. And while I do believe that there are years ahead of us, I imagine at some point or some points along the path, you sometimes think about slowing down. I do. If you don’t mind. Is there a time to consciously put the success habits down? Is there a time to stop seeking and enjoy life?

Tom Corley: Yeah, I think, uh, when we talk about rich habits, I’m talking about the habits that you’re using to grow your wealth. So, yes, there is a time, and that time is when you’ve decided that you have enough money that the passive income that you’re generating from the wealth that you’ve accumulated is enough to sustain your standard of living. Then you no longer need the success habits that are required to build wealth. But you may also, I guess you call it retirement, right? But you may also like, I have a friend of mine who, uh, retired, and he’s busier than ever because he’s so involved in a bunch of nonprofits. There are certain rich habits that you can’t dispense with if you’re going to continue to be active. And if you’re working for nonprofits, that means you’re trying to help a nonprofit grow, and that means fundraisers, and that means basically getting money into the nonprofit any way you can. So that requires a, ah, certain skill set and certain rich habits, so you can’t dispense with those. So I would say the rich habits that are specific to your ability to grow the wealth that you believe you need in order to create the passive income that you can dispense with those. So, yeah, maybe reading to learn about your industry no longer is necessary. If you’re in the pharmaceutical industry, you don’t need to read everything about the pharmaceutical industry if you’re not in it anymore because you’re retired. Uh, if I ever retire from the CPA business, I won’t have to read about taxes like I do every day. So, yeah, so there’s certain things that you can shift your reading to other things. And one of the things I will tell people is, when you’re thinking about at that point, I call it the retirement red zone. When you’re in that red zone where you’re thinking about retirement five years down the road, start picking up some new hobbies. I’m not in the retirement red zone. I’m never going to retire. I’ve decided I’m going to live to 100. And I’m going to work till I’m 80, 85. But I did pick up a telescope, so that’s a new hobby I’m going to start diving into, pick up other hobbies along the way. But I think when you’re getting to that retirement thinking age, start picking up hobbies, because when you’re retired, that big void has to be filled somehow, and you need hobbies or nonprofits or something productive. Otherwise, you’re going to be unhappy. Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: And I think that’s the crux of it. I have clients the same m as you have clients. Right. And I’ve walked them from work life to retirement life, and then many of them retire, and within a year, they’re back to work somewhere. It’s because we don’t know how to. And this is one of the challenges I have with personally, uh, personally, I have this issue with the hustle culture, the build these habits culture. Because how do you set it down? It’s very difficult to set down once you’re in motion, because it’s a habit. Right. They’re habits.

Tom Corley: A habit. They’re hard to break. But I can tell you the quickest way to break a habit that you have is to change your environment. It’s also the quickest way to forge a new habit is to change your environment. Where are the forks? Where are the spoons? You’re in a new house. Where the hell do I. Where’s the step stool? It’s not where it used to be, because the house is not the house you’re living in. And I always say, when you go on vacation is probably one of the best times to forge one new habit because you’re in a new environment. Uh, a good habit, obviously not a bad habit. So when you’re on vacation, maybe forge a new habit, a reading habit or whatever. A new skill that you want to practice. Something like that. Yeah. So change your environment is probably the best way to get rid of, uh, an existing habit.

Jonathan DeYoe: When you retire, you should move.

Tom Corley: Yeah, well, we moved down to the Jersey shore from, uh, freehold, New Jersey, and. Oh, my. Really, it really forces you to. Now your prefrontal cortex has to think where everything goes and where everything is, and you develop new habits. I never had a shed before. Now I have a shed, and I have all sorts of routines around that shed. I built an irish pub in my backyard. I have all sorts of new routines around that irish pub. So it’s funny how changing your environment changes your routines. And it’s quick. It’s a lot faster.

Jonathan DeYoe: We’re very adaptable. Thanks, Tom. This has been fantastic. I hope to have another conversation at some point. Are you working on a new book you can tell us about a new project?

Tom Corley: I finished what I thought was going to be, uh, a course. It’s right now formulated to be a course. It’s called wealth academy, but I’ve been sitting on it for a year. I don’t know what I want to do with it because of the pandemic. What I really want to do is I want to have a wealth academy, uh, three, four day seminar, if you will. But, uh, I haven’t decided yet. I could turn it into a book, but effortless wealth was my latest book that I came out with, and of course it was released. When you start a book, it’s a year before, and it was released right in the heart of the pandemic. And I was like, nobody’s going to read this book. And it’s like I was depressing for me, and I have it out in other countries, it’s selling in other countries, but I can’t get it momentum on it in the states. And it’s a great book, but it is what it is. What are you going to do?

Jonathan DeYoe: It is what it is. You’ll write another one, take this one, turn it into and keep the course to do the whole package. Create a package.

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