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015: David DeYoe – Doing Well By Doing Good: A Different Path to Having a Greater Impact

Jonathan takes a moment to reflect on what inspired him to launch this podcast project, the work he and his brother planned on doing to help improve the financial lives of others and the legacy he hopes to accomplish both for himself and in memory of his brother.

Jonathan reflects on his career arc and highlights five specific areas of personal finance and five basic characteristic traits to enable success. He speaks to the concept of doing well by doing good and shares his goals for Season Two of Mindful Money and beyond.

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Key Takeaways

01:11 – Jonathan introduces the audience to his brother, Dave, and opens up about the plans they had to help improve the financial lives of others before Dave unexpectedly passed away

03:14 – Jonathan recaps his early career, mentors that inspired him and the decision to start his own company

07:08 – A different path to having a greater impact

10:59 – The Vanguard Model

14:18 – Jonathan gets vulnerable and tells the story of his brother’s untimely death

15:08 – The Five Specific Areas of Personal Finance

19:01 – Five Basic Characteristic Traits to Enable Success

20:29 – Jonathan teases topics he’ll cover on Season Two of the Mindful Money Podcast

25:09 – Two asks Jonathan has for the audience

Tweetable Quotes

“We started talking about bringing his knowledge of technology, social media and how to reach a broader number of people, together with my knowledge about personal finance and creating a company that leveraged both of these strengths. We were gonna come together to do good and to do well by doing good.” (07:42)

“I still had to make decisions about the tech stack, and I had to do the HR, and I had to make sure everyone was doing their jobs. And that’s just not my role. What I really like to do is I like to sit down with clients and talk about their personal finances.” (09:24)

“What Vanguard did differently is they eliminated the incentive problem. Vanguard, the company is owned by the funds themselves, which are owned by the investors in the funds. Vanguard maintains this mutual-ownership structure to this day. So, when Vanguard grows and grows and serves more and more clients, they don’t need to generate more profits. Instead, they take the benefits of size and they reduce the costs to their shareholders, who also happen to be their owners.” (12:50)

“The reality is that there is incredible value in good advice. But, most people don’t have access to it or don’t know it when they see it. Just like everyone recognizes Vanguard today, we hope that everyone would recognize Mindful Money tomorrow.” (14:05)

“There’s so many opportunities today to earn more. There are skills to develop. There are businesses you can start. There are side hustles. The opportunities are endless for you to invest in yourself and improve your earning ability.” (15:39)

“Once you’re in the habit of saving and you have an emergency fund all filled up, every additional savings penny should be invested.” (18:01)

“You have to be persistent. The only way you will ever be successful is you have to keep moving forward. It will never be in a straight line, but you gotta keep moving in the right direction.” (20:21)

Guest Resources

Jonathan’s Book – https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Money-Practices-Financial- Increasing/dp/1608684369/ref=asc_df_1608684369/?tag=hyprod- 20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=241916856624&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=7949215981444107153 &hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9004216&hvtargid=pl a-356162236315&psc=1

Mindful Money Resources

For all the free stuff at Mindful Money: https://mindful.money/resources

To buy Jonathan’s first book – Mindful Money: https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Money-Practices-Financial-Increasing/dp/1608684369

To buy Jonathan’s second book – Mindful Investing: https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Investing-Outcome-Greater-Well-Being/dp/1608688763

Subscribe to Jonathan’s Weekly Newsletter: https://courses.mindful.money/email-opt-in

Capture the most important benefit of an advisor – behavioral support – without the 1% fee: https://courses.mindful.money/membership

For more complex, one on one financial planning and investing support with Jonathan or a member of Jonathan’s team: https://www.epwealth.com/our-team/berkeley/jonathan-deyoe/

Website: https://mindful.money

Jonathan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathandeyoe

Episode Transcription

Jonathan DeYoe: Welcome to the 16th episode of the Mindful Money podcast. This one’s hard for me. I’ve sat down here to record this four or five times and have been unable to complete it for lots of reasons. But the main one is I promised that I would give you guys a little bit more insight into the plan that my brother and I had, and then I would also use that and introduce the next season as well. So my brother and I started in 2004, and for those of you who are just joining us, my brother died in June of 2021. That was really the reason, or the stimulus, the catalyst behind my starting this podcast. My brother and I started a company called Workers Financial in 2004. And workers financial was going to be just what it sounds like. It was going to be something to help normal people, people like us growing up, people like my parents, with their personal finances. We started in 2004, which happens to be the same year our first kids were born. And we ended up closing it in 2008, which was the year after the year that both of our second kids were born. We just couldn’t work full time jobs and pull this off at the same time. But we kept talking, and I’m, um, going to introduce today all the things we talked about. I want to introduce you to my brother, David Dio. He was an engineer. He had the brain of a coder. He had an MBA from Cal. He worked on the first credit card that was end to end, available on the Internet. You could go online, you could search for a credit card, you could input your information you could select which card you wanted, and it would approve you right then and there and send you this credit card. You didn’t have to fill out paper at all. And it was the first time that that was done on the Internet. He did the same thing with mortgages. He, uh, was doing that with debit cards. When we were talking about starting a company together, he worked in companies that provided financial services to hundreds of thousands of people. Well, I worked at a company that provided customized, high end advice to a very small number of clients. His customers paid him a very small transaction charge, and my clients tended to pay us substantial sums annually. Our goal was to merge these two worlds. Now, early in my career, I was, uh, at six different firms. This is in the five years at the beginning of my career. I started off at Dean Witter. Morgan Stanley purchased Dean Witter and Morgan Stanley. It became Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter. Before we were all just Morgan Stanley. Now, the reason Morgan Stanley purchased Dean Witter was because they wanted Dean Witter’s distribution channel. Morgan Stanley manufactured products on Wall street, and Dean Witter had a group of salespeople, of which I was one, that could distribute these products. This was a merger that ended up being a very successful merger. But I moved to Paynewer shortly thereafter because I was already tiring of the sales culture. UBS then merged with Payne Weber. The firm became UBS Paynewer. I moved to Smith Barney. This was the biggest mistake of my career. I lasted three months at this financial supermarket before I stopped altogether and moved to prudential. Basically started over three months. If you move once and then three months later you move again, your clients are wondering why all the moves. Haven’t you done any research or due diligence on these things before you go? And I had. I obviously didn’t very good, do a very good job. I was young, not very bright, perhaps, in these decisions, but I did move on to prudential. Lasted there about a year until they basically said you had to sell annuities or b, share mutual funds or anything to get a, five or 6% commissions. This was 2000, 2001, and revenue had to be generated if you wanted to keep your job. So I left, and I started my own company. I hated the Wall street culture. I had a manager once that walked through the halls of Morgan Stanley and told us we had to place today’s special mutual fund into client accounts. We had these metrics. I had certain number of clients. I had a certain amount of assets under management. And you multiply those things away together into some kind of equation. And that tells you how much of this fund I had to place in client accounts. It was a sales culture. We earned commissions. I had a guy who sat next to me in the bullpen. His name was Phil. And he earned, when he earned a $1,000 for the day, clap his hand, stand up from his chair, and leave the office. That was his goal. Thousand bucks a day is what he wanted to earn. I almost quit so many times. One of the people that inspired me to stay was Ernie Guzman. He was a manager of mine. He was a manager at Dean Witter, and he became a, uh, manager of an entire floor when it became Morgan Stanley. Dean Witter, just a great guy. And he basically told me that I could do it my way. I didn’t have to do it their way. I didn’t have to sell. I had to produce. I had to show them the numbers that would let me stay. And I was able to do that because of another gentleman named John Dickens. And John Dickens was my mentor. And he showed me how to incorporate planning, how to do better for clients. Didn’t take, didn’t last. So I ended up going my own way. Finally, in 2001, when I started my own company, the very first years of my own company were hard, as expected. All companies, when you first start them out, are very hard. I had six clients that I brought with me from the Wall street days, all of whom asked for deeper planning. I’d done some planning for them, but they wanted deeper planning, and they wanted education. So that was the beginning. The business grew very slowly, but it grew steadily, and as it grew, it got more complex, and it started to become obvious that I could only serve so many clients. So I had to start being selective about the clients I served. I couldn’t just help anybody. I had to help people who could pay me more if I was going to make more money. So this is the wonder and the curse of direct one to one personal services. You have to move upmarket to increase earnings. Now, I was a bit frustrated by this because it meant not being able to help all the people I was coming into contact with that I could see needed to help. It meant not being able to help people like my parents. I’m not saying I didn’t help my parents. What I’m saying is, anyone that was like them, I was unable to help. Business was kind of growing on its own at this point. People were referring us. We provided really good services, and people were referring us. So I couldn’t not grow the business, but I wasn’t able to have the same kind of impact I wanted on anyone outside those few clients that I was helping, one to one helping directly. Then 2009 hit, the great Recession came, and a conversation I had with Alice Walker led me to writing my first book, mindful money. I found a different path to having a greater impact at the same time, I created this eight hour financial education course that I gave for free in local schools to faculty and staff, and, uh, to some of the older students, graduate students at this time. Dave and I started to talk about creating a business that would have impact across a broader number of people. It was very slow going. We recall those workers financial conversations, and we dusted off some of those plans. We started talking about bringing his knowledge of technology and social media and how to reach a broader number of people together with my knowledge about personal finance and creating a company that leveraged both of these strengths. And we were going to come together to do good and to do well by doing good. It was still all up in the air. Nothing was signed, no decisions were made. But every time we talked, the topic came up. And he was still very important part of card, the company he was at. I couldn’t afford to pay him enough to, uh, entice him to join me just yet. In order for him to join us, we had to replace his salary. And he had this stock he was still vesting in. And so how did we replace the equity piece? And I was more than happy to share equity, but my equity wasn’t worth the same amount of the equity that he had in this company, and he was still vesting. So if he was still vesting, maybe we could wait until he vested in all of his shares before he joined us. But he kept getting granted more and more, and he got big raises, and he got new titles because he was really, really good at what he did. And so I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to do anything together. And so in 2018 was the first time that I went down the road with EP wealth, who I merged our financial planning and wealth management business in with in late 2021, and I went all the way down the road with them. We got evaluation. We started talking about what the job would be. We started talking about what comp structures were. We started talking about the process of merging my firm into their firm. And I had a serious sit down with Dave. And I said, dave, I’m going one of two ways. And the reason is I can’t do all the things in my practice that I need to do because I’m one person. Like, I can’t manage the money, do all the financial planning. Even though I had know John Madden was incredible, and I had people in the office that were doing lots of the operations, I still had to make the decisions about the tech stack, and I had to do the HR, and I had to make sure everyone was doing their jobs, and that’s just not my role. What I really like to do is I like to sit down with clients and, uh, talk about their personal finances. So I said, dave, if we’re going to do this, I need to know if you’re in, if you want to do it. And he said, yes. So in 2018, I walked away from EP wealth the first time, and we decided not to merge in 2018. And I decided instead to really work out the details with Dave. Dave would finish out his vesting period for his current company, and then he would come and join the firm, and he would take over that technology operations, HR for the wealth management, while at the same time work on creating this new digital company. We never named it. We never got that far. In 2020, we started working together. I created an educational product, the mindful money life stage courses. And Dave helped me interview and hire a group, actually out of France, that he thought could help me get some reach or begin getting some traction with social media. And they were experts in taking courses and offering them through Facebook. And he interviewed them about their process and what they did and how they did it, and it seemed all up to snuff to what he was already doing for card. So, okay, great. And I hired them. They had the role of beginning to build an audience in this digital social world around financial education. Now, this group didn’t pan out, not because he made any mistakes, I don’t think, in terms of the hiring process or interviewing process. Neither I nor he had time to manage this new thing because of, uh, we’re both working full time and other things. We both have two kids, so our efforts would have to wait. But we did have this digital product. In early 2021, I finished the next educational product, the Mindful Money, do it yourself financial plan course, based on my book. Now, he was starting to look at vendors that would enable an integrated financial services offering in the digital world. And in March of 2021, he vested in his final tranche of stock. And we started getting really serious. We decided on an ownership structure to provide we decided on an ownership structure that would provide total financial advice services for everyone at a really low cost. We were looking at the models that were out there, and we looked at Vanguard as the one that we would model our ownership structure after. So you all know Vanguard. Vanguard is the low cost investment tool creator, right? Vanguard is known as the low cost provider in the ETF and mutual fund space, which is great. But the reason they’re low cost is Vanguard’s ownership structure is different than the rest of the financial world, where most financial companies are founded by wealthy individuals and owned by those individuals, or by a group of partners, or maybe they’re even publicly traded. The normal ownership structure creates an incentive problem. Higher fees mean higher profits. The conflict is obvious for the owners of most financial services companies to increase their profits or increase their bottom line. They can either reach more clients, in other words, be successfully compete with everybody else, or they can increase their fees to their current clients. Now, obviously, there’s a limit. Markets won’t accept. No one’s going to pay 5% annually for their financial products. But it was really tough to get Wall street to push those prices down. And most firms try to do both. They try to earn more business, and they try to keep their prices high. Now, generally, I don’t have any problem with profit motive. The opportunity for profit does enable the creation of new goods and services that make our lives better. And this is all good. What Vanguard did differently is they eliminated the incentive problem. Vanguard, the company, is owned by the funds themselves, which are owned by the investors in the funds. Vanguard maintains this mutual ownership structure to this day. So when Vanguard grows and grows and serves more and more clients, they don’t need to generate more profits. Instead, they take the benefits of size and they reduce the costs to their shareholders, who also happen to be their owners. Now, this doesn’t mean that all fund families that choose a for profit structure are know, my absolute favorite fund family is dimensional, or DFA, and they’re squarely for profit company. The difference to me is that they add value where most active management type fund families do more extracting, uh, of value than adding. When Dave and I realized that the same incentive exists in the delivery of financial advice, we decided we would try to reach more people. This is his world of technology for service delivery, and we would charge less and less. The more successful we became. Like Vanguard, we would have a kind of mutual ownership or a cooperative ownership structure. Our goal would be to get better advice to more people, more people like our parents, more people that are in positions like we were growing up. The reality is that there is incredible value in good advice, but that most people don’t have access to it or don’t know it when they see it. Just like everyone recognizes Vanguard today. We hope that everyone would recognize mindful money tomorrow. Now, we were still talking, and there were lots of details to be worked out, but we were coming together and starting this journey formally in January of 2022. But as you know, he drowned in June of 21. Last month was the one year anniversary of his death, and I’ve been promising I was going to tell his story for a while now, and I’ve sat down to do this a bunch of times, but every time I haven’t made it. So, thinking back at season one, I just want to say thank you to all the guests that I’ve had a chance to interview. I wasn’t actually sure where I was going with this, but I had to begin. I guess this is probably four months ago now. I had to begin or I wouldn’t begin. Does that make sense? I had to get it started so that I could create some momentum, so I could figure it out, it so I can make the difference that I’m hoping I can make long term. And for those of you who’ve listened through this first year, I want to say thank you for listening. I sincerely appreciate your ears. For those of you who are tuning in for the first time, I hope you share it with others who you know might benefit. I’m doing this podcast and keeping mindful money going in honor of my brother. I’ll never have the reach that I could have had with him, but I can still have an impact with a bit of a smaller reach. When he and I talked, we talked about five specific areas of personal finance where we could have an effect, where we could share the message and help people, and at the same time, reduce costs over time. Now, this is where education can make a difference, where mindfulness could help. The five areas are earning money. So there’s so many opportunities today to earn more. There are skills to develop. There are businesses you can start. Uh, there’s side hustles. The opportunities are endless for you to invest in yourself and improve your earning ability. There’s spending money. Obviously, this is where many of us who earn well fall down to tell you a quick story about a road bike, actually, 23 years ago, I was working at Payne Weber. I had a couple of partners. They were in groups of road bikers that I wanted to be a part of. I was not a road biker, but I wanted to belong. So I bought a kestrel. It’s a very fancy carbon fiber, weighs nothing kind of bike. Spent like $4,000 for this bike today. This isn’t insane for a bike. It was insane. In 1990, 819 99. Now, I used it for a while, but I ended up not biking and I sold it. A couple of years after I sold it, I met another group of road bikers and I wanted to belong again, and I purchased the same bike again. So the round trip for this was I paid four or $5,000 for a bike. I sold it used for 2000, $3,000. Then I paid four or $5,000 for the same bike again. I still have that bike, still not a road biker, but it hangs here in my office, reminding me of that kind of spending stupidity so variously over the years, I’ve spent stupidly on cameras, cars, computers, upgrades to my phones. I’ve spent dumb money on wine, bourbon. I actually had a golf club membership. I golfed a little bit. I didn’t golf much. I have a collection of fountain pens, and I’ve got a lot of desk stuff. Levenger.com is my kryptonite. I love office stuff. I have since I was a kid. But see, I was raised with very little. So when I want the thing, it’s really easy and I can afford the thing. It’s really easy for me to convince myself that I should have the thing. After many years, I know I’m not alone here. Uh, the third thing is saving money. Now, whatever you make, this is a lesson right out of my parents book. You should save 1020 percent of it. If you’re making $15 an hour as a student, then you should save a dollar, $50 to $3 an hour. If you’re making $75 an hour on your small business, maybe you’re a tech support person. In a small business, maybe you help people manage their iclouds for $75 an hour. Maybe you help people with social media marketing. For $100 an hour, you should save between ten and 20% of every penny you make. And if you do that, starting at a young age, you’re going to be just fine. The fourth thing is investing money. So once you’re in the habit of saving and you have an emergency fund all filled up, every additional savings penny should be invested. And then finally giving money, or some might say living and giving money at some point on the road to success, we learned that if we ever get there, it will not be all our own doing. Yes, we worked hard. Yes, we were smart. Yes, we built it and people helped. There was an infrastructure already in place. We live in a capitalist country, and sometimes we were lucky. Recognizing that it’s never been 100% us should make us both more humble personally and more compassionate towards everyone else. Rest assured, wherever they are, however they’re starting out, they’re doing their absolute best. If we can help them, any of them, we can transcend success. We can become significant. This actually doesn’t require a herculean effort. It only requires the awareness that you have done better than some, that you’ve enjoyed the occasional lucky break, and those others are doing their best with what they have. My brother and I also talked about five basic character traits that enable individuals to be more successful. Your list may have four or seven. Ours had five. They are awareness. It all starts with understanding where you are in the present moment. If you can’t really say, and we’re talking personal finance here, if you can’t really look at, this is my cash in, my cash out. This is my balance sheet. If you don’t know what that is, then you don’t know where to begin. You have to begin with the awareness of where you are, and then you got to work on focus. If you’re going to improve outcomes, you have to know what outcomes you’re trying to improve. This involves making sure your ladder is on the right wall. This involves creating a plan. It means being intentional, and then it goes right to practice. No one says success is easy. It’s not assured to any of us. Even if we do all the right things, it’ll still require some luck, it’ll still require a break. But if you don’t practice, if you don’t do the work, you will never have the chance of making it. The work is required, and then it requires flexibility. You can be aware, you can create a plan, and you can do the work and still not find your way to success. In this case, you might have some rethinking to do. You have to ask yourself where you might have gone wrong. You have to be curious. You got to be able to pivot. You got to be able to choose another path. And then finally, and this is probably the most important, and there’s an od tension between this one and flexibility, but you have to be persistent. The only way you will ever be successful is you’ve got to keep moving forward. It’ll never be in a straight line, but you got to keep moving in the right direction. Now, uh, going forward with the Mindful Money podcast, we’re going to talk about all of these things, both the concrete areas of personal finance and the character of wealth and success. In this very next season, I’m going to be focusing on the first concrete area of personal finance I want to talk about earning money. Specifically, I want to talk about the path of turning your expertise or passion into an income. Now, I want to do this for a couple of reasons. Now, first, it is the one area my clients already had figured out. Historically, clients came to us or came to the firm, or came to me when I was just solo with their earnings path already dialed in. Now, if they’re a business owner, I might have been able to help them increase their earnings. But if they were a doctor or if they were an attorney, I wasn’t going to help them increase their earnings. I might have helped them, um, with all the other elements, the saving, the investing, and the planning and the focus and all that. I might have helped them with all those things, but their earnings were dialed in. Those clients wanted help with making their spending count, in other words, towards greater happiness. They wanted help understanding how much they needed to save for their futures. They wanted help investing wisely. They wanted help leaving a legacy, teaching the next generation, doing things philanthropically. That’s what they wanted to help. But their earnings were dialed in. So my parents gave Dave and I ridiculous work ethics. Now, I worked 60, 70 hours a week for 25 years. Now, I know Dave was pretty much on call 24/7 for every company he worked for, or at least that’s how he treated it. I’m not saying this is healthy or smart. I’m not suggesting anyone follow me in these footsteps, or us in these footsteps. I’m merely saying that we were able to earn in our areas because we were shown a path. I want to both inspire others to improve their earnings capacity, and I want to guide them to do it more intelligently than I did it. A second reason. Now I’m learning the content business myself. I want to make mindful money break even in 2023 and profitable in 2024. Just for reference, in 2022, I’ve spent probably $100,000 to keep mindful money going. I’ve got an assistant that I pay. I have lots of technology that I use that I have to pay for, and I don’t really have a revenue stream for mindful money, and I’ve got to figure this out. So I want it to break even in 2023. I want to be profitable in 2024. My uncle duties are more important now than they would have been, and I want to help my nephews with college and with down payments on their houses in the future and the like. I don’t know how to create the reach that my brother would have helped me with. I don’t understand how funnels work and all those sorts of things. And we never had a chance to kind of lay that all out there before he died. But I owe it to him to try. I owe it to him to try to and to his family to figure out a way to make this work for us. Personally, I love helping people with this stuff. I love having the podcast conversations. I love writing about personal finance, and I love blending mindfulness and money. I want to figure out a way to balance giving out a lot of great information with developing a lower cost, one to many approach to personal finance. One to one advice is hard to scale beyond, say, 150 families, but I could offer, say, a quarterly newsletter to thousands of subscribers. Or I could bundle the courses in some live group work via, uh, a membership for maybe hundreds of people. Or I might be able to host mindful retirement boot camps for folks considering retirement. So these are like events I could host. My goal is to figure out the business model. And so some of these interviews and some of the things we’re going to do this season are to help me figure this out. And so if you’re along for the ride and want to learn how to turn your expertise into earnings, let’s do it. So I hope you’re going to join me as we continue into season two of the Mindful Money podcast. We’re going to start with some mindset conversations and some what could my business be? Conversations. We’ll interview some folks about starting blogs and starting podcasts. Um, that’s how we express our expertise. And then we’ll talk to some folks about how we turn that expertise, that blog, that podcast into potential income streams. Is it advertising on a successful blog or podcast? Is it sponsorship? Is it an affiliate kind of a network? What is it? Do you create a product? Do you create some kind of educational thing? How is it you take your expertise and turn it into something of, uh, value that people can come back to and utilize to improve their lives. I’m actually super excited for season two, and I hope you get everything you want out of it. If there’s someone you think would be a great guest, please make an introduction. Or if you have a specific question that you’re trying to figure out in your own expertise building business, your own content business, and you’re trying to figure something out and you just want to ask the question, maybe I can find an expert that I can interview that would help you answer that question and help you turn your expertise into an income stream. Uh, let me know and I’ll see if I can’t search that person out and find that person. I’d like to ask you for two quick things before I wrap up this episode. First, obviously it’s a podcast, so subscribe wherever you listen to. Podcasts really does help. It’ll help you stay in touch with the content, and it helps those little algorithms see the value of recommending this podcast to others. And while you’re subscribing, it’s, uh, quite helpful if you like the podcast and share it directly with the people you think would benefit, or share it generally with your social media connections and your newsletter subscribers. The second thing I’m going to ask you to do is I’d like you to simply rate the podcast. More ratings are better. Obviously, more positive ratings are best. Now, if you’re willing to do so, go to ratethispodcast.com mindfulmoney. That’s ratethispodcast.com mindfulmoney and leave us a rating. Next to subscribing and sharing with folks directly. This is the best thing you can do, and it helps us spread the word about the Mindful Money podcast. As always, I thank you for listening. I’m excited to continue this journey with you. Stay tuned for episode 16 next week.

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