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069: Tyler Nicholls – Financial Literacy, Investing in Ourselves, & Providing Value to Others

Tyler Nicholls is an entrepreneur who is passionate about helping others at scale. He taught seventh grade Math with Teach for America before getting his Masters from Boston University. Tyler is the creator of Kudosy, a digital rewards system that helps solve the problem of financial literacy in the U.S. while strengthening families.

Today, Tyler joins the show to share his thoughts on having an abundance mindset, why it’s critical to develop sound financial habits early, and his passion for giving back to others.

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Key Takeaways

00:57 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Tyler Nicholls, who joins the show to talk about financial lessons he learned during his upbringing, including spending on what you value, and being intentional with money

08:29 – Having an abundance mindset

10:38 – From software products to financial literacy

11:59 – Jarring statistics on financial literacy and the vision for Kudosy

16:00 – The importance of building great financial habits early

24:15 – How the Kudosy app works

27:25 – The Lemonade Stand

31:13 – One thing that we can do to lead to greater personal and financial success and one thing to avoid doing

38:38 – The last thing Tyler changed his mind about and one place Tyler has visited that had a profound impact on him

42:16 – Jonathan thanks Tyler for joining the show and lets listeners know where to connect with him

Tweetable Quotes

“[My mother] taught me to really respect money. Money is not necessarily hard to come by, but when you have it, you want to make sure you spend it wisely. You want to be intentional with it.” (05:24) (Tyler)

“When I bought my home, I realized I liked owning real estate and I wanted to own a rental property. My head was turning like, ‘Is there something that I have that I can leverage here?’ And l realized, ‘Oh, my house has a whole bunch of equity in it and I can leverage a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit). And then I used that money to buy a second property so that I can rent out and have two homes that are appreciating.” (09:27) (Tyler)

“I started realizing, especially with my young family, that I wanted to help kids learn how to manage money.” (10:55) (Tyler)

“In the game of money, there’s not necessarily one way to win. There’s lots of different ways to play it and there’s lots of different levels of understanding. The diversity of thought in finance is actually really good and there’s lots of different strategies to win in this game.” (15:27) (Tyler)

“The way that it works is Kudosy helps kids behave really well. So, as a parent, when your kids are doing things that you like that they are doing, you can give them ‘Kudos.’ Then, the kid starts accruing these ‘Kudos’ and they can decide what to do with them.” (24:45) (Tyler)

“You should be investing, but I think we often underestimate the need to invest in ourselves to improve our earning capacity.” (34:10) (Tyler)

“The greatest satisfaction I have had is in giving value to other people.” (39:24) (Tyler)

Guest Resources

Tyler’s LinkedIn

Tyler’s Email


Kudos App

Books Mentioned:

Rich Dad Poor Dad

The Go-Giver

Mindful Money Resources

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Episode Transcription

Jonathan DeYoe: Hey there. Welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Tyler Nicholls. Tyler is an entrepreneur who’s passionate about helping people at scale. I like that. With software. He taught 7th grade math with teach for America before getting his master’s from Boston University. It’s a place where I applied and got in and couldn’t afford when I was, uh, undergrad, he created kudosi to solve the problem of financial literacy in the US and to strengthen families. Tyler, welcome to the Mind for Money podcast.

Tyler Nicholls: Thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s good to be good.

Speaker B: Good.

Jonathan DeYoe: Where do you call home?

Tyler Nicholls: I live in Utah, just south of Salt Lake City.

Jonathan DeYoe: Are you connecting from there now?

Speaker B: Yes. Okay.

Jonathan DeYoe: Are you a, uh, skier or boarder?

Tyler Nicholls: Probably more of a skier. I’ve done that more than boarding, but definitely want to get into the boarding. I think it’d be fun.

Jonathan DeYoe: So I don’t know if you’ve probably heard this many times. Skiing once, you know how to do it. Less likely to really hurt you. Boarding, if you’re learning at my age anyways, leads to broken ribs. It’s painful.

Tyler Nicholls: That’s true.

Jonathan DeYoe: Did you grow up there or did you move there from after college or something?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, after college, I grew up in Seattle, actually. And so Utah is a beautiful state, but I do miss trees, so. Way more trees back home in Washington.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’m curious, was it your mom or your dad who was an advisor?

Tyler Nicholls: My dad.

Jonathan DeYoe: Your dad was an advisor? So what did you learn about money and entrepreneurship growing up in Seattle?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, it’s very interesting. Yeah, growing up, my dad has always been a financial advisor when I was a really little kid, I thought it was the most boring job in the whole wide world. I didn’t know why anyone would want to do it. And then as I kind of got older, I realized the value behind it, how managing your money is really important, and just got a lot more respect over it over time. And my dad, uh, as he was a financial advisor, he’s owned his own practice for many years now. And so I got to see up close and personal how he did it and what he did, and great example for me, and I learned a lot from him that way.

Jonathan DeYoe: So, what were some of the financial lessons that he taught you? And actually, probably more important, what are some of the financial lessons that your mom, not an financial advisor, taught you?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, absolutely. Great questions. So, in our family, we really stuck with a lot of the basics. My dad is very conservative when it comes to money, so a lot of these principles know, spend less than you make and, uh, save for a rainy day. A lot of these sort of, like, Dave Ramsey sort of ideas and those sorts of things very big in our know. My dad started his practice when I was very young, and so you learn how to penny pinch and find value in things and make sure that, hey, are we spending money on things that we actually value?

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And I learned from a very young age, like, I don’t really value soda pop. We never drank soda pop as a kid because we couldn’t afford it.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And then over time, now that I’m an adult, I still pick water every time, because it’s just so ingrained into my habits at this point, which is, I think, good. Uh, is that a health lesson, or.

Jonathan DeYoe: Is that a financial lesson?

Tyler Nicholls: That’s a good question. I think a little bit of both. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized pop is expensive in both ways.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And so, going with water, I found to be really good.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: Have you ever done p 90 x? Do you know what this is?

Tyler Nicholls: I have heard of it. I have not done p 90 x, but I did do 75 hard years ago, and I love programs like that. I think they’re fun.

Jonathan DeYoe: I just bring it up because one of the things that. What’s the guy’s name? Tony Horton. One of the things that Tony Horton says on one of the p 90 x dvds is, drink your water, people. Drink your water, people. He kept talking about that. So I’m curious. I know the kind of lessons that struggling with money and sort of making ends meet as a business owner teach. Those are the lessons I learned.

Speaker B: Right.

Jonathan DeYoe: But I’m actually more curious about what your mom might have taught you, what sort of came out of the other side of the family, and I apologize. I’m assuming that she was part of your life growing up.

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, no, she was, definitely.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Tyler Nicholls: I think what was interesting was my mom was much more. She always was much more sensitive with money. When I was a kid, I actually didn’t know how much things cost a whole lot of times. Right. They kept it very private. We didn’t talk about it a whole lot. And so it was one of those things that, uh, especially when I was really little, it was just like, oh, we just can’t afford these things, or we can’t afford those, and whatever, we kind of go with it. And so I think she definitely.

Speaker B: Taught.

Tyler Nicholls: Me to really respect money and know that money is not necessarily hard to come by, but when you have it, uh, you want to make sure you spend it wisely, right? Like, you don’t just want to frivolously throw it at things. You want to be intentional with it and just be careful.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: You can mess up financially.

Jonathan DeYoe: So do you remember any specific experiences that sort of laid the groundwork for your money story?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, this is an example that’s a little bit later in life. I hope that’s okay. But when I was earlier in my career, I remember I worked with this guy. He and I, we had similar roles, we worked closely together, and I, uh, also assumed that we made similar amounts of money. And then he made the comment one day that he went and he bought a house. And that completely blew my mind because I’m like, there’s no way, right? Because down payments for houses can be really expensive, and you have to save up all this money and all this stuff. And I had always thought that that was something that was unattainable for me at that point in life. But when he did it, it made me start asking questions that I hadn’t been asking before. And, uh, I realized that, oh, my gosh, I’ve got a good credit score. I’ve got assets that I can leverage here. And I was actually able to get into a house. I bought a house. And then after that, I bought another one and have bought other since.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And it started this big, long journey of financial growth. In realizing that, oh, I was kind of programmed to think one way. And once this guy opened my eyes to all the possibilities, I just realized, oh, there are no rules in life. Right. Oftentimes we are sitting on underused assets that we’re not leveraging and when you start using those underutilized assets that you have, you can really put yourself in a better spot.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, there’s a couple of things that come that sort of highlight that for me. One, uh, thing that comes up is you had this person that sort of led the way. And was it a business partner? Was it just a friend at a company? And then what made you listen to that?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, it was just a colleague. Right. We had a lot of things that, uh, were the same. We had our first child five minutes apart. There was lots of these weird similarities. And then he made the comment, and it totally blew my mind. And I’ve always been interested in money. I’ve been, uh, always wanting to learn more about it and wanting to get wealthy in my life. And so to see someone that was same level as me, right, to do those things, I was like, oh, my Gosh, I’m living below my means here. There are things that I can do to move forward, and it’s a wonderful moment when your eyes are open. You’re like, oh, there are actually way more possibilities that I realized. And it gets you excited, and it makes you do more research on, um, well, where else was I blind?

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: What else can I do? What other opportunities do I have? And that’s huge.

Jonathan DeYoe: So did the lessons of, uh, pinch pennies save that you got when you were a kid? Do you think that slowed down the ability to build assets, or do you think that maybe closed the door to the possibility that your colleagues sort of opened for you?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, I do think that piece of advice is one where it’s a two edged sword for sure, right. There is some benefits in that you can save a bunch of money, but at the end of the day, if you are too uber conservative, you’re not going to get ahead either. Right. And it does kind of close off your brain to certain ideas. I love. In rich dad, poor dad, Robert Kiyosaki makes the comment that his poor dad would say, I can’t afford it. And his rich dad would ask, how can I afford it?

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: And it’s a very different mentality and one where if you’re too used to penny pinching, it becomes really easy to say, oh, I just can’t afford it. You kind of shut off your brain to that thing. And so I have had to completely change the way that I think about things, right? And so when I bought my home and I was like, you know what? I like owning real estate. I want to have a rental property, right? And I was, like, thinking about that, and again, my head was turning like, well, is there something that I have that I can leverage here? And I realized, oh, my house has a whole bunch of equity in it, and I can leverage a heloc, a home equity line of credit. And then I used that money to buy a second property so that I could rent out and have a renter and have two homes that are appreciating.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And so it really does change when you realize that life is full of opportunities. You look at it through an abundance mindset.

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: That’s huge. And I think the penny pinching oftentimes, or most often kind of puts you in kind of this limited mindset of like, oh, everything’s finite. I can’t get ahead. But the abundance thinking what really I found to be really valuable.

Jonathan DeYoe: Without saying that penny pitching is a problem, I think there’s a time and a place when you’re building, you’re just starting out. Penny pinching makes a lot of sense, but then there’s a point where you can turn the asset on and say, okay, now we can leverage this. As you said, buy a piece of real estate, do invest those kind of things. Before we look at Kudosi. So what did you do before? And then how did that lead you to saying, hey, I’m going to create this financial literacy app?

Speaker B: Yeah.

Tyler Nicholls: So I am a career product guy. I work in software, and I love creating products that actually move the needle for people. And I just started realizing, especially with my young family, that I wanted to help kids learn how to manage money. I was just looking around, and it’s just like, there’s not a lot of really compelling resources out there.

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: There’s books and things and kind of classes I guess you could take. But nothing really checks the boxes that I was looking, you know, at the end of the too. Like, I was looking at some interesting research that every year the United States spends more and more money on financial education. But you take a look at financial literacy rates, they’re actually going down as we keep spending more.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: It’s the great irony that we can’t even spend money effectively on financial education designed to help people spend money better. Like, we’re spending that poorly.

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: And so I just decided, you know what? Clearly what we’re doing isn’t really working. So maybe I can leverage my software expertise and try to build a solution from the ground up that I think could actually meaningfully move that needle for real people.

Jonathan DeYoe: So I’m assuming that before you launched in the creation of Kudosi, you looked at some of those statistics around financial literacy. And just before we get into it, can you paint the picture of those statistics? What is the problem with financial literacy in our country? How do we know that’s a problem?

Speaker B: Yeah.

Tyler Nicholls: So financial literacy rates are going down pretty sharply. And it’s very interesting because when you see the percentages, uh, they give tests and things to try to figure out kind of what financial literacy rates look like over time. And you would hope that it would at least kind of maintain or slowly grow. Typically, when you, uh, pour gasoline on something or you’re trying to help it grow, it’s going to either maintain or go up. And so the fact that we’re seeing a notable decrease of 510 15% over time, it is definitely concerning, and I think definitely shows that we’re going in very much the wrong direction. We’re not even close right in my mind, because we’re kind of regressing. Another thing that I think is just really hard is obviously, when a, uh, society doesn’t know how to manage money, that’s hard at a macro scale. But you also look. That affects people at a micro scale as well.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: You look at divorce rates across the country, like, uh, 20% to 40% of all divorces that occur in the United States are a result of financial disagreements and financial issues. And we’ve had, in my family different financial things that have come up, that have kind of torn apart relationships and things. And it really is something that affects a lot of people. And I think we’re just really hurt really bad as a country, and I think as a world, too. And so I wanted to help solve that.

Jonathan DeYoe: So lay out the specific mission and sort of the vision for kudosi. Like, what are you trying to do?

Speaker B: Yeah.

Tyler Nicholls: So with Kudosi, we want to get to strengthen families and get people talking about money, so help build those strong habits, so that way, when they’re older, they’ll know how to manage their money.

Speaker B: Okay.

Jonathan DeYoe: Just peruse the website a little bit. I just noticed there’s a whole bunch of different characters involved in the app. Explain some of those characters. Why do they exist? Are they loosely based on some sort of psychological characteristics? And what is the source of that research?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, absolutely. So the characters are just. I probably could have done more research to the different characters. Those characters are characters that I drew by hand. Um, and I found that my kids and my friends kids and kids that I’ve kind of shown them to have loved it. They’ve loved these characters. I knew at its core, I wanted the mascot of the app, if you will, to be a piggy bank, which makes sense.

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: And this character, what I think is fun is he dreams of being a superhero, right? And so his superhero alter ego is maximum bacon. And so we’re trying to help kids learn how to save a bunch of money so that way they can have strong financial futures and be financial superheroes, if you will, over time. So I’ve just found that by creating these fun characters, especially with really little kids, it really gets them interested and intrigued really early on. And that’s been a really cool point of leverage.

Jonathan DeYoe: So I think you’re talking specifically about the pictures of the characters. But I went and read some of the descriptions, and they kind of fit people, you know?

Tyler Nicholls: Uh, right.

Jonathan DeYoe: So is that intentional, or did you say, this is like my brother, or this is like my dad, or is this out of research, or how’d you come up with those descriptions?

Speaker B: Yeah.

Tyler Nicholls: So I did want to make it so people could resonate with different characters and different financial habits and the way that people spend their money, and so they could feel like, hey, it’s okay. In the game of money, there’s not necessarily one way to win. There’s lots of different ways to play it, and there’s lots of different levels of understanding with money and all of that. And so I wanted to kind of help people realize, too, that diversity of thought in finance is actually really good, and there’s lots of different strategies to win in this game.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: One of the things you just mentioned this a second ago is we spend billions of dollars on financial literacy programs and the new financial literacy programs. I mean, Warren Buffett’s got a. Got a video series for kids on financial literacy. There’s just so much out there, and yet the numbers are getting worse and worse. So what is it about kudosi? I said it right that time. I’ve said it wrong every time so far. What is it about Kudosi that is going to change that or that shifts the narrative?

Speaker B: Yeah.

Tyler Nicholls: So when I looked at financial literacy and tried to kind of pinpoint what I believe to be the biggest issues, there are a number of observations that I found and that we’re trying to address with kudosi. So the first is that it’s really easy to teach someone about financial education. What’s hard is changing the habits. And so kudosi, at its core is about building the right habits. And then if you dig a little deeper, the other thing that I think is so challenging is we often talk about money when a person is an adult. And what’s hard about that is their habits are already set. And so it’s really hard. It makes it even harder to kind of change those habits and make people act differently based on the education that they get. So Kudosi was specifically designed to say, what if we taught people before their habits are set? And if you look at research from Purdue University and Brown University and others, you find that a person’s money habits are mostly set by the time they’re about seven years old. So very young and much younger than you would probably assume. And so Kudosi is designed to really help kids as young as three years old start learning these principles so that way their habits can be formed well, in a way that when they start using money, they’ll already know how to do it. They’ll have those habits set. Other observations that I made kind of. The second one is we often talk about finances very individualistically. We even call the study personal finance, when, in my opinion, personal finance is not that personal. Right. Especially if you’re married, if you got kids. The way we spend money affects a lot of people. And so I believe that we should be talking about it. It’s kind of a team sport. So within kudosi, we also have these money conversation topics where people can have these fun conversations with their family and talk through these things. And so kids and parents alike can all kind of learn, uh, more and explore different ways.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: As we talked about earlier, some financial gurus are much more conservative in their approach, kind of the Dave Ramsey’s.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And you’ve got other ones that know way more. They want to leverage everything you look at. Kind of Robert Kiyosaki, who we also mentioned, those are total polar opposites.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: But you can learn from both. And I think as you explore what different people are talking about, you can see what resonates with you and kind of go down that path. And then, I guess the last observation I’ll make here is, I really loved the book the Psychology of money, and I really agree with the premise that we often look at finances as a mathematical problem, but it’s just not right. People are not logical with their money. And so you got to look at it as a psychological problem and emotional problem, and you got to talk through those things. So Kudosi is really designed, uh, to be a family affair, that everyone can talk together, that it could be fun and gamified for kids. And really, it just helps people build habits so that way they just behave well, they build their talents, and they’re also learning these financial principles that are just rock solid that will help them for the rest of their lives.

Jonathan DeYoe: Do you think that the. And I’m using this word loosely, do you think that the failure of older financial literacy programs has been because they didn’t develop habits or because they didn’t reach kids young enough or for some other reason? And what might that reason be?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, I think there’s a couple of things. What comes to mind first, there is, I think the incentives were misaligned, and you actually see this across education in general. Education can be something that’s really hard to track to say, was this successful or not? And I think for a long time, in the education space in general, what we’ve said is, oh, success means that someone watched a video or read a, uh, PowerPoint slide or whatever. That’s how we measured success. And large companies were saying, yes, our product is successful, our training is successful because we’ve seen people go through it. One of the things that I think is so awesome about today’s technology is we are getting smarter at being able to track the outcome. We’re able to say, hey, you consumed this content, you did this thing. And on the back end we can say, oh, it actually moved the needle for you. You actually are better or changed your habits as a result of that thing.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And so I think that’s a big problem. And the other thing is, there is a bit of, um, to your point, too. I believe that all of these conversations need to happen for very young kids, and it’s hard to kind of shift the mindset of, I’ve been teaching adults, and now I’m shifting to a five year old.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: It’s a different skill set to kind of engage such a wide range of people. I think that’s also, uh, an issue because kids don’t want to sit around and just watch a video on financial literacy.

Speaker B: Right.

Jonathan DeYoe: There’s no spreadsheets in Kadozi, right, right.

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, no spreadsheets.

Speaker B: No spreadsheets.

Jonathan DeYoe: So have you ever heard the phrase, when all is said and done, a whole lot is. A whole lot more is said than is right? I use this phrase, and I think about, like, there’s this knowing, doing gap. And I think you speak about this in terms of habit creation. Why do you think the gap is so wide? And I, uh, asked this because kudosi is not old. Like, we’re not talking something that’s been there for 20 years, and we’ve been monitoring the outcomes. So when you talk about measuring the outcome versus the video that people saw or the process that people went through, we’re talking about a short term outcome or a short term decision. We don’t know what’s going to happen 510 years from now. And I think one of the problems with literacy is the decay in the knowledge. When I need the knowledge to act on the knowledge, I no longer have the knowledge. So how do we solve that problem?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, I think you have to interweave it into daily life, right? So you can’t just check it off and say, oh, I learned something. It’s kind of like if you go to college and take a class on basket weaving, and then you fast forward 30 years, you’re not going to be able to basket weave this a way, right? And so it needs to stay applicable. Right to your point. And, uh, there was a very interesting study that I saw. It was actually Brigham Young University here in Utah, that found that the best way to increase financial literacy is through hands on experience, as opposed to just kind of learning about it. And so that’s one of the key areas of kudosi, and what it tries to do is to say, hey, let’s not just learn about it, but let’s actually act this out, right? So there’s a famous study done years ago, the Marshmallow study, which I’m sure you’re well familiar with it, right? Where little kids, they could have one marshmallow now, or they can wait 15 minutes and get two marshmallows later. That sort of psychological situation is very interesting and very compelling. And so I wanted to add that into the app where kids have to make these decisions, right? Like, they work hard to earn points, and their parents give them points for good behavior or whatever, but as a kid, you have to decide, where do I want to spend these, right? And we had a really fun experience when my daughter was three years old. We were using the app with her, and, uh, we went to this event, and there was an exotic petting zoo in the corner, and she’s like, oh, my gosh, I want to pet the zebra and the kangaroo and whatever. It was like, I don’t know, $2, $3 to get into this thing. But we said, hey, you’re welcome to go in there, but you have to spend your kudos to go in there. Are you okay with that? And it was just so fascinating to see our, uh, little three year old, the gears turning. Like, I worked really hard for that. Do I want to spend my kudos here, or do I want to spend it on candy or something else? And it was just fascinating because we saw the whole journey going on in her head, and then she finally said, yes, let’s do it. And she went in there and she had like this, she was beaming because not only was she able to pet the kangaroo, but she was so proud that she earned it.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And, uh, I just loved that. And that was one of those moments that I’m like, yes, I just got to keep building this thing because that experience is so cool. And I want millions of people to have, ah, an experience like that with their kids. It is so fun and I just think it’s so valuable.

Jonathan DeYoe: So I don’t know how the app works. Can you explain really quick internally how the app works? And I want to know specifically, as a parent, do I get to set up the process of how my kids earn kudos.

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, totally. So the way that it works is it solves multiple problems, right. It’s financial literacy, very important, but lots of people might argue not terribly urgent, especially for little kids.

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: So we added in another pillar that would help it become more urgent and more relevant right now. So the way that it works is kudosi helps kids behave really well. So as a parent, as your kids are doing things that you like them doing, you can give them kudos. So you’re rewarding them for cleaning the room without being asked or putting on their seatbelts or practicing piano or whatever you want them to do, mowing the lawn, it doesn’t matter as a parent, it completely adapts to whatever you want to do. Then the kid starts accruing these kudos that they have in the wallet within the app, and then they get to decide what to do with them. So we have a list of curated Amazon items that are toys, games, things like that, that are super fun, that they can redeem. And kudosi tracks it for you. The parent will ultimately go out and purchase the thing, but Kudosi will kind of track it for you. And we also have a bunch of experiences, and the experiences are super fun because sometimes we don’t think about this sort of stuff, like going to the park with dad or baking a cake with mom or family movie night. But you get to choose the movie and not your brothers or sisters, right? And so it can scale to whatever the parent wants to do and to the age of the kid. And as a parent, you’re in complete control of this economy. You can change the price of things. You can hide items that are there, you can add your own items. So it’s completely flexible. And we really are aiming that parents have complete, uh, they have an economy that they’re in control of, that they can help their kids want to behave well and want to build their skills. And then on the backside, you’ve got this really cool financial playground that kids have to decide, what do I want to do with? And a, uh, brand new feature in the app is kids can actually take their kudos and invest their kudos. And so the parents can decide how long is the investment period, what’s the rate of return? And so then kids have to make the decision of, like, shoot, do I want to buy a piece of candy now, or do I want to invest my kudos so that way I can afford this other thing, right? And so it’s just a really fun experience, a playground experience that people are loving and I’m loving. As a parent, I just think it’s super cool. It makes it real and it’s hands on for the kids. And again, that way, when they are older, they’ll be like, oh, yeah, this is so easy. I’ve been doing this my whole life.

Jonathan DeYoe: So you said the, uh, marshmallow study, which is the perfect synopsis of the deferred gratification. But in the back end of that, you’re also teaching opportunity cost. The whole story you had with your daughter and the petting of the kangaroo, it’s like, candy is the opportunity cost. If I pet the kangaroo, I lose my candy. If I pet the kangaroo. So those are two of the most important lessons that we learn as kids, and we apply that to our personal finances in the future. So I think that’s fantastic. I love what it sounds like. There’s another thing you focused on, I think, on the website, I think it may have been a blog post that talks about a lemonade stand. Explain how the lemonade stand blog post fits with kudosi. What does the lemonade stand have to do with Kadosi?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, absolutely. So, over time, the app is still very young, as we kind of talked about before, it launched only Christmas eve of last year. And so there’s a lot more that we want to do with this thing. But I love helping people, kids, uh, understand and grow kind of this entrepreneurial spirit.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: One of the things that I love about kudosi that I have seen from so many kids is once parents start using this with their kids, within a week or two, the kids always ask this question that I love it. The question is, mom, dad, what can I do to earn kudos?

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: And I think that is such, uh, a great question. And so good, because whether you decide to start your own company, whether you decide to work for someone else, it doesn’t matter. If you know how to provide value for someone else, you’re going to be okay. Life will be okay, things will work out.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And I think in the game of providing value, you have to remember, like, effort doesn’t count. Actually, it doesn’t. What matters is the other person, how much value are they getting? And then can you just give them as much of that as you can handle?

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And so that’s a big part of kudosi, too. And that’s one of the big lessons is we want to teach kids to think not in terms of what’s hard for me to accomplish or whatever, but really go the extra mile and say, oh, I bet mom and dad would love this thing. And so I’m going to do that because I’m going to get extra kudos for that sort of experience and really drive home the value. And so lemonade stands is definitely one of those sorts of things where you provide value to people outside of the family. And I love that concept of creating value and learning how to create even more value. And I really want to help kids get that concept at a young age, too.

Jonathan DeYoe: I think it’s fantastic. I mean, the idea of saving your kudos to get the things you want, experiences, stuff, whatever, the idea of developing an entrepreneurial spirit, when I look at the decline in business starts, when I look at the global macro, the big financial picture that we’re facing, whether that be what comes out of 2007, 2008, whether that be post pandemic, the fear about inflation, whether all of these things get largely solved, if we can defer gratification, if we can have an entrepreneurial spirit, if we can have the right mindset. So I’m curious, other than the current structure of kudosi, are there plans to develop kudosi for high school kids? Because the characters aren’t going to work for high school kids. Looking at what they are right now, is there a level two or is there a way to level.

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, absolutely. So we will be growing with these kids, right? So I want to create an awesome experience, and as we kind of grow our user base and all of that, absolutely more things are going to come for high school kids and whatnot. Uh, I have seen a lot of really cool organizations that do entrepreneurial stuff for kids and all sorts of things like that. I could totally see us partnering up with different organizations over time and offering just a lot of really interesting things to it. There are obviously a lot of things that we deal with as adults that would feel kind of weird doing to a kid.

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: Like, as adults, we have monthly payments, we’ve got mortgages to pay and all of that. And you probably don’t want to charge a three year old kudos for living in your house, right? That’s probably a little too young. But, uh, different principles like that can start coming in later when the kid’s older and really give them that hands on experience. So again, it becomes second nature because they’ve always done it.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I love it. So there’s a ton of noise out there, and I ask every guest that comes on here to actually really simplify this for us. So just what is one thing that a person can do? And maybe this is something within kudosi, maybe it’s not, but just someone who’s been steeped in financial literacy. And I just like to ask you this question. What is one thing that someone can do that if they did it religiously, followed it religiously, would lead to greater personal and financial success? And the flip side of that is, what is one thing that maybe the world tells us we should do that we should ignore? That’s just garbage. That’s like a sales pitch. So one thing we should do and then maybe one thing we shouldn’t do.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Tyler Nicholls: Great questions. Yeah, I think for me, one of the big, uh, aha’s for me. And what I would recommend is don’t assume. I think oftentimes as people, we make these assumptions that things are going to go a certain way. For example, we talk about in society a lot that, hey, as I work, just contribute to your 401k. It’ll be awesome. Often you’ll get a company match, company matches or whatever, and you’ll be great for retirement.

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: And that’s, I think, the part where we run into a problem when we hear, oh, you’ll be great for retirement. It’s like, wait, what does that mean exactly? How many dollars is that? And what will my life look like at that point?

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: We also make assumptions around how much money that we have right now. If that’s enough to pay all our bills and do all of those things, right. We see kind of what other people are doing and we make these assumptions and we just kind of go through the motion and do things in a certain way because we feel like we should. And again, for me, the biggest light bulb moments for me is when I realize, oh, there’s actually no rulebook. You can do it any way you want to. And I have found, like, oh, if I contribute less to my 401k, but contribute more to real estate, for example, that actually gets me in a place that I want to be faster. And I think that it’s, as we challenge these assumptions, we really can, um, move forward. And then the other thing, like the thing that we should not do, I think it is a fault to try to passively invest too early. I think that, again, I know these are crazy thoughts, but when it comes to value providing value for other people, I think we make the assumption, too, that we’re really good at creating value. If we roll that money over into teaching ourselves how to provide more value to people and more value to people and more value to people, that can actually give you an incredible rate of return really quickly.

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: If you’re able to learn how to market, if you’re able to learn how to sell, if you’re able to learn these skills that entrepreneurs have, or whatever, you’re able to make a ton of money, which then really superpowers your ability to invest. So you should be investing. But I think we often underestimate the need to invest in ourselves to improve our earning capacity. Because if you can really earn a lot of money younger in life, that, again, gives you way more leverage as you go through it.

Jonathan DeYoe: So I just want to touch on those two things. So the first one is, don’t assume. Is that the same thing as think it through or plan? Or is that the same thing, or is it different than that?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, I think it’s very related, for sure.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Tyler Nicholls: Planning, I think, allows you to kind of figure out the numbers and all of that by the assumption, I guess I’m just saying is make sure that your plan and your expectation match, because you definitely, especially as you start thinking about these numbers, a lot of people are like, oh, my gosh, a million dollars. That’s so much money. I would love to have a million dollars. But when you actually start looking at what a million dollars can do for you, you’re like, oh, actually, that’s not as much money as I thought, especially if you’re thinking about it in retirement world, where you’re like, I could be living off of this for 30 years or more. We don’t know what technology is going to look like and how long we can stay alive. I mean, it’s like, that might not take you very far and factor in inflation and all these other things, too. So it’s good to kind of match the plan with kind of your expectation and, uh, how you want to live.

Jonathan DeYoe: I think I grew up with the idea that I want to be a millionaire, and that doesn’t work anymore. That is not enough. Totally get that. The second thing, I think it’s really interesting, but I want to peel it back a little bit. So what you said was, don’t invest passively too soon. And then when we talked about a little bit more, what I took out of it was invest, but invest in yourself. Really develop your capacity for earning early. Learn new skills, like go to college, if not college, learn a new trade, and you can do this on. There’s so many ways to do it. The opportunity for education is just everywhere. Technology, social media, access, there’s all kinds of stuff we can learn how to do. And the first thing we should invest in is ourselves in growing that earning capacity. Is a good summary.

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, I definitely think it is.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Tyler Nicholls: What’s interesting, and I think why I really believe in that so much is I started investing kind of in real estate stuff, and the market’s been good for homeowners over the past few years. And it just really reminded me that not only is, uh, your earning capacity increased if you learn how to provide more value to people, but also your satisfaction of life is also increased when you learn how to provide more value to people. Because if you’ve got a ton of money, but you got nothing to do with your life, that’s not a good life, you’re not going to feel very happy.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: And so by learning how to provide exceptional value as much as you can, as early as you can, life is just really joyful because you’ve got enough money to pay for all the expenses, but you also have this fulfillment, like I’ve given to society, and life is good.

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: And that’s why I think I love that. And the returns on that are just astronomical, because if you learn how to run Facebook ads or some ad campaign, you can make a lot of money very quickly if you do it, know, and it’s just very awesome. And then you leverage that and you put that into, know, uh, different investment vehicles, and you can go so much faster because now you have more money to play with.

Jonathan DeYoe: And you didn’t say this, but have you read Bob Berg’s the go giver?

Tyler Nicholls: I have not read that one.

Jonathan DeYoe: You should absolutely read that because everything you’re saying about providing exceptional value, he wrote about it and lots of different books. Anyway, so I checked that out. One of the reasons you do that, you have an opportunity to make $100, but you give $60 away that into the universe, right? You have an opportunity to make a lot, but you give that the appreciation you get having somebody know. Jonathan, thank you for that thing that you enabled me to do, for investing in me, for believing in me. That appreciation is worth more than gold. Like it is such a big deal in terms of a life well lived. And there’s this sort of a, uh, reciprocity thing in the world. If you do something good for somebody else, they feel the need to help. And that’s not why you do it. You don’t do it because you want somebody to help you out in return. But that’s how the world works. If you give away value, people want to give you value. It’s just how that works. Uh, it’s a beautiful thing. I love everything you’re saying. Just before you wrap up, I want to go back to the personal and just say, I got a couple of questions. So what was the last thing you changed your mind about?

Tyler Nicholls: About money or just in general?

Jonathan DeYoe: In general. Like, maybe it was something you had for breakfast. Yeah, I was going to have a pear. I decided to have an apple. It could be anything.

Speaker B: Yeah. Great question.

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, I think it’s such a thought provoking question that I definitely want to give you a good answer. So one of the things that I think I have been thinking a lot about recently is, especially nowadays, we talk a lot about being kind to yourself, helping yourself, and, uh, giving yourself what you need. And I’ve been kind of living in that world for a long time, thinking like, oh, that is the way to go. And I’ve kind of changed my opinion on that, actually. I believe that when we are to look at the view of value again, the greatest satisfaction I have had is in giving value to other people. And there have been times in my life where I have really tried to focus on me. And if I eventually focus on me long enough that I’m going to be happy. But I don’t really ever get to that point where I’m satisfied and happy. But what I found is when I lean fully into providing value for other people, even if it’s a little uncomfortable for me, at the end of the day, I just feel fantastic. I feel great. And that’s just, uh, something I’ve discovered in the past few years that it’s been kind of mind altering for me.

Speaker B: And I love it.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Uh, the whole idea that happiness can be pursued is a misnomer. If you make happiness the target, you’ll never be happy. Happiness is something that occurs, or satisfaction is something that occurs through a life well lived. Which is another way to say, providing value into the universe, to your family’s schools, to the baseball team that your kids play on, providing value leads to happiness. It’s not a direct path. Yeah, totally.

Tyler Nicholls: Uh, and I think, too, another analogy for that is happiness is kind of like electricity.

Speaker B: Right?

Tyler Nicholls: And the way you generate it is through action. You’re pedaling, you’re whatever. You’re creating the electricity through action. And so being active is a good thing.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: So can you name a place that you have visited that had a real impact on who you are today? And what was the impact?

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, after the 2011 earthquake in Haiti, I went down to Haiti and was part of a humanitarian aid group that went down there. And I was there for a bit of a summer and just got, uh, to work along. Haitians there, and they are such an incredible people. What was amazing was we spent a lot of our time digging wells and doing all these things, trying to help out in different ways. But what was really amazing to me was every 05:00 in the morning, we had an english class, and our english classes were packed to the brim. It was just completely packed. And I was just thinking, know, in the United States or elsewhere, no one would show up to a class at five in the morning.

Speaker B: Right.

Tyler Nicholls: But here is a group of people that understood the value of education and were there. They did whatever it took to get there, and they got some really awesome, uh, opportunities as a result of that. And it just reminded me that education is so important and it is life changing, and it is worth waking up at 05:00 in the morning for. And those Haitians really inspired me. They are amazing people down there.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: Beautiful story. Thank you. So tell us how people can connect with you.

Tyler Nicholls: Yeah, so I, uh, have a website, kudosi.com. You can check out all about our Kudosi app. There’s also our mobile app is live Kudosi family wallet on the Apple App Store. It’s not yet on Android, so fortunately, if you’ve got an Android, you’ll have to wait a little bit. But it is available for everyone on Apple devices. This is an app and a project that is very close to my heart. So if anyone ever has any feedback or wants to reach out just to talk about kudos in general, I am very open for that. Some contact information is on the website, but you can also email me at Tyler at, uh, kudosiewallet.com. I love talking with anyone interested in the costs.

Jonathan DeYoe: Tyler, thank you so much for coming on. I’m glad to have had you here. We’re going to make sure all that stuff’s in the show notes, and my one recommendation is go check out Bob Berg and the go giver. I think you’ll like that.

Tyler Nicholls: Definitely will.

Jonathan DeYoe: All right, thank you so much.

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