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115: Ben Utley — Finding Balance and Avoiding Burnout with Ben Utley

W. Ben Utley, CFP®, not only serves as the Service Team Leader at Physician Family Financial Advisors but also co-hosts their podcast of the same name. Well-recognized for his expertise, Ben has been featured in The New York Times and listed among the “150 Best Financial Advisors for Doctors” by Medical Economics Magazine. As a Certified Financial Planner, Ben provides physician clients with solutions that extend beyond achieving financial freedom, ensuring they also have the time to enjoy it.

In this episode, I talk with Ben about his journey from a chemistry background to becoming a renowned financial advisor. We discuss the harmful effects of hustle culture, identifying and preventing burnout, and establishing work-life balance. We also dive into the importance of core habits like reading, writing, exercising, cooking, and how mindfulness or faith can serve as a foundation for financial success. Ben emphasizes the value of knowing “how much is enough” and shares insights into providing a positive impact through financial advising.

In this episode:

  • [00:00] – Intro
  • [02:04] – Ben’s early life and entrepreneurial journey
  • [04:08] – Transition to financial advisory
  • [10:55] – Balancing work and personal life
  • [13:44] – Understanding burnout and workaholism
  • [16:28] – Finding balance in a market economy
  • [20:07] – The FIRE movement: A critical perspective
  • [23:27] – Embracing career longevity
  • [25:16] – Finding fulfillment in work
  • [34:50] – Core habits for personal and financial success
  • [35:47] – The importance of relationships and service
  • [38:07] – What’s important to know about Ben


“The thing that causes you to have balance is understanding how much is not enough, and how much is too much. And really the mindfulness of it comes into defining for yourself what that is. Knowing, when you use money, what causes you to actually experience joy. And what causes you to get a little endorphin hit that wears off in a day or week or a month.”

Ben Utley

“Everyone has their own battery, their own capacity to work. Some people have huge batteries and huge reserves, and other people have tiny batteries. Burnout is relative to how much energy that person has.”

Ben Utley

“I don’t think hustle is a bad thing, but I think hustle culture is off the hook weird.”

Ben Utley


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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Ben Utley: Even flowers in their own time grow, but they also rest as bulbs. They also die back. So human beings are not always ready for to grow, grow, grow. You know, there is enough growth. I guess the great privilege of being a financial advisor is the chance that you’re there at that moment when they’re ready to grow.

[00:00:15] Ben Utley: And the hope that you have enough wisdom or enough insight to be able to, to water or fertilize that seed as it grows to be able to have a positive impact on someone’s life, to to shape an outcome, to give them a spark or something that can’t be taken away.

[00:00:34] Intro: Do you think money takes up more life space than it should? On this show, we discuss with and share stories from artists, authors, entrepreneurs, and advisors about how they mindfully minimize the time and energy spent thinking about money. Join your host, Jonathan DeYoe, and learn how to put money in its place and get more out of life.[00:01:00]

[00:01:03] Jonathan DeYoe: Welcome back on this episode of The Mindful Money Podcast. I’m chatting with Ben Utley. Ben is a CFP. He’s a service team leader at Physician Family Financial Advisors, and Co-hosts their podcast as well. He’s well recognized for his expertise featured in the New York Times and on the lists of all the best advisors for doctors.

[00:01:20] Jonathan DeYoe: As a certified financial planner, Ben provides position clients with solutions that extend beyond achieving financial freedom, focusing on things like time and happiness. Beyond work. He’s also a family man and, and an outdoors enthusiast at the same time. So I wanted to have him on the podcast, have a conversation about our cultural fascination with hustle, how it leads to burnout for clients, doctors specifically, but also for any professional and how we move towards greater balance in our lives.

[00:01:48] Jonathan DeYoe: Ben, welcome to the Mindful Money Podcast.

[00:01:50] Ben Utley: Thanks for having me. Good to be here.

[00:01:52] Jonathan DeYoe: So, does that seem like a pretty good way to, pretty good thing to talk about hustle culture and, uh, you know, how to, how to get some balance.

[00:01:57] Ben Utley: Yeah, I think, I don’t think [00:02:00] hustle’s a bad thing, but I think hustle culture is like, it’s off the hook.

[00:02:03] Ben Utley: Weird poison.

[00:02:04] Jonathan DeYoe: So first off, where, where do you call home? Where, where are you connecting from?

[00:02:07] Ben Utley: I am broadcasting to, you live from Eugene, Oregon, where I’ve lived for 30 years. I’m a transplanted Texan. You probably hear it in a slight draw if you’re very careful and you’re from down there. But yeah, I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, so, yep.

[00:02:21] Ben Utley: Eugene, Oregon.

[00:02:22] Jonathan DeYoe: And so you grew up in Texas?

[00:02:24] Ben Utley: I did. Yeah.

[00:02:25] Jonathan DeYoe: I, I’m curious.

[00:02:26] Jonathan DeYoe: I grew up in Dallas-Fort Worth, attended Texas a and m University, and then, uh, made my way up here.

[00:02:32] Jonathan DeYoe: So what did you learn about money entrepreneurship in your, you know, family of origin growing up?

[00:02:39] Ben Utley: I learned about ENT a lot from about entrepreneurship, from people that were not entrepreneurs.

[00:02:44] Ben Utley: Neither of my parents attended college. I was the first person in my immediate family to attend college. I’m the only person in my extended family to have an advanced degree, which I have two, two degrees in chemistry. I can remember when I was a kid going door to door selling peaches that I had picked in my backyard.

[00:02:59] Ben Utley: And [00:03:00] that was not my idea. It was my mom and dad’s idea. I had a job where I painted curbs, uh, painting sign numbers on curbs in the Texas heat, you know, 102 degrees out there stencil laying away. And I can remember when I first made a total of a hundred dollars, it made me wanna get right back out there.

[00:03:15] Ben Utley: I. I don’t know. I made money picking up aluminum cans, you know, doing the recycle thing. So I had a lot of entrepreneurial exposure, but both my parents were workers. My dad was a manager at a helicopter factory, and my mother did clerical work at a union hall.

[00:03:30] Ben Utley: So I, I’ve had, I think I’m on, I. I think you’re the hundred 14th guest of the Mind one podcast, and I think you’re the only one so far to say like, I sold X door to door as a kid.

[00:03:39] Ben Utley: And I think that that’s something that I was, my dad made me do that. I sold sandwiches door to door. I sold buttons, door to door. I sold trophies to like coaches of teams to try to get trophies, you know, things. And the, uh, so I, I’m wondering now if that has something to do with how you end up in a financial role.[00:04:00]

[00:04:00] Ben Utley: If that sort of fascination with earning money early, if that leads you to where you are, if that’s plants a seed. I

[00:04:07] Ben Utley: don’t know. Hard to say. I can say that, you know, as you know, the hard part of financial, being a financial advisor the first five years is figuring out what you’re supposed to do. But beyond that, the hard part’s getting clients, right?

[00:04:17] Ben Utley: So marketing is the hard part, and a big piece of marketing is dealing with rejection. I think I’m, I was pretty decent at dealing with rejection because I, you know, door to door, you get a lot of, no. Right. And so when Nova becomes your friend, then you know, yes. Follows quickly. So that’s about the only thing I can think of.

[00:04:33] Ben Utley: You know, my springboard into financial world kind of came more as a result of growing up as a, as a spouse. You know, before I was married, I was living in a half basement apartment and didn’t have two nickels to rub together, but I realized that I didn’t have renter’s insurance. For some reason that popped in my head and I decided that I needed to figure that out.

[00:04:50] Ben Utley: And one thing led to another and I became interested in personal finances. But this is, I, I was raised in a household that was very financially literate and I think they [00:05:00] probably tried to pass that literacy on to me, but I’m kind of hardheaded, so I’m not sure that, you know, it’s sunk in at that point.

[00:05:06] Ben Utley: But it’s certainly something that is part of my cultural background, which always makes things like this easier. I think my parents were surprised when I got into personal finance. Hmm. But, uh, I know that the chemistry professor who I resigned from was certainly surprised ’cause he thought I was gonna go on and do research in, in pharmacology or pharmaceuticals.

[00:05:23] Ben Utley: And I think I surprised everybody when I was like, Hey, I’m not gonna do this anymore. You know, it just didn’t, didn’t feel right.

[00:05:29] Jonathan DeYoe: I’m curious if you, if you think back to growing up, were there. Intentional or accidental lessons that you learned about money from your parents interactions?

[00:05:39] Ben Utley: Oh, hell yeah.

[00:05:40] Jonathan DeYoe: Oh, hell yeah.

[00:05:40] Jonathan DeYoe: Let’s share a couple.

[00:05:42] Ben Utley: Yeah. Well, let’s see here. I was a kid when coin Ops came out. You know, space Invaders. Asteroids, you know, you put 25 cents in, you get to play for like a half a minute. And I had an allowance kind of growing up. It wasn’t much of one, but it was an allowance. And so, uh, we went down to the local grocery store where they had the coin ops up [00:06:00] front, and I was gaga about asteroids.

[00:06:02] Ben Utley: So I, my mom said, Hey, don’t, don’t spend your allowance on, on video games. I was like, okay. So she goes and shops. I’m up at the front. It just magnetized by video games, you know. So I slipped my coin and I started playing asteroids. I lost, it slipped another end. Lost it. She came up and she said, did you put your allowance in that machine?

[00:06:19] Ben Utley: I said, yeah. And she said, that’s the end of your allowance. And I thought, oh, no big deal. You know, next, next week, next month. It never came back. Ooh, never. That was the end of the allowance. Yeah.

[00:06:30] Jonathan DeYoe: If you’re gonna waste our money, we’re not gonna give you anymore. That’s right. It’s a good lesson. That’s right.

[00:06:34] Ben Utley: It was interesting. Yeah. And I, you know, I have two adult children. They’re in their twenties in college and, uh, I raised them without allowances.

[00:06:42] Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting. We started off with allowances and we ended up cutting ’em off pretty early, and both my kids, you know, different than any of their peers have had jobs at like local delis and they Mm-Hmm.

[00:06:52] Jonathan DeYoe: Covered and uncovered a local pool and swept the deck and all that kind of stuff. And most kids don’t do that. And my kids both did it from like 13 on. Right. It’s [00:07:00] important. Yeah. Yeah. Value of dollar.

[00:07:02] Ben Utley: Yeah. Yeah. My kids have Roth IRAs and every nickel that’s in those Roth IRAs is money they earned.

[00:07:07] Jonathan DeYoe: Yep.

[00:07:07] Jonathan DeYoe: Absolutely. Mine too. Yeah.

[00:07:08] Ben Utley: Yeah.

[00:07:09] Jonathan DeYoe: Well, we’re both financial advisors that that kind of makes sense that that would happen. I keep trying to tell people, kids work Roth IRA, nothing like that be the most powerful thing they ever do.

[00:07:16] Ben Utley: And then by the, the corollary of this, I wanna get this out, is that tax thing where you can pay your kids and put money in their Roth, IRA, without the kids ever lifting a finger to work.

[00:07:26] Ben Utley: I just wanna go on record to say, and I think that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen.

[00:07:29] Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, it doesn’t actually

[00:07:30] Ben Utley: work, right? No, no. It’s, yeah, you might save some taxes, but you wreck a child. Right, right. Yeah.

[00:07:36] Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. You gotta have, you have to learn, I mean, and this is true of anyone that inherits wealth or that wins a lottery or, you know, pick your study.

[00:07:43] Jonathan DeYoe: Right. If they, if people that don’t have the practices and have the habits of wealth get a bunch of money, it doesn’t last long. Right. You gotta have the habits. Yeah. So I, and also

[00:07:51] Ben Utley: what they say, you win some, you learn some, right. You’re gonna learn if you, if you’re winning the money.

[00:07:55] Jonathan DeYoe: That’s right. So before we launch into the topic today, can you give us the [00:08:00] arc?

[00:08:00] Jonathan DeYoe: So chemistry, uh, you were on the way to, to being a. Pharmacological researcher. Yeah. What’s the trigger? Like, what makes you go, Hey, I’m gonna do this instead? You mentioned renter’s insurance, but that’s not a, that doesn’t turn one into a financial advisor. So what’s the, what is the total arc to get there?

[00:08:16] Ben Utley: Yeah. Somehow I got a book on personal finance from, I don’t know, Barnes and Noble, back when we had bookstores and I got interested in it and I had a professor that was a research guy and he had money. He was known to have money ’cause he developed a pharmaceutical company. I had sold a car and I had some money left over, sold a car back to my parents and they bought the car for me.

[00:08:36] Ben Utley: Terrible, right? But I, I had some money left over and I was like, I think I’m gonna invest this. So I go to my. Prof and I’m like, Hey, I wanna invest in your pharmaceutical company, which was a startup with no, no earnings, right? So that wouldn’t have been cool, but not even publicly traded. And he said, nah, you need to go into Schwab.

[00:08:49] Ben Utley: Get yourself an index fund. I was like, I don’t know what that is. That doesn’t sound cool. I wanna buy a pharmaceutical company. He said, I said, what did, what should I buy? And he said, uh, get Merck. He said, uh, bill [00:09:00] Clinton just recently came out and said that, you know, pharmaceutical companies are bad and it drove down their stocks and they were cheap.

[00:09:05] Ben Utley: And so I bought, I don’t know, two shares of Merck or something like that. I bought some American Sid and I bought some Pfizer and American Sid got bought out, so they doubled. Merck went up like 20%. I also bought some bank shares that she did nothing. It was like magic to me. I mean, it was for the very first time I started reading the newspaper.

[00:09:23] Ben Utley: The entirety of my time in college. We were at war over in the desert. I’d never paid any attention, but when I started owning stocks, I, I looked at the news every day, you know, it was just, it, it made the world somehow relevant to me as a little chemistry geek, and I started digging in. That’s where it started.

[00:09:37] Ben Utley: And then from there, it just led to increasingly interested in the topic. I think, you know, then I, I went and volunteered at a consumer credit counseling service and I met somebody at Waddell and Reed, which is where I got a job for a year. And then I realized that it was all commissioned selling, which I just hated.

[00:09:53] Ben Utley: I didn’t like the way it felt, I didn’t like the ethics. I was bad at selling. Um, that’s when fee only financial planning was kind of in its [00:10:00] infancy. And I joined Napa, I did the 1% thing. I did that for, gosh, probably about a, I don’t know, 10 years or so until one day I had a client was paying me about $50,000 a year, and I thought.

[00:10:10] Ben Utley: This is great for me, but it’s really stupid for them. I just can’t do it anymore. And then I gradually transitioned my firm to where people pay a super reasonable level monthly fee. And that’s where we’re at today. Uh, we serve north of a, about 160 households, more than 200 medical doctors in, I don’t know, 30 or 40 states.

[00:10:29] Ben Utley: There’s five of us, myself included. And yeah. And some people are like, well, why do you serve doctors? I’m like, there’s 700,000 of you. There’s only four of us. Like, why would I go anywhere else?

[00:10:39] Jonathan DeYoe: So

[00:10:39] Ben Utley: I’m curious in that

[00:10:40] Jonathan DeYoe: that’s the arc in in that, in that path. ’cause we’re gonna talk about live work balance or or, or money life balance.

[00:10:47] Jonathan DeYoe: Have you ever lost the balance? Have you sort of worked in a way that sort of would’ve led you to your own burnout?

[00:10:52] Ben Utley: Yeah.

[00:10:53] Jonathan DeYoe: And how did you discover, hey, this is not the good path.

[00:10:55] Ben Utley: I’ve been very intentional since the beginning. I was an early reader of the book Your Money or [00:11:00] Life, which is the book that kicked off fire before fire was even a word.

[00:11:03] Ben Utley: And so I was hyper alert and aware intellectually it made a lot of sense to me and I always knew that I was making trade off between, you know, my time and my money and my freedom and all those good things. So I kept my practice intentionally small until my children were old enough that they weren’t super dependent on me.

[00:11:20] Ben Utley: So I worked from home. I had an office in my backyard. I could listen to my kids on the swings while I was on a phone call or while I was filling out paperwork. You know, they got to where they’re in middle school and I wasn’t seeing ’em as much, but I was buried ’cause I was doing everything all by myself and it was miserable and it was lonely.

[00:11:36] Ben Utley: And then I hired my first person, Kyle, who’s still with me today, uh, going on 10 years. And that was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. It was one of the first times I really put me and people ahead of money. And everything just blossomed and turned around. You know, there, there are actually things that are more important than money.

[00:11:53] Ben Utley: And that was where I began to discover it.

[00:11:55] Jonathan DeYoe: It’s inter interesting. I have a very similar, you know, I did it in my basement, basement apartment, did it all myself, [00:12:00] all the paperwork, all the, you know, all the marketing, all the everything. It was just really, really tough. Mm-Hmm. And then I had a coach who said, you know what, Jonathan, you need to bring someone in that.

[00:12:08] Jonathan DeYoe: Can handle some of these things and just take it off your plate. Oh, but the salary I can’t pay, you know? Oh my God. That is terrible. Yeah, right. I made way less money the next year, but the very next year I made way more money. You know, it’s like an investment in, in the future. I, I think most people don’t get that.

[00:12:21] Jonathan DeYoe: You give someone else a, their entry level job and for the benefit of more time and more balance, pretty impressive.

[00:12:28] Ben Utley: I think that, you know, hiring people and employing people is it’s magic. I remember the first time I did it, we, we had a nanny, which was, you know, it wasn’t a release for me ’cause I was still working at home.

[00:12:38] Ben Utley: It was really to relieve my wife. But there was a day and I needed to shred some papers and like I was doing everything myself. And I just asked that nanny, it’s like, could you, do you think it could shred these papers while my daughter naps? And she like. I can do that. And I worked for an entire hour while I heard the paper shredder go.

[00:12:53] Ben Utley: I was like, man, this is magic. Yes. Like, where’s this been my whole life, right? Yep. But up to that point, I didn’t value my time. [00:13:00] I think that that is the, that’s the thing that you really have to get in order to employ someone, whether it’s somebody to mow your yard or do your taxes, or you’re literally employing, you know, help whether you’re leveraging someone or you’re simply just buying back your time.

[00:13:14] Ben Utley: I think valuing your time is the key to understanding how to trade money for freedom. Totally.

[00:13:21] Jonathan DeYoe: So that, that’s a perfect segue. I, I have, uh, let’s dig in. I have been stupidly a proud workaholic most of my life. I come by, honestly, you know, my, my dad was, his dad was, you know, the old. Protestant work ethic.

[00:13:36] Jonathan DeYoe: You read some of the bio, some of the Lutheran background, right? This was hard coded in my DNA, but for the last three years I’ve been pushing back on it myself. So the first question I have is, what is burnout? What is it?

[00:13:48] Ben Utley: Well, I actually heard this defined by the guy who came up with a word burnout. He was working in the tl, the Tenderloin in San Francisco.

[00:13:55] Ben Utley: He’s working with drug addicts and basically burned out is where you get as high as you [00:14:00] can. You’re, you’re constantly seeking out that next thrill, that next slightly greater endorphin hit. It’s the thing that drives some people to overdose, right? I mean, if you hear that people are dying, then that’s the ultimate thrill because it pushes people right up to the edge.

[00:14:14] Ben Utley: Mm-Hmm. That’s where the word burnout came from. It came from drug addiction. And I guess maybe I’m getting philosophical. I mean, money can be like a drug. For many people there can be no such thing as enough, you know, because money is an easy number to measure. People get locked in on the idea of getting more and more and more, even if it’s a little bit more, and even if they’re giving a lot more to get it.

[00:14:33] Ben Utley: That’s what I see as I. The whole story of burnout.

[00:14:36] Jonathan DeYoe: So you work with a lot of people and this becomes part of that baseline conversation. How do you identify the signs? Like how does somebody know if they’re approaching or on the path that will lead to burnout?

[00:14:47] Ben Utley: I think at the root of your question is, is an assumption that burnout and workaholism go hand in hand?

[00:14:53] Ben Utley: Hmm. And I don’t know that workaholics burnout. Maybe they do, but uh, there are people that are burning out [00:15:00] that are not choosing to burn out. Right. Whereas a workaholic for they get something out of that. There’s a, some kind of payoff. So I, I think you have to tease those things out first. But, you know, once a year I sit down with my clients and, and I ask two questions, always at the annual progress check.

[00:15:15] Ben Utley: I say, how’s your family? How are your kids doing? You know, how are you doing? How’s your wife doing? They’re like, fine. I’m like. That doesn’t sound fine. You know, we really drill down like what’s happening with your children? What’s happening in your home life? And the second question is, how are things at work?

[00:15:28] Ben Utley: And they say, oh, they’re great. You know, I really enjoy working. Or, gosh, I just don’t know if I can do this much longer and I don’t know if I can do this much longer is the beginning of burnout. And I say, well, what do you say this? What do you mean? Like, what, what is it that you can’t do anymore? Tell me specifically as if I’m a fly on the wall and I’m observing your daily life.

[00:15:45] Ben Utley: What am I seeing? Well, you’re, you know, you’re seeing people throwing clipboards at me in the er. You’re seeing me, you know, stuck in traffic for an hour and a half a day trying to drive 20 miles. You’re seeing me defending against lawsuits. You’re seeing me getting home around, you know, 10 o’clock at night and spending three [00:16:00] hours dictating notes and getting up at six o’clock in the morning next morning, not seeing my kids and doing it again.

[00:16:05] Ben Utley: That’s what burnout looks like. Right, and there are, there are other signs of burnout that aren’t quite as severe because I think burnout is a personal thing. I think everyone is, has their own battery, you know, their own capacity to work. Some people have huge batteries and huge reserves and other people have tiny batteries in burnout is relevant or relative to how much energy that person has.

[00:16:25] Jonathan DeYoe: That actually simulates a very, an interesting, a possibly interesting question. So we live in a, we live and work in kind of a market economy where productivity determines outcomes. Like our financial outcomes are largely determined by what we produce and put out in the world. How can we mindfully structure a career to fit into that greater context of our lives instead of letting the career take over knowing that we’re in a market economy and our productivity determines outcomes?

[00:16:50] Ben Utley: I would say it is by becoming aware of how much is enough for you as a person, and everyone has a different [00:17:00] level. Of enough. I got to a point where I was like, okay, this is enough income for me. This is enough savings. I have similar conversations with my daughters when they’re in high school. They’re like, dad, I’ve studied, I’m, I’m certain I can get an A minus on this.

[00:17:13] Ben Utley: And I’m like, okay, cool. Maybe you should stop. Is, is an A minus enough? Well, I don’t know. It gets me here. It gets me there and, and you know, in our country. We’re either blessed or cursed that, you know, you can just work yourself into a tiny little ball and you go further. But is it worth going further? We all have some kind of internal regulator where through mindfulness, of course, you can begin to observe like, how much is enough for me?

[00:17:37] Ben Utley: How much is too much? And you titrate that. You wobble back and forth across that line of too much, not enough, too much, not enough until you begin to realize that you’re, you’re walking on the knife edge. And then you, you do have enough, and then things change in life. And maybe that’s not enough or maybe it’s too much.

[00:17:54] Ben Utley: It’s a constant balancing act. And I don’t want to, I don’t wanna give listeners the perception that, you know, it’s [00:18:00] a teeter-totter with a fulcrum dead center 50 50 on, that’s not balanced. I mean, you may be, you may have a long teeter-totter, and the fulcrum might be right under your butt. So, uh, balance is different for everyone.

[00:18:09] Ben Utley: But I think the, the thing that causes you to, to have balance is understanding how much is not enough. And how much is too much. And really the mindfulness of it comes into defining for yourself what that is. Knowing when you use money, what causes you to actually experience joy. Mm-Hmm. And what causes you to get a little endorphin hit that wears off in a day or week or a month?

[00:18:31] Ben Utley: Do you need to own the thing or do you wanna own the experience that the thing brings? I don’t know that I answered your question.

[00:18:38] Jonathan DeYoe: No, I think that’s, I mean, there, there is a. I think I, I think you did in a way ’cause it, it, it, whether or not we, we do live in a market economy, but you gotta know what your, what you want your outcomes to be.

[00:18:49] Jonathan DeYoe: And if your outcome, if you want your outcomes to be, and you have the battery and the threshold and the ability to work, work, work, work, work, and you want big financial outcomes, good for you. Uh, but if you’re, if you don’t have that battery, if you don’t have that threshold, if you don’t have that [00:19:00] ability, then know yourself.

[00:19:03] Jonathan DeYoe: Know what your trade-offs are. Understand what’s important, what’s enough in family, in money, in all the different categories for you and balance it. I would,

[00:19:11] Ben Utley: I would argue that when we are born, when we come outta the chute, that we all have a barometer for how much is enough. And then, you know, the world of attachments comes on, the world of agreements comes on and you know, our family of origin or the environment that we were raised in comes along and says, no, that’s not enough.

[00:19:31] Ben Utley: You know, you’re, you’re not a, you’re not a B student, you’re an A student. Oh, I’m an A student. You gotta work harder, right? Or, you know, that’s, you’re not pretty enough, or you way too much, or you’re not working enough. And other people come along and they attempt to define what is enough for us. Maybe they’re defining what’s enough for them, but ultimately you have to know yourself to know how much is enough.

[00:19:53] Ben Utley: And I, I believe that this is our birthright. Knowing how much is enough is something that we’re born with until the world piles all [00:20:00] its crap on us. And it makes it so that we can’t see what was our birthright to begin with. What was the, what’s the shining truth underneath all the garbage?

[00:20:07] Jonathan DeYoe: I wanna take a specific instance that I, I, you know, I read a lot of financial stuff.

[00:20:11] Jonathan DeYoe: I’m sure you do too. This whole fire world, like we’re seeing everybody wants to finish independent, retire early, retire early, retire early, retire earlier. You kind of push back against that. And I’m just wondering first, why are we seeing this huge increase in professionals wanting to leave the workforce fast?

[00:20:27] Jonathan DeYoe: Why is that? If work provides something besides money.

[00:20:30] Ben Utley: I’m not sure. I’m not sure why that is the case. Maybe it’s what everybody else is doing. Maybe, uh, to be able to, to fire. For those of you listening, I’m making air quotes to fire is a thing. It might also be another sign that people don’t know how much is enough.

[00:20:45] Ben Utley: Right? Right. They’re like, well, uh, I don’t know what the finish line looks like. So that’s a pretty decent looking finish line. You know? It’s like a, my kid would come home and say, I want this doll. I want this toy. And I would say, who has that? So and so has that, right? So you look around and if you’re not mindful about [00:21:00] what success means to you or what is enough is, then you look outside for those things, which is a very natural thing, right?

[00:21:05] Ben Utley: If we didn’t do that, as we’re evolving, then we’d be left behind. So I, I think that some of it is not knowing or not having our own internal compass to measure, you know, what the finish line looks like. So some of that is it, you know, the Heath brothers have written a few books about, about the psychology of having things, and one of the things they said is that human beings are remarkably bad at envisioning the future.

[00:21:28] Ben Utley: We’re worse at understanding how we’ll feel when we’re experiencing that future. I think that early retirement is one of those things where you think, Hey, I’m just not gonna be working anymore, and, uh, things are gonna be peachy. But the problem is when you retire earlier, you’re gonna wake up the next morning, you’re gonna be like, what the hell do I do now?

[00:21:45] Ben Utley: I. My whole day was structured from the nine to five. I had people who valued my presence. My work gave me, uh, meaning and purpose. There was connections there. At the end of the day, I had struggle and to struggle as to be human, to not struggle as to think about your own demise. I [00:22:00] don’t think that retirement, early retirement is all it’s cracked up to be.

[00:22:03] Ben Utley: In fact, I know it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. One of the questions I heard you ask at the end of the podcast is several guests, which is what’s the latest thing that you changed your mind about? And early retirement is one of the latest things I’ve changed my mind about. I, I flirted with early retirement and I had unlimited time, unlimited flexibility, could do anything I wanted to, and I found that the thing I really, really wanted to do.

[00:22:25] Ben Utley: Was to go back to work, to mentor the people that are in my employ and to inspire the people that pay my firm for services. That was the thing that I’m really good at. It’s my core competency. It’s just the thing that I love to do. And you know, fortunately I’m in an industry where, you know, I could work until I don’t have the cognitive capacity to work anymore.

[00:22:45] Ben Utley: It’s like being a psychiatrist. You can work until you’re 80. I have a retirement plan, but I don’t have a plan to retire. So I, I think that people are wanting things that they don’t really understand and they’re wanting it at an age when it’s not possible to understand. There’s [00:23:00] some things that you can’t know in your twenties and your thirties that you can only know by living another two or three decades.

[00:23:05] Ben Utley: I think that has a lot to do with it. I think it’s just the, the latest toy or status symbol or thing to say.

[00:23:11] Jonathan DeYoe: So just internally I’m going, because I’ve thought about early retirement as well, and I’m like, okay, early retirement, great. The next morning I wake up, what do I do? Well, it

[00:23:20] Ben Utley: sucks.

[00:23:20] Jonathan DeYoe: It sucks. Early.

[00:23:21] Jonathan DeYoe: Retirement sucks. Yeah. Yeah. I, I can’t, I can’t imagine it. But that, that stimulates how do you live? Like, you, you, you’ve talked about or written about the idea of career longevity instead. Mm. So if you’re not gonna retire early and you’re gonna embrace a longer career. What has to change in how you work to make that enjoyable?

[00:23:39] Jonathan DeYoe: To make that possible,

[00:23:41] Ben Utley: you just have to get clear on what you’re good at and what the market wants, and try to line those two things up. You know, it may not be showing up in the, or standing there for, you know, another 10 or 12 hours. I. You know, there’s other ways for physicians to work, there’s other ways for everyone to work.

[00:23:57] Ben Utley: It may be that you become self-employed, like [00:24:00] earnestly self-employed, as opposed to some kind of side hustle where you’re trying to make an extra 500 bucks a month. You know, it may be as simple as changing jobs, right? There’s a saying that employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.

[00:24:11] Jonathan DeYoe: Mm. If

[00:24:12] Ben Utley: you’re listening to this podcast and you hate your job, it’s probably ’cause you have a shitty manager.

[00:24:16] Jonathan DeYoe: Yep.

[00:24:17] Ben Utley: Yeah. And so you change managers or you do that same kind of work at a different company where the culture’s entirely different and there’s so many work from home opportunities nowadays. There’s so many places you don’t have to go in. You know, people are more geographically mobile than they’ve ever been before, so it’s a little bit like the boiling frog.

[00:24:32] Ben Utley: It starts off as a decent job and it kind of gets worse and worse and worse. And one day you realize you’re, you’re about to smoke. It’s hard to realize that you’re in that pot of boiling water, and I think it’s just a matter of self-reflection and realizing I’m miserable here. You know, my family sees that I’m miserable.

[00:24:46] Ben Utley: I’ve, I’ve gained weight, I can’t sleep, you know, I’m having to go to the doctor too many times. It’s recognizing that the environment that you’re in is toxic, and taking note of that, and then also having enough margin, you know, enough extra income, enough [00:25:00] emergency funds, enough savings, enough flexibility in your life to be able to turn your ship and go a different direction.

[00:25:06] Ben Utley: I get nervous if I run outta margin. I get nervous if I’m in a situation where it’s a bind, because that means I can’t, I can’t rotate or change or. Go a different direction, and I think that’s key. Having an awareness of your resources as well as you know, how you feel about your work at the end of the day.

[00:25:22] Ben Utley: And I guess I come to that through journaling. I. A little bit of meditation. So journaling is very powerful and if you go back and read your journal entries from last year and year before last, you can see what, how things have changed. And of course there’s also coaching and counseling and mentors.

[00:25:35] Jonathan DeYoe: I was gonna ask you what some of your, what some of your practices were, but it sounds like you meditate on a regular basis.

[00:25:39] Jonathan DeYoe: You journal. Is there anything that you read or that you listen to on a regular basis that helps, you know, feed this idea that I need to, I need to stay true. I need to reflect on, I need to really think about what enough is for me.

[00:25:53] Ben Utley: I’ve been practicing this for so long that. I’m kind of on autopilot.

[00:25:59] Ben Utley: Maybe you know who [00:26:00] the person is. He’s wrote like 365 days of stoicism. He’s up in New York and he’s like a practicing stoic and he is got stoic podcast and all that stuff. So, you know, there are daily meditations like that for people who, who are, have faith. You know, there’s faith-based guidance. I think that some of the, some of the religions handle these kind of things as Buddhist teachings that you can pick up.

[00:26:20] Ben Utley: I, I think it’s just. Somehow becoming mindful. And I think that walk is different for everyone. But you know, if you’re interested in mindfulness, find a podcast that’s about mindfulness, right? Listen to things every day. It’s like begin to bring into your circle the things that you wanna have. Just bring ’em in, you know, dip into it.

[00:26:37] Ben Utley: Ask around, you know, how did you get to where you’re at? Observe people who have what you want. See if it makes ’em happy. I’m kind of on the other side of that, to the point that I wouldn’t really know how to get back if I was lost.

[00:26:47] Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, you used the word titrate, like, I dunno, five minutes ago, and that’s a, that’s a word that I didn’t know until halfway through this mindfulness meditation training program I’m part of.

[00:26:57] Jonathan DeYoe: I’m curious if you’re part of the same program or if that beca, [00:27:00] if that’s from your chemistry background, which I think is, is really a chemistry term first.

[00:27:04] Ben Utley: Yeah, it’s, it’s from my chemistry slash chemistry background. Medical lexicon. Yeah. And titrate means to, at least the way I remember it is, is to add in, uh, in small increments until a certain outcome is achieved.

[00:27:18] Ben Utley: And I would say for, you know, non-scientist, it’s, it’s the salt in the soup. You add a little salt and you add a little salt. You’re titrating in salt until the soup tastes just right. Right. ’cause you put too much salt in, you can’t take it back out. So that’s. Titration.

[00:27:30] Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. This idea of in meditation that your titration is, is you add a little bit of the difficult, you focus on your breath, focus on your breath, focus on your breath, and then maybe you bring up a topic that’s hard to deal with.

[00:27:39] Jonathan DeYoe: So you titrate a little bit of that and, and I,

[00:27:41] Ben Utley: yeah.

[00:27:41] Jonathan DeYoe: I learned this when I was dealing with my grief from the loss of my brother. I couldn’t just think about it. It just would over be overwhelming. So there’s titration, there’s also pendulation where you shift between. The good and the bad. You have a little safe spot, like a base, and then you go to the heart and then you come back.

[00:27:55] Jonathan DeYoe: Right. So titration pendulation is part of it. But this, I, I was just curious because the way, the way you’re [00:28:00] talking about mindfulness, the industry you’re in, I think that most of our listeners are gonna hear a lot of, we rhyme like the things that we say and I think it’s fantastic. I, I love your demeanor.

[00:28:10] Jonathan DeYoe: I love just sitting here chatting with you the way you present all these things. I’m wondering if you sort of provide some kind of guidance to people as they’re beginning their work with you. To really help them figure out what enough is for them, not just a financial plan, but in all these different topics.

[00:28:26] Ben Utley: I think that the, that the average physician or the preponderance of physicians have no idea how much is enough in order to become a physician. You basically just have to be the best at everything you touch and keep touching things. So nowhere wherein there is enough, if at one point or another enough was actually enough, they probably wouldn’t have become physicians.

[00:28:44] Ben Utley: People come to us in my firm, probably you too, thinking I want an investment or I got a tax problem, right? That’s what they come for. So they get a financial plan and they get some exchange traded funds, right? And, and that works for a while. But what I find is if I stick around in their lives [00:29:00] long enough, something happens.

[00:29:02] Ben Utley: I get the opportunity actually to serve, to do the thing that’s really in my core competency, which is to use this learning and the skills that I’ve used to shape my outlook and my world and bring that to their world. I’ve thought to bottle that up, but it’s just not how I, it’s not how I work. It’s almost too much work for me.

[00:29:21] Ben Utley: It, it would turn something that is a, a life walk. Into a for-profit thing and not that profit is bad, but for me it’s like a meta skill. It’s not the thing that I’m selling, it’s, it’s the way to get to the place that I’m talking to people about. I guess the answer is no. I’m sure there’s room for that out there and it’s probably free, you know, given how Buddhist and stoic practitioners are and, uh, you know, people of faith, Christianity, Muslim, they’re giving it away.

[00:29:47] Ben Utley: Yeah. And oftentimes things that are given away have no perceived value because they’re free. But, you know, it’s, it’s only yours to be thirsty and then to bend down and drink.

[00:29:56] Jonathan DeYoe: I actually love having, with advisors on the spot, and this sort of leads right into this, I, I [00:30:00] love having advisors on the podcast because I love to ask a very specific question.

[00:30:04] Jonathan DeYoe: What is a financial advisors real circle of competence? And in other words, clients think that they benefit from us because of X, Y, ZI think you just said it. They come in, they get a basket of ETFs and they get a financial plan. But that’s not really the be, they’re gonna get that from any advisor they work with.

[00:30:20] Jonathan DeYoe: Mm-Hmm. So what is the real circle of competence you bring in a client relationship?

[00:30:25] Ben Utley: Helping people see what is worth exchanging their condensed life energy for. By con, condensed life energy, I mean money, right? So you, you trade your, your life energy, your time, your health for money. And there’s so many things that we can use money for, and some of those things, quite frankly, are just not worth the money.

[00:30:45] Ben Utley: They’re not worth anything. They’re not worth having. They don’t bring joy. They don’t bring results. They don’t bring betterment for society. Uh, some things that they bring are unhealthy, but on a good day, and I would say maybe I have a good day about once every 30 days I get to plant the seed [00:31:00] that this thing you’re looking at is actually worth having.

[00:31:04] Ben Utley: Please go get that. And this other thing is simply not worth having. Uh, you know, don’t waste your energy. On a good day, which, you know, it’s like, those are the days that I keep living for. That’s the reason I keep showing up. It’s almost as if I’m, I’m a diamond miner, right? So I’m gonna dig a lot of coal, and every now and then I’m gonna come up with a diamond.

[00:31:21] Ben Utley: You know, some people perceive that we’re we’re stock pushers, that we’re tax solvers, or that we’re, you know, market beaters. But on our best day. The thing that keeps me going, and you find the great financial advisors, what keeps them going is the ability to be there at that moment of sparkling change.

[00:31:37] Ben Utley: When someone has a realization, they have an aha moment about how life in the, the good life really is. Yep. How it works.

[00:31:47] Jonathan DeYoe: I’ve read somewhere, I think it’s Timothy Mauer maybe said that the, the single greatest benefit of working with the financial advisor is to figure out what’s important to you. It’s like somebody that will, yeah, I’ve worked with [00:32:00] 200 families and, and I know how to figure out what’s important, but let me take you through this process and, and then this process, you’re gonna know what’s important to you.

[00:32:07] Jonathan DeYoe: ’cause that’s really all that matters. Once we know what’s important to you, everything else kinda falls into place. Everything else, everything we do, all the math is simple. The planning software does it all. It’s really simple. What’s important to you? How do we stay focused on what’s important to you?

[00:32:18] Jonathan DeYoe: That’s everything you talk about. Sort of a combination of things like minimizing regrets, making memories, and just sort of general wellbeing as the goal. Mm-Hmm. When people first hire you, do they think that’s the goal, or do they think there’s a different goal?

[00:32:34] Ben Utley: Oh no, no. They, they think the goal is to know how much to save and how to save taxes.

[00:32:39] Ben Utley: Uh, sometimes they think the goal is to stop paying 1% ’cause they’re firing advisories, charging ’em that way. Sure. I mean, it’s really, you know, they come for the technical stuff or their perception of the technical stuff. They stay for the how things work. As you said, they stay for the truth. But it’s not, it’s not immediately obvious.

[00:32:56] Ben Utley: I’m, for those of you listening, I’m shaking my head. It’s not immediately obvious. [00:33:00] It’s kinda like coaching, I think a coaching, like every time I’ve gone for coaching, I’ve gone in with one objective in mind. I’ve come out not having accomplished that, but the other three things I got were totally worth the time.

[00:33:11] Ben Utley: And it’s not bait and switch. I mean, yeah, they’re gonna get a financial plan and some ETFs and some people are not ready for that aha moment. Right. I mean, maybe they just had a baby. Maybe they just got married, or maybe they just got sued, or they’re changing jobs or something like that. They’re not ready to grow.

[00:33:25] Ben Utley: Even flowers in their own time grow, but they also rest as bulbs. They also die back, right? So human beings are not always ready for to grow, grow, grow. You know, there is enough growth. I guess the great privilege of being a financial advisor is the chance that you’re there at that moment when they’re ready to grow.

[00:33:41] Ben Utley: And the hope that you have enough wisdom or enough insight to be able to, to water fertilize that seed as it grows to be able to have a positive impact on someone’s life, to to shape an outcome, to give them a spark or something that can’t be taken away to, to add materially to and permanently to their lives.[00:34:00]

[00:34:00] Ben Utley: But no, I don’t, I don’t think, I don’t think people are looking for that. I think people who want that go to ashra.

[00:34:04] Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Yeah, it’s true. It’s still so, so true. Somebody’s done research on this topic and they, they look for this sort of behavioral advice model, and we know that that’s what we need to do is sort of offer behavioral support, behavioral advice when it comes difficult, but when people are asked, they’re like, no, no, no, no.

[00:34:19] Jonathan DeYoe: We don’t want that, but that’s what they need. No, we don’t want that. No,

[00:34:23] Ben Utley: nobody wants to pay you $5,000 a year so you can tell ’em they’re doing stupid things with money. Right, right. That’s, that’s crushing their ego and who they are, and nobody wants that. Right. Right.

[00:34:31] Jonathan DeYoe: So there’s, there’s a lot of financial noise out there.

[00:34:34] Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, can you simplify it for us that you’re meeting with a new couple, or one of your, one of your folks are meeting with a new couple, perhaps they’re both doctors. What’s the first thing they should do that’s gonna lead to greater personal financial success?

[00:34:46] Ben Utley: Wow. Uh, if I’m just telling the, the blatant truth, please.

[00:34:50] Ben Utley: It is to develop core habits, uh, what I call keystone habits. That’s reading, writing. Exercising, [00:35:00] cooking, those your four core habits and they’re the habits upon which everything else is based. ’cause if you can read, you can build your knowledge. If you can write, you can self-discover. If you can cook, you can take care of your health.

[00:35:10] Ben Utley: And if you’re exercising, you’re taking care of your temple. So those are the four core habits. I believe everything comes from there. And the underpinning for those four core habits is some kind of mindfulness practice, faith, or, you know, the things that we’ve talked about. That’s the underpinning of it.

[00:35:28] Ben Utley: How you get to that point. I believe it’s a journey everyone must master on their own. I don’t know how you come about it. You know, how did, how did Luke bump into. Old Ben Kenobi, right? I mean, he just wandered up in a desert, right? So how did that happen? I don’t know, I guess when the, uh, student ready, the master emerges, but to develop those core habits.

[00:35:47] Ben Utley: And once you develop those core habits, then the next thing to do is focus on who you are as a person and how you show up in the world, what you can bring to the others. The very next thing you do is if you are, this is probably gonna come across as sexist, but if you’re a man, [00:36:00] you focus on the mother of your children.

[00:36:01] Ben Utley: If you’re a mother, you focus on your children and make sure the man focuses on you. ’cause in, in my household, if I put my wife first, I know she’s gonna put my children first and everything’s gonna work out. So I guess the shortcut way is to say, to focus on your closest relations and make sure that that’s good.

[00:36:18] Ben Utley: And once those are good, to expand your circle of virtue and bringing good things to other people’s life to always be looking. For a way to enrich or improve the lives of others, the people that fate or your God sets in your path to, to seek to, to help, you know, lead the world a better place.

[00:36:39] Jonathan DeYoe: I think you might know my dad, he said this, I maybe this, maybe you took it from somebody else that you’re getting the same story from, but it’s, uh, it’s, uh, Jonathan, you can have anything you want in life, but first you have to give a whole bunch of other people what they want in life.

[00:36:50] Ben Utley: Yeah, that’s what my wife’s dad said.

[00:36:52] Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, so that’s what to do. I love it. Focus on reading, writing, exercise, cooking with some kind of a foundation of mindfulness or some kind of a [00:37:00] faith foundation underneath it. What’s one thing that they should probably stop doing right away?

[00:37:04] Ben Utley: Comparing themselves to other people?

[00:37:06] Ben Utley: It’s the path to misery and it, it doesn’t, it’s a path that doesn’t take you anywhere. Yeah. I mean, if you want a comparison, compare you today how you were yesterday or this morning or last year, that that’s your best comparison. You beat you until you’ve decided that you’re enough.

[00:37:20] Jonathan DeYoe: You beat you until you’ve decided you’re enough.

[00:37:23] Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah,

[00:37:24] Ben Utley: yeah. I mean, evolve until you, until you realize that you either don’t need to evolve anymore or that you don’t want to evolve anymore. ’cause there, there is certainly enough evolution. I mean, I’m, I’m 55. I like who I am. I’m kind of done changing, but you know, if something changed materially, if, uh, my spouse died or, uh, something crazy happened to one of my kids, or, I don’t know, even life, life happens.

[00:37:46] Ben Utley: Our values are molded as we go along by major life events. I might decide that that’s not enough. I. I might bring on a new employee who has some special needs and I realize I’m not enough to lead that person. Then I go back in evolution mode. But at some point you get in a steady state and you [00:38:00] realize, I’ve grown enough for now I need to rest.

[00:38:02] Ben Utley: ’cause rest is a good thing.

[00:38:03] Jonathan DeYoe: As you know, you’ve listened to a few podcasts. I like to wrap up with something personal. So the first thing I want to ask is, is there anything that you know, you think is important about your person or your character that maybe you’ve told people, maybe they’ve forgotten but you, that you think’s really important for them to know about you?

[00:38:19] Jonathan DeYoe: It’s not about me. As a general statement or, yeah. Yeah. It’s not about me. It’s not about me. No.

[00:38:25] Ben Utley: Personally, it’s not about me. I mean, um, the way I show up in people’s lives, I’m there to serve and the, the impact is I, I’m doing it because I. It seems like the right thing to do. I’m, I’m not doing it because I’m looking for fame or profit.

[00:38:40] Ben Utley: I mean, it’ll be clear if it’s profit ’cause there’s an engagement letter, right. But, uh, when I serve people, I’m serving because of them, just ’cause I want good things in their life. So I guess maybe in that regard, it is for me because it feels good and I’m getting endorphins from it, but it’s, the world’s not about me.

[00:38:56] Ben Utley: And I think, I think that if more of us believed that, [00:39:00] then it would probably be a better world.

[00:39:02] Jonathan DeYoe: And then if you could get. The truth about any single question in your life or future, all you had to do is ask. I won’t be able to answer it, but what would you ask?

[00:39:12] Ben Utley: Yeah, I don’t think I’d wanna know, honestly.

[00:39:16] Ben Utley: Yeah, I think, I think just being, being in the present is enough. I don’t, I don’t think I’d wanna know the answer to that question. Great. Yeah. How do people connect with you? Sorry, I’m, I’m dodging the question, but Yeah. No, that’s fine. I really, I really don’t wanna know.

[00:39:28] Jonathan DeYoe: Good. Good, good, good. How do people connect

[00:39:30] Ben Utley: with you?

[00:39:30] Ben Utley: Yeah, so, um, you can reach out to us@physicianfamily.com. You can follow us on Apple, Spotify, anywhere else you get your podcast. It’s the Physician Family Financial Advisors podcast. If you’re listening and you’re thinking about becoming client, we’re open for business. We’re looking specifically for attending medical doctors and dos.

[00:39:49] Ben Utley: Who have children, and if you don’t have kids, don’t call me. If you’re not a doctor, don’t call me. But if you’re a doctor who has kids, be happy to work for you.

[00:39:57] Jonathan DeYoe: Ben, thanks very much for coming on. We’re gonna make sure all this stuff’s in the show [00:40:00] notes. Really appreciate your time and just your general, I’m calmer right now than I was when we started, and I appreciate that.

[00:40:06] Ben Utley: Good, good. Well, I’m, I’m happy I could have served.

[00:40:10] Jonathan DeYoe: Thank you.

[00:40:14] Outro: Thanks for listening. Full show notes for each episode, which includes a summary, key takeaways, quotes, and any resources mentioned are available at Mindful Money. Be sure to follow and subscribe wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. And if you’re enjoying the content and getting value from these episodes, please leave us a rating and review at ratethispodcast.com/mindfulmoney. We’ll be sure to read those out on future episodes.

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