< Chapter 6:3 Chapter 6:5 >
Learning about personal finances in relation to personal development allowed me to begin building a solid future. But first, I had to understand my beliefs and relationship to money. To fully understand where I was in my life at this point, I need to sidetrack for a moment. I need to talk a little about what would become one of my biggest shifts in a belief system and also one of my biggest personal challenges as I was moving forward. It is a subject that over the years, I was taught not to discuss. And I have found that this was not only the case for me, but many others also.
The topic I am going to discuss deals with personal finances. It also has to do with our educational system and how we as a country are in no way preparing our children for their futures. This may cause some controversy, but that’s ok. If it gets one person to take different steps in how they are educating their child and in doing so better prepares them for the future, then the controversy was well worth it.
As a child, one of the things we never seemed to discuss was money matters. These kinds of things I was told, were deeply personal and none of my business. It was considered bad taste to discuss your personal finances with anyone else and even more of a crime to ask someone else about theirs. I also was brought up with many of the “old sayings” ringing through my head about “Money is the root of all evil” and “If you have money, you’ll change” and “Look at the terrible way that rich people treat others.” My whole association to money was out of whack, and my understanding of how to manage money was even worse.
When Eric and I left Anthony Robbins and Associates to start Results International, our own training company, we did it with no capital. Now here were, two successful men in their 30’s, both of whom had positions where they had made 6 figure incomes, and our personal finances were such a mess that neither of us had even $1,000 in a savings or checking account. And I was soon to find out, that there are a large number of people in this country who are in the same position.
Through my personal experience and the experiences of those I have since coached, I have come to believe that our educational system has done a terrible job of preparing us for dealing with the financial responsibilities in life. As a regular part of our curriculum we are taught relatively nothing about personal finances, money management, investments or taxes. All of which are skills that will play important roles in our lives as adults whether we become self employed or work for 40 years for someone else.
I have come across so many people, and it doesn’t matter how old they are, who could not come up with $1,000 without selling some of their possessions, or taking out a loan. As a country we are not educated in how to manage our personal finances other than how to incur more debt. I speak from experience. After the financial challenges that go with drinking the way I did, then two failed business ventures, even having made $100,000 a year, I was $250,000 in debt. In a country so full of wealth and opportunity how could such a situation exist?
The answer… through lack of knowledge, even more, a lack of knowing where to go to get that knowledge. This doesn’t just affect people like myself. I have since counseled doctors, lawyers, even accountants, yes accountants, who are in serious financial trouble because of this lack of knowledge.
We are still functioning under an educational system that was created to work in the Agrarian age and was slightly adjusted for the Industrial age. It was a system that was created to help people function when most of the population relied on Agriculture as their main occupation. Financial education was limited to those who could afford higher education, and many of those who attended schools of higher learning went into fields such as medicine or science rather than finance.
The majority of people who received any financial training were those whose families ran the financial institutions. And ultimately, it was better for them if the rest of the people were kept clueless when it came to personal finances and managing their money. At that time in history most people spent the biggest part of their lives living off of the fruits of their own labors, literally. They were farmers and ranchers. So a education in relation to personal finances was not as valuable to them as learning the “3 R’s”.
As we progressed as a society, our educational system remained the same in most aspects. Entering the Industrial age, the majority of people became a part of the factory systems or small business owners. Education continued to teach the same basics, but now added some extra skills that would allow a person to find a good position within the work force. At that point in history, most people after leaving school would find a company and work with that one company until they retired. What we also have to consider is that people not only worked one job for most of their lives, but they also had a shorter life expectancy. And at that point in history, in most cases, the companies actually helped their employees prepare for their retirement.
As times have changed and we moved into the information age, our educational system has not. Now our monetary system is the primary focus of determining what lifestyle you lead. Yet none of us are truly educated in regards to the power of money and even less on how to accumulate it or manage it.
The employment picture has changed also, with most people working 7-8 different jobs in their lifetime, and many of those moves are made into completely different careers. The old adage of, “Go to school, get good grades, get a good job with benefits” really holds no weight any more. As companies grow and technology advances the career you specialize in may be obsolete within the next 6 months. And as a way to increase profits in this ever-changing market more and more companies are turning over the responsibility of retirement planning to their employees. They may offer what seem to be attractive retirement programs, but how many of these employees truly understand what these “lucrative packages” are, or even more importantly with not having been taught anything about their personal finances, how to make sure they are managed correctly?
I could go into this subject at length, but I feel there are a series of books that are much better written that completely focus on this issue and how, at any age, we can begin to understand these aspects of our lives and begin finally taking control of our financial destinies. The author is Robert Kiyosaki and the books are “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, “The Cashflow Quadrant”, and “Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing”. I suggest because of the way that the information is given that you read all three and read them in that specific order because one lesson and idea builds upon another.
The reason I wanted to sidetrack for a moment is so you could understand, that even with the many successes in my life, I was in debt beyond a level that most people including myself could comprehend.
Much of my financial life seemed to follow a specific pattern. Because of irresponsibility with my personal finances earlier in my life, I had gotten myself into a deep hole. Maybe you have had the same situation; it could have been the loss of a job, a death in the family, or just bad financial planning. But you find yourself in this hole. And you begin struggling to get out, and just when you see the light of day, something else happens and you get deeper into the hole than you were when you started. It could be anything. But all of a sudden, you find yourself in deeper debt with no plan to recover. After looking at your options, you formulate a plan on how you will get this handled, meanwhile dealing with your new responsibilities, but again, you are deeper in the hole this time.
But with fortitude and a mission, you begin digging your way out, and again, just as you start to really see hope, that everything is coming together, life comes along and you end up falling backwards, and get into debt even farther. And sometimes, it isn’t life that comes along and knocks us back. Many times it is ourselves. We decide we need a bigger home, or our car is getting too old, or we just “had to have that new… fill in the blank here”. Sound like anyone you know? It was a recurring theme for me.
So when I decided to embark on the next part of my journey in beginning Results International with Eric, I did it with no capital and no safety net. Eric and I started booking appointments, selling tickets to seminars and using the money we made to fund the business operations and when we could afford it, pay ourselves for our efforts. We went for a good 6 months making enough money to put on the seminars, pay the business expenses and keep our basic personal needs taken care of. Then in November, the bottom fell out. Eric hadn’t turned in any new business in almost two months and I was beginning to wonder what was going on.
Have you ever been told, “Be careful what you ask for?” Well, I asked to find out what was going on, and the Universe provided. On Monday, November 15th, the phone started ringing and didn’t stop for the next 3 days. Starting on Monday, I received 5 calls from “clients” screaming at me that they wanted their money back. Now there was a slight problem, I had no idea who these people were. Through the course of the conversations what came clear was that Eric had sold these 5 people into a long term coaching agreement costing an average of $1,000 each. It was a package that didn’t surprise me because we were doing that as an offer in our seminars.
The challenge came in two parts. First, after paying Eric the $1,000 they explained to me that he met with them one time, and hadn’t been able to reach him since. He was supposed to meet with these people once a month and had not made contact in over two months. On top of that, his number was now disconnected so they could not contact him. They were furious as you can imagine. So rightfully, they wanted their money back. This is where the second challenge came in; they had made their checks payable directly to Eric. That is why I had no record of them as clients, and why I had seen no business from him in those 2 months.
I got into my car, drove directly to Eric’s house and confronted him. He denied everything, even though I had spoken to 5 different people who all told me the same story. Our discussion came to a close with my telling him that whether he did or did not do it, I could no longer be in business with someone I didn’t trust. With that he threw me out of his house.
As I got into my car to leave, he blocked my way with his body asking for forgiveness and admitting that he had done exactly what they had said. But the damage was done, we were in business for 6 months together and I had trusted him like a brother. Over the next 2 days I got 10 more phone calls along the same lines of people who were sold services, and then the services were never delivered.
The troubles only started here. I had a seminar scheduled for December 14th and was committed that it would go on. I had already personally sold around 150 tickets to the event and was locked into the room already. If I cancelled the event the money the participants had given me would have to be returned, and the deposit would be lost. So I pushed on alone. Up until now, Eric and I had split the facilitation responsibilities of the 10-hour seminar. This would be my first time doing it alone.
And in all honesty despite all of the positive feedback that I got from friends and supporters who were there I believe that my presentation left a lot to be desired. And so did about 23 of the participants who asked for their money back after the event. So keeping with my promise, I set out to refund them their investment. Another problem came into play. As I went to the bank to check the balance, the company account was empty. I knew that Eric didn’t have access to the money; I had made sure of that the day after I went to his house.
What had happened was that Eric and I had been working on separate accounts. He was working mainly with one very large financial services company while I was working with several real estate companies. When Eric and I parted ways, for a reason that I can only speculate on, multiple charge backs started showing up from clients that Eric had brought to our seminars. Now these charges that were being reversed by the clients were for services that had already been provided. I did what was necessary to show the banks that these people had received their services and that the reversal was unqualified, but they persisted in asking for a refund.
Now I don’t know if you have ever dealt with a credit card company as a merchant, but when it comes to disputes, in 1999 the process is weighted against the merchant. There comes a point in the process that if you challenge the purchasers charge back, the credit card company will tell you that you can have a hearing, but if you lose the hearing not only will you lose the amount that they are contesting, but an additional $250 for each charge that they have contested. It was my perception by this point that Eric was continuing to do business with these people and I was in a losing position if I fought to retain the money they had paid for the services. It would come down to a matter of their word, with Eric supporting them in their claim, I presumed, versus mine. I decided to take the loss and move on.
I contacted the 23 people who requested their refunds from the December 14th program and explained to them that there were financial restraints because of the business split, then asked for 90 days to return their money which most of them agreed to without any problem. There were some who wanted their money immediately, and through the help of friends, I found a way to get it for them.
I continued on with Results International committed that it would grow and I would not surrender. I became a better and better facilitator, but my marketing was struggling. I was making enough to pay the bills to keep the seminars going, and barely making enough to live on. Then I was offered a great opportunity.
Through the network I had created working with Anthony Robbins and my own business, the leadership team of a financial services company approached me. I had become friends with three of the people who were involved in the upper level management of this company and they had been to my seminars. They brought me to their regional marketing director and made the introductions to have me come in and do a program specifically for their office that would be open to all of the members of their team. We put together a small program and the marketing director loved it. So much so that he and 4 of the other leaders asked me to begin coaching their leadership team.
I examined what I knew about the individuals involved and saw a great opportunity. 4 out of 5 of these leaders had gone to extensive Anthony Robbins trainings, so I knew that they were familiar with much of the material already and would just need some guidance. The situation was also unique in the way that they offered my compensation with coaching them. Because of my personal relationships and knowing the training that they had already been to, I felt that they would easily put to use the skills I would share with them. So I made what I would call a “back-end” deal with them. I expected that they would apply the advanced skills that I would teach them, and as my compensation, I would share in their profits from the results they achieved. I felt so strongly about the potential of this group I decided to set all other potential business on the side so I would be able to fully focus on developing this team.
The learning experience was incredible. This is where I began to get a lot of insight into how many people really do not understand their personal finances. As I mentioned, the company was in the financial services arena, and I have to say that at that point in my life, personal finances was one of the areas where I needed the most education and direction. The challenge was that it was one of those areas that you often don’t even realize that you need the help because of the lack of understanding that most of the population possesses about personal finances. I learned a lot, both as a student, and as a coach.
I began to work with this group by teaching them “advanced” skills. I would get together with them as a team to create their outcomes for the week, then coach each of them individually to work with getting them to be better communicators with the people they were in charge of. But as I started to really look into the challenges with the office, I found that what was lacking was not the advanced skills, but the basics.
I was working specifically with 5 of the key leaders in the office on finding out what was preventing them from doing what they knew that they should be doing, and we were making progress. As we headed into our second month, I even accompanied them to their national convention in Las Vegas. When I got to see the group outside of the microcosm of NJ, I found the biggest challenge they were facing. There was no true leadership. I had been working on putting all the things in place for them. Getting the training programs reorganized, setting up an accountability program, re-introducing them to their own “basics”. And while in Las Vegas, I saw things that broke my heart.
I believe that in every one of us, there is the potential for greatness. The potential to step up and be what no one else could ever imagine, even beyond what we could imagine possible ourselves. I say this because after spending time with one of the company’s top producers who was based in another part of the country, he approached me with invitation to step into their business structure and take the leadership role because, as he put it, he loved these people that were in New Jersey, but he felt that none of them “have what it takes” to lead this region to its fullest potential. I was honored by the compliment, but had to decline. I had made a commitment to them as a coach, and that commitment was to do whatever it took to help them reach their full potential. I didn’t feel that I would best serve that commitment by leaving them as their coach to enter their business.
My belief about people seems to be a bit different than what I hear others express. I don’t believe that there are “born leaders” in the sense that most people do. Yes, I do believe that some people are born using more of their leadership potential, but I don’t believe that only those born using it will ever fully realize it and the rest are left to follow.
< Chapter 6:3 Chapter 6:5 >
The Warrior Sage Chapter/Section
Who Is Willard Barth?
Preface - Exploring Strength And Weakness
Chapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-Awareness
Chapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child Development
Chapter 2:1 The World Changed Forever
Chapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing Faith
Chapter 2:4 My Dark Secret
Chapter 2:5 Where Is The Love I Was Promised?
Chapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol Dependence
Chapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood Behind
Chapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride Ends
Chapter 3:5 Living A Duality Begins
Chapter 3:6 Out Of Control
Chapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To Insanity
Chapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking Begins
Chapter 3:9 Facing The Music
Chapter 3:10 A New Beginning
Chapter 3:11 More Lessons To Learn
Chapter 4:1 The Final Party
Chapter 4:2 A Moment Of Clarity
Chapter 4:3 My New Life Begins
Chapter 4:4 Sober, Time To Face The World
Chapter 4:5 The First Year Of Sobriety
Chapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year Two
Chapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992
Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth
Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice Inside
Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel
Chapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life Begins
Chapter 6:1 Finding My Way Home
Chapter 6:2 Falling Into Place
Chapter 6:3 A New Awareness
Chapter 6:4 Personal Finances and Personal Development
Chapter 6:5 The George Washington Story
Chapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow
Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up
Jump HOME from Personal Finances and Personal Development