From Corporate America to #CFPpro Challenging Thinking on Race & Gender Inclusion, Mike Kelly [Ep48]
Welcome to episode 48 of The Innovating Advice Show.
I’m joined by Mike Kelly, founder of Kelly Financial Planning and Right Path Enterprises which he started with his wife, Dr. Melinda Kelly.
Mike had a long and successful career in corporate America and, with a love for helping people, first entered financial services as a side hustle. Quickly dismayed by the focus on selling, he left.
But having seen and experienced systemic racism in financial services since childhood and knowing how few people of color are in financial services, and even fewer that are CFP professionals, Mike returned to be a role model to others and to create a business that serves people from all walks of life.
In this episode, Mike shares some of the history of racism in financial services, including how insurance companies used bad science to discriminate, and shares a number of things we can all do to increase diversity, equity and inclusion within financial services and for the benefit of all.
Mike also shares the importance of having a personal mission statement and a few of his favorite quotes which have stuck with me.
Humans Under Management virtual event happening 8th September: https://bit.ly/IAHUM2020
Tickets: 500 ZAR, 30 USD, 23 GBP, 42 AUD (while Early Bird lasts!)
Mike Kelly established Right Path Enterprises, LLC in 2014 with his wife, Dr. Melinda Kelly. They concentrate on leader development and culture transformation. They serve as a catalyst in helping leaders become self-aware, assess culture, improve performance and achieve consistent long-term measurable results.
In early 2017, Mike created Kelly Financial Planning to help fill a void: people needed competent and objective financial coaching and advice. He realized that many of his corporate colleagues and coaching clients were unclear about basic financial concepts and principles, including experiencing high stress over having enough money for today and tomorrow. Here, he educates and helps people from all walks of life to achieve financial freedom and peace of mind.
When he's not working with clients, he enjoys reading, traveling, exercising, investing and playing golf.
01:35 - Introducing Mike Kelly
03:50 - Mike's first experiences with financial services
06:45 - How insurance companies use bad science to discriminate
09:30 - How the financial industry can help us beyond finances
10:20 - Change starts with education and awareness
15:50 - Having a career in corporate America
17:05 - Starting to invest
18:41 - Getting into the financial industry
20:47 - What the industry could do differently
26:43 - How Right Path Enterprises started
29:33 - What kind of relationship successful people have with money
30:50 - Choosing an hourly fee model
31:33 - How clients find Mike
32:45 - The importance of having a personal mission statement
36:20 - Mike’s favorites quotes
37:51 - What steps we can take today to fight systemic racism
44:10 - Some final advice
Kate: We've talked about Dreams Under Management, Goals Under Management and now it's time for Humans Under Management. More specifically the virtual Humans Under Management conference happening on the 8th of September with incredible speakers from around the world.
Kate: I'm thrilled to be part of this event for those seeking better client outcomes, which as a listener of The Innovating Advice Show, I know includes you. And I'm impressed by how affordable this event is for advisors and planners everywhere. We're talking about the cost of a dinner. The super early bird tickets have sold out, but hop on now to grab an early bird ticket innovatingadvice.com/HUM for Humans Under Management.
Mike: Mentor someone who looks different from you, different race, ethnicity, age, female. Find someone. There are people out there. Go and carve out some time to mentor and encourage them. If you're in an organization, you're leading an organization and you have the ability to make decisions and you get two or three people that are in line for promotion, take a risk on someone who's Black, take a risk on someone who's Brown, take a risk on a woman who might not get that opportunity. If you're someone leading an organization, look around the room. If the room is all white, realize that 'there is something I can do to change that.' If they're all male realize, 'Hey, I've got to do something different here' because those perspectives can help your organization. They're not going to hurt it. They can help it. We need to be challenged in our thinking.
Kate: Welcome to episode 48 of The Innovating Advice Show. I'm joined by Mike Kelly, founder of Kelly Financial Planning and Right Path Enterprises, which he started with his wife, Dr. Melinda Kelly.
Mike had a long and successful career in corporate America. And with a love for helping people, first entered financial services as a side hustle. Quickly dismayed by the focus on selling, he left. But having seen and experienced systemic racism in financial services since childhood and knowing how few people of color are in financial services and even fewer that are CFP professionals, Mike returned to be a role model to others, and to create a business that serves people from all walks of life.
In this episode, Mike shares some of the history of racism and financial services, including how insurance companies used bad science to discriminate. And he shares a number of things we can all do to increase diversity, equity and inclusion within financial services and for the benefit of all. Mike also shares the importance of having a personal mission statement and a few of his favorite quotes, which have stuck with me.
Kate: Hi, Mike, welcome to the show.
Mike: Hi, Kate. Thank you very much. It's great to be with you. Thanks for having me.
Kate: And it's an absolute delight to have you here, Mike, you and I first connected when you reached out as a listener or I reached out to you. I love connecting with listeners around the world and just hearing people's stories, their experiences, and yours just was so open and you have such great experiences and insights, and you really have a story that I would like to make sure that we're sharing with listeners. And we're going to be covering a lot in this episode. But if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to start with your childhood and some of your earliest memories of interacting with and encountering financial services, I don't want to say professionals, but people in financial services.
Mike: Yes. Well, I grew up in South Carolina during the tail end of the civil rights era to a couple parents who love God and people. We were poor. We didn't have very much, but the cool thing about all of that was that we didn't know that we were poor. So I had a lot of fun, a lot of joy, had a great life. We had no financial plan. Really didn't know what that was. And there were no financial planners coming around in our community. However, there were, we called them penny policy insurance agents. So they would come around and they would sell these insurance policies to people in my community. And my parents had one on each of us. And the coverage was very little, but what they paid for those policies could have probably paid for what they were paying for the coverage, what the coverage was many times over, had they known.
Mike: My parents encouraged us to spend less than we made. They encouraged us to save some and then give some and giving is something that I do today. I'm a giver. And a lot of that, I attributed to the fact that I was taught that as a young kid, my father and mother, they both worked hard. My dad was a janitor for 40 years. My mom, she was a stay at home mom and neither one of them finished high school. But my mom was someone who was treasurer at our small church next to our house. And she was someone who would go to the bank. She'd take the money to the bank from the church. And I would go with her. And on those trips, I always enjoyed walking into the bank. I was intrigued by the bank for whatever reason, I was curious about some of the discrepancies, certainly between the way the Black people were treated and white.
Mike: Very few Black people would go and put money in a bank. They really didn't even understand that. But my mom, she was doing that. But I was curious about the economic system as well. And as a result of that, my mom, she encouraged me to be a person who was good at math. So I remember her just practicing multiplication tables, doing all this stuff with me. She had a vision for me obviously, and she wanted me to be a strong reader. And as a result of that, I would read, like I read 75 books last year. I'm just an avid reader. So I enjoy reading and that's benefited me over the years.
Kate: That's incredible. Good for your mom. And I love those stories of when people grow up poor, but you don't know because you've got such a loving family and so much happiness. And I think that probably carries through life realizing that it isn't money that makes you happy. It's the other things.
Kate: And we're certainly going to dive in and talk about purpose. I know that's a big word that you use a lot, for good reason.
Kate: And just circling back to those insurance salespeople, when you and I chatted previously, I had asked you if you thought that they were intentionally taking advantage of your community being undereducated and underserved and not only did you say yes, but you shared an article that was just infuriating to read. And it was titled how insurance companies use bad science to discriminate. And it was all about how insurance policies were created dating back to the 1800's, but even research into the mid 1900's. And just, can you share a little bit with us about what that looked like.
Mike: It was wrong. The value of Black life was very little compared to white life. And a lot of the Black insurance policies sold to Black people, they were rated differently. And as a result of that, Black people were overcharged and underinsured really. And basically that was a system that was developed. And as you mentioned, it went on until the mid 19 hundreds. And in some respects, I would imagine that it goes on today different scale, but that it goes on today. And because of that, when you think about the transfer of wealth, very little wealth is passed down from generation to generation in the Black community and insurance policies. A lot of the people in my community, certainly who had insurance policies, they were hoping that they would be able to do something for their children and their grandchildren and others that they loved. But they did what they could, but their desire was certainly to do more and had they known what was going on and had they known that, that there were opportunities and options for more, they would have taken advantage of those things, but the way the system was designed, it wasn't possible.
Mike: And that was wrong. It was wrong.
Kate: Absolutely. You're right, it does continue to go on today. And that's some of the conversations that hopefully are starting to come to light and a lot of people are having them. I still think we need to get the message out there a lot more cause you and I were chatting earlier about how technology is actually hiding a lot of the discrimination now, and it's not as obvious. And even people that, we'll just stick with insurance as an example, I don't know for certain, but I would guess that's still an aspect of it. We know that it happens in credit, in mortgages, in credit card rates. It is absolutely systemic racism within financial services.
Mike: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I do feel that the financial services industry has an opportunity to lead us when it comes to race issues in our country, because we live in an economic system. And a lot of the things that occur are based around the topic of money. And we also have the opportunity to help people set goals, goals that are beyond what money really is all about, but help people understand that there's purpose. There's so much more to life than they can accomplish. And we can support them on those, on that journey. People over profits is something that I think about and talk about a lot.
Kate: People over profits. That's something that is worth repeating and it's so important and bringing the human element back into things. And Mike, I'm just sitting here thinking, let's say that you were a young child right now and your parents were in the economic situation that they were in. But living that today in 2020, what would you like to see financial services look like to be able to go into that community and into that family and help them in this way of bringing people over profits?
Mike: In my mind, it starts with education and awareness, making people aware of how the system works. What does it mean to save, how do you save, what are some of the vehicles that you can use to save. What is the rule of 72. You know, most people have no idea what the rule of 72 is, how long it takes your money to double at a particular interest rate, but just teaching basic financial principles can be very, very helpful to people. It can allow people to build a foundation that they can build on over time, but I think it starts there now. So think that it starts with our children finding ways to educate our children. There's a guy named Sam, Sam Rennick. He has a Sammy Rabbit series out on the West coast and he's focused on children. He's educating children and I love the work that he's doing, but we also need to educate parents so that they can reinforce some of those simple concepts that are taught. So education in my mind more so than anything.
Kate: And I saw an article, I think it was just in the last week talking about how a lot of teachers, and I'm pretty sure this was in the American school system, but it was something like 60% of teachers said that they themselves were not financially literate or financially educated enough to feel comfortable to teach financial literacy or financial education.
Mike: Yes, yes, it is. There are great organizations out there who arelooking to really attack this issue. The American Association of Individual Investors, AAII, is one that I got involved with about 25 years ago, I'm a lifetime member. And I learned a lot learned through that organization. I share what they do with a lot of people. They're nonprofit, they're based out of Chicago. And their goal is to educate the individual investor. Even if you have a financial planner, they want you to understand basic financial principles.
Mike: There are a number of other nonprofit organizations out there that are focused on the same thing. Those opportunities didn't exist when my parents were raising us or they may have and we didn't know it. But I think that those types of things, if they're promoted, if people are introduced to them, if they get to learn some of these basic concepts and if they were introduced to goals, goal setting around money, because if you're clear on what your goals are, it makes the savings process and really being disciplined easier because you're saving for something and you're willing to then avoid some of those purchases.
Mike: And that might be impulse because you're, you know where you're going, and so put it that way. So really teaching that, that's what I think. And then having people around you who can coach you, who model those principles, that can be very, very helpful as well. And I even think back to growing up, even our church, the pastor, very few people understood money. So it was very difficult for them to teach anything when it came to how money worked or saving, investing retirement, those types of things. So education.
Kate: And a lot of that can be great opportunities for financial planners, financial advisors, insurance agents, to give back to their community. When I lived in Seattle, I did a number of years of volunteering with Junior Achievement. And I went into all kinds of Kindergarten through 6th grade classes. And I went and did JA Day, Junior Achievement Day, which was just fascinating bringing middle and high school kids in and they got to pretend they were adults for a day and seeing some of the changes in these kids and eye opening and their parents don't talk to them about what it's like to pay bills and saving for things. So having kids get those experiences and having the financial services community, like you said, give back to be part of that change.
Mike: Absolutely. It's not as lucrative the carve out time to educate people as an advisor over the AUM model. It's all about gathering assets, but if we can find a way to do pro bono work, or if we can find a way to hourly, I love the hourly method of financial planning. So my practice is purely hourly. It allows me then to serve people regardless of what they have from a net worth or asset perspective or income perspective. So I can make those decisions. And that allows me then to reach people who normally would be underserved or not reached. And I enjoy that.
Kate: Well, it might not be as financially lucrative, but getting back to people over profits, how fantastic does it feel? I mean, I was so energized by those days of going in and talking to kids and heck I'll admit, I even learned a couple of things. We were diving into some of the different topics because that's not something I ever learned growing up either. I just became fascinated with it as a kid. And so thinking about your journey and your mother encouraging you to be good at reading and math, then you had a long career in corporate America.
Mike: I did, I had a chance to work for two big companies, Michelin an international company. And also with Macy's. I really enjoyed my time with both companies, especially Michelin. I had an opportunity to get experience in marketing sales, finance, HR, project management did some work over in Europe, and that was wonderful for me. And it gave me a wide breadth of experience during my time there, I also had an opportunity to manage a credit union and a benefits office. And as I did that, I really got insight into how little people knew about money. And I saw people making really poor decisions. I also had an opportunity to be a part of an HR team, human resources team that was engaged to help communicate the fact that we will be cutting jobs at one point during my time with Michelin and being in the room, sharing that information with people who'd been around for a long time, seeing them react in a way that was heart wrenching helped me realize that I need to make sure that I was doing the right thing myself when it came to my own money and that I wasn't relying on a company to take care of me.
Mike: So that sent me on this journey of learning more and more. And that's when I found AAII and other sources about money. And I'll share one other thing with you during that time, as I start to, the light went on for me, I had an undergraduate and a master's degree in business, by the way. But as the light started going on for me around practically applying some of those concepts, I actually took it upon myself to reach out to Merrill Lynch, to open an account. I had about a thousand dollars that I wanted to invest. I called Merrill Lynch. And they said, we can't help you. And I was like, what? Like, we can't help you. So I took that, understood it. Said, okay, what other options do you have Mike? So I talked to a few other people, found out about Schwab, opened a Schwab account.
Mike: And I also open some drip accounts and I started just really save on my own. And I realized during that time that there's something different about this industry. I wasn't in it at the time, but I realized that there was something different about the industry. So the more I learned, the more I wanted to share with others, I started coaching other people. As I had opportunities, I shared various resources that I stumbled upon with other people. And even people who reported to me, I found myself mentoring some of them when it came to money. And that made me really curious around, okay, there's a gap here. And that is when I decided to take a step into the financial industry as a side hustle.
Mike: But I was somewhat naive when I did that, because I thought that the industry was really all about helping people. But once I stepped in, I signed up with this organization, pretty big company, got my securities licenses. I also got my insurance licenses and I started to work. The more I worked, the more I disliked it because I realized that the focus was commissions. AUM. And I start to realize the fees that they were charging people. And I thought I cannot do this and sleep at night. So I continued for a while focusing on that. And I really was clear at one point that I just couldn't do it anymore. And during that same time, I started working on my Certified Financial Planner designation because I realized during that time as well, that that was the destination of choice for financial planners. But there were very few Black financial planners during that time as well. Also disappointed that I stopped that and I just walked away from the industry and I refocused on my career and I continued to work hard at excelling in my career. And I coached people as opportunities arose, people on my teams and my family, then the community.
Kate: But Mike, how frustrating is that thinking how many people there are out there like you that entered the industry, thinking this is all about helping people and get in and experience what you did and then realize that's not what so much of it is. You know, we're definitely moving in the right direction, and that's what The Innovating Advice Show is all about is highlighting that people are moving that direction. And I really hope this show is reaching those people and getting them at the point that you are at. And I've shared, there were multiple times I've thought about leaving the industry too, but I know there are a lot of great people out there. So what could we be doing differently And how can we make sure that we are attracting the right people and attracting people from all backgrounds?
Mike: Perception of this industry is that it's a white privileged male industry. We've got to change that perception. There's also a legacy mentality in the industry. And I think in many respects is fueled by unconscious and implicit bias. There's racism in the financial services industry. We've got to find a way to get more Black and Brown people in the industry. And we also need more women. There's a whole segment of our society that you just said they'd been left behind from a financial and an economic perspective. The numbers are dismal component. We can turn that around by again, as I said earlier, we got to focus on our children, starting young, getting children exposed to some of these concepts at a very young age. I also think that in addition to the financial services industry, we can encourage organizations to do a better job of educating their employees who are show up every day, they work hard.
Mike: They give it all they have, we can at least teach them some of these basic financial principles so that they can manage their 401ks better. They can take advantage of benefits that are offered much, much better. I think that's so important. I think as an industry, we can find a way to attract more Black people, more Brown people, people of color, more women, more young people, but not just attract them. I think that part of attraction could be starting with these universities, helping universities, supporting them, helping people understand, students understand, the importance of this particular space, the financial services space, but also start internship programs that are meaningful. I know some exists, but we can wrap that up. Getting students in school, we can recruit more. We can partner more with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). I think there's an opportunity there, but once we get people into the firm, onboarding is critically important.
Mike: You want to make sure that they have a good experience, that they see people who look like them early on. That's going to be difficult. It has been difficult, but once we get them in, we want to have great development programs. Professional development is key, and we also want to assign mentors and coaches. That's important. So important as well. In addition to that, we want to have strong succession plans because you don't want to bring someone in, park them in a seat in the corner somewhere and forget about them. You want to provide strong succession plan so that they see a path to maybe a job that they aspire to. There's so many ways that we can tackle this, but it's going to take thinking differently. And one of the things I'm getting to do a little bit more often as I've had, I have some firms reaching out to me, financial firms and others, and they're asking me to help them with this. We don't have many people of color in our firms. Can you help us process this? Can you help us when we get one or two in, how do we keep them? So helping them develop a strategy for engaging them and getting them integrated into the firm and helping them to be successful.
Kate: Yeah. And everything we're talking about is applicable all over the world. And you know, as we've seen the Black Lives Matter movement that started in the U.S. resonate with people all over the world, conversations that I have with advisors around the world. This is a topic that is absolutely applicable and happening everywhere. Thank goodness. You know, it's certainly overdue, but seeing changes slowly happen and people wanting to do the right thing and, and you're right, it's going to be starting with the kids. So it's going to take a long time. This isn't something we're going to solve in the next five or 10 years, but there's still a lot, like you said, that we can do.
Mike: Absolutely. And I, and I'm of the mind, you and I talked a little bit about this, but I'm of the mind that we have to use a telescope here to a certain degree, rather than a microscope, we need the microscope because we need to be taken certain actions, but we've gotta have a vision of where we're going. And that vision is clear enough and it's compelling enough. Then we're going to take those steps. Now that will move us forward. And I do - children, absolutely. We want to start with children, but there are people out there right now that are qualified advisers or people have the ability to be advisors. How do we attract them? How do we turn the antenna up so that we're looking for those people up rather than just people who look like us or people who are already in our firm? So taking some risks today, and that will provide opportunities for young people to see, okay, there's someone who looks like me.
Mike: I can aspire to that. That's one of the reasons Kate, why I actually stepped back into the industry because I want to encourage others. I want to, in my own small way, be a role model to other young people who might aspire to becoming an adviser at some point as one of the reasons why I went back and I passed the CFP exam. When you look at those statistics, less than one and a half percent of CFPs are Black. I wanted it to pass it so that young people out there who might aspire to that realize that it is possible.
Kate: That's great. And I'm so glad that you did. I mean, I know how easy it is to have those experiences and kind of say, okay I tried that it didn't work, and you and your wife started Right Path Enterprises where you do great work that I want to chat about, and then you did decide to go back and be that example. And I really am so glad that you did. So tell us a little bit about what you're doing at Right Path and how that then of led to starting Kelly Financial Planning.
Mike: Yeah. At Right Path, our focus is on helping people become better leaders of themselves and other people. And it has to start with us. We got to turn that mirror on ourselves first. And for me, that was informed by my own story of hitting the wall. At one point in my career, early on from the outside, looking in, I was having quote unquote, great success. I was being promoted. I was being given a lot of opportunities to, to take on fun, just wonderful assignments. But all I was doing was working. I gained 30 pounds. I wasn't going to church. I wasn't a very good husband. We had a lot going on in our lives. And I started having headaches and they got worse and worse and worse. And I went to the doctor and he said, Hey, we'll give you something for those headaches. And to help you sleep; it didn't work.
Mike: And I went back to work and I continued to grind. It got to the point where I just couldn't take it. Well, ultimately they ended up scanning my brain to make sure I didn't have anything bad going on. I was okay. But he said, you are under stress and you're headed towards depression. And that, that really hit me between the eyes. It was kind of ironic to me at that time. I had a nurse and an exercise physiologist reporting to me. So I went and I talked to both of them and I wanted their input. And the exercise physiologists said, Hey man, you're out of shape. Yes, you need to get in shape. And a nurse said, Hey, Mike, listen to the doctor. But anyway, that led me on this journey of getting certified as a life and executive coach. And it led me on this journey of really working hard on myself and all of those areas of life, faith, family, fitness, finances, fun, friends and my life changed.
Mike: And I will tell you my performance after that was, it was quadruple what it was before and I was not working as hard. So what I did after that was I realized that there are people all around me who were on the path that I was on at the time I wanted to help them get on the right path. So for me, personal leadership is one of the primary focuses of Right Path Enterprises. And when you're leading, when you're leading that way, you're not very healthy. So you're not a good leader of other people. So my goal is to help people lead themselves first and then learn to better lead, develop and encourage other people. So we do that and we take a strategic approach with that. My wife focuses on education and her background is education. Her she's got an undergraduate graduate and a Master's and a Doctorate degree on the education side, actually her master's in business. And then my focus is really on businesses and nonprofits. And again for us, it's helping organizations just improve their profitability, productivity, efficiency by focusing on human capital.
Kate: And I assume in that you're working with a lot of successful people that have probably done well in their careers. And what were you seeing in terms of their relationship with money and their knowledge of how financial services works?
Mike: Not good, not good. Some of the reasons for that was because they had not defined success. Success for them was the five Ps: pleasure, prosperity, power, prestige, and position. And as you focus on those things, you tend to spend more than you say, you don't even think you have the margin to say, but it'd be in reality. You do. You just have to get control of your spending. But if you haven't been taught that, if you don't understand that, then you're unconsciously competent or incompetent at this one thing. So I've seen spending, materialism and pressing others. The FOMO, fear of missing out, is predominant in many respects in corporate America, not just corporate America, our communities, organizations, all over the place. And I saw a lot of that and that's one of those things that motivated me then to take the step into starting up hourly feeling practice that can help people with that focused on goals based planning.
Kate: Yeah. And like you said earlier, it was really important to you to do hourly, to make sure that you really are accessible, affordable and approachable to all.
Mike: Yes. And one of the reasons I actually got back into the industry was I realized that there were other people out there thinking this way, the Garrett Planning Network, Sheryl Garrett, they do wonderful work. I got connected with the organization. I'm a Garrett Planning Network member. I run my own shop, but I love having the opportunity to collaborate with over a couple hundred people who have the same mindset, providing financial advice to people from all walks of life, competent, objective advice to people from all walks of life, not just the wealthy.
Kate: So how do people find you? Is a lot of it crossover from Right Path or do you have a lot of differences in your clientele between the two?
Mike: I'm a community servant. I've been working in the community, rotary club, all kinds of organizations for many, many years, and that's especially true in this area. So a lot of people know me and my work. In corporate America there are a lot of people who know me there as well. I don't really advertise a lot. It's more of word of mouth. And that's basically how they find me. I do have a website. I am on Facebook. I am on LinkedIn and all of those other places. But a lot of it is word of mouth. There's not a lot of crossover. There was actually more crossover from the financial planning to the coaching, more so than anything. Because once we started getting into goals, I realized, and my clients often realize that there's so much more, you can help me here. I'm stuck here. And we start to develop a plan to help them move forward in that particular area or those particular areas of life as we were identifying them.
Kate: Yeah. And you'll know from being a listener of the podcast, that's definitely a theme coming through all over the world and making sure it is about the bigger questions and topics in life and not just about the financial analysis and numbers side of it.
Mike: Yeah. And I find that a lot of people enjoy the mission piece, getting clear on their own personal mission statements. What I found funny is I speak a lot and I spoke to a group of leaders here in the Cincinnati region about over a hundred. And I asked them the question, how many of your companies have a mission statement? Almost every hand in the room went up and I asked a couple people if they would share. So a few people actually shared their corporate mission statements. I then asked the question, how many of you have a personal mission statement?
Mike: They weren't very many hands that went up and it's pretty consistent. I've seen, as I asked this question, when I speak it's around 3% or less, very few people have a personal mission statement. And I think about myself when I hit the wall, I didn't have a personal mission statement. I was just operating. I find that when we get a mission statement, then we're more focused or more disciplined, clearer on where we're going. And we can intentionally take those steps that we need to take to move us in that direction. Not easy, still difficult, but there's a lot more peace and joy starts to become the thing as well. You're more fulfilled. So I work with my clients on that as well.
Kate: Would you mind sharing your personal mission statement?
Mike: I'm glad that you asked, Kate. My personal mission statement is to use my God given leadership, financial and analytical skills to help my family and others grow to become all that they're designed to be while continuing to grow myself.
Kate: That's powerful.
Mike: Thank you. It took me a while to develop that, but at the time that I invested in that a number of years ago was well worth. And I do consider that time and investment.
Kate: That can't be an easy thing to come up with.
Mike: Well, if it was then more than 3% of the people would respond to my question. I mean, even the goals setting thing, we're a fast paced society. We are go, go, go, go, go. And oftentimes it's hard to slow down enough to consider some of these types of topics, but they are so important. They're so important. I go back to people who are in a corporate role right now and that they want to get out. Well, if they can get clear on what the journey is all about for them, then it's easier to start to build the strategy that they will need, or the plan. As planners, we understand the word plan or the plan that they need to transition from that mahogany desk options and all those things to a role where they're able to build a firm and operate a firm in a way that aligns with their values. I just love the work that you've done. And your story is, is similar to that. You stepped away from great career opportunities to do what you're doing and you're impacting the lives of many people. I applaud you for that.
Kate: Well, thank you, Mike. And it's, it's not easy. And like you say, we need to turn the mirror on ourselves. And the way that we can have the biggest impact on others is to make sure that we have done the work and it's not easy and it's terrifying. And it often involves running into a wall. And hopefully, but too often, it does result in those medical issues that you mentioned and going to the doctor and gaining weight. And we seem to have to go pretty far down the wrong path before we realize it's time to find our way to the right path.
Mike: Yeah. And the time thing, there's a couple of quotes that I really, I really love: "Time is the coin of life. You only get one, be careful, lest other people spend it for you." And the other quote that I really like is by Jim Rohn, he passed away a few years ago, but he says: "Work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job, you'll make a living. If you work hard on yourself, you make a fortune." And I used to share the first part of that quote with my teams when I was leading in corporate America, work harder on yourself than you do on your job. Initially, when I said that they didn't really get it, but as they started to get it and see the results of that it was interesting to watch lives change, and also to watch how our results improved dramatically.
Kate: Oh yeah. That, that hit me in the heart. The second you said it, I haven't heard that one before.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Time passes really, really quickly. And if we're not careful, it'll get away from us. So we each have a purpose and we've talked about that. We want to make sure that we slow down enough to contemplate what that is, and then start taking those action steps that are, move us towards that being intentional about every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year that we have available to us.
Kate: Yeah. So am I going to make sure we spend a minute and circle back to the issues of systemic racism in financial services and the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion, and you and I have chatted a lot about it's the baby steps and yes, we absolutely need to get in and talk to the kids and teach the kids and look to the future. But what are some of the steps that we can take now today, starting in 2020?
Mike: Well, again, mentor someone who looks different from you, different race and ethnicity, age, female. Find someone. There are people out there. Go and carve out some time to mentor and encourage them. If you're in an organization, you're leading an organization and you have the ability to make decisions, you get two or three people that are in line for promotion, take a risk on someone who's Black, take a risk on someone who's Brown, take a risk on a woman who might not get that opportunity. If you're someone leading an organization, look around the room. If the room is all white, realize that 'there is something I can to change that.' If they're all male realize, 'Hey, I've got to do something different here' because those perspectives can help your organization. They're not gonna hurt it. They can help it. We need to be challenged in our thinking. We also need fresh perspectives. One of the challenges that we face, it's not a challenge.
Mike: I think it's really an opportunity demographically. Our country's changing and we have to change. And the way to do that is to take some of those steps. But even before we take those steps, let's turn the mirror on ourselves. What is my conditioning? How was I raised? What are some of those habits or ways that I view the world that need to change? If I grew up in a racist family, be it Black or white, or it doesn't matter. If I grew up in a family that did not value women, I'm bringing that to the table with me and my current role. I need to reflect on that and I need to change. And if I need help, I need to go ask for that. But it starts with me. And once I start to get some clarity, then I'm willing to take some of those steps.
Mike: And there are so many steps that can be taken. But I just say, take the small steps. I would also say, during a time like this, where we have so much, in the States, where we have so much racial unrest, reach out to someone who's different, someone of color and listen to their stories, get an understanding of where they come from and get an understanding of why they feel the way that they do, but also get to know them as a human being. That can help you as well, whether it's a financial service related thing or not, and it can help you be a better leader in the financial space. We've got to get comfortable being uncomfortable. And sometimes that takes taking steps that we would not normally take. And if we know of people that are in positions of influence, we should challenge them. We should hold them accountable. We should encourage them.
Mike: But it's small steps. Small steps lead to big actions. And a lot of the changes that we need to see, we won't see them. And you've said that, but we can take steps today, as you're doing with your podcast, that will impact future generations in a positive way. And you can have joy and sleep at night because you're taking the steps that you're taking. And I feel that way with my practice, my wife and I, we could be retired and doing other things, but we see the need to do what we're doing and that it's not just for us, it's for other people.
Kate: Those are all great actions. And again, applicable all over the world. I mean, as you're talking, I'm thinking about so many conversations I've had in so many different countries. This spans every continent and every area. It really is bringing the whole world together to bring much needed change. And I'm also thinking about how, as we look to bring more diversity into the profession, how can we also start to change the messages to make financial services more inclusive to clients? Because I still see, I picture the messages that a lot of potential clients are getting and the companies that are out there and what a lot of them look like and how they operate, thinking about your story of, 'Hey, I called Merrill Lynch with a thousand dollars and was told no,' how can we start to raise awareness among the public that there are people like you that are available to work with everyone out there?
Mike: That's a huge question. And it's going to take a long time for us to get there. But again, I go back to these small actions. What you're doing is huge, it's a large action of podcasts, providing a platform for someone like me to share my story. The more we do this type of thing, the more people get to hear that and the better off we will be. So again, I thank you for the opportunity to be here and share a little bit of my story and other people. We have the ability to do something similar. I would encourage you to do that because you never know the impact it's going to have on other people by getting the word out, that it is possible that the industry is not an industry of white males. It's an industry for all of us, and it's going to take time to turn to tide.
Mike: But I feel confident that at some point we will see a change in the tide. I do. So there's a lot of when it comes to messaging, that's true of most things. When it comes to the marketing aspects of all this communication, the way that we publicize certain things, where we share certain things, but systematically starting with our children, starting in the school system, organizations have the ability to educate people internally on benefits, but also in the industry. 'Hey, there are certain organizations out there that will provide you hourly fee-only advice.' There are many ways, but we can't do it alone. We've got to come together as well to do this. There has to be relationships. There has to be networks. There has to be systems put in place so that the message is consistent and persistent.
Kate: Yeah. Well, Mike, thank you for everything that you're doing, everything that you've gone through in your life and sharing your story, for coming back to the profession and being that example for building what you're building at Kelly Financial Planning for the work that you and your wife are doing at Right Path Enterprises. Any final words to listeners?
Mike: I would say the Jim Rohn quote: "Work harder on yourself than you do on your job." And, "Time is a coin of life. We only get one, be careful lest other people will spend it for you." Those two quotes.
Mike: In addition to that, get a mission statement and also find a way to help someone who doesn't look like you get a hand up. And also in this industry, get introduced to this industry, find a way to serve them. Find a way to develop people who are different from you in this industry, white people, Brown people, women, and also our young people. We need younger advisors in this industry. And almost every organization needs younger people, but we certainly need younger advisors in our industry. So I would say those things. Love to connect with you if you want to talk further about that. I'm on all the platforms, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and our websites, Right Path Enterprises and Kelly Financial Planning. And then I want to say to you Kate, again, thank you for having me. And I applaud you for the work that you're doing. I've said that once I wanted to say it again, I love the work that you're doing. It matters and you matter, keep it up.
Kate: Thank you, Mike.
Kate: I'm so glad we connected. I'm glad we've had a few opportunities to talk and I look forward to continuing to stay in touch with you. It's been an absolute delight.
Mike: I do as well. Thank you.