The Pursuit of Learning - Nelson Soh
4:49AM Apr 10, 2021
Welcome to the pursuit of learning podcast. I'm your host, Clint Murphy. My goal is for each of us to grow personally, professionally, and financially, one conversation at a time. To do that, we will have conversations with subject matter experts across a variety of modalities. My job, as your host, will be to dig out those golden nuggets of wisdom that will facilitate our growth. Join me on this pursuit. Today on the pursuit of learning, I have Nelson. So Nelson is an accountant by training. He's also an author, an entrepreneur, and a life coach. We spend a lot of time digging into financial literacy, gratitude, mindset, life habits, and much, much more all as the means to help each of us grow, personally, professionally and financially. I really enjoyed this conversation. I hope you do too.
Nelson, thanks for joining me on the pursuit of learning today. It's great to have you on the show. Thanks, Clint, appreciate you inviting me on. So I'm gonna ask you a question because you and I started at the same place. And one of the things I always want to know, from people who become accountants is when did you realize in life, that that was what you wanted to do?
It was kind of back in high school, like, by my upbringing, I'm from Asian descent, and my parents wanted me to be a doctor. I know, it's very stereotypical, but they actually did want me to be a doctor. So when I went through my high school, like grade 12, there was like that career planning subset. And I remember choosing like healthcare, and then I actually did my, quote unquote, internship at a pharmacy where I was, you know, helping pharmacist out with stuff, just learning the ropes. And then I realized I didn't like it, the more and more I did it. So I made a deal with my parents and said, Hey, I'm going to go to business school. And they said, that's fine, as long as you get accepted, and you promised to complete your degree, like there's no stopping halfway. So I got in, agreed. And then the first two years was like, kind of general studies was terrible at accounting, to be honest, didn't do well, in the intro to accounting, I was struggling a little bit with it. But I started talking to seasoned accountants in the industry, learning more about the profession. And you know, the pros and cons, and decided that that was the route I wanted to take. So buckled down and got it done.
Excellent. And Nelson, you probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that you're the second guest I've had on who is of Asian descent whose parents wanted him to be a doctor, he ended up being a dentist, you ended up switching, throwing a curveball and becoming an accountant. Do you think if you had children, you would put that pressure and expectation on them to go that route?
Yeah, I think, for me, personally, I wouldn't, because I you know, after going through my own journey, and understanding what that pressure feels like, I wouldn't want to put that pressure on my kids. And I would want them to live a fulfilled life. And there's so many ways to be fulfilled and happy. And we want them to pursue that versus what I want.
And we're going to talk definitely about that in some of the things you've done later. In your career, as you've started to branch out, we'll talk about passions in pursuing some of that you left KPMG after four years, very shortly after you qualified with your CPA and headed out into industry. What drove you to do that?
I think that public practice, you either love it, or you don't. And I think you know, if you're lucky, you know, sooner than later. And then for me, I just realized that it wasn't really what I was passionate about. It's for some people, but it wasn't just wasn't for me. And the right opportunity came along and I thought, you know what, why not take the leap now and try industry see what it's like. I mean, my backup was that I could always potentially come back to public practice, if I wanted to.
And while you were in industry last year, with COVID, for the average person, it was an extremely challenging year. From everything I've seen, though, you managed to thrive. Not only were you a director of finance by day, you also signed a book deal with two co authors, you co founded a consulting company, you started life coaching. And so I'd like to dive into each one of those through our conversation. The first one I'd like to start with you is the book that you're co authoring life literacy, what we should teach our kids to succeed in life. But don't I think this is a very important topic for parents to discuss with their children. And I don't think many people do. Can you tell me some of the things that you believe we should teach our kids in life?
Absolutely. Thanks for touching on this. So our book is releasing in ebook form may 2021. And it will be hitting all the bookstores August later this year 2021. So very excited about that. To answer your question, I think that, you know, there's a lot of life skills that aren't taught in school that people eventually learn as they go on, on their own personal journeys, the big one that I like to to always tell people about his on from a personal finance route, you know, learning about managing debt, learning about getting a mortgage, learning about retirement planning and how to do that. Because these are things that aren't taught in school, but are things that are essential for people to have in life in order to create that financial freedom, and eventually live the life that they ultimately desire.
And so would you say the main component of the book is on the financial literacy? Or is it broken up into different components, that each of you tackles from a different angle as co authors?
Yeah, it's a good question. So the book actually focuses on the three different life literacies. So there's personal literacy, you know how to hold yourself in a social context, you know how to be a just a good person in general, professional literacy, you know, how to hold yourself in the workplace, what to expect versus what actually happens, we talk about entitlement, which is what a lot of, I would say, younger, or people just starting up their careers may fall into that trap, or that pitfall of feeling entitled, of the take first, give later mindset. So we try to help flip that switch. But also on top of that, we talked about financial literacy, which is, you know, not only do you take care of your personal life, your professional life, you got to take care of your financial life as well.
That's excellent Nelson, anytime I've talked to colleagues. On my team, I've said that what I want to help them with in their time, they're with the company, is personal, professional, and financial growth. And when I think about how I want to help my children and other people I interact with in life. It's across those three paradigms. So I love that the books hitting all three of those, at what age would you start to have these conversations with children?
I think the the earlier, the better, I think that there's a lot of teachings like they don't have to be complex, like you don't have to teach an eight year old how to do retirement planning. But you can teach an eight year old how to save money, and it can start very simple, like, give them $20 and say, okay, you have $20 to either spend or save, like, what would you like to do with it? And let them start to understand the choices? And what happens if they were to spend all $20 and not have any allowance for the rest of the month? Like what does that feel like? Because then when they start to earn more money, as they grow and develop in their careers in the future, they'll completely remember and understand the concept of saving and why it's important.
So they can understand conceptually, the positives and negatives of the decisions in choices that they're making.
Absolutely. And what I see a lot in just with the people that I coach, and my peers that I talked to, is they fall into that trap, because they didn't have that conceptualization at a younger age. So as they started to earn money, they were experimenting with it. And then they realize like, okay, I earned $100, but I spent 150, because I have a credit card.
and then they go into this debt, and then it's snowballs. And then they, you know, reach a point where they're like, Okay, I need help. Where do I go? What do I do? Where do I start? And this is where like financial literacy, life literacy really comes in to help people at a young age. So they don't run into that into that bad area.
When you think about yourself, and you think about your parents, what are the top two to three things you wish they had taught you growing up, that you had to learn yourself? Possibly the hard way?
Yeah, the first one is the difference between a scarcity mindset and abundant mindset. My parents are first generation immigrants here in Canada, so that we didn't come from much financially and growing up, my parents had a very scarce mindset of you have to save all your money, because there's not enough you have to work harder to earn more money because you won't have enough. And scarcity, I think is a I mean, mindsets, a whole different thing. But I wish they were able to show me the abundance side of it, you know that there are opportunities, there is possibility to do more. The second thing I would say is, you know, my parents taught me about money. They taught me to save money, which was great. But they didn't really teach me why I needed to save money or how it was more of just a blanket statement of you should save all your money. But I wish they had taught me you know how to make my money work for me how to make my money grow, how to invest it, what to invest in an early age, I think that would have helped me get a little bit further than I am now.
And then you also mentioned there but you digressed away from it a little separate one being simply mindset. Was there something that you wish they had taught you with respect to mindset.
Yeah, I mean, this one is it's hard and I had no point on my faulting them for It's more so that I wish they were able to see it as well like that there's always two sides of a coin, that every bad thing that happens to you can have a good. And I started to see that, you know, in my mid 20s, when, you know, I started to think about my mindset and where it was going when I, you know, had pitfalls or adversity or roadblocks in my life, and what I chose to see versus what was what I could possibly see. So I wish that they had taught me you know, that there's a there's always a good out of the bat. I absolutely
love that idea. And I've started having these conversations with my nine year old son. He's the youngest of the two, but he's starting to have nightmares. And so I'm laying with him at night. He likes me to talk to him about some of the principles in life I've been writing about. And some of the ones that I write about are along the lines of what you're saying, Nelson and being able to lay beside him and talk to him about mindset and stoicism, cognitive behavioral therapy and choosing your thoughts versus letting your thoughts choose you, has been a very exciting and fun, rewarding process. So I definitely think parents who read the book and start having those conversations with their children will absolutely have an engaged audience, they may be surprised by how young children actually like to engage with some of that content.
Have a question about that, actually, so you're far away. And when you talk to him about like the stoicism, how does he interpret it? Or how does he put it as he put it into practice himself?
I think he might not start putting it into practice yet. But I would say the one that jumps out at me is last night I was reading him, I think I call it principal for meditate daily, or sorry, that was two nights ago. And in there, I talk a little bit about one of the reasons I meditate, and that is to address an overactive brain, right. And whether you label that ADD or ADHD, you know, it's up to someone else to use labels. I tend not to like labels. But I think a lot and one of the ways to calm that down is through meditation. And he has a similar, I'll call it challenge. Although it to me, it's also a fuel. And I can explain that later if you'd like. And so I see that in him. And he often when he's getting when his overactive mind is getting him in trouble. And I'll try to talk them down, if you will, he'll say But Dad, you don't understand Dad, you don't understand. And so when he listened to that paragraph, he said, Well, that's what my mind does. And I said, Well, I know, son, because I've got the same challenge that you do, right? And that's why I tell you, I do understand. And he looked at me and said we should meditate tonight. And so we did a short meditation after I read that to him. And that was a way for him to put that into practice. I think with some of them, like stoicism, you know, he might not be able to necessarily put certain of the stoic concepts into practice. If I talk to him about certain of those aspects. And I talked to him about them enough. You'd be surprised at what just slowly embeds itself in there. You know, my, my 12 year old in his interview for high school, in answering the question, talking about long term goal setting, and planning and having a vision and working towards it. You know, it's an incredible that that that was probably three years of conversations about setting goals, and then working towards them, right. I didn't even know that it stuck. But it stuck enough that when he was answering a question that was in his mind, wow, that's incredible.
I think it's really cool that you know, your, as a nine year old that was you're going over these meditation techniques with, he's interested in open minded enough to try it.
That's really one of the interesting things is they're starting to teach these things in school. So the kids from probably kindergarten grade one on a component of their class is mindfulness. It's incredible. So you know, they get into the lotus position and put their fingers up and show you their meditations. It's actually incredible because they don't always tell you what they're doing at school. But meditation prayer, you know that you just see them break out and say some of this stuff and you're blown away by the fact that I don't remember learning any of that in school. Nelson, we never had a mindfulness class.
Maybe this is their way of helping overactive kids calm down a little bit.
Absolutely. I think it's a great way for them to do that. So one of the things you you spoke on for the book, and I know it's very important to you, financial literacy. Can you tell the listeners what financial literacy means to you?
Yeah, for sure. financial literacy is something that's very, very important to me because it's something that I can say openly that I was not financially literate, although it's weird because I'm like an accountant by trade. But even though I studied accounting, and I'm good with numbers, and I help businesses with like things like financial reporting, you know, day to day accounting, things like that, that early in my career, I was not financially literate, I didn't know how to manage my money, I didn't know much about debt. I didn't know about things like a mortgage that seemed to be pretty basic to most people. But again, it's things that you didn't learn in school that you need for life. So to me, financial literacy is understanding your personal finances, and having a sound plan to get you to achieve your goals. Because I think everybody has this, you know, in their mind, like a utopia that they're thinking of this like Dream Land, where they say, like, Okay, well, when I have a million dollars, I'm going to retire or when I have enough money to buy a home, go on vacation, buy my dream car, then I'll be happy. But most of the time, the disconnect is, people are earning money, they have these big dreams, but there's no plan. So there's this big void in the middle. And the reason that the void exists is because there's a lack of financial literacy, and they don't understand how to get from point A to point B. So I've taken on this challenge to help people out there, understand financial literacy at a simple level, it's not intimidating. But I just want to raise the awareness and the knowledge that people need for life and like life skills around money.
What are some of the key terms or definitions that people should be aware of, with respect to financial literacy that you and I can dive a little into?
Absolutely. There's actually five like pretty basic ones that I like to touch on. The first one is understanding the concept of paying yourself first seems pretty basic, but not many people actually do it. I mean, it's one thing to pay yourself first, one time, but it's another thing to do it consistently, month after month, for an extended period of time. That takes discipline. The second one is setting financial goals. So short term, and long term financial goals, making sure that you know what your vision is, in the next, say, 12 months. And then from, you know, year, one, year two, five years out, like what are you trying to achieve? The third one is a concept that I preach a lot of needs versus wants. And this helps people in the short term, understanding the difference between the need and a want. Because a lot of times we think we need these things, or whatever it is in our lives, and we go out and buy it. And then we realize that it's not a need, it's actually a want. So it's having that clear distinction. Number four is budgeting. So making sure that you have a personal budget, your business has a business budget, and your family has a family budget, I think those are all very important things. And the last one is one of my favorite concepts, which actually took me a long time to understand it's the concept of using money, and not letting money use you. So if you think of that, I'll say it again, it's using money and don't let money use you.
I'm really interested to hear how this one works for you. Yeah.
Yeah, the short version is, you know, think of your money or your dollars as your own workers or your your employees, so to speak. You know, you work so hard for your money, you work so hard to earn your money. So why not let your money work hard for you. And there's many different thoughts around that, you know, people have their own perspectives and their own insights on how that works. But I have mine, and I'm totally happy and excited to share them.
These are great concepts, and I definitely want to dive into them with you. You also I seen in it ties to this actually, you've wrote a way to look at financial independence or wealth generation. That's very similar to how I look at it. And it's as simple as it should be one earned money to save your money. Three, invest your savings for don't buy dumb crap, I would say those four things tie into what we're talking about here. With your five key concepts. Let's dive into pay yourself first. What do you want people to take away from that idea?
Well, think of, you know, we all pay taxes, right? We all pay income tax. Think of your paycheck, when you look at your paycheck. You see, most people focus on two numbers, gross income, which is your annual salary divided by your pay periods, gross income, and then there's all these magical deductions that happen. And then you're left with what's called your net income, which is what actually goes into your bank account. So when people look at those two numbers, gross income and net income, a lot of times I hear people say, Oh my gosh, I earned all this money, but then I don't know where half of it went. Because I only received you know, 60% of it into my pocket. So like this 40% is just going off to taxes or something. So then I tell people, okay, great. You see what's happening here is right off the bat. You're paying taxes on all your income. Because the government doesn't trust us that we're going to be responsible with our money to save money for the end of the year to pay our income taxes. So the government is essentially paying themselves first out of your paycheck. So you know, you work hard for your money. You want to, you know, feed your family, achieve your goals, have fun in your life, don't you think that you deserve to be paid first as well. And 9.9 times out of 10? People say, of course, Nelson, I deserve to be paid first. And then I say, Well, why don't you do it. And that's when the light bulbs turn on. And people say, holy crap, I need to start doing this concept. So my recommendation to people is, if you can set aside 10% of your income, right away, when it gets into your bank account, put 10% of it into a savings account, an investment account of some sort, a place where you can create a nest egg for yourself for your future, maybe for retirement for your goals. That's a great place to start.
So Nelson, when I hear what you said, there, that brings up in, I've often heard it referred to as savings rate. So if I take how much I have at the end that I'm saving, and I divide by my original gross income, that gives me my savings rate, one of the things that a lot of people may have heard of or read that's a fair bit older now. But the wealthy barber talks about saving 10% of your net income, you might or might be gross income, but I think it may be net. When you're thinking financial independence, and you're thinking, saving for retirement, how high? do you encourage people to get that savings, right?
For people who are starting off I, you know, on this kind of ties into the budgeting piece like I want another common question I get is, how do I set a budget? like where do I start, I like to use a fairly like cookie cutter template I go, I use like the 50 3020 model. So 50% goes to your needs, which is one of the five things I'd like to talk about needs versus wants 30% goes to your wants, and then 20% goes to your savings. So right off the bat, I actually start most people off with 20% savings if they can. Now this 50 3020 methodology is you know, it's just a cookie cutter, it's just a template, you can adjust it as you need. If you can go 30% savings and 20% once and kind of scale back your lifestyle a little bit. I mean, with the pandemic, people have been at home and some people have found it easier to save more money, just because there's less eating out and you know, social expenses and things like that, if you can go up to 30%. That's amazing. And but i think that you know, 10% is the bare minimum, if you really want to make an impact into your financial future. 20% is if you really want to accelerate this and then 30% if you're very aggressive with your goals,
love it. And then there's the people in the lean fire community who tried to get that all the way up to 60 to 70%, which is absolutely astounding.
That is amazing. Absolutely.
That makes a ton of sense on paying yourself first and setting a specific number which we also come back into in budgeting, you then talk about financial goals. When you start talking to people about financial goals. What are some of the things you suggest to them?
Yeah, I think when I start with financial goals, I start with, you know what stage you are at your life, you know, if you're you could be you know, your college student, university student, or maybe you're about to enter retirement. These are completely different stages in life, and you have different goals at that point. So I always start with asking people, you know, what stage in life are you at? And what are your goals? Like, what do you really want? And then people start to open up and they'll tell me like, you know, well, I want to buy a house in, like, three years, I'd like to buy a new car, I'd like to start a family, I'd like to get married, all these life events start coming out. And then I start asking them, what's your timeline? You know, what are you thinking? Like, if you need a new car, that's great. But which comes first? Do you need a new car? Or do you want to get married or buy a house or start your business? And then we start prioritizing? And we say, okay, which ones are top of the list? And which ones can kind of go down lower priority, and then maybe push out further into the future?
And is is this where they start to really enjoy the process or where they start to really say, Nelson, my gosh, you're making this so hard, I have to actually choose one or the other not having all of it and a high credit card debt.
I think at this point, people really start to be realistic with themselves, which is really nice. Because everybody you know, have you know, everybody has the dream of I want to buy like a home I want to have like a Lamborghini. I want to have, you know, the perfect family and all these things like a multimillion dollar business. But all of these things take time. And you can't do I mean, I don't want to say can't because I don't think that's true. Some people can do all of these things at once. But they're an anomaly and I want to help the masses. I want to help the average person like you and you and me like how can we achieve our goals? And the number one thing is one writing out all our goals and two is prioritizing which ones come first.
If you don't have a plan, you're planning to fail.
Absolutely. And so setting those goals with people is an absolutely great First start to getting them on that path to financial literacy or financial independence, if that ultimately is their goal, not everyone. Not everyone has that. The next one, this is the one that you point out that most people struggle with, which is why they won't be rich. And that is needs versus wants. Let's dive into that one pretty deeply Nelson, why do most people struggle with this one? And why is this such an impediment to them reaching their wealth goals?
Yeah, I mean, this is an interesting one, because it's a concept that when I tell people, they're like, oh, Nelson, this is so obvious, like, you know, you need it or you want it. And although it seems obvious, it's not because somebody can tell me I understand what a need is, and I understand what a want is. But then when we look at their credit card statement, and we break it down, we're seeing you know, all these things that are that fall into the one category, but the individual thinks that there actually needs like, I need, I needed to buy a new cell phone, like the iPhone, 12, pro Max, whatever, that's like, 15 $100, I needed that. And I was like, Well, what was wrong with your iPhone? 11? Nothing? Well, then why did you need it? And then then the mindset changes, I didn't need it, I actually wanted it. So it's really uncovering that and honestly, it's calling people out on it. Nobody likes to hear you know that they're wrong, or like their mindset isn't their needs versus what mindset isn't in the right place. But this is a really big part of financial literacy is really like, I think of it like an onion, like peeling back the layers, and really understanding that, you know, yeah, not everything is a need, although it might seem like it.
And so one of the ways you do this with your clients, is you somewhat go back to our days at the firm, you audit their credit card with them. That's right. So take me through what that looks like for you. When you're working with your client.
I sometimes I feel like like a dentist when when this happens. It's like pulling teeth and, and they they hate it. They're like Nelson Really? Do you really want to see my credit card statement? I'm like, yeah, bring it up. Like, let's, let's go through it. And we literally like I call this part of it. It's like auditing your expenses. It's exactly. Back in the days of the firm. We're auditing it. We're not vouching anything, though. We're not asking for receipts. But we're going down the statement line by line saying we're putting an N or a W, is it a need or want. And it's really opening some really opening their mindset and opening their eyes to where they're spending their money in, would
you say for the average person? Are they able to? Once you have that conversation and you do the audit process? Are they able to better prioritize their needs versus wants? So or would you say that, for a lot of people, this is where the this is where the rubber doesn't necessarily hit the road and where they continue to be challenged? Even even when you're working with them?
Yeah, I think if I started at needs versus wants and said, you know, first day without your credit card statement, let's go through it, it would take a long time for them to understand it. But because we lay the groundwork of you know, setting the goal of what do you want to pay yourself first? And then the second goal of what are your financial goals? Like, let's write them out. Now they're actually thinking like, Okay, well, if I want to start a business, if I want to buy a new car, achieve my life goals, I need to start thinking about the difference between the need and a want because all those wants, although once or Okay, they need to be budgeted for which is the next step, right. But if they're just a want, purely for the sake of a one, like an impulse buy, then that money could go towards number one or number two, paying yourself first, or your goals. And I think at that point, people start to realize that like, maybe I am wasting my money because I am buying these things that aren't adding value to my life or progressing me towards my goals.
Yeah, as as you were talking there. I understood how that could really help. Because you're first saying, hey, look, can we agree that you want to pay yourself first? The person said, Yeah, yeah, what you're saying absolutely makes sense. I want to I want to pay myself first, I deserve it. And then you say, Well, what are your financial goals and you set them on a path that they actually set themselves on? It almost made me think that maybe that budgeting one should come back ahead of needs versus one because you're able to say, Well, look, if this is how much you want for you. This is how much leftover we're going to divide that between needs and wants, right, which is effectively what you do with what you said was 50% will cover your needs 30%, your wants 20% your savings. How do they usually feel when you get to that section and they start seeing how that budgeting process works and how it ties in to the division between the categories.
When we get to the budgeting section, everybody hates the word budget, whether it's personally or in like a professional atmosphere, like people like oh budget, I dread that. But I always tell people you know, a budget isn't telling you that you cannot spend your money. A budget is telling you how to spend your money. So then at the end of the day, you're not wondering where all your money went. Because you know with a budget you know you're saying okay, 50% is going to my needs 10% is going to my savings 40% to my watch or whatever your configuration is. But with a budget, now you're able to say okay 50% is needs of this 50%, how much is going towards things like groceries, how much is going towards my my housing costs, how much is going towards my cell phone, car, whatever other needs you have. So now you have all these buckets that you're basically planning for, which helps you stay on track to make sure that you will have enough for the things that you want to do in your life, your goals, and to pay yourself,
I want to really zone in on that one line you said, which I think can really sell a budget, a budget isn't telling you that you can't spend money, a budget is telling you how to spend your money. That was really well said, Nelson, I love that line.
Thank you. I've used it a lot to convince people that budgeting is good for them. And it's worked people, you know, their mindset changes, they say, Okay, you know what this makes sense, like a budget is telling me where and how I can spend my money. So then I end up with a positive cash flow at the end of the month. And I'm not going into further debt, because I have other things that I need to take care of, maybe it's student loans, mortgage, whatever it may be, but it's giving them a set plan, like people, I find that you know, as humans, we're very good at following plans. Like if you set a plan, like, for example, like a workout, if you set a workout routine, the day before, or maybe like an hour before your workout and you refer to it, chances are you're going to get through the workout. But if you go into the workout without a plan, it's like what you said earlier, failing to plan is planning to fail. That's right, right. So same thing with a budget, your budget is your is your battle plan for that week, that month, that year. And if you can stick to it, that bottom line, that end result is what you're ultimately going to have.
And one of the things you mentioned when you were talking budget was you were talking budgets or categories. In the past, before technology was what it was people who were having financial challenges, some of the authors on financial literacy of that time period, would say, cash your check, no credit card, take, take it all in cash, have have jars, set up a jar for your vacation, fund a jar for a year, for your car, a jar for the house, a jar for this a jar for that and put the money in it, and then use that throughout the month only for that specific thing. Is that conceptually what you're meaning when you're saying buckets or categories in the budget? And is there a way that you suggest people do that electronically to bifurcate between those categories?
Yeah, the jars method, I love that I read, you know, a lot of these books that talk about the jars method, I think, I don't want to say in modern day, but like what I've seen a lot come up on like social media or like different technology platforms, I see what's called the envelope method or envelope method. That's right, it's exactly the same as the jars method. But when people are starting to do is they're making these super fancy, like envelopes where they're putting cash in and they're labeling it like groceries and it's like $100 in there. And every time you buy groceries, you take the cash out, you don't use your credit card. I'm all for that method, I think it's great because it really limits you. If you don't have the discipline to leave your credit card at home, or the discipline to not use your credit card when you're out electronically. I mean, there are ways you can open multiple bank accounts. For example, you could have two or three savings accounts. And then you could just label them on your online banking, you could call saving account number one groceries, or like needs savings account number two is once That's right, it's basically electronic jars.
Yeah, I was wondering if you might do that or recommend it for clients and the envelopes. I've heard it, I guess you could go on Pinterest, and you'd probably see some amazing on envelope systems, credit cards. Before we before we go to Step five, which I really want to dive in to with you. Let's have a quick chat on credit cards, because those can be such a useful tool, such a great tool for financial independence, and for the average person a nightmare. What are your thoughts on credit cards for your clients and using them and needs versus wants as part of that credit card?
Yeah, total, you know, almost like a double edged sword where it can be very good for you. But also very, very bad and dangerous for you. If you don't use it the right way, credit cards with needs versus wants, it's really hammering on the discipline piece of it. You know, like if you have a credit card that has a you know, $500 limit or $1,000 spending limit on it. You could go out there and buy whatever you want up to that spend limit, but you really need to be disciplined and understand that if you can't afford to buy it in cash based on your budget, then you shouldn't be buying it. And I think that when people get a credit card for the first time, their mindset is, well, I have $1,000 to spend this is great. It's free money, it's not free, right? And we need to realize that and this is where people get stuck in the concept of like minimum balance, like they pay the minimum balance and they think that that's okay. But they're not realizing that interest is being charged and I want to maybe take a minute to talk about that. You know, like your minimum balance on your credit card is not what you should be paying every month, you should be paying your balance in full. Because what happens when you pay the minimum balance? It looks great, right? It says on your statement, you know, your total balance is 1000. But your minimum balance is $10. And you're like, this is perfect. Pay 10 bucks, and I'm good. But what happens is that outstanding balance gets charged these astronomical interest rates 20%, usually on a credit card. Yeah, 2020 Plus, right? And it keeps snowballing every month that it's outstanding. So needs versus wants is huge. With credit cards, make sure that you know what you're spending, if you can't afford to buy it in cash, then don't buy it.
Yeah, said a little differently. If you can't pay it off at the end of the month, don't Don't do it. Don't put the money on it. And while we're on that, and we're on the concept of that credit card interest, which you brought up, which I think is probably one of the most fundamental things for financial literacy and financial independence, is that concept of good debt versus bad debt? Do you want to talk a little bit about that as a relates to credit cards versus debt that you might take on that is generating income for rental properties? An example?
Yeah, maybe we can take a step back. And maybe you can share your insight too on the definition of good versus bad debt. And in my mind, good debt is any debt that's like very low interest. So an example could be like a mortgage could be an example of good debt if you're buying like an asset. And another criteria of good debt is something that you're purchasing that would have a potentially higher future value. bad debt, on the other hand, is something like credit card debt that has really high interest rates, or interest rates that are compounding frequently? Because when things compound frequently, if you think of it like a snowball, every time the ball rolls, it gets exponentially bigger. And you don't want that. So like, Clint, what are your thoughts on the definition today, did I get that pretty good?
fully aligned with you. So the way I look at bad debt tends to be, you know, the ones that jumped out at you right away are payday loans. The fact that those are there is is such an injustice to people that are already in a rough spot, right, because you're not using your payday loan, if you're in a good spot, you're using your payday loan, because you're already in a bad spot, and it puts you in an even worse spot. And really a spot you can't climb out of. Instead have that there, I would have credit card debt, if you're if you're carrying credit card debt, it's it can be debilitating. And it's very hard to get out to get out of if you don't have the right tools and systems in place, which someone like you talks to people about. So those those would be the two biggest definitions of bad debt. And then as I would go down, I would throw in consumer debt, you know, when you buy your couch, and they tell you you're not paying till 2023. But you look at the fine print. And when you pay it in 2023, you paid 15% interest, right? stuff like that, or or you may have this one might get me in trouble. And Nelson, you'll have to tell me if it will or not, depending on which vehicle you're purchasing. I know you like cars, depending on the rate that you're paying on your car loan, right, some people in the financial independence community will tell you, you shouldn't even buy an expensive vehicle, it's one of the biggest drains on on your goal. But from a needs versus wants perspective, if you have a certain amount in that bucket and you want it then then I think you should drive something that you want to. But if you're taking out that car, loan it four or five plus percent, it's a that's not a great spot. So I tend to think of it the same way as you if you're taking on a loan to start a business. If you're taking on a loan to invest in an income property or to invest in a home, things that you think in the fullness of time will generate more wealth than it will cost you I would label that as good debt. And I think some people in the financial independence community would even suggest people not take on that type of debt. You know, I can we can debate that all day long. I'm actually to the extent you're using it properly. I'm a very big fan of leverage.
What are your thoughts on student loans? Because I've heard both sides of the coin that it is good, and it can be good and bad debt? Like what are your thoughts on that?
Well, I think it can be good and bad. And you know, I'm gonna get myself into trouble a little Nelson on this one. But that's part of life. And you know, the podcast is called the pursuit of learning. And maybe listeners will tell me I'm crazy and wrong, and I'll learn something or maybe some young people will hear this and learn something before they take on astronomical debt loads. I think one of the things that really jumps out at me about student debt ties into what you were talking about. And you talked about having a plan, having financial goals, and I think people before they take on astronomical student debt loads before I would ever let my children take on hundreds of 1000s of dollars in student debt. I would have the conversation with For them to say, what is the purpose of this debt? What is your end goal? When you get out of college? What do you want to be doing? How do you plan to pay that back?
Yeah, right. That's true.
Yeah. And you know, I'm not necessarily saying they have to be a doctor, or they have to be an accountant. But if they want to be, if they want to major in a subject that has low job prospects on the other side, I, they're not going to get a job in their given field, then I really want them to understand whether they should be bearing that big of a financial burdens. If coming out the other side, there's no way they can repay it, is there a different way to get to that same spot without that debt load? And so what's your, you know, work? You and I are both accountants by training? I don't think either of us would necessarily label our selves, that but we've had that training, we have that background, and you start to think, think of things like, what is your payback period? If you're going to spend $200,000 on school? How long is it going to take to pay back that debt? What job can you get? Right? And so, you know, if it's my children, I'm saying to them, What are those? What are those things you're passionate about? Let's make a list of 10 things? What can you earn from each of those things? You know, if you look at the Venn diagram of what am I passionate about? What am I good at? What will people pay me for? There's probably multiple things that can fit into that Venn diagram, let's only incur significant amounts of student debt, if there's a plan on how to pay it back. And that was a very long answer to your question and may get myself in trouble with some people who have chosen majors that never have a chance of payback. And, you know, say I'm, I'm basically saying you can only be in business or or accounting, but I don't, I don't know that that's true. There's plenty of people that have done well with a philosophy major with certain major, but they took that with a plan to have a next step, and then had that next step with a plan to do something else before people take on these huge debt loads. Nelson, I just want them to have a plan and understand what they're doing to their future.
Absolutely. I agree with you, I think there's two sides of the coin on this one. Like if you have a plan with what you want to do and your career and your goals, and incurring this amount of debt aligns with that and allows you to get there, then by all means, yes. But I think where people go wrong is when they take out these debts, because they're pressured into going to school, external pressures from family, from peers from, you know, maybe even mentors that are saying, like, Hey, you know, what, just do this education. You just need to get this degree, master's, doctorate, whatever it is, and you'll be good. But there's no plan. That's the kicker. And I think that's where people get into financial trouble. So we digressed a little bit from the from the main topic there, but I think student debt is is a big one.
Now, that was very well said. And then I'm aligned with the way you phrased that. The other side of the coin that I didn't bring up that absolutely, fundamentally bothers me, is what what these kids are being charged to go to school, it's absolutely atrocious, unfair, and the system should be changed. Because the most important thing we can have is a highly educated society. If we want to break down barriers, if we want to have less divisiveness, the more education that we all have, that doesn't cost us hundreds of 1000s of dollars, the better. And so, you know, and Nelson, it may even be as simple as having a conversation to say, Hey, I know this is what you want. Here's your plan. But can you and I'm thinking of it more from an American concept than a Canadian concept, because it's you can take on decent student debt loads here in Canada where we are, but I don't think it's as significant as what you take across the border, I could be wrong. And I, I apologize if I'm a little out of touch to our Canadian listeners on that. But I look at it and say maybe you make the choice to do the in state tuition, right? Maybe you go to college instead of going to the local, more expensive University. And so depending on what your plan is that you have for what you want to do when you're done, what's the, as Tim Ferriss would say, what's the minimum effective dose in terms of the education you need to get to where you want to get to,
I love that. And to be completely honest, if I could turn back time, I think I would have done my first two years in a local community college, got the basic fundamental skill sets and then transfer it into, you know, like a local university where I could get the exposure to the employers and the networking and the bigger network. I want to save quite a bit of money. But I think it's it was for me, it was a lack of awareness. But I really hope that you know, if anybody's listening that's in that stage where they're deciding if they want to go to college or university student loans or not student loans, like really think of your plan, really think of where you want to be like, what's your end goal for your career, and make every decision with intention. And I think you'll be fine.
That's a great point, Nelson. And that's the route I did take when I was, you know, back when I was 17, 18. I'm like you though it was not by choice. I was not a solid student, pre college. And so I had no choice other than to go to my local community college. That was all I could do it before, for the first two years, and then transferring to a larger institution, but worked out financially. It was great. So let's get back to the fifth one, because I love the sound of it. And I haven't heard anyone actually talk about this one in depth, which was use money, don't let money use you take me through that.
Yeah. And I think it takes a while to wrap your head around that concept. Like I didn't really understand it. Because from a surface level, you think, use money, don't let money use you. Okay, so if you break it down the first half use money. What does that mean? In my head, when I first heard the saying, I thought, well, I'm using money, I'm spending it, like, this is me using it. But it's actually the other way around. Because by me spending money, I'm letting money use me. And the reason that it's that way, because now I'm using money to buy things that I may not necessarily need or may not necessarily want, I'm using the money just to obtain that short dose of happiness, or what I think will bring me happiness. And that's when money uses people because what happens is you're trading your time for money. And then you're using your money to buy things that don't necessarily contribute to your future goals. So the way to think about this, and how to use money is to use money to unlock more of what you need in your life. So if you're very, very busy person, and maybe you need more time, perhaps you use money to unlock time by hiring somebody to clean your house, or hiring somebody to walk your dog or take care of your dog for two days, three days a week. And now all of a sudden, it frees up one to three hours of your day. This is how you use money, because you're using it to unlock more time, which gives you more fulfillment in life to do whatever they whatever things you want to do.
This is great. So this is so we've, we've identified needs versus wants. And we've allocated a certain amount of our budget to once what you're suggesting is even within that once category, break it down a little further, you have wants that aren't really going to serve you and you have once that will serve you more time, vacation with a family outsourcing certain things that will make your life easier. So focus in on those wants that can serve you in the rest of your life versus your quick dopamine hit from a new pair of jeans.
That's completely 100% you hit the nail on the head on that one.
I love that. That is beautiful Nelson,
I want to share a funny story actually about that. So I was talking to one of my friends and she and we were going because she was saying to me, Nelson, I can't save money. And I was like, you know, this is my wheelhouse. Let me run you through this exercise. And we did the whole credit card thing went through auditor expenses. And then we came across this one it was Amazon, Amazon $59. And I was like, Okay, what like, What is this for? And she's like, Oh, I don't really know, let me look. So she went into your account, pulled it up. And it was this. It was like a spa table. So it's like a wooden platform that you put on your bathtub kind of sideways that you can rest your laptop, iPad candle, maybe glass of wine on when you're taking a bath. And she's like, Oh, yeah, it was one of those, you know, add on items. You know, Amazon is really good at that, you know, items you might like or something like that. So she's like, yeah, I clicked it. And it was like a one click Buy and no problem. It was only 60 bucks. And she's like, yeah, it fits within my wants budget. And I said, Well, hold on. You don't even have a bathtub. And she was she was like, Well, I know I realized that after. So like, yes, there's you can go through the process. You can have your needs versus wants, you can have your goals, you can have your budget, but you also need to critically think about how you're spending your wants money if it's actually contributing to your goals, or if it's taking away from it. So I ended that story like the week after I saw it on like Facebook marketplaces on things he had posted, like, you know, brand new inbox, like spa table or something like that.
I was gonna say partway through that story that I hoped you weren't gonna pick on those spa tables because I have one for the bathtub and I absolutely love it. Partially because I love reading books in the bath so it's it's serves an absolute great purpose. But that would you finished with that you don't have a bathtub that was absolutely incredible. That you would still hit that quick click Buy. That's a great story. Dell said thank you for that.
So when you think about your life, personally, how do you avoid that struggle? How do you stay consistent with first paying yourself, then focusing on your needs versus your wants, and then breaking it down even further and strategically saying of my wants, here's where I want to spend my money.
Yeah, it takes a while to actually, when you go through the steps, and you actually set your, you know, pay yourself first percentage, you set your budget, you audit your expenses to kind of see where you're at the last six months, where you're spending money in areas that perhaps you shouldn't be, or you let you know that you shouldn't be to achieve your goals, you start to get the hang of it, right. So what's happened with my mindset, whenever I spend money, like anytime I whip out my credit card, I'm thinking, is this a need or a want? And it seems so trivial? Right? Like, okay, so if you're going to go to the grocery store and buy a chocolate bar, you're going to really think if it's a need or want, Well, the answer is yes. Because I'm a big fitness guy. And if I'm going to go buy a chocolate bar, like I need to understand that, you know, not only does it fit into my financial budget, but does it fit into my health budget, my health diet, whatever you want to call it, like there's different implications when you're spending money and buying things, and you need to really think about how they impact your life. So whenever I'm making a purchase, I really do run through this, this train of thought of, you know, is it a need? Or is it a want? And then subconsciously, I'm also in the back of my head thinking of like, where does this kind of fit into my budget? Or does it not? And if it doesn't, then I have to think about Okay, well, how will this impact me financially? Is this going to take away from paying myself first? Or is it going to take away from paying my credit card on time and in full? Or is it going to take away from my goals? If it's anything that's going to stop me from achieving those, you know, core basics, then the answer is that I don't need it. And that's what stops me from from purchasing it. But it takes a long time to get there, don't get me wrong,
do you find at times, because I imagine, you may find yourself in this spot where some of those things you do spend money on that are in your wants category, and you've gone through all that process. And so you know that the money you're spending on that one is within the budget, it ticks, the boxes, and it meets your needs. But someone sees some of the things that you might have bought in they don't know how you've also said no to those other 30 or 40, little things. So you're quite comfortable with that want that you've purchased, and you're talking and it might be family. This is where I often find this one comes up for me. Because you're talking to them about budgeting, and you're talking to them about the concepts of financial literacy and they throw back at you. But Nelson, like you bought a nice flat screen TV or but Nelson, you have X number of cars. How do you a does that happen? in B? How does the conversation look like with them? around the fact that you've gone through that process?
Yeah, I've got that two examples to share with you. So it was my dad's birthday this past weekend. And to surprise him actually bought him a flat screen TV. Funny, you use that example. And the first thing he said to me was like, Well, obviously said, Thank you. But then the second thing he said was, well, why did you spend so much money on this? And my response was, Dad, don't worry, like I've budgeted for this, like I've, you know, I've taken it into account, like I've saved for the last couple months for it, I put money aside, and it's all good, right? I didn't go into that much depth of like my saving strategy. But I just said don't worry, it was in my budget. And then he just stopped questioning. So yes, they do ask, the second one is like I have a Roomba like those vacuums that kind of map out your house and they do it, they do it for you. And this is an example of two things. One is the budgeting because I did actually budget for this expense going into it. But the second is going back to that concept of using money and don't let money use you. Because this vacuum, although it is a luxury item. It wasn't cheap. It wasn't over $500 type purchase. But what it has done is it has freed up time for me. So I run this thing maybe two or three times a week and it goes for an hour. And I think in my head Well, that is three hours a week that this thing has saved me that I could be working on reading my book, or being on a podcast or writing content or serving clients, that type of thing. And it's tremendous, you know, three hours over the year is over 150 hours. Okay,
I'm going to ask you, Was it easy to program your Roomba, the process of getting it set up so that it maps out the floor and moves around and does what it does and knows how to go back to the docking station? Is
it a pretty simple process? They make it so you think that you just hit clean and then it just goes around and you can put your dog on it and whatever life is good. But the truth is, is that you actually have to like kind of do like a cleanup beforehand. So you have to like move some rugs out of the way because it could get stuck on the rugs.
Yeah. So you do have to do a little bit of like pre work, but it does the majority of the work. So if you don't have one, I recommend it.
We have a variant. I don't know if it's a Roomba or a variant thereof and we've had it for a year and I don't think it's ever been turned on. And I don't want to say my wife hasn't turned it on, because that would not be fair. She did buy it. But I think what I will do is, I will read the manual, maybe the first manual I've ever read, and I will get this thing started. Because when you described it, I thought that's perfectly helpful with the kids and eating and stuff on the floor. If the Roomba could just whip around and kind of clean up periodically, that would be great. Okay, let's pivot a little because we said we wanted to touch on three areas that you've really started to grow in the last year. And the second one is, you started a consulting firm with people f Sq consulting.
That's great. We, we joined forces around October of 2020. And we started to formalize, and started to think of what we wanted to deliver to our clients. And this group is very unique. There's five of us co founders, f Sq stands for, forget the status quo, feel free to replace the F word with an effort of your choice. But to be correct, our listeners will say it's forget the status quo. And the reason we call it that is because the five of us are not conventional thinkers, we're five, a group of five entrepreneurs at various levels of our entrepreneurial career, some are wildly successful, well, I'm well into their careers, and a few of us are just starting out or entrepreneur careers. But we bring different skill sets to the table. So for myself, I bring the accounting and financial acumen skill set, we have a Marketing and Communications Specialist, we have a growth, a sales and growth specialist, we have a executive coach, and we have Well, I guess two executive coaches, one, I would call him more of like a leadership or business optimizer systems optimizer, he's very good at putting he's very good at seeing the high level of business organization and seeing how to shift the pieces to make the wheel spin faster, if that makes sense or more efficiently. So I'm not sure what you would call that maybe a system optimizer or a leadership coach, something like that. But within this group, we basically have decades of wisdom between the five of us, you know, starting different businesses buying and selling different businesses, folding businesses even. So we've seen the heartache, we've celebrated the winds, we've been through the losses, we want to take the opportunity to help other business owners avoid our pitfalls, kind of like life literacy. But this is more so taking your business from where it's at, and helping you your organization, your team members level up from a holistic standpoint, to achieve your business goals.
It's a great way to describe it, it really the amount of time we spend on live literacy, personal professional financial growth, suggesting life literacy for your business, that's a great way to capture that. And so how did you find each other as a group?
Funny enough, I used to work for one of our co founders back when I first started my career outside of KPMG, he was one of the founders of a fitness franchise that I used to work for. And, you know, we worked together for about three years. And I left the I left the company to pursue different opportunities. And we ended up reconnecting and just through our own networks, we thought, Hey, you know what, there's a group of five very unique individuals that have the same core values. So some of our core values were people that, you know, we get stuff done, you know, we, we say, we're going to do it when we do, sorry, we do what we say we're going to do. And when we say we're going to do it. So that is one of our strong core values. The other one is excellence, like we all deliver work, and we live our lifestyles in what we consider to be an excellent fashion. And we all serve businesses for good. So among the five of us, we thought, you know what, maybe there's an opportunity here to provide servant leadership for other businesses, other leaders that need it. And turns out that there are a lot of businesses that need it.
And what is servant leadership mean to you?
servant leadership, to me is helping others and I know helping others is a very, like vague, vague term. You know, when I talk to people, what are your goals, like I want to help people, but the way I see it, it's really going the extra mile to help somebody achieve their goal. So if you came to me and said, Hey, Nelson, I need help with my personal finance, you know, I would say okay, well, here's a budget that's like level zero, like ground level of serving somebody. But the next level of servant leadership is like, hey, Clint, let's sit down together and have a coffee and let's discuss your you know, the five steps, your goals, paying yourself first budgeting, all that stuff, I would say that is servant leadership is really putting yourself out there and giving more than you take in the service of others as greatly.
That's right. And so you you guys have been operating now for four months, how's that been going?
You know what it's picking up traction. So we've recently created a business operating system to help organizations level up. We call it the core. So it stands for see for culture, oh, four operations are for reporting, and E for execution. And these are the four facets of business that organizations need to do well, in order to get to that next level.
And sorry, what was the our
culture operations? reporting and execution? Correct?
And so making sure that they have all the right things in place across that spectrum? To be able to operate at a high level, correct? Yeah. So there's one area we'll we'll dive deep into in a bit. But Nelson, your director of finance, you're starting this business, you're writing a book, you're coaching, you work out five days a week, for the last 10 years? How do you juggle all these balls? How do you do it?
Well, the short answer is an incredible tool called Google Calendar. I live pretty religiously, by my my calendar, to be honest with you, it's it's a lot of my time is spent managing my time. So I think it's time management and energy management are two very, very big things. For me, time management is huge, you know, I need to make sure I'm finding time to work on my family, my fitness, and my finances, which are three of my core values, the three F's, I like to call it, but at the same time, juggling all these different balls. And I think the mindset piece is big. And I think when people go into an entrepreneurship journey, or a business journey, like if you go in, as an owner operator, that's trying to, you know, jumpstart something from the ground up, you're juggling many different things, you're wearing many different hats. And I think the one key thing that's helped me succeed is understanding that you don't have to juggle all the balls and keep them in the air and that some are gonna fall. And then that's okay. Right, if you think of any professional sports team, they're elite at what they do, they're the best in the world. There's no professional basketball hockey team that has never lost the game that's gone undefeated, right, like everybody loses. And I think that, like, people need to understand that. Even though you're juggling 10 things at once, it's okay, if you've dropped one or two balls, just pick them up, throw them back up in the air and move on, keep going. So I like to tell people, you know, learn to love losing. As weird as that sounds like it's human nature, nobody likes to lose, everybody likes to win. But once you fall in love with losing, and learning from your losses, that's where the real magic happens.
I love that when you fall in love with losing, and learning from the losses, real magic happens. I have a guest coming on in a few weeks, whose podcast is all about losing, learning and learning from it. And I'm really excited to dive into that conversation with them and the importance of learning from your losses. Because to your point, if you're not losing, you're not trying, right? If if you're always winning, you're you're probably not pushing yourself hard enough, or going into enough different areas to really stretch your growth curve in your learning curve.
Yeah, and I think the easiest way for the most people to most amount of people to think of this concept is think of it like when you're working out. Like if you go workout for five minutes, you're you come out and you're like, Well, that was easy. But there's no gains, there's no strength gains, there's no cardiovascular gains, nothing. But when you go in for a 60 minute hit workout, high intensity cardio, you're doing burpees you're jumping up and down and running around in circles or whatever you're doing. You come out of that 60 minutes going, Oh my gosh, I almost killed myself. But then 15 minutes after that, you're like, dang, I feel great. Like, I really feel like I progress, like progressing in my fitness. So the same thing goes for, you know, personal and professional life on that.
Absolutely. And so let's pivot into life coaching. When did you start doing that?
So I started, this actually wasn't formally started, it actually kind of fell into my lap as like an act of grace, which was really, really meet. So I've been sharing a lot of free knowledge about financial literacy, and just mindset type content on my social platforms. And it started to pick up a lot of traction. And people have been reaching out to me asking me, you know, for tips, you know, I'm like, they're like, hey, Nelson, I'm in this type of situation. What do you recommend? Can you give me some advice? So I decided that you know what, I'm going to start doing some formal coaching and I ended up taking on a couple clients that were peers to start out and we all know how the referral word of mouth type thing goes where, you know, you help a friend out and they tell their friends who tell their friends and I've picked up a few clients along the way that is pretty incredible because it wasn't something that I have advertised I do plan to advertise it at some point when I have more, a little bit more capacity. On my schedule, but, you know, the life coaching has been amazing because for me, I feel like I have a very unique experience resume as I guess you could call it. Yeah, professionally and personally, like I have the fitness background, I have, you know, the mindset, I think, you know, a pretty good mindset about things. And the financial literacy. So from an all encompassing standpoint, I've been helping people turn over many stones in their lives and, and get back on track. So it's been very rewarding.
I love that. I definitely agree. I've read a lot of what you've posted on social media, whether it's instagram, whether it's Twitter, whether it's LinkedIn, and it resonates, you know, it generally aligns with my thinking and what I've experienced in life, and whether it's through experience or through reading, and I had a conversation with a mutual acquaintance. And it was on some of these topics, he was reaching out to me to ask me some questions. And at the end of the conversation, he one of the things he threw out was you should talk to Nelson, he thinks a lot like you do. And so that's when I started diving in and seeing what you were doing and realizing Yeah, he was, he was fairly accurate. So that brings us to one of the things that I love, you have said that your mission is to help 1 million people change their lives, financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I've never actually said this out loud. But if you go to my Google Sheets, life plan or goal plan for the next five years, my five year mission statement, my goal is to help 1 million people achieve their personal professional and financial growth in detail that is mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial. So when do you When do you were saying what you were saying earlier? On what financial literacy? Or what life literacy is about your three categories? And then what you what you have is the four paradigms for how you want to help a million people where we're fairly aligned. No.
So they give you a little bit of goosebumps when you read my
Yeah, I read that it even more when you started to talk about life literacy, and you put it into the same three categories that I that I speak to it, it very aligned. When did you realize that is that because something like that is is a deep mission inside you? When did you realize that and how have you progressed to get to a spot where you're starting at a reasonably young age on that mission,
uh, you know, this, it, it's taken a lot of many years of soul searching and purpose seeking, I guess, to to figure out what it really was, that I wanted to achieve in my life in my professional life or in my career. And, you know, it's always boiled down to, I mentioned before, like, the vague goal of like helping people, you know, people, when I talk to them about what your goals are, they just say I want to help people. And that's always been something that I've been interested in. I just never really knew how. And then I thought about, you know, through self reflection, what am I good at? And where is there a void or a need, that I can step in and provide that servant leadership to take the first step and provide value for people help them in a way that, you know, without asking for anything, I've never, you know, asked anybody for anything? Because I don't I don't believe in that. I mean, my first priority is to help. And you know, when you help people get to where they want to go, people will take care of you. That's what I really believe in. So helping the million people is I can't remember who coined the term. The acronym is B hag big, hairy, audacious goal.
I believe it's Jim Collins, who may have formalized it. And he writes about Microsoft's bhag in the 80s, being a desktop on every computer on every desk in America, right? In every home and everywhere.
All right,yes, that's exactly it. And and I thought about, you know, your behavior is something that is out of reach, but not out of sight. Now, when I think of something that's out of reach, you know, I think a million people right now for me is out of reach. However, in 510 15 years, I could see that I do see that vision of being able to impact that many lives over time. So that's how I came across the 1 million. I think it is, is a goal that's out of reach, but out of sight. And then I thought about what I'm good at, where can I provide value to people? Where can I help people? And where do people needed the most, and when something like COVID hit the end of the pandemic hit last year, a lot of people unfortunately, were scrambling financially. The big banks in Canada we're offering mortgage deferral programs to help those that couldn't afford to pay, you know, their fixed expenses, avoiding foreclosures and things like that, that nobody really wants to experience. And I thought, you know what, now's a perfect time to start providing this basic financial literacy knowledge to people. So they can get their, you know, get their finances back on track and, and start working towards their goals.
It's a great point earase there COVID as a launching point, right there. When we think about what happened in 2020, for so many people, it's incredibly unfortunate, whether it's loved ones loss, whether it's loss of a job, negative financial repercussions. And so I think, for a lot of people, it sounds like, this really happened for you, Nelson, was to really dig into that purpose inside of you and say, okay, maybe maybe I haven't, or maybe I always thought I'd do this. But I always pictured it much further out on the horizon. Maybe I should be starting now. Maybe I shouldn't be putting off to tomorrow, what I can do today?
Yeah, I think it's always, you know, the best time to start was when was 10 years ago, and the next best time to start is now you're laughing when I say that? Because I'm sure you've heard that one before.
Yeah, usually, you know, when was when was the best time to plant a tree?
Exactly. So I always think, you know, if you, you know, if you're listening out there and you have an idea, or something that you feel strongly about, you're very passionate about. But you're you're scared of maybe failure or rejection. My advice to you for what it's worth is to go for it, because one step today is going to compound over time, and eventually, you'll get somewhere.
So one of the things I want to do now, is I talked about reading some of your social media. And some of it really resonated with me. And I think if if we jump through some of the quotes that I've read, the listeners could really benefit from some of this. And so I've taken some that I really enjoyed. And I'll throw those at you. And then we can just chat about what that means to you and bring people up to speed. So first, let's start with your critical five. wake up early, or unless you want to unless you're okay, wake up early, get shit done, train hard serve others practice gratitude. Can you explain to the listeners First of all, you call it your critical five. So I'm assuming you're saying each of us could have our own critical five, but these are yours. And so maybe explain to the listener, what the concept of the critical five means to you. And then let's dive into some of your critical five.
Absolutely. The idea of a critical five is, you know, we, we live in a busy world where there's just so much going on, and we want to achieve so many different things. But while we're trying to achieve all these things, there's distractions, there's social media, there's family, there's pets, there's fires that come into our day to day that we need to put out. Now the reason I use this concept of a critical five is because it really helps you narrow down and quiet the noise in your life that's going on in that day. It really grounds you to think of what are the five things that I want to do today? And how am I going to get there. So that's why I use my critical five is because there's way too many things going on in life. And it's a good way to really feel accomplished, you know, at the end of the day is you know, going through your your five things and just saying, Okay, these are five things that I can do that is it realistic. And when I get them done, I I feel like I've done I've won the day,
there's a book that that's called hold on to your nuts, and the nut stands for non negotiable unalterable terms. And instead of calling them nuts, I just refer to them as commandments. And I think at some point in the book, he says that, that's another way to phrase it, but he thought hold on to your nuts with a picture of a squirrel was more catchy as a title. But you're effectively saying as long as I do these commandments, these knots are these five, critical five, if I can do these on a daily basis, or a daily basis, it's been a good day. I love that. And number one makes absolute sense. Because if you're going to have a busy schedule, and you're going to try to hit your critical five, you have to wake up early. So take us through why.
Absolutely. I think when you wake up early you're you're basically capturing the I like to call them your stealing hours of the day. And the reason I call it stealing hours is because while your competitors while your peers while everybody else is sleeping, enjoying the beauty sleep, you are up early, you are taking advantage of the extra two, three, maybe even one hour where other people aren't and you're getting ahead by you know working on your tasks while everybody else is asleep. And that's why I like to call it stealing hours. You know the word stealing has a negative connotation to it, but Maybe another term is like taking hours back, however you want to clean it, I find that it's very, very important to be up early to start your day early and be productive. While there's less noise.
It's absolutely fundamental. I think, in my writing, I call this one principle two, and I'm not necessarily good at it, Nelson. And that's one of the things with principles, I can tell you some principles that will help you be successful, it doesn't mean I do them all. The other thing with waking up early, is you're making a choice, right? And generally, when you make a choice, you're then going to use that time to do productive things. Whereas if you wake up later, and then you get home from work, are you going to choose to work out? Are you going to choose to read a book? Or are you going to Netflix and eat some donuts? Generally, you don't make the bad choices when you get up at five in the morning. But you may make them when you're up at nine o'clock on the couch is something for the listeners to think about on that one. Number two, get shit done.
Absolutely. This is one that I'm I'm huge on, you know, productivity is big for me. So I hate doing this. But I say that my critical five has a sub critical five, which lives in the get shit done. So in number two, I have another critical five of five, like business tasks that I want to get done in the day. And once I check all those five off, then number two is done. And the reason I do a subset of critical five is because again, in my professional life, there's a million things that need my attention every day. But I need to prioritize, manage my time manage my energy and figure out which five, I need to get done. And if I had all of them and I have more time, then great. Let's go to number six and seven. If not, we're aiming for five.
And what are the sub critical five?
depends on which which venture I'm working on. I made it.
Okay, so that's less fixed. That's more, you know, I'm gonna plan the night before. Correct. And I'm gonna say what are the five things I've got to get done tomorrow to make it a productive day?
That's right. Those are more transactional tasks. Yeah,
yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Makes sense. Okay, I get you now. Love it. Yeah, that's, that's totally reasonable. totally reasonable. And then train hard.
Yeah, train hard is a big one. Because training is something that, although I've been doing it consistently for many, many years, it does ebb and flow. Like I do go through levels where, you know, maybe I'm not as motivated, or I'm not as focused. Or maybe I'm getting these weird aches and pains and just setbacks. So train hard has always been on my critical five, because it's, it's a state of mind, I think, you know, whether you're trying to run a mile, or whether you're trying to do 100 pushups, like that mentality of train heart always needs to be there to maximize your time, and focus. And I feel like, you know, for me, my time in the gym every day is kind of like my meditation, where it's that that moment where I'm free of the pressures of work, the pressures of life, and I can really just relax, even though I'm training hard, it's kind of doesn't really make sense. I'm relaxed, while I'm training hard, but my mind is relaxed. When I'm training hard.
I absolutely identify that with that I may have chatted with you about the concept of calling it iron therapy, because it takes you away from the past and the future. And the things that are happening outside of this very moment where you're, you're in the middle of a squat or a burpee, or you're doing that hit workout and you're you're focused, right here, right now, this exact moment, to your point, it's a level of mindfulness or meditation, and serve others. So you've you've chatted a fair bit about serve others. So let's focus on the next one. gratitude. From a lot of your writing, it seems that gratitude is very important to you. Can you tell us about that?
Yeah, absolutely. I can openly admit that in the past, I did not practice gratitude in my life. And it led me to a deep, dark place. And when you don't practice gratitude, it's very easy to be fearful. It's very easy to be angry. And it's very easy to not appreciate what you have in life. So when I started to turn my life around, six years ago, five, six years ago, gratitude was one of the first things that I started practicing. And it started off pretty, it was a pretty bad attempt in the beginning. To be honest, it was kind of like, yeah, I'm grateful for having clean drinking water. I'm grateful for this roof above my head great. But as I started to practice gratitude, I started to really feel the energy of gratitude of, you know, I'm grateful to have food on the table. And I really am because there's a lot of people out there that unfortunately, don't always have that. And it's realizing what you have that other people don't have, especially for the things that come naturally to you that you take for granted on a day to day. So I take the time every day to think about three things that I'm grateful for. It could be a thing, it could be a person, it could be a state of mind. And the interesting one that I have tried to do is if it's a person, I tried to send them a text message, or I'll give them a phone call, or I've started doing like an Instagram video randomly to people, just telling them for 10 seconds, like, Hey, I'm grateful for you, like thank you for, you know, sharing your thoughts with me, or thank you for being there for me. And that's been very, very powerful. I think that gratitude is something that we don't express to each other enough. And I think that people need to start doing that more of that, adding that element of taking the gratefulness and remembering to send a note to someone to say thank you for contributing to my life.
That's beautiful Nelson, the one of the ones that I've very much identify with, and I talked to people about this all the time is an external motivation does not work. Why doesn't it?
Yeah, external motivation is one, I think of external motivation almost as noise. It's just there, it doesn't really do anything for you, because you can read a book, or listen to a podcast or watch a YouTube video, and, you know, be really pumped up for the 510 minutes that you watch the video, listen to the podcast, whatever it is. But if you don't actually put it into action, then there's no result from that external motivation. There's no execution. So that's why I think external motivation doesn't work because it just gets you pumped up. But it doesn't really light that fire inside of you to say, Okay, this is something that I need to do. And these are my goals that I need to achieve. And here's how I'm going to get there. In order to have that process, you need to be internally motivated, you need to know what you want in life, or what your goals are very, very clearly. And where people struggle with this is they see this goal, they see their their big, hairy, audacious goal their B hag, but then they think, Well, nobody else around me sees it, and they're gonna think it's dumb. So I'm not going to go after it, not even going to start, I'm not even going to start because I'm scared of the rejection. I'm scared of the fear. Now, when people have that internal motivation, they don't care about the noise. They don't care about what other people are thinking what other people are saying what other people are feeling, and they just go for it. So I think that external motivation, I mean, it works to kind of ignite the fire. It's kind of like a match. But if you really want to keep the flame going, you need to be internally motivated with your goal and have that clear vision and see the light when no one else sees it.
One of the things I'll all throw at you on that one, and we'll we'll see how it resonates. I wouldn't be surprised. I'd be surprised if it doesn't based on how you live your life. And I think this is how I live my life. And it also is how Jocko willing talks, or David Goggins? Who are two people who I admire
Yeah, exactly. Yes, definitely. It's not surprising, they both have similar outtakes on this is, they effectively say fuck motivation. Right. And, and I think I'm allowed to swear on the podcast, I think I tick the explicit box, so we won't get in trouble. But the they say like, motivation isn't relevant. what's relevant, is discipline. And it's, as you've said, it's doing it. And it's, you might have a goal. So you have to have your goal being your vision, you have to know what it takes to actually achieve that goal. And then step three, you have to do the work. And that work. If you break it down far enough, this is something you talk about. So we'll get into it. If you break it down far enough, they're not even pieces of a goal, you can break it down far enough to where their habits and if you're doing that habit every day, it's going to compound and you'll achieve what might have seemed like an audacious goal. And so I think what Goggins in what willing are talking about is just luck and do it, right, have that goal, have that plan, but then every day, take action, do it. And that discipline, will eventually you may call it internal motivation it may become but just by the simple act of doing it every single day, you the power of that action just creates the flywheel to keep going. Absolutely.
Recently, actually, somebody asked me how I was tracking with my new year's resolutions. And my response was, I don't make resolutions. I create habits. And yeah, exactly. I mean, it's I'm big on habits and big on discipline. I just read atomic habits by James clear, and he talks about creating positive habits and how to eliminate harmful ones in your life. And, and I think it's that flywheel that you're talking about once you have the habit once you have the discipline, it becomes routine. You know, when I tell people Hey, like I workout Five, six, sometimes seven days a week, they're like, Well, how do you do it? Well, for me, it's not conscious effort, it's a habit. It's something that I do. It's something that I look forward to just as somebody would look forward to maybe like reading a book and settling down in the end of the day watching TV, whatever your habits are. Right?
So totally resonates with me. Yeah, definitely have that same mindset. You know, I'm gonna keep you on that one. Because when I read later was you said, you write about the importance of habits? And you said, they make or break you? What do you mean by that?
Yeah, if you have good habits in your life, you know, good financial habits, good, you know, physical habits, like you're working out, you're keeping your physique and shape your physical health in shape, your mental habits, you know, are you a consumer of social media? Or are you a creator? Like, how do you, you know, what habits do you have in your life? And are they adding value to you? Or are they taking away from it? So I think, you know, if you have good habits, and you practice them, and you're disciplined with them, you will eventually become successful, you will have lulls, you will have losses learnings. But eventually your good habits will save you from, you know the big losses over time. But if you have bad habits, they're just going to compound over time. An example could be if you want to start a business and be successful as a business owner one day, but you have a habit of watching three hours of Netflix every night. Unfortunately, your chances of becoming a successful business owner is much lower, because you have these bad habits that are not contributing to your goals. So plug your holes exactly or find your holes, because maybe you don't realize that they're there.
That's step one is identifying them. That's a great point. So when you when you look at that, how do you suggest listeners create those new good habits.
I'm going to take a section out of James clear here, atomic habits. So he said he James clear says that if you have bad habits in your life that you've identified, there's a couple of ways you can eliminate them. One is to completely eliminate the habit from your life. So if you know you're chronically on social media, and it's consuming your life, you're scrolling for hours and hours you have that I forget what it's called the, they call it like scroller scroller syndrome, or something like that, where people have been scrolling for hours, eliminate it, delete the social media platform off your phone, delete your account. That's one way. The second way is to reduce it, right? So limit yourself set a timer. Okay, I get 30 minutes on my social media every day. And the third way is to seek help, right? If you really can't eliminate it, if you can't control yourself to reduce it, maybe you need somebody to actively help you figure out your habit and reset it.
That's a great, great way to do it. What are some simple habits that you recommend most people should have in their life?
I think the number one habit that I had to do myself is not hit the snooze button in the morning. It's pretty hard. You know, especially when you're trying to wake up early every day, hitting the snooze button is pretty simple thing to do. And, and rewarding, you know, you get that extra 15 minutes of sleep. But if you can break the habit of hitting the snooze button, you're going to create good habits of being able to get out of bed and be productive right off the bat.
That's a great one. I love that which ties also to your wake up earlier. Exactly. Yeah, the we may be fortunately getting a puppy in the next few months. And one of the things I've said to my wife is, is I want to somewhat train the little guy or gal to wake up at 515 in the morning 530 in the morning and expect to go for a walk with that. Because it's a lot harder to hit the snooze button, when you've got a nice little warm nose as nestling against you to say, Hey, you know, it's time for us to go for a walk. And then as soon as you do that, you're you're immediately Okay, I'm up. We've done our walk now I'm going to get my workout in. And, you know, I'll feed you and show with you and do some of my morning things. And then I'll go to work. Right, but it helps you set that habit for sure. Okay, so if we then as you were talking about the habits, you talked about compounding. And the other aspect of that, that I've seen you write about is the power of consistency over intensity. Why is that so important to you? And what do you mean by consistency over intensity?
Yeah, if we think of the the old story of the rabbit versus the tortoise, right? consistency versus intensity, like what happens at the end of that story? Well, the rabbit starts out, you know, right out of the gates really fast, but then the tortoise wins over time because the rabbit gets tired. It's essentially that where I preach consistency over intensity, because if you're intense at something, so if you set a resolute New Year's resolution and you go really, really hard in January, but then you're not consistent over time and you get tired of it, then you just lose it, you lose that habit. So I'm preaching the consistency and creating the habit over being really intense. And it, I think it impacts all aspects of life. So an example could be if you're trying to lose weight, and you want to say, Okay, I want to take 10 pounds off my, my body weight, and I want that to stay off, you have to be consistent over time. Because if you're intense, you could do it fast, but you'll probably gain that weight back up real quick.
Love it,you then expand on that, and you say, so we've already talked about consistency. We've talked about habits. And then you and I both have a concept that we phrase slightly differently, but you say, being 1%, better every day. And consistency lead to big wins, which are the compound interest of small efforts, how I've tended to phrase that over time is small, smart choices, plus consistency plus time equals exponential results. And so when you're talking to your clients, when you're talking to friends, how do you try to reinforce that benefit to them?
Yeah, I get people to think of the small wins that they've had, you know, I think we're all so busy in our day to day lives, that we don't actually reflect on the small wins that we've had throughout our days and our weeks, maybe even months. Because when you actually take a minute to reflect on the last six months of your life, and how far you've come in everything that you're doing, whether it's personal professional, maybe in your relationship, your family, there's a lot of incredible progress that's going on that you don't see, because you're stuck in the day to day, it's just like when you don't see, you know, a friend for six months. And then you see them again, and they're like, holy crap, holy crap, like you've lost so much weight or like, you've put on so much muscle that you look great. That's because they are looking at your, you know, day one versus six months later,
they're not seeing the day to day, whereas your partner who lays in bed beside you and just sees a half pound a day for six months, doesn't even notice that you've lost weight. He's because they hadn't seen the exponential shift. They've seen the daily incremental shift. And so your point is, if you're making that daily incremental shift, if you're getting better 1% every day, at the end of that six months, you're going to have exponential results, you won't even have noticed it. Absolutely no bad days. What does that mean to
no bad days? It's a mindset thing. Again, you know, we've all had our tough days. But I truly believe that every tough day has a wind behind it. And I think you got to you just have to look deeper to find where the winds are, or the learnings are when you have a really bad day. And just remember that you got to have the bad days to have the good ones without without the good.
How would you define the bad? The bad? How would you define exactly? It's all subjective. There's some questions that I tend to ask for a lot of the guests that come on in, I'll throw a couple at you if you have time. Nelson, great. What is something that you struggle with on a day to day basis,
to for me time, time and energy management, as much as I say that I'm good at it, I really struggle with that. I would say that energy management is very hard. And what I mean by energy management, it may seem obvious, but I don't want to make that assumption. Energy Management is effectively managing how much energy you're spending on every single task, so you don't burn out before the end of the day. For me, my training happens usually in the evening, like before dinner. So it's making sure that I'm not mentally burning myself out to the point where I'm so exhausted that I can't physically perform at the gym. Right? So that's energy management to me, and I struggle with that a lot. Because there's some tasks that come in to my, my get shit done, sub critical five, the transactional tasks that really mentally drain me, and I have to be conscious of that. And I need to make sure that I'm taking breaks and, you know, keeping hydrated during the day in order to make sure that I don't hit that that wall.
Yeah. And I wouldn't be surprised if you've found over the last year with zooms or teams or whatever platform you have, where you're having video meetings, from the moment you wake up with work till, you know, five, six at night. And now you you know, you and I are recording a two hour conversation from eight o'clock to 10 o'clock. can imagine that that's even harder not to burn out than it otherwise would be.
But this is a I want to not I have to.
Yeah, True. True.
So let's flip that coin. What is something that you find easy that other people seem to struggle with on a day to day basis?
I think it's I mean, the obvious one is, you know, training 5, 6, 7 days a week. I think people when I tell people that they're like, Well, how do you do that? One, how do you do that physically? And how do you manage that with your busy schedule? So I think just the physical aspect of training, you know, five plus days a week is I would say intensive, and I don't think many people do that. But it's something that I need personally. The other thing I would say is that I do very, very well is juggling many things. And like I mentioned earlier, I alluded to it a little bit is accepting the losses, right, like juggling 10 balls and being okay if to fall. And just knowing that I tried my best
if you knew you could not fail at something tomorrow. What would you do?
Oh, that's a that's a tough one. I would I would buy a lottery ticket.
That may be cheating. I like first person that said, Yes. So what is one problem that you wish you could solve?
You're only giving me one?
Yeah. What's the biggest one that you would want to solve?
Yeah, I want to help underprivileged children that don't get to experience the joys that other kids get to experience other more more fortunate and more privileged kids get to experience. So one example of that is, you know, helping by donating money to charity to help give gifts to kids during the holiday season. Because there are a lot of underprivileged kids out there that don't get presents under their holiday tree during that time of the year. And it makes me really sad to hear that because I was one of those kids, just due to financial reasons, it was tight for our family. And as much as I didn't understand it as when I was a kid, I completely see it clear now. And again, it's at no fault to my parents, it was just the nature of our financial situation at the time. But now that I have the means, I would like to give back and solve that problem and have less children go through that, that feeling of being left out?
Absolutely. It's a great answer, Nelson, Where can the listeners find you?
So I'm, I'm on social media. So I'm on Instagram, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, those are the best places to find me. If you'd like to know a little bit more about me, I do have a website up. It's www dot Nelson so.com, where I have a little bit more information about me and a way to reach me via email, if they would like,
okay, those will all be in the show notes. And we will also put a link to your book life literacy in the show notes. And you also have a book on a journaling book on finance as well. Do you want to just give people the name of that? And we'll link to that in our show notes as well for people to take a look at?
Yes, thank you for bringing that up. It's called the 100 day money mindset journal. That one is available on Amazon. And it's a quick five minutes a day habitual practice of practicing gratitude, healthy money habits, financial goal setting and tracking your spend as well. So 100 days to a stronger, more positive money mindset.
A lot of what we talked about as it related to financial literacy that is great for people to take a look at. Is there anything that you want to say to the listener that we haven't covered yet?
You know, what I think we've we've covered a lot in this time. But my my one last note, I guess to listeners is to you know, always see the good. You mentioned no bad days. I think a lot of people struggle with that, especially with the time like a pandemic with COVID and quarantines and things like that going on. You know, just try to see the good, practice your gratitude. Be good be grateful, Nelson,
that is an absolutely great way to end it for people. Thank you for joining me today. I loved that conversation and probably could have recorded on these topics for another few hours with you. Thank you. I really appreciate having you here.
No, thank you for having me. And I look forward to the next one. For sure.
We'll get you back on after the book comes out and have a conversation on the book and get our listeners up to speed and dive through it together so people can get a really good flavor for what you guys are talking about.
Amazing. Thank you.
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