In a Nutshell: Shifting from being a financial advisor to being a financial coach could be the next evolution of how financial guidance is delivered and enable independent human advisors to remain profitable and relevant.
Guest: Todd Tresidder. Todd is a former hedge fund manager who transitioned into a successful financial coaching career. Recently, he has adapted his coaching into a series of premium online courses on wealth building at Financial Mentor.
My Key Takeaway: In order to keep adding to your value proposition:
- Spend more time empowering clients and less on enabling them.
- Help your clients find the path to the next step, help them always to be taking that next step, and help them avoid the missteps that are in their path.
- Consider getting formal training in how to coach people, from organizations like Coaches Training Institute.
1. How the act of gaining financial freedom doubles as a path to personal growth.
2. How a financial coach’s services differ from a traditional financial advisor’s.
3. What separates most people from setting their wealth goals and actually achieving them.
Complementary Episode: Pair this with my conversation with fintech futurist Lex Sokolin, where we discuss how technology can help advisors redefine what we do and leverage our humanness to create more value.
Resources Featured in This Episode
Financial Mentor Read more info about Todd’s coaching philosophy and online classes.
“The Upside-Down Content and Product Strategy” Todd Tresidder discusses how to develop the product — your brand — first and then build the content off of it on Pat Flynn’s podcast.
Values Clarification Toolkit Click here to download this FREE tool and start living your values.
Steve Sanduski: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Between Now and Success. I am your host, Steve Sanduski, and my guest today is Todd Tresidder. Todd is the founder of financialmentor.com. He is a former Hedge Fund Manager and then for about 20 years, he was a financial coach. More recently, he has taken his knowledge from being a financial coach, turned it into a product in a course and is now making that available as a very high end offering.
Todd and I spent a lot of time talking about this idea of being a financial coach as distinguished from being a financial advisor or a registered representative. I think there’s some really interesting implications of financial coaching and how that relates to where our industry is evolving. I think you’re really going to enjoy the conversation. I think you’ll find it fascinating, and I think it might spark some ideas for you in terms of how you can continue to add value as a financial professional.
With that, please enjoy my conversation with Todd Tresidder. Todd, welcome to the show.
Todd Tresidder: Thanks, dude. Thanks for having me.
Steve Sanduski: Well, it’s exciting to have you here. I first became aware of you a few years ago. Somehow, I caught wind of your website and I saw all this incredible educational content that you had out there. I’ve been following you over the years. I know you’ve had a podcast in the past, I’ve listened to some of those episodes, you’ve been on lots of other people’s podcasts and listened to some of those as well. So, looking forward to the conversation we’re going to have here.
I thought where we’d start is, why don’t you share what you’re doing today and then I want to go back in history a little bit and learn how you got to where you are today, a little bit about that story. Let’s just start. What is it that you’re doing today?
Todd Tresidder: Today, I’m running a financial education website called financialmentor.com and that’s what I’ve been doing since about 2008, 2009 I think. It’s been in existence since 1998 but it was always a boutique coaching site before that. The whole idea was I was trying to separate financial education from the financial advice business to get rid of any conflicts of interest or biases that might exist through investment product sales.
I saw the internet and I thought that there was an opportunity to use the internet to create a business model that hadn’t really existed, which was… it was built on education, not on the financial advice model where it’s built around investment management, and assets under management, and all that. Where the business is at now is I coached for two decades and I am now productizing my knowledge. I’m building out courses, and books, and things like that, trying to basically put Todd in a box because I’ve already built the platform and I’m still going to continue to grow the platform. Now, it’s time to scale the business model.
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Steve Sanduski: Tell me a little bit about your background then. What got you started in the financial area and how did that lead to the financial coaching that you did for a couple of decades?
Todd Tresidder: Well, I wasn’t born rich and so I struggled getting through college. I didn’t pay my own way through college in the sense that… My parents did help some. Fortunately back then, college wasn’t the ridiculous cost that it is today. I went to University of California, so it was actually quite affordable. My parents paid the tuition, which was very little at the time. I think when I started school it was like $160 a quarter. There was three quarters in a year and then it ended with… Students were in riot because it was up to like $300 a quarter or something, which is laughable now, right?
Steve Sanduski: Right.
Todd Tresidder: We all wish we had it so good with those of us that have kids in college, but I paid my way through school. Other than that, the parents paid the tuition. I had to support myself. I struggled with money all through growing up. I had businesses, I was an entrepreneur all through growing up as well. I just kind of got this idea in my head towards the end of college that I want to be financially independent. I just thought, “well, if I have to lead a financial life, I may as well design it to become financially independent.”
As part of doing the research on that and figuring it out… I mean, I took it seriously, right? It wasn’t just like this cute little goal. It was like, “Okay, how do people do this? How did they build wealth? What are the various ways? I’m going to engineer my life to achieve this goal.” I started researching, and reading books on it, and all that. Then one of the things that became clear is that you have to be a master investor because even if you build wealth through business, ultimately you have to be able to invest it to grow it faster than inflation.
I’m going to butcher Baron Von Rothschild’s quote, but it’s something like, “He who can invest and grow money faster than inflation, holds the keys to the kingdom,” or something like that. Again, I totally butchered the quote, but the essence of it was, if you can invest faster than inflation, get returned faster inflation, you’re pretty darn bright.
I decided to become a master investor and so I went into… I started investigating different investment strategies, and I went into a newly burgeoning field, which is quantitative investment strategy. I was one of the early pioneers of computerized trading algorithms. I was developing them on the first IBM 8088 processor based PC. IBM was just coming out with the PCs, Apple was still making Apple twos in the garage.
Again, computers were brand new when I was coming out of college and I hand key punched in databases because you couldn’t buy databases anywhere. As a matter of fact, I was one of the sellers of databases because I’d learned 10 key by touch and hand key punched demand. Then I was programming algorithms and figuring out trading systems and that ultimately moved me into statistical risk management and investment management, which is where I ran in the hedge fund and that’s where I built my wealth.
Now, after I sold the hedge fund, which was ’97, I was a consultant for a few years for him, a bigger fish bought us out. It was just the partners going their own way. We had a really good track record. I think we’d had one down year of less than a percent or something like that. That was the only because of our fee structure. The portfolio actually never had a down year. It did well, the partners had their own… I was one of the partners and we just wanted to go our own way as we had other interests we want to develop.
We sold it in ’97 to a bigger fish and then that’s when I started Financial Mentor. It was just kind of this idea. I didn’t want to go into traditional financial advice. Traditional financial advisor field that didn’t interest me. I didn’t have to work if I didn’t want to, but anybody who’s been retired at a young age knows that… You don’t want that last business to be the last thing on your life. There’s always other adventures to live.
I started getting into the financial education idea and then I got introduced to Robert Kiyosaki back when he was just getting started. He and Kim Kiyosaki were still doing the cashflow game events and he had Rich Dad Poor Dad out, but he hadn’t come out with Cashflow Quadrant or anything. It was before he became really big and he was looking at doing a coaching program. I was supposed to be the financial brains behind it to develop the curriculum, and he was going to be the marketing arm and there was another person was a coaching arm.
I took these coaching classes because they said, “Well, you got to know how to be a coach if you’re going to develop the coaching curriculum. We know you know the finance side and the investment side. The question is, you got to be able to convert into a coaching curriculum.” I took the coaching curriculum and I fell in love with it. I was a standout student in the classes and I just really saw what it was. I mean, it’s the world’s greatest negotiation thing and it’s just an amazing way to connect with people and I fell in love with it.
The whole deal blew up with Robert Kiyosaki, the lawyers got hold of it. We never moved forward. They pretty much killed all of it. Then I just looked at and said, “I want to do it on my own.” I did and that was the beginning of Financial Mentor.
Steve Sanduski: It sounds like you’ve obviously got a great background, a great understanding of finance before you really went into the education side. Now, you also mentioned that you struggled with money growing up. Was that just that maybe growing up there wasn’t a lot of money around or were there certain beliefs or ways that your parents or other people around you were talking about money that maybe gave you either some good impressions around money or maybe bad impressions around money? Do you have any recollections of what money was like growing up for you?
Todd Tresidder: I don’t want to give the wrong impression. I came from a solid middle class family. We were never without, we weren’t in flush. I mean, it wasn’t like everything was just extra and there was tons to throw around, but we never suffered. I mean, I always had shoes, and clean clothes, and good food, and all that. I mean, I have no whining story to share or anything like that, right?
Steve Sanduski: Right.
Todd Tresidder: I didn’t go through suffrage or anything like that. I had a very nice solid middle class upbringing. What it was though is that there was a constant paying attention to what you spent things on. My mom didn’t work, my dad did. She worked later on, but it was out of personal interest more than to generate revenue because after tax, there wasn’t much left on top of my dad’s salary. My dad went to work every day. It was more just seeing the life of a workaday life and not wanting that.
I can remember as a kid at the BART train… Bart is like the Bay Area Rapid Transit part stance repair, airport transit. It’s like the equivalent of a subway but in the Bay area. I remember going to the BART station to pick up my dad every day from work and we’d sit in the back of the car with my mom driving and the dog. My dad would get off the train every day at the exact same time, and the same people would get off the same train and they’d all be wearing the same suits. The only different would be the day I had a different tie on each day, right?
Steve Sanduski: Yeah.
Todd Tresidder: I’d be like, “Wow, this is really bad. This is the best life get shoot me now.” I didn’t want any part of that. I enjoyed riding bikes. I enjoy outdoor recreation adventure. I just couldn’t stand the idea of reporting to an office every day of the week and then working around the house all weekend. That’s just no way to spend a life in my opinion. That was my impression as a kid. It wasn’t like I had suffrage, I just didn’t want my life to look like that. I wanted something different. I wanted more adventure in my life. I wanted to pursue bigger dreams. Maybe that’s the way all kids are. I don’t know.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. It sounds like you and I have some similarities here. I think we’re probably maybe close to the same age. My dad… he had the same job at the same company for about 30 years and was in a car pool. They’d go to work at exactly the same moment every morning and they’d get home at exactly the same moment every evening. Of course, those days are pretty much long gone. I think I picked up that pattern from him because I did a very traditional career route for probably the first 25 to 30 years. It wasn’t until later in life that I ultimately became an entrepreneur and started my own businesses. Yes, I think I picked up that pattern as well.
Todd Tresidder: The difference in me though is I became an entrepreneur right then as a kid.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. Right, right.
Todd Tresidder: I started out with one paper route and then I was like, “Well, I could get a little motorcycle and ride around in the morning on my motorcycle and diluted papers from that and do two paper routes and make twice as much money. I mean, it was like that was the kind of thing. Then I was teaching sailing and then I kept finding these boat deals like really a perfectly good boat, but just the finish was messed up on it. Then I did a boat refinishing business and we’d get boats super on the cheap and put the labor in a refinishing and then sell them beautifully redone, right?
I just had that entrepreneurial bent I always have. One summer from college, I started a pool supply business and it was just this idea, I said, “Well, all the pools that were ever built have a building permit, so I can just go down and get the address of every single pool in a driving radius and do direct mail. I can go down to the wholesaler and get the stuff for a fraction of what they sell in the stores for.” I put together these flyers, I went down and got all the addresses, put them on, this is before the days of databases. I put them all on like mimeograph sheets. They were typed on sheets so you could then mimeograph Amando labels, right? Or Xerox them or whatever the heck the device was back then.
We had all these sheets typed up with all the addresses and we would photocopy them onto the labels, peel and stick the labels onto our mailers, and mail out our offers. Then the phone would ring and we’d deliver our pool supplies and collect the checks. That was my summer job, one summer, to pay through college.
Steve Sanduski: See, this is fascinating. We could do a whole different episode on just this topic. You and I think had, like I said, some very similar upbringings. I had a paper out as well, and yet somehow you didn’t model what your parents were modeling in terms of maybe a traditional career path. You somehow got the bug to be an entrepreneur very early on and I don’t know if there were some other influences. Maybe that-
Todd Tresidder: No.
Steve Sanduski: … was a pattern for you, but somehow you got that bug and I never did. I always thought, “I go to high school, I go to college, I get a job, I get married, I have kids.” It’s all been wonderful. I’m not complaining about that at all because it is a great life, but it wasn’t until very, very much later that I decided to do the entrepreneurial route. Yeah, it’s interesting how people can have very similar backgrounds but have very divergent paths. Like I said, maybe another episode, we can discuss that, but-
Todd Tresidder: Just to close this out, I’m the only one in my family who went this route. Everybody else is a W2 wage earner, stable job, all this stuff. I’m the only one that went entrepreneurial and the family joke was always, “Well, we don’t know what Todd does. He works for the CIA and all this other stuff you’ve talked about. It’s just to cover up.”
Steve Sanduski: He’s the black sheep in the family.
Todd Tresidder: Well, not black sheep. They used to say, I worked for the CIA and all this other stuff I threw around was just a cover up because they never really understood it, right?
Steve Sanduski: Yeah.
Todd Tresidder: To them it was you go out, you get a good job, you collect a paycheck. That was my upbringing, right?
Steve Sanduski: Yeah, yeah.
Todd Tresidder: There’s no family history there and no family support for it whatsoever.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. Well, one of the reasons why I wanted to ask you about what maybe was being modeled as you were growing up, and you said a little bit maybe struggling with monies. On your website, you say that, “I teach the pursuit of financial freedom as a transformational path because that’s what it was for me.” So, how do you think about financial freedom, financial education, as a transformational path? What does that mean?
Todd Tresidder: Well, what happens is most people want financial freedom because they actually have a deep value for freedom. What people do… This is the way human minds work, right? We project outwardly what is our internal experience, right? I mean, this is going to get kind of woo woo, right? But I mean, you asked me, I’m a coach, so I’m going to tell you.
Steve Sanduski: I’m all there, so go ahead.
Todd Tresidder: All right. If you dislike someone, you almost never dislike him for the reason you think you do. You dislike him for some part of yourself that you see in them, right? There’s some part of yourself that you’ve disowned, that you see in them, right? It’s like the external projection of what’s inside of you. For me, pursuing financial independence… this is where I learned. For me, pursuing financial independence was because I felt less than. I lacked self confidence, I had issues.
To me, to succeed in society’s terms by becoming rich was to prove that I was actually smart, to prove that I was worthwhile. That’s what I did. I acted out and I went off and I did it. Then once I did it, I looked in the mirror and I realized I was kind of the same miserable cuss I’d always been. Then I went on a path of personal growth to try to sort out what was causing the pain because the amazing thing about financial independence is once you have financial freedom, any excuse for unhappiness you have to own it. You lose all your excuses. You can no longer blame it on the man or blame it on your crappy boss or blame it on your crappy job. Or if you just had the time, you would do this or you would do that.
All your excuses are gone. You have the money, you have the time. If you’re not happy, it’s your problem. It’s your fault. It kind of sets you on a path of personal growth. For me, it was the path of personal growth. It was a path of me unraveling a lot of myths that I was operating my life under. It opened up a lot of doors for me because, again, it unravels the myths. It gets rid of them, it moves you to another level of thinking.
The act of gaining financial freedom also is a path of personal growth. It’s not just the achievement of it or the in destination, the act of doing it forces you to push boundaries because if you already had all the capabilities to achieve financial freedom, then you’d already be there. The fact that you’re not there, it’s settled saying, “Judge by results. Often harsh, always fair.” The fact that you don’t already have a specific goal means that there’s some obstacle standing between you and that goal. Usually, that obstacle is you in some form. Or in my case, it’s me, whatever standing between me and my goals right now. Let me just use I word. Those obstacles are actually me.
For me to attain these different levels of achievement, I have to overcome the stuff inside of me. It’s always my path of personal growth, but I’m reflecting it outward into the world externally. But it’s always an internal operation first. Is that making sense?
Steve Sanduski: It does. Is some of this coming from Carl Jung or?
Todd Tresidder: No, not at all. No, it’s just direct experience and then coaching on it. I mean, I’ve coached lots of clients through this journey too, and it’s always the same thing. I mean, there’s no exceptions.
Steve Sanduski: Right. This idea of, it’s not so much the attainment of the goal, but it’s who you become along the way to attaining that.
Todd Tresidder: That’s the real gold, right? That’s the beautiful thing about financial coaching. The carrot is you have greater financial achievement. That’s what justifies the cost, right? But the real gold is who you become along the journey. That’s what really has the value in the end looking back over it.
Steve Sanduski: Right. You said earlier that you did not want to go into the traditional financial advising business, whether it’s become an investment advisor or registered representative, that you wanted to go more the financial education. So, what was the thinking then? Why not go into what would’ve been a very traditional route 20 years ago of being an advisor or being a registered representative?
Todd Tresidder: Again, this is not to put down the profession. It’s primarily a sales profession more than a financial expert profession because you’re generally compensated by asset center management. The greatest salespeople are the ones that really achieve in there. I really was focused on the financial side. I went to the investment management side of the business as opposed to the financial advice side of the business. Rather than client care and asset gathering, I went to the actual investment side. Does that make sense?
Steve Sanduski: It does.
Todd Tresidder: I want to be clear when I say that there’s some really great financial advisors. I’m not trying to paint the entire profession. It’s a gross generality. It has to do with the incentives that are built into the compensation structure, right? There’s actually outstanding financial advisors who deeply care about their clients and are doing their level best to do great work for those clients, right? I’m not trying to tarnish the profession in any way. I’m just merely pointing out the compensation structure, incentives, and that it wasn’t what was driving me. What I was really driven by was the investment side game.
Steve Sanduski: Right. Yeah. Well, and I’ve had many, many amazing advisors on my podcast and there are a huge number of outstanding advisors in the industry. Like any business, there’s some folks that we wish wouldn’t be in the industry, but certainly by and large I think it’s obviously a very noble profession and we have some amazing professionals in there.
With the financial education, tell me what that is. I know you call it financial coaching, you are a financial coach for 20 years. How do you define financial coaching?
Todd Tresidder: I’ve got a whole page on my website that you can link to that explains advice and coaching. But at the core, one is enabling and the other’s empowering, right? With coaching, you’re empowering the client to become their own advisor. In the end, you’re educating them on how to make their own decisions. You’re working with them to build the decision process. It’s going to be constructive. You’re never actually specifically giving financial recommendations or personalized financial advice. The client is always making all the decisions on their own and you’re educating him through the process of making the decision.
There’s also no personal market recommendations or anything like that. It’s really a separation and it has to be done that way by law, right?
Steve Sanduski: Yeah.
Todd Tresidder: Because a coach is operating under the education exemption and the laws if they’re operating legally. It’s really separation of education. Does it answer the question?
Steve Sanduski: It does, but I am very interested in this distinction because I have a personal opinion that as the financial advice/financial education industry evolves over time, and as technology continues to be more prominent in the delivery of financial services, it seems to me that the industry is going to evolve more toward the model that you had pioneered over-
Todd Tresidder: Absolutely.
Steve Sanduski: … over 20 years ago. That’s one of the reasons why I was very interested in having you on the show because I think you’re the most prominent person in this area of financial coaching. That’s why I want to really find out your thoughts on this idea of financial coaching because, again, I think this is really where the industry is heading. I really want to understand the distinction between financial advice and financial coaching.
Todd Tresidder: There’s a couple things in there that you’re asking. One, yeah, I was the first financial coach on the internet actually, the first. When I started the Financial Mentor in 1998 if you search because back then Google didn’t exist… But if you searched on the search engines at the time, you’d get a total of nine returns for the term financial coach. Eight of them were financial advisors who were repackaging themselves as financial coaches. They were just doing traditional financial advice. I was the only one actually creating a financial coaching as a business.
First of all, thank you for that. Thank you for even noticing. Then, yeah, the industry is absolutely moving toward it and that’s been pretty normal for me. I mean, I mean I did hedge funds two decades before they were called hedge funds and before it was a big business, or actually a decade before. I’m sorry, not two decades before, a decade before. Now, 20 years later, the whole industry is moving towards a coaching model, but they kind of have to because you have to go into product differentiation now in a world where the belief is that it’s low cost passive index, it’s this, it’s that. A lot of the asset management backend is farmed out delegated.
The real differentiator now is the personal service that comes through coaching. That’s how you can differentiate your services. I don’t know, what do you think on that?
Steve Sanduski: I totally agree and I was just having a conversation earlier today with another professional here in the financial industry and we were just talking about this idea of, for many years financial advisors would charge a fee for assets under management. They would hang their hat on investment management on asset allocation. From the 1990s to the early 2000s, that was like the big movement. Then financial planning software really became prominent. We had a couple of big companies, EMoney. MoneyGuidePro, in particular, came out with financial planning software and now advisors migrated to offer financial planning. Now just here recently, EMoney has announced that they’re creating a self guided version of their planning software.
Now, software is going to be made available for consumers to basically walk themselves through. Whether it’s EMoney, there’s going to be other providers as well. I just posted something on social media here recently about, “Hey advisors, we’ve got to start thinking about what is your next evolution because technology is going to enable consumers to do so much of what advisors have typically done on behalf of consumers. Then you throw in artificial intelligence and other automation and a lot of this stuff’s going to be kind of done all in the background.” That’s why I’m thinking, and you obviously thought of this two and a half decades ago, is about the financial coaching. And so-
Todd Tresidder: Let me cut in for a second. What separates people from their wealth goals is generally not specifically financial advice. Here’s the reality. We all have access to the same investment products regardless of platform you’re on and who you use as your advisor or anything like that, right? Everybody’s going to get differences in performance. Everyone’s going to have different financial outcomes in life. What’s the real separator? It’s their financial intelligence and the plan that they’re operating under, and the habits that they’re operating under. That’s the separator. It’s not the financial products.
Historically, advisors were a gateway to products and then they knew the products and they would recommend the products and this, that, and the other thing. That’s kind of going out the door. I’ve got a course on my site called Expectancy Wealth Planning that teaches people how to build their own wealth plan. I distinguish it from a financial plan, and you can even read the sales letter. It talks about the traditional financial advisor plan, and it talks about how this plan is totally different because I have no conflicts of interest, right? I’m not trying to sell investment products. It includes business entrepreneurship, it includes real estate.
Now, why does it include those? Because those are the three asset classes that you build wealth with, right? I mean, there’s no exceptions to that. If you look at how the rich get rich, it’s mostly through business entrepreneurship and real estate. It’s not through paper assets. Paper assets that an advisor’s going to sell you, are traditionally a parking place for wealth built somewhere else. It’s generally not a wealth building vehicle. Generally, that wealth is built somewhere else and people are parking those assets of deferred gratification, savings otherwise, into those paper assets. It’s not really a wealth building vehicle per se.
Anyway, I created an entire course on it and here’s the shocking piece. I was kind of scared to build it, right? Because I’ve been doing this with coaching clients for two decades. I’ve been teaching them their own wealth plan, working with them to devise a wealth plan, and then how to go out and implement the wealth plan and build wealth, right? Notice there’s something different here. That’s not what a financial advisor does, right? I mean, you’re asking about the distinctions of financial advisor versus a coach. I work with them to devise a wealth plan. What I do is I teach the, here’s the thing, I teach them the specific attributes of each asset class and strategy. We look at the attributes of their life situation, their skills, and their resources and the plan pretty much forms itself because you’re matching the attributes of the assets to the attributes of the client.
To form a wealth plan, it’s usually pretty obvious once you get fairly competent at it. I’ve been doing this for two decades with clients and I thought, “Let me productize it, right? Let me build this course.” It’s kind of scary. Like, can you really replicate the coaching experience where I hand hold people through this? I’m shocked. It totally works. I have literally so little support issues in administering the course that I offered extra office hours of 500 people in there. I offered extra office hours to see if people needed more support and nobody even responded. It’s like nobody even shows up to the existing officers’ calls. They don’t need any help. The completion rate is super high.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. No, I totally hear what you’re saying. I’m not surprised that through the technology you can create this because with the technology you can have video, you can have audio, you can have interactive stuff online. I mean there’s just… So depending on what is the best way that a person learns, you can use technology to be able to deliver it in that way. I think-
Todd Tresidder: Yeah, and I have all the above.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah, exactly.
Todd Tresidder: I’m agreeing with you that it’s like you have to figure out, what is your value add? One of the things I teach people in the course when they’re choosing an advisor… Because I tell them that my services are not mutually exclusive of an advisor, right? Because I do not make investment product recommendations. I tell them, “You could have both.” But I always say, “You only want an advisor who puts more money in your pocket than they take.”
Steve Sanduski: Right.
Todd Tresidder: That’s the litmus test, right? Because otherwise, why would you want it, right? It’s only going to cost you money. That’s not the point. That comes back to advisors knowing and they have to look at, “How can I add more value to my clients than I cost?” That’s where you’re seeing this issue that’s coming up now.
Steve Sanduski: Right. Now, and I’m glad you mentioned that being a financial coach and a financial advisor is not mutually exclusive because there’s all kinds of other things that advisors help their clients accomplish besides just the financial education. I mean, all the mechanics and the logistics of retitling assets or saving money on taxes or getting the estate plan done, coordinating all those activities.
There’s obviously an unlimited number of those types of logistical things that advisors can do on behalf of their clients. There’s many people out there who say, “Look, I’ve got other interests in my life. I don’t want to spend my time getting super educated on financials. I want to know what I need to know so that I’m not going to get taken advantage of, but I’m hiring you because I’m outsourcing this aspect of my life and I need someone I can trust. I need to be smart enough to know that what you’re doing is good and right, but I also want to outsource it.” I’m glad you made the point about they’re not mutually exclusive.
Todd Tresidder: But one does have to look at the fee structure and look and see is it adding more value than it’s taking-
Steve Sanduski: Oh, sure, sure.
Todd Tresidder: … or vice-versa. Historically, advisor fee structures can push. When you look at the high cost products that are often sold combined with asset center management fee or advisory fee, I’ve seen studies where it shows an excess to 2%. If you take 2% and you apply it over a reasonable period of client asset growth combined with retirement, the advisor is costing than 75% of the client’s retirement income, using industry standards like 4% rule in that type of thing. I mean, that’s a shocking number, but the math is the math.
Steve Sanduski: Right.
Todd Tresidder: I teach my clients that you have to really pay attention to fee structure very carefully. The flip side is for an advisor, they have to look at, “Okay, how can I make money in a way that adds more value to the client than it takes away?” Percentage fee structures I think are in real trouble because the problem with percentage fee structure in a world where they’re taught that you can only pull out 4% retirement, 1% or 2% is a big deal.
Steve Sanduski: It is. Yeah. I’ve had lots of conversations along those lines and what we are seeing in the industry is that the average fee level that advisors charge is not really coming down that much. But what’s happening is advisors are having to add a lot more service to maintain that same fee. There’s not a lot of fee compression, but there’s a lot of service expansion happening and we’re definitely going to see the pricing model of financial advisors continue to evolve over time. We’re seeing a variety of different models that have come out, whether it’s the subscription pricing model that Schwab came out with here not long ago, where it’s $300 one time for a financial plan and then $30 per month for access to a CFP. Vanguard’s got their own version of that as well.
We’re definitely seeing some experimentation there. But I’m with you as far as the value that a financial professional needs to add to justify the fee. That’s again, one reason why I’ve got you on the show here is because I think you have really pioneered a way to add tremendous value that empowers the client. You’re talking about empowering versus enabling. Financial coaching empowers. I’m putting some words in your mouth, so tell me if you disagree, but is empowering the client to be educated, not just the education, but also the mindset and the behaviors that are necessary to generate wealth over time and empowering them to do it as opposed to relying on someone else to do it for them. Would that be fair to say?
Todd Tresidder: Absolutely. The other thing too… If you take the financial advice business, everybody’s looking for whales, right? Because it’s a lot easier to take care of $10 million clients than $100,000 clients, right? When your profit is based on the assets under management, people look for whales. They’re essentially looking for people that already have wealth, and the financial advisory business is known for this. It mainly serves those who already have money. No big secret, right?
The difference in what I was doing was I was trying to help clients get the money in the first place. I was really working with clients around the wealth building equation, how to become successful, how to acquire the assets because I had no connection to the selling of the investments themselves, right?
Steve Sanduski: Right.
Todd Tresidder: Because they were paying a straight fee for the service or they’re paying a straight fee for the education. As long as they’re serious enough to justify that education and get more value than it costs, then more power to them, right?
Steve Sanduski: Right.
Todd Tresidder: I think that’s a clear distinction is this idea that it gets rid of this whole idea that you only want to work with wealthy clients or that you’re seeking that type of a client profile. Instead, what you’re seeking is somebody who cares enough about their financial future to do something about it. I have multi-millionaire clients and I have kids fresh out of college just starting their careers and they’re all valuing the education because they’re darn serious about their financial independence.
Steve Sanduski: Right. Now, you’ve productized the financial coaching and I’m going to get to that here in just a moment. But before we do that, I’d love to understand the business model of being a financial coach in terms of, how do you charge for it? How many clients can a financial coach work with? Is it on an hourly basis? How does the business model of being a financial coach work?
Todd Tresidder: The business model was hourly fees. That’s how I did it. Other people have payment amounts for a set amount of time. I’ve seen financial coaches where they’ll do like… you commit to six months of this program and you pay these thousands of dollars upfront. I don’t like doing that. I always told people, “I only want you to cut a check each month if you’re getting more value than you’re paying for.” You start with one month of payment and if you don’t like it, you don’t continue. I’ve got clients who’ve been with me for over a decade now. I always did just a monthly fee because to me that was the ethical thing. I was never on contracts or binding people. They had to sign a contract, but it was really just a CYA, right? It was a legal disclaimer structure specifically saying what coaching is, what it isn’t, what I’m disclaiming. That was the contract. They were never bound financially to me.
It was an hourly fee model and the hourly fees kept rising as my marketing improved and as my message improved and as the skills that I could offer improved and I finally shut it down. I was at $600 an hour and I shut it down because I had a waiting list and I was getting burned out and so I completely shut it down a few years ago.
Steve Sanduski: Then when you are working with clients, in your case on an hourly basis, would it be like one hour a week? Would it vary by client or what might a typical engagement look like?
Todd Tresidder: It was three weeks per month, so there was one week off. The nice thing about that is I could take a week off every month. I could schedule two weeks back to back. My clients were amazingly supportive. If I wanted to take a trip for a month or two, they’re like, “Just go. I mean you’re living the life we want to live.” I would go and then we’d pick up when I got back.
My schedule was my own and I kept an online scheduler once those came prominent. Clients could book their own appointments and they would pay a monthly for three one hour calls per month. They were actually supposed to be 45 minutes, but I would typically just kind of run over and give them the full hour and I wouldn’t want to worry about it.
Steve Sanduski: Okay. Then would they have like homework in between or were they-
Todd Tresidder: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Coaching, you’re really just a protagonist. I always say I would just be the salt in the wounds. My job was always to find the path to the next step during the coaching call, and to help them always be taking that next step, and to be moving forward, and to help avoid the missteps that were in their path. That was the function of the coaching call and the real value always took place off the call with their homework and what they did. The client’s always creating their own value.
Steve Sanduski: Right.
Todd Tresidder: You’re just a protagonist in the play.
Steve Sanduski: Then, how did you learn to become a coach? Are there resources out there today? If someone’s listening to this and says, “Yeah, I really want to look into this idea of being a financial coach,” what advice would you have for them?
Todd Tresidder: Well, I developed my own brand or style of coaching over the years. I started out, I did Coaches Training Institute out of San Rafael, California. It’s the coactive coaching model. They have a premise that isn’t true for financial coaching. This goes back to some conversations you and I were just having. They have a premise that the client knows everything. The coach’s job is just to draw out the truth from inside the client that the client has all the knowledge they need. Well, that’s not true in the world of finance, right? There’s a reason why there’s a need for financial advisors and the reason why people delegate. Like you were talking about earlier, people just want to delegate that to a professional. That kind of thing is because there is a skill involved. Clients don’t actually know everything they need to know.
What I’d started developing… And I’ve got a page on the site you can link into if you want. It’s Mentoring versus Coaching, the differences. What I developed was a style where I would have a mentoring hat and I would have a coaching hat. Mentoring is my expertise and my experience and how I can help move them to the next level. Coaching is where I’m drawing their truth out. I’m drawing out information from them. It’s a skill set. You have to develop that skill set and you have to find that balance because if you get too heavy into coaching, then the clients get stuck and they get frustrated and they don’t make the progress they’d like to because the truth is they don’t have all the answers.
If you get too heavy into mentoring, then what happens is you get stuck on your own agenda and you piss people off because it becomes about you and what you think everything should be about. It’s not about the client and their path in the journey they’re on. You have to get very skilled at understanding what is the appropriate skill set. That sounds redundant. What is the appropriate skill set to pull out at the right time in the conversation and in the situation? You need to develop a variety of skills. Does that make sense?
Steve Sanduski: It does. Yeah. You mentioned Coaches Training Institute, probably it sounds, you’re saying maybe that’s not the ideal one for someone that wants to-
Todd Tresidder: Well, no. I think it is ideal because most financial advisors are used to pontificating their infinite wisdom just as I was, right? I thought I knew all the answers when I started and I made all the same mistakes everybody else makes. I really upset some clients in the process and I’m sorry. I just didn’t have the skills back then, I thought I had the answers. I thought when I was teaching people how to build wealth, that it was all about what I knew and they just had to do what I knew. It took me a while to figure out that it’s not about me, it’s entirely about them. They’re taking all the action, they’re doing all the learning. They’re the ones that are going to build the wealth, not me. I talked to them one hour a week. Obviously, it’s not about me.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah, so CTI was teaching you the coaching part, how to draw out of them, but you already had the financial education part, the knowledge, the mentoring part?
Todd Tresidder: Bingo. What it was was that they pushed me so far to one side and I adopted it and then I came back and brought back the other side and found a balance point.
Steve Sanduski: Right.
Todd Tresidder: No, I don’t think they’re the wrong answer. As a matter of fact, I think they’re brilliant at what they do.
Steve Sanduski: Okay.
Todd Tresidder: For life coaching, they would be dead on. That model’s dead on, it’s just in financial coaching. There’s financial expertise involved, there’s business expertise, there’s real estate expertise, and then there’s personal development expertise too because so much of what gets in a client’s way is themselves. You have to become very skilled at seeing where that occurs and helping them break through it, and you have to do it in a way that’s not offensive. You have to learn how to work with people so that they want to, that they’re excited by it.
Steve Sanduski: There’s so much I’d like to ask you about this, and I know we don’t have all day. But is there a type of personality that makes the best coach? If someone’s listening to this, they’re a financial advisor and like, “Yeah, I really like this idea of financial coaching.” Is there kind of some characteristics of a person that you think tends to make a good financial coach?
Todd Tresidder: I don’t know the answer to that. There’s a lot of people running around calling themselves financial coaches now, and they’re more on the life coach side. They don’t really have financial skills. There’s people with financial skills, but they don’t have coaching skills. Like I said, the practice was sold out. I was trying to find people that I could refer business to because I was still top ranked. I think I’m still fairly high ranked but not top ranked. I was top ranked for all the money terms for financial coaching.
By money terms, I mean when they search for it, they’re looking for you and the service you provide, right? I was in the top three for financial coaching, money coaching, investment coaching, retirement coaching. I was right up there for all of them in the Google ranks for many, many years back when that was my business model. Since I’ve dropped it, I haven’t been promoting it at all. I’m probably on page one for most of them I think. I haven’t even looked for years and I tried to delegate. I wanted to find people that I could refer business to and I could not find anyone that had appropriate skillsets and I tried. I don’t have expertise in understanding exactly… I mean, there’s kind of a woo woo side to it in terms of the personal development and really understanding people. There’s a financial side in the sense that you’ve got to have the frameworks and you’ve got to have the financial knowledge to help people negotiate the issues.
It’s pretty broad ranging knowledge. It’s not just like CFP type knowledge, it goes quite wider and deeper. There’s that knowledge. There’s just kind of layers and layers to doing it well. I’m not trying to sound intimidating or anything like that, I’m just trying to be real. You’re on the phone with somebody and they’re relying on you to help them, and they’re stuck. You need to have the skills or they’re entering like a very risky transaction. How are you going to work with them to figure out the risk management and how are you going to work with them to understand the implications of their decision so that they go into it with eyes wide open and they can own it. There’s a lot that goes on and it’s involved. Can I ask you something, Steve?
Steve Sanduski: Sure.
Todd Tresidder: What did that leave you with when I was explaining because I don’t get interviewed on this a lot, right? I get interviewed on my books and on my wealth planning course and all that. I’m just curious where that left you.
Steve Sanduski: Well, so what I take away from that is, and as I mentioned earlier, I definitely think the financial advisory industry is evolving. Much of what an advisor has historically done and been paid for is going to be handled either by technology, some type of automation or it’s going to be pushed off to the client to do. Advisors need to be thinking about, “What’s the next evolution of a financial advisor?”
I personally think… Again, you’ve been a pioneer in this, is it something like financial coaching? It has a lot to do with the client’s life and helping clients make better money decisions so that they can use their monies in ways that help them live their best life possible. There’s a lot of skill sets that go into that. I think that’s what you were really saying there is, yes, you can go to the Coaches Training Institute and you can learn how to be a coach, but there’s many other areas of knowledge that you need to learn that you’re not going to learn from that organization. You need to know about real estate, you need to know about other money building ways.
In the moment, when the client has a situation, you need to have the skill to be able to give them the right advice or ask the right question or shine a light on a blind spot that they’re not aware of so they don’t make a bad decision. Yeah, there’s a lot of skill that goes into that. What I took away was, there’s a lot you need to know, but don’t let that stop you if that’s an area you want to go into. Go and do the work, get the knowledge that you need and the training that you need, and go after it.
Todd Tresidder: Yeah, and it’s extraordinarily rewarding. I mean, you truly make differences in people’s lives. I get clients come back years later, they’ll tell me they’re still working off the stuff that I taught them years earlier, and it’s still making a difference. They’ll share all their wins and how far they’ve progressed. I mean, it’s immensely rewarding.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah.
Todd Tresidder: I was concerned after I finished. You really got it, thank you. I agree with you. I think coaching is the next evolution of the financial advice business. It’s going to have to be. The reason for that is simple. Everything else is getting genericized just as you pointed out and automated and the thing that really makes a difference in people’s lives is the coaching component. That’s how they break through the obstacles that are holding them back. That’s what creates the wealth.
Steve Sanduski: I think it’s on trend as well. What I mean by that is if you look at the millennials and maybe even Gen Z, this whole idea of fire, financial independence, retire early. I mean, there’s a lot of people that are really into this idea of financial freedom and the transformational impact that that can have on someone’s life and what they learn in the process of reaching financial freedom.
I think it’s definitely an area that’s where the generation is heading, that they are interested in these types of conversations and being empowered to have financial freedom and learning the skills that will empower them to reach that level.
Todd Tresidder: That’s also a bull market phenomenon too if you notice the rise of fire coincides with a 10 year bull market.
Steve Sanduski: I definitely have some problems with the whole fire movement. Again, that’s probably a whole nother episode.
Todd Tresidder: We’ve got lots of episodes-
Steve Sanduski: Yeah, we do. But before we end this one, I definitely want to-
Todd Tresidder: Yeah, one last thing I want to throw in, okay? Well, let’s say I want to throw in. I made it sound hard and it’s not hard. People are actually remarkably similar and after you do it for a while, it is a teachable skill. I just never developed a training curriculum for it and never really organized it into frameworks. But it is doable. It can be done to organize it and do it.
Because what I noticed after doing it for years is that there’s patterns that emerge. People are fairly consistent in how they do stuff and you start recognizing situations very quickly as you get more skilled.
Anyway, I just wanted to end it. It’s not like just this ridiculous skill set or it’s really hard to do or anything like that. It’s not. It’s a skill set like any other and you have to develop it.
Steve Sanduski: Right. Okay. Let’s talk about what you’re doing today, which is, as you mentioned, you have productized the financial coaching, you’ve created a course or courses around that. Again, one of the things that initially attracted me to try to have a conversation with you was just the incredible content that you’ve developed on your website and not only just the content that you have out there, but the way that you’ve organized it. I mean, it’s displayed beautifully and it’s easy to follow. You’ve got the right links in there, you’ve got call out boxes, you’ve got highlighted buttons to download this. It really walks you through nicely. Even though there’s a lot out there, it’s not overwhelming.
I would just love to hear your thoughts about this idea of taking your content and how you package it to be able to communicate it to a broader audience.
Todd Tresidder: Well, first of all, the space of content and content marketing, which is what you’re moving towards in the discussion, is maturing very rapidly. What I did and what I’m doing are two very different things, right? What I did was I started writing about issues that I felt needed to be written about, right? If you look at pay off mortgage earlier invest, I saw all kinds of people write about, pay off mortgage earlier, invest in the issues of paying off your mortgage early. I just looked at and went, “Well, those are really incomplete, incomplete, incomplete, incomplete. No, they don’t get that right.”
I wrote this 10,000 word post explaining it or I did it for whole life insurance. I’ve seen so much on whole life insurance, and I never felt it was done properly or explained properly. I’ve a 12,000 word post on whole life insurance is basically… these are almost like eBooks. That’s what I did in the past and that was very effective. I’ll continue to publish articles where I feel there’s a need, but I’m rapidly evolving my content strategy where I’m basing it off the product first. A lot of what I’m publishing now will be coming out as a result of products that I create, so new books that I publish or new courses that I create.
I will exert pieces that are appropriate for the website that can stand alone. That’ll be some of the content that I add to the site. I think the days of building niche content are dying. The reason people can intuitively get that that’s correct is if you just look at how you consume content on the internet. Almost everyone I talk to doesn’t consume content the same anymore because there’s just too much of it and it’s everywhere. I forget how many millions of posts a day are published just on WordPress alone now. It’s insane.
The other thing I’m moving towards is a curation strategy of other people’s content where I’m basically the reviewer of other people’s content. I’m sharing what’s good around the internet and people are using me as the filter to help them find valuable stuff because there’s just so much and nobody can read it all. I’m going to send the top three articles and resources that I find each week because I’m a junkie for this stuff.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. Well, it’s funny you should say that because I have a weekly email newsletter that I send out and folks can subscribe to that for free. It’s stevesanduski.com and I do some content curation in that as well. At the end, I have a little section I call Good to Know, and it’s three links with just a little short observation for me about that particular thing. Sometimes it’s about financial stuff. One, this past week was on, Can You Pass the Army Physical Fitness Test?
I put some random stuff out there that I find particularly interesting or entertaining. I think the idea of curation is really interesting. Now, you mentioned this idea of the niche content. You say that’s not effective anymore. Is that because people can just do a Google search and go directly to something that they want or what do you mean when you say the niche content is not effective?
Todd Tresidder: There’s just so much of it now. It’s very difficult to stand out. You have to stand for something. If you’re going to do a content strategy, where you do content marketing, you publish content in order to attract through organic search, just make sure that you have a specific edge that you stand for. For example, one of the attractions on the Financial Mentor website is that I stand for advanced strategy and I don’t publish any me to content and it’s like the whole story on each subject and it covers both side.
I don’t have an ax to grind and it gives sort of an advanced level of knowledge, if you will. It usually has kind of an edge. I have a little bit of edge to me as you can tell from the conversation. That edge comes through in the writing, that’s what readers like and they don’t get that anywhere else, and so they come to my site for that.
Steve Sanduski: You’ve evolved from, I’ll call it, the traditional content marketing strategy and now you have a course, it’s called Expectancy Wealth Planning, if I understand it correctly.
Todd Tresidder: Yeah.
Steve Sanduski: Tell me a little bit about the course. What does it mean if someone subscribes or joins the course? What does that mean? What do they get? What do they pay?
Todd Tresidder: Their walkaway is a personalized wealth plan and it involves all three asset classes and it converts the wealth, but it’s all built around mathematical expectancy principles. As I said earlier, it matches the characteristics of each asset and each strategy within each asset class to the unique characteristics of the individual, their skills, their resources, their timeframe, their goals. It carefully builds this wealth plan, which they do themselves through the lessons in the course and the exercises in the course. They build their own wealth plan and it’s an iterative process. They own it and they go back and they update it regularly. That’s part of it. Then they convert that wealth plan into an action plan. It takes their will plan and converts it all in action steps that they then implement, and then they come back and they reiterate the plan every couple of years. It’s an entire wealth planning process to achieve your financial goals.
Steve Sanduski: Then in terms of the format, is it like videos, is it audio, is it taxed, is it all of the above? Is it dripped out over time?
Todd Tresidder: It’s all the above. Each lesson you get it in multiple formats so you can just assume it whatever way you want, and it’s compatible with both mobile and desktop. It’s video, audio, and PDF transcripts for each lesson. Then with each lesson there’s an office hours where I have a bunch of… there are amazingly smart students because they heck out of me and challenge me on the lesson and ask questions and clarifications. Those office hours accompany each lesson, so there’s like an office hours that accompanies each lesson where students just like the person in the course are getting all their questions answered.
I think that’s one of the reasons I don’t have a lot of support issues is so much of those questions came out in the office hours. Then I have a forum as well where there’s a forum thread for every lesson in the course as well as other topical forum threads related to the course. Pretty soon, the forum thread ends up covering every remaining question related to a given course lesson. Students know that they’re supposed to go through the lesson first, then they do the office hours, listen to the office hours recording, then they do the exercises associated with the lesson.
If they have any questions, they check the form first. If not, they can either come to the live office hours or they can ask me the question in the forum.
Steve Sanduski: A lot of people, our industry, as you probably know, they talk about this idea of scaling their business and people say, “Well, I use technology because it’s going to enable me to work with more clients because I’m going to be able to automate a lot of the stuff that we used to have to do manually.” I’ve got my thoughts on this idea of scaling the business, but we won’t go there. But as I look at this idea of the course, it’s a way to use technology to be able to reach a large number of people. Like you mentioned earlier, you’re not getting a lot of people asking you questions in the office hours because the technology is able to make all of that available without you necessarily having to answer the same question 500 times from different people.
Todd Tresidder: Yeah. For this specific outcome, which is you walk away with your personalized wealth plan converted into an action step plan so you can begin to take action, right? For that specific outcome, it’s actually better than my personal coaching was. It’s more effective, it’s more efficient, it produces a better result than what I did as a live coach. That was the challenge I set before myself in creating it, and it came out, I mean, way better than I thought.
I mean, I really wasn’t even sure if I can pull it off and didn’t think it would come out anywhere near close to… The real gift was the office hours. I stumbled into that. Those office hours recordings are just gold. Most of the students in the course now… Because the office hours are older, they’re recorded a couple of years ago when I first created it. Most of the students in the course now tell me the office hours are at least as valuable as the lessons themselves in terms of really developing the material fully. That was just a huge gift from the students in the course. I stumbled into it. It wasn’t planned. I think it’s what makes the course work.
Steve Sanduski: Right. I can envision financial advisors creating courses and they might either not charge for them. Maybe there’s a base amount of knowledge that a financial advisor says, “Look, there’s a base amount of education that I provide to all my clients and rather than me repeating the same time, every time I meet with a client, I can turn that knowledge into a course. I can say, part of our new client process is you go through my course. They come, they all then have a base level of understanding. That’s maybe one option. Second option would be, which is what you’ve done, which is they productize it, they charge for it. That becomes perhaps an additional source of revenue, perhaps a new way to add value to the clients that goes beyond just traditional investment management or selling investment products.
Todd Tresidder: I hate to throw a wrench in all of that.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah.
Todd Tresidder: What happens is I had no idea beforehand how much work it was to build a course properly. Then there’s all the marketing also to make it make financial sense. The frame that you’ve got this on is sort of an adjunct inside of financial advice business, and what’s missing from that equation is the amount of work involved.
I mean, I’ve got two and a half years of full time effort with more than one person putting it together. It’s a huge, huge, huge task to do it right. It’s not something that one would do to scale out. I’ve had financial advisors wanting to white label my course.
Steve Sanduski: Right.
Todd Tresidder: I could see trying to do something like that where you scale in somebody else’s course for that function, but to create a course yourself and you’ve got a frame of 100 or 200 people that you plan on running through it or whatever that frame is based on your business size, it’s probably not going to work mathematically. It’s just too many hours, too much work.
Steve Sanduski: Right. Yeah, and I think there’s different degrees. Obviously, yours is of the highest quality, which you’ve created there. I know I’ve created a course in the past. I don’t think it’s to the level of what you’ve done here, certainly, but there is technology available, create content. You can drip it out over time. But again, it’s different I think what you’ve put together here.
But I do think there’s ways for advisors to take their content and be able to distribute it. It may be in the form of a course that can still be done in a reasonable way, even if it’s outsourcing to other folks who specialize in creating the course is if the advisor can get the content created. So-
Todd Tresidder: Here’s where I think it would work is the advisors getting the same questions over and over and over again. What they start doing is they start creating lessons around specific questions that they get that they can use to scale out those questions.
Steve Sanduski: Right?
Todd Tresidder: It’d be like, “Oh, you’re asking me about paying your mortgage off early here. Let me give you the lesson on that and then come back and talk to me once you’ve been through that and we’ll see what else you need to understand about it.”
Steve Sanduski: Right. Yeah. It’s the idea of creating a piece of content once and then being able to reformat it in a way and redistribute it in a way that you don’t have to repeat it a hundred different times.
Todd Tresidder: Yeah. That’s probably makes business sense because you can do that in a fairly compartmentalized way. To create your own financial plan takes a fair amount of background and knowledge. If you’re taking a client that doesn’t have the background knowledge, you’re trying to bring them up to speed all the way through. I have two modules of content just on using your financial resources and your personal resources and how they integrate into your wealth plan. That’s like all that base building or foundational knowledge. But on a specific questions. Yeah, I think it would scale through… Like you’re talking about, I think that would scale beautifully.
Steve Sanduski: Excellent. All right. Well, I think we need to be wrapping here and let me just finish with a couple of things. One is, is there anything else that you want to add or mention that we haven’t talked about yet?
Todd Tresidder: No, no, no. I think you did a great job. Thanks for the interview, I appreciate it.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. Well, thank you. Like I said, there’s three or four more podcasts we could do here based on what we’ve talked about. You certainly have a wealth of knowledge and experience here that is really valuable, so I appreciate you taking some time here. Do you want to wrap here with just a few quick rapid fire questions? You’ve really been on the front end of some different trends here in the industry from the hedge fund business early on, to financial coaching to, now basically productizing your intellectual property here in the form of courses. I would imagine you’re like a continuous learner, lifelong learner. What is either something you’ve learned, something new you’ve learned in the past year or so, or maybe a new skill that you’re trying to improve?
Todd Tresidder: Well, actually I just shared one of them with you, which is just in the past 12 months, I’ve really evolved how I look at content marketing, which is what I was sharing with you earlier. I mean, that’s brand new. The only other place I’ve even talked about, part of it on is Pat Flynn, smartpassiveincome.com. He has one of the leading business podcasts and he interviewed me about content marketing strategy and the idea of develop the product first and then build the content off of it.
We talked about how content marketing in normal article production doesn’t produce the results it used to. Really, in the last 12 months I’ve really evolved that and I’ve gotten clear on my brand what my brand stands for, something I wasn’t really clear about before. I just started interviewing a lot of people and asking them, what does financial mentor stand for? Through that, that’s where I started coming up with this curation strategy. I guess two evolutions is this idea of product first and then curation strategy would be two new things I learned.
Then a new skill that I’ve been developing is narration. I’m going to be narrating my books into audio books, and that’s a whole skill. I mean, to do that well you don’t just read the book, it’s like acting skills. I’m trying to learn that now.
Steve Sanduski: Great. Well, and I can definitely vouch for your podcast with Pat Flynn. I listened to that one. I thought it was excellent and that was another reason why I reached out to you. So, yeah. We’ll link to that in the show notes or you can certainly go direct and just Google Pat Flynn podcast with Todd’s name and you’ll pull it straight up there. Another question here I’d love to ask is, do you have a habit that has led to some of your success?
Todd Tresidder: It’s a meta question, right? Habits are what… well, because habits will lead to my success.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. Okay. So-
Todd Tresidder: That’s why I have a habit of pulling into the office and working on these projects every day. Another habit I have is I go running every two days and that keeps my mind calm, and focused, and maintains health. I think those are probably two of the most prominent habits is, taking care of my health, so eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly, and then having the habit of working. I forget who it was. Somebody talked about… There were like this great writer. Again, I’m going to mess up the quote. It’s the idea that matters, right? They’re like, “This great writer and prolific and produced all these books. How do you get inspired to do this?” He says, “Well, it’s amazing. I show up in the office and inspiration hits me every day at nine o’clock, whether it’s there or not.”
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. That’s exactly right.
Todd Tresidder: In other words, you just do it and you relentlessly do it and you relentlessly improve. If you do that over time… So few people do it that it results in success.
Steve Sanduski: That’s right. Yeah. It’s like I only write when the muse strikes me, but it just so happens that it strikes at 8:00 AM every morning.
Todd Tresidder: That was it. That was it. Thanks. You got that right. Who was the author?
Steve Sanduski: I knew you’re going to ask me that.
Todd Tresidder: No, it doesn’t matter.
Steve Sanduski: I don’t remember. Yeah, yeah.
Todd Tresidder: If you got the quote right, I butchered it. You got it right.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah, yeah. No, that’s a great quote. But it’s so true. It’s hard work. People are looking for shortcuts and people talk about hacks. I hate it when people talk about, “Oh, I have a hack for this, a hack for that.” Well, it’s like, “Just do the work and don’t worry about the shortcuts.”
Todd Tresidder: I’m so glad you said that because I’m in the exact same boat. Hacks are fine to the extent you’re trying to hack something, but there’s another whole space, which is… I call it the second level of knowledge where I like to explore a topic… This is another habit that results in my success, so it’s relevant to your last question. I like to explore a topic until I hit that second level of knowledge. What I found is that mainstream knowledge or conventional wisdom is usually what I call first level knowledge. It’s like close enough to accurate that it passes the smell test, and it intuitively seems correct, but once you dig deeper then you’ll find a second level of knowledge.
The great example of that historic example would be traditional physics. Then Einstein comes along with relativity theory. It doesn’t make traditional physics wrong, it just lets you know that traditional physics, the mechanics of the universe is, we thought we knew it up to that point. There was a special case theorem for what we could see and tell with our senses.
Then once you got into the extreme small, which is quantum theory, and on and on and on, I’m a little out of my field here, and then you go to the extreme large, which would be relativity theory in Einstein, all that, you get out of that and you get into the extremes. Then all of a sudden it’s a whole new level of information. It’s a whole new level of knowledge and then it turns out that doesn’t invalidate the other. It just puts it in the framework of a special case. I find that works for almost every field of knowledge. It works for child rearing, relationships, and finance, and wealth building.
Steve Sanduski: There you go. All right. Final question here, what is one thing that few people know about you?
Todd Tresidder: I spin Fireplay and I juggle.
Steve Sanduski: You spin what?
Todd Tresidder: Fireplay.
Steve Sanduski: What’s that?
Todd Tresidder: Have you ever seen people where they have these balls of fire on the end of a chain and they dance around in the balls of fire, move all around them in beautiful motion?
Steve Sanduski: Okay.
Todd Tresidder: It’s an ancient Polynesian art form. I spin Fireplay, and I juggle, and I do flow arts. I try to walk the slackline. I’m still working on, I’m not that good at it. So yeah, I’m into flow arts. I treat it as kind anti aging medication. It’s an amazing challenge, both physical and mental, and I just love it.
Steve Sanduski: Excellent. All right. Well, we’ll go ahead and wrap there. Well, Todd, I really appreciate you being on the show here. This has been amazing. I’ve certainly learned a lot, and I think you’ve really been on the forefront of this movement of financial coaching for more than two decades, and now you’re also in the area of productizing your content, your intellectual property, your knowledge. So, just a great conversation. Appreciate you spending time with us here today.
Todd Tresidder: Thank you, Steve. Thanks for having me on the show. It’s great talking with you.