“Enjoy life to its fullest.”, with Mike Zaino

Since the 80’s in America, we’ve set a culture that having the nice house, the nice cars, sending your kids to private school, wearing the latest fashions, etcetera, is what life is all about. In order for most to accomplish these wants, they have to run the rat race — and then some, leaving little time […]

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Since the 80’s in America, we’ve set a culture that having the nice house, the nice cars, sending your kids to private school, wearing the latest fashions, etcetera, is what life is all about. In order for most to accomplish these wants, they have to run the rat race — and then some, leaving little time to stop and enjoy life to its fullest.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Zaino of TZG Financial. As the President and CEO of TZG Financial, Mike is doing what he professionally loves the most: building relationships and providing his clients with financial security. Mike has over 20 years’ experience working with and developing solutions for his clients and holds state licenses throughout the country. Mike has been featured in numerous publications, including Money, Yahoo Finance, US News & World Report, Time, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, The Street, MSN and Men’s Health. He is a verified Top Contributor on www.moneytips.com, and is a member of both the National Veteran-Owned Business Association and the National Ethics Association. Mike’s personal mission is to provide sound advice based on his clients’ goals and objectives, and to help clients optimize their investments and Social Security benefits to provide retirement income. He points out that most people spend 40+ hours every week earning their money, but less than one hour each week managing it! Seeing the light bulb turn on in peoples’ eyes while meeting with them about their retirement strategies is what really motivates him these days! While attempting to correct the injustices of a failing financial-education system, Mike urges each and every one of you to take matters into your own hands. With 10,000 Baby-boomers retiring every day, he says we are only beginning to see the devastation of a retirement and financial-education system that is saturated with flaws. Mike Zaino grew up just outside of Atlanta, GA and has been a resident of the Charlotte area since 1997. After college, he spent 8 years in the US Army where he learned the leadership skills that would serve him well in his professional career. A devout family-man, Mike is married to his college sweetheart, Keri, has 2 beautiful daughters, Jordyn and Isabella, and two Labrador Retrievers. He keeps active by working out, playing golf, skiing and spending quality time with his family and friends.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

Inshort, 2008. I had been a well-paid executive for an international marketing & advertising company, but due to the economic downturn, my position was eliminated after 16 years and I lost everything. I’ve always been mission-oriented, so I made it my mission to learn about money and how to grow & protect it, and share my knowledge with as many people as possible to ensure even if/when 2008 happens again, those whom I’d helped would be much better off.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed.” Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

In my opinion, the prevailing reason is that everyone is trying to keep up with the Joneses. Since the 80’s in America, we’ve set a culture that having the nice house, the nice cars, sending your kids to private school, wearing the latest fashions, etcetera, is what life is all about. In order for most to accomplish these wants, they have to run the rat race — and then some, leaving little time to stop and enjoy life to its fullest. People sacrifice time with family and friends and being alone themselves in order to compete and climb the corporate ladder, so that when they do finally leave work, they’re rushed to get home, rushed to get to little Johnny’s game, rushed to meet their spouse for dinner — and on top of that, when they DO get there, they’re only partially present as their mind is on what they could be and need to be doing at work. It’s always go go go go go.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

In my personal experience, I worked such long hours that I basically missed the first four years of my firstborn’s life. I’d see her maybe an hour a day and on Sundays. I wasn’t as present as I should have been for my wife during those years. The job had control of me instead of me having control of it. I didn’t eat well. I didn’t get enough sleep. I was stressed out and not happy. It wasn’t until we found out that my wife was pregnant with our second child that I knew something had to change.

On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?

I think that when we become intentional with our time and how we spend it, the quality of our efforts across the board is magnified ten-fold. It’s not just about quantity. In fact, I’d argue that because you are concentrating your efforts, you actually become more productive.

I now have a date night with my daughters where cell phones and other devices aren’t allowed. We do things like play putt-putt, go bowling, go indoor karting, anything that involves interaction and conversation — and not staring at a screen for 2 hours.

I’ve dated my wife every Friday for the last 28 years. We have our favorite dinner spots around town, and it gives us a chance to reconnect, reflect on the past week and discuss future plans. We also both belong to the same fitness club and schedule a couple classes together each week. We attend church together as much as my schedule permits (I have speaking engagements around the country every other Sunday).

I also have time for just ME. I go play poker with the boys once a week. I take guys ski trips a couple times each ski season. I try to get out and play golf when the weather is nice. In doing so, I make sure that my batteries are recharged so I can be the best possible version of me.

By “stopping to smell the roses” and taking time to be intentional in all areas of life, I feel as though I become a better person in each. A better dad, a better husband, a better servant to my clients, a better friend. A better me. I now understand who I am and why I do what I do. And that’s what keeps me going.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1. Be a better listener. Too often we listen with what I call “closed ears.” In other words, we’re just waiting for co-workers and clients to stop speaking so that we may interject our own thoughts. Instead, I really tune-in to what they’re saying, and have found that it often affects the direction of where I was going to take the conversation and ultimately speeds up the end result.

2. Be more decisive. In the military, indecision gets you killed. You’ve trained all your career for the role you now have. Be confident, not wishy-washy and watch how much more you get done.

3. Get out of your workspace for lunch. Whether you work in an office or from home, leave. Go enjoy some fresh air and a different environment and eat away from work.

4. Take a nap. I’m not kidding. Turn on some classical music and set a 10 to 20-minute alarm and close your eyes. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed and focused you are after a nap.

5. Make your to-do list shorter. Prioritize the important tasks. There’s enough time to get the other stuff done later in the week, and you won’t feel rushed because your mind won’t be racing all over the place thinking about what else is on your list while you’re working on other tasks.

6. Say “No.” Distractions destroy productivity.

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

Mindfulness is the state of being aware, and you must decide to do so. Pay attention to your senses. Chew your food for 20 seconds on each bite and enjoy the flavor. Notice the little things like your wife’s new haircut, a coworker’s new shoes, or the different sights on your drive to and from places. Smell the roses…literally. Get out in the world and enjoy the sounds, whether it’s the sound of the big city, or the sound of nature doesn’t matter. Enjoy touch: I had my upstairs carpet changed 2 years ago, and I still smile every time my bare feet walk on the tempurpedic® pad. Pay attention.

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Wow, this is a tough one! There are so many great life quotes that have influenced the way I think and act. If I had to choose just one, it would probably be “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Early on in my career, I was extremely productivity and volume-oriented; it wasn’t until I made the decision to care about others’ success as much as my own that my business really started to explode.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

This one is actually simple. Do something nice for people every day. And do it with a smile. Kindness is contagious!

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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