“Take the advice you’d give others.” With Jason Hartman & Ken Rupert

Sometimes the best advice you can take is the advice you would give others. I have had a number of experiences where, in a conversation with a colleague, I would offer a nugget of advice about person’s finances or investing strategies and then realize that that information was really meant for me. As a part […]

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Sometimes the best advice you can take is the advice you would give others. I have had a number of experiences where, in a conversation with a colleague, I would offer a nugget of advice about person’s finances or investing strategies and then realize that that information was really meant for me.

As a part of my series about the The 5 Essentials of Smart Investing, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ken Rupert.

Ken is an author, an educator, a strategist, and someone who lives by the principles and strategies he teaches in his Financial Self-Defense Training course. He provides strategic financial coaching for individuals through his Financial Self-Defense training program and offers Financial Self-Defense seminars for small and medium size businesses. He holds two degrees in business and management, is a United States Army and Maryland National Guard veteran, and author of several books on personal financial wellness. He is married to his wife of 28 years and is a parent of a 19-year old son with special care needs.

Thank you for doing this with us! Our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

Thank you for this opportunity. The catalyst that brought me into the world of finance can be summed up in a single word. Necessity. I had always contributed to my employer’s 401k plan, but beyond that, I wasn’t much interested in investing. However, after getting married, my wife approached me about investing because a friend of hers and that friend’s husband had met with a financial advisor and begun investing. We were told that their financial advisor provided “free” consultation and investment planning for referrals from existing clients, so my wife and I decided to talk to him. As this financial planner laid out a plan and helped us get started investing in mutual funds, there was one question lingering in my mind that I needed him to answer. Being curious as to how he could offer “free” investment planning to so many people and still make a living, I asked him how he made money. He never answered my question, but continued to redirect us to topics such as dollar cost averaging, compound interest, and other fancy investing principles. We left there that night new investors (and apparently suckers). After a couple of weeks, I spoke to him about some investments in which I had become interested and asked him his thoughts. Specifically, I asked him about a no-load mutual fund that I had been researching. He explained to me that investing in no-load mutual funds had no advantages to loaded mutual funds. His response concerned me and caused me to rethink our “free” services. After that conversation, I decided to learn more about investing and learned that the load is how he was compensated. I finally discovered the answer to my original question which he had always dodged.

This experience and some very difficult life circumstances caused me to set out on a journey to learn everything I could about personal investing. Since that time, my wife and I have eliminated our debt, paid off our mortgage, and positioned ourselves to save over half our single source income. Our journey has resulted in the development of a personal financial wellness process known as Financial Self-Defense. Between my last conversation with the first and last financial advisor I allowed to manage our investments, and the development of the personal financial wellness process, I have faced some extremely challenging life-changing events. In 2001, our son was born with multiple disabilities. It wasn’t long before we realized that he would need some level of intervention for the rest of his life. His care became the primary focus of my financial plan and investing became the primary tool of growing wealth. Thus, my passion for personal money management began to grow. Over the next 19 years my wife and I were reduced to one income, barraged with mounting medical costs, and faced an uncertain future concerning our retirement. We experienced four employment changes, three recessions, and my son’s eleven surgeries. Each experience magnified the need to manage our finances in such a way that we could retire and my son’s needs would be met beyond our ultimate demise.

Necessity brought me to the finance industry. Necessity forced my wife and me to manage our finances to meet the unique and personal challenges we faced. Necessity ultimately provided the framework for the Financial Self-Defense process that I teach today to those who are seeking to take ownership of their finances and financial futures. Necessity has motivated me to continue to develop my investment strategies and gave me the opportunity to partner with my brother to develop better analytics for investing. They say that necessity is the mother of all inventions and that could not be more true, especially in these times in which we find ourselves.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Sometimes the best advice you can take is the advice you would give others. I have had a number of experiences where, in a conversation with a colleague, I would offer a nugget of advice about person’s finances or investing strategies and then realize that that information was really meant for me. Years ago when I worked for a Fortune 500 telecommunications company, it was not uncommon to hear me discussing with my coworkers pay equity and senior management compensation. As it were, the company for whom I worked was a union company. As a union employee who had a slightly different take on executive compensation in relationship to front-line worker’s compensation, I would often find myself defending my thoughts instead of taking a particular position on compensation. In one such exchange, we were discussing executive compensation and I remember one coworker who was visually agitated about executives making money off of the sweat of the front-line workers.

The conversation eventually led to my statement “If you want what a CEO has, then become a CEO.” Although that statement was not received very well by my co-worker, there were two nuggets of truth I took away from that conversation. The first self-inflicted ah-ha moment was, “If you want what a CEO has, then become a CEO.” In other words, if you want to possess the rewards of the accomplishments of others, then learn what they are doing and do it yourself. Don’t be content to bring someone down to your level by taking. Be motivated to lift yourself up to their level by learning. The second, more subtle lesson I captured from this conversation was “As an investor in companies for whom I do not work, I am making money off the sweat of their front-line workers.” This reality negates the complaint about CEO’s making money off the sweat of front-line workers, because anyone who invests in a 401k, 403b, or any other type of investment account is, in essence, doing the same thing, albeit on a much smaller scale. But this conversation caused me to think about investing differently. Many people believe that if you own stock, you own a part of a company. That’s not true. What you own is the right to participate in the earnings of that company and the supply and demand aspect of that stock. The Bond holders and creditors are the ones who own the company, an investor in a company’s stock is just a passive participator.

I have carried these lessons with me throughout my investing career. Stocks are not ownership, they are participation rights. Therefore, when analyzing a stock for investability, one needs to consider a number of market drivers, company dynamics, and investor emotions before making the decision to buy or sell. Not to mention, you have to establish two key practices when self-investing. First, you have to develop a process of analytics. Don’t just depend upon professional analysts. Be your own analyst. Second, you have to establish guardrail rules by which you will operate. Guardrails do not stop cars from crashing; they stop cars from going over the cliff. I would never make a CEO’s compensation a decision maker on whether or not I would work for a company, nor would I make it a decision maker for whether or not to invest in a company. Investing decisions should be based on the impact, whether positive or negative, on you as the individual, not what someone else has or accomplished.

The final lesson I gleaned from this experience was that desiring to live someone else’s life dramatically restricts my ability to live mine. This lesson is by far the greatest lesson an investor can learn. Chasing someone else’s achievements will cause you to make many mistakes. There are too many variables associated with investing and yours will never align with the person you are trying to emulate. Be your own investor. Take the time to learn what others did in any given situation to succeed, and incorporate the principles into your decisions, but do not incorporate their actual actions into your decisions. And do not be afraid to see the negative outcomes of someone else’s action because, by doing so, you can save yourself a lot of heartache and sleepless nights. Learn from both, the positive and the negative, and seek to modify your decisions based on that knowledge, the market environment, and your own analytics.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

In April of 2019, I published The Financial Black Belt Academy’s Financial Self-Defense Training Guide (available on Amazon). With the publication of that book, I launched my personal financial wellness coaching practice. I am working on developing and building out an on-line coaching process that helps people take ownership of their personal finances. I provide all of the necessary spreadsheets, instruction, and reference material to help people move from living paycheck to paycheck (a.k.a financial instability) to financial stability, to financial independence, to becoming a prodigious accumulator of wealth. Financial Self-Defense begins with the basic information a person should have received in high school but didn’t because no one teaches this stuff. It provides the financial principles, strategic milestones, and the process for accomplishing each financial goal. The program is modeled after the belt structure of my HapKiDo training where each belt represents a specific financial principle, strategic milestone, and of course progressive financial goal.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been working with my brother Mike on refining the technical analysis tool that aids the apprentice of the Financial Self-Defense process. Mike holds a degree in accounting and works as a Sr. Underwriting Analyst for a major financial institution, so he is uniquely qualified to develop this technical analysis tool. Truth is that this tool would not be as accurate and as versatile as it is without the help of my brother. So I am excited about the future of the Financial Self-Defense process and how it can help others become their own financial analyst, planner, and success story.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers?

This is a very complicated question because there is no single thing to which you can point to explain why two-thirds of Americans cannot pass a basic test of financial literacy. Being able to earn an income and pay bills does not equate to success in managing personal finances. However, the ability to build wealth beyond your income does show the degree of success one has to manage his or her personal finances. I believe the obvious answer to this question is lack of knowledge, but the bigger question is “Why?” Why is there a lack of basic knowledge? Financial literacy is not taught in the high schools, not mandatory in college and is not taught or modeled in the families of today. Therefore, few adults actually know how to manage personal finances successfully, therefore they do not have the knowledge necessary to teach the next generation. As a matter of fact, there are several generations that have suffered financial literacy neglect. There are also a number of financial literacy myths that are perpetuated by those who benefit from financial illiteracy. Financial planners, credit providers and retailers of products, services, and experiences all benefit from financial illiteracy. Each of these specific professions depend upon most of the public being financially illiterate. The financial planner will provide just enough financial insight to convince the client that investing is complicated and requires an inordinate amount of time. But the truth is that everything an average investor needs is at the end of his or her fingertips. It is called the internet and most of the information is free.

Those who pedal credit depend upon financial illiteracy because, when people understand that compound interest works better when you are the recipient of it as opposed to the one paying it, less people would be interested in using credit and suffering under the debt that results when the credit cannot be paid back. The retailers and marketing professionals depend upon financial illiteracy, using emotions to create a perceived need, to separate individuals from their hard earned money. The belief that you will always have a car payment is a myth. The belief that you should always have a mortgage for the tax write off is another myth. These myths are perpetuated by the credit industry and trap people into believing that no matter what, they will never get ahead. This belief leads to financial complacency (which is the main culprit of financial illiteracy). Those who are complacent lack the motivation to learn about personal financial wellness and fiscal management. We live in an instant gratification culture, where easy credit allows us to consume products, services, and experiences at a rate greater than previous generations without the wherewithal as to how this consumption will impact our ability to experience financial stability. Buy it now, get it done now, experience it now, and pay for it later often results in paying for products, services, and experiences long after the consumption has rendered the product, service, or experience of no value.

As an analyst, I am more concerned with understanding what drives the numbers than the actual numbers themselves. If you understand the drivers, you can change the outcomes. Don’t misunderstand me. What the numbers are saying is important, but that is only part of the equation. The numbers tell you where you have been. The drivers tell you where you are going. That is what Financial Self-Defense is about. It is documenting the numbers, identifying the drivers, and understanding where you have been and where you are going if you fail to change. I think when people are given the information necessary to manage personal finances, the numbers reported in the referenced Fortune article will ultimately change. The drivers are lack of education and complacency. The result is two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. If you want to change the numbers, change the drivers.

If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

The first change would be to make financial literacy a mandatory credit for graduation in High school. When I was in High school, it was mandatory for every senior to take Government. This class taught those who were about to enter the world of earning an income, paying taxes, and voting for the next generation of leaders some level of preparation for the adult decisions facing them. Unfortunately, it taught very little about personal financial wellness and investing. Therefore, my first change would be to require every senior to attend and pass a general financial literacy course.

The second change I would make is to require freshmen in college to attend and pass a financial literacy course that focuses on personal financial wellness with a strong emphasis on strategic financial goals and debt management. College tuition debt is the number one road block to any graduate establishing his or her place in this world. I am not in favor of forgiving college tuition debt, but I am supportive of teaching college freshmen how to secure their future financial security by managing their present financial realities. This course must be mandatory and support and build on the high school financial literacy course.

Finally, I would require every college senior to attend and pass an advanced personal financial literacy course. This course would focus on personal financial principles, strategic investment goals, how to document and track wealth accumulation and a myriad of other topics that prepares the graduating senior to manage his or her personal finances successfully. The most important lesson any graduating senior needs to learn is that his or her financial future requires personal responsibility and accountability. We are now three generations deep of individuals who have not learned these basic concepts in relationship to their financial wellness. I believe we need to be raising financially responsible adults and not instant gratification seeking children. Personal financial wellness requires years of personal discipline, willful commitment, extreme patience, unwavering tenacity, intestinal fortitude, and unrelenting endurance. These attributes are required to attain the rank of Financial Black Belt, which is part of the Financial Self-Defense program and they should be part of every financial wellness curriculum in high school and college.

Ok, thank you! Now to the main question of our interview: You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

First: Understand that analytics are deeper than a stock’s price. Many self-taught investors consider the stock’s price as the measure of how expensive the stock is. However, the market price of a stock does not determine how expensive a stock actually is. Keeping in mind that owning an equity position is really owning the right to participate in the earnings of the company. Therefore, become familiar with and understand the P/E, PEG, and PEGY ratios, because these technical indicators tell you how expensive owning the rights to participate in the earnings of a company are. Analytics do not come natural to a large number of people. Therefore, the more you understand how the numbers are generated, what they are telling you, what the drivers are, and how to determine where they are taking you, the better investor you will be.

Earlier I mentioned that my brother and I am constantly fine-tuning an analytical tool that looks at key technical drivers of individual equities. This tool has the ability to identify undervalued stocks, advantageous buy prices, and even when and what type of option contracts to trade to improve ROI. Making wise investments start with analytics. In real estate, there is a popular phrase that says “Money is made on the buy.” If you get in at the right cost, you are bound to make money when you sell. This principle can be applicable to investing. Buy a stock or option contract at the right price, you will make money on the sell. Miscalculating the entry price will reduce your ability to achieve a better than average ROI. Whatever type of analytics you use, be sure that you fully understand every aspect of what the data is telling you. And when something does not align with what you expect to see, resist investing in that security.

Second: Establish guardrail rules that complement your strategic objectives. Guardrail rules are essential to be a great investor. Picture yourself driving along a mountainside where, to your left is a sheer rock face and to your right is a steep drop-off. Chances are, if there’s nothing to stop you from leaving the roadway and plunging down the steep drop-off, you would drive slow and careful. However, if you were to put a barrier between you and the sheer cliff, you would be more apt to admire the view and pay less attention to the sheer rock cliff to your right. Guardrails are put there to stop you from plunging to your physical death and financial guardrails need to be installed to keep you from plunging to your financial death. Therefore, establishing investment guardrails is important. They won’t necessarily keep you from spinning out and having an accident, but they will keep you from plunging to your financial death should you happen to lose control.

On December 27, 2019, I began to have concerns about a market bubble across all major United States Indexes and began to systematically sell a number of our investments into a cash position across all accounts. I did not know when or what would cause the bubbles to burst, I only recognized the bubbles and decided to take a defensive position. By the end of the year, our accounts were approximately 70% cash. Although our accounts were not uniformly at 70% cash, a majority of our investment assets were protected. The guardrail rule I had put in place was borrowed from the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. “Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful.” The markets appeared to me to be over-exuberant. This led me to be extremely bearish. Making this move preserved a large portion of my assets and when the markets finally bottomed in March, I was positioned to capitalize on the discount prices. Guardrail rules should be established for each strategy an investor uses to increase ROI. I have these types of rules for everything I do concerning investing. For buying and selling stock, for each type of options strategy I deploy, and for all of my company sponsored investment accounts. Having rules keeps you focused on what you are seeking to achieve and keeps you from experiencing a financial catastrophe.

Third: Investing is a tool and like any tool, if it is used improperly, it will not only fail to get the job done, but it can also cause serious injury. Just as there are different tools to complete a project, there are also different types of the same tool required to address specific requirements of a job. For example, earlier this year, I had the distinct pleasure of deconstructing a storage shed that was built under a deck as well as replacing some decking joists. The deconstruction required me to remove screws from the under-decking, windows, and walls of the shed. Although I was able to use a variable speed drill to remove the screws, I needed three types of screw bits due to the original construction being completed with Philips-head, Tamper-star and Square-tipped screws. Using the correct bit to remove the screws was important because using the Tamper-star on a Phillips-head would only result in stripping the screw head. It would also likely result in damaging the bit itself.

When investing, it is important to not only use the correct tool, but to also use the correct type of that tool in order to be successful. In December 2016, I decided to learn how to trade option contracts. I was not fortunate enough to have a financial mentor, nor did I attend any formal training on investing. I just had the desire to learn how to do it, so I decided to read a couple of books and started buying and selling option contracts. Option contracts are similar to screw bits. There are two types of contracts with which an investor can deploy multiple strategies. Depending on the economic environment in which an investor might find himself or herself, option contracts can open up new opportunities that traditional trading cannot unlock. Options trading allows investors to participate in the increase or decrease of a stock price, without having to own the actual stock. It can be used in both Bull and Bear markets and can be deployed in various combinations. For example, use the Buy to Open Put option when you expect the market price of the underlying security to drop. Use the Sell to Open Put option when you expect the market price of the underlying security to remain stable or rise. Use the Buy to Open Call option when you expect the market price of the underlying security to rise. Finally, use the Sell to Open Call option when you expect the market price of the underlying security to remain stable or drop.

The key is to know your tools and understand which tool gives you the best opportunity to complete the job and that job is to increase your wealth with as little risk as possible. I say it this way: Seek to maximize your profit, enhance your sustainability, and promote your growth by using the right tool to do the job the right way.

Fourth: To paraphrase the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, when investing, skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where the puck is. Many analysts use the TTM numbers to analyze a stock, but I am not interested in where a stock was. I am only mildly interested in where a stock currently is. However, I am very interested in where a stock is going. The best way to determine where a stock is going is to observe where the economic, social, and geo-political environments are leading. As an investor, it is best to get out in front of these market drivers and anticipate the pass. Gretzky’s statement is all about positioning oneself on the ice to be ready to receive the pass and score the goal. Therefore, to the extent one can position himself or herself financially, he or she will have the advantage over others who are skating to where the puck is. Positioning oneself financially certainly includes having good money management skills, but it goes so much further than that. It is about seeking and attaining knowledge. It is about creating analytics that align with your goals. It is about establishing guardrail rules to protect from going over the financial cliff.

In February, our world was rocked with the first of two black swan events. Covid-19 appeared in the United States causing the sharpest decline in the stock market in history. On February 20, 2020, investors panicked to the news of Covid-19. Although only closing down 93 points on February 20, 2020, over the course of the next six days, the DOW 30 would lose 6,401 points. Over the course of the next four weeks, the markets would experience the highest level of volatility ever experienced in recent market history. One thousand point swings were not uncommon, and on March 12, 2020 the DOW dropped an historic 3,404 points. However, in December of 2019, I had sensed unrestrained euphoria in the markets and I pulled back into 70% plus in cash. I was skating to where the puck was going to be. Then in May we were hit by the second black swan event. When local economies began to reopen as the stay-at-home orders were reduced or lifted, the markets continued to strengthen due to the amount of liquidity that was pumped into them. However, May saw a new economic threat arise out of the ashes of an unfortunate situation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The death of a black man in police custody provided the opportunity for the large-scale social unrest.

No one could have seen these specific events coming, and certainly no one can know for sure where this will lead, but an investor needs to focus on where the markets are headed, not where they were and where they are. With government stimulus, the Federal Reserve’s liquidity, and the need for creative social solutions, one needs to look to invest in sectors, industries, and individual companies that offer the potential to pass you the puck. If you can read these events with an eye towards the future, you can position yourself to be where the puck is going, instead of being caught flat-footed and skating to where the puck is.

To recap, I would tell my adult son or daughter, 1) Understand that analytics are deeper than a stock’s price; 2) Establish guardrail rules that complement your strategic objectives; 3) Investing is a tool and like any tool, if it is used improperly, it will not only fail to get the job done, but it can also cause serious injury; 4) When investing, skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where the puck is; and finally…

Fifth: Have a plan. This might seem intuitive, but if that were true, more people would have one. The truth is that most people do not have a plan; at least not one that is specific to their circumstances. I do not believe that most people’s plan is to become so burdened by debt that they cannot afford the necessities of life such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and utilities. And yet, so many people are drowning in debt. Some have truly accumulated debt through no fault of their own, but a majority of those struggling with debt are doing so because of their own choices. I do not believe most people’s plan includes living paycheck to paycheck, yet according to a CareerBuilder report from 2017, 78% of American workers admit living paycheck to paycheck. The recent economic shutdown has only revealed how fragile most people’s “plan” is. In Financial Self-Defense, I encourage each apprentice to not do any large scale investing until he or she reaches the Purple Belt level, which includes having a Tier 3 Emergency Fund (1 year’s gross salary in liquid assets) and no consumer debt.

Imagine being furloughed by your employer and having 1 year’s gross salary in a money market account. Based on a few minor adjustments to your life style, you literally could survive for two years before you would begin to suffer long-term effects. That’s having a plan. The strength of the Financial Self-Defense program is found in the primary focus being on defensive positioning. That focus shifts to an offensive posture that positions the apprentice for the future after he or she achieves the Purple Belt. In martial arts, each belt’s curriculum is built on the knowledge and skills learned from the previous belt. In that sense, financial wellness, stability, and eventually freedom is a progressive process. Most financial plans never anticipate long-term financial down turns. No financial planner writes into his or her projections a long-term sustained period of unemployment. Their plans are almost exclusively designed assuming that the client will always be employed and will not face any financial setbacks. However, the Financial Self-Defense program starts with the assumption that you need to defensively position yourself for such events before you move to long-term investing. Having a plan is listed last because it is the last thing I want people to remember. It is, by far, the most important aspect of these five non-intuitive essentials for smart investing. The most successful investors begin with skating to where the puck will be. They have a plan and they are perfectly positioned to receive the pass and score.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When it comes to personal investing, I have been a loner in terms of learning how to analyze potential investments, develop trading strategies, and seize opportunities. I am even self-taught when it comes to options trading. I have never been fortunate enough to have a financial mentor, so I have had to learn about investing through reading and practical application. As a kinesthetic learner, trial and error is the best mentor, although it can bring a costly series of lessons. I have made a number of mistakes throughout the years, but each one has sharpened my skills as an investor and, with the help of my older brother contributing to my analytical tools, I have become a more refined analyst. Success as an investor hinges on two very specific dynamics of life. The first is nature. There are some people who are naturally gifted with analytical minds. For these people (myself included) everything is a problem to be solved or a process to be understood. Nothing escapes some level and form of analysis. When it concerns investing, the Analytic person processes the market through a very critical lens. He or she studies how markets react to social, economic, and geo-political actions and events. He or she then trades on the anticipated market reaction to these events. It is the intuitive sense of the Analytic that reads the direction of the markets and proactively positions himself or herself to “skate to where the puck is going to be.

The second dynamic of life that is in play concerning successful investing is nurture. Nurture is the act of transferring knowledge from one individual to another through mentorship. This knowledge is attained through formal instruction (auditory), experiential situations (kinesthetic), or observational opportunities (visual). As I stated before, I was not blessed with having someone so interested in my growth and development that I can point to a single person as a mentor. My mentor has been life in general. My mentor has been experiential situations and observational opportunities, with a little bit of formal instruction through reading thrown in.

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

My life lesson quote is actually a motto made famous by British Special Air Service. It simply states “Who Dares, Wins.” The long version of this would be “Anyone, who dares to do something, is bound to win.” The principle is that anyone who has the courage to step out and do something, has the greatest potential to receive benefit. There is great risk to fail when stepping out to do something on your own, but I just keep the quote of Thomas Edison, who said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Adopting the mentality that failure is only the end if you choose to let it be, can strengthen the courage within your own spirit to try something you have never considered before. In December of 2016, I decided to learn how to trade option contracts. I have no knowledge about how to do this, but I started by reading two books on basic options trading. Within a month, I began the kinesthetic practice of learning through trial and error. I started to trade covered calls (which is where most new option traders begin). Over the years I have developed my own personalized process for evaluating strong option candidates and even a few proprietary trading strategies. It has taken some time to refine my trading skills to incorporate options trading, but these days, I can float between traditional trading and options trading depending on the market environment. And it is all because I dared. I think this one phrase, “Who Dares, Wins” is the culmination of my drive, motivation, and belief in myself to be able to intellectually adapt to the economic environment and achieve my three strategic imperatives. Those being; maximize my profit; enhance my sustainability; and promote my growth. Personal finance, as well as investing and wealth building, all require you to establish strong strategic goals and a plan for how to attain those goals. You don’t actually execute on the goals, you execute on the objectives that move you towards attaining your goals. For me, that means I have to be courageous enough to step out and do something. Something of which I might be afraid. Something that will force me to grow in ways I never would have, had I not stepped out. Sometimes you have to dare and risk and even lose in order to grow.

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

I would like to turn my Financial Self-Defense program into a college accepted curriculum. I would also like to see it in the high schools as a mandatory class for seniors. I believe the greatest failure of our education system is not teaching people how to manage their finances and how to develop a plan for financial success. I would also like to see the Financial Self-Defense program become a certification requirement for professional financial planners. As the financial planners achieve each level of Financial Black Belt, they would be recognized in the industry as leaders in financial planning. It is one thing to acquire the licenses to sell insurance and financial products, but it would be an entirely different level if every financial planner had to acquire a Financial Black Belt in order to be recognized as elite. Maybe it is just dreaming, but I believe with the right partners, my comprehensive personal financial wellness program could become industry standard. And those who become masters in Financial Self-Defense (4th Degree Financial Black Belts and above) will not only retire financially secure, they will possess the formal knowledge, the practical application, and the astute awareness to mentor the next generation in financial management.

I would love to inspire a new generation of financially savvy individuals who are passionate about becoming a 4th Degree, 5th Degree or even a 6th Degree Financial Black Belt. It is not as easy as it sounds. It took me 4 years to achieve the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt in HapKiDo. However, it took me 15 years to become a 1st Degree Financial Black Belt. The good news is that it only took me 6 years to attain my 2nd Degree Financial Black Belt. All things remaining equal, it will only take me 4.5 years to achieve the level of 3rd Degree Financial Black Belt. I believe this program not only has the potential to change lives, but it also has the potential to change the face of poverty in America. We can take this program to inner-city neighborhoods and give those who see no future, hope. But, I need to get the word out and I need great business partners in order to pull this off. I believe in this program so much that I will never stop talking about it to whoever will listen. I have watched as people’s lives have been changed by the principles and strategic goals in Financial Self-Defense. My goal is not only to make it to the master ranks (4th Degree and above), but to take as many people there with me. I hope this interview is the beginning of something great for Financial Self-Defense.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!

You’re welcome and thank you for providing this platform to share my heart about a topic of which I am very passionate.

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