Feeling appreciation for what you have causes more items to come into your life to appreciative about. So, why is gratitude a part of my unconventional rules? Being grateful is important to becoming wealthy, because the more grateful you are, the more things come into your life for you to be grateful about. . Consider starting a gratitude journal and writing what you are grateful for. Since you are focusing on the good in your life, there must be more good things that will come into your life. .
I had the pleasure of interviewing Joel Salomon. Joel is a prosperity coach who helps others overcome obstacles standing in the way of their financial freedom. In 2018, he published Mindful Money Management: Memoirs of a Hedge Fund Manager, which immediately became a Best Seller. In 2019, Joel published The 9 Money Rules Millionaires Use: Only The Unconventional Ones to effusive praise. Joel is an award-winning speaker and frequent podcast guest. He has led 9 workshops teaching the concepts of how to overcome limiting beliefs. He has spoken at numerous Rotary and Lions’ Clubs in the New York Metropolitan area and at Mercy College’s MBA program, as well as at Mike Dooley’s Infinite Possibilities Training Conference in New Orleans in March 2018. He appeared on TV with CEO Money and has also been a guest on more than 20 podcasts including Every Day is a New Day Show, the Award-Winning Nice Guys Podcast, The Financial Survival Network, and Think, Believe, Manifest. Joel has also been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, U.S. News and World Report, and interviewed in Forbes and on Bloomberg Radio. In 2012, he achieved a decades-long dream with the launch of his own hedge fund, SaLaurMor Capital (named after his two daughters, Lauren and Morgan). Salomon’s financial experience includes managing a $700 million long/short equity and credit portfolio for Citi. Salomon generated positive returns every full year during his time at Citi, including 2008, when the market suffered 40 percent losses and financial stocks — the only ones he was managing — collapsed 57%. Salomon has been a Chartered Financial Analyst since 1995. In 1992, he was named a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries. He is also an Advanced Communicator Gold Toastmaster and a Certified Infinite Possibilities Trainer & Trailblazer. When not helping others achieve their financial dreams, Salomon enjoys table tennis, bowling, and skiing. He is also an avid traveler and has visited over forty countries and five continents.
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?
What path did I follow to become a portfolio manager? Here is a very quick synopsis of my path:
I became a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) in May 1992 while I was working at New York Life Insurance Company. Though I was having some fun working there, I had a lot more fun in the evenings and weekends when I was analyzing stocks. My key question to myself back then was, how do I align my hobby and my career?
Yes, I did call up lots of actuaries on Wall Street and got a lot of doubt. Finally, I found an actuary who told me his ‘secret.’ He advised me to start working at a rating agency. If you want to move to the buy side — that is, invest in the stocks or bonds of insurers — the best place to learn is a rating agency.
Both Moody’s Investors Service and Standard and Poor’s Rating Service were touted as great training grounds. They said that I would be able to utilize my actuarial skills to analyze financial statements, get access to insurers’ cash flow testing and reserve adequacy analysis, and be able to determine the creditworthiness of those insurers. Not only that, they said — but I would have the opportunity to upgrade or downgrade companies, assign ratings to debt securities, write up special reports on important industry issues, and create research reports on individual companies.
Additionally, I would be able to travel!
The analysis aspects sounded awesome. The job description also appealed to my second-biggest passion after investing, which is traveling. I was hooked.
So, I started working at Moody’s Investors Service in 1993.
The next step those actuaries on Wall Street prescribed was to get a job at one of the big banks. Did I do that?
Here is where my route to becoming a hedge fund manager was truly unconventional. I didn’t follow the traditional path — the rule. Everyone said you had to get a job as an associate at one of those big banks: Citi, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, or Morgan Stanley. Then work your way up to a senior analyst covering insurance companies, then — and only then — could you possibly get a job at a hedge fund or mutual fund. And that job would be a senior analyst, not a portfolio manager. But if you did well picking stocks at that fund, eventually they would promote you to a fund manager. Or you could leave the firm and get a job at another fund as a portfolio manager.
Well, my next job was at Swiss Reinsurance Company.
A recruiter called me and said that a reinsurer was making private equity (PE) investments and was looking for an analyst. I jumped at the chance to interview and quickly realized during the process that the job was much more than a PE analyst.
This group at Swiss Re was on the cutting edge of financial markets. They were structuring credit enhancements (a method whereby a company attempts to improve its creditworthiness) for individual insurance blocks of business and trying to do the same for whole companies. And they were managing the existing PE portfolio.
Now, I realized this wasn’t public securities (the kind traded on exchanges, with constantly updated prices like you see crawling across the bottom of the TV screen on CNBC). But I also realized that it was getting me one step closer to my dream job. So, I took it!
But who knew that I really took this job so that I could get laid off, move to Zurich, and travel all over Europe for almost a year and a half?
When I got back to New York in 2000, I realized that I really wasn’t one step closer to my dream job and eventually started looking for it. But I did have doubts (now I tell my clients to “Doubt the Doubt!”) and I actually found an opportunity at a small hedge fund that was looking for an equity and credit analyst. After three short years, I received a call from my Citi equity salesperson asking me if I was interested in being a portfolio manager there. My dream job — well, almost. I say “almost,” because my dream was really to have my own company.
I started at Citi in January, 2008. Yes, it took me fifteen years, but I did succeed in my dream of managing money. And as all of you know who read Mindful Money Management, I did eventually start my own hedge fund in 2013.
No, I didn’t follow the ‘rule’ of going to the sell-side to become a money manager. I did make the leap from credit rating agency to industry to analyst to money manager though. And, no, I don’t have an MBA.
I get asked all the time: “how can you become a money manager without an MBA?” or, “how can you become a money manager without working on the sell-side?” In fact, one client of mine asked me to teach him how to transition from having a job as an actuary to a career as a money manager.
My answer is to believe in your dreams and desires. Having faith or absolute belief (Rule # 1) or a ‘knowing,’ means believing in your dreams. Because as Napoleon Hill said in one of favorite books, the New York Times best seller Think and Grow Rich:“Whatever the mind of man can conceive, and bring himself to believe, he can achieve.”
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?
I am in the Canadian Rockies with my good friend, Mike Perlin. It’s July 1998. We are planning an amazing day of hiking in Banff. I am about to make a critical mistake: I grab a Financial Times to read over breakfast. I turn to the second section to see this headline: “Life Re Agrees to Be Bought by Swiss Re.” I read the short article and feel my stomach start to ache. I call my boss at Swiss Re and have to leave a voicemail: “Ed, I saw the news. It doesn’t sound good. I know we are purchasing Life Re, but you’re not mentioned in the article. Nor is Kin [Ed’s boss]. Can you call me back today?” I hang up, not feeling any better.
Some may look back and view it as a “take-under” given the forthcoming changes in management and strategy. It was clear from the announcement to this private equity analyst that his division was not “core,” as Moody’s used to say.
Ed calls me back a few hours later and tells me: “Joel, I don’t disagree with you. Don’t be surprised to see a pink slip on your desk when you get back!”
I hang up.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME??
I was at Swiss Re about one year.
I have to look for another job?
Well, those last 10 days of that trip to the Pacific Northwest wasn’t my best vacation.
I get back to NY. Happily, there wasn’t a pink slip on my desk. But in September 1998 we learned that my whole group was being let go. I did have to look for another job!
Two months later as I am interviewing for other positions. I get a call from an actuary in another division of Swiss Re. He says “Joel. I heard what is going on. I think I have a solution. There is a need for an insurance credit analyst in Credit Risk Management. I can put you in touch with the head of the division and I’m sure you will get the job. There is only one catch. The job is in Zurich.”
I hang up.
Now, you have already heard that one of my biggest passions in life is traveling and being smack in the center of Europe is probably the best place to start your travels.
So, from bad things come good things and from really bad things come great things!
And what happened next? The actuary in Swiss Re New Markets who had called me then hounded the Credit Risk Management Department to woo me.
Getting laid-off so that I could move to Zurich wasn’t the reason why I joined Swiss Re. But I realized that it was an excellent position to learn about credit risk. Swiss Re was the company actually doing the transactions.
Not only was I excited by the prospect of delving into all types of financial instruments and insurers, but I got to analyze them from Zurich.
Traveling is indeed a passion of mine. But when I first heard that the job had to be in Zurich I was filled with a mix of joy and fear.
The joy came from the opportunity to travel from the center of Europe. In 1995, I had visited my good friend, Ken Kim, in London with my best friend Rob Davidsen. We journeyed from London to Paris on the Chunnel and saw the Eiffel Tower, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Rodin Museum and the Picasso Museum. We also ventured out of Paris to see Versailles.
I realized Ken was living my dream life and traveling the world, and I wished for that. Four years later I got my wish.
Everyone has their own Aladdin’s lamp and Genie!!
My Genie, I realized, was me! I wished for travel and I got it!
So, why was I nervous and fearful?
Well, I had not lived abroad before. I had no idea about the culture, the people, the language, let alone the work environment. I also didn’t know anyone there. I had no support network like I did in New York. Still, I knew that despite the fears, it felt right.
I was invited to go to Zurich for three weeks in January 1999 to get acclimated. My new boss certainly knew how to sell me!
She invited me to the annual Swiss Re New Markets conference in Schruns, Austria for an intense few days of note-taking. I arrived a day early to experience skiing Austrian style. The Swiss know how to balance work and life. I was sold after my first weekend.
I was supposed to be in Zurich for just six months. But how would I be able to get to visit all of my favorite cities in just six months? I needed more time. In fact, I arrived on April 30, 1999 and by September, I had only visited Berlin, the Black Forest, Lisbon, Munich, Venice, Como, Milan, Lugano, Locarno, Bellinzona, Davos, Geneva, Luzern, Basel, Stuttgart, Dachau, Vaduz, London, Bruges, and Brussels.
I was just getting started. I begged to stay longer and my boss complied. I stayed another six months.
Nonetheless, by January 2000 I realized that I still was not going to reach my goal. So, I pleaded once more for an extended stay and I was able to stay until July 2000. I felt somewhat sated despite not getting my Visa approved in time to visit St. Petersburg.
I returned to the States, though not without planning a trip back in August to visit Madrid, Barcelona and the Gold Coast of Spain. Happily, I was able to visit more than twenty countries (if you include the tiny principalities of Monaco and Liechtenstein) and over forty European cities.
Two big lessons from this story are: Thoughts become things. What you wish for and have a burning desire for and believe — without a doubt — will come true. And of course, I truly believe from bad things come good things and from awful things come awesome, amazing things.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I just finished my second book, The 9 Money Rules Millionaires Use: Only The Unconventional Ones, which is now available on Amazon and here. It will help others by giving them procedures to apply to become financially free.
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?
The main cause of the lack of financial literacy is lack of education. What I teach my clients and The Boys and Girls Club of Stamford as a Prosperity Coach must be included in the school system as part of the core curriculum. It is just a shame that teenagers don’t know about savings, investing, how to balance a checkbook, how to budget, and what their financial freedom number is.
If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?
I would require financial literacy to be a subject that is taught each year from middle school through high school with annual exams like the New York State Regents exam. Financial literacy would include the items I just mentioned above, which is really five items.
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.
Here are 5 non-intuitive essentials for smart investing:
- Beliefs. As a prosperity coach, I tell my clients to write down their belief level for each investment idea they have where “1” is massive doubt: That’s really, really risky! Can’t I lose all my money in that investment? And “10” is absolute faith: I know that I am going to make tons of money in this investment. Let me give you an example (Let me be clear that I am not recommending you buy cryptocurrencies; it is only an example): On November 24th, 2017, two guys buy bitcoin at $8,000. One guy has been researching it all year and decided it was an awesome investment opportunity. He’s a “10.” The second guy had gotten a tip from a friend that it was going higher. He buys one bitcoin, though he has massive doubt; he is a “1.” Less than a week later, bitcoin is worth about $10,000. The first guy is so happy. “I told you, it was going higher,” he says. The second guy worries, “I hope it doesn’t go back down.” A few days later bitcoin is back at $8,800. The first guy doubles down and buys more. “This is the best buying opportunity out there,” he explains. The second guys sells! He is really worried and believes this is risky and complete speculation. He is so happy he made a little bit of money on bitcoin. Less than three weeks later, bitcoin hits its all-time high of $19,500. The guy who knew he was going to make money sells. He makes almost 250 percent in less than one month. The second guy has no idea where bitcoin is trading. He is worried about losing money elsewhere.
- Intuition. I found that while I was managing hundreds of millions of dollars as a hedge fund manage that if I didn’t trust my intuition I either made less money or lost money. Since 2010, I’ve had many intuitive hits. Many came from just staring at the Bloomberg screen. Some came while I was actually writing or analyzing a stock, some while I was in the shower thinking about something completely different, and many from license plates.So, how can you develop your intuition? I teach my clients that intuition is just like any other muscle, like your bicep. You have to exercise it to make it stronger. You go to the gym and do curls to develop your biceps (at least I used to!), so why not find ways to develop your intuition? How do you exercise it? When you are on the subway platform in Manhattan and there is a local train sitting there but an express is coming, use your intuition to decide which one to take. Let me give you an investment example using intuition. In 2008, we had shorted American International Group (AIG) — bet that the stock was going to go down. AIG had large exposure to the financial crisis, but we had no idea things were so bad that they were going to have to be bailed out by the US Government. We started shorting it in March, and in May, when they announced they were raising money, my gut (or intuition) was telling me to hold on. But the stock had already fallen from $80 to $50 and my analyst — and my intellect — convinced me to get out. We did! And two days later, it was at $45–down 10 percent — in just two days! We shorted it again at $45 and held on, until it was $12. This generated earnings of about 60 percent, as I trusted my intuition.
- Be Happy. I found that when I was sad and depressed about losing money, I continued to lose money. I was literally in tears. It was July 1, 2015. After having heard the news, I was sitting on the Metro North train which had just arrived at the Harlem ̶ 125th Street stop on the New Haven line at 7:15 a.m. One of my biggest shorts was about to be acquired for a 30 percent premium. Yes, we were hedged, but we definitely should not have been that day! Having a short acquired and having to buy it back 30 percent higher than you sold it, is not the way to start off your day! Not only that, but I was short a number of companies in the property and casualty (P&C) industry that were going to go up in sympathy. And I found out a few hours later that even those that had no correlation to this large national insurer, Chubb Corporation (CB), were to jump as well. In fact, a Florida insurance company, that we were short and was less than 2 percent of the size of CB, jumped more than 5 percent that day. To make matters worse, the upward trend in these P&C companies continued on for days.Why was I in tears? I literally felt pain in my stomach. I felt so sad that I was going to lose all this money for my investors. The people who had entrusted me with their money to manage. The people who believed in me and had given me their hard-earned money to manage for them. I felt like I had let them down. I was sad. I felt like I was not worthy of anything! As I walked into my office thirty minutes later, I put the song that was playing on my headphones on speaker mode so my colleagues could hear:
“Ooh-oo child, things are going to get easier
Ooh-oo child, things’ll get brighter . . .
Some day, yeah
We’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done
When your head is much lighter . . .”
— “Ooh Child” by The Five Stairsteps
I was definitely not feeling happy, but the song made me stop crying. I put on a good calm appearance that day and I did realize that things were going to get brighter and easier eventually. Being happy (Rule #3) does create more happiness in your life. Here are a few things I do to create happiness: (1) Listen to uplifting songs; (2) Use affirmations to change your feelings from negative to positive; (3) Read some inspiring books; (4) Meditate; and (5) Have fun! Do activities that you enjoy: play a game of ping pong with a friend, play video games, go for a hike or a walk on a sun-drenched day, jog or work out at a fitness center, or get a massage or manicure/pedicure.
4. Visualize. Think about what you want to happen not what you don’t want to happen (that is called worrying!). I want to describe a process of manifestation that Wayne Dyer recommends in his best seller, Wishes Fulfilled. A great quote from that book is “Make your future dream a present reality by assuming the feeling of the wish fulfilled.” In this book, which I read in 2016, Wayne recommends getting a cardboard box and writing on all four sides and the top: “Whatever is contained in this box, is,” which I did. And to me that means that whatever you put in the box exists in the physical world somewhere. Well, I threw in some dream furniture, some dream homes, some dream vacations, and . . . even a dream car in there. I didn’t really look at any of these items closely though.
In January 2018, as I am a Hyatt credit card holder, I received a letter from Hyatt saying that they were doing a promotion for their Maui Residence Inn for just one thousand dollars for six days and five nights. I quickly booked the end of August when I had my daughters for a week or so for summer vacation. Well, I figured since we were going all the way to Maui, we should also go to the Big Island to tour the rainforest and the Volcano (this was before it had begun to spew lava later in 2018).
I went on Travelocity and did a search for hotels from least expensive to most. I don’t remember the least expensive, but one of the cheapest ones was called The Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa. I checked it out and it had a nice pool for my daughters who love to swim. So, I booked it for two nights.
A few weeks later, Morgan saw the cardboard box that my cleaning lady happened to move and asked what it was. I explained, and she asked if we could open it and go through it. I said, “Of course, we can.” I thought it would be interesting to look at the pictures that I had cut out from all the magazines two years earlier, not really remembering exactly what was in the box.
After going through a number of items, we came upon a postcard (see below) that listed three hotels. The first one was the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa, and the third one was the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. The very two hotels we then visited in August of 2018.
Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidences, only synchronicities.
This is another way that manifestation works.
It is interesting to note that I didn’t spend day after day thinking about Hawaii and how I was going to go there on vacation with my daughters. I should note, though, that when I asked them in May of 2017 what vacation(s) would they like to go on in the future, they did say, “Hawaii.” Furthermore, I also wrote this sentence on page 200 of Mindful Money Management: Memoirs of a Hedge Fund Manager in the summer of 2017: Maui is a place I am really looking forward to visiting again with Lauren and Morgan, in the near future.
5. Gratitude. Feeling appreciation for what you have causes more items to come into your life to appreciative about. So, why is gratitude a part of my unconventional rules? Being grateful is important to becoming wealthy, because the more grateful you are, the more things come into your life for you to be grateful about. This is what is known as the Law of Attraction. Consider starting a gratitude journal and writing what you are grateful for. Since you are focusing on the good in your life, there must be more good things that will come into your life. For me, the first few months of having my own hedge fund made me so grateful. I was living my dream and being able to do what I wanted to do all day every day. And a funny thing happened, we had amazing performance — generating a 10% return in just six months.
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?
Mike Dooley has been a huge influence on me as a Prosperity Coach these last three years. Here is an amazing story about my connection with Mike.
I was talking to my friend, Kirsi, in July 2016, asking her questions about how to market as a Prosperity Coach, and at the end of all my queries, she says to me, “So, will I see you in October?”
I said, “Why?”
And she said, “Because Playing the Matrix is coming to New York.”
I said, “Playing the what?”
She exclaimed, “you must know Notes from the Universe. Don’t you get the daily emails?”
I said “No, I actually don’t get that.”
She said, “Really — you don’t know Mr. Universe, Mike Dooley?” So, I start racking my brain and I get a picture in my head of Arnold Schwarzenegger. But Kirsi explains to me about Mike and his Notes from the Universe.
I arrived at the Omega Institute in October 2016 not having done any research on Mike or Playing the Matrix. Kirsi is trustworthy. I took her recommendation and I went.
The first day, Mike tells his story about being an accountant and about the first chapter of Infinite Possibilities which is called “Thoughts Become Things.” Chills ran through my body. And I ran up to him after that session and showed him my email signature from when I’d started my hedge fund in 2013. It said: “Thoughts are things.” This was from my second-favorite book, Think and Grow Rich, the one that has sold more than one hundred million copies!
After the Playing the Matrix conference at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York in October 2016, I realized I needed to take some baby steps to move myself forward toward my dream of helping at least one hundred thousand people become financially free. I was still working on shutting down my fund but Playing the Matrix is all about eliminating the cursed hows and thinking about end results. So I visualized and ‘acted as if.’
At the end of the Playing the Matrix course, I jumped up on stage. And I had someone take a picture of me speaking. And . . . eighteen months later I was speaking in front of a crowd of more than 100 people at Mike’s Train The Trainer course in New Orleans.
But what baby steps did I take?
First, I signed up for Toastmasters, like Mike did, and started giving speeches. Yes, really.
The guy who was so fearful he had to bring notes to every presentation he made throughout his career and have every slide written out, joined Toastmasters! And they said “don’t use notes!” What?!
Well, I’ve now given over fifty speeches at Toastmasters. But, most importantly, I was able to give a seventeen-minute speech at my daughter Lauren’s Bat Mitzvah in front of almost two hundred people on March 4th, 2017 without my index cards. In fact, in 2019, I gave another very important speech at Morgan’s Bat Mitzvah in front of more than two hundred people for about fifteen minutes, also without any note cards.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson is “Doubt the Doubt.” Believe in your dreams and desires. The story above about me becoming a Hedge Fund Manager despite all the doubters — including me — is a great example of how this has been relevant to me in my life.
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. 🙂
My goal is to help at least 100,000 people become financially free by teaching about financial literacy through my books, workshops and social media presence.
Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!