Brad Johnson: Welcome back to another episode of Do Business Do Life. I have my friend, Taylor Schulte, here today. Welcome to the show, Taylor.
Taylor Schulte: Brad, thanks for having me. Good to see you.
Brad Johnson: For two guys in finance doing podcasts for as long as we have, why did it take so, dang, long to make this happen? I don’t know.
Taylor Schulte: I’m not sure either, but I’m excited.
Brad Johnson: Well, I know we were doing a little preview. We could have done a podcast before the podcast, but excited to get into what we’re going to get into today. But as every origin story starts, I think ours it’s a fun one and it’s also very do business, do life. And so, I thought it would be fun to get into that. So, what’s your side of it? What’s your memory of it? And then I’ll get to like my take on it of how we first connected. You remember?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. Well, I think my memory was, I was really struggling both personally and professionally, and this is probably three or four years ago, and I think I had posted something on Twitter. I think it was like a picture of my family and I just kind of had enough of the way I was kind of treating myself and treating my time and my calendar. And I had remembered we don’t get snow in San Diego, but we have local mountains, and a few times per year, the local mountains will get snow. And I’m talking like a 45-minute drive and we can be in snow. And I remember waking up and I’m like, “There’s snow in the local mountains. My kids don’t have school. You know what? Like, I’m not going to go to work today. I’m going to throw the family in the car and we’re going to go just have a day.” And it kind of gives me chills talking about it. And it’s kind of funny. And I just like did it. I don’t really care about anything else, right? I’m going to push everything else aside and go do this thing.
And it was just a really cool day with the family and it was really like impromptu, and my wife is not. She likes to plan very far ahead for things and so do I. And so, it’s just like, “Let’s just do this thing.” Anyway, so we had this great day and came down the mountain and I had this great picture of the family and it just like captured that day. And I think I shared it on Twitter with some of my struggles and things that I was battling with. I know you and a lot of people responded and reached out. One of the things that you had done in response was sent me this book, The Family Board Meeting by Jim Sheils. And I recall reading it on a short flight. I read it in like 45 minutes and it just like it just slapped me in the face. I shouldn’t say that. Like, it just gave me a lot of great ideas and actionable tools so that I could be more intentional with my family time. And so, now family board meetings is an integral part of my life, my family. Every year, my wife orders one of those giant big calendars from I forget who the person is. You probably know. And the very first thing I do…
Brad Johnson: Probably Jesse Itzler. Is it Jesse Itzler?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah, I have seen Jesse.
Brad Johnson: I think it’s called like the Big A## Calendar or something.
Taylor Schulte: Yeah, exactly. I think there’s a few of them out there. I don’t know where my wife orders it from, but every year she gets one, and the very first thing we do is map out our family board meetings for the entire year. So, those are our rocks, our family board meetings. So, it was really impactful on me and my relationship with my kids. And I think I’ve shared with you, I think it’s the most gifted book that I give out. I mean, there’s not another book that I’ve purchased more of and given away. So, I got to thank you for that, for introducing me to it. That’s my memory. Hopefully, it aligns with yours.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I would say spot on. And as coincidence would have it, you said you have a board meeting with your oldest today, right?
Taylor Schulte: Yep. We have our last board meeting of the year with my oldest son today. I mean, maybe you can relate. I mean, this is all my son has talked about all week. Like, he just cannot wait for Friday afternoon when we get to go spend time together. That one-to-one time is just it’s special to us as the parent but those kids really start to feel it, too. So, yeah, we’re excited. We have a good board meeting lined up.
Brad Johnson: You know, it’s funny. I didn’t know this was going to happen but speaking of being your most gifted, also mine, like I still have a stack right here. So, Family Board Meeting for those watching on video here. You know what, we’re going to gift some away just because it’s the same thing for me. So, we’ll make sure we put that in the intro but I always had a Front Row Dads. Jon Vroman created a community, just dads, entrepreneur dads that wanted to level up. That’s where I first met Jim Sheils. And it had to be like 20-, dang, probably ‘16 or ‘17. I think he did his first one. And Jim happened to be there. And I know you and I, one thing we share, one of the things we share in common we’re framework guys. We’re like, “Oh, just give me the framework and I’ll implement it.” And I feel really fortunate. It was when the kids were little because it just made sense. It’s like organize your calendar in a way where that intention is just baked right into it. We use the same terminology, big rocks, put the big rocks on the calendar first, and fit everything else around it.
And that one thing, now, I’ve got a 13-year-old, a 12-year-old, a seven-year-old, that has been some of my best memories, my most intentional conversations one-on-one with my kids that I look back and I’m like just lifelong memories now. And all I needed was the framework to pull it off. And so, I love that you just took that like here’s the thing. I just sent it. I didn’t know if it would hit or if you’d even implement it, but I love that that’s made that impact on you. It’s cool to hear.
Taylor Schulte: And it’s so simple. And even little things like I found myself wanting to cheat the system sometimes. It’s like both boys want to go see the same movie, right, for our board meeting. Why don’t I just take both of them? And I remember one time I said that out loud to my wife. She’s like, “No, like that’s not the purpose of these things.” So, just like that very simple rule of like, “No, this is one-to-one time with each child.” And so, just those little things kind of help keep us in check and make these experiences a lot more valuable. So, yeah, it was incredibly valuable to me. I’ve gotten to know Jim over the years. He’s a fantastic guy and my wife and I were actually on his podcast, which was a lot of fun.
Brad Johnson: That’s cool. I didn’t know that. I love connecting good people. And I know Laura, I don’t know if she still runs it but she had a mom podcast and I was like, I think actually I connected those two and I was like, “Jim, you got to go on this podcast.” So, it’s cool. I didn’t know you guys had stayed in touch.
Taylor Schulte: Yep. Yeah. He’s been great, both him and his wife.
Brad Johnson: Very cool. Well, I will say before we move on to some business stuff, that one-on-one thing is really important. I know you’ve got three kiddos, we have three at home. I think the oldest naturally is always kind of running the show. “Hey, little brother, little sister, here’s kind of how it goes.” And that’s what’s cool. Where I’ve seen the biggest impact is our second child, our youngest child, is for the first time in their lives, they actually have the space to set the agenda, how they want to set it, not like arguing over what movie to watch with brother or sister. Have you seen that same thing come out? Or it’s like it gives them the freedom for their personality to come out?
Taylor Schulte: It does. Our two boys are really close in age. And so, one thing we do ramp against is if one kid went to Dave & Buster’s, the other kid also wants to go to Dave & Buster’s. And so, there is just like I wish they’d think a little bit more freely for themselves rather than just like, “Well, he got to do it so I want to do it.” It’s fine. I mean, they’re young. They’re six and five, so I’m sure as they get older they’ll start to make more independent decisions. But yeah, it is nice to separate that and let them make the choice. The other thing I want to mention too before we move on is and I’m not sure if this is in the book or something that my wife and I just decided to implement, but we’ve implemented something similar for ourselves. So, every Wednesday night, we have date night one-on-one. So, we have a sitter lined up every single Wednesday where my wife and I go out and have dinner, catch up. This week we went to a movie. And then once a month, we have an overnight somewhere else. So, we’ll have a staycation or drive up to Orange County or something and we’ll have an overnight.
So, just like those two things, those very intentional things that, again, are rocks in our calendar have been really good for her and I. So, not just one-to-one with the kids but one-to-one time, intentional one-to-one time with each other.
Brad Johnson: I love that. Yeah, my wife and I, similar, just the cadence of never stopped dating when she married. And some of that is advice I’ve just picked up from other couples that are further down the journey in marriage than we were. And there were just common themes I saw, and one of my friends once told me, “The best way to love your children and set that example for your children is to love their mother as a husband and dad.” So, love that you’re modeling that, man. We could just make this like a dad podcast if you want. Well, cool. Since you’ve got a board meeting today, I picked this up from my buddy, John Kane. What’s kind of fun once you have friends that also do the board meetings, they’ll have their little spin or their tweak on it. And he said one of the things he’ll do, so he’ll usually set the agenda like you’re going to the movie and doing the Dave & Buster’s but then he’ll end it with some intentional look-back time and let them pick their favorite restaurant or whatever. And he’ll ask a question and this is it’s a dangerous question to ask a kid because you’ll always get the truth, “How can I be a better dad to you?”
Taylor Schulte: How interesting.
Brad Johnson: And I will tell you, sometimes what comes out is, “Hey, dad, I don’t like when you’re upset and you yell,” or, “Hey, dad, like you’re on your phone a lot.” And so, you’ll get the truth. So, if you decide to drop that in, that’s one that I have because I do want to know the truth. Like, how can I be a better dad? So, there’s a little add-on if you want it.
Taylor Schulte: I like that. Yeah. That’s a really good question. Hold me accountable. I will ask that question today and hopefully, the truth won’t hurt too bad.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Text me the response like if it’s anything groundbreaking. Well, not only do I love like how you show up as a human and as a dad, and that’s why I like to surround myself with Taylor is just like guys that like we share a common interest and just the way that we approach life. But as an advisor, I’ve learned a lot from you. I know we’ve connected through different times. We got a chance to hang at Future Proof here recently. And where I want to kick off is I’ve personally been podcasting for, I guess, almost a decade now. You’ve been podcasting like before it was like cool for a financial advisor to be a podcaster. But there’s a lot of advisors that have podcasts but rarely, I know it’s becoming more and more, but rarely do I see advisors not only drive true appointments and business and revenue through their podcast, but in your case almost exclusively through your podcast. So, we better dive into that. So, I don’t know where you want to kick it off. If you want to share maybe your journey of like why you even created a podcast in the first place. You now have multiple but your Stay Wealthy Retirement podcast, which is kind of the client-facing one. Love to hear your thoughts there.
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. It’s a messy journey. So, I mean, it’s worth touching on the beginning a little bit before we share where we’re at today. When I launched the podcast, it was one of those like I know it seems like everybody’s launching podcasts these days, so I’ll launch a podcast. And one of the biggest marketing mistakes that I’ve made over the years that I probably still continue to make and catch myself and mistakes that I see other advisors make is we think we can throw money at something to solve our marketing problems. We think we can just hire this agency, pay them $5,000 a month, and all of a sudden, we’ll have leads flowing into our firm. And so, when I started the podcast, I was lazy about it and I threw money at it. And I spent, I think, $6,000 to launch this podcast thinking that this company would just do all the work for me, launch this beautiful podcast, and all of a sudden people start showing up. The other kind of mistake I made too, as I said out loud, is I wasn’t very intentional about what the goal for the podcast was. I remember I kept calling it a project and somebody told me, and I don’t know who it was, he said, “Stop calling it a project. Like, identify a goal for this thing and treat it like a real business.”
And it just kind of hit me one day that, yeah, I’m just like fumbling around. I’m just experimenting. I’m not really doing any of the hard work. I’m calling it a project. I’m not really taking it seriously. And so, I really stumbled with the podcast for probably two years and then I eventually, again, somebody said something that just hit me and I’m like I’m going to take this seriously. And one of the first things I did was get really clear about who my ideal listener was. You know, stop talking to everybody and get really crystal clear on who my ideal listener was. Identify the pain points of my ideal listener and then craft all of the content to speak and help address those pain points. And just like that tweak alone was wildly helpful, not just in terms of like traction and downloads and subscribers, but it also made my job a lot easier producing content. Once you know exactly who you’re talking to and what their pain points are, I mean, I have a giant Google doc of topic ideas. Sometimes I hear from advisors like, “How do you know what you’re going to talk about next?”
Like, there are no shortage of topics and a little dirty secret in podcasting and things that have performed well, topics that have performed well in the past are great topics to repurpose again in the future so we don’t have to, you know, if we’ve covered Roth conversions in the past doesn’t mean we can’t cover them again. And what you’ll find out is your listeners don’t latch on to every little word that you’re saying. So, you might say it a little bit differently or they needed to hear it two or three times. So, it’s just made my job as a podcaster and a content creator a lot easier. So, fast forward to today and we’re approaching 2 million downloads. We get 40,000 or 50,000 downloads per month and, yeah, it drives 98% of all of our new revenue here at the firm.
Brad Johnson: All right. There’s a lot there. So, let’s go back. What year did you start the Stay Wealthy Retirement Podcast originally?
Taylor Schulte: I want to say I initially launched the podcast in 2016 and it was called Stay Wealthy San Diego. So, fans of Anchorman, spin on, “Stay classy.”
Brad Johnson: Was that on purpose? That’s exactly where my head went.
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. It was on purpose. It’s called Stay Wealthy San Diego and it was originally my idea was kind of how I built this, if there’s any Guy Raz fans, like how I built this but hyper-local. So, I would interview local executives, CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners in a similar fashion. So, that’s how it started. And again, it was a pretty epic failure.
Brad Johnson: Interesting. Are those all, did you do away with the original episodes?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. I kept them up for a long time, just like, “Hey, this is part of my journey,” but with the show growing and just the type of content that we’ve got, it just was so irrelevant, I ended up I think it was just this year I got rid of them all.
Brad Johnson: But there’s such a lesson there. Just jump in, get uncomfortable, iterate, figure it out. I love that. Well, I cringe when I listen to my early episodes, and I’m guessing that’s probably the case when you go way back.
Taylor Schulte: 100%. Yeah. One thing I want to emphasize here is, yeah, like you do need to as Carl Richards says like play in traffic and just like hit record and put yourself out there. But I want to emphasize that hard work is required too but, again, like just like throwing money at this thing, hoping that they come up with something clever that works is not a recipe for success. So, it required me to like hit the pause button and really force myself to do the hard work before that success would start. I mean, I talked to advisors about this all the time. Any time something feels easy to me like, “Oh, that’s a shortcut,” it’s usually a trigger to say, “Yeah. That’s not going to work. I need to put some real time.” It’s got to be challenging. It’s got to be hard. It’s got to be outside my comfort zone in order for me to have success with it.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. There are a few things here. And so, it looks traditional media versus I’ll call it new media, Internet media, whatever we want to call it, digital media. Because I think our industry, I mean, advisors did throw money at marketing, call it radio, TV, seminars, there was baked into an instant gratification. And the reason being is you are buying the audience. The reason TV and radio cost money, there’s already an established audience that you’re tapping into that and here’s my show on this established radio network. Right? And to your point, that is one of the biggest since I’ve seen that financial advisors do with marketing is it’s like I think I can just buy a shortcut and you see it all the time. Like, if you scroll through a financial advisor’s social where they try to outsource their personality to some third party and then they wonder why every post has one like if they’re lucky. It’s not you. You can’t outsource your personality.
I want to get your take on it but the beauty, like even going back to the original name of your podcast, I had no clue the power of digital media until you start to get random feedback once you’ve been putting in enough reps where it’s like people in the UK are listening to your show, people in Canada, people in Australia, and just the reach where you have worldwide syndication and the analytics on the back end to your point on, “Hey, my Roth conversion episode had 3X the downloads. Oh, maybe I should talk about that again.” So, you’re tapping into this worldwide audience that’s not geographically based like most traditional media. You’re tapping into the analytics of I can actually see what you can do that in radio. I mean, there’s no way to say five times more people listen to this show than that show. So, maybe talk through your thought process, your learnings as you started to figure the game out, I guess, for lack of a better term.
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. I guess what came to mind as you’re saying all that is I want to make sure it’s clear that throwing money at things isn’t a bad thing. Once you’ve done the hard work, you’ve got good systems and processes in place. You have some sort of a content strategy, a marketing strategy. Absolutely. Like, spend money to pour gasoline on that thing. You know, now that my podcast is where it’s at and I’ve got a process for converting listeners, if I want to pour gas on it, I can absolutely throw money at it to advertise the podcast in different places to get more listeners and leverage other people’s platforms. So, again, to me, it’s just in the beginning when we don’t want to figure out a process for mastering social media. So, we just hire somebody else to do it for us. Like, that’s the mistake right there. But if I have a good process in place for social media, I can package that up and delegate it, and throw some money at it to help take it to the next level.
So, yeah, I think traditional media can work for those that pay for radio spots or webinars, seminars. The ones that are successful, again, like have that process in place to make sure they get the right people in the room to have a process for educating and nurturing and building trust and expertise very quickly in a process for converting them to clients. They didn’t just spend money and hope people sign on the dotted line. So, I always say like, any of these marketing strategies can work. There’s not like one single thing that works. Just to me, the common thread is doing the hard work and having systems and processes in place.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. And back to your early episodes, there is a benefit to having no audience and that is fail when nobody’s watching. My guess is maybe your mom was listening in to the early episodes in your life. So, it allowed you to find your voice, figure out what the show actually was supposed to be as you found your way. And I think oftentimes people forget when you’re doing the reps, the podcast, blogging, whatever that is, if it’s a personality-based marketing funnel, that is the long game, not the short game. I had a mentor told me once, “Don’t do your first episode on a podcast if you don’t plan on doing your 100th,” to your take on don’t make it a project, right? Like, this has got to be a full commitment. So, let’s go to you start to figure out, you tweak the podcast. So, originally started in 2016. Where did you pivot and then where did you start to see the growth take off? And were there things that like if you’re giving advice to other advisors like, “Do this. It helped me,” what would those tips be?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. So, again, I think number one was just getting really crystal clear on who I was talking to, who was my ideal client, who was my ideal listener. I did broaden the ideal listener a little bit from who are our ideal client is but I got crystal clear on that was the first thing. See, I started it, if memory serves, in late 2016, got serious about it in like 2018. I talk about this three-year rule of marketing that it takes about three years for something to really start to work. So, I’m going to say around 2020 or so is when things and you can see it in the analytics. I don’t have a pull-up in front of you but there’s just like this all of a sudden this spike and then the snowball effect and we’re off to the races. So, yeah, it was just really buckling down, getting crystal clear on who the audience was, and then starting to think about kind of honing my craft as a podcaster and kind of finding that process for creating content that’s unique to me. And there are a number of great retirement podcasts out there but we’re all very different. We all have a very different approach to the microphone.
And so, to your point, it does take time to find your voice and find your comfort level and find your process for creating shows and hitting record and publishing. So, other than getting crystal clear, and maybe it’s also worth noting here, too, that part of this process is identifying if this is even something that you want to do. And so, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with, I don’t know, starting with a private podcast, not sharing it with anybody and recording 10, 20 episodes, hitting publish, and maybe you’re the only one that has access to it. It’s like, did I enjoy that process? Do I have some sort of a natural talent for it? We’re not going to be perfect on day one, but like, can I see that there’s some sort of natural talent there? Or did you walk away with a headache and you’re frustrated and just wasn’t your jam? Like, then maybe don’t do podcasting. So, I think there are some experimentation there to ensure that it does match up with your skill set, things that you enjoy, and not just doing it because everybody else is doing it or you heard Taylor on a podcast say that he tripled his firm’s revenue from his podcast because I think that writing or video or public speaking, all these things can have the same amount of success.
So, I’m dancing around your question a little bit. I don’t think it’s so much the tactics. I mean, there are tactics to grow the podcast, but I think those tactics become so much easier once you’re clear about the direction of the show and who you’re talking to because then I can go, “Where else does my ideal audience live? Where else do they consume information?” So, the first things I did was I formed a partnership with Kiplinger and I would record a podcast episode. I would take the transcription. I would give it to one of my professional writers. She would turn it into a great-written article. In the very first paragraph of the article, it would mention like, “Hey, this week on the Stay Wealthy Retirement show, we talked about Roth conversions.” That’s hyperlinked to that episode and then that article is published on Kiplinger’s. Now, there’s hundreds of thousands of my ideal listener reading an article, and in the very first paragraph, seeing a hyperlink to this episode on my show. So, I’d start to repurpose some of this content to get it in front of my ideal audience in different places. That’s just one example of many tactics to leverage: once you know exactly who you’re talking to, what their pain points are, and again, just the direction you want to take it. So, yeah, I’ll leave it at that for now. I mean, happy to dive into more tactics.
Brad Johnson: I love that one. It’s Gary Vaynerchuk, Document, Don’t Create, right? Like, you’re already doing the long-form content. Now, you can just repurpose that into an article that’s pointing back to, and obvious, what you do there. You borrowed Kiplinger’s audience, right? Just like a lot of advisors borrow a radio station’s or TV station’s audience which is paid for. I want to go back to something you hit on that I am 1,000,000% aligned with. I think a lot of advisors create the show or the content and now it’s like, okay, now let’s go find some listeners. You started with the end in mind. You retrofitted, which was the exact same advice I got. Who is the end ideal target audience? What are their problems? What content? What product can I create that would serve them that they’re going to actually listen to and engage with? You’ve said, “I thought through my target audience,” like, how did you define that? Was it a demographic? Was it an interest? Like, if you said, “Here is my podcast ideal listeners,” what would those checkboxes be?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. Again, it matches up pretty closely with our ideal client. Our ideal client, my firm, is over age 50 in retirement or nearing retirement, million dollars or more, zero debt, has over-saved for retirement, expenses are under control, and taxes are a big problem in retirement. So, it helps craft a lot of my content because I’m not talking to retirees who are losing sleep at night because they’re not sure if they’ve saved enough. That’s not a topic that would resonate with my ideal listener. So, just something simple like that, knowing that our ideal listener has over-saved and is good at tracking their expenses, that they don’t overspend, that taxes are a pain point. All these little things start to help the direction of the content so that the ideal listener is right in line with that. I say broaden it a little bit. In my mind, it’s like age 45 and up. It’s people could be a little further out from retirement. You know, they may not have $1 million, but again, they’re healthy. They’re good savers. So, it broadens a little bit on the show but, again, you’re not going to hear me talk about like how to create a budget or like how to get out of debt. You’re just not going to hear any of those topics on the show.
Through all of this, I don’t know if you know who Dennis Moseley-Williams is, but he has this comment about finding your niche as an advisor and he says, “Niche, niche, weird.” So, it’s like retiree is one part of the niche. The second part of the niche is, I don’t know, over $1 million. Taxes are a pain point. And then the weird part is most of my listeners and most of our clients have never worked with an advisor ever before. These are your traditional bubblehead DIYers that have never used an advisor before and something resonates with them to push them over the edge and end up hiring us. It’s kind of like the weird part of the niche that I’ve learned just over the years of doing the podcast, talking to listeners, and growing our firm as a result.
Brad Johnson: Two things I notice in your description. Zero debt, which is interesting because I definitely get having expenses under control, not overspending, what you make all that. So, I want to unpack that one a little bit. And then I also noticed there was no demographic. I mean, I’m sorry, no geographic location. So, I’m assuming you don’t care where they’re at in America. So, can you hit those two?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. That was an interesting transition for me. Again, starting off with Stay Wealthy San Diego, I was like I’m a native San Diego and I’m from here. I know a lot of people here. Like, I’m just going to go all in on San Diego to all of a sudden chopping off San Diego, broadening the reach nationwide. And now over 50% of our clients are on the other side of the country and we’ve never met them in person. And I’m talking $5 million to $10 million just dream clients for any advisor on the other side of the country that we’ve never met in person before. And so, it’s pretty rare these days to have a local client. So, that’s been a huge shift for me. Like, I’m kind of an old soul, like I like that face-to-face in-person conversation. So, it was a weird shift for me to get comfortable with working with total strangers over the Internet. So, yeah, so we don’t have any sort of location in mind. And again, the benefit is we do have a national reach with our marketing. And not every advisor has that or even wants that, but that is one of the benefits for us. Now, to be clear here…
Brad Johnson: Before we get to the zero, were you moving to zero debt because I want to…? Okay. Yeah. Keep going.
Taylor Schulte: I was just going to say, I just want to be clear that you can’t broaden your reach nationally and not have a clear target audience. Right? I can’t just say like I work with retirees and I’m going to try to reach everybody nationally. I think it’s really challenging to be the next Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey, right? I’m not doing that. So, I asked one of our largest clients last couple of years, $10 million, couple in Florida. When he hired us, I’m like, “Frank, why are you going across the country to hire us?” And his comment was, “Because there’s nobody near me that does what you do.” And I’m like you and I both know that’s not true. There’s a lot of great retirement tax planners in Florida but my message and the way I communicated it and the topics on the podcast were so specific and spoke directly to him, that made him feel like, “There’s nobody else around me that does what he does and I’ll go across the country to hire him.” So, if you’re going to broaden your reach, I think you also have to narrow your ideal client.
Brad Johnson: I couldn’t agree more. You know, you talked about niches. The riches are in the niches. There’s all kinds of little phrases that we throw around in finance. But the cool thing is when you go, when you get rid of the geographic location, you actually have the freedom to niche pretty deep. You know, there’s the gentleman that just focuses his podcast on optometrists, 20/20 Money. You might be able to do that in San Diego. You sure couldn’t do it in Topeka, Kansas or Lawrence, Kansas, right? You have three clients. And so, it’s almost like this new way you have to look at the world because finance has looked at the world through brick and mortar for so long, I’m like, “This is my territory. This is what I want to focus on.” And like, it’s funny, like even the name of your first podcast, that’s very much how you’re viewing the world. So, before we get to the Zero Debt, I want to come back to that but as you expanded your thinking and realized how a podcast can allow you to create content differently, niche differently, the next thing is if you’re going to remove geographic constraint and you talked about being the old soul that likes to go face-to-face.
Now, the experience, the client experience has to be able to go virtual like we are right now. How did you start to rethink your client experience via Zoom interface or however you do it, to be able to let your client experience match your marketing to where that was congruent and not like super, like not a friendly experience, I guess, for lack of a better term?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. It’s an ongoing challenge. I think there are a lot of things that we can still improve on. A lot of it comes down to creating really good, tight processes to create that good experience. And it starts with the second they schedule an introductory phone call with our firm. We don’t need to go into that sales process right now, but when somebody schedules an introductory phone call with our firm, they do it through our website, which is pretty common these days with advisors. They go to our website, they find the schedule button, they go to our calendar, they schedule, they get a confirmation email. Again, very common with advisors. The one different thing that we do is the second-day call or the second-day schedule. As quickly as possible during normal business hours, my office manager will pick up the phone and call them even if their appointment is not for a month from now. The second-day schedule, she’ll pick up the phone and call them to make that immediate human connection.
Because what I realize is so far up to that point, everything has been digital, right? They found the podcast through Kiplinger. They listen to the podcast. They came to our website. They used our online calendar tool. They got a confirm email. It’s all digital. There’s nothing like human or personal about it. So, she calls them and has that immediate one-to-one connection, that human connection. “Saw you schedule a phone call. I know you shared some information with us when you scheduled. Thank you so much for considering our firm. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us ahead of your phone call?” And I’d say 80% of the time the person just kind of throws up over the phone, just shares their life story, all the things that they’re up against, big questions that they have. Just think about how valuable that is for us out of that phone call, not to mention just the rapport that she’s building.
So, that’s just one little example of just from the very, very beginning changing the experience a little bit, knowing that these people are strangers on the other side of the country and we can’t just rely or we don’t want to just rely on technology to solve all these problems. So, we are very, very process-oriented here. When we schedule our review meetings, I mean, we just try to create that really good experience from start to finish, just knowing that everybody is virtual. So, I hope that helps answer the question a little bit but we’ve had to be really intentional about how we run these things. And I was like, “Hey, show up for your meeting and we’ll chitchat.” It’s like, we need to do a lot more than that.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, I know we’ll most likely get into the sales process here in a little bit where we can kind of continue that journey. Before we get off kind of the front-end podcast though, let’s just go to it right now. Why the zero debt? Like, okay, here’s a responsible person. And how do you define zero debt, I guess? I mean, because I’m assuming a mortgage like they don’t have to have their mortgage fully paid off, do they? The why? And then how do you define it?
Taylor Schulte: No. I mean, of course, there are clients that carry some debt. And typically, it would be mortgage debt at 2.5% and there’s a couple hundred thousand dollars left and they have $5 million in the bank. But to me, that’s not somebody who has debt. So, it’s more of just like I want to know that your expenses are under control, that you’ve over-saved, that if you wanted to pay off that debt, you could. That’s really what it is. Again, we don’t have the expertise to help someone get out of debt. We don’t have the processes, operations in place, or the expertise to help them solve that problem. Or again, gosh, I’ve only saved $1 million for retirement. My expenses are $120,000 per year. Like, how do I retire? Like, those are just not the conversations that we have experience with. So, that’s what I mean by it.
Brad Johnson: So, yeah, one reason is, number one, it’s like I can’t really help you as much. And number two, I’m also assuming those tend to be probably if you looked at themes, the problem clients where it’s like they’re upset about their returns because they flat out don’t have enough money. Is that the other side of it as well?
Taylor Schulte: I think so but I truly, this took a long time for me to get here. We only work with people that we truly have the expertise to help. Every single one of our clients looks the exact same. I’ve joked for years with a lot of the advisors in The AGC, the private community that I own, I’ve joked that if a 30-year-old with $50 million walked into my office, I would refer them to somebody else, that we don’t have the expertise to help a 30-year-old with $50 million. We don’t have the systems and processes in place. We don’t have the right experience in place. And so, I’ve joked about that for a number of years. And it actually happened. I had a guy that I met a few years ago. He had an exit from a big company in his 30s. I think it was around $40 million, $50 million. Very first thing I said was like, “We don’t have the expertise to help you.” Referred him to somebody down the street. So, I was actually put to the test and I didn’t even second, I didn’t even think twice.
So, we don’t make any exceptions. It’s not because we think they’ll be a problem client, necessarily. I think there are great advisors out there that could help that person that has the right expertise, that has the right processes in place. But for us, it would just take us so far outside of our realm, I think we’d be doing them a disservice as really where it’s coming from.
Brad Johnson: Cool. I think that’s very admirable and I think it’s very uncommon in our space, which is cool to hear. Okay. So, let’s go to one other thing. On the front end of the podcast and then we’ll continue down the path. For context, if you don’t mind sharing publicly the amount of assets, I know we’re coming close to the end of 2023 as we record this, like certain people say, “Hey, I drive all my business through something.” It’s like, well, they get two clients a year. I know that’s not what we’re talking about for you. So, context like how many clients is the podcast currently generating annually? If you’re comfortable with sharing like approximate assets, like what’s that look like? And then I want to get to something you shared with me that I thought was brilliant, which is the 2 or 3 times a year where you kind of do a special intro on the podcast, here’s who we help, and how that drives a lot of that activity.
Taylor Schulte: Yep. So, one thing I’d preface with is that once you have a marketing activity that’s really working, one of the great things is that you can start to introduce friction to reduce the quantity and improve the quality. So, that’s something that we’ve been focused on in recent years as the podcast has grown is inject more friction into our process to focus on that quality over quantity. We’re approaching $200 million in assets under management here. What’s crazy is we crossed 100 million I think like 12 months ago. So, again, that snowball effect, I mean, that was like the big thing for me was getting the firm…
Brad Johnson: Hold up. So, approximately 12 months ago, you were at 100?
Taylor Schulte: I’m so bad…
Brad Johnson: And now you’re approaching 200? I mean, that’s…
Taylor Schulte: I’m so bad with dates. Thankfully, my wife is much better than I am but let’s say in the last, yeah, 18 months is maybe a better guess. I don’t know. But yeah, I mean, I was celebrating.
Brad Johnson: That’s awesome, man. Twelve, 18 months like, either way, that’s phenomenal.
Taylor Schulte: Yeah.
Brad Johnson: That tells me the caliber of investable assets has popped substantially over the last 12 months or 18 months. And then, approximately, how many clients are being generated through the podcast on an annual basis?
Taylor Schulte: Yes. So, again, being focused on quality over quantity, our goal every year is to take on one amazing client per month. That’s been our capacity up to this point. We just hired a new associate planner to open up our capacity a little bit. But again, we still want to have a really good onboarding experience. And so, we’re very careful about that cadence of new clients. To maybe put it in a better perspective, we’ll probably end the year with 125 intro calls or so, and that’s again with a lot of friction to just schedule that phone call. If I reduce all that friction, I mean, we’d have hundreds and hundreds of intro calls getting scheduled. So, I’d actually like to get that number down to closer like 75, 60, just all the right people scheduling phone calls, knowing that not everybody is going to be a good fit at the end of the day. So, think about it. We go from 125 and get that down to 12. Like, we’re still spending a little too much time with people that we don’t have the right expertise to help or just not a good personality fit or philosophical fit.
So, there are more things that we can do to improve there. What’s crazy is those 125 intro calls to your other point is a result of only, I think, two call-to-actions on the podcast this year. So, it’s not every single episode where I’m saying, “Hey, give us a call if you want to work with us.” It’s twice a year and very, very intentional about how I go about doing that. But I think the call to action I did in January of this year, I think resulted in 70-ish introductory phone calls getting scheduled for the first half of the year. So, I mean, it almost filled up our entire pipeline, just one single call to action.
Brad Johnson: Now, going out on a limb here. Are you open to freestyle sharing? This is almost like a freestyle rap, except it’s a freestyle call to action. Are you good with that?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah, Let’s do it.
Brad Johnson: So, what’s it sound like?
Taylor Schulte: So, the way I like to approach this is because I don’t do this in every show, I like to catch, I don’t like, but it’s intentional that I catch listeners off guard a little bit. So, typically, the show will begin with a monologue from me or kind of the intro music that leads to the introduction of the show. So, they’re kind of used to that cadence of I could hit play and what happens. When I do a call to action, it’s at the very top of the show before any of that begins. So, I’ll kick off the show and I’ll say something like, “Hey, everyone, really quick, before we start today’s show, I want to let you know that my firm and I are taking on new clients this year. As you might know, we specialize in working with people that are in retirement or close to it. They’re diligent savers and have amassed $1 million or more and have tax problems in retirement. Right now, we’re offering a free retirement assessment. So, if you’re on the hunt for a financial planner, you think we have the right expertise to help, just go to FreeRetirementAssessment.com to learn more. On that page, you can schedule or call directly with our firm.”
So, something along those lines, it’s probably much tighter than that when I actually deliver it but in short…
Brad Johnson: That was pretty tight.
Taylor Schulte: In short, it’s what do we do? Who do we do it for?
How can we help you and how can you take action in a nutshell? And one of the things that I’ve learned through all this before I started to see results from the podcast is don’t assume that your listeners know what you do for a living and that you’re open for business. A lot of listeners, I learned, assumed that I was just like a financial personality. I didn’t know you’re a financial advisor. I didn’t know you had your own wealth management firm.
And then the other thing is I didn’t know you were taking on new clients. Listeners have this image of us that may not be the actual reality. It might appear to them that Taylor has this giant podcast and this giant following, this giant platform. There’s no way he’s taking on new clients right now. Just the other day this week, prospect said, “I’m shocked, I can’t believe you guys only have just over 100 clients, 100 households.” In his mind, I think he thought we had thousands of clients or something. So, don’t assume that listeners or potential clients or, yeah, also listeners know that what you do and that you’re open for business.
So, I always lead it off with like we have the capacity to take on about 12 new clients this year. That’s intentional as well, has little scarcity there, like, we’re not a high-volume firm. And then again, what do I do? How can I help? How can you take action? I’ve made it very easy, FreeRetirementAssessment.com, it’s just a redirect to our landing page.
Brad Johnson: So, dissecting that quickly. So, what we do, who we do it for, how to take action, or was there one more step in there?
Taylor Schulte: I added just how we can help, like our value proposition. I always hit on taxes. We specialize in helping people reduce taxes in retirement or we specialize in tax planning. It’s typically the value prop that I lead with when I have limited time.
Brad Johnson: That’s awesome. That’s a very simple framework, too. I mean, any advisor listening in could craft their version of that pretty quickly. I’ll tell you the other thing that you’re doing there that I love. Like, if you go to any podcast you listen to a lot, you kind of just get used to, like Tim Ferriss, there’s the kind of upbeat club music at the beginning of his, even Rogan, there’s like the chimp voice or whatever, right?
And so, you kind of get this pattern and what you’re using as a pattern interrupt. A couple times a year, where it’s like, “Wait, this doesn’t sound like normal.” So, of course, people are going to listen. That’s just natural human curiosity, and obviously, putting that on the front end there, they’re all going to hear it. So, I love how you do it, where you do it. As far as the call to action, that makes a lot of sense.
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. And you don’t have to do it at the top. I will experiment with different places where I’ll inject it into the middle of the episode like, “Hey, sorry to interrupt you guys, but really quick and I’ll go into a call to action.” I’ve tried that before. I’ll weave it into a story that’s part of the script for that episode. But whether you’re trying to convert listeners or not, I still think, to me, it’s fun as a content creator to shake things up and change things. So, I’m constantly trying to inject little things to kind of surprise listeners and do something a little bit different. I think it just keeps it fun.
Like you mentioned, a lot of podcasts I listen to, I fast forward to the first three minutes. My listeners know not to do that because sometimes I’ll be giving away a book, one year about $5,000 worth of sweatshirts and gave those away. So, the listeners have to remember these things like, I better pay attention because there’s some cool things that happen sometimes.
Brad Johnson: I love that. I’m incorporated, I mean, just go back to this episode. Taylor and I were just talking before we went live. I’m like, “Hey, how can we add more value to the audience?” Let’s do some sort of a give, something that relates to something cool that Taylor can offer. And anybody that’s listened to this show for any amount of time, I’ve given away thousands of books at this point just because it’s fun. I want to add more value to the people that will take the time and listen in.
And the other thing, the added benefit for those of you that offer, guests for the podcasts, you’re also shining a light on your guests. Like, what guest doesn’t like you to buy their books and give them away to your audience? I mean, so you’re building a lot of goodwill with your audience or with your guests as well when you do things like that. Did you have some additional thoughts there, Taylor?
Taylor Schulte: Well, it’s such a good point. I had Nick Maggiulli. I don’t do a lot of interviews. When I do, I do with people that I’m genuinely interested in. I had Nick Maggiulli on the show, who some of you might know at Ritholtz Wealth, and he wrote a book, Just Keep Buying. And I had him on the show. And what I do, like you had mentioned, is I’ll buy copies of their books to give them away. And I had bought 15 copies of his book to give away to listeners. And what he told me was, “That’s the single largest purchase anybody in my network has made.” He’s like, “Not even my best friend bought 15 copies.”
And so, to your point about building goodwill, here I am, basically a total stranger bought more copies than some of the people that are really, really close to him. So, it is something I think about in supporting other people’s work. And it is a great way to just engage the audience and give back. And it’s created a lot of really just great conversations with my listeners.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, I mean, I always look at, if it’s a win for the audience, it’s a win for your guests, a win for you building a ton of goodwill with your audience, too, no-brainer. And the other thing, just in life, I try to show up as a giver, not a taker. And I think a lot of podcast hosts, unfortunately, they’re kind of takers. It’s like, hey, let me get this notable person on, I’ll take their time. I will maybe not even send like a thank you or a follow-up and just on to the next guest and so forth. And I’ve just always tried to show up way different as a podcast host. And I found like it actually is one of the best relationship networking opportunities ever as a guest-style podcast. So, I’m assuming now, like you could probably text Nick and be like, “Hey, what’s up, Taylor? I’m assuming you’ve probably crossed into friendzone.” Is that fair?
Taylor Schulte: Oh, yeah. Absolutely, yeah. I think for sure. Hopefully, he agrees, but yeah.
Brad Johnson: Well, we’ll see. Hey, if you listen to this episode, Nick, text Taylor if he’s your friend, if you’re listening. So, cool. All right. So, we’ve really gone deep on the podcast. So, thanks for just being cool with sharing all that. Let’s go to, now that client journey, that prospect journey, I should say. So, we kind of walk through, hey, call to action. They hit the website, they book an appointment, your team reaches out. We were talking pre-record here, you have a very dialed-in sales process, appointment process. Can you start to walk through what it is and kind of the why behind it and what you’ve learned as that’s evolved?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah, absolutely. So, I do think when you’re going to an audience with a call to action, having something that’s about them that provides value to them is important. So, saying we’re currently offering a free retirement assessment or a free analysis is very different than if you’re looking for an advisor, give us a call, right? Like, that’s about you to give us a call or give my team a call. And so, some sort of a compelling offer is required. Our Free Retirement Assessment is essentially a lite financial plan, a free lite financial plan.
What I’ve learned, I think, many of us have learned over the years is it’s really hard for consumers to evaluate financial planners. We all have the same titles and designations. Our websites all look similar. We all engage and distribute similar content. And so, I wanted to create a process that helped them evaluate us. So, we offer this free lite financial plan to show them exactly what we do and how we can help them. And we try to give away everything in the kitchen sink. We are not trying to hold back through this process. We have to limit our time. That’s the only constraint as we manage our time through this process, but we try to answer as many of their questions and pain points as possible in this lite financial planning process.
So, it starts with that introductory phone call. After that introductory phone call, if there’s a mutual potential fit, we ask them to send us all account statements, most recent copy of tax return, and then they can schedule their next meeting with us, which is essentially a discovery meeting. So, ahead of that meeting, we have all their full account statements and full most recent tax return, which allows us to pull some information out of there to ask some really good questions during that discovery meeting to ensure that we understand their current situation and what they’re up against.
From there, we ask them to give us at least two weeks to build their analysis, to build their assessment, and then we come back for that final presentation or proposal meeting where we deliver that assessment or lite financial plan. And then after that, ball’s in their court. We send them a very nice physical package with a few supporting materials, one of our favorite finance books at the time, a handwritten note, and our welcome packet. Our welcome packet is our client engagement standards, coupled with our investment advisory agreement and a very nicely saddle-stitched, physically-printed document.
And we send it to them physically because there are some really important things in there. I want to make sure they read. I don’t want them to quickly e-sign a document. I don’t want that. If somebody hires us, I want them to be a client for life. So, I want them to read the client engagement standards. They have to initial next to 10 different statements what they’re committing to. And I want them to read our advisory agreement. I want them to see the exact fee that they’re paying and the services that we’re providing and sign with an actual pen. And then we provide a paid return envelope for them to stick it in an envelope and send it back to us.
If they’re in our office for that final meeting, we send all this home with them. They cannot sign it in our office. Take it home, review it again, talk with your spouse if one exists, and make a final determination. So, that’s it in a nutshell. Happy to share as much as you’d like and go into any aspects of it. There are a lot of moving parts from start to finish to ensure that it goes smoothly. And it takes about four to six weeks for somebody to go through. So, if somebody’s looking to hire us tomorrow, the first thing we’ll say is we’re not the right fit, that you need to be willing to invest about four to six weeks of your time to go through this evaluation process.
Brad Johnson: Let’s go to the initial agreement. The first thing that pops out in my head when they’re going through with the pen and initialing, it’s like you’re getting commitment to– I’m assuming there’s some behavioral commitments in that agreement. So, if you don’t mind sharing, you said 10 or so, but any of that just kind of stick out to you that are like really important, I want them to commit to this if this is going to be a working relationship, what would some examples be?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah, so my practice was a chaotic mess about five years ago. I worked with anyone and everyone. I was driving all around town to meet with clients in their homes. I was taking appointments on any day of the week. I was responding to emails on Saturdays, just no guardrails. It was a mess. And so, I created the client engagement standards. I have to give a shout-out to Carolyn McClanahan, who is, I think, the first advisor to develop these. And so, I used hers as inspiration to create mine. I used the client engagement standards to help shift my practice and communicate to clients some of these important changes that I was making.
So, on the client engagement standards, it outlines what clients can expect from us. And then there’s a section of what we expect from you, and that’s a section where there’s about 10 sentences that they have to initial next to. One of them is we only meet with clients on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., our time. Not their time, our time. We meet with our clients formally twice per year in the spring in May and the fall in October. We followed up, as in our office doors are open throughout the year, but these are our formal meeting blocks.
They are required to one of the sentences. This is about our investment philosophy, something about them, if they’re not going to follow our recommendations, then we’re not the right fit, right? If you’re going to go wing it and decide one day, you’re going to go put everything in in video stock and not follow our recommendations, then we’ll part ways as friends.
So, what this helps is not only the initial commitment and them knowing what they’re getting themselves into, but if you’re ever tested in the future, client says, I need to meet with you tomorrow, and tomorrow’s a Friday, or I need to meet with you tomorrow at 7 p.m., we can use the client engagement standards to say, “Here’s what we committed to, and if this no longer aligns with what your needs are, then perhaps we’re not a good fit.” And we lost one client as a result of something similar to that.
And just before, listeners on the other end here think I’m a crazy person or I’m not sensitive to people and what’s going on in their life, there is a sentence in there, it says, “If there’s an emergency, we’ll do anything and everything impossible,” right? So, this is normal day-to-day business. If something terrible happened and there’s an emergency…
Brad Johnson: Death in the family, like big life changing event, sort of.
Taylor Schulte: I mean, yeah.
Brad Johnson: I love that. I mean, Cialdini’s Influence, I remember reading that. It’s like people are more likely to follow through if they say something and it was like 3 or 4x more likely if they write it down and all you’re doing is you’re just like you’re memorializing an agreed upon partnership, just like a legal contract. And guess what? Humans forget things.
And now, when something pops up, we do this with our 13-year-old that just got his first cell phone. We have a one-page contract. It’s on the fridge. And when he doesn’t follow through, “Hey, remember you initialed right here, buddy? Thumbs up for a day.” So, it works with all human engagement, and I just love the fact you’re formalizing it. And guess what? You’re also making a commitment. So, I’m assuming like, “Hey, here’s what we commit to.” And I’m assuming if you don’t follow through on that, you’re fine with clients saying, “Hey, Taylor, you guys said you would do this and you’re not doing it, like, let’s go.”
Taylor Schulte: 100%, yeah. And one thing that popped in my head too, that I didn’t mention is those sentences are written in a way that provides a reason for the thing. So, it’s not like, we only meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays because we said so. It’s like to ensure that we can be fully present during your meetings, ensure that we have time to prepare, we use our Mondays and Fridays to do our research to prep for client meetings, to do our planning work, so that during our meeting on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, we are fully present with you.
And so, there’s always a reason that benefits them for why we do something. To ensure that you can safely navigate retirement and not run out of money, we require that you follow our recommendations and don’t go rogue on us, right? So, it’s not just like you have to listen to us because we’re in charge. So, I want to make that clear, too, that everything is written in a way that benefits them. It’s not just because this is the way we do things.
Brad Johnson: They’re not engaging in a financial dictatorship when they join your firm.
Taylor Schulte: Exactly, yep. That’s what I want to make clear.
Brad Johnson: No, I think that’s great. And I’ll tell you, man, back to, I’m glad you shared five years ago, that’s what I’ve always liked about you was just the realness. You’re always authentic, man, we screwed this up, this up, this up. So, you basically are running around like a wild man. We opened this conversation with family board meetings. I’m guessing there wasn’t even space in your calendar to do family board meetings at that stage in your career.
Taylor Schulte: There wasn’t space to take on another client. I told my wife, I’m like, “I can’t take on another client right now.” And she was like, “You have to, you need to grow, you need to make more money.”
Brad Johnson: We need groceries. Come on.
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. And this is around the same time when she stopped working. And so, yeah, she looked at me, I said, like, “No, you need to figure this out.” And so, yeah, it’s a much longer conversation, but I had to go through a lot of changes. I had to go backwards before I could go forward. I had to clean up a lot of things. I mean, think about that. I would drive. There’s still clients today. I would drive to their houses any time, sit in their house for hours, and meet with them. And that’s what they’re used to. And to go from that to, like, you need to come into the office or schedule a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, like that on its own is a dramatic shift, and that’s a hard conversation to have.
Brad Johnson: Well, I found in all growth in life, there’s a common theme. Typically, it takes getting uncomfortable, which that had to be very uncomfortable. There had to be some fear there of like, what if I lose all my clients when I make the shift? So, how did that play out? These clients were used to old, unhealthy behaviors. You kind of draw a line in the sand. I’m sure you did that in a very, like, ease into it, not jump into it sort of way. But did you lose a bunch of those old clients? Like, did they expect you to drive to their house, like, no, like you’re right, Taylor, that’s okay, we can shift to this. Or how that played out?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. The first step was transitioning clients who were no longer going forward. So, it was like, what’s our service model going to look like? What’s our fee schedule going to look like? Who’s our ideal client? And then, who doesn’t fit that mold anymore? Let’s get them in the hands of a better advisor that can better serve them. So, the first part was like transitioning that group out. And then we’re left…
Brad Johnson: What percentage, like numbers of your clients was that, out of curiosity?
Taylor Schulte: Percentage, I don’t know, let’s say 25%, numbers-wise, but revenue-wise, very small, right? It’s your traditional. So, from there, I’m left with the people I really want to work with. And then that’s when I’m like, okay, I’m going to be, I don’t like these sort of conversations. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like catching people off guard. And so, that’s why I use the client engagement standards as a way to have the conversation. It always reminds me of I grew up in the wirehouse world, cold calling, and maybe you can relate to this, we would send the person something in the mail first, that way we have a reason to call them, “Hey, Brad, I sent you this thing. I’m calling to see if you received it.” And that’s kind of how I feel like the client engagement standard served me was I created this thing. Brad, I worked really, really hard, hired a business coach, and I worked really, really hard to make some improvements to this practice so that I can be a better advisor to you. And I’ve encapsulated all this and what I’m calling my client engagement standards.
And I want to share with you what I put into this document. And that guided the conversation and made it a lot more natural and authentic to me. And it wasn’t like, “Hey, by the way, I’m not driving to your house anymore.” And so, once again, there was a reason behind it and it just helped me have that conversation. So, again, we lost one client. He had signed the client engagement standards and moved forward with our kind of new service model, tried to challenge us a couple of times. We butted heads on it and we parted ways. But other than that, it’s been great.
Brad Johnson: Well, I think there’s one other thing. And some, I would say most advisors I know would be able to also layer this on top of that conversation. The truth is, like, so you don’t fix it. What’s the outcome? You’re not a present husband. You’re not a present dad. You’re sacrificing your life for your business. And I have seen many advisors over the years, unfortunately, make that sacrifice. And some of them, like I feel really fortunate I became a dad at 29 years old, but I was working with clients that were 40, 45, 50, my financial advisors I was serving, and they’re like, “Don’t make the same mistake I made.”
So, I feel like I had these mentors that had just run the race in front of me. And the truth is, like, you can say, “Hey, transparently, I’m committed to be a dad and husband after five, and I hope you can respect that. And I want to be a great advisor during business hours, but I want to be a great dad and a great husband after business hours. And I hope you can respect that.”
And I found any decent human that you probably want to work with anyway would be like, absolutely, you should never make that trade-off, right? So, I think anybody that has a family, that’s another layer on top of that. It’s like, “Hey, I want to just be present at home, no difference than I’m sure you do when you’re not something.” So, did that ever become part of the conversation or was it more just kind of the standards about them?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah, it didn’t, only because I was so focused on making these changes for them. And I truly mean it. We are 10 times better planners today than five years ago because of what we put into place. We are way more prepared, way more present. Our expertise is elevated, given that we only work with one single type of person. So, our clients, I know, are getting a lot more value and better service from us as their advisors. I truly do mean that and I see it and I feel it.
Yes, there’s some truth to it serving me and allowing me to be a better dad and more present and having some flexibility, but it doesn’t mean that we work less. I think that’s one of the misconceptions, too, is that we’re just goofing off on Mondays and Fridays. It doesn’t mean that we work less. I think it’s just that we’re more efficient with our time. So, I think you bring up a good point. I think that is a way to approach it. But yeah, for us, it’s just mostly centered around them.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, cool. And one other thing, and then I want to get to kind of– this conversation went quick, we’re at the end already, but the other thing you incorporated, which I think is unique, I know there’s firms that do this, but you batched, I mean, would you call those annual reviews in May and October? Is that what they are technically are?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah, we call them biannual reviews. So, what we say is we review with our clients twice per year. We meet with them in May, just after tax season. We get a copy of their tax return, run it through our tax analysis software, start to pull out opportunities for the year. So, we’ll discuss those opportunities in May, and then we’ll regroup again in October to review the portfolio, review the plan, and also start to formalize and take action on those tax planning opportunities, charitable giving strategies, Roth conversions, RMD planning, timing, all of that sort of stuff.
So, once again, there’s a reason for doing it this way. It’s not because we want to goof off during the summer. It’s like these are very timely periods. And what I say for the fall is I say, we want to have this meeting before the holidays are in full force. We’ve noticed, by the time Thanksgiving comes around, clients are off traveling, spending time with family. So, we want to get this really important stuff done before Thanksgiving so we can take action before some of these big deadlines.
I want to highlight here, there’s a lot of conversations these days about what some call surge meetings, batching client meetings. It is a really challenging process. We’ve done them now for, I think, four years. And it’s not until this year that we’ve mastered it. It was, we were pulling our hair out every single surge meeting cycle, trying to figure out the most efficient way to do it, because just think, 100 households, you’re getting these meetings scheduled on your calendar during the appropriate times. You’re preparing for these meetings, getting all the plans updated. You’re having the meetings, you’re taking notes, you’re documenting those notes, you’re identifying action items that need to be done after the meeting. I mean, it is a lot for a team to handle.
And so, it just took us some time to develop the right systems and processes to have a good experience for both us and the client. So, if it’s something that you’re doing and you’re struggling with, know that we struggled too, and it just took a while to find what worked best. And if you think that it’s a shortcut, once again, it’s not. It will take time for you to kind of figure this thing out. But to me, it’s much better than being reactive, which in the past, it was like client emails me, “Hey, I haven’t met with you in a while. I’d like to get a meeting on the calendar,” right? That’s a very reactive process that just turned into chaos.
Now, client emails in August and say, “Hey Taylor, I read about this thing called donor-advised funds. I want to talk to you about it.” I don’t know if it was like a good idea for us to say, “Great, guess what? Our fall meetings are right around the corner. This is a great question. I think it’d be a great topic for upcoming meeting. Would you like us to put it on the agenda for our next meeting? Or is this something that you really want to talk about right now?” Ninety-nine percent of the time, like, “Oh yeah, no, let’s put it on the next meeting agenda.”
Sometimes we feel like it’s an urgent matter, like I have to respond to this right away or talk to them. It’s not that. What I found is clients just want to get it off their shoulders and put it under yours. They want to know that there’s a place for it, that we will talk about it and we won’t forget it. And so, it allows us to be proactive and be very thoughtful when we do have those discussions and those meetings. I could talk all day about this stuff, but…
Brad Johnson: Yeah, yeah, it’s same thing. And by the way, working with financial advisors is my clients over the last decade and a half, same thing, it’s thought in head, been documented, will be addressed as long as the house isn’t on fire, I’m good, right? And so, it’s when you feel like you’re sending the email into a black hole, which is when issues start to happen.
So, going back, it’s really cool, number one, the intention of the timing because obviously, you talked about your ideal client, you hit on taxes a lot, and there are people with a lot of money and tax problems, so it makes sense, like right after tax season, let’s meet in May. October, enough time to do some proactive tax planning with the holidays and everything. So, I love the intentionality.
Full transparency, like it’s one thing, if I’m like devil’s advocate as an advisor, this thing, and I’m like, well, Taylor’s kind of created two CPA experiences, like the tax, April 15th deadline, to where it’s like, oh my gosh, I’m pulling my hair out for this month and this month, sounds like at one stage it was. Is it now so efficient? Like, for you, May and October are about the same as the rest of the months? Are those two seasons of kind of short-term chaos in your business right now, but just done in an intentional way?
Taylor Schulte: They are too busy seasons, for sure. They are no longer chaotic. I mean, we walked out of the office every day during our last round of meetings just energized, smiles on our faces. That was a good day. But this is the first year that’s happened. It’s really challenging. It’s a lot. And you have to have the right team in place. You have to have these processes in place.
But it is a busy season, and it’s something that my wife and I have had to take note of as well, something for us to plan around because there’s that anxiety that maybe, I don’t even know that’s creeping in, in March, April, as I’m gearing up for that busy season. And I probably start to behave a little bit differently, right? And so, we have noticed and we’ve taken note of these busy seasons and allows us to get ahead of it and start to be more intentional on the personal side as well to accommodate this busy season that’s coming up. So, yeah, it’s no longer chaotic. We feel really good about it.
But the last thing I’ll say here is that there’s a lot of arguments about batching client meetings. I’m going to argue that every single advisor batches their client meetings. Some of them just call it like year-end review meetings. I don’t know, that’s a batched meeting cycle if you’re just going to meet with all of your clients at the end of the year.
So, you have to batch them in some shape or form. Otherwise, you’re just going to be that reactive advisor. So, whether you do it all at once at the end of the year or you do it every single quarter, in one way, shape, or form, you’re going to batch them and this is just your way of batching them. And it just works well for us and our clients.
Brad Johnson: I mean, you just got done with October. You see, I don’t see bags underneath the eyes. You look fairly healthy to me, so…
Taylor Schulte: Fairly healthy, thanks.
Brad Johnson: Well, hey, I’ve just got the shoulder of view. I can’t read the full assessment, right? But yeah, that’s cool, man. I love– one of the things I’ve learned the more we’ve gotten to know each other is just you do things with intention. And what’s cool is you haven’t always, but you’re honest enough with yourself to get the right people. You’ve mentioned Carolyn and you’ve mentioned Dennis, as we’ve talked here, like you’re just surrounding yourself with people that challenge your thinking and you’re willing to do something different. Because I’ve seen a lot of guys like, “oh, I need to fix this thing, and you talk to me a year later. I need to fix this, and you talk to me a year later. I need to fix this.” You’re like, “No, I’m going to fix it.” And you’re committing to making the change. So, I’ve always loved that about you.
Taylor Schulte: Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate that.
Brad Johnson: Was that kind of how you were always wired? Or was it just as you’ve grown and gotten to know you, you’ve made yourself change your behaviors over time?
Taylor Schulte: I’ve always been really good at identifying when I get stagnant, when personal and professional growth is stagnant. I remember all the way back to when I was at Morgan Stanley and I was like three or four years in, and I’m just like, I don’t know, it just felt like blah. And any time I feel that way or I’m not like challenging myself, and I don’t know where this comes from, it’s a trigger to me that I need to do something different, that I need to do something hard and challenging. And at that time, it was, I need to leave and find a better home for myself and my clients. And as a 26-year-old, that was terrifying. I mean, it was just absolutely terrifying.
So, I’m really good at noticing when I feel that way in a lot of different areas. I don’t know. I really do enjoy challenging myself and getting outside my comfort zone. It’s really hard. I mean, I guess it gets easier, but I don’t know, there’s something about it. And I do like seeing progress. And the more I do it, the more I’m able to see, like when I do those hard things, when I really challenge myself and push myself outside my comfort zone, good things happen. But it’s still hard.
I will say, to this day, 200 podcast episodes in, I’m still terrified to hit publish. I swear to you, I’m not joking. I’m still terrified to hit publish. What will somebody think? Is there an advisor on the other end that’s going to criticize something that I said? Did I say something wrong or incorrect? I’m not joking. I’m terrified when I hit publish. I’m like all eyes on my email inbox to see if somebody is going to send me hate mail. So, every week, I’m getting outside my comfort zone and doing something challenging. It gets easier for sure. Like, I’m more confident, of course, in my process, but yeah, it’s tough.
Brad Johnson: It’s a good advice, man. I love the realness. I love the realness in that. Well, two things, I know we’re going a little over here. So, you said you’d spend the whole rest of the day with me, but I’m not getting into your board meeting. I know that. So, we had a conversation at some tequila bar that I don’t remember the name of in Huntington Beach when we’re out of Future Proof. And I don’t even remember how we got there in the conversation. But you talked about, “Hey, my wife and I, Laura, were in a therapy session the other day.” And I’m like, “Hey, my wife and I go to therapy, too.” I love the fact, like, you’re not afraid to say it. It’s not like some taboo subject.
And I found, like, a lot of evolution happening just in society in general, like you have a coach in business, you have a coach in sports, why wouldn’t you have a coach in the most important relationship in your life? But I’d love for you to share, what’s that journey been like for you? Obviously, you’re really intentional. You try to be a really intentional husband and dad. None of us are perfect, but what’s that done? Because this is the Do Business, Do Life, and if the life isn’t right, I can promise that always bleeds over to the business. So, how’s that journey been for you and your wife?
Taylor Schulte: Yeah, it’s been– like, I lost for words. I’ve started to think, like I get choked up thinking about it, I sometimes wonder if my wife and I would be together. I don’t know why it gets me. I knocked on my wife’s dorm room door when I was 18 years old. We lived in the same dorms. So, we’ve known each other a really long time. We started dating when we were 19. She’s also from San Diego, so we move back home together. And you meet that young and you go through rocky time periods.
And she, at one point, had suggested, I think it was like 15 years ago, I don’t know. She had suggested that we go to therapy. We weren’t even engaged yet. And so, we found a therapist and started going there. And of course, I’m kicking and screaming, I’m like, this is, I don’t need to go to therapy. And we started going to this woman and, man, like, did she challenge me? And we still see that same therapist today where her longest running client, which is really sad to me, I was thinking about her. Actually, I saw her yesterday, our therapist, looks sad to me, like how transactional people probably treat therapy. I was just thinking about her business a little bit. She hasn’t told me this, but how many people, like, “I have a problem with my husband or wife, I’m going to go to a therapist.” And they go to three sessions and they’re like, “Oh, things feel better again. I’ll just stop going.” That’s really sad to me that she told us that.
So, I think the interesting thing to me is, in the beginning, it was couple’s marriage therapy and we work through a lot of things and problems and family stuff. And now, it’s morphed into personal therapy. She is big on individualism and making choices for ourselves and using “I” statements instead of “you” statements and being an independent person in your relationship. The things she always said to me that, I don’t know why, I held on to this, but she uses the example of like, “Laura, I’m going to go to the movies this afternoon. I’d love for you to join me. You don’t have to, but I’d love for you to join me.” It isn’t like, “Should we go to the movies? I want you to come to the movies with me.” It’s like, “I’ve made a decision for myself that I’m going to go to the movies this afternoon. I’d love for you to join.” And that’s it.
And it’s such a simple thing, but it has allowed me and there’s a lot of different examples to just be independent in my decision making without jeopardizing my relationship with my wife. I think there’s sometimes too much togetherness and we and us. And if we can just be better people, better husbands, better fathers, we’re naturally going to have better relationships. And so, a lot of times now, we meet with our therapist individually and not together. So, it’s kind of morphed into like almost individual therapy than couple’s therapy. So, long answer to your question, it’s been a journey. I don’t know what I’d do without her.
Brad Johnson: I love that, man. Might have been one of the realest answers we’ve had on the Do Business, Do Life podcast today. You made me tear up just, I mean, being married is hard, let’s just be real, like it’s two humans living in the same house and then you had kids to the mix, and you think it’s just going to be perfect. It’s not. And if you’re not willing to work and grow and learn how to communicate in a more healthy way, I mean, look at the divorce rates, I mean, they speak for themselves. And then throw COVID in there, that really screwed everybody up.
But to your point, like, August, it was the day after my 40th birthday, August 14, 2020, leave a pretty good gig that I was pretty decent at, leave a lot of money behind, start a business during COVID, and then have rose-colored glasses and think everything’s going to be perfect on the home front, not very realistic, and if it wasn’t for Sarah sitting me down and saying, “Hey, I think we need some help.” And I’m like, two and a half years in now to therapy, couple’s therapy weekly, I’m like, “How stupid was I? Why didn’t we do this from day one? We would have avoided so much friction.”
I mean, like, I just look at it as coaching, it’s like I need to think about my thinking individually, how I show up in this relationship, how I show up in the relationship to my kids. And I’m like, such an advocate. And I started way too late, but I’m playing a lot of catch-up. And so, I know we talked before because that’s a sensitive subject for some. And I appreciate you being cool with sharing it because hopefully, if nothing else, there’s somebody listening in and say, “Man, I’m really struggling right now. I’ve been the tough macho guy that rubs some dirt on it. And guess what? Guys have feelings, too.” And so, hopefully, this helps somebody and encourages them to go talk to someone. That’s the healthy people that do.
Taylor Schulte: 100%.
Brad Johnson: So, thanks for sharing that, man.
Taylor Schulte: Yeah, you’re welcome.
Brad Johnson: Well, last question, this is the Do Business, Do Life podcast. And one of the things, with the new Triad venture with me, one of our requirements for our community is not just, here’s the type of advisor we serve from a revenue standpoint or anything like that, but we just want to have a community of people we want to do business and do life with that we look forward to. And I feel really fortunate, like three years in, it’s working. But I know my definition. I’d love to hear Taylor’s definition of what does Do Business, Do Life mean to you, kind of that integration we’ve talked a lot about it today.
Taylor Schulte: Yeah, knowing this question was coming, I was thinking about it, and the first thing that popped into my head when thinking about this question, for some reason, was flexibility. I think too often in my past, I have gotten stuck on like this is my long-term goal and that’s what I’m going for. And then, a year later, it changes and life changes and business changes. And I’ve come to grips with it’s a fluid process and there are periods of my life, and this is the period I’ve been in for the last five years where I have intentionally sacrificed things that I love to build my business. I’ve intentionally done that. I’ve intentionally said, “My kids are young, I’m still young. I’m not right, want to be and need to be financially and professionally, I’m going to make some serious sacrifices to get things where they need to be.” That’s hard. It’s hard for me to say that and admit that, that I don’t get to spend as much time with my kids as I would like because I am committed to working a little extra at the moment.
So, long story short, when I think about it, I just think of flexibility because it changes and there will be a turning point where time, like, I’m going to sacrifice work and business to enjoy other things in my life that are more important to me at that time. And I know I’m going to go through different seasons and things are going to change. But I think what’s most important to me, Do Business, Do Life, I think what’s most important to me is that I’m intentional about those decisions and that I don’t get caught up working overtime, not even knowing it, and sacrificing these things without being intentional. These are conversations that I have with my kids about, “Dad, why aren’t you going to X, Y, Z at school today? Mom volunteered yesterday. Why aren’t you there?” These are questions that come up that I have to answer.
And so, yeah, it’s been very intentional about these decisions, knowing that these seasons change, being okay with things changing and being fluid. And maybe the more direct answer is, my overall goal is, this is very like cliché, and I’m sure that it had been repeated before, but like what do I enjoy doing and what am I really good at? What do I love? And where do those things intersect? And that’s really how I want to spend my day to day. And I do think about that a lot in a lot of different areas from I have a gardener because I’d rather spend my time with my kids on the weekends than mowing the lawn, so what do I enjoy, what am I good at, what do I really love, how do I spend my time, where do those things intersect is maybe the more direct answer.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Love that, man. I think the seasons analogy is a really cool one because there are seasons in everything. And sometimes, like for you, man, October, that’s a busier season in business. But hey, I got to give you credit, man. There’s a lot of people that are like, “Hey, I’m a great dad,” but they don’t carve out the time like you’re about to today to go do a family board meeting. So, I think you might be being a little hard on yourself.
But anyway, my dude, I appreciate the conversation as always. Every time we connect, every time we talk, I always learn something, I always enjoy it. So, thanks so much for coming on. And hopefully, we see each other before Future Proof next year.
Taylor Schulte: Thank you, man. And I just have to say, I’m sure, I hope I’ve told you this before, but you were one of the first podcasts that I found as a flailing advisor, a huge impact on me and my career in opening my eyes to a whole new world of thinking. I think, I first learned of Dan Sullivan through you. And so, I just want to thank you for your contributions to the profession, to the podcasting world, to my career track. You’ve been a huge influence on me. I’ve learned a ton from you. So, it’s a true honor to be sitting here on the other end of the microphone recording with you. So, thank you very much.
Brad Johnson: Thanks, Taylor. That means a lot, man, because you’re a true pro, so. Well, hey, with that, either go do your board meeting or go prepare for your board meeting. Enjoy your Friday. And it’s been a pleasure, my man.
Taylor Schulte: Awesome, man. Good chatting.
Brad Johnson: All right. We’ll see you.