PP 146: Jonathan DeYoe, Author of Mindful Money

Jonathan and I have an incredible conversation about how important it is to know WHO we want to be, not WHAT we want to be. Jonathan also shares what is means to be a conscientious person while growing wealth.

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Resources Mentioned

Jonathan’s Book, Mindful Money

Episode Transcription

Kim: Welcome back to another episode of the positive productivity podcast. This is your host, Kim Sutton. And today I am thrilled to have our guest Jonathan DeYoe. I got that right? Jonathan right? DeYoe?

Jonathan: Yes you did. Yes you did.

Kim: That should just be my standard introduction. I got that right, Right? Like every single episode listeners, you know me? Me and names don’t always get along. Jonathan, is the author of mindful money simple practices for reaching your financial goals and increasing your happiness dividend. See Jesus, made the blooper episode. Jonathan, I am so thrilled to have you here. Thank you so much for being on.

Jonathan: I’m excited to be on.

Kim: Jonathan, would you mind sharing a little bit about your background what you do, and how you came to write your book?

Jonathan: Absolutely. That’s a good place to start I guess. So I’ve been in financial services for 20 years but, for five to seven years before that I studied comparative religion and I ended up studying specifically Buddhist Studies, and phenomenology, epistemology and this is sort of how we experience the world and then how we take that and turn that information that we act on. And then, you know fast forward 17 years into my career and I’m sitting down with one of my clients around 2008 and this is you know, remembering 2008 2009. World is falling apart. Clients are terrified. I mean really really scared. The headlines are you know, this time is different, the economy is coming to an end. Markets are never going to recover. And you know, it’s scary out there some sitting out the client and she’s asking me this is March of 2000 maybe 2009. And she’s asking me: “You know Jonathan, what do I do?. I make this contribution every single year into my SEP IRA”. Right? It’s just a standard conversation you’d have every year with a client. What do we do this year? This year seems to be a little different. And I said the same thing, I said: “You know what? I don’t know what the future holds. I have to have absolute faith in markets and economies. I think this is kind of the time that it’s the best possible time to be investing. It’s scary. I get that”. And you know there’s quotes and there’s all kinds of reasons and there’s research. But, “really what I want you to do Alice is I want you to just trust me”. And we talk for another half an hour and she said: “This is Alice Walker”. She said at the end of this conversation, she said: “Jonathan, you need to– You need to write a book”. It’s not enough for me to get this. This is a message that more people need to get. And so, she agreed at that moment to write my foreword and then seven years later, I finished writing the book and I finally center the first sort of go of it. And she said, “this is great”. She’ll start writing the foreword for it and the foreword is in there and it’s wonderful and I have so much gratitude for her and my life and her sort of stabilizing influence when it comes to writing and she’s just fantastic and she pushed it. And I think it’s been pretty well received. And I loved writing it and it’s just been a really really fun trip.

Kim: You just actually made me feel a lot better about my own book which listeners have heard about a few times, because I was struggling with the fact that I’ve been writing it for three months and are saddened with it yet.

Jonathan: I have six or seven academics as clients and their job is to turn stuff out you know, and they turn out some great stuff and they tell me, at six months a year and I was I just felt like a complete— like I was all goofball failure. Took me seven years to write the thing starts, stops, re-edits, edits. You know, it’s just oh my god took forever.

Kim: Well, I think it’s really interesting though because I mean you did it the way that it was meant to be done for you. Right? Just because it works for them does it mean that it’s the right way for you, and if you had tried to do it in three months, six months a year you very well might not have had— well just everything probably lined up exactly how it was supposed to.

Jonathan: Yeah.It would be nowhere near as good and it wouldn’t completely not have the practices in there. I mean, so we built in every single chapter. We built a slow, steady, iterative, financial growth process, and ultimately ends in having a personal financial plan at the end. Right? So, we built that in and it would not have had that. That was a 60 year invention that we’re like, “hey we should put this in here”. And it was actually wasn’t my invention it was Nancy and my office’s invention, “hey this is a great idea we should do this”. Because it all sort of fed that. But we didn’t notice that until spending all the time on it. And so we sort of plugged in at the end and it’s been I think that’s probably the most valuable part of the book.

Kim: Oh absolutely. Jonathan, just this past year I’ve realized that I’ve been in business for five years. And the first four years were, very much spent chasing income rather than trying to make an impact. I really was just trying to chase the successes, and the launches, and the money that I saw in the community around me having. And by community around me I mean, on social media and I realized just in the last year that for me was not the way to be doing it. So, I mean just reading off your back cover alone. Right? I mean, the first question in the description. Is it possible to be a conscience? I can never say that word right. (Inaudible) I told you blooper reel.

Jonathan: Blooper reel.

Kim: (Inaudible) Conscientious citizen of the world and grow wealth. And you say yes, and then the book explains how. There is such a big question. I mean, do I risk saying that word again? Can you say it for me? Conscientious.Oh I dit it.

Jonathan: Conscientious. Well done.

Kim: I mean, it really is possible when we can grow wealth while at the same time being a conscientious citizen. That’s my word of the day. I’m going to have to go put it out there.

Jonathan: Write it down.

Kim: Yeah,and I think I’m going to teach it to my 3 year old when she gets home. That will be fun. Could you dig a bit deeper into the meat of your book and share more about the thought about being a (Inaudible)

Jonathan: Conscientious citizen.

Kim: Yes citizen and grow wealth?

Jonathan: Sure. So, I would actually take it one step further. When we originally started writing the book, we had the audience of, in mind, I had this audience of people who needed basics. Right? You know, how much should I save? What does that look like? And just very very very basics. And I think there’s you know that’s probably 90 percent of us. There’s a lot of people that need just basics but, as I read the book what I realized was the two avenues of my life have been meditation, comparative religion, psychology, studies the human mind what does thriving mean. What does it mean to be happy? Where do we find meaningful lives? How do we create meaningful lives? That is one avenue and the other avenue is this sort of financial you know, expertise and how do you invest in all this kind of stuff. So, what I saw was there are people out there who are actually very financially successful and have no meaning, or don’t know what it means, or are just not happy with it. And I bump up against this all the time. So what I started seeing was, there’s another audience here. And there is this audience of people that don’t know how to link the two.

And I think in our culture, we’ve done an incredible job of separating it out and saying you know, we need work, life, balance. Meaning, we need to do work less and have more time with our family, and we need to work less and have more time for our community, and we need to work less and have more time with our kids, rather than saying: “Hey, what kind of work should I have? What kind of work should I do? That will fulfill me? That will boost me? That will give me energy? That I can do while I’m engaged with my family? While I am”? And so I integrate these parts of my life. And because we’ve separated the financial rewards of work have been something that’s you know, we’ve created this situation where: I’m in competition with my employer, I’m in competition with my clients.Because I want to put as little effort in as possible in order to get the maximum financial reward. And that’s just crazy, that just puts us all against each other. But if we say, Hey, you know what? I’m going to do: is I’m going to produce as much value from my heart as I can, and I’m going to believe, I start with the belief that my values are worthwhile, that the things I can produce are valuable and that the market, the community, the people, out there will recognize that value in time, not tomorrow, not necessarily next week, not even necessarily next year. It took me 17 years to get to the place where I thought I had something and then it took me about 20 years to get to the place where I had the sense that I am now successful. And now I’ve got to fight off this you know, Am I a fraud? Feeling. Right?

Which is, I guess that sort of ubiquitous when once people become successful is they start feeling: “hey, is this for real? or what some is going to take this away”? But that’s my struggle, but it took 20 years to build something. And so, what the book tries to do is say: “hey let’s start with our values, let’s start with what do you think’s important, what you think your purposes, and let’s pursue that, and let’s pursue that with everything we have”. And it’s going to be a tough slog, it’s going to be a hard difficult process, and it’s going to be iterative. You’re going to fail, you’re going to start over, and you gonna learn something new, or start something new. You’re going to fail at that. You start something again. You know, in my earliest part of my careers I spent seven years at six— sorry seven firms in six years. So, I went from one firm and there’s a merger, and I moved to another firm, and I did like that firms, I’m at another firm, and there’s another merger, and then move to another firm, and it was just like I couldn’t figure it out. I’ve learned that lessons along the way until I finally set up my own practice and decided I could do it my way and I thought that was the right way and once I trusted myself and my ability, I basically spent seven years learning lessons until I trusted myself to do it the right way. And then that’s you know, seven years to nowhere. And now I got it. And then I could move forward. And then it was probably seven years till I had a you know, a lower middle class income I took a long time to build that could happen.

Kim: Yeah, yeah. And that confidence so, the confidence that will start to allow you to start getting out of that income. But, sometimes the confidence to trust yourself, and trust your heart, and trust that you know what you should be doing. That’s often—- Well it was for me, the hardest part to get over and the confidence to say no, when it wasn’t the right opportunity because I found myself in the trap that I was saying yes to everything because I didn’t want the income to slip.

Jonathan: Of course. Of course. So that’s a lot. There’s another thing you’re thinking about while you’re developing this you know, if you start with these passions, you start with these things that you value and your purpose, then you’re also recognizing what you really want out of it. Financial planning process, we recognize, we admit that there are a million things that I could do. Like, I could learn how to scuba dive, I could travel a lot, I could drive a very nice car, I could live in a great house, and there’s so many ways I can spend my resources. So, in the planning process you figure out. OK, how do I wanna spend my resources? Not, how does the world think I should spend my resources? Not, how did my parents teach me to spend my resources? Not, how do my neighbors do it? Not, how do my you know, the parents at my kid’s school do it? None of those things. It’s you. It starts inside. Both the drive, the passion, the values, and the financial tradeoffs. Those things are both inside. That’s what we’re mindful of, mindful of hey this is what we love to do, to integrate our working lives, with our lives. And this is what I want to have as outcomes, and that’s— Those have to both come from the heart and they don’t usually in our culture. I mentor students at Cal Berkeley and you know, some of them come in with this— while my dad said— It surprises me every single time. “My dad said I should probably a doctor. My dad said I should be an attorney” or my mom wants me to you know, pursue this line of work, or that line of work, or my dad was a hedge fund manager so, I think I should be a hedge fund manager”. And It just blows my mind that the kids that are 1920, that are really smart kids. I mean, these are, we’re talking Cal, we’re talking the best, One of the best public universities in the country. Right? Really smart kids, and they don’t understand that they have been programmed. They’ve been programmed by their community, their culture, themselves and they’re pursuing something that they’re going to wake up 5-8-10 years from now go: “Wow! This doesn’t seem to be really what I wanted to do”? You know, that’s so unfortunate but maybe that’s a lesson we all have to learn.

Kim: I completely think that you’re right and I’m wondering you know, rather just even taking it back to middle school and high school. I mean, I’ve got a middle— is the middle school— I guess he will be middle school next year. We don’t have a conventional Middle School in my town that’s why I’m confused people. And then a son who is about to be a freshman. And you know, we get into that pattern of asking, what do you want to be when you grow up? But, maybe it should be: No, what do you want to be? But, I don’t even know the better question, Jonathan? You know, like—

Jonathan: Who do you want to be?

Kim: Yeah, exactly. I like that a lot better. Who do you want to be?

Jonathan: Yeah. So, when I have a middle schooler,  h e’s in sixth grade. And it’s a very interesting dilemma for me because, I love folk music and I love the game of soccer, and it just so happens that my son is a great soccer player and he’s a guitarist and he plays a lot of folk music. He plays a lot of pop music too. He’s good at it and I’m putting him, tucking him into bed at night and I say: “Hey man you know, I really want you to understand that if you don’t want to play soccer, and you want to play basketball, or you don’t want to do any sports at all, you want to dance, whatever it is, I’m going to be in you’re court. I don’t want you to do this because, I love it”. And I’d say it over, and over, and over, and I coached his team, and I coached my daughter’s team, and I worry about that. I worry that without, I mean even with the intention of not programming, I’m programming because I have desires and I have things I love and I express that and because we are human and we have to do that we don’t have a choice. Right? So, I worry that I’m guiding him towards things that I like. And then one day he’ll go: “You know what? I like the drums, I don’t even like guitar”. Right? Which is I guess? You know, again, we don’t. It’s interesting because we have biases and we don’t know what they are, and we don’t know how they affect the people around us. What we can learn from that, is other people have biases and they don’t know how they affect the people around them. And we are the people around them. So, this is why meditation is important, this is why slowing down the film was important, so you can make better decisions that are more reflective of your values and what you see as important.

Kim: Jonathan I’m curious, do you have a vision board?

Jonathan: You know, I have had vision boards. I don’t have one currently. I would be, it would be difficult for me to point to a thing that are, or an experience that I want at this point. I mean, my vision board would involve my children being solid citizens of the real world and leaving legacy. I mean, it’s you know, I’ve accomplished a lot that I would have put on my vision that I have put on a vision board. And the interesting thing about it is, I used to write down the list. Right? These are the 100 things I want to accomplish, and I go back 10 years later, and I look at those and I’ve accomplished you know, 70 of them. And it’s pretty amazing the power of that right down the list, and or have the vision board, and your mind just goes to work on filtering out the other stuff. And guides you towards that conclusion. It’s amazing how the mind works.

Kim: Oh absolutely. I’m actually asking because my vision board fell off the wall and is peeking out from behind my desk. But I think the reason why I haven’t done anything about fixing it, or taking it back out is because so many things have changed in the past year. I mean, I think, I had like a Mercedes van on there that would fit my whole family. But as you were as you said a few minutes ago there’s society’s expectation and what we really want. I mean, listeners I don’t know if I’ve shared this before. I drive and we are recording this in 2017. But just to give you a perspective. I drive a 1996 GMC conversion van which I’m just waiting for the step on the side to fall off. But it runs very well, and it’s great for our family. Is it pretty? No. But it’s functional and it makes us happy because it gives us from point A to Point B. Taking that vision board out without a remodel to it. I don’t want the expectation of myself that, that’s what I’m going to be driving because I don’t need to drive that.

Jonathan: So, I have a client who loves cars and it’s just a fact that’s his thing. Like, he will trade away vacation and travel time for a really cool car which is great. It’s fine. That’s his thing and he’s honoring himself and he’s being true to that. And I think that’s good for him. Now, I have another client who drives a 1984 Honda Civic and he’s you know, it’s got plenty of money he travels all the time, he’s got to live in a fantastic house, a great neighborhood and kids all went to private school. But he doesn’t care about the car. The key isn’t to judge yourself about: “Hey, I want this but I feel bad about that. Is to say, What do I want? And then say, I’ll do what I can do to get what I want”. So, I don’t want this to be— Well let’s all be selfish. That’s not what this is. I mean, you’re part of a community, you’re part of a family and you want. I mean, you expressed this it was a Mercedes van but, it was a Mercedes van that set my whole family. Right? So, there’s something communal about that for the family and I’m assuming. Is your middle schooler, or near middle school, or is that the oldest child?

Kim: No. My oldest is going to be a freshman in high school.

Jonathan: OK.

Kim: But I should say though like I’ve shifted, because I found the (inaudible) and it is like a third of the money.

Jonathan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Kim: I realize I don’t need that fancy. Not that they’re nice looking list. If somebody wanted to give me in one of those Mercedes I would happily accept it. However, you know, I’m realizing that simply getting us from point A to Point B with enough room so that nobody needs to sit on the floor illegally, is just fine for our family and it makes us happy and there comes your happiness dividend.

Jonathan: And the tradeoffs not worth it. Like, investing the resources that you have for your retirement, the kids educations, in the car isn’t worth it.

Kim: Right.

Jonathan: Not a good tradeoff. Yeah.

Kim: Right. Especially, I mean, I’m not living in California so our costs of living is just a little bit different but that difference would just about pay for our entire house.

Jonathan: Right.

Kim: You know. So, again what is it. So, but I love going back to what I can ask my kids is: Who do you want to be? I love that and we can each ask ourselves that on a daily basis. Who do we want to be?

Jonathan: Yeah. And then it’s not a matter of, “oh I’m not that person I should feel bad”. It’s ok. This is the kind of person I want to be. This is who I’d like to be. Here’s some models of that person. Maybe that’s what the vision board should be. Like, if you have a just you know, Mother Teresa popped in my head. The Dalai Lama pops in my head if you want to be somebody that’s known, and gives back, and is really calm, and supportive of the world, and the people around them, and you put that on your vision board. Right? That’s incredible to me. You want to be successful business person. Put you know, Elonn Musk on your vision board. But it’s who you become. I think, largely determined and this is why we start with values and what’s important to you and being true to those priorities. That’s where we start with that in the book because I think that, that will determine many of your outcomes. With patience and work. Right? You add patience and you add work to your values, and your direction, and I think the universe has to give it to you. I don’t think anyone can keep you from it.

Kim: I want to be a non stressed mom whose blood pressure never rises, except for when there’s big achievement. I’m going to work on that.

Jonathan: That’s admirable. I wish you the best of luck.

Kim: You just said that the universe has to give it to you.

Jonathan: Yes. Maybe by the time they graduate.

Kim: I know. My husband and I actually have not taken our honeymoon yet. We’ve been married for five years because our family— We actually have a total of seven kids but five of them. I mean, literally you know came out of me. But, considering, we just want to take a honeymoon before the youngest graduate high school. That will be—-

Jonathan: Do you have an older brother or sister that can take the kids for a while?

Kim: Yes. But, I’m going to plead the Fifth on that comment.

Jonathan: OK.

Kim: Yes. I think they don’t listen to the podcast so that’s OK. How has your reflection of yourself and who you want to be changed over the course of writing and publishing your book? Would you say that it has?

Jonathan: The reflection of who I want to be hasn’t changed. You know, this it’s really interesting I think one of the things that makes me probably a little different or maybe perfectly suited for what I do is, when I was about nine or 10 years old my dad, the kinds of things we talked about involved life timeline. And it wasn’t, “Jonathan this is how your life will proceed”. It was, “Jonathan, this is how many lives sort of on average kind of proceed”. And so, as you’re thinking about your life, you should think about you know, where you want to be when you’re 20, where you want to be when you’re 30, where you want to be when you’re 40. And so, I have sort of a deeply ingrained awareness about becoming and stepping towards those things. And so you know, when I was 10 I knew that I would go to high school, and graduate high school or go to college and graduate college. I might get married, I might not get married. You know, I might work for a while, I might go to grad school, I might. And then you know, I would get married and I always wanted to have kids. And so, the thing right now if I said OK, what do I want to become? I’m very much in your camp of I want to have a calmer response to life. I want to be more settled in terms of just my own bearing. Because life is frenetic. Life just keeps coming at me and things keep changing. I like, like you, I have, What is it? The ideas—

Kim: Chronic Idea Disorder.

Jonathan: I have that. Every day I get three or four brands every single day I have a new brand, or a new article, or a new book, or a new thing, and it’s always “I can do this”. I’m working on two presentations right now. I’m working on an article right now. So, I want that to slow down and I’d like to garden more. I would like to travel more, in terms of becoming the person I think I am, or I am close to that person. I do the things you know, my morning routine. I spend two and a half hours before my day starts. Meditating, exercising, writing, and just basically thinking, and this is before you know, my son gets up really early but I’m usually up about an hour and a half before that and then he gets up for an hour and reads. And by the time he comes down you know, I’ve had two and a half hours of reflective quiet time. And that stabilizes who I am and it sort of keeps me on the path that I want to be on. It has changed over time, because of I’ve added a brand and I’ve added you know, I want to be a more public figure, like that is and education. The book is part of that process because I think that we need to have a messenger that is in financial services that comes from a more mindful place rather than you know more, more, more, bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger, faster, or faster, or faster, or faster, faster, screechy, yelling, at people. And there’s a lot of financial pundits out there and they’re all prognosticating. They’re saying you know, they’re not planning oriented, you know passion oriented, and there’s a couple that are good. And I’m not you know, I’m not down on the whole thing but there’s a lot of messages that come from the financial services world that are just not helpful that are actually deletive of both our financial success and our happiness. And I need to push back against that, or somebody needs to, and I’m sort of, I think, I’m a good messenger for that.

Kim: I love that. That’s amazing. And I’m also amazed and this is probably just the mom side of me that your son gets up and reads for an hour every day.

Jonathan: He is an incredible boy. He is amazing. He gets up and reads for about an hour and then he you know, he gets ready for school, and then he plays guitar for 30 minutes. I mean, it’s— I don’t know where this kid came from. I mean, both my wife and I are pretty dedicated and pretty you know, we do stuff, and we engage, and we up up up up up we get stuff done. He that way. He has both my left brain and my wife’s left brain so, my buddies playing guitar. She’s got the right brain in there too I don’t know where that came from but he’s an incredible kid. My daughter also fantastic.A little more relaxed a time but she’s 9 so you know, it will come.

Kim: Wow. I was impressed to see that my son dug up one of my boxes of books in the basement yesterday, and took out the whole Lord Of The Rings trilogy and a Stephen King book the stand. I think, that I didn’t even go down there. And he’s decided he’s going to read it. That’s a big one.

Jonathan: It’s a big one. How old is your son? That’s a long book.

Kim: Yeah. But, I was just so happy to see him actually pulled out rather than, OK what what can i download from Steam to play right now. Right?

Jonathan: Yep.

Kim: Can I have your credit card. Yes I love to see. So maybe he’ll get sucked into those and start a good month of reading. On the reading now. What are you reading right now?

Jonathan: Great question. What am I reading right now? I’m reading a book on healthy organizations. So, you know, I run my wealth management firm and I’m hiring. And some of them running a book on unhealthy organizations. I’m also reading a— What’s it called? It’s a teeny tiny book about Meditation just you know a teeny tiny little thing and I can’t remember the title of the book and I’m reading the sixth in the Harry Potter series as my daughter and I’m reading The Once and Future King with my son.

Kim: Oh, that’s great. Listeners, I don’t remember if I’ve already said but you’ll be able to get links to everything that we talk about including Jonathan’s book in the show notes which you can find at the kimsutton.com/PP146.

Jonathan: It’ll be really cool if you add the link to the Happiness Dividend Blog on there too.

Kim: Oh, definitely. Well, I would love for you to actually share more about the happiness dividend blog with the listeners.

Jonathan: Great! So, the happiness in a blog is sort of step two. I think that, step one is really reading the book, the mindful money, the book. And that gives you a good background of sort of what the steps you need to take and you know, and then it happens is dividend blog is support along the path it is you know. This is kind of the world is talking about all this stuff, markets, economies, blah, blah, blah. This is kind of another take on it, this is why I think it’s gonna be ok, this is we’re sort of combating the message of the day you know returning people to the mindfulness, returning people to their breath, returning people to their plan that they’ve done through the book. We also have links to videos that we’ve done, and other investment tools that we’ve done, and we have a link to hourly planning at some point when somebody needs that they can link in with actual financial planner and do modular kinds of things and look at their retirement income plan which we get more specific. The book gives you a good rough outline, rough idea but we get more specific to an individual in a planning process then we just sort of step two in developing our connectivity between our lives and our money.

Kim: So, fabulous. There will definitely be a link to the blog as well as the book mindful money in the show notes. And again, just because I don’t think I said it earlier in the episode and I don’t want listeners who are driving to forget, thekimsutton.com/PP146. Jonathan, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you today and I really look forward to chatting with you again in the future. Where can listeners find you online? You already mentioned the happiness dividend blog. Is there another great place to connect with you?

Jonathan: You can connect with us on Facebook.com/happinessdividend, and you can connect with us on Twitter. It’s, @HappinessDiv and follow us there and you can check in with us at happinessdividend.com.

Kim: Fabulous.Do you have a piece of parting advice, or a golden nugget that you would love to share with listeners?

Jonathan: Yes. The most important thing that I think for us all to realize is that we can do it. Sit with that for a second. We here in the United States, have been born in an incredible country with incredible opportunity. We have a ton of upside. We have technology at our fingertips that allows us to do all kinds of stuff. It’s free at the most of the libraries, the possibilities are endless, but we have to employ them. We have to use them. We have to pursue them. We have to grind, we have to work hard, and we can get there, whatever there is for each of us.