July 30 of 2019 was a very difficult day for me. Without getting into the details, I was in a low spot. But as fate would have it, a door opened the same day that would dramatically change my life for the better.
After finishing a call, I decided to check my email and found one with the subject line, “An opportunity with Altruist.”
Inside it read, “You would be a great fit to host a podcast we’re looking to produce.” At the time I had zero interest in being a podcast host because I was looking for my next move as a financial advisor. Plus, I preferred to sit on the other side.
However, as many of you can testify, it’s when we’re at our lowest moments that opportunities walk in to usher us towards our destiny. After sitting with the email for a few moments, I responded and agreed to have a conversation with the CEO of Altruist, Jason Wenk. If you’re reading this then you already know the result of that conversation; but what you don’t know is the human, the advisor, and the podcast.
Two weeks later, I flew into LAX and was on my way to Altruist’s Venice HQ for our first day of filming.
A couple of things to take note of. First: I HATE TO FLY.
Secondly, I was meeting with folks I had never met to do something I had never done before. Roughly two hours after landing, we were shooting the first episode. I don’t think I’d be alone in admitting that the expectations for the podcast weren’t high at first. Little did we know that over the next year, we would transform the advisor podcasting landscape by telling incredible stories and change lives as a result. I’ve learned a lot over the past year. As a token of their appreciation for me, my wonderful Altruist colleagues (who know I loathe writing) asked me to share with you a few takeaways from season one. So, here it goes.
Hosting a podcast is hard
I have a newfound respect for those who actually set out to develop their own podcast. I almost said no to this because I was completely unaware of all the people, equipment, and prep time needed to put on a podcast of this magnitude.
Our cameraman and editor, Joe Krolick, is a genius and made it easy(er) for me to be me. There was also a lot of trust involved as John Scianna (VP, Brand & Design) and Shabana Siyed (Marketing Manager) allowed me to do all of the interviews without a script, except for one ‘scripted’ question, but more on that later.
Throughout the season, I incorporated all of my skills and developed a set of new ones – mostly around patience. I’ve learned so much about myself and what can happen when you let go and embrace the unknown.
There’s beauty in everyone’s story
There is earth-moving power in storytelling. Yet many of us are reluctant to share our experiences for various reasons and the world suffers for it.
Financial advisors aren't heralded as gifted storytellers, so it was my job to help tell their stories. I wanted to provide a raw, unfiltered look at what makes advisors who they are, who they serve, and why. It’s safe to say we delivered on that, but what was unexpected was the depth at which guests were willing to share so much of themselves.
We were led down a wondrous path of conversations covering mental health, racism, sexuality, love, and my personal favorite: giving. The messages I continue to receive from clients, family, friends, and strangers are incredible! It’s confirmation that stories bind us together. Stories heal and liberate. But most of all, stories change the world.
There are many ways to be a ‘great’ advisor
Those of us in this business know there’s no direct path to becoming a financial advisor. All of us come from a menagerie of backgrounds and bring those differences to our practice. I believe that’s the beauty of working with people and their financial goals.
We get to choose who we want to work with, and in turn, they decide if they want to work with us. In all of the conversations I had, it was clear the only thing we all have in common is calling ourselves advisors. The how, where, and why we choose to serve people couldn’t be any more different.
Whether it’s the various ways we approach financial planning, marketing, branding, or client service, we all have our unique ways of serving our clients. That was a beautiful thing to see up close and personal in each episode.
If you’ve listened or watched an episode of the podcast, then you’re familiar with the last question I ask every guest to close the interview, “What are you most grateful for that didn’t work out for you?”
What you may not know is the genesis of that question. It’s no secret that I’m in the process of rebuilding my life after my failed Olympic dream (to hear my story, watch episode 8). I’m personally having a difficult time finding the silver lining in my dream never being realized.
I asked this question in hopes that hearing from others about their failures, and how they bounced back, will inspire me in the ‘second act’ of my life. This question has helped me heal, so thank you to every guest who offered their response as a salve to my wound.
The depths of the conversations and range of emotions I’ve experienced filming, with so many friends and colleagues, has been life-altering. It’s also fortified my belief that in ten years’ time, the financial services industry will be the most beloved industry in the world.
I am incredibly grateful to the whole team at Altruist, namely Shabana, John, and J Dub. More importantly, a huge thank you to all of our wonderful guests that have been so generous with their time, stories, and in some cases, workspaces.
And, a sincere thank you as well goes to every one of our subscribers, those who sent kind words, and to my incredible, understanding clients who are our biggest fans. I undoubtedly have taken more from this experience than I have given, and for that, I am humbled and grateful.