Do you and your family want to live a better life? Be intentional and deliberate. Most families and businesses don’t realize that the financial transformation they are seeking is not in alignment, but opposed to the transformation they desire.
In this episode, Toby Mathis of Anderson Advisors talks to Eric Dunavant, president and CEO of Paradiem. Since 2007, Eric’s leadership has guided multiple families and businesses to discover greatness, growth, governance, and generosity that makes an impact every day. Before Paradiem, Eric served as a vice president at Charles Schwab and was an associate at Fidelity Investments in charge of managing money market mutual funds.
Eric is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Qualified Kingdom Advisor, and Financial Planning Association affiliate. In addition to his certifications, Eric was named New Orleans City Business Money Maker, New Orleans Area Five Star Professional Wealth Manager, and Safe Harbor’s Real Man of St. Tammany Parish. Eric’s book, What If We’ve Been Doing It All Wrong, focuses on how your worldview often interrupts all your financial thinking and behavior.
- Meaning and Purpose: Paradiem means beyond the day, and Eric’s organization empowers families and businesses to live a better story by being more intentional.
- ROI: Return on investment versus return on intention, which is more important? Too many families focus too much on return on investment, not return on intention.
- Mission, Vision, Values: Culture eats strategy for breakfast, so make sure values are aligned to have a real direction that’s bigger than dollars.
- Business owners and families tend to take on trajectory building wealth, rather than no real purpose when stress and anxiety come along.
- Unintended Consequences: Start small, but over time, they lead to miscommunication, and eventually, addiction.
- Be Deliberate: Money doesn’t cause problems and is not an issue. Money can magnify and expose all the areas being neglected and ignored inside your family and life.
- Finances Fragment Families: After Eric’s mom died, his dad pursued business growth and not doing what he was told—workaholic, not home, and not focused on health.
- Four categories families should focus on to think beyond where they are today:
- Greatness: Why does your story matter?
- Growth: What is the ROI of your story?
- Governance: Who tells your story?
- Generosity: What can your family come together on to make a difference?
- Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk: Start conversations, voice opinions, gain feedback, minimize friction, and achieve buy-in to discover, build, and teach family values.
- How healthy is your family? Resources are available to transform your family.
- What are you willing to work on? There’s not anything that’s completely out of reach, if you’re willing to do the work and go into the pain and darkness of it.
Family Impact Kit: firstname.lastname@example.org
What If We’ve Been Doing It All Wrong by Eric Dunavant
Anderson Advisors Tax and Asset Protection Event
Full Episode Transcript:
Toby: Hey, guys. You’re listening to The Anderson Advisors Podcast. I have a guest today, Eric Dunavant. He’s actually from the Big Easy down there in the realm of New Orleans dodging hurricanes.... Read Full Transcript
Eric: Dodging hurricanes.
Toby: Professional hurricane dodger. Today, on a serious note, this is a really important topic. This is something everybody needs to listen to hands down because he’s talking about something I’ve seen in my personal life. I’ve seen it with clients all over the place. I’m going to let Eric set the table on it, explain what he does, and why this is so critical for people.
Eric: Yeah. Toby, thank you for having me on. It’s an honor to be here. What Paradiem does is we empower families and businesses to live a better story by being more intentional.
When we look at what Anderson helps people to do and talk about that, the idea is a lot of people are living a good story. I would say that when I look at what Anderson’s been able to help families do, you’re getting closer to a better story because the tax savings, the intentionality, and everything that’s happening inside of that work is incredibly powerful.
Where we come in and what we believe is you can get a good return on investment, and that’s important, making sure you get a great return on investment is important. What we have found is all you focus on is the return on investment, you can end up with the wrong ROI. What I mean is the return on intention.
What we find too many families do is they focus so much on the return on investment that they miss the return on intention inside of their families.
Toby: All right. You just threw a huge concept out. This is why it’s so critical. If anybody’s ever listened to me, if you guys have gone through the non-profit class; the start, fund, grow; and listened to Infinity, you know that we talked a lot about mission-vision values. You know that we harp on that here at our firm. We’ve been the Best Places to Work twice. We’ve been on the Inc. list five times. We know what we’re doing on this.
If you do not have your values aligned, you are toast. This is so critical. I think this goes hand in hand, and I’m going to ask you to dig a little deeper into it, Eric. If your focus is on making money, you’re going to faceplant. You are. Once you hit it, most people go, now, what do I do? It’s like that Talladega Nights movie where the dad is sitting with the guys in Applebee’s. He starts drinking, throwing a fit, and says, “Things were just a little too perfect. Let’s go get thrown out of Applebee’s.”
If you don’t have a real direction or something bigger than the dollars, you end up making messes. I think that’s what you’re talking about, Eric.
Eric: Oh, it is. It is so easy. I think it’s business owners. It’s easy to say, I know what my vision, mission, and values are for my business. I know how to live those out. I know how to do that.
I love Peter Drucker’s statement, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Do we take that same mindset and bring it home?
Toby: Oh, boy. Yup. Amen.
Eric: Do we take the same mindset and say, you know what, how do I do this where I live and with my own family? What I find, unfortunately, is way too many families spent time focusing inside the business, but they neglect to do it personally.
Toby: Tell me about it. Tell me about that specifically. What do you see especially in our society? I know what I see. I want to see what you see.
Eric: What we see most of the time is business owners and families are on the trajectory building wealth and the rest of the world is telling them, hey, just pile it up and pile it up with no real purpose, with no real endgame. There’s no finish line. There’s the stress and the anxiety that goes along with that.
The unintended consequences we start talking about—an interesting thing about unintended consequences are they start small. Maybe I just don’t have good communication with my kids. But over time, what that can lead to is I don’t communicate well with my kids. They even don’t know how to communicate well with their partner. You’ll get a year, five years, or 10 years down the road, you end up with divorce. You end up with miscommunication. This sometimes can sound extreme, but miscommunication goes all the way leading to addiction.
Eric: All of these small little things, we go, oh, that’s no big deal. What I find too often happens inside a family—and this gets into a little bit of my own story and how I got into this because this happened inside of my own family. You get so focused on building the wealth or accumulating it with no purpose and with no endgame in mind.
Let’s say you hit a point where you’re like I finally had enough, you reach an exit, or you hit a finish line where you’re going, I’m bringing in enough income. I’m super happy. But if you’ve neglected all the relationships around you, as the saying goes, you find out you’ve been climbing the ladder leaning against the wrong wall. You’ve got a whole mess to clean with.
One of the things I like to say is—I think you said this differently before we come on the show—money doesn’t cause problems. Money is not an issue. Money can magnify and expose all of the areas we’ve been neglecting and ignoring inside of our family and in our life if we don’t pay attention to it.
Toby: Money makes you more of what you already are. If you’re a workaholic, it’s going to make you that much worse. If you’re an addict, it’s going to make you that much worse. If you’re narcissistic, it’s going to make you that much worse. If you’re a good giver and you’re a good person, it’s going to make you that much better.
Toby: You’ve got to be deliberate about it. We were taught that we got to make money. You got to make money. You start focusing on money, and it usurps everything else. Kid’s birthday, right? You see people skip family items for the dough, for the money.
Eric: That or they’re on their phone the whole time because they’re answering emails or responding. They’re not even present. They’re in the room, but they’re not present.
This happened in my own life. My father was a veterinarian in West Texas and was running a business. No one told me any differently. He’s just running the business and doing what he was doing. In my 7th grade year, my mom fell and broke her arm, and then, we ended up burying my mother within the next year. She’s got a staph infection. Fought a lot of surgeries and things like that.
Toby: I’m so sorry.
Eric: Yeah, it was tough but it ended up teaching me some things because my dad was pursuing the growth of the business and doing what everybody was telling them to do—workaholic, not home, and not focused on his health.
When my mom passed away and this crisis came in, 3-4 years later, he ended up filing bankruptcy because he had been borrowing a lot of money to grow and expand his business. Life happens. He didn’t pay attention to the insurance he should be holding on to.
What we found was his whole focus on business fragmented our relationship, the relationship with my sister. Everything starts falling apart because what the world was telling him was, just go build the business. Just go do this. No expectations of a crisis coming. No expectation of that coming in. If the only focus is money, there’s […] too little.
Toby: Yeah. You’re just looking at the accumulation. You’re not even looking at—this is the one we see all the time. You never think you’re going to die. When something happens and you pass, you leave a big mess because you’re never prepared for it. You get disabled, or you get older, and you’re not even able to care for yourself. You never prepare for it because, heck, we’re humans. We’re so excited about the making money part that we forget about everything else that’s going on that is actually more important.
Eric: That’s right.
Toby: First off, you lived this.
Eric: I lived it.
Toby: Is your dad’s still with us or did he pass?
Eric: No, my dad is still with us.
Toby: Did he learn from that? Did he change things? Where is he now?
Eric: He’s retired now. Still doing a little bit of veterinary work. I like to say he learned a little bit about it. It was such a transformational moment for me that it’s the whole reason I’m passionate about what I’m doing today. It took me almost going down the same path he was headed down to realize I was about to make the same mistake.
Toby: Kids learn, whether you’re telling them or not. They learn by watching. If you’re not a nice person, it’s a good chance your kids are watching and picking up those.
Toby: What does dad think about what you’re doing?
Eric: He loves it because he understands that he’s seen the transformation in my own family. Like I said, I almost blew it up myself. I’d inherited all the workaholic, all the passion about just being in the office all the time, and thinking the answers were just accumulation, accumulation, accumulation. Until I came to this. I had someone sit me down one day and said, “Hey, I just want to know why you hate your family?”
Toby: He said that?
Toby: “Hey, I’ve got a question that’s been bugging me. Why do you hate your wife? I’m curious?”
Eric: I said, “What are you talking about?” He’s like, “Well, look. You’re never home. You’re working all the time. I see the business you’re building and everything. My best guess is you must just hate your family.” I was like, “What are you talking about?”
This gentleman mentored me through a process. “Why don’t you go back and just turn things upside down? The accumulation is going to come. You’re smart enough. You are a good enough business guy, and you’re focused on things. What if you focus on the return on intention with your family? What if you focus on your wife and your relationship with your wife? What if you focus on your relationship with your kids? What if you guys settle down and find a common purpose together? Then see what happens to your business.”
What he told me to do, which was an interesting thing. He’s like, “I want you to forget about your business for six months. I want you to go to the office but I want you to flip your priorities. Don’t go into the office until you spend time with your wife and kids. Don’t go into the office until you’ve done some exercise, focused on your body, and things like that.”
I started doing that, and it completely changed even the trajectory of my business. I was more focused. I was more dialed in. I was more on fire for everything that I was doing. And then, what got to be exciting was I saw the transformation in myself. It was then, okay, we know other families who are on the same trajectory. If they keep doing what they’re doing, if they keep focusing on a life of accumulation without a real purpose, without focusing on the return on intention, they’re going to end up like my dad or like me. What are the unintended consequences they’re going to result out of that? That is what led me into the passion of what Paradiem does today.
At the end of the day, what we like to see is we just want to help people live a better story because so many people are caught up in the rest of the world which says, how are you doing? Well, I’m good. Good enough is good enough. No, what if you could live a better life?
Toby: That’s pretty cool. Your company is Paradiem. I want you to explain what that means. That’s a pretty cool word.
Eric: Paradiem means beyond the day. We want people to think beyond where they are today and not just accumulation. The way that we talk about helping families focus on this is there are four categories. These are greatness, growth, governance, and generosity.
Greatness is why does your story matter? Sitting down and looking at all the people who are impacted by the story that you’re telling and the story that you’re going to create, so many times—at least in myself in accumulation and building wealth—the purpose may be there for the business, but we don’t think about why the people around us matter and what the effect is going to be on them.
Taking a step back and understanding why that story matters. What’s the movie going to look like in 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years, if we continue on the trajectory that we’re on? The growth has to do with what is the ROI of your story and it’s the return on intention. You may be getting a great return on investment, but are you taking a look at how that story’s going to end up and what you are intending to have happened?
My favorite part sits inside of governance because that is who tells your story. That’s where getting down to what your values are? What is your vision? How do you give a voice to everyone in the family? And then how do you create a great venture that you all can be about?
The governance is really what begins to make a difference for return on intention. You can talk about all the four categories, but it’s inside of governance where families are already doing really good things like what Anderson already is thinking about. Things that other people are not bringing them to, thinking about the right strategies to build that return on investment. What we find is that plugging in the governance component is this accelerant that pushes even more possibilities that most families haven’t seen.
Toby: That’s bringing the kids into it, right? That’s bringing the whole family. This is where mom or dad may be the workaholic mom or dad, may be the I’m the master. I’m the one who’s making it happen. But, you’re on an island. If you get unplugged from it, everybody else fails.
Eric: It’s okay. Let’s talk a little bit about the governance side. Values, we began talking about this. Values ideas, it’s really easy to know what your values, mission, and vision are all inside of a business. But how do we do this inside of a family? How do we sit down and talk about our purpose as a family?
Mom and dad have a direction that they want to go to. But if we can bring the kids in and as the kids get older, I would tell you, even—
Toby: How do you teach the values? That’s the question. How do you decide what your values are? Is that where you start or do you start somewhere?
Eric: We start by just bringing the family together to round the conversation of what the family wants to be known for, and getting feedback from everyone. The other thing that begins that process—before we get deeply into values—is we get a member of our team who is our family transformation specialist. He calls each person in the family to try and find the elephants in the room. What are the things we’re not talking about? What are the things that we’re avoiding? Because if you can’t get those things out in the open and you can’t at least have a discussion about them, then they always stay there.
What you find is going into those hard conversations releases some tension and then allows a lot of families to begin to move forward. From there, beginning the conversation of what do we want to be known for lays out a path to have further conversations. We got a specific process that we take families through to help build in the values and discover what those values are.
The other thing we’re looking for when we’re helping—and it doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it could take 2-3 months to get solidified in on what the values are of the family. The real key in that process is that everyone buys in and knows what they mean to them personally.
Toby: I’m just going to make a quick plug here. If somebody’s listening is going, okay, this sounds amorphous. No, I just want to make money. If you don’t have your values aligned—in business it’s really easy because your employees will quit, or they’ll decide to try to make your company into something you don’t envision it being. They’ll fight. They’ll have little ingroups and you’ll have cliques. There’ll be friction. Your customers, there’ll be friction.
We’re seeing it nowadays, our values are very different in two of the major political parties, and there is tons of friction. That’s what happens when your values aren’t aligned. If you could choose, you try to say, what values do we agree on? And you use those to become more inclusive. In politics, it’s probably never going to happen. Now and again, somebody’s a unifier.
In a family, you don’t have a choice. If your values are different, you’re going to have that friction there constantly. You’ve got to figure out what you guys agree on. It sounds like that’s a lot of what you’re doing.
Eric: It is a lot of what we’re doing. The other thing is you’ll run into families who’ll be like, we’ve got good values. It’s this ambiguous idea that’s out there as opposed to memorializing them. They’re putting them on paper. People who are listening are going to have all sorts of different phases, but it would be interesting to go back and look at what the original intention of Harvard University was. It was written down. I’m just going to go look it up. How far they are from that originally written value?
You go, I don’t need to write them down. If you look at Harvard who had a written value that is so far away from what that is today.
Toby: They didn’t reinforce it though.
Eric: No, they didn’t.
Toby: Right. I always say the value is what you aspire to be, the mission is how you walk it, and the vision is where you’re walking. Jesus was the ultimate visionary. His disciples were the missionaries going out there and teaching, this is where we’re going. The values are these things we all hold. It’s walking the talk. This is what I’m talking about.
It sounds like Harvard—I’m just going to guess because I don’t know what their values are—walked in a different direction because they had a different visionary.
Eric: They did.
Toby: It only takes one.
Eric: How much faster did your family get off track if you haven’t even got it written down? If you didn’t have it memorialized? That’s kind of the point that we have come to.
Toby: It’s a rudderless ship.
Eric: It is.
Toby: I get to teach this section. This is why it’s interesting to me because I teach this all the time. There are different ways you look at it. At the end of the day, it’s the same thing. It’s your rudderless ship if you don’t have your values nailed down (in my world). Your values drive your mission, which drives your vision. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s the same principle. You’ve got to figure out what you’re striving for.
It sounds like you’re saying, what do we want to be known for? That’s what you’re striving for as a family.
Eric: It is.
Toby: Then, you’re looking and saying, this is how we implement it.
Eric: It is. In a way that we can memorialize it. Our use of vision is a little bit different. Your use is absolutely perfect, but what we’re specifically speaking to is when trying to raise the next generation. We’re trying to empower the next generation.
What we found to be true, and I don’t know how it is for different people, I’m just going to tell for me and everybody I’ve ever worked with. Everyone I’ve ever met is carrying around self-doubt. Doesn’t know what to think about themselves.
When we’re talking about vision, what we’re trying to do is help mom and dad put the greatness in the vision that they see into their children—through written letters, communication, and interaction. It’s one thing to look at your child and say, hey, I think all this good stuff for you. It never gets out of your mouth and in the paper.
Toby: It’s affirmations from somebody else.
Eric: Absolutely. When we’re casting vision, it’s about the affirmation over the family and speaking that. When we get further down the road, what gets to be cool is the kid starts affirming mom and dad back. Relationally, you end up in a place that, even in the hardest times, becomes healing.
You can start with a broken family. You got so many elephants. It’s hard to get everyone in the room, but you start to establish values that we maybe this for a part but at least we can agree on these things. And then you start to speak vision or affirmation into that. It’s amazing what kind of healing starts to happen inside of a family.
Toby: It’s interesting. The last G that we didn’t hit on was generosity. How does that play into this? Because it sounds like you’ve got to have the first three?
Eric: You do.
Toby: Or do you?
Eric: No, no, no. You do. Greatness, growth, governance. Let me finish up governance real quick. Giving them a voice because if you speak affirmation, you give them values, and you’ve permitted them to speak in. All that we’re looking at is a voice, not a vote. I just want to hear what you have to say. I want to listen and hear you.
The last piece is the venture, which is going to tie into the generosity. There’s something that the family can come together around that becomes a greater purpose that is outside themselves. What we find when we get into the generosity component is when you begin to have intentional conversations around what you’re doing, almost every single family that we’ve ever worked with has discovered they can give 3X-10X more money away than anyone’s ever told them before. Continue to reduce their taxes without changing anything about their lifestyle.
When you’re increasing generosity around a great venture, now, you have the family coming around, and together for a greater purpose that’s not about them. When you’re looking outside yourself, you begin to discover new things about yourself and your family. It’s not about us piling it up anymore. It’s about us coming together as a collective in making a difference around the world around us.
Toby: And you feel proud.
Toby: You’re allowed to feel proud. Making money, you’re not allowed to feel proud about. You might feel good about it, but if you tell somebody, man, I’m wealthy right now. They’re going to go look at you and they’re going to hate you a little bit. Usually, people look at you and say, that’s kind of conceited. But if you say, we’re able to help so many families out. We were able to do X, Y, and Z. We love giving our time back here. Then people are like, okay, pretty cool.
Eric: The other thing that you begin to have a different appreciation for money when you’re engaging in generosity is when you’re holding on tight with a closed fist, nothing gets in, nothing gets out. When you open up your hand, you start to see the world from a different perspective.
One of the experiences we have with our own family around our generosity was taking our family to Mexico for three days to build a house, sleeping on the ground, taking a bucket shower, and just being exposed to poverty.
We often don’t realize, and most people don’t know, is if you make more than $30,000 a year, you’re wealthier than 99% of the rest of the world. When we live in the US, there’s so much abundance around this. Oftentimes, we don’t see the real blessings in what we have.
When you can get exposed to poverty, or you can get exposed to other areas, and then engage it through generosity, what you begin to appreciate it even more, what it is you’re blessed with if you have more responsibility. But the other thing I find is you find more connections inside of the family. That’s where you end up getting the return on intention.
Toby: Yeah. Where did you go to build a house? Where was it?
Eric: It was outside of Tijuana.
Toby: That’s pretty cool.
Eric: Yeah. Until this year. This year would have been eight years in a row, but COVID has something to say about that.
The crazy thing is, and I would just encourage families to find something like this, the word that we use in our house is it helps disrupt our thinking. Maybe I get discontent. I wished I had a nicer car. I wish I had this. I wish I had that. You go down and get exposed to that kind of poverty. It’s like wait a minute, I have so much. I can appreciate so much of what I have.
It was interesting. My older son looked at me a year and a half ago. He could feel his discontent. He looked at me and said, “Dad, I just need to go to Mexico for a few days.” I find that to be true for me. Sometimes, I get so caught up in thinking I’m more important than I am. I just need a little bit of disruption in my life, and generosity is a way to create disruption.
Toby: You need to go someplace where you realize—I have to be careful about this. Sometimes, I say, you go and you’ll realize how lucky we are. Sometimes, it’s hard to feel fortunate when you’re sitting here and you’re always looking at the Jones’. They have a new car, they have a bigger house, and all that jazz, so you start feeling bad.
Until you go someplace where, again, in many countries—I was just down in Puerto Rico. Right next door is the Dominican Republic where the Haitians live in a lot of the landfills because that’s where they bring the food. It’s leftover food. We call it garbage, but that’s where they bring the food, so that’s where they’re living.
Until you see it, it’s hard to conceptualize. You realize, wait a second. Do people have to live like this? Yeah. We are very, very, very, very, lucky. You won the lottery if you’re born in this country or you manage to come here. You won the lottery. 99% of the world’s problems just left you.
Eric: That’s right.
Toby: And we’re griping about how we’re living here. We can always do better, but we have to be realistic. That sounds like a pretty interesting way to do it.
Eric: Here’s what we found to be true. If you focus on return on intention, all of a sudden, return on investment gets a lot clearer and a lot easier because you understand the purpose of why what you’re doing. Not only that, especially if you’re talking about multiple generational wealth. If you’re going to pass this down two or three generations, however, that’s going to go, the rest of the family needs to understand the purpose, otherwise, they’re simply looking at the money as a solution to a lifestyle issue or something else without any purpose.
What you know from the statistics is when you lose the purpose around the return on investment, the wealth disappears. The statistics are there to show it.
Toby: Eric, it’s interesting because there’s something that I heard. I didn’t come up with it, but I always think of this and I share it with others. If you are given money for your child, your grandchild, or somebody else’s child—if you don’t have children. Somebody gave you the money for a baby. Said, here’s $1000, Eric. This is for your son. Or this is for your new child. You treat that $1000 differently than if you went and won $1000 in a casino, or you found $1000.
For whatever reason, you have an intention for what that money is. You treat that with a different reverence. It’s weird. You don’t feel like taking it. I’ll tell you that much. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t understand that money is pressure. They’re not prepared for it when it does come. We see this all the time.
I have a very good friend, but it was pretty funny. He ended up having a business where he was very successful. His whole deal was to make $1 million a year. When he hit $1 million a year, that’s when he started adultering and smoking. He starts doing coke, smoking weed, and destroying his life. He was like, “I didn’t know what else to do.” It’s funny when you hear that.
He ended up becoming one of the best people, a complete giver, and completely giving his life to helping other people. He was so relaxed. By the time I met him, he was older. He was like, “Yeah. I made so much money.” I was like, “All right. Now what?” “I’m going to do all the things I didn’t do.”
Eric: When you look and talk to the people who are only focused on building wealth, they don’t have this kind of […]. What do the people do when they hit their target? When they hit their goal? There was never a purpose. It was simply for accumulation. That’s when we talk about, let’s match up return on investment with a return on intention. Because if you don’t have an intention, when you get to the finish line, you end up smoking crack and having an affair. You hit the finish line. It’s like, what was it for?
Toby: Yeah. You need to have a long-term objective. I like 300 years. Pick 300 years. That’s your long-term objective. You put it in place. If we stick to 20-30 years, this is not long enough. You’ll end up finding a way to sabotage yourself.
I’m going to ask you two more questions. I’m going to ask you the questions I usually ask in the end first, this is what you do for a living, I take it?
Eric: It is.
Toby: You work with families?
Toby: Usually people come on and they give away something. What are we giving away today?
Eric: Yeah. We have a free Family Impact Kit that is available to anyone who wants to send me an email at email@example.com. Send me an email. We’ll give you the Family Impact Kit.
It’s a half a day worth of exercises that sit inside of greatness, why your story matters, growth, what’s your ROI, greatness, governance, and then generosity. It’s just different activities that will give your family a chance to come together and have meaningful conversations around things that matter.
Toby: That’s really cool. That’s a freebie, yay.
Eric: That’s a freebie, yeah. Just come get it.
Toby: Eric, we’ll share that link out with people. Do it, guys. If there’s one thing that I have learned watching other people, and in my own life too, is we get so laser-focused on doing one thing, our head could be on fire and we’re still going to work. It’s like, oh, I’ll put it out later. No. Your family could be on fire and you don’t even realize it. Take a quick check.
The other one is, are there any cases? Has there ever been a family you’ve worked with that sticks out as being the biggest transformation? I know I put you on the spot. I didn’t ask you that.
Eric: No. You’re getting into one of my favorite, favorite stories. There was a family up from the Midwest that we started to work with about three years ago. We met this gentleman because he was getting ready for an exit. A lot of times, we’ll come in and work with the families beginning an exit. I’m just going to add this real quick. What most people don’t realize is one thing that is worth a certain amount of money on paper, you can’t take that in the grocery store
As we said, money magnifies. The minute that you bring money into the equation, it changes all the relationships. We like to talk to people before they’re going to sell a business so we can get them ready for the relational changes that were coming.
We met this gentleman about 6-8 months before he was going to sell the business. He was telling us the story of his family. There has been some divorce in the family. He goes, “Look, I just need you guys to know, I have not been in the same room with my three kids in over 10 years. You keep talking about this governance stuff and all these.” He goes, “This is going to be a miracle if we get everybody in the same room. It’s been 10 years.”
We started working on it and started having some conversations. We were about six months into the process and pulled together a full family meeting with him and his three kids all in the same room. It was kind of funny. One of the things that we do is we keep a stuffed elephant. We got to have the elephant in the room, so let’s bring the elephant into the room to talk about that.
One of the things I like to tell about that story is that it’s continuing to evolve. The relationships are getting healthier. It’s still not completely healed. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done but to take a father and put him in the same wrong with his children for the first time in over 10 years, begin the healing process, and begin the conversations around their values and vision. Even permitting them to have a voice has been super exciting.
We’re not done. If you ask me again in another three years, we’ll probably have another version of how that story has continued, but that’s my favorite.
Toby: That is pretty cool. That is. The idea is if it was easy, everybody would do it. There’s got to be a little bit of the magic. I can just imagine how sometimes, it gets a little uncomfortable when people are pointing out elephants.
Eric: The one thing that we like to say is the only way to get to the other side of recovery and reconciliation is through the pain. The biggest problem is most people don’t want to go into the pain. They just want to ignore the pain. You’ve got to be able to say your piece, express what you’re feeling, feel heard, and create safe places for that to happen. If you’re not willing to go through the pain, you won’t get to the other side of the pleasure.
Toby: Yup. I love it. You need a good guide for doing this. I would encourage everybody, this is not a typical podcast. I would encourage anybody who is even thinking that they don’t have that structure in their life that you should take advantage of—at least the free offering and talk to Eric and his group.
I haven’t done anything with you. And I haven’t gone through the process, so I can’t tell somebody that this is the greatest process ever. I can just say that going through a process, there are 20 ways around the mountain. At the end of the day, you just need to get to the other side. This sounds like a really good path. We tend to think alike. I like it. I would love to see you be able to help some people. If you’re out there and you’re listening, by all means, take advantage of it.
Eric, is there anything else that you want to add? Here’s a good one. Because if you don’t have something off the top of your head, which I’ll ask, do you have anything off the top of your head?
Eric: No, so go ahead and ask.
Toby: If you go back to your 16-year-old self, what would you say now?
Eric: I’d say, it’s going to be okay. That’s the answer.
Toby: You were going through some tough stuff.
Eric: It was a tough spot at 16. My answer would be, it’s going to be okay.
Toby: Mom has passed at that point?
Eric: I would say that to families too. Do you want me to kind of extrapolate off of that? What I would tell you is for families who are hurting, for families that are in the dark place, one of the things that I know about for Paradiem, we’re really, really good. If you were going to put families on the scale of green, yellow, and red—like how healthy is your family. We work with families that are yellow or green. But families that are even in the red, there’s help available. We’ve got resources.
If you’re listening to this, we’ve got so many issues going on. I would still encourage you to reach out to us because we can put you in touch with other resources. We can put you in touch with other people.
What I know is what you’re willing to work on can be fixed. There’s not anything that’s completely out of reach if you’re willing to do the work and willing to go into the pain and the darkness of it because the reward of what’s sitting on the other side is so beautiful. If you’re talking about being intentional, transforming your family, and transforming generations, then it’s definitely worth it no matter how painful it is.
Toby: Absolutely. I’ll leave it at that. Thank you, Eric, for coming on. Again, we’ll share your email. By all means, guys, reach out. I just want to say thanks, again, Eric.
Eric: All right. Thank you. It’s been great.
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