Early in my career, I had a meeting with a friend, who was a lawyer at that time. I wanted him to invest some of his money with my firm. He said that he was currently earning a guaranteed 12% from a guy in California. He also said his father introduced him to the guy and it was going great. I was not able to compete with that so I walked away.
Five years later, I asked that friend of mine how the investment was doing. He told me that it was a Ponzi scheme. He lost more than one million dollars.
Stories like this occur way to often. It brings the trust level down for our industry. I attended a seminar last October which was facilitated by a local law firm by the name of Ray Quiney Nebeker.
One of the presenters was Attorney Mark W. Pugsley. He was passionate about shutting down these ponzi schemes. He shared these 10 useful tips.
10. Slow down.
Many people invest after only hearing the pitch; watch out for promoters who’ll try to make you commit on the spot. Don't do it! Take your time, do your research, ask lots of questions, search the internet, review their financials, visit the company, kick the tires before you buy, etc. Be very wary of aggressive sales pitches and deadlines. Ask tough questions before you hand over your money, not after.
9. Do your homework.
Run a simple Google search on the company and its managers, or the individual. If it involves a company, ask for a private placement memorandum and company financials. Hire an attorney to evaluate the investment and help you perform due diligence. Attorneys have access to court databases to look for lawsuits and bankruptcies. Contact federal and state securities regulators to check if actions have been previously taken against the company or individuals involved.
8. Hire an attorney.
Attorneys can be expensive, but it’s cheaper to hire an attorney to document the transaction properly on the front end than to sue the bad guys (who may or may not be solvent) when it all blows up. A good lawyer can help you perform due diligence on the company and individuals, and can determine whether the investment is properly structured as a private offering. An attorney can also check if the company complies with state and federal statutes. Your lawyer can review the offering materials and help you understand what the risks are. Hiring a good attorney up front is a worthy investment
7. Get it in writing.
I am amazed by how often people will give hundreds of thousands of dollars to someone on nothing more than a handshake. Don't do it! If things go bad later, proper documentation will be critical for me to get your money back. The terms of your deal should always be put in writing, and those terms should be reviewed by the competent attorney you hired. In any private investment opportunity, a detailed, lengthy disclosure document called a private placement memorandum (PPM) should be given. Take the time to review it before you invest. It contains detailed information about all aspects of the business including the business model, financial history, risk factors, and biographical information on the managers, civil lawsuits, and the terms and conditions of the investment, among other things. If the company soliciting your money has not prepared a PPM, that should end of your discussions with them.
6. Beware of guarantees.
If anyone tells you that your investment is “guaranteed”, that should cause some concern. All investments carry risks, and personal guarantees (especially oral ones) are rarely a means to get your money back. Loans can be very risky if not properly secured, even if you were approached to do it or even if you receive a promissory note. If you are told that the loan or investment is "secured”, hire an attorney to document the security interest and verify the collateral. (See Number 8.)
5. Beware of secret trading strategies, offshore investments, commodity or currency (FOREX) trading, futures, options and minerals.
Avoid anyone who credits a highly complex or secretive investing technique or touts unusual success. Legitimate professionals should be able to explain clearly what they are doing and how they make money. And if the individual is really making as much money with their strategy as they say they are, they shouldn't need yours. These types of "alternative" investments always involve extremely high risk, despite what you were told.
4. Work through licensed stock brokers or investment advisors.
Investing in a private (unregistered) offer would require you to ask whether the promoter is licensed to sell you the investment, the regulator who issued the license, and whether the license has ever been revoked or suspended. A legitimate securities salesperson must be properly licensed under any circumstances. If you are suspicious about the legitimacy of the license, or had problems in the past, contact the Utah Division of Securities at (801) 530-6600 or look at FINRA's Broker Check website (https://brokercheck.finra.org/).
3. Don't invest with friends and neighbors.
It may seem like doing business with someone you know and trust would be safer, but that is simply not true. All investing involves risks. Trusting the individual soliciting the investment does not mean that the investment itself is good. Trust but verify; and if things go badly or you start to see red flags, do not hesitate to aggressively protect your interests.
2. Keep church out of investing.
If someone pitching an investment to you casually mentions that they used to be a bishop, a nun or in some other church position, watch out! Church positions are not relevant to investment decisions, so beware of those who bring these issues to the table.
1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you are thinking about putting money into an alternative, unregistered, or unregulated investment that promises abnormally high returns, be careful! The fact that others may have been getting their promised returns doesn’t mean you will. All Ponzi Schemes eventually implode, and you may be left holding the bag.
Last August, we went on a vacation to Lake Powell, which for me is one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world. The lake has over 1,000 miles of shoreline and is being fed by the Colorado River. It is located northeast of the Grand Canyon.
One of the activities that you can do there for fun is cliff jumping into the lake. We made sure it was deep enough and that there was no chance of hitting a rock and getting hurt. The cliffs we jumped off range from 10 to 55 feet. This year, the cliff we chose was in the 40-foot height range. Most of the teenagers that jumped off the cliff were nervous. Being up 40 feet in the air can be scary, especially if you have never jumped off a cliff before.
My son, Seth, has been cliff jumping for years. When he got up there, he looked over. He knew it was safe and that he could do it, so he jumped. He ran back up and jumped three more times before anyone else even attempted. Before jumping the fourth time, he asked me if he could do a backflip off the cliff. I wasn’t sure, but he has been doing flips for years now and is good at it, so I said, “Sure! But please be careful.” He did the flip and it was awesome! I was able to take cool pictures. All the other kids decided that they could now jump after seeing Seth do a backflip. It seems like watching Seth jump gave them the confidence to do it.
This experience is somehow similar to the financial services industry. Clients don’t feel confident to invest their money. It’s scary for them, and they don’t want to lose what they have earned. They also know they need to earn interest and do something with their money. None of the kids wanted to be the “one” that didn’t jump off the cliff, just like clients don’t want to be the ones that didn’t do something smart with their money.
I've heard several times that the financial world is very complex. The terms used in the industry like: compound interest, internal rate of return, inflation, tax deduction, annuities, life insurance, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds are familiar to many people, but they don’t fully understand what they mean. They are nervous to put their money into something they don’t understand.
This is where you come in as a financial professional. You show them how to jump off the cliff and in some instances, do a backflip. Showing them the proper way and performing well makes them want to jump in as well and enjoy the process.
Earlier this year, my 15-year-old son Seth, completed his Eagle Scout project. The project was to benefit a group from Atlanta, Georgia called Books for Africa. Basically, the group takes book donations and then send them to Africa.
It was a fun experience for Seth as he learned new skills, especially in the area of project management. He ended up collecting over 2,000 books from several sources. The books had to be boxed and then taken to the post office. The task was a bit tricky because each box shouldn’t weigh over 40lbs. Otherwise, it would be too heavy for one person to carry and the books would break through the box.
But we were able to get all the books packed and loaded in my truck. While I was driving, I could already tell that there was a lot of weight that we were carrying.
One Saturday morning, we went to the post office at 10am. We saw a long line of people as soon as we entered. We walked in and initially carried four boxes with the help of three other Scouts. When we got to the attendant, she asked how many boxes we had. I said I wasn’t sure. She told us to just keep bringing them up to the counter.
For the next 45 minutes, we kept bringing the boxes and the attendant continued to weigh and put postage on them. We sent a total of 31 boxes of books for $672.
We received a lot of looks while we were doing this. The Scouts were even asked several times about what we were shipping. I noticed a lot of smiles and heard a lot of comments like “Great job. What a great idea. That is so nice of you boys to do.”
There is something that adults like about teenagers doing service. It’s natural for all of us to feel great seeing other people do a kind act for someone. And I could tell that the boys also felt good about what they were doing.
The post office was busy that Saturday morning. But there was a nice and rewarding atmosphere. Seth’s act of service, the help from the other Scouts, and that trip to the post office proved that there is power and magic in kindness.
What act of kindness will you create today to help improve the world?
I heard this story last week from a great speaker by the name of Dr. Kevin Elko:
“Peter Senge is a professor at MIT. He goes out and does workshops and talks like I do. There was a guy in one of his seminars, a man, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Told he was only given a couple of months to live. So he changed his life, that’s how he lived. Like he only had a couple of months to live. The doctors came to him later and said, “We made a mistake. You don’t have a terminal illness. You’re going to live a long time, at least, according to our medical records here.” And the man started to cry. And the doctor says, “Why are you crying? Why are you upset?” He says, “I don’t want to go back, go back to living the way I used to.”
Isn’t that interesting? Why did you live that way? Why do you live with urgency? Whatever dreams I have, I want to do them now. Whatever I want to see in this world, I want to do it now. Whoever needs to know that I love them, I need to tell them now. I don’t want to go back. Live full. Live full, die empty. Live every single day with all you have. How do you know? Live with the whole mindset of “I don’t want to go back. I just don’t want to go back. I’m going to live every single day.”
This year I have had two friends pass away from cancer. They did live life to the fullest. It’s like they had no fear.
One of these friends was one of the most passionate people I have ever met. He had a motto “make them remember you.” Any interaction he had he always wanted them to walk away feeling better about themselves. He once told me you can’t have faith and fear at the same time. I know in my own life when I have fear creep in, which it does my faith drops. When I have strong faith the fear goes away.
A friend shared with me an experience he had at a seminar. The seminar was about productivity and the myth of multitasking. They did an exercise where everyone in attendance had to write out the word “multitasking.”
But as they wrote out the word they had to write a number in with each letter of the word. When they wrote the word “m” they had to write the number “1” under “m.” Then under “u” write out the number “2.” By the end, they had written the word “multitasking” and underneath the number “1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12.”
Once everyone understood what to do, they timed everyone. The average time to finish was 25 seconds. If you try this exercise on your own, you would see that it does take some effort to think through each action.
As soon as they were finished, they did the same exercise but with a twist. This time, they did each step their own way. So they wrote out the word “multitasking” first then wrote the numbers “1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12.” The average finish time was 12 seconds! It took half the time to finish and less work on the brain.
Multitasking is a myth. Doing two tasks at the same time not only takes longer but harder. At the seminar, they also shared that when you are in deep concentration and then you get distracted, it can take up to 20 minutes to get back into that same level of deep concentration.
Isn’t that crazy?! I have heard some people say that they average five hours of screen time on their phone a day. How do they get anything done? Have you had the pleasure of talking with someone while they are texting at the same time? Isn’t it painful? Doesn’t it also prove that multitasking is in a way impossible?
I recently did the multitasking exercise with ten 15-year-old boys. They were amazed at out how much harder it was to multitask than to do just one task at a time.
Currently, we are all distracted and multitasking more than we should. However, as we have seen in the examples above, doing one task at a time and being in the moment can help you accomplish more.
We should try to stop multitasking and instead be fully present if we want to make the most out of our time and energy. After all, life isn’t meant to be lived at full speed, it’s meant to be savored.
I was looking for a movie to watch a few weeks back. So I decided I would check out the movie that won the best picture at the 2019 Oscars, “The Green Book.”
The movie was headlined by Viggo Mortensen. I have been impressed with him since the “Lord of the Rings” so I was eager to see his latest film.
His character in “The Green Book” was completely different from his role as Aragorn. He did a great job in this film. At some point, I almost wondered if it was the same actor in both movies.
I don’t want to ruin the plot for you if you haven’t seen the movie. My biggest takeaway from the movie was the power of relationships. It is amazing to see where true friendship can come from.
The two characters in this movie had completely different backgrounds. How they ended up being lifelong friends was touching. It made me think about some of the friendships I currently have and how different diverse they are.
The movie also made me think that I need to be present and aware at all times. I need to proactively look for ways to help those around me.
I once heard the phrase “The Lord must have loved ordinary people because he made so many of us. But every single day in every walk of life, people do extraordinary things.”
That is exactly what happened in the movie “The Green Book.”
On March 13th, 1998, my daughter was born. I vividly remember my wife having labor pains while I was distracted watching the NCAA tournament. My Utah Utes went to the championship game that year and lost to Kentucky.
Fast forward to today, my daughter is now 21, living in Aruba happy, healthy, and smiling. Before she left for Aruba, I challenged her to find a way to do two things—smile and laugh.
Why? Because living in a new country can be difficult. She needs to be able to smile and laugh whatever her circumstances are. I remind her of this constantly and she seems to be listening.
That made me think of the three things I need to work on in different areas of my life. Let me share them with you:
1. Health - fasting for 12 hours and working out
2. Inspiration - writing down an idea daily and listening to something uplifting for at least 10 minutes a day
3. Finances - save $500 a month and get rid of one auto payment on my card
What are the three things you must work on today? Just keep in mind that most of the time, it’s those little things you work on that bring huge results.
One night I was talking to a friend who shared about his father who went to the army at the age of 19. His dad didn’t like the army and hated every moment of it.
Ironically, his father talks about his experience in the army more than anything else. He even added that several of his dad’s good friends all came from the army.
I know that we all have unpleasant experiences in life. These may be tough times but these experiences are the ones that we learn from the most.
One of the toughest experiences in my career occurred 15 years ago. My client was a wealthy 65-year-old, who had the tendency to be easily agitated and upset. We put in place a life insurance contract for him.
When I gave him the policy he said, “Thanks, give me a couple of days to review the policy and I will get back to you.”
Guess what? He actually did read the entire document! All 50 pages of it. He was very meticulous and he spotted things that needed revision.
We then spent the next 45 days working with the insurance company to get some things corrected. It was crazy and I was extremely stressed out trying to keep the client happy.
Slowly but surely, we got everything worked out with the insurance company. I learned so much from this experience, particularly in the area of client handling. Fast forward to today, my client and I are now really good friends! The trust level between us is at an all-time high.
I didn’t like the experience and even dreaded having to talk to the client while I was in the middle of it. But boy did it teach me a lot.
Had I shied away from the challenge, I wouldn’t have learned valuable business and life lessons. Plus, I would’ve missed out on the great friendship I have with my client today!
I have always been fascinated by the game of basketball. I enjoy watching, practicing, and playing the game. It’s a game that is simple in that the goal is to put the ball in the basket and do it more than your opponent. But it is complicated in all of the strategy and decision making that is going on constantly.
One of the more well-known plays is called the pick and roll. If you have the ball you have a decision to make. You can either pass to another teammate or shoot the ball to make a basket.
I was playing in a basketball game a couple of days ago and I had to make this decision. The problem was that both decisions were really good. I was wide open to take the shot, I also had a teammate right under the basket who was open for an even better shot. Quickly in my head I was thinking, “Do I shoot or do I pass, do I shoot or do I pass?". Well I ended up shooting the ball but my body wanted to pass the ball. So I ended up shooting an air-ball which was the worst possible outcome for the situation.
Think about all of the decisions you face in a day.
I read an article a couple of years ago that had this paragraph:
“You can virtually eliminate conflict and confusion in your life by becoming proficient at making decisions. Decision making brings order to your mind, and of course, this order is then reflected in your objective world ... your results.”.
I believe making decisions is a skill. We will never make the right decision every time. But if we do the work, prepare and make a decision, I do believe it does eliminate conflict and confusion in our lives.
A couple of months ago I was sitting in a room waiting for a meeting to start. The meeting was going to start in 10 minutes. People were slowly coming into the meeting. A younger guy came in and he asked if this was the marketing meeting. We said yes and he sat down next to me. I asked him what he did for a living and he said he was a coach.
I replied “a coach of what, what do you coach”
He said “I am a business coach”
I replied “Ok, that’s still pretty vague, do you coach finance, marketing, sales?”
He replied “I am an entrepreneurial coach for online businesses.”
I have hear that term a lot over the years. Personally I have found that most coaches haven’t succeeded personally as an entrepreneur themselves, so how do you coach someone when you haven’t done it either.
I then asked him “Have you ran a business yourself.”
He replied “yes, I ran an online parts store for bicycles. My Dad and I ran it and sold it a couple of years ago.”
Immediately I was thinking “that’s your story.” I asked him if he had any employees with the company. He replied “Yes, we had over 50.”
I then asked him “you must have made some money in the sale. Are you set for life?”
He replied “We did good on the sale. I have four children and we spent two months in Europe riding bikes. My son was averaging 50 miles a day.”
I asked him “How old is your son.”
He replied “he is seven, so 50 miles a day is pretty good for him.”
I was thinking “I rode 50 miles once a couple of years ago and it completely wore me out.”
I then asked him if he enjoyed living in Europe with his family.
He replied “We did, it was fun. But what we realized is the sure we like to travel. But we also like being home, having a routine and living life here.”
I have learned that everyone has a story. Everyone has a compelling story. When you ask questions and are interested you will meet someone fascinating wherever you go.
Here is a perfect example of how Section 7872 Split Dollar works in the marketplace.
If you’d like more information on this plan, give us a call.
When former Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett worked on football coach Jim Harbaugh’s contract, he dipped into the contract world of corporate executives.
Hackett, a former CEO of Steelcase, told The Detroit News in March he used a model often used in business contracts.
Harbaugh, entering his second season at Michigan, will receive $9 million from Michigan this year based on the contract amendment signed in June and released by the university this week.
The business model is in effect, considering its use of a life insurance policy, which Harbaugh owns. Harbaugh already stood to make $5 million a year, but now Michigan will loan him $4 million this year and $2 million the next five years to pay a life insurance policy. He received $2 million on June 3, and if he remains the coach on Dec. 6, he will receive another $2 million payment.
As long as the policy is active, he can make withdrawals from the policy. Upon Harbaugh’s death, the university will get its money back without interest. Harbaugh will have beneficiaries for the remainder of the insurance payout.
The contract was signed by U-M president Mark Schlissel, athletic director Warde Manuel and Harbaugh, but Hackett was the one who determined the direction of this contract.
“I’m really proud of the instrument we’re using,” Hackett said in March. “We’re using life insurance as a vehicle to deliver value. The great thing is the value.
“The way the design of this works, he gets value that he gives back when his estate settles years from now. The university is essentially loaning him the money during his lifetime, but it comes back to us. I’m really proud of this idea. It’s generous of him. It’s a great deal.”
Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of procrastinating once in a while. This short (1:20) video adds a little humor to the topic, but I found it to be very accurate too! Take a look and then resolve to have a procrastination-free day. Or not.
“If you eat a bowl of ice cream before bed tonight, no big deal. If you eat a bowl of ice cream before bed EVERY night, your belly becomes a very big deal.”
I heard this in a podcast from a really good writer named Perry Marshall.
There are several deep and simple lessons in this statement. We all have things we know we “should” improve on. What is the one improvement (your personal ice cream) to do today to improve your life by 5%?
For example this works with controlling your time. Try reducing use on social media sites, email use, and text messaging to 3-4 times a day. Just like eating ice cream it’s okay to use a few times a day. But if it’s done15-20 times a day over time all of that “distraction” becomes a very big deal.
It is amazing how the computer has evolved into most people’s primary communication tool. We all walk around with smart phones which are basically mini computers.
The computer can communicate in many ways such as:
Voip (Voice over IP)
The first-ever text message was sent December 3, 1992, by software engineer Neil Papworth. Texting is slowly becoming one of the major ways we communicate. Love it or hate it, most people are sending text messages.
My preferred communication (when possible) is to talk in person. Interesting how the most primal and basic method of communication will always be the best.
Focus On Your Mind, Body, and Soul
Think positive thoughts! When you teach yourself to think positive (while pushing negative thoughts out), you act positive, and your positive spreads. And just as you should focus on keeping your mind positive, you should also keep your body positive with healthy food and exercise. After all, your body converts food into energy, which in turn, is used to process your positive thoughts and create goals.
Avoid people who don’t contribute to your goals in any positive way. They misdirect your focus, energy, and time. Instead, surround yourself with people who are motivated and have a positive outlook. Energy is often shared, and when your peers are motivated, it’s easier for you to be, too!
Be Goal-Oriented and Purposeful
You always want to have goals in place and mindful of them, but you don’t need to be rigid in setting or maintaining those goals. When striving for a specific outcome, having flexibility allows you to adapt to changing circumstances. At the same time, when you work through your goals, you want to do it with purpose. You don’t want to do anything that gets you off track and wastes your time and energy.
Recognize Your Personal Responsibility
Your goals, actions, and results are yours and you should own them. If something goes awry and you get off track or lose your focus, don’t come up with an excuse to cover it up. Recognize the issue, learn from it, and continue to push forward through your goals.
Exceed Your Limitations
Do this every single day. Take steps outside of your comfort zones. Do something that adds to your goals and something that pushes you forward and leaves you better than you were when you woke up this morning.
Let Your Failures Be Your Guide
When you are afraid of failure, you don’t achieve anything. Use missteps and failures as a time to reflect and understand what went wrong. Understand why a failure is a failure. It’s a learning experience and it should be embraced. Take what you learn from your failures and apply them to your future goals and transform them into success.
Recently I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Tom Burkland. Living close to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah I heard about cars going over 400 mph but had never seen one up close.
Tom shared with us his story and how he got into racing. His passion and desire to design, engineer and build a car to go over 400 mph was mesmerizing. From the aerodynamics, constructing two V-8 engines (one that is pulling the car, the other that is pushing), to putting a sophisticated braking system in place. So many details, so many things to think about.
There are only three places in the entire world that can accommodate a land vehicle going at those speeds. It costs $5,000 to get the car prepared to start the engine up.
Can you imagine driving a car over 400 mph?
Here is a link to a video about Tom’s story,
People are amazing. We all have our own unique story to tell and the opportunity to be fascinated by the amazing things people do around us every day.