How do you avoid the time traps that come from significant financial success? Now that you can afford the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of, how do you find the time and freedom to enjoy it?
Welcomed back to the Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host Hussein Al-Baiaty, and my next guest is Chad Willardson, a bestselling author and one of the top wealth management experts in America. He’s here with me today to celebrate and talk about his new book, Beyond the Money. Let’s get into it.
Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. I’m really excited to have this conversation with my man, Chad Willardson, who is literally launching his third book, this is amazing because writing a book is not an easy feat, having written three, Chad is going to tell us all about that experience. This new book is not for everyone for sure, but it is for those specific few who need to help that Chad offers up in many different ways. Chad, how’s it going today? Thank you for joining me.
Chad Willardson: It’s going great; thank you for having me on. Excited to be here.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Absolutely. So let’s give our audience a little bit of general sense of sort of who you are, personal background, perhaps where you grew up and what kind of led you into entrepreneurship and doing the work that you’re into now.
Chad Willardson: Yes, my name is Chad Willardson. I grew up in Orange County, California, Southern California, kind of a beach and sports kid, those are the two things that I loved. I was not an entrepreneur growing up, I was a hard worker, but I’d never started any kind of like a lemonade stand or like a lawnmowing business, I didn’t really have entrepreneurship in my genes or in my blood.
But I started my career at Meryl Lynch Wealth Management, and I was in the investment advisory division. And during the great recession of 2008/2009, Meryl Lynch went in the tank, went in the toilet and was bought out and rescued by Bank of America, which caused so much disruption in our business and our job that it essentially pushed me to try this out and to basically take the leap of faith to become an entrepreneur myself. And I’ve never looked back.
It’s been an amazing 11, 12 years, and just had so many great adventures and experiences along the way, and so that’s kind of what brought me here, and I’ll just give a little personal background, my wife and I have been married 21 years now, and we have five kids, ages seven to 18.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Beautiful man, I love that. What a journey.
Chad Willardson: It’s been a journey, that’s for sure.
What Is Beyond the Money?
Hussein Al-Baiaty: I think with life in of itself, we all tend to want to work hard especially, you know, when we have opportunities that arise for us but like, making that switch into entrepreneurship is very much a leap of faith, right? It’s a leap of going into the unknown, but once we cross that, there’s a whole level of different type of hardware, it consumes our mind, our bodies, sometimes sadly, our relationships suffer. So for you to say, you know, you’ve been with your wife, you have five beautiful kids. I love that you brought that in because we’ll circle back to that and the importance of that.
So tell me, I mean, this is your third book, and congratulations again. What drove you to write this specific one? And I know before we hit the record button, you were talking about how this is made for a specific audience, what made you go that far and that deep to write basically what sounded like a letter to really help those at this elite level of entrepreneurship? You sought to help them out. Why did you write this book specifically to them?
Chad Willardson: Well, I would say that my first book is called, Stress Free Money, and that it’s about the seven, overcoming the seven obstacles to find financial freedom. That book is really, could apply to anyone, it could apply to a college student, someone in their early career, a retired person, it’s really talking about just the obstacles and mindsets to find financial freedom.
Then my second book is Smart Not Spoiled: The 7 Money Skills Kids must master Before Leaving the Nest, and that’s really focused on parents and kids and families, kids and teenagers, young people, trying to get financial competence, trying to learn what they need to succeed in their future, all about money.
This third book was really focused on the specific client that I serve best in my primary business, which is Pacific Capital. So Pacific Capital is a fiduciary family office that serves entrepreneurs with eight figures or more and so this book called, Beyond the Money, is really, like you said, an open letter to our top clients and to their friends and to people who really are doing well. They’ve already kind of reached financial freedom, maybe not in their own mind.
But definitely by most standards, they’re doing very well financially, and it’s like, “What do I do now? What do I do next?” and so that’s who this audience is, that’s what they’re wondering. The conversations I’m having every week with clients and potential clients are basically the conversations that I had in this book.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: I love that so much, man. When we hear about extremely successful people, people who run multiple businesses, those kinds of things, in my mind, I just think they’re insanely busy, but they’re also, there’s a lot that comes with that, right? Mental health, of course, even physical health or relationship health.
You know, there’s a lot of components that start to be in light when you reach a level of success, but you know, isolation is a huge one. Feeling, you know, this idea of feeling lonely at the top, feeling like you can’t really deeply connect with others. You know, that’s something that you brought up in your book, can you talk to us a little bit about that? You know, that level of feeling lonely.
I feel like, when I owned a business, I owned a print shop for about nine years, and you know, I have 12 employees, it was great, I was very busy and everything, but in a lot of ways, I was almost timid to reach out to people because, in my mind, I felt like there was not a whole not to connect on my problems, I guess you could say, or the things that I was struggling with weren’t things that my peers or the friends that I grew up with if you will was struggling with, right? Because we’re different paths, right? One corporate world, and I was about sort of entrepreneur but even with other entrepreneurs, you still kind of have this struggle to be open and talk about things. Can you highlight that world a little bit for me?
Chad Willardson: I would say that a lot of times, entrepreneurs, they’re on stage, and so they’re expected to always have things together, always be confident, always have a plan, and you know, like right now, when there’s a lot of fears of recession and maybe we’re in a recession, interest rates are high, inflation is high, there’s lots of layoffs everywhere.
It’s difficult sometimes for leaders at the top, like you said, who have all the weight on pressure on their shoulders. It’s difficult for them to find peer groups or peers that they can really relate to or share with or confide in, or talk about their struggles with, and I think that’s a challenge and that’s why chapter one is really, don’t be successful in isolation. You need to find groups and people that you can trust that have similar issues and challenges that you have.
I think there are a lot more opportunities for employees out there because most of the world is employees, right? They’re used to the struggles of maybe dealing with management or dealing with a boss or deadlines or how to ask for a raise or things like that. There are a lot of tips for those situations, but I find less advice and less connecting for those who are really in kind of that smaller elite niche group that are running multiple businesses and, like you said, busy and the way of the payroll of the entire company is on their shoulders, and there is a lot of pressure involved, and so I think it’s extremely important to find and connect with people that are going through similar things like you.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, I totally agree. So when you found yourself in that space, what did you start doing to kind of recultivate or cultivate those relationships? Was it conferences that you went to and restock to a specific people? Like, how, if someone is out there right now is struggling with that, specifically isolation, which I feel like you hear about it more often than not nowadays, right? Through articles and things like that and it’s just— maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that, but entrepreneurship in of itself is extremely difficult.
Chad Willardson: I personally – yeah, I’ll say this, I personally was able to ask some clients and friends who are entrepreneurs themselves and just said, “What kind of groups are you guys involved in? What conferences do you guys go to, what books do you guys read?” and so it’s really like, what are mindsets and the thoughts and the insights that you’re exposing yourself to and one of the best groups that I joined is called Strategic Coach with Dan Sullivan and that to me was it absolutely changed everything about my business and my personal life because I kind of joined the island of misfit toys.
You know, all these entrepreneurs who are somewhat looked at as weird and overly ambitious and not normal to the general public but very much normal to each other. And that’s a group that to me has been extremely valuable. I’ve probably referred 40 to 50 people there and I just know that being able to find a group that you can connect with and learn from and share insights with and make some massive difference in how you run your life and how you run your businesses.
The Power of Managing Your Attention
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, it’s very powerful. You know, reaching out, being a part of a group that can kind of understand you at that level is crucial not only for personal growth but just relatability. You can be around people that you can relate to, talk about those kinds of things, so that’s very powerful.
I know you’re sort of a serial entrepreneur, you’re involved in many different types of businesses. How are you able to navigate those things but also I mean, you talk about this in your book as well, you sort of manage your attention. With everything going on in our world, with everything, I feel like things are pulling at us, especially as entrepreneurs. They pull at us in different directions. How are you able to manage your attention, you know, and owning different types of businesses?
Chad Willardson: Yeah, I think one constant that Dan Sullivan teaches is that your attention is your property and your attention is extremely valuable. A Superbowl commercial, a 30 second commercial this year at the Superbowl was about seven million dollars, and so it’s obvious that attention is extremely valuable and extremely expensive, 30 seconds of a Superbowl ad, seven million dollars down the drain.
So they believe that if they can capture 30 seconds of your attention, they’re going to influence your behavior, and what that tells me is our attention is extremely valuable, and so how we use it is critical.
So my primary business is Pacific Capital, and at the same time, I’m also a cofounder in the company called The Draft Sports Complex. Another company called Gravy Stack. Gravy Stack is a financial gaming bank app for kids, it’s launching soon. We believe it’s going to change how kids learn about money, and I think we’ve raised close to 10 million dollars of investment so far, and we plan that to be a nine, maybe 10 figure business within the next three years. So how do I have time for that stuff? I’m currently an elected official in our city, 170,000 residents in the city, and I manage about $450-million portfolio and investments for the tax payers.
So when you look at stuff like all the things on my plate or the job titles or the roles of the hats I wear, it seems ridiculous, or it seems impossible, or it seems overly busy and yet, I actually have lots of free time. So how is that? It’s because I manage my attention very well.
I only contribute my unique ability to each of these ventures, business, opportunities. So anything that is not my extreme, high enjoyment, natural talent, I do not do it. I partner with someone, I collaborate with someone who is really good at it, I delegate it, I stop, I eliminate it, I politely decline it. So, I’m only using like my best natural talents in each of these different businesses.
So I’m not operating the sports complex, but I’ll talk to them every once a quarter, and we’ll talk about business strategy when it comes to all of our sports teams, when it comes to all of our sports teams, when it comes to hosting tournaments. I think we’re doing a Nike and an ESPN tournament in the first quarter of next year, and so I’ll chime in on the stuff that I’m really good at and I’ll stay out of all the day-to-day operations of the things that I’m not good at. And that, I think, that’s the one of the main lessons for entrepreneurship is that don’t dig your hands into every little decision and every little department. Let your experts collaborate, partner, hire, and bring in people who are really good at the stuff that you’re not good at. That’s made a huge difference for me at least.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: That is very powerful and a very good reminder to all of us entrepreneurs, to stay focused on what it is that you’re great at, the thing that you love doing, like you said, bring you enjoyment and then alleviate everything else. Let that pain go away, right? And it’s very powerful. It’s such a good reminder. I’ve heard that multiple times but I feel like it’s one of those things that you really have to sort of integrate into your life and create processes around to protect that thing that you are good at and then go further and excel and meet people around that. So that’s really powerful; thank you for that reminder.
Chad Willardson: And I’d say controlling distractions. Like that to me is something that’s massive. I control my distractions, so I don’t do my own work email anymore. I don’t – I haven’t had a voice mail since 2012. I don’t watch TV shows. Like, I’ll watch sports, that’s about it, but I just avoid a lot of distractions that people get caught up in, and they’re constantly getting interrupted, and if you’re constantly getting interrupted, your ability to focus and achieve goes down significantly. There’s a thousand studies on that.
So it’s critical if you want to make a big impact, you got to know how to focus, how to control distractions, how to be present, find flow, like really just unleash your genius by doing what you’re great at and not getting focused on doing everything and saying yes to every opportunity.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah man, I love that, which leads me sort of to my next, I guess bit of a conversation. You talk about celebrating the journey and you know, in a lot of ways, we have to give ourselves permission because I feel like even as an entrepreneur, there is so many times where I wanted to go celebrate or do something, and I just worked instead.
As a young person especially, tell me a little bit more about that. Elaborate more on what does it mean to give yourself permission to celebrate your journey?
Chad Willardson: Yeah, I think it’s a natural thing that when we – when a type-A high achieving entrepreneur achieves something great, they’re already on to the next thing. It’s like, you don’t even – even when, in fact, my team reminded me of this because we had a big book launch party, and we did media interviews and had camera crew here and the food and it was like a big reception party.
And someone said, “Didn’t you commit to writing 10 books in 10 years?” and I said, “Yes” and they said, “What’s your next book on?” and I said, “I have no idea” and someone chimed in and said, “Hey, right now, we’re just celebrating book number three. Like, don’t move on already to the next thing.” But that’s just kind of the natural temptation is, it’s in our DNA to just go full speed and go and move on to the next thing when we have to really take time to pause and recognize and celebrate. So it is a good reminder for me, for my team, and for anyone who is out there with high ambition and lots of goals is you’ve got to take time to actually look backwards.
There is a great book by Dr. Benjamin Hardy called, The Gap and The Gain, and he talks about looking backward and recognizing the gain and the progress and feeling that celebration together. So I think it’s critical.
Know When You Don’t Know
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, it’s very powerful. I always try to remind myself. I think a key person that really helped me hone in on celebrating, giving that self-permission, is my wife. So I am super grateful for her. We got to celebrate these things and focus on one thing at a time, and sometimes we just need other people to kind of remind us. You are a 100% right, it’s a great book by Ben Hardy.
So we talk a lot about money and resources and the hurdles that we overcome as entrepreneurs. What would you say your biggest hurdle has been to kind of make this leap into high achieving, of course, but this leap into this sense of freedom that you bring up a lot in your book. It is a different kind of freedom that we are seeking, but what is your biggest hurdle? How did you overcome it to get to where you are today?
Chad Willardson: I’d say the biggest hurdle really is for any entrepreneur, and myself included, is giving up control, and I think we are used to being leaders. We are used to being in positions of where people depend on us, and so we kind of know that we’re good at a lot of things, and we think we need to be the decision maker on a lot of things. So the more control I have given up for day-to-day decisions and operations and things like that, the more freedom I’ve had and the more we’ve grown.
So it’s like the – it is kind of like the analogy of flying a kite when a kid feels like if he lets go of the kite, the kite is going to fly higher, and it’s counterintuitive like if you hold just the right spot on the kite, let the wind do the work. So there is an element of balance when it’s like, “Look, I have a great team in place, they all are specialists in their areas, and I just hold my little string, my little piece and let the wind do the work.”
So I think it is important to for each of us to realize, there is a lot of things that we’re not great at, and we don’t have to be involved in every single decision. We don’t have to be controlling everything. And as soon as I realized that and figure that out, I was kind of humbled by the fact that we couldn’t grow if I was going to be doing everything and being in charge of everything, you know? So that’s really given us a lot of freedom, and my team has a lot of autonomy. They’re going to make a lot of decisions using their best judgment, and that’s helped us grow significantly.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s a really powerful indication as to how you were able to develop your own growth. You know, it is – you’re met with this challenge of like, “Okay, there are all of these things that I need to control, but I don’t have to control these things, especially if you hired the right people to do this work and giving them that autonomy and also you know, it is like you said, the wind is like this invisible trust, right?
It’s this essence of that trust that you can give someone, which is honestly, I feel like the biggest confidence booster for that individual who is helping you do that project, a collaborative work is that I have your trust to do this work. I am going to go in here and do what I am great at, and I will tap your shoulder for what I need you to show up for what you’re great at. I love that. It sounds like you are able to kind of reach a higher version of yourself through that.
That is a very personal thing, right? It’s a thing that we cultivate and sort of trusting ourselves in a way, very powerful.
Chad Willardson: Yeah, and in the beginning, there is times when you’re almost get sucked back in and you’re like, “Well, let me ask and see what Chad thinks.” And so I’d get an email or a text or a call and say, “Hey, we’re trying to decide should we do this, this or this.” And the problem is if I answer that and give them my opinion, then I am sucked back into all of that, which I was trying to basically empower the team to do and so this is probably three or four years ago. I finally just said like, “These are the few things that you can call me about and ask my opinion on. Otherwise, I trust you to make the decision without me, and if it doesn’t go well, we’ll talk about it later, but everyone’s got to step up.” You know, if you want to be it, it’s like if you want to be a championship team, everyone has to be willing to step up in the moment. You can’t rely on one player.
So that’s really the attitude I’ve taken, which like you said, has helped me grow, but it has also helped my team grow and as a result, has helped our business grow. So most of the clients don’t call in and ask for me. They call and ask for someone else that they’ve built a relationship with that they know is a trusted specialist and an expert. And so it’s okay to not know the answer to everything, and it is okay to not control everything. It is most important to implement who not how, that principle, and really partner with and team up with the best people you can.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: So powerful, another powerful book. Chad, I want to say congratulations on your third book. This is amazing. I know you’re on a roll, but yeah man, I hope you can really celebrate this one, but if people were to take away like one thing from this amazing book, what would it be?
Chad Willardson: I’d say this book, you know, it’s eight lifestyle shifts for entrepreneurs with eight figures or more, it’s not a financial book, and I think this is the first book of the three that doesn’t have a lot of money advice in it. It’s got no money advice. It is really talking about how to elevate your life and your lifestyle. And so the takeaway is for entrepreneurs that are successful, that are really earning a high income that have a lot of opportunities ahead of them.
The warning is, don’t screw this up. You know, you have made it into this elite class and there are a lot of opportunities, but you can really screw this up. You can really make mistakes that are going to bring you back down to that starting level when you don’t have to because you’ve already done really well. So it is really about how to elevate your life, elevate your focus, have more fulfillment.
Recharge your family relationships, your health, financial commitments, and take time to put first things first, like don’t sweat the small stuff and get caught up in the minutia of day-to-day. You are not a first time beginning that startup entrepreneur anymore, you are doing big things, and so that’s what this book is all about.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Very meaningful, man. I appreciate that this sort of outlines your book concept and that idea of like look, as you get higher into these levels, the things that need to change are not going to be really outside of you, they’re going to be internal. The mindset, the lifestyle, all those good things. So I love that you highlighted this in your new book. Congratulations again, I learned so much today man. Seriously, it was great chatting with you.
Chad Willardson: Thank you. I will add this actually. I am going to add something. What got you to this point, what got you to this level, will not get you to the next level, and I think that is a critical focus of this is like all the stuff that you’ve done right to get you to this point, that’s fantastic, congratulations. You’re at this level now, you’re at this point. You are doing well. For the next phase, you can’t go back to that same playbook. It is a new playbook, and that’s what this book is.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, that is so powerful because having sold my business and now going into a completely different direction, I recognize that as well, and it’s hard, it’s almost like glue, right? It’s like letting go of those old mindsets, those old beliefs, and now really regenerating and creating new ones that can take you to a new level. Man, I relate to that a lot, thank you for adding that in, I appreciate that. Yeah man.
So besides checking out the book, where can people find you?
Chad Willardson: Yeah, I mean, the easiest way to find me is on LinkedIn. I’m daily active on LinkedIn, got a great engaged following there. Pacificcapital.com if you want to subscribe to our free newsletter that I send out weekly. And that’s pretty much it. I’m on all the socials, but that’s where you can find me.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Well, Chad, thank you so much for serving the community in your respectful place by leading us but also, you know, thank you for taking the time and resources to put your wisdom and knowledge into a book, so that whatever level seems like we’re on, you’re there to help us out, and I just appreciate that about people such as yourself that take the time and really process through their knowledge and wisdom and share with the world something powerful and I think you did that with this book. So thanks again for your time, I appreciate it.
Chad Willardson: Thank you. No, I appreciate it. Thanks for having me on.