Dream Architecture: Brittany Anderson, Bryan Sweet

Today on Author Hour, I’m sitting down with Brittany Anderson and Bryan Sweet to discuss their new book. Here is a brief description. What’s your biggest, wildest dream of what retirement could look like? Not the dream you think is reasonable, your best dream. The unreasonable one, the one you might have trouble admitting even to yourself. What if your retirement could be even better than that? 

In this new, breakthrough follow-up to Dare to Dream, Brittany Anderson and Bryan Sweet redefine what it means to dream big when it comes to retirement. Having dedicated their lives to helping people just like you plan for and achieve impossible dreams, Anderson and Sweet, now share their secrets for unlocking the full potential of your imagination and your retirement. Follow the Dream Architect process, step-by-step, to reignite your creativity, think like a kid again and unlock the dreams that you already have inside of you, just waiting to be discovered.

Don’t settle for the status quo retirement, pick up Dream Architecture today and build a retirement beyond what’s possible. Here’s my conversation with Brittany Anderson and Bryan Sweet.

Welcome to The Author Hour Podcast, I’m your host Benji Block and today, I’m excited to be joined by Brittany Anderson and Bryan Sweet who have just come out with a new book titled, Dream Architecture: Build a Retirement Beyond What’s Possible, and so glad to be talking to both of you here on the show today. Welcome in.

Brittany Anderson: Thank you, we are excited to be here.

Bryan Sweet: Yeah, great to be here, Benji.

Benji Block: All right, let’s start here. For listeners who might be new to both of you, I know this book is a follow-up to Dare to Dream, however, you also see it as a prequel, and I’ll quote you here because you say “This book is really a prequel to Dare to Dream and we believe your mindset and attitude have to be poised for possibility before you can optimize the process of planning for retirement.”

So, I love that but just talk about what leads up to this book and what should we know about you guys as we jump in here? Brittany, let’s start with you.

Brittany Anderson: One of the things that we have found over the years, and I know Bryan will absolutely attest to this is that, the investment management component of retirement planning has become somewhat of a commodity and really where the greatest successes lies, is when people are willing to take the time and actually dive into what fulfillment means to them and how they want to spend their time and who they want to surround themselves with and really making positive decisions to shape not just their wealth plan but their life plan and then aligning everything behind that. 

It’s a lot easier for our team of professionals to help them move forward in the wealth component if we know what their end goal is. So that really is why it’s a prequel, yet a sequel to the first book is that the mindset is what’s needed first, the rest of it can fall into place behind it.

Benji Block: And so, you wrote the first book in what, back in 2016 or so?

Brittany Anderson: Yeah, I think that sounds right.

Benji Block: I believe I’m right. If my research is right, it was about 2016. Bryan, what makes now the right time to take on this new project and what prompts going, “Okay, we need to come out with this next book.”

Bryan Sweet: Well, as you alluded to, we did have the book, Dare to Dream, which is about the Dream Architect platform that we have and having done this Dream Architect process for a number of years now, what we came to find out is, retirement as Brittany alluded to is a lot more than just the financials. 

So, there’s three or four other areas that we thought are really, really important and having done this 43 years, these are probably even bigger components than I ever realized. And I think with the pandemic and with just everybody looking at life a little bit differently, we wanted to get people the resource and the tools to have their second chapter be as beneficial or hopefully even greater than the first chapter while they’re working. So we thought, this would be a great way to frame what life can be like and what possibilities are out there and really, help you live a much better life going forward.

Benji Block: So, Brittany, give me an idea here as you’re working on this book and this project because you’re talking about things that honestly — I mean, you could pick up this book. I’m 30, right? So, retirement is pretty far away for me in my mind yet, a lot of these concepts here are very applicable. I’m wondering who you wrote this with in mind. Like, who is the ideal reader, what age and stage are they in?

Brittany Anderson: Yeah, this is such a great question. Bryan and I have actually talked about this at length. You know, when we were writing the book, who we typically are best set to serve within Sweet Financial Partners is somebody who is at or near retirement. Facing that major transition, looking at really, redefining who they are and what their sense of purpose is. However, as we started writing this and going through it, likewise to you, I’m not at that stage in life. 

You know, I’m in my mid-30s and so many of the principles are set to really benefit anybody regardless of where you’re at. So, part of the reasons that we have the near retirees is because oftentimes, you know, those people know kind of what they’re coming from. They’ve had a career, they’ve maybe had a business, they’ve had some sense of belonging to something, a sense of purposes and significance and you know, something to wake up to every day.

Whereas the “to” part, where they’re going to and what this next chapter looks like can be a little bit intimidating and it can be harder to define. So, our hope was that through this book and through this writing, that people would have an easier path to define what’s meaningful to them and to create that fulfillment that maybe they wouldn’t have spent the time on otherwise.

Dream Big in Retirement

Benji Block: I like it. Well, let’s dive into some of the content and concepts and you start the book with a Ven diagram for those that basically you’re saying, let’s find the crossover between our financial life and our dreams and you’re looking for how do we get that sweet spot in the middle. But then, you present this problem of going, it’s really easy to also just default into small dreams. I wonder, what are the contributing factors, Bryan, that you see to people who may be dreaming small?

Bryan Sweet: When you think back when we’re very young, we have all these possibilities, we want to be astronauts and doctors and nurses and just part of society. What happens when you’re growing up is, and I don’t know if this is on purpose, but it seems like it happens a lot, where people are told, when they have big ideas and big plans, “Gee, that’s kind of silly” or “How would you ever accomplish that?” or “Yeah, why would you want to do that?” 

I think just over the years unfortunately, people have succumbed to that thinking, “Well maybe that wasn’t a good idea” or “Maybe I shouldn’t shoot for the moon and something big and extravagant.” So their thoughts of what the future could be get narrowed and they get, I don’t want to say damaged, but maybe get affected by how other people think. 

The key to the book is just getting everybody to think for themselves and “What would be an amazing life for me and what are the possibilities?” because I’m fortunate that I’ve had several things happen where we think of something, it comes to your mind and the reasons and the things you need to do to help accomplish them just show up.

So, as Brittany alluded to before, just getting that thought process and the mindset when you’re young can be so helpful as you age to set the stage for such an amazing work-life but also what follows.

Benji Block: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. I don’t know, you guys lay out these four distinct phases so go from citing vision, laying out a blueprint building, and then maintenance and I would say in my reading of this, it feels heavy on the “let’s get a vision” side of things. Would I be right in that assumption, Brittany? Is that what you’re going for as like, “Let’s get the vision right, and then these other things can really follow?”

Brittany Anderson: Yes, you are 100 percent right there and really, what it comes down to, is we want people to be able to measure their success based on what they have deemed to be important, not what their neighbor says to be important, not what their friend or colleague or even in some cases, their spouse.

It’s important that each individual, as a human being, paints the picture of what a successful life means to them, and sometimes, that’s redefining what success means. Maybe what success meant to them up to this point is completely different from what they see for their future. 

So, the visioning component and why it’s so heavy is that if you don’t have this clear picture of what you’re aiming towards, it’s pretty darn hard to hit the target. You liken it to having an arrow and you’re shooting it out into space with zero target. You’re going to hit something but it may not be what is your ideal or what you want to hit.

So that’s why painting that picture, so that again as I said before, you can really back everything else into what that end goal is, what those big aspirations are, and build your life that way.

Benji Block: Well, I want to stick with that for a second because I actually copied a paragraph, and obviously, I have my notes for this conversation, but I put a paragraph that you guys wrote into a separate note for me to actually go and mull over later because I liked it so much.

You say that “Some say, expectation is the root of all heartache. We believe indecision is the root of all heartache, we believe that if you know what you want most in life, it will make all your other decisions easier and that alone can help prevent decision fatigue.” 

So that being said, what I want to do — and I’ll pose this right back at you, Brittany is — let’s just talk about real quick, some maybe clarifying questions. Would you walk us through some clarifying questions that we could be asking and we’re going, “Man, what do we want versus what have we been told we want”? Or again, this decision fatigue that I would say, at some point in our lives, we’re all sort of plagued with.

Brittany Anderson: Yeah, that’s a really great question and I think the simplest step or the first step that you could take if you’re really trying to look at what you want because if that was an easy question to answer, every single person will probably do some aspect of their life a little bit different. It can be a challenging question. 

So, if you think about when you are in a complete state of joy, when you feel in complete congruency, when you are at the top of your game, that’s honestly a great point to start at when you start assessing what’s really meaningful and fulfilling to you. 

Now on the flip side, when you are stressed out or you’re out of whack or your brain’s just kind of fuzzy, I mean, there’s usually something going on where you’re doing something that’s outside of your innate abilities.

So that’s a great starting point to really get clear on what is it that I enjoy, what am I good at? We’ve referenced Dan Sullivan, the creator of Strategic Coach, multiple times in the book but one of his, I guess, sayings or foundations is that, you have really two choices. You can either work on building up your strengths or you can work on strengthening your weaknesses but if you spend too much time strengthening your weaknesses, then all you’re ever going to have is strong weaknesses. 

So, if you really measure and look at what are your strengths, what are the things that you’re naturally good at, that bring you energy and excitement for the future, and you start building your life around those things, that’s where the visioning and that’s where that ability to make good decisions comes into play.

Talk about that quote that you read about indecision being the root of all heartache, it’s because when you’re in that standstill moment, where you don’t feel like you can get any momentum because you can’t make a decision for your own future, that can cause major turmoil, not just for yourself but for the people around you too.

So, get in that state of pure joy, and start asking yourself, where do you feel strongest? Where do you feel at your best? And then you can start making some decisions on how you want to spend your time going forward into the future.

Benji Block: Bryan, do you find that even though you guys are doing retirement planning, there’s an aspect of like, you end up trying to do fulfillment development and life coaching? Like, it feels like there’s some pieces here where you’re going, “We’re addressing retirement, right?” We’re talking about money, but the conversation ends up being just such a deeply rooted thing that you probably are constantly having to address a more full picture of life itself.

Bryan Sweet: Yeah, that’s a really interesting thought and so true. What we found in our meetings and we have our client advisory council where we run some of these ideas by them, the more that we talk about the visioning and the possibilities, the engagement that we’re getting from our clients in the interest, you can see them sit forward and act with more intent and it’s just been fun to watch that because, for a couple of things, this never gets brought up in a conversation, where we’re talking all about them, what’s important to them, their future and what they would like it to look like. 

So, it kind of forces them to ask themselves questions that maybe are difficult, but they really think about, “Well God, if I knew the answer to that, boy, and I could have that, that would be pretty remarkable.” So, it’s been a great experience and as we keep developing just the concept of the dream architect, just more and more engagement like that. So yeah, it’s been fun to see clients and just people we’ve been discussing this with, react to just that conceptually. 

Stop Letting Others Shit on You 

Benji Block: My favorite title chapter has to be: “Stop Letting Others Shit on You”. I think that is an incredible choice and I think you guys should use that in as many places as you possibly can. When we know our values, right, then it becomes a lot easier to focus in and not get trapped in listening to what others tell us we should or shouldn’t be doing. Maybe give me a couple of examples of stories, how you’ve seen people really hone their values, figure out what they want and the benefits that that then has in their life, Brittany?

Brittany Anderson: What we’ve seen and often times people get the most success in this particular aspect when they really start looking at what they do not want. so what do they need to say no to first so that they can decide if those should’s that come from the outside are really relevant and something they should pay attention to because there is a really big difference in getting advice or sourcing brilliance from somebody that you maybe admire. 

From somebody that maybe there is some part of their life that you aspire to have some sort of similarity to or a mentor of yours or whatever. So that’s a different kind of should. You have somebody that’s giving you true guidance that is in your best interest, that’s something to pay attention to. Now, the people that tend to get disheartened or maybe not achieve all that they would like are often the people that listen to the naysayers. 

That is somebody where they’re like, “Oh you know, yeah, I really want to do this, but my uncle really kind of killed my soul and told me that it was a stupid idea, and that I shouldn’t do that and I shouldn’t spend any time on it because it is a waste of time and energy.” So to give kind of just broad example, the people who get clear on their no’s, who actually lean on mentors and find people to put in their corner to help them make really good decisions that truly have their best interest at heart, those are the people that we see making that big progress. 

I can even liken this to, you have — I’ll use Bryan as the example, just pick on him because he is here. If there’s somebody that he is meeting with, it is the people that really lean in that are going, “Okay Bryan, you’ve built a successful business, you’ve created a life filled with possibility and choice. I want to do that for myself too. So yeah, let’s do this together” versus the people that maybe kind of sit back and just take it all in and don’t really take action, there’s a massive difference there. 

So, if you are willing to lean on the people that are going to help you get what you want, those are the success stories. 

Bryan Sweet: Yeah, and I would just add one quick thing to that, Brittany, and this is maybe just like some words of advice from me personally but never seek advice from somebody who hasn’t accomplished what you are trying to do. It’s just I think a good rule of thumb. 

Benji Block: It is and it’s clarifying too because it is so easy to take in other’s words without realizing the source and doing a little bit more digging going, “Wait, are they creating the type of life that I am trying to create over here or am I just listening because I am so used to listening?” 

Brittany Anderson: Amen, so true.

Benji Block: Well, I had written this, and it kind of drives home at something we’ve been talking about quite a bit but I put that your tagline for the book was, “Build a retirement beyond what’s possible” and my observation was an alternate tag would have just been, “Build yourself beyond what’s possible” and I think it’s striking at really what I find again, what I set up top is this core message. 

My question on it is, do you see those that kind of accumulate monetary wealth but they kind of fail to build themselves, do they find that they have less-fulfilling retirements? What’s the downside if you were to go, “All right, I got my money figured out, but I haven’t done the core values work. I haven’t done like I don’t know what this picture actually is.” What does that look like or what is the bad side of that? 

Paint that picture for us when people are coming to you guys asking questions going like, “I don’t really know what I want.” Bryan, I’ll throw that one to you. 

Bryan Sweet: I would say, they don’t have like bad retirements. I think it’s just more like things happen. So, in my experience, the people that don’t think about what they want in the future or what their vision is, if you will. What happens is they’ll spend the first year, if they like golf, and they’ll golf every day of the week or something like that and then all of a sudden, that becomes more work and what they retired for really changes and then they’ve lost interest and they don’t have really anything else to do. 

Then the old adage, you sit around watching Oprah reruns and all of a sudden then they’re trying to fill their time and the people that don’t think positive, there have been some interesting studies on this but the people that don’t think positive or have a reason to get out of bed and do something, one of the negatives is you just don’t live as long and the quality of your life isn’t as good. So just in it of that, that should be a good thing. 

But I think the big thing is with people that are purposeful and think about if anything were possible, what would I love the second chapter of my life to be if you are talking about after your “retirement” — which I don’t necessarily like that word, which means put out to pasture, but — it is just gives you lots of motivation and those things absolutely happen and there is another quote by Dan Sullivan, Brittany eluded to him before, that says, your eyes only see and your ears only hear what your brain is looking for. 

So, if you are thinking about what that ideal future would be, then all of a sudden you’ll start seeing those things in life that you want or you’ll read something that says, “Well, this is how you get to that point” and it is amazing, I don’t know how it happens, I can personally tell you it happens all the time. Brittany can also tell you but right when you need something, if it is front of mind, it shows up and so then that helps you just continue to escalate your future and your possibilities, and then it is like a big steam ball and it just keeps getting better and better and better as life goes on. 

What’s Driving You?

Benji Block: Well, I want to go personal here as we start to wrap up and I just want to pose back the question that we sort of have been talking about more broadly and for listeners but tell me — and Brittany, I will start with you — what drives you personally and when you are thinking of your ideal future like what are you creating? How has this book helped you even maybe spark something personally for the type of future you are trying to create? 

Brittany Anderson: Yeah, going through this process and really looking at defining or helping others to define values and surround yourself with good people and create possibility for your future, you can’t help but look at how that applies to your own life. So, for me, I feel actually very fortunate because like we said, this book is written for people that are at or near retirement, like that was the core demographic that we’re looking at. 

But for me, it’s helped me almost get ahead of the game a little bit and feel like I am intentional with my own actions and I am intentional with my own choices and I lay out values. I have a Tony Robbins quote that is stuck to my computer monitor that’s right in front of my face and it says, “Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” So when I look at that, it goes back to my own value alignment. 

Because your question that you posed to Bryan about people who have accumulated a ton of wealth and they don’t have kind of this purpose, what does that look like and there are plenty of very wealthy people out there that we have met and interacted with and there are some that are stinking miserable and what we’re finding is that a lot of it boils down to not having those values clearly put in front of mind.

So, for me, I look at how can I create even more time with my family, time with my kids. How do I create impact for people that I come across, how am I showing up for others? So, we have a lot of the book talking about who you’re surrounding yourself with. Not only have I personally made some decisions for my own life about who I’m spending time with, but I also put in check on a consistent basis of how I’m showing up for others to make sure that I am that light and I am that support and that positive energy that so many people need. 

So, it really just has helped me think about how I make decisions, what I want for my own future, and really what I could be saying no to that maybe isn’t supporting that core value system to better my future and create fulfillment. 

Benji Block: I love that. Bryan, what’s this process done for you? 

Bryan Sweet: I would totally agree with everything Brittany said and the thing I would add to this is being kind of the elder statesman between the two of us, all of the things that we’ve talked about I have personally experienced, and I have seen the benefits of literally everything we’ve chat about in the book come to fruition and my goal in this whole thing is to say I know this stuff works and if I can help others either at retirement and/or at a younger age which is kind of what ended up happening here is that this applies really to everybody. 

The results that you can have and the lifetime enjoyment that you would have that you might not otherwise have, this comes gushing out and I would say my quote, if you would take a quote that defines this is, some people see things as they are and say why, I dream things that never were and say why not. 

Benji Block: I think some great quotes you guys have handed over in this conversation, and I appreciate that. I appreciate you guys taking on a topic like this because it is not necessary, it adds so much value when you are thinking about something like retirement and so I know that’s going to be extremely valuable for so many and it’s a commodity by any means. So, I just appreciate the work. 

Let’s end on this, when a reader picks this up, they spend the time to read through it, what do you hope their main takeaway is? What do you hope their first action step is? I will let each of you take an at-bat on this one. Bryan, let’s start with you. 

Bryan Sweet: Yeah, I would just hope that some part of what they read, it resonates with them, they implement it into their life and see the benefits that happen from that point forward, and then once they see the benefits, they go back and maybe keep adding some items that keep expanding that. 

Brittany Anderson: I guess for me, the first thing that comes to mind is I hope they take action. A lot of it, the book can be a lot to digest and it can be a lot to take in but if they just take it kind of one concept at a time and make even small changes in their life, deciding to tackle one key area over a given period of time and then going back and doing the next, that would be so fulfilling to know that people are actually following through on the things we talk about. 

Really, if the core message, if the one thing they get across is make sure that they have got at least one great person in their corner. Life is a lot easier when you have somebody that is supporting you and your goals and your dreams and then your vision for the future. So those would be my couple of things. 

Bryan Sweet: Yeah, amen to that Brittany, that’s a really critical thing is have somebody on your cheerleader squad. 

Benji Block: Well, Brittany Anderson, Bryan Sweet, I appreciate the time here. Again, I’ll say the title so people can go find the book on Amazon, Dream Architecture: Build a Retirement Beyond What’s Possible. Let’s end here, how do we connect with you guys, what are the best ways to stay connected to your work, social media, what are ways we can reach out, Bryan? 

Bryan Sweet: Well Brittany, why don’t you handle that? You have some contacts that I may not be aware of.

Brittany Anderson: Yeah, so the easiest way is if people go to sweetfinancial.com, there are a plethora of resources on there that people can utilize to really compliment what we talk about in the book. Otherwise, we are on major social media platforms. We are on Facebook, each of us are on LinkedIn, and Sweet Financial Partners as a company as well. If somebody wants to reach out and just tell us a success story after they read the book, tell us something that they’re changing, we do respond to our emails, so [email protected] or [email protected]. 

Benji Block: Wonderful. I really appreciate the time. Congratulations on this resource getting out into the world. I know this is going to be helpful for so many and thanks for stopping by Author Hour today. 

Brittany Anderson: Thank you so much. 

Bryan Sweet: Yeah, it’s been very fun. Thank you so much.