Todd Miller had a thriving career leading multi-million-dollar entertainment companies. By all metrics, he was successful, yet he was miserable. He always had to be on the ball, on his toes, on-call 24/7, and on the money. He wanted more than just a prestigious career though, he wanted control, financial independence, time, and fulfillment. He wanted an enriched life.
In his new book, ENRICH, Todd teaches life skills to create optionality even in the most uncertain situations. Through a practical, proven, six-step process, you’ll learn how to get financially fit fast, savor life’s deliciousness, and achieve career satisfaction.
Drew Applebaum: Hey listeners, my name is Drew Applebaum and I’m excited to be here today with Todd Miller, author of ENRICH. Todd, I’m excited you’re here, welcome to the Author Hour podcast.
Todd Miller: Thanks so much, great to be here.
Drew Applebaum: Todd, can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?
Todd Miller: Sure. I am an entertainment executive. I’ve spent most of my time, 18 years with a major Hollywood studio, and for the past eight years, I ran the largest independent media broadcaster in Asia. I retired about a year ago.
Drew Applebaum: Congratulations.
Todd Miller: Thank you.
Drew Applebaum: So, who should read this book?
Todd Miller: Any professional who is looking for financial security, time wealth, and meaning.
Drew Applebaum: I like that word, time wealth. Tell us about what time wealth is?
Todd Miller: Well, one of the realities of modern professional life is that we don’t find enough time in the day. There’s never enough time. And the thing about time is, it’s a perplexing commodity. It’s abundant and free, yet it’s scarce, is precious, and it’s irreplaceable. For many professionals, including a good number of whom I interviewed as research for this book, control over time is the ultimate measure of success. So, I very much believe that when you control your time, you control your life.
When we think about life, really, there are two currencies. There is money, and that gets all the attention, but time is also a currency, and of the two currencies, it’s the more valuable. In fact, a study done by UCLA asked people to choose time or money.
Can you guess how many chose time?
Drew Applebaum: I’d say 70%.
Todd Miller: 70%–it’s the other way around. Two-thirds prioritized money over time. Yet, those who prioritized time over money, statistically they’re happier and are more satisfied with life. And that’s adjusted for gender, age, income, and all kinds of other variables. So, we have generally a promiscuous relationship with time. I mean, we spend on average, 142 minutes a day consumed by social media and that’s based on research by the Global Web Index.
So, when we think about time, maybe instead of a casual promiscuous relationship with this valuable currency, maybe it’s time to commit to the time. That’s really one of the key themes of Enrich. In the book, I lay out a process to create time wealth. But it’s really just having the time and spending that time in a purposeful way.
Drew Applebaum: You have had a very long and successful career. What would you say is the key inspiration for the book and why now?
Todd Miller: Sure. So, when I was starting out in my time at the Hollywood studio, I felt that I had won the lottery. It was my dream job and I loved that job. I was a fast-rising star within the studio. I had two incidents, very early in that career, that caused me to be deliberate with, and to be obsessed about not being satisfied with just having a great career. I wanted a great life.
As a result of those catalysts, I’ve been a student of the best practices for life success for 25 years. And through that, I’ve been researching, probing, and I’ve been pushing all the conventional boundaries of this work-life equation. This book distills all that research and all of these findings, into a six-step method that is actionable and that is replicable.
I want to emphasize, that this book is not my story. I’ve spent years conducting research, I’ve interviewed scores of professionals from around the world, all of whom contribute meaningful perspective to this topic of life success and what makes a successful life.
So, one of the themes in this book is goals and goals achievement. I learned from multiple world record holders about how to achieve big goals. I mean, setting a world record, it’s like the ultimate expression in goal achievement. They illuminate the process in the section on goals.
Through this extensively researched book, I hope and believe that I provide a framework that is relevant and that is actionable by professionals who are looking for financial security, who are looking for that time wealth, and who are looking for meaning in their lives and in their careers.
Drew Applebaum: Is your research and experience that you put in the book, is this something that you wish you had earlier in your career? What changes do you think you would have made earlier had you read this book?
Todd Miller: Well, I wish when I was starting out in my career, that someone had given me the formula. Because, I have spent a lot of time with painful lessons, often expensive lessons, trying to figure this out on my own. I think back when I graduated from Columbia Business School and at that time, it struck me how many of my classmates, who are brilliant people, super smart, and now super successful, how they made very short term and it seemed to me, sometimes foolish career decisions, just based on money.
That’s when I started thinking, “Can we be bought so easily?”
Then I had those experiences early in my career at the Hollywood studio, and this whole subject about the relationship between money and life success and what is supposed to be the prescribed “default setting” or “career arc” for highly educated professionals–these are topics that I’ve dealt with and questioned throughout my time.
So, for me, it’s been an incredible learning process and the early part of that process really focused on life optimization, on wanting to have a great life and not just a great career. I figured that out, what I failed to recognize at an early age was the importance of accelerating financial security as quickly as possible. When I was quickly climbing the corporate ladder and when everything was going swimmingly well, financial security never even crossed my mind.
It was only years later when I hated my job, when I was miserable, when I was trapped because I was addicted to a fat paycheck. That’s when I was handicapped by financial insecurity. And so, one of the things that differentiates ENRICH, is that it very much, very directly addresses money matters because financial security for many professionals is the starting point. It’s not the endpoint, but it is the starting point. One of the very strong principles that I advocate throughout this book is that every professional should endeavor to accelerate financial security as quickly as possible.
So, let’s talk about financial security. Everyone wants it, but few people have it and even fewer are deliberate in trying to get it until they get to their 50s. And by then, sometimes, it’s too late. Many people equate job security with financial security. Perhaps that was a valid equation 50 years ago, but not now, certainly not in this climate, and pandemic aside, if you think about all the downward trends on white-collar compensation, disruption, and globalization, basing one’s financial security on job security is extremely dangerous.
Throughout the book, I talk about why it’s important, even for people who have great jobs, to prioritize financial security, and then I talk about strategies, how you can accelerate and future-proof that financial security. There are both offensive, as well as defensive reasons why that makes sense. But the book is not all about financial security. Other key aspects of the book deal with time, as we’ve discussed, and also deal with meaning.
Let’s talk about meaning because you know everyone wants purpose, everyone wants meaning. Thinking back when I was graduating from business school and all my cohorts and how they thought about their careers. Two things struck me.
One is that people were making very short term career decisions, sometimes even based on the size of the signing bonus. The other thing that struck me is this fixation on what I call “The Number.” Everyone has a number, and the idea is that you work toward that number, and when you hit that number, then you can go and live the life that you would have preferred to live all along. How crazy is that? But for many professionals, including myself back in the day, that is the default setting. That is what we are conditioned for.
So, one of the key themes of ENRICH is really trying to first recognize what is most important and then being intentional about focusing and delivering what’s most important. It is that intentionality that actually provides the means.
Drew Applebaum: Now you talk about taking money out of the equation but you just mentioned a lot of people see money as success. So, what are some questions that readers can ask themselves to find out if they are happy right now? What are the tough questions that they could ask to be honest with themselves to take money out of their life equation?
Todd Miller: Sure. I think the first question is if you could do anything in the world right now, what would you do, and would you be doing what you currently do? Those are two starting questions.
For many professionals, a career, a job is just a means to an end. It is something that must be endured. It is a price to be paid for “conventional success,” or for financial success and that does not have to be the case. There is another path to get to where people want to go, and that path is the one that is truest to what we want as individuals.
Drew Applebaum: Now that is a powerful question that you said people should ask themselves. Let’s say it is Monday morning, a dreaded day that you talk about in the book, your Monday morning commute, and maybe right now you’re even just going from your couch to your desk and you’ve asked yourself this question. You have pondered it on a Sunday night. What is the first thing you’re doing Monday morning to really start kicking off this new plan using the Enrich method?
Todd Miller: Sure. I think the first action to take is to identify what’s most important and that involves creating what I call a hierarchy of priorities. It is segmenting what is non-negotiable in life with what is a high priority and lower priority and low priority, and once you begin to truly segment the aspirations that you have, then it is about being honest with yourself.
Because how you spend your days adds up to how you spend your life and whether or not that is getting you to where you want to be, and if it is doing so in a timeframe and in a manner that is acceptable. So, it is a lot of self-analysis, but the starting point is to first identify what is most important. There are processes, there are techniques to do that, and once you understand and recognize what is most important, then you can begin to devise ways to try to work toward those aspirations.
Lessons From 2020
Drew Applebaum: You mentioned you have been writing this book and planning this book for a long time and clearly 2020 has changed things. There is a lot going on right now. What is the biggest piece of advice you can give to folks during these times? And then the second question, how is the investment advice, the long-term outlook, and the financial security that everybody is looking for, how has that changed this year?
Todd Miller: Yeah, the pandemic changes everything. What we know has been turned upside down and it’s very easy to focus on what we have lost. We have lost our mobility. We have lost a former way of life. Many of us are working from home, some of us no longer have jobs. Some of us have lost loved ones and so, we have lost a lot. But think also some of the ways in which we can learn from all of this.
This is an opportunity to reset and rethink the basics. To begin to take all of this awfulness that has been in 2020 and to catalyze so that we can begin to say that life is too short to continue to go the way that we were going and that this is the time where we must commit to time. We must begin to really focus on what we most want out of life, no more games. So, I think that this is great, actually, this is the kind of environment that causes people to ask the big questions, to ponder the big questions, and to do something about it.
What is your second question, Drew?
Drew Applebaum: How has your investment strategy or advice or what changes have been made to the financial security that everybody is looking for during the pandemic?
Todd Miller: Sure, there is a philosophical part of that question and there is a practical part of that question. The economic dislocation that has occurred in the first and part of the second quarter of this year very much emphasizes why it’s so critical to create financial security, because “shit happens.” And when that happens, one needs to be insulated and prepared and not have life adversely affected because of a lack of preparedness in financial terms.
The pandemic underscores the necessity for financial security. In terms of the strategies and very much Enrichadvocates a cash flow strategy and that has been terrific advice for this year because when we think back when the markets were melting in late March and early April, many people, including the legendary investor, Warren Buffett, bailed on stocks. That’s quite a normal human reaction because emotionality takes over.
The thing about a market dislocation is that it’s a terrible time to have to sell assets. It is a great time to be able to buy assets. So, with the cash flow strategy, one there is cash flow to be able to buy assets, but also by emphasizing cash flow instead of capital gains that gives you a reason to hold on to a security such as a stock, other than just focusing on the asset value at a particular moment in time. In other words, by having a cash flow strategy, instead of just trying to buy and sell high and low it gives you holding power so that you can ride through these market swings.
Markets go up and markets go down and it is just gravity and that’s just part of being invested. The key thing is, for financial security is to be able to ride through that and to absorb it. In terms of the strategies that I have outlined in this book that has been my experience for this year.
Drew Applebaum: Towards the end of the book, you talk about making life delicious, which I think is an excellent term. So tell us what a delicious life looks like.
Todd Miller: A delicious life is one that is abundant in meaning, abundant in time, and that is time for the things that matter, and one that is undergirded by financial security.
Drew Applebaum: Excellent. Well, Todd, writing a book is no joke. I know it is a long process so congratulations on finishing.
Todd Miller: Thank you.
Drew Applebaum: Now if readers can take away one thing from the book, what would you want it to be?
Todd Miller: I think the importance of accelerating financial security, even if you have a great job and a great career. That would be the first message. The second message, and this really is the core message of the book, is that it is about time and when you control your time, you control your life. That is the essence of enrichment.
Drew Applebaum: Well said. Todd, this has been such a pleasure. I am excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called, ENRICH, and you can find it on Amazon. Todd, besides checking out the book, where can people find you?
Todd Miller: I am on LinkedIn, I’m on Twitter and I have a personal finance website, enrich101.com.
Drew Applebaum: Great. Todd, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.
Todd Miller: Thank you, Drew.