Women's Retirement Radio

Carl Richards of the Behavior Gap - Simplifying Money to Make Smarter, Easier Retirement Decisions - Episode 22

July 12, 2021 Russ Thornton Season 2 Episode 6
Women's Retirement Radio
Carl Richards of the Behavior Gap - Simplifying Money to Make Smarter, Easier Retirement Decisions - Episode 22
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Women's Retirement Radio, I'm joined by Carl Richards of Behavior Gap

Carl is a friend and colleague of many years, and I've often referenced his work and sketches in my writing. In fact, I currently have 2 of his letterpress prints hanging on the wall in my home office.

In our conversation, we discuss Carl's background and why it's so important to him that people recognize money decisions are about our emotions and behavior much more than they're about using more information to make rational decisions.

Also, learn why Carl considers himself the "self-declared king of permission granting."

For more on Carl and the Behavior Gap, please check out these resources:

Get in touch and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

And thank you for listening.

Visit my website to learn more.

Disclosures

Russ Thornton:
Hi, it's Russ and welcome to another episode of Women's Retirement Radio. Today I am really stoked to have a longtime friend and colleague on this episode with us, Carl Richards, who I have referenced his work many, many times in my newsletter and in my online writing. And we'll probably talk about a little bit more during the conversation, but yeah, Carl, has been a big positive influence on my career as a financial advisor over the years so I'm really excited to have this conversation with him today. So Carl, welcome.

Carl Richards:
Thank you, Russ. I'm really looking forward to this as well.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. So I was thinking back, I think, and I don't want to spend our time reminiscing, but I think we've probably known each other since, I want to say 2005-ish. I left the big brokerage house in early 2006 and I think we spoke, I think, someone had connected us on the way and we spoke prior to that. So I think we've got, somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 years of history between us.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. No, I think that's right. I was thinking about that yesterday actually, I remember where I was the first conversation. I was at the, yeah, I was parked in a parking lot overlooking Las Vegas because that's where we lived at the time. So yeah, I think that timing. I know I knew you when you were at the big brokerage firm, so yeah, a long time.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Yeah. So I'm, again, super grateful for your time and the opportunity to kind of share this conversation with our listeners today. So I think a lot of folks will recognize your name and your work, but why don't you just start by just telling us a little bit about yourself.

Carl Richards:
So I am sort of born and raised in Utah and didn't know much about, I've always sort of considered myself a kid from the mountains of Utah, and didn't really know much about finance or investing or money. And just sort of through a series of really kind of fortunate accidents ended up in this industry. And that all started when my wife, we got married in 95, and she was a finance major and I had no direction so I just said, "Well, that sounds like a good plan to me, too." So did that, applied for what I thought was a security guard job.

Carl Richards:
It turned out it was a securities job, it was at Fidelity Investments, somehow made my way through that interview and got that job. And it was at that job, it was like my first interaction with the public, that I realized that this sort of the job of helping people make financial decisions was not about... Once I got over the fact that I wasn't a security guard, I sort of figured it was a calculator and a spreadsheet job or a numbers job. And that lasted all the way until my first interaction with a human, a client calling in, and then I realized it was about behavior.

Carl Richards:
It was about feelings. It was about my most important goal and my worst nightmares were all sort of wrapped up in money. And unfortunately, probably, but it's just the air we breathe. And so, that's what kept me in the sort of industry, if you will. So then one thing led to another and I started, I'd have clients who would ask questions and if I got a question more than once in a week I would just write the answer down and share it on this little blog I started back, I don't know how long ago, and called it The Behavior Gap. And I just kept doing that despite lots of evidence that I should quit. I just kept doing it. No one was listening.

Carl Richards:
I always joke that my mom and my sister were listening but I found out later my sister was lying, it was just my mom. But I just kept doing it. And sort of one thing led to another after a couple of years somehow, well, I know exactly how it happened, but it was really random at the time. The editor of the New York Times found the work and sent me an email. I have the email saved because nobody believes me. But it said, I love this. Would you do it for us? And I said, yes. So that led to that column in the New York Times which we thought we would run out of material, but we never did so it ran weekly for 10 years.

Carl Richards:
And then that led to the book and the second book. And so, that's sort of a little bit of background. I mean, really, maybe the most important part of that is what's kept me interested is the fact that money doesn't equal spreadsheets and calculators, it equals feelings. And once we start to get our head around that we realized that the emotional balance sheet is as important as the financial balance sheet. And learning to navigate that is endlessly fascinating because we're just not wired for it. Like as humans, we're just not wired for it. So that's what's kept me interested. So that's a little background.

Russ Thornton:
No, that's super helpful. And I feel privileged to have had, maybe not a front row, but a close to front row seat kind of along the way. I think you and I were talking off and on leading up to, and well beyond kind of, what I think of as the launch of Behavior Gap and all you've done since. And I know you've had The New York Times column, the Weekly column and you've written, what is it, two or three books now?

Carl Richards:
Two published, yeah, two published.

Russ Thornton:
And I know you're active formerly as an advisor with your own clients and now kind of more as a speaker. And I know you probably cringe at this terminology, but I kind of think of you as a thought leader but in the industry. But I'm familiar with who you are and what you do. But for those that aren't that familiar, how would you describe what you do today? And I know you do a lot of things. But if you had to kind of encapsulate what you do today, how would you describe that in simple terms?

Carl Richards:
Yeah. It's a really good question, and it frustrates my wife and kids because I don't know how to explain it. But I think the closest is that I try to take... It really feels like my job is to kind of wander through the world and notice things. And then once I notice something, it's almost like I have a, we even call it the huh, the huh face. The face I make when I'm like, huh, that's interesting. Why did I feel that way? And let me give you an example, I was playing a little experiment. This was a couple of years ago, but I was playing a little experiment for a while where I would be having a conversation with someone and I would just kind of rather abruptly ask them a financial question.

Carl Richards:
And often it was, "Hey, how much did you make last year? Hey, just curious, I have a question for you. How much did you make last year?" And if you can imagine, if your listeners can imagine, being at lunch or chatting about work or business or whatever and somebody stops and says, "Hey, Sally, just curious, how much did you make last year?" You can almost feel that sort of like, what? You're not allowed. And so, I would stop people before they would start stammering a bit and I said, "No, no, no. I'm actually not really that, I mean, I don't need a number. What I'm curious about is, what was that great? What was that feeling that we had.

Carl Richards:
So that's an example of wandering through the world and notice, let me give you one more example. I remember having a conversation with some friends from, I mean, these were friends from high school. And her name was Pam, and she ended up being, so she was a senior cheerleader when I was a freshman football player. Right? So she's the coolest person on the planet and way out of my league. And I looked up to her and just thought her and her friends, it was the untouchable. And turns out she ended up being, a couple of years later, she ended up being friends with my wife, or with the woman I married who later became my wife, and her husband was very friend with my wife. So we connected years later.

Carl Richards:
And they were still this way, super successful, had everything going for them. And we were at dinner and she said, they drove this old beat up minivan. And there's nothing wrong with driving old beat up minivan, but it didn't match the rest of the narrative. And my wife asked her about it. Something like, "Hey, how have you enjoyed the?" She said, "Well, we'd love to get a new car, but it's just not in the budget." And I remember, like this is an example of wondering through the world, noticing things. I remember thinking to myself, what? I felt like a rule had been broken.

Carl Richards:
I didn't know that you were allowed to say out loud, to admit that it wasn't in the budget. I was like, wait, I thought we all had an agreement that we were all going to play this little game where we all pretend like we can afford things, and nobody talks about it. And you certainly can't say it's not in the budget. That makes you look like whatever. And I remember like, so that's an example of that thing, that was probably 15, that may even be 20 years ago. That's an example of something I noticed in the world and then I just let it bounce around for a long time. I think about it. I think about the edge cases. I often go use Google Scholar, right, and see if I can find any research on it.

Carl Richards:
See if there's been any experiments or academic work, who else has written about it. And so, I think of that as like a big ball of yarn, a messy research, just nuance, edge cases, outliers. And then my goal, so you start out with an idea, you go into this ball of yarn which I think of as complexity, my goal, and what I try to do is come out the other side and say, here's what that's about. And so, a simpler way of saying all of that would be, I try to take complex things and make them a little simpler.

Russ Thornton:
So would you then go on to say that maybe from, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but from your perspective is one of the big opportunities really just helping people kind of get out of their own way and stop over complexifying things, to butcher a word there?

Carl Richards:
Yeah, but I think largely as it relates to sort of your audience and people who are trying to navigate this world, and when I say this world, I mean the world of just making a decision with money. And this could be anything from how you spend, what kind of life insurance you need to your money's invested, it's really overwhelming. There's just so much information. It's only seems to have gotten worse because, just the access to information and the flow of it and the speed at which everything moves. And then I think on top of it you've got a whole bunch of kind of memetic desire problems.

Carl Richards:
In other words, Instagram has made things... It's really just, it's hard to even figure out what you actually want versus what your parents may have told you you wanted or your neighbors want or your friends on Instagram have, right? So you pile all that together, you've got a very complex system that you're trying to navigate to make good decisions and really, really smart people. And so, as part of one of my jobs as it relates to money and humans is just to give, I've made myself the self-declared king of permission granting. And one of my most common request that I grant permission for is, just to relax a little bit and know you are not alone.

Carl Richards:
That feeling you have of overwhelm it's almost at least in America and it's in most countries. But America's actually, we've just spent five years living overseas, and America's pretty challenging place to even open a bank account, let alone a mortgage. And how do I invest, and what's the difference? And so, super smart intelligent people, sometimes you feel embarrassed and you don't understand why you can't make these decisions. Well, it turns out it's like everything you touch, it's like pulling on a piece of thread that just gets longer and longer. So largely as it relates to people who might be listening to this, I just want you to know you're not alone.

Carl Richards:
That feeling you have of a little bit of fear and anxiety every time you go to touch something related to your personal financial life, let alone your investing life. You're not alone. And I think if we can first recognize that, then we can get on to like, okay, how do I answer a specific question? I always have a rule, you default to the simplest answer. And so, yeah, I do feel like that's part of my job is to say, no, no, no, it doesn't have to be quite that hard. I know it feels that hard and there are actual reasons it's been made that hard, but it doesn't have to be that hard. Let me sort of take you down this journey and show you an easier way.

Russ Thornton:
Well, first of all, thank you for that. I'm glad you mentioned the five years you and your family recently spent overseas. I'd like to come back to that if we have time. But first, reflecting back on your years as both an advisor and now as, I know you spent a lot of your time working with other advisors including myself. But when you think back, what's a favorite success story?

Russ Thornton:
And I might call it a client success story, but it doesn't have to have necessarily been with one of your clients, but I'm curious to know what kind of comes to mind? And I also think this is helpful because I'd like to see kind of how you frame success in the context of working with a client or a friend or a family member or even another advisor.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, there's two that come to mind. One is a client of mine. Their names were, I think these are common enough names that I can use them. Well, their names may or may not have been Dave and Diane. And Dave was an emergency room doctor, super busy, wife was busy. She was a technology sales rep. And this is a fun story, particularly about the way you asked it, how you frame success. I remember one day Dave called me, he had moved to work at a hospital as an emergency room physician at a hospital that was right in the, and this is sort of intentional he had moved because it was right in the mountains. Literally you'd walk out of the emergency room door and 50 yards you were on trails that went up into the mountains and the trails were really well-known trail running and mountain biking trails.

Carl Richards:
And he'd moved there specifically because of that access. And he called me one day from the trail and he said, "Hey Carl, I just want to tell you an experience I just had." He's like, "I went to leave for my trail run during my lunch break and I walked past the break room. And I looked in the break room and there were two of my colleagues and a couple of the admins staff who I happen to also know love trail running. They moved here for the same reason I did. And they were huddled around the TV and the financial pornography network was on." The CNBC, I guess we call it. And he said, "And I looked in there, I saw that." When am I running? He said, "I got about a half an hour into my trail running and I realized, I used to be in there. Right. I used to be in there, and I'm not any longer. Thanks." They're like-

Russ Thornton:
I'm smiling just hearing you tell that, that's... Yeah, go ahead.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. So that to me is sort of a massive example of when we can do this right it stops being the center of our lives and it becomes money, becomes a means instead of the end in and of itself and it stops. You can get your life back. So that's probably my favorite story about success, but I could give you a bunch more.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Well, if we have time maybe we'll on another. So kind of in that same vein of, the doctor being able to go out and do something he enjoys while his colleagues were chained to the financial network on the TV in the break room. Could you maybe, without going into too much detail, but could you give us a little bit of color around your family's decision to go overseas a few years back? What prompted that, and what that experience was like for you guys? Just at a high level.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. We really just wanted my wife, I mean, I do, too. But right now I think we both have just sort of an almost insatiable kind of adventure bug. And we had never lived outside of the country, I mean she had, she'd spent 18 months living in Japan. But I had never lived outside the country. We'd always wanted to and we just through a, it would be a very long story, but through a series of events we just had a door open that was like, hey, we can go spend some time. And we started exploring it like all things, right? This was not in our plans. No financial plan had this in it. And it always, every time I talk about this I just remember the old saying that, humans make plans and God laughs.

Carl Richards:
And that doesn't eliminate the need for making a plan. It just realized, the plan will absolutely be wrong, you just don't know why yet. And so, we woke up one day and we're like, "Look, let's start exploring this." And it was a five-year period. We were going to go to France, we were sure of that. We went and visited. We even found a school for the kids, and then it just didn't work. We put it on the back burner for two or three years, and then New Zealand happened. And it's a long story in terms of how it happened.

Carl Richards:
But it was literally, from the moment New Zealand occurred to us as a possibility, 10 days later we had plane tickets. Right. The plane tickets were for three months away, but 10 days later. So it went from, it had not been on our radar at all, to we are going in 10 days. And so, then we went to New Zealand for what was going to be a one-year trip. And within, I don't even know if it was a month, but it was probably more like two or three months. It was clear there was no way we could see or have the experience that we were supposed to have in a year, so we just kept staying. And we ended up being there three and a half to four years.

Carl Richards:
And then my wife wanted to go to design school and she found a design school that fit all of her need, everything. She's obviously not college age anymore and working, all of those things, in London. So we to London for a year. And I can do that because my job is totally location independent. But I do want to mention this because this comes up all the time, financially, this was crazy, right? I have friends who I know have more money than they'll ever need, who say to me, like, "I'd love to do that, but I just can't afford it." I was like, "We almost spent our last dollar doing this." And I would say it was the best return we could have ever spent. I have no concern about that.

Carl Richards:
I mean, sometimes I'm like, oh man, that was really expensive. But most of the time I'm like, oh man, that was one of the best investments we've ever made for our kids, for us. So it was incredible. And opening up our eyes to how people in other parts of the world view money was amazing. To just see, and again, I'm not saying right or wrong in any way. I'm just saying, there are different ways of viewing this. And largely like New Zealand, particularly, it was just so quickly, you learn so quickly to just relax a bit.

Carl Richards:
And I think it's fair to say, maybe sometimes too much. But it was definitely, just relax. They have a saying over there, she'll be right. Which is just like, mate, she'll be right. I hear, what are you worried about? Relax, it'll all come right. It'll all be good. Everything will work. And so, it was an amazing experience. And I got to see tons of Southeast Asia, Australia and speak and do work there. So I got to see how other people handle their relationship with money. And it was fascinating to see the commonalities that make us all just human and the differences. So that was really fun.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. So thanks for sharing that. The reason I really wanted to highlight that is, I talked to so many people, and you probably have too. That they make, you referenced it earlier, make all these plans. And a lot of them tend to be like, I'll do that one day or I'll do that when I retire or I'll really do the stuff I want to do once I'm not working full-time. And I think so many people just kind of fall into this kind of almost deferred life plan.

Russ Thornton:
They're going to really do the stuff they've always dreamt of doing, but it's going to be months or years or sometimes even decades down the road. So I just think that's really cool that you guys took that leap. And, yeah, it sounds like there were some financial, clearly some financial costs, but as soon as the non-financial rewards were far greater, so.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Maybe we can talk about it, I mean, this is really important. I think we are all delaying, the majority of us are delaying. We're so scared. So worried about what's going to happen in the future, and maybe that's right. We probably overdid it. We probably have erred too far on that side. I don't know. But I do know that, I can't tell you how many... It's not quite daily, but it's pretty close that this comes up where people are like, "Oh, we'd love to do." Yesterday, at one of my best friends that we've sort of seen again after five years. And she said, "Oh, we just admire you guys so much. We'd love to do that." And it doesn't have to be, by the way.

Carl Richards:
So I call it the thing, the thing because I never like, art or living my best life. That's all too precious. I didn't know about that. I just knew there was a thing that we really wanted to do. And I know everyone has a thing, and most of us have been conditioned to just jam that thing back down. Like, no, I'm not going to do that. I mean, it doesn't have to be moving to New Zealand. Right? In fact, I did a column about this and I asked people to share with me. It was a permission granted column. I said, tell me what your thing is and I will grant you permission. I mean, I got 500 emails and some of them were like, I want to move to Ireland and write poetry. Some of them were like that. Others like, Carl, I just want to take Friday afternoon off to be with my daughter.

Carl Richards:
We can't push that down anymore. Permission granted. I can't tell you how hard it was to do this because we just continually... Mainly the hard part was the fact that we weren't allowed to do it. I can't tell you how many times I said to my wife, because she was the driver of this decision luckily, that she really pushed to make this happen. I can't say how many times I said, "Corey, no one does this. Who does this? This is so irresponsible." Those kinds of words. Well, why? Because no, I'm looking around saying, well, everybody else has their head down. They're going to work for 45 years and then retired and died two years later. So I'm just saying, it doesn't have to be dramatic. It could just be in the next, I'm the secretary of the soccer, my daughter's soccer club.

Carl Richards:
And I take notes at these meetings. And every meeting, I feel like I've got something to add but I'm scared. Well, in the next soccer meeting raise your hand. Right. You want to take Friday off to go... You want to Saturday morning donuts with dad. Or whatever those things are. I know you want to write a book. You want to start photography. You want to have the garden in the backyard. Somebody told me they wanted to have a fish store, an aquarium, pet fish store. Instead of cramming it down because no one does this all, the way I like to think of it now is dancing with dragons. I think of the thing has the dragon because dragons guard all the cool treasure, they also breathe fire so they can kill you. So it feels dangerous.

Carl Richards:
But instead of like fighting with the dragon, instead of ignoring the thing, just dance with it just a little bit. Next time it comes up instead of saying, "I'm going to go back to being an accountant." To pick on accounts for a minute, right, because that's a super responsible job. What if you just wrote it down? Right. And just said, I wonder what this means. What if you just made a little space? And again, it doesn't have to be heroic. It doesn't have to involve leaving your job. It might, but it doesn't have to. So I'm kind of thing agnostic, but what I'm not agnostic about is that we all need to be doing these things. The world is such a better place when we do the thing.

Carl Richards:
And so, that's really, really important to me. And it feels tangential to money, but it's not at all. I think that's the purpose. Real financial planning to me is aligning your use of capital. And I think of capital as money, time, energy and attention. So aligning your use of capital with what's really important to you.And if you think of this as a Venn diagram, there's no overlap often. But both circles need work. Figuring out what's really important to you is hard. Don't be surprised if you're listening to this and you're like, I don't know if I have a thing.

Carl Richards:
Don't be surprised because most people don't know. But I guarantee you you do, it's just that we've forgotten. You had one in second grade. I promise you, till it got beaten out of you by junior high. So all I'm saying is that this is exactly what I think of as financial planning. How can I do the thing I was put here on earth to do? And that thing does not have to be heroic. It could simply be, I want a better relationship with my mom. Whatever it is, just give yourself permission today. And if you need permission from somebody else, I'm the self-declared king of permission granting. I grant you permission. Go start dancing with that thing a bit, just write it down, make space for it. Things will happen. So anyway, I hope that's helpful. Sorry, Russ, that was a long-winded answer.

Russ Thornton:
No, that's super helpful. And in fact, I remember the permission granted column you're referring to. Something that came to mind as you were telling that story though is I'm curious, and maybe you did, and I'm kind of saying this a little bit tongue in cheek. But did you get any replies from anyone about that column that said if I only had another $100,000 or if I only got another 5% a year return on my portfolio?

Carl Richards:
Well, I got that answer from people who were using it as the reason they couldn't do the thing, but what I think your point is, there was a single person who identified that as the thing. I just want a portfolio, I just want a fancier car. I mean, some people, it was like, I really wanna buy a vintage Porsche or I've always wanted to drive a Camaro or whatever. But no, it was mainly, almost, I mean with very few exceptions that I can't even think of. It was not object related. It was experience related, and often with people that you love.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. And I'm not surprised to hear that. I think you said it, I mean, it's kind of really trying to figure out what's important or what the meaning is for the money, not making the money, the meaning. So I think that's a great way to kind of underline or highlight that. Listen, as we kind of start to wrap up, and Carl, you and I could talk for hours. What surprised you most about your work over the years?

Carl Richards:
The first thing that came to mind was, that anybody likes it. And I actually want to highlight that for a minute. I'm really comfortable with that, that I have that feeling and I've had it for years. And I know, I have kind of I've gathered the evidence and believe may even have a file, it's called the stoke file. But I've gathered the evidence to convince myself that that's not true, that people do indeed the work, but it still comes up. And so, that's the other interesting piece just slightly tangent, is I decided in fact I wrote a whole about this. You'll now notice, I'm really writing for an audience of one. It's the things that I'm working through, and although [inaudible 00:31:38] was you're fired.

Carl Richards:
And I was firing myself and everybody else from the job of deciding whether or not the work I was doing was valuable. I decided it was no longer my job to decide that. Whether it was valuable or good, my job was to do it. And that's the end. That was the end of my job, to do it and do it in public, share it. Do it and put it in the world. That was the end of my job. Because I can tell you over and over that, I mean, this happens so often it's silly. I would write a column then I was like, this is the best thing I've ever written. This is going to be. I'm going to get an award. I don't even know what award I would get, but I'm going to get the equivalent of a Grammy for this.

Carl Richards:
And I would send it in and it would be like crickets from my editor, the team at the time. So you post it, but there was not like nothing. And then I can't tell you how many times I came up against the deadline. Thursday mornings, I would be like, I got nothing. Oh, geez, well, this is terrible but I'll just send this in. And it'd be the best thing I ever, like the response would be, this is amazing. And the editorial team would post it and they would share it. And feedback was amazing. Answer number one is, that anybody liked it. As it relates to money, the thing that surprises me most is how universal the challenge is.

Carl Richards:
And I pointed it out earlier, there are differences about how we use money in cultures around the world, but there are also some similarities that just are striking. And one of them is just that money is emotional, right? And that most of us don't, well, especially in developed Western societies, most of us don't acknowledge that. We think it's a spreadsheet and calculator and then we're surprised when we go to have a conversation about it and it feels like an electric fence that we didn't know was electric. And so, that's been really universally surprising to me. Gosh, it's so crazy that, and nothing's written about it. Nothing's done about it.

Carl Richards:
Every financial app, personal finance book, all they talk about ever is spreadsheets and calculators, tactics and products. Nothing about this base level thing that's like, it has to do with security, right? You wonder if you're going to end up under a bridge. Is your family, your kids, your spouse, your partner, are they going to be okay? Right. Have a medical emergency and you'll find out real quickly how interrelated money is to whether or not somebody is going to have the care they need. And this is all terribly unfortunate. I'm not saying it's a good thing. I'm just saying it's reality. And so, that was really surprising to me, too.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Every time you want to talk, I mean, I've got a million questions running through my head. But in the interest of time, why don't you share another success story and then we'll wrap things up. Does that work for you?

Carl Richards:
Yeah, for sure. So actually there are two, I'll tell you two short ones because they're both related. I had, these were clients and I'll just call them John and Sally. And it's funny, I didn't realize this, but John was another ER doctor and Sally had always been really interested in pottery and they had five kids. So she had more than a full-time job at home. But one of their big goals, well, first they had a number in line. They wanted to have a certain number saved. And then as soon as they had that number saved, she wanted to build a pottery studio in the backyard and teach neighborhood pottery classes in her studio. And the number was pretty big. I mean, I think, yeah, nobody knows John's house. It was a million dollars, right.

Carl Richards:
And this was pretty early in their career. And I remember thinking, wow, it's going to take us a while. Years went by, we just sort of set up a bunch of automated things and they did an amazing job of saving, saving, saving, saving, saving. And then we had a little bit of a tail in the market, did well too, but it was mainly their saving habits. And I remember the day when they called they were like, "We did it." And I was actually unaware, which is kind of funny. It was in between quarterly meetings or whatever and I was like, "What?" And I pulled it up and they had crossed this million dollar mark that they were trying to save. And by the way, I'm just going to mention something, it's so funny.

Carl Richards:
I just broke a Cardinal rule of mine, which is using specific numbers. Because I've learned based on thousands of interactions now that as soon as you put a number on something, people get focused on the number and forget the point. And so, do me a favor and don't worry if a million dollars is like, what? That's an insane amount. Because there are people listening to this that will think that's an insane amount. There are people listening to this that will think like, that's it? So don't anchor to the number, anchor to the point. They had a goal, they chipped away at it. They met the goal. And then the thing that I'm so proud of is they built a pottery studio, right? They built a pottery studio and she started, what did I call her? Sally.

Carl Richards:
Sally started holding pottery classes. And then the last one is a friend client of mine named Dan who got sort of like, what's the right word? Redundancy. Got laid off from his job maybe five years before he had planned on retiring. And so, he was 50. I think he was 56. And the thing he'd want to do his whole life was learned to paraglide. And so, at 56, and we happen to live, there's a paragliding spot here in Utah it's world famous, right like 10 minutes from Dan's house. Learned to paraglide, went to Nepal to paraglide. Came home telling me stories about paragliding in Nepal, in this place where I guess there's these birds that have eight foot wingspans come up and fly next to you. These are just wild birds, it's not like a theme park or anything.

Carl Richards:
So those stories, those are the ones that stick out. It's Dave on the trail, Denise in her pottery studio and Dan flying with birds. It has nothing to do with, whatever, performance or some portfolio size or. Yeah, of course all those things mattered in terms of meeting the goals. But it was the goals, that the sort of experiences that matter. So those are my favorite stories from working with clients. I mean, there are, I don't know, about hundreds but there aren't a lot of those. And I think anybody who works with a real financial advisor understands, it's a different world than the people who were cold calling you. Right? It doesn't even make sense to think about them as the same industry, even though we probably are sort of umbrellaed under the same industry, the traditional financial services industry.

Carl Richards:
But when we understand, when we switch from, it's no longer about products and performance and it's about aligning our use of capital with what's actually important to us. And by the way, that's a never ending process. We hired a new financial planner like six months ago. And I realized the other day that, the plan will never be done because we'll talk on a Friday in prep for a meeting on Tuesday and something will happen over the weekend where I'll call and say, "Oh, things changed." And I've realized the plan will never be done. It's a never ending process of aligning our use of capital with what's important to us. So those are my favorite stories.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Those are all awesome, and I would love to hear more. But in the interest of time, so this is Women's Retirement Radio. My focus is, women and their families as they prepare to transition to retirement. So with that general audience in mind, Carl, if there's one thing that our listeners can take away from our conversation today, what would you want that one thing to be? And then we'll wrap things up.

Carl Richards:
You can do this, right? Like that audience, particularly. My parents were divorced when I was eight. My mom's been single. And I'm not saying you're focused on single women necessarily. I'm just saying, I have a close connection to somebody who's been trying to navigate this for 40. What is that? 41 years. And recently have a close friend that her husband passed away at age 52 in a basic surgery. There was a blood clot, right. Like, I'll be home on Monday from the hospital. That kind of story. Terribly tragic, but I'm trying to help her navigate. These are smart, successful women, right? This isn't a function of not being smart. It isn't a function of not knowing your way around money. It's not none of those things that we typically feel kind of hold us down apply.

Carl Richards:
And yet still, it's a lot to navigate. And so, I just would encourage anybody listening to just realize like, no matter what your situation is, if you're doing this alone or together. If you have any experience or background, just know you can do it. And just sort of chip away at it, make decisions slowly. Trust your gut in terms of the people you, well, trust but verify, for sure. But still just know that, even if you've verified it and it doesn't feel like the right direction for you, you can trust that. And so, really, I guess the bottom line is you can do this. That feeling of being a little bit overwhelmed is totally normal. And you can do this, just keep chipping away on it.

Russ Thornton:
Well said, couldn't agree more. I think that's a great place to wrap up. I'll include links to your website and books, and I'll try to include the permission granted column in the show notes. But if anyone wants to learn more, where's the best place for them to go to learn more about you, Carl, and work you're doing?

Carl Richards:
The easiest thing, and almost all that I do right now is focused on, I write a weekly letter about money. So if you just go to behaviorgap.com and get the weekly letter, it'll be delivered in your inbox every single Thursday. So that's the main focus of what I'm doing.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. And I would encourage everybody to subscribe. That's one of the newsletters that I make sure I never miss.

Carl Richards:
Thank you, Russ.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, we'll include a link to that in the show notes as well. Carl, thanks. This has been a blast. Always enjoy talking to you. I appreciate you making the time.

Carl Richards:
My pleasure, Russ. Thank you for the work that you're doing, it makes a difference.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. And everyone out there, thanks for listening. Again, this has been Women's Retirement Radio, and I look forward to catching up with you on our next episode. Take care.