Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I’m your host Steve Gordon and I have to tell you this is an interview I have been looking forward to for weeks. I have on with me today Kim Butler, and Kim is the Co-Founder of the Dynamic Prosperity Economics Movement and she’s going to tell us all about that. She’s a reformed financial planner and she asks, “What if everything you knew about money is wrong?”, which I think is a fantastic question. She helps her clients build optimal wealth in a sustainable manner without big banks and Wall Street. It’s a really unconventional, out of the box approach, and every time I’m around her I just learn something new. We’re in a for a treat today, and for all of you who are running businesses you’re going to want to pay close attention to all the things that we’re going to talk about. There’s going to be some great stuff here for you. Kim, welcome to the Unstoppable CEO.
Thank you, Steve. Always a joy, you’re a class act in the sections of Strategic Coach that you and I connect with, so I too am looking forward to this.
Yeah, absolutely. This is going to be fun, thank you for that. Just to give everyone some context, if you could give us a little bit of background, what got you to this stage of your career? How did you become this maven of finance that you’re described as?
Well, it probably starts in fourth grade, literally, when my dad got me a milk cow and I started milking the cow. I learned how by hand, and sold the milk to people in our church. And so as a little fourth grader I had a lot of money. I literally had cash that was cash to buy grain for the cow. As times progressed I just was always involved with money. I was involved with 4H my entire childhood. And I always had jobs as well. I drove combine, I hauled hay, and I got paid. And well for some of those jobs. So that enabled me to put myself through college, which was kind of cool. And then I started working at a bank right out of college.
So obviously always involved with money, helping people with money. And then the rest of the story I’m sure we’ll get to as we progress, but in case anybody wants a little more detail in that there is a book that I talk through my whole progression of the typical financial planning that I was trained to do onto the more traditional prosperity economics work that I do now. So it’s been a fun road.
I know quite a number of women who came up in the banking and in the financial world, and it’s an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men. The thing that I hear from these very successful women is that you don’t understand it was never a forgone conclusion that I could be successful in this. How did you push through all of that and really be unstoppable, because you are? I mean, you’re creating amazing things with the Prosperity Economics Movement, but that couldn’t have been easy. There had to be a lot of roadblocks. How did you push past all of those things?
For especially the female, male thing, I just ignored it. I was a tomboy anyway and every group that I went to, every conference that I attended, it was just all men. And I just never made a big deal about, and I don’t today. And it’s still all men, and it’s fine. To me, that’s a non-issue. And I agree, maybe women listen a little better or provide advice a little better, whatever. I just choose to not pay any attention to that at all. So being unstoppable just enabled me to be unstoppable. It didn’t matter that it was all men, or that I was young, or blond, or whatever.
So what are some of the things that you’ve pulled from over the years? I know you’ve been involved in Strategic Coach for a long time, that’s how we know each other. And either outside of that or within that framework, what are the things where you run into a roadblock and you say, okay well here’s my go to, this is how I’m going to think through it, strategize around it, and move past it?
Mindset, which thankfully in today’s world is something that’s talked about all the time, and at a very high level, and with seriousness, has always been something that I’ve worked on. And of course I started my career in 1988, back then the whole positive mental attitude movement, if you will, had just been completed. And people really sort of poo-pooed the whole mindset thing, or the attitude thing, as guru space, or oh you’re just putting on rose colored glasses. And I don’t really think people to it seriously, but I always did. And I really can’t identify why, probably something that my parents did. I know my sister, because she and I have a podcast together also, she’s always had what I would call a very entrepreneurial mindset, which is just something that I adopted. I figured out really early on that how I was thinking made a big difference in the results that I was getting.
An Impactful Daily Ritual
And so, every morning from very early on, again thinking about my career and the first few years of it, I made sure that I had what I’m going to call spiritual time in the morning. You could call it inspirational time, it wouldn’t matter. But whether it was a Bible lesson, or a good book like Think and Grow Rich, or some other … of course we didn’t have podcast then, but some radio show, although I really wasn’t ever a fan of talk radio, because I sought inspiration and to me a lot of the talk radio stuff was depressing and argumentative. But the point is that I always was conscious that I had to feed my brain or my mind very positive, very good, very unstoppable messages from day one, starting in the morning, and sometimes throughout the day, especially when things were challenging.
And I used that mindset to overcome challenges. I mean, everybody’s got challenges. You never know what kinds of challenges people are dealing with. And I’ve had numerous challenges throughout my career, my personal life, my professional life obviously, I mean everybody has. A way to get through those is with mindset.
I agree completely. I love the fact that you have this sort of dedicated time for it and you turn to that. I honestly think that is such an overlooked little strategy. It’s little in terms of the time and the energy that it takes, but I don’t know about you, I talk with clients all the time, sometimes I feel like I’m more a therapist than a market. Because the thing that holds them back a lot of the times … and I’ll never forget one client we had he was with us for years, and we’d create all this great marketing for him but he just would hesitate sending it out. He was like, what are people going to think? And getting past that stuff, getting past that doubt is not a trivial thing. And I think it holds up an awful lot of people.
And one of the things that I’ve tried to focus on, like you, is how do I get good inputs in? And I think it’s … I love that you shared that that’s a daily thing. I think that’s so critical even throughout the day because you can get side tracked. You can have a client call and be angry, or something negative happen in this part of your life or that part of your life, and it’s so easy just to immediately snap and go off in that direction. That’s a great reminder. And you’re living this out in practice, what’s the practicality of it? So you have some morning time, do you just sort of say to yourself, oh wait my thinking’s getting off track, I need to stop, I need to go find something? How does that work?
That’s a great question. What’s interesting is just in the last year or so I’ve added an additional, maybe 10 minutes. It’s tiny amounts of time at noon. So here’s an example, I’ll have my morning time and then breakfast, workout, start my day typically around 9:00. I tend to have either a 9:00, 10:00, and 11:00 meeting, or sometimes some half hour ones along the way, where I’m pretty much booked clear through. And then I try to keep my 12:00 to 1:00 hour free. So at 12:00 I make an effort to walk away from my computer. I try to go outside, now that’s not possible for everybody obviously depending on where you live and what the weather is, but I think being outside really gives us a different perspective, literally, which is helpful.
Sometimes I will read something. I might pick up just a little inspirational quote. It literally might be a paragraph out of a book or something that is maybe again from whatever I read that morning, and I’ll try to just hold on to that. You could say I could meditate with it. Again, that’s a term that people are using very consciously now within business, and even five years ago it was like, don’t say that. But now I think people are realizing.
Then as the day progresses there might be another time during the day where I just have to stop and walk away. And it might only be two minutes, maybe it’s to go get a drink, maybe it’s even just to go to the restroom. But I pay attention to what is going on in my mind during that time and I make sure that I’m filling it with all the good that I want, and that I’m focusing on what I want out of the next two or three hours. And then sometimes again I’ll do it again, sometimes it’s two minutes on my walk down the hall. I work out of my home, so on my walk down the hall from the office area to the kitchen for dinner, instead of either being mad or just letting my mind go to whatever, I might bring in a conscious quote or thought that is positive, and uplifting, and unstoppable, so that it enables me to then have a good evening aspect of my life as well.
I love that. And really what you’re describing, I think the perfect work for it is mindfulness, being aware, being mindful of your thinking. And that’s a practice. I’ve found over the years that it’s not something that necessarily comes natural, particularly in our culture where we’re all so busy all the time. But it’s something that you can develop and with practice you’ll find that you just go there. I think that’s fantastic advice. And I’m going to guess that as we turn to begin talking about money, that there is probably a pretty direct linkage between mindset and money in your perspective.
Absolutely, I’ll look forward to that.
Well, let’s go there next. We’re going to take a quick break. We’re going to be right back with more from Kim. We’re going to dive into her approach to building wealth, and this is going to be something different than you’ve likely heard before, so stay tuned for that. We’ll be right back.
Welcome back. I’m talking with Kim Butler. And Kim, thank you so much for sharing everything you did on mindset. I want to change gears a little bit and talk about the work that you’re doing with the Prosperity Economics Movement and how you’re helping people get a handle on their money. And as we said before the break, I’m going to guess that there’s an inextricable link between that and the mindset stuff that we talked about earlier.
Absolutely, I think there’s probably a quote from somebody that money is mindset, and mindset is money. They’re absolutely connected. And it’s a joy to be able to help people with their money because it does have a big impact on our lives.
Absolutely. So what is the Prosperity Economics movement? Tell us about that.
Why Traditional Financial Planning Limits Your Opportunity
The movement is something that my husband and I started about six years ago, and it’s designed to help both financial advisors and clients understand that there is a better way of dealing with their money than what is typically taught. The typical financial planning environment is very 401K, stock market, buy term and invest the difference, prepay your mortgage. That space is what I’m going to call typical financial planning.
And what Prosperity Economics is, is more about learning opportunity cost and how to reduce it, learning about how to have your money work for you in more than just one way. In other words, instead of just having your money be for retirement, let’s have it be for retirement and educating the kids, as an example. It’s more about control of your money and not giving up control into things like 401K plans that you cannot control. And it’s more about certainty of your money, instead of the whole roller coaster ride of the stock market and the inefficiency of the banks.
So again, this Prosperity Economics movement, it’s a 501(c)(3) organization that enables us to put out education about money. Because as you know, it is amazing how little we are taught about money. There are high schools and colleges all across this country that if they have a personal finance class, most of them don’t, if they do it’s about how to invest in the stock market and how to pick stocks. That’s it.
Yeah, and as we’ve seen over the last decade or so, that can be a dangerous thing. The market, as we record this, the market is roaring and things are going really well. But we all know that that can change on a dime, and oftentimes people aren’t prepared for it. In fact, I’ll never forget having a conversation with a friend of mine who just absolutely panicked back in 2008, 2009 and started changing his retirement portfolio. Mind you, he was in his 30s. He didn’t need any of that money. And ultimately ended up locking in a bunch of losses and it was really difficult to watch that fear set in.
What is this different approach that you’ve got? All the things that you describe I think are all things that everybody wants. What the different approach? How do we get there?
Well, it often starts with mindset. We have Seven Principles of Prosperity that we go over that are available on our website, anybody can grab them. And we strive to make sure that in somebody’s personal economy every one of their dollars is as aligned with the Seven Principles as possible. And you’re not ever going to hit all seven for every single dollar, but that’s the goal. Interestingly enough, the first principle is think because you need to have your brain on, number one, and you need to be thinking from a prosperous mindset number two. So that’s the first principle, it has those two parts. We can get into the others later if it’s appropriate, but like I said they’re on our website so anybody can grab them.
Then the other thing that tends to be slightly different is strategy. Clearly there’s no different products out there. The products that are available in the marketplace are the products that are available in the marketplace. It’s how we use them that is different. I’ll give you some examples. On a mortgage, we recommend a 30 year mortgage, not a 15 year mortgage. And there’s a lot of people that recommend one or the other, but we’re able to prove numerically, absolutely positively, and I’ve got this all written out in a book so if somebody’s really curious they can find it, that the 30 year mortgage is the most efficient way to own a home. There’s a mortgage that’s the product. Then the strategy, how you use that product, is what we can impact. The choice of a 30 year mortgage and no prepayments is our strategy. I’ll say that again, the choice of a 30 year mortgage and no prepayments is the strategy that we recommend. It’s the way that we have people work with a mortgage. So that’s one example. Should I go ahead and share a second or did you have another question?
No, go ahead. Go ahead.
A New Way to Look at Life Insurance
Another example, of course you have life insurance that people get involved with at some point. And a very common strategy in the typical financial planning world is either buy term and invest in the difference, I think we’ve all heard that little saying if you will, or using a product like Universal Life, and frankly that’s very similar to term insurance. So that would be what I would call typical financial planning.
Prosperity Economics absolutely helps people with term insurance because we espouse something called human life value. And again, that’s a strategy. So the product is term insurance, the strategy is human life value, as opposed to needs analysis on the typical financial planning side. In other words, only buying the amount of insurance that you need, while on the Prosperity Economics side we recommend human life value, which is the maximum amount of term insurance that the life insurance company will give you.
And then we also work with whole life as a preferred product. And again, there’s a strategy. It’s not like anybody can’t buy whole life. Of course anybody can buy whole life. But it’s what you’re doing with it that’s the difference. So we add paid-up addition riders, we add extra cash to the whole life, and we mixed it in with the term insurance so that the client is still getting to human life value. That may have been a little more of a deep dive than you wanted, but those are two examples, both the mortgage and the life insurance arena, where we use the same products that everybody else does, but how we use them is very different.
Having worked with a number of financial professionals, if I understand what you’re saying, you’re using that life insurance product as a place to accumulate cash in a pretty protected way?
Absolutely, and I want to stop you and congratulate you for saying it that way because people immediately want to make life insurance an investment, and you chose the word cash, accumulate cash. In other words, your liquidity. Whole life insurance is for your liquid cash, it is not an investment, so thank you.
And I think that is a very important distinction, and many of our clients have pounded that into my head so I’ve learned the hard way. But these are strategies that you don’t hear everywhere. You hear the talking heads out on the big radio programs saying that you absolutely shouldn’t ever buy whole life insurance. And I love your approach because the way you started, and whether it’s on the topic, or the mortgage, or any of the other things that you’ll share with us today, what I want everybody to understand is you’ve got to move away from this thing, this particular product is good or bad, and look at what are you trying to achieve.
If I’ve learned anything from all of the consulting we’ve done with financial professionals, it’s what are you trying to achieve? Which I think, Kim is your point. Think first. So those are the first two examples. What are some other areas that people can be looking at?
In our work we focus on three areas with money. The first is cash, which we’ve talked about. The second is to create income, and the third is to get the money to grow. And you know, there’s so much conversation around all these fancy things that people can do with their money, but I think it really boils down to those three things. You either need money to be liquid, or you need money to create monthly income, or you need money to grow. And so, in the income and growth categories we’ve developed relationships with what I’m going to call alternative investments. And a lot of people say that they work with alternative investments, but to me an alternative means something totally and completely different. And in this case, we’re talking about being totally and completely different to the stock market.
It always cracks me up, you’ll hear some money guy talk about doing a REIT as an example, a Real Estate Investment Trust, and that’s an alternative investment. No it’s not, it’s still in the stock market. To me, alternative means really, really different. As an example, in the growth category we use life settlements, which is where people buy other people’s life insurance policies, death benefits, as an investment. And we also use oil and gas, direct investing in oil and gas. We try to do it in funds where there’s four or five wells, but it’s still direct investing. You’re talking to the people that are actually doing the work. So that’s some alternatives for you in the growth category that fit into the work under the Prosperity Economics movement.
And then on the income side, and I said to somebody the other day, the hardest thing for you to do with your money is to get it to create cash-flow. Nobody knows how to do this very well, me included. I’m always seeking better ways to get an asset to create income. Because people have figures out how to get money to grow in a whole bunch of different ways, but to get it to create income is a lot more challenging. So, our favorite current way to get money to create income on a monthly basis, think about typically people in their retired years are going to want this, I really like people to think about it even earlier, you need to be practicing getting your money to create income long before it’s critical time.
Our favorite way is to use what are often known as bridge loans, where you’re lending money to somebody that already owns real estate and they are paying you an interest every month. And it’s typically short term, maybe two the three years, and then they’re giving you that principle back so that’s why the term bridge is used. You could call it hard money, or mezzanine financing. There’s a variety of terms and they all point to pretty much that same thing where you’re lending money to somebody that has the real estate and they’re paying you a monthly income, and then they’re giving you the principle back. And the critical piece there is that the asset ideally is secured so that you can be assured of getting that principle back.
Now, it’s real estate so things do go wrong with it. But obviously we’re looking for environments that our principle is protected. And as you’re well aware, in the stock market I don’t know how you protect principle. There are certainly some methods, but it’s definitely not as easy.
Reducing Risk While Maximizing Returns
As you describe all of these things, they are alternative. And I think the natural reaction for most people is, if I don’t know very much about this it must be riskier. How do you address that?
That is a great question, and I like to always send a question back which is, what is risk? For me, risk is losing principle. So we make it a goal that all of our investment work does not lose principle. Now, we’re not perfect. We make mistakes. And yet if we’re seeking environments that do not lose principle, then it makes for a much less risky environment. Now, there’s also all kinds of different risks, so you do have to talk to people about that. And frankly, one of the things that I say is one of their biggest risks is going to be talking to their friends about this alternative investment that they have that nobody else has, that people find very confusing and they haven’t heard about, so they typically don’t know anything about it.
And my husband has a great saying. This is Todd Langford of the Truth Concepts Calculators. He says, “If something sounds too good to be true, don’t just stop there. It might be too good to be true, but shouldn’t you look a little bit further? Shouldn’t you dig a little bite more? Because anything of value sounded too good to be true before it was in common use.” I mean, think about the cellphones we wonder around with these days. Your mobile phone, that sounded too good to be true 20 years ago. And the capacity that it has sounded too good to be true five years ago, and yet here we are with them as they’re a completely normal part of daily life. So don’t let not knowing about something cause you to shut down. Enable it. Use it to enable you to dig in and learn a little bit more about it.
Yeah, I think this is particularly important for those of us running businesses because we often have the opportunity, particularly in good economic times like what we’re seeing now, to create cash. And a lot of people will just let that cash kind of sit on the sideline and not do a whole lot. Others will, boy have I seen it, go after some really crazy things that they don’t understand, and they don’t get the advice that they need. So you’re speaking to a bunch of business owners now, I know you work with a lot of them, what would you say to that business owner who is seeing some success right now and creating some capital? How should they begin thinking about what to do with that to make sure that they’re accumulating permanent wealth?
Save first is my absolutely number one recommendation. And everybody wants to go straight to investments. And I guess it’s human nature, we all want something for nothing. We want an awesome body but we don’t want to go to the gym. We want to be healthy but we don’t want to eat right. And we want our money to grow first, and yet a business owner’s best investment is usually either their business or themselves. And so that’s where they should be focused on, and yet you and I are well aware that they also need to be building assets outside of that business and they need to be building liquid assets outside of that business first.
How to Become Your Own Bank
I talk to people all the time that have amazing net worths and literally very little, if no liquidity. And that’s scary, because it’s liquidity that gives up opportunity. So one of the things that I do is I won’t let our clients call their emergency money, emergency money. I ask them to call it their emergency/opportunity money, because nobody wants to get overly excited about funding an emergency account, but people can get very excited, and motivated, and consequently they’ll do something about funding an opportunity account. And so we talk with business owners about the importance of developing an emergency opportunity fund personally, and then also for the business. Because when the business does have challenge or opportunity, you want the business going to itself for taking advantage of that opportunity or solving that emergency. And so ideally, you build that emergency/opportunity fund on both balance sheets.
Essentially you want to become your own bank.
Absolutely, that is a term that we love. Because if you can have an asset where you can borrow against that asset without anybody’s permission, then you are truly free. And most people own a business because they want to be free. They seek the freedom that entrepreneurship enables. And so let’s have our money be free as well.
A second mistake I see all the time is just having way too much money locked up in retirement plans. And for a 30 or 40 year old, 59 and a half is a long way away. And then furthermore, to know that this box of 59 and a half to 70 and a half is going to dictate how you handle that money, entrepreneurs don’t like being put in boxes, so why would they put their money in boxes? It just doesn’t make sense.
And more and more there are so many different ways to approach this and so much good information out there. Kim, talk a little bit about who you work with, for those who are listening how they would know if they’re a fit, and if they should maybe reach out and get in touch with you?
Thankfully, due to the internet, we work in all 50 states. I live in a tiny little town in east Texas a couple hours north of Houston and I help every single client over the phone and the web. And it’s interesting, as our web capacity has increased, Zoom calls are totally normal these days, and we grab the camera and the microphone and stare at each other over our computers, I’ve actually gone to using less technology because I think sometimes all of the fanciness is either a distraction or could be intimidating if somebody’s not used to it. So sometimes I’m literally helping a client through our entire process all just on the phone.
Now, we do have calculators that I like to use from the True Concepts suite of calculators, so I will often do a screen share so that they can see those, because I do want to prove numerically every single thing that I’m talking about conceptually if the client needs that. Now, as we know, not every client needs all kinds of numerical proof. In fact, I find that once I’ve proven one or two things then we’re good to go and I don’t have to prove every single thing numerically. But it’s kind of good to know that I can. And I’m not super analytical myself, but when I have a client that is analytical I want to make sure that they know that I can prove numerically absolutely everything, every single thing that I’m saying. Which is important because what I’m saying, back to the strategy discussion that we had earlier, is going to sound foreign to them, it’s not maybe normal.
So because we work nationwide, I’ve found it very valuable to have a lot of collateral out in the marketplace. On Amazon I’ve got seven or eight books. They’re physical books, they’re Kindle books, they’re audiobooks, however people want to consume the information. I have a podcast that’s specifically dedicated to our clients. I have another podcast that’s specifically dedicated to advisors, because we do have a lot of advisors that follow our work and my husband’s work as well. And of course heavy social media activity as well on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter. So, there are tons of ways for people to check us out, which is awesome because you’re not going to work with somebody with your money and never see them, and feel comfortable, unless you have a really thorough way to check somebody out. So there’s all kinds.
In fact, the mortgage discussion we had earlier, my book Busting the Interest Rate Lies goes in depth into the 15 versus 30 year mortgage discussion. I’m not a mortgage broker, I don’t get paid to help people with their mortgages. But I do absolutely get paid to have people’s finances be as efficient as possible. So I think those are all really important things.
The other thing that I find very interesting about our practice is we have a very wide clientele. I have entrepreneurs that are literally in their teens, and I have entrepreneurs that are in their 70s and 80s. And like I said, they’re in all 50 states. And we don’t have a minimum. A lot of financial advisors have a minimum, and we’ve just chosen not to. If you can save money, I will help you. So some clients they already know a little bit about what they want because they’ve maybe listened to all of our podcasts or something. And they’ll call in and they just want a product, and that’s fine. I can help them with that and I can help them with the strategies.
Other clients want more of a deep dive. So as you know, inside strategic coach all businesses are taught to have a process. We have a five step process and there’s information about it on our website. And we charge a fee for that process, and we are able to stand on the fiduciary platform around that process. What that means is that we represent our clients. We do not represent any company, I don’t have any sales quota that I’m trying to meet, or any trip that I’m trying to qualify for, so that enables us to help clients truly where they are today and help them get their money, be more efficient for them, again on both balance sheets. The personal is where we do most of the work, but that business balance sheet is equally important and as you’re well aware has an equal amount of opportunity.
Absolutely, and it’s the one that often drives the personal balance sheet so it’s important to pay attention to it if you’re in charge of both, absolutely. Kim, what’s the best place for people to find you and reach out to you if they’re looking for more information?
Partners4Prosperity.com, that’s our website. And on the side and at the bottom is an eBook that’s available called Financial Planning Has Failed. And in that I tell my entire story of getting my certified financial planner designation and then choosing to drop it. Getting my Series Seven license, and then choosing to drop it. And Series Seven is the stock broker license, and why and how I went about that. And it goes back very much to the mindset part that you and I talked about earlier. So that’s kind of a fun read again, Financial Planning Has Failed on Partners4Prosperity.com, it’s the only place that book is available. It’s not on Amazon as all the others are, and it’s a fun read. And then from that, they can also get the Seven Principles of Prosperity that I referred to earlier. So again, Partners4Prosperity.com
Great, we’ll link that up in the show notes. And Kim, I thoroughly enjoyed getting together again. It’s always great to get together and share ideas with you. Thank you so much for everything that you’ve shared with the community today. I look forward to seeing you again soon.
Absolutely. Do I get to close with go be unstoppable?
Absolutely, I love it.
Thank you Steve, it was a joy.