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J.P. Servideo on Financial Conversations Between Parents And Their Children

In this episode, you're going to meet J.P. Servideo who is changing and transforming the lives of our youth, future generations to come in the area of personal finance and in money.

J.P. is a young fireplug and he-man. You can feel the passion in this episode. You can feel his sense of purpose and that he's going to transform a ton of lives with what he's up to.

This show is about how to have money conversations with yourself and even more with your kids. What do you do to set up their financial future? You're going to meet J.P. who shares his story. He gets vulnerable about how he almost didn't graduate school down to the wire, he was able to flip it and it set him on a whole different path.

If you have kids and if you have teens that you feel maybe aren't on the right path, you're going to love this episode. He's going to give us some real-world strategies that we can do to have better conversations with our kids. He's going to share with us how to ask questions and by doing so, it reduces the stress. It gets your kids to do what they want them to do. Even if you don't have kids, I want you to tune into the show because this is foundational.

This is a conversation about how you have conversations with yourself and also with other people in your life. It's very applicable. The other thing that I want you to pay extra close attention to is this idea of emotion. We have people in our lives who are close to us, we care for them but sometimes the way we go about communicating with them isn't the best way. It doesn't serve them and it doesn't serve us. I want you to pay attention to that.

Dustin
J.P., one quarter left in school and you get some interesting news. Your counselor comes in and tells you, “You're not going to graduate.” What’s going through your head when you received this info?
JP
At first, I was like, “This can't possibly be true.” I had thought I had done enough to get by. I was taken aback for a minute and I was sitting there thinking, “No, I'm not going to be that fifth-year senior in high school.” She was pretty adamant that it was going to happen and I made her tell me. Miss Thaxton, she was my guidance counselor, she said, “J.P., we’ve got to pick up your classes.” I was like, “Tell me it's impossible.” She said, “It's not impossible after me saying that a couple of times,” and I was like, “That's it, you're saying there's a chance. I got this, no problem. Just write it down what I’ve got to get and no issues.”
She went over to a little computer. She was like, “I'll write down everything you need.” I'll never forget the first class was biology and she wrote down I needed a 97 in the class and a 97 on the final. I was like, “That's one, not a big deal.” She rifled through History, English, a 94 and above on every single class and the exact same on every single final. If I had gotten a 94 in the class and then a 93 on the final, I was a graduating high school. There was one class that I could get a C in which was gym and I was an athlete, I don't know why I still needed a C. I'll never forget I took the paper off her desk and I was like, “Miss Thaxton, I’ve got this,” and I walked back to class. I was definitely confident when I was looking at her but on the way back to class, I was like, “We’ve got this.”
Dustin
What do you think she thought at that moment like this kid’s not doing it?
JP
She was looking at me like, “Here you go but you still got to pick out your classes.” I was like, “No, I refuse.” I would not let her choose my classes. There is no way, she’s not making this happen. I went back to class and five minutes later I got called down to the Principal's office. I was like, “No, they already told me. They already gave me the information.” She was like, “No, it's not the guidance counselor anymore, it's the principal.” I was like, “The principal? What did I do now?” I got out to the Principal's office. I can remember walking down the hallway sometimes there's glass in front of the office, you can see who's standing in there and I saw my mom. I was like, “It's early, I just found out. She should be at work. She couldn't possibly know yet.” I was wondering how I'm going to approach this because I don’t know if she knows yet. I don’t want to give it up if she doesn’t, but I also want to admit it if she does. I got in there and I could tell right away. She was like, “Get in the car.” I got in the car and I was waiting and sitting there patiently.
She looked at me like, “You're not going to graduate high school? Are you kidding me?” I was like, “No, mom, I swear all I need to get is,” and she cuts me off, “No, stop it. You haven't done anything for three and three-quarter years and I'm disgusted with you.” She's telling me everyone was calling about my graduation party asking, “What should we get him? When is it going to be?” She was like, “I'm going to make a list of all the names of people who called and you're going to call them back. You’re going to tell them you’re not graduating. I'm not doing it because I'm embarrassed.” I was like, “I don't want to do that.” Fast forward to the very day of graduation, because when you're a senior in high school, you don't get your grades until the summer. All my friends were lined up going into the auditorium about to start. I had to run into the Guidance Counselor’s office past everybody and they were like, “Are you graduating?” I was like, “I don't know yet.”
I ran into the Guidance Counselor’s office and Miss Thaxton was finishing calculating my grades right there because she had to do them on the spot. She saw me and I looked at her and I was like “What do you got?” She was like, "You're going to graduate.” I had to grab the cap and gown that she had, which was one size too big. I had to run outside and tell my mom she could come in. She was waiting in the car because it's not a big school. Everyone knew I was potentially not graduating. She didn't want to come in and be the mom whose kid didn't graduate and see everyone and all my friends’ parents and stuff. I ran out and I was like, “Mom, you can come in. I’m graduating.” She got out and she screamed at me. I was like, “No, I said I am graduating, not I didn’t.” She said, “You could have done that for four years.” I was like, “Yell at me later. I’ve got to get in line.” I ran and the very last thing she said to me was, “Don't make a scene.” I was like, “Mom, I would never do that.” I ran in and ended up graduating high school.
Dustin
What was going on in high school? Why do you think you found yourself in that position? Were you into sports or you weren't interested in school or what?
JP
I was very into sports. I always had big dreams. The thing that bothered me in high school was I would ask the question, “Why is this important? Why is high school relevant to me being successful in the real world?” I remember hearing about real estate and I remember hearing specifically about that. My idea in high school of real estate investing was buying a three-family home, moving into one floor, renting out the other two and replicating that over the years. That’s what I was taught about real estate. That was real estate investing to me. That was the max of it. I remember thinking about that and thinking, “How does doing this biology homework about osmosis going to help me do that because that would make me rich and if I have money, then I can live however I want?”
I would ask, “Why are these things important?” and no one could ever give me a straight answer. Not that it was a good philosophy but my philosophy was I'm going to do what I think is right because most people don't get where they want to be. I bet the other way and there were elements of that that went well. I learned far later in life that my process for learning, I was sacrificing learning that in high school. That's what was going through in my head. If no one could tell me why it was important, I'll do what I think is important and what I enjoy doing. Everyone also tells you that high school is the best time of your life and enjoy it. That also bothered me, “What do you mean high school is the best time of my life?” I'm seventeen, eighteen years old and it gets no better and the rest of my life is potentially another 80 years. I was like, “What? If it is, I'm going to have a good time right now.” That doesn't make sense to me. I can't see it not getting better. I don't know how yet but I believe it only gets better.
Dustin
You work with a lot of teens and I'm curious what you would tell young J.P., because you know of this societal pressure to graduate high school and everybody should do that. What would you tell your young self to do?
JP
I would tell my young self this. It's not about school and the particular subject, it's learning that I have this “goal.” I have this class and in this class, to achieve the goal is to get an A. I would tell my young self to get the A's to learn the process of going through how to learn something you've never learned before. How to study for something you're not familiar with? How to approach talking to your teachers and asking them, “How do I need to get this grade? I'm not doing well. How can I improve myself here?” I might still take the exact same path that I took. I like my path, I got right to work. I started making money. I definitely would have done some things differently, but it doesn't mean I would have gone to college. It doesn't mean I would have done that. Even if I got straight A's my whole four years and done the same path, at the end of those four years I would have been so much more significantly conditioned to succeed because of learning the process.
One of the things that I talk about in the events that I run with kids is when you're between about puberty age and 25, your habits are like wet cement. This is a scientific fact. Most kids don't start thinking about their life and most kids don't start getting serious until about when they graduated college. When you graduate college, you're about 23, 24, 25, years old. Neurologically, your brain has just been cemented. It's not like someone can't quit smoking at 60 years old. You can change a habit but how much significantly more difficult does it take? Think of hard cement. You can change the sidewalk once it's been hardened, but how much more work does it take? You need a jackhammer. You’ve got to clean it out, then you have to put it back. You have to repave it and do the whole thing again. By that time when a paver does a sidewalk or sees someone wrote their name in it, do they ever end up changing it? They just accept it, “This is as good as it gets for me. That's how it is.”
I wish somebody told me that it's not about the grade. It's about your developing habits, neurological habits about how you operate on a daily basis and how you set time aside to get things done. These were things that I didn't understand. That's why I would tell my young self now, “You're going to send yourself down a trajectory on how you operate. I know that right now this might not seem important to you but how do you want to operate? Do you want to be the best at whatever? I don't care if it's art, science, math, history, sports or money. How do you want to operate on a daily basis? Apply that to your school life. Get the grades because it's not about the biology and knowing what a mitochondria is. It's about how did you obtain that information, learn and then commit that information to memory and then the grade is the result of your process.
Dustin
You do a lot of events and you interact with thousands of teens and kids. I think back to when I was in school and now, after crazy amounts of personal development and journey and I 100% agree with you. Are the kids receptive to this message that you give to them at camps or one-on-one or however you do it?
JP
Yes, it’s a fact. What I make sure they understand is this is a fact. You'd say, “What would I teach my fifteen-year-old self?” Our events go anywhere from two, three or four days. When I built the event, I didn't think about what I would like to teach you. I don't know these kids. I’ve never met them before. My avatar was me at fifteen. I said, “What would I need to say and how would I need to say it for you to get through to me?” I wrote this whole event where like, “What would I teach my fifteen-year-old self if I had two days or four days to seat with the fifteen-year-old me?” and say, “Here's what I would teach me.” That's how I taught the event, so one thing I realized is facts. I need the facts because people think that kids are irrational but they're not. The rational part of their brain has been fully developed. They need to see how it makes sense. They're very rational. When I talk about the brain, I show them the science. This is scientific fact now and this hasn't been available to us when I was in high school. This is only new, over the years that we learned the development of the brain when it comes together.
It wasn't until 1947 that the word teenager was used in a publication. I think it was 1942 or 1947. Before that, you were a child and then all of a sudden you became an adult. It wasn't until years later that there was this thing called a teenager. Now, teenagers are different and we don't know what their deal is, but it's just the brain continues to develop. We used to think it was 21 but now more evidence is showing that the connectivity between sections of the brain goes all the way up until you're in your mid-20s. I don't use that information against them. I tell it to them. I don't say, “Now that I know that, how can I teach them?” I say, “By the way, check out what I learned about your brain.” Don't do what I'm telling you to do. I want to make sure that you clearly understand that your habits are being formed right now. It's either going to make your life significantly easier later or significantly more difficult. Can you wait later to start reading books and start learning how to study? You can but it's going to be so much harder.
I use the example of someone like Michael Phelps. He retired at one point. I remember watching an interview when he retired where he said, “I'm retiring because I've spent 27 years in my life, seven days a week in a pool. I'm over it.” He ended up coming back and going to the Olympics. I didn't have a conversation with him and I don't know exactly what the reason is, but a lot of athletes sometimes don't know what to do because they're so used to training that much. We might not be professional swimmers, we might not have done that our whole lives. It might sound crazy for you and I too get in a pool for seven days a week six to seven hours a day. That's crazy to us. For someone like him, it's crazy not to because he did it from such a young age it became a habitual thing.
Dustin
What do you tell parents that maybe has you as their kid? I’m not going to say problem child, but you were on the path to not graduate. What are some of the signs to look for without being militant, without being in their face? We understand the Millennials and younger hate being told what to do. How do you motivate them to get them back on a different track or a different path?
JP
The very first thing I do with any kid is I ask them what they want. Kids think that their parents want them to do something because their parent wants them to do it. Their teachers want them to do something because their teacher wants them to do it. They're like, “What about me? What about what I want? I want to do what I want. You're telling me what you want me to do but that's not what I want to do.” I ask them what they want, “What is it that you want? What can I help you get what you want? I don't care what anybody has told you you should want. What do you really want?” I believe that the process of getting what you want in any area of your life is the same. It doesn't matter what they want. I'm teaching the process anyway and that's one thing I would tell parents is praise them on their process, not on the result. When a kid has a great game and they win but the kid didn't play well, talk about their process, how do they practice that week? Even if they lose, you support them just as much.
There's too much emphasis placed on winning and losing especially in society nowadays and letting them know that it's okay. The first thing I would talk about parents with is asking them what they want. If they can't give you that answer, helping them figure that out. Not what you want for them but what they want. If they can finally come to a place where they think that you're helping them to get what they want, they're going to listen to you. Let's be honest, they're not always receptive. There's going to be times when you're going to try to have this conversation with them and they're not open to it. You have to realize that when they get emotional and they react, that's because the emotional part of their brain is in full force and the logical part of their brain hasn't caught up yet. That's a scientific fact. Kids are going to be emotional. We can't buy into that emotion. We have to stay level, let them snap off, they're going to do whatever. We have to stay level because this is what's going to happen. One day your kid's going to come to you, if we're talking specifically about money and they're going to need money.
Now is you're opening. They need something that they want and you say, “Do you want me to help you get that? Do you not only want me to help you get that thing, but do you want me to help you make sure you can always get the things that you want?” We're asking questions about what they want, not telling them what to do. That's the biggest issue is parents are telling kids what to do and it's not that the parent is wrong. It's that they're telling them what to do as opposed to giving them the information to let them make the decision for themselves and then being there to catch them when they fall. That's the approach that I've taken. I was like, “The kids asked me, ‘What should I do?’” “I don't know. Here's the good, here's the bad. What do you think you should do? I think I would make this mistake or I think I would make this positive choice, whatever.”
As a parent, as a caring adult, I'm there to catch them when they fall. I would tell parents it's about asking them what they want and then explaining to them, “Here's what people do who get what they want and here's what people do who don't. What do you think should you do?” Being there to support their choice. Then when they mess up, let's say they go and spend all their money, “Would you remember that last conversation that we had? You chose this one.” Not scolding them because they didn't do it. Being there and talking through decisions and helping them make educated decisions as opposed to emotional ones.
Dustin
At what age can we start questioning this process? Is ten too young or is seventeen too late? What's the ideal?
JP
As far as the conversation, they have to be able to have the conversation with them. The very first thing and the basis around financial conversation, I believe from what I've learned and what I've studied. From what I've applied working with many different teenagers over the years, thousands of teenagers, is if you think about it, we're all starting the wrong way. What's the very first thing a kid puts money into, the youngest age possible? Not candy but what did they put money into? It’s a piggy bank. From a neurological, a habitual sense, kids are taught from the youngest age to take the money and put it in one place. Then what do they do with the money in their piggy bank?
Dustin
They either save it or they spend it.
JP
Saving is just waiting to spend it. They take the money and they put it in a piggy bank from the youngest age. What most adults do with their money when they get it? Where do they put it? In the bank. They put it in the bank, they save it up in their bank and then what do they do with it? They sit on it or they spend it. They're doing exactly what they were taught from the youngest age possible. They think, “That's what I was taught.” It's what you've been neurologically programmed to do, buy a piggy bank. Some go for a piggy bank to maybe a shoe box then they get a bank account. That's what most people do with their money is they save it and then they eventually spend it. They save it up to spend it. What I would do first if you are someone working with someone from the youngest age possible, and then this goes into how we have the conversation with the ten-year-old or a twelve-year-old, the first thing that I would do is I would teach them the four buckets system.
I have no affiliation with this company but there's a great thing on Amazon. If you go on Amazon and look up a money-savvy piggy bank, there's a piggy bank that has four sections. There are many different companies that I've looked for. When I studied what wealthy people would tell their kids, one of the first things is to separate your money into three or four areas: spending, saving, investing and giving back. You have a kid from the youngest age and they can be one or two years old. They have no idea why they're doing it, just like they have no idea why they're putting money in a piggy bank. The first thing you teach them is, “When you get money, put it in all four sections.” You start that way. Put it in all four because it's too advanced to tell them how much should go in each one yet. We get there when they're around eight or nine years old. If you have a kid from the youngest age, you just had a baby, get them one of those piggy banks. You don't need to buy a formal piggy bank. You can get four jars and label them spending, saving, investing and giving back.
You can do this at home with leftover jars from jelly or something. Once you have that established with your kids as they get older and they say, “Mom, I want to buy this thing.” We say, “Let's go get your piggy bank. Which section do we take this money out of?” They start asking questions. “Why do I take it out of the spending section?” “Because that's for the little purchases. If you want to save up to buy a video game, that's going to come out of the savings bucket.” Then they're going to get to a point where they say, “What if I don't have enough?” What's happening is they're asking questions because they need something. As you get older, you start to teach them something. There's a great quote in the book called The Richest Man in Babylon. It is one of the most important financial books I would have a child read first or a young kid that can start to read and you as a parent. I would definitely recommend reading this book. One of the quotes is, “10% of all I make is mine to keep.” That's at a minimum if you taught a kid from eleven, twelve, thirteen. Now, that you've been talking to them about how this all works, and you've been talking to them about spending, saving, investing and giving back. Maybe at Christmas, they buy a toy for someone else just so they learn that process.
What happens is you teach them that and they say, “10% of all I make goes into my investing bucket.” One day they're going to ask you, “How do I make this money grow?” As opposed to you being a parent who has been forcing them to do better things with their money, you're an adult who's trying to help them get what they want, not what you want them to want. You're a person saying, “Since you're asking me, let me show you how real estate investing works. Let me show you how stocks work. Let me show you how compound interest works.” It's not you saying, “You should start doing better things with your money.” It's you answering questions for them. Now that they've had this piggy bank and at times they've had money and at times they haven't, they're going to start asking you questions about you. You're answering questions as opposed to telling them what to do.
Dustin
This is so timely for me. I’ve got two young boys and I have been asking people like, “What are you telling them? How do you get your kids WealthFit essentially?” No one has said this and it makes so much sense. They're young and so the piggy bank thing is a great. I remember reading a T. Harv book and they talked about the jars and doing that. I hadn't put it together. What else are you telling kids one-on-one or at camps about financial literacy?
JP
One of the first few things is explaining to them like a game of Monopoly. When you play Monopoly, first we don't know how all the pieces work. We talk about the gross domestic product and what that means; inflation and what that means. The reason a lot of people save their money is because when they save their money, they see their bank account growing. They see their bank account grow from $10,000 to $10,500 to $11,000. They’re like, “I'm making money. I'm winning. I'm doing great. I’m putting money aside. Things are going well.” Then everyone always seems to wonder why they don't have enough money later. None of them had looked at their bank account and their percentage that they were going up versus inflation for example. Over 30, 40, 50, 60 years that's a big separation.
First, we talked about what it is? How does it work? Here’s what a gross domestic product is, here's what interest means, here’s what APR means. Here's what inflation and then return on investment. Once we've had this gross versus net, what does that mean? A lot of people think even now, although they know, they still consider spending money based on their gross income, not their net income. I'm talking net like after taxes. I know over the years I've had tax problems when I first started making money because no one told me this. I'm going to start spending this money, then at the end of the day, “Why am I so short?” We go over that and then we go over return on investment. This is what makes this financial education global. This is what makes it a global thing that you could tell any kid in any country about financial education.
Every time you take money out of your pocket, it has a return on investment. You get a return on your money every time you use it. Let's say we put aside food and drink because you have to eat. You need to put the money into that and it's a return on investment in your body, so you could calculate that. I go to a kid and I say, “Everybody, write down the last thing you spent money on.” We've already talked about inflation, we’ve already talked about how a bank account grows versus how much inflation grows and how different that is. 0.001% versus 3%, 4%, 5% inflation. Kids start to see, “I'm losing my money.” I say, “Let's look at what you do get money. How do you get better interest rates because right now you're getting them, you just don't know it?” They're like, “What do you mean?” I say, “Everyone, write down the very last thing you spent money on aside from food or drink.”
They think and a lot of times kids write down sneakers or a sweatshirt. I say, “You bought this sweatshirt and how much was it?” Let's say they say $60. I say, “How long have you had it before?” They may say a couple of weeks. I say, “If you were to sell it now, how much money would you get back for it?” They think about it and we come up with a number maybe $40 because they’re not going to pay full price. I've shown them how to calculate return on investment. Net profit over 100 of total investment times 100, what percentage do we get? Then they get a return on investment. That's negative 25% or something if I sat down and did the math. I go, “The longer you have the sweatshirt, does it go up in value or down in value?” Then they go, “Down in value.” I say, “That return on investment becomes even more negative.” Then I show them the line graph that was first we graphed what a savings account would look like, then we graph what inflation would look like and they're all going up. Let’s say inflation going up more than your savings account. Then I graph where negative 5% return on investment would be. It sounds like a simple graph, but it gives them a visual and they look at it and I go, “Don't tell me you don't have money because of where you grew up or where you come from or the color of your skin or because you're a man or a woman.” Do I get people having different challenges? Absolutely, but it has nothing to do with you making money.
That's the theme I have all weekend is nothing I teach, nothing I go over has anything to do with where you come from, if you grew up rich or poor, the color of your skin, if you're an immigrant or not, if you're a man or a woman or your sexual orientation. It has to do with when you get money, what do you do with it? When we go over that, we show that line graph and then they get to return on investment. We go over the overall concepts and ideas and facts that they need to know about the economy and how that works. Then we talk about return on investment. They go, “How do I get a better return on investments?” “Since you're asking,” and then I can give them that information.
Dustin
What drives you to share this? You could share this with adults, you could share this in many different forms. What do you think drives you to share this with teenagers?
JP
The biggest thing that drives me to share this with kids is I always hated when people said, “I wish I knew that in high school.” It bothers me because it's not that the information wasn't available, we just didn't know where to go and look. 20, 30, 40 years ago, it wasn't as readily available as it is now with the internet. Once I learned this stuff, once I started to succeed and started to make some money, I started to realize how much less pain I would have had to go through my life in times where I had no money. In times I was making great money and then lost it all. In times where I had great jobs and didn't have two nickels to rub together. Times that I was so stressed and people I couldn't help. Times I had to go to work when I would have rather spent that time with somebody else, whether it's a family member or something. I've realized that I can't change the mistakes that I've made in the past.
I was listening to another podcast and somebody on that podcast used the quote and I loved this quote, “Sometimes our greatest pain can become our greatest purpose.” My greatest pain started from when I was a little kid. It started when I remember my mom being a single mom with three kids and struggling to get us by. She always did and she always made it happen. I remember looking at her, watching how stressed she was all the time. I was like, “This isn't a way for someone to live.” My mom and my family always grew up and not my whole family. I remember having a conversation with my mom and it was the whole, “The rich get richer. They're the ones that make all the money.” Can they get richer? “Yes.” I realized later that if she had understood things prior to having kids when she was in high school. By the time she had them whether she got divorced or not, she would have been financially educated. She wouldn't have had to go do those things. She would have been less stressed. We would have had an education, we would have grown up with more financial education. We would have had less hardship.
I take all the pain that I've had at times of not having money and being stressed financially. All the personal development issues that I didn't understand and as opposed to feeling sorry for myself. As opposed to thinking that this is a problem, I see it as an opportunity to take all that hurt, turn it into passion and then give it to these teenagers. I can't change everything that's going to happen in their lives. I can't stop every hardship from coming on. I make sure that they know that but if I can take away one, that's a huge “W.” That's a huge win. If I could take away one moment that will allow them to get to their best life, three or four years sooner than they would have, how much better is their life overall on the compound effect of that? It’s exponential.
Dustin
I was thinking about that like your ripple effect. You may not even realize it because it's going to happen for future generations. I am curious about what you do realize? What is some of the impact or some of the things that you've seen, maybe stories that people have seen after engaging or working with you at the boot camps?
JP
I've had kids that come back to my event six or seven times. I have one kid that's come back to my event a few times. It's pretty interesting because now his mom was telling me a story about how he was working at a restaurant. He said this guy was talking about these new shoes that he bought and he was like, “I bought these new shoes.” The kid that's been to my event looked at him and like second nature was like, “How much were the shoes?” They were like $300 or $400. He said, “How much money do you have in your bank account?” The guy was like, “Not $300 or $400.” These kids are starting to ask more questions. They’re not just taking what people say and thinking that's the way to do it.
Another story is kids who have gotten older now and they're getting into real estate investing businesses. They're saying, “I'm going to start getting a real estate education,” from eighteen, nineteen years old. These kids are starting to put away their money. They're starting Roth IRA accounts. They’re understanding the value of a very small amount of money consistently over time is big things later. They're not being as worried about looking cool. They’re not being as worried about what everyone else is doing because the other thing I make sure I remind them of is, we always talk about that 1%. 1% of the world is wealthy, maybe at the most 5%.
If 100 people are telling you what to do with your money, how many of them are right? One or maybe five at the most if you're lucky. Teaching them these concepts or starting to get them to a point where they're starting to ask more questions. They're starting to run businesses. I've had kids reach out to me and say, “I decided to go to college but I also decided to major in Accounting. I've learned that financial education is one of the most important educations. If I understand accounting and I can do that as a job, but at the same time if I have my money coming in, I don't have to work for anyone else. I do it for myself.” They're starting to realize they have more control over their life.
Dustin
I understand you've been doing some stuff internationally with kids. Are the conversations any different?
JP
No. I started the event and we did our first international event in Jamaica. We're planning on doing more international events down there and in other countries. I teach my events down to the simplest process that can be applied to anyone, anywhere, from any background. When we started doing this event, I had so many people saying, “Isn't this different?” I almost let that creep into my head a little bit. I started to research what was different and as I went through research and I kept researching, it reaffirmed that it's not different. A return on investment is just a percentage. The denominations of money in Jamaica is different than it is in the United States, but the percentage ROI is not. That's the exact same thing. However, much money costs in Jamaica dollars to buy and sell something, ROI is exactly the same.
The concept of credit, like Jamaica doesn't even have it. They started building a credit system in the last few years. They barely even had a credit system. They're not technically doing things exactly the way the United States is, but credit is credit, leverage. The concept of good debt versus bad debt. I don't tell them what to do with their money. One thing that I don't do is I don’t say, “Go invest in this.” I don't give financial advice as far as, “Go buy this or go buy these stocks.” My recommendation if you want to get real estate investing advice, go find the best real estate investor in the country. I've done real estate but I'm not the best in the country and that's who I would learn from. If you want to learn how to do stocks, go find the best stock investor in the country. I teach them these in Jamaica there's an inflation rate. There's a GDP. All those things like there are taxes, how it's taxed. That's a technical thing that we can go over but it doesn't change that. If they want to learn how to do taxes, go find a good tax person. Find someone who knows what they're doing. Learn the process. The process is exactly the same no matter where I take it, no matter what country or what kid. It doesn't matter.
Dustin
Some say that the system is broken. How our parents and grandparents, essentially their parents, grew up was you go to college, if you went to college. If you could do that, you go to school and then work at a job for 40 years and you get the gold watch. The new flavor of that is this conversation about college. There's this gig economy now. Kids are more aware than ever before. I feel parents and from mine as well is what they grew up with is all they know. They want the best for us. The question is what's your stance on college? How do you tackle this question when we live in a world now where Google doesn't even care about your paper résumé anymore? What advice are you giving? What’s your commentary on that?
JP
It's funny I saw the Google thing came out and they're like, “We don't need a college degree.” I'm sure a lot more companies are going to start doing that. People are going to be eliminating that. That's going to be almost universal pretty soon. First of all, I have to state that the people who are saying, “Don't go to college, college is bad,” are as bad as the people who are saying to go to college. That's the same issue. The thing that we need to do first is to ask someone what they want. When they say, “Should I go to college? Right now, we're saying college is bad, don't get into student loan debt.” What if I want to be an attorney? I have to go to college. What if I want to be a doctor? I have to go to college. We're immediately going the opposite way. We've almost come full swing. We were saying everyone needs to go to college and now we're saying everyone doesn't. We're as bad as the people who were saying that. What I always do first, what is it that you want?
Let's talk about that. College has even more benefits than just getting the degree to be a law student. You learn about being on your own. It's a little hybrid because you're on your own but you’re also with a bunch of other kids who are going through the same thing, the relationships that you meet at college. Personally, I didn't go. They wouldn't let me in. Those were opportunities that I missed because I have a lot of friends now that have relationships with kids that they went to college with. They're all growing up to do these great things. If they were never in college, they would have never met those people. What I say is it's not about going to college or not going to college. That's the wrong conversation.
What do you want based on what you want? Let's reverse engineer that. Is college one of the things that you need to get there? What's your path? What is it you want to do great? Do you want to be an attorney? College is important, we've got to go. They're great. It's not about whether you want to go to college or not? It's about how bad do you want that thing that you want and is college part of that process of achieving that? I get frustrated when people say, “Don't go to college, college is bad.” They're now officially as bad as the people who are telling you to go to college. My take is to ask them what they want. Making sure that you guide them on how to get there. College could be there or it might not be.
Dustin
This reminds me of an episode and it was around the idea of questions. My big takeaway that I want the WealthFit Nation to understand whether or not you have kids, is be a better facilitator of questions. Not telling people what to do but asking questions and guiding them. That's the big thing I hear screaming in my ear is doing that and magic can happen.
JP
I get it as parents. For the parents here and the caring adults in here, if you're an aunt and an uncle, when you're working with your kids, you're so emotionally attached to their results that you're like, “Do what I tell you to do because I'm right and I know I'm right.” The thing is, parents, you are right. I'm not saying that you're not. Some kids are more receptive than others. I don't know your kids, but that's not generally what gets through to a teenager is to keep telling them what to do. Because we're so emotionally attached as parents, we need to tell them what to do because we know we're right and the last thing we want is to see our kids hurt.
We don't want to see them fail, “I want to tell you what to do so that you don't fail.” Now that you’ve done that, they go the other way because they feel it's about you and not about them. If you can learn how to ask questions and I know it's going to be easier said than done. Let them fail while they're still at home. We want them to fail while they're still at home and they can come home, and we can hold them. We can tell them how they can get better and how they can improve. If we don't let them fail financially while they're in school and we don't give them their education. Then they fail when they're 25, 30, 40 years old, we're not around anymore. They might have moved. They’ve lived somewhere else and some of you are still attached and you’ve got those kids that used to work with but how much less receptive are they to your feedback now. Letting them fail is important and doing it while their home is so important but guiding them on the process is the most important.
Dustin
I want to move us into WealthFit round, which essentially is rapid fire. I’ve got some questions and I want to get into your brain. Number one, what's been your most worthwhile investment?
JP
As far as a physical asset, my most worthwhile investment is in education. It's been learning about money. We're good at so many things. You think how much time and money you have spent? Let’s say you grew up playing football. How much time and money did you spend playing football? How much time did you spend doing that? My most worthwhile investment has absolutely been my education. Learning financial education, never stopping that journey and always putting my money into my head essentially has been my best investment.
Dustin
What's that investment that you don't talk about? Maybe one that you'd like to forget?
JP
What comes to my mind is when I did make an investment in something and I didn't take action on it. For example, I've worked at a lot of youth speaking coaches. I’ve work with them on things to do in my life, in my business and in how to get through to kids. Sometimes I've made financial investments to get that education and didn’t necessarily apply it right away. The thing I don't want to talk about is how much time I've wasted not applying the information I had been given because information without application is irrelevant.
Dustin
Have you heard of this term shelf-help?
JP
I have not.
Dustin
It’s self-help but essentially you put it on the shelf and you never touch it. I’ve done this. I know exactly what you’re talking about.
JP
Any time I've done that and not applied it.
Dustin
What is your guilty pleasure spend? When you're rock and rolling, you want to treat yourself and you want to splurge, what is that?
JP
I do like to dress nice. I do like to look good. I'm a bargain shopper. I grew up with women my whole life. Even when I do that, I'm looking for sales. I'm a bargain shopper, I learned that. The other thing is I like to eat well and I like to cook. Things are going well financially, sometimes I'll go to the store. I’ll buy all the best ingredients. I'll make a family meal although my family is on the East Coast and I live in San Diego now. I like to have a little family meal together, eat well, cook and do the whole night.
Dustin
You got me hungry here, so I've got to ask what is that nice meal, that treat meal? What are you cooking?
JP
A lot of Italian food. You get some good steak, some appetizers. You put together three or four courses. We don't eat just one meal. It's like a marathon, a little Sunday family dinner.
Dustin
I'm very curious about your success routine. Do you have any secret rituals or things that you do to get yourself going?
JP
This is something I've wanted to get better at over the years. I feel a lot of times when we're busy, we just get up and we start our day. Time is running out, we’ve got to get to meetings. We're busy, we had things on our mind. The first thing I try to do when I wake up is I make myself a good breakfast. I've learned good breakfasts and some water. Drinking water and hydrating is the very first thing that I do because I've seen my body and my energy level throughout the day. I also always make sure I have time to exercise. Diet and exercise whether things are going well or going bad. If they're going bad, the first thing I anchor to is diet and exercise. The first thing I anchor to is, “What am I putting in my body and in my mind?” I try to eat well in the morning. I try to work out and try to read something every day.
Dustin
When you do get overwhelmed, what do you do to get yourself out of it?
JP
I have this quote that I use in my events that's developed over the years and it's, “In the absence of goals is the presence of chaos.” The only time that I'm ever overwhelmed is when I'm not 100% clear on what it is that I want. If you know exactly what you want, although it might be tough, although you might be facing what might seem like an insurmountable challenge. When you know exactly what you need to do to overcome that challenge, you're not worried about how challenging it is. You're just doing the thing. Any time anyone feels overwhelmed in any area of their life is because they're not clearly identifying what they want. If you clearly knew what you wanted, you could reverse engineer that back to a daily step. Anytime I feel overwhelmed, what I do is I stop. I re-evaluate, “What are my goals? What is it I'm trying to achieve?” I go right back to my North Star, my goal and then I say, “What's the next step? What's the one thing I could do now that gets me at least a little closer to that goal?”
Dustin
What is your defining moment? What I mean by that is you're going in life and you're on a certain trajectory but there comes a point where you make a key decision. Looking back, you have that awareness and clarity. What was that crucial or pivotal moment in your life where things have dramatically changed where you are now?
JP
There were three moments in one. There have been three different times in my life where I was very confused on what it was that I wanted. I was back home in Boston. I was living at home. I would jump on an airplane. I would take a one-way ticket to a place I've never been and I would figure it out when I got there. I did it when I was eighteen. I moved to Washington State. I was living at home. I wasn't sure what to do with my life. I knew the environment I was in wasn't getting me there. It's not that I didn't have supportive people around me. Sometimes you’re home, you’re around all your friends and you do what you've always been doing.
I had a friend of my family called me one day and asked me what I was up to. He said, “You're not doing too much. You can come live at my house in Washington State.” I said, “Hold on really quick.” I hung up the phone, booked a one-way ticket and took off a week later. I did that three different times. Eventually, I moved home again. Then I moved to Costa Rica on a one-way ticket to a country that I've never been, with the language I didn't speak, without even a place to live at the time. I got down there and figured it out. I ended up coming home and then I did the same thing. What I would do is I would step outside my comfort zone and then I moved to California. I kept doing that any time I was in what I felt was an environment that I felt like I wasn't growing.
I would completely throw myself outside of my comfort zone. I did that on three separate occasions and that led me to move to California, which ended up leading me to meet Than Merrill, this company FortuneBuilders, which is a real estate education company. Although every time I was home, I had a great résumé. I was an executive for a national marketing company at twenty years old. I was moving up ladders quickly. I got laid off twice before 25. No matter how fast I was moving up, sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. Companies go down. I met Than and Paul Esajian of FortuneBuilders and that was the final piece of the puzzle. I kept throwing myself outside of my comfort zone. I kept changing my environment until I finally found an environment that was the environment I needed to grow into the person I wanted to be.
Dustin
J.P., I appreciate what you're up to. I appreciate and I’m grateful that you're on the show and the work that you're doing more importantly. If folks want to keep tabs with what you're up to, where can they find you?
JP
You can find me on social media, @JPServideo. You can go on Amazon, Than and I coauthored a book called The High Schooler’s Guide to Money. You can plug into that book if you have the book. That's got a couple of resources in the back where people can find us. There are a lot of different ways you can reach out. My website, JPServideo.com is simple enough. Reach out on the book on Amazon and social media would be the best ways to connect.
Dustin
J.P., thanks again. I appreciate having you.
JP
Thank you very much. It has been a pleasure. Thank you, Dustin.

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