From time to time I'm asked why I love this industry. If I'm being fully transparent, it is because it reminds me of battle drill 1A or "reacting to contact”, meaning someone is shooting at you. Your response is not an accident. You train for it and envision it thousands of times. The psychological reaction to the events of life whether they are health driven or market driven are not much different. You are only as prepared as the, planning you have done, the rehearsals of that plan, and the trust you have in the person leading you.
This last month marked the 14th anniversary of graduating Ranger School for me. I’ve shared before how my Dad always encouraged me to think ahead, but Ranger School was the first place in life where I realized that despite the obstacles in my way, that I was really good at planning ahead. Listen in for more of my reflections about the school and how those lessons apply to clients today.
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JOSH KLOOZ, CFP®, MBA
1780 Hughes Landing | Suite 570
The Woodlands, TX 77380
Music by bensound.com
Hello and welcome in again to the wisdom and love podcast. Thank you again for joining me. This past week, uh, my wife sent me a picture, um that reminded me that, uh, it's the 14th anniversary of my ranger school graduation. So that started to be thinking, naturally, about all the you know, that time period and and how it was instrumental in the process of how I view leadership and ultimately it's how it still influences my thinking to this day. And uh, I thought, you know, hey, for you know I just indulge me for a minute, but there's lots of overlaps and in how that process applies to what I do today. So, for those of you that may be unfamiliar, you know ranger school is a 62 day course. Uh, that's designed to induce uh physical exhaustion, mental exhaustion and and force you to kind of continue planning, executing and uh taking the next right step. Um, you know, as far as small unit tactics and infantry tactics are concerned, um, frankly, I still think I could lay in. Uh, you know I hasty ambush um in my sleep and uh, I still think that planning a raid after dark was sleep that deprived people is probably one of life's most interesting uh endeavors. But I entered the school thinking that I would learn a lot about tactics, techniques, procedures and things that I thought would prepare me well for Afghanistan and, to be clear, I did. But what I value more to this day is what that course taught me about myself. Those of you that know me well know that I come from a reformed theological tradition, which tells me that, basically, I am uh, deep down, a very lost, uh sinful and terrible person. Um, in ranger school can confirm that, uh, to be sure, uh, you know, I found, frankly, that I, and most of humans, are addicted to comfort, right? Um, you know, when you're tired, when you're hungry, um, or when you're in pain, uh, you tend to make very poor decisions and very selfish decisions, and you're shocked at some of the things that crossed your mind, right? Um? And if you, if you disagree with me about uh being addicted to comfort, go camping and just forget something and see what what that does to your psyche. So what is uh this all got to do with financial planning, you're asking? I'm going to share with you just a few observations that came to mind as I thought through, uh, the things that I learned in ranger school and how they apply to being a wealth advisor and financial planning, uh, as a whole. The first principle that that comes to mind is what you think about becomes clearer. So, uh, when you're cold, when you're wet, when you're tired, uh, when you're hungry, um, you tend to start thinking about all the obstacles, all the things that are going wrong, and before you know it, you're kind of spinning into this vortex of your own troubles mentally and you start thinking things that that aren't helpful, and then you start worse. Yet Sometimes you'll see somebody like say those things out loud, uh, and you're just like oof, you know it's, it's a, it's a cancer, and it's just not not a good thing. And so, as you go through that process, you start to realize that if I can just focus on the next thing that needs to be done, the next task that needs to be done, um, the next thing that I can control, things get better. Um, things are more within my control. Um, that little voice inside your head uh has to be coached, it has to be uh controlled. And you have to start thinking about what you can control and and taking positive, you know, just proactive steps towards that and get those little wins. Yeah, yeah, you have to think about what you're capable of and you can't let the end result overwhelm you or keep you from making decisions. Ultimately, sometimes you had to just hang on for another mile. You had to hang on for a few more minutes, just one more day. Don't think about the whole process, as it were. You had to have the habit of just looking past maybe some of your present circumstances that you couldn't control, and look at the next task that you could plan for and control. When you think about this within the realm of somebody's financial life or guiding them financially, it's not much different. All around us, I believe, there are people trying to sell us doom, gloom and catastrophe. Just if you'll give them their attention, they'll sell that to you. At the end of the day, they're kind of like a broken clock. They may actually be right twice a day or periodically, but they're just as surprised about them being right as everybody else is. Keep that in mind. Getting clients to plan for their life that they want, I believe, is far more important than trying to help them avoid hypothetical catastrophe that's beyond their control In a world that's hell bent on persuading them that the apocalypse is around the corner. I think it's far more important and, frankly, the secret to this whole process is helping them avoid that zinging and zagging with every news cycle and just making that plan, charting their course. Because what you realize over time, and what I'm driving at, is that when you review your own plan and you review your own circumstances, you realize that the news cycle doesn't really affect you. It doesn't merit your attention, it doesn't deserve your emotional energy, much less your attention. The more quick you are to make a plan, stick to it and stick to it, the problem that may be out there isn't all consuming, because you know that to a large degree, most of those problems that are a part of the news cycle, they don't affect you. But again, the choice is yours, just like it was for me in Ranger School. The choice is typically in your court. Do you want the problem to become all consuming, even though it may not affect you, or you want the solutions to become more clear based off of how you've done the prior planning necessary? The next piece that I think I learned from my experiences in Ranger School are that planning always precedes execution and results, especially that stress testing and rehearsals are a part of that process as well. So it may sound like a small thing. But stress, testing and rehearsals are a friend like no other, especially in the military. It's drilled into us that you rehearse constantly and you realize who's been kind of giving lip service to the whole plan and not really paying attention. But everyone has to understand their plan or their process or their part of the process. They have to understand everybody else's capabilities, limitations and expectations in order for the operation to work seamlessly. It just has to be part of the process. A plan can look really great on paper, but then there's that moment where you realize you haven't slept in three nights, you're cold, you're wet, you're hungry, you're tired and, frankly, things look different under night vision green than they do on a map and you're like oh boy, how did I get here? Life just looks different. Those that succeed and those that don't ultimately are defined by whether they can just take the next step and take the next logical step forward in their progression. But the only way that you're able to do that is that you surround yourself with the people that are able to help you, because there's going to come a point at which you're a little bit overwhelmed and you're like shoot, what do I do next? And then you've got somebody right on your left hand or your right hand that you've kept close to you in the planning process that says, okay, hey, I know that's not quite what we wanted, but here's what we're going to do next. In your financial life it's not much different. You want to have CPAs, estate attorneys, wealth advisors that are all sitting at the same table helping you, guiding you and making sure that they're all seeing the same picture. The dirty little secret about most of the advice industry is that it's done. Most of the planning is done in a siloed fashion. There aren't very many wealth managers out there or financial advisors out there that have actually sat alongside your estate attorney or even met your CPA and worked along with your CPA, and so no rehearsals have been done in reality for your financial life. So it's incredibly important that you walk through those rehearsals every year and say, hey, has something changed in my personal life that affects my estate plan? Is my cash flow tax efficient? Is my investment portfolio tax efficient? Those are really important things to keep in mind. So the last piece that I'll probably talk through is to put it bluntly and modally is discipline and consistency. You learn are far greater than what appearances may be so. When you first enter Ranger school, you think you're going to be doing all those cool things like repelling, jumping out of rain, out of airplanes, conducting raids at night, so on and so forth. And after going through Ranger school and through that experience, you know what I look back on and I appreciate even more Somebody who can do just the basic things predictably, that person who simply just does what's in front of them to do and does it with brilliance and excellence. And predictability is far greater importance to me than you could possibly imagine. Cool forces you to be thankful for simple things like accurate supply reports that get you the right amount of food and water when you need it. You never again take for granted someone who can land navigate in tough terrain. I'll literally never forget the first time that someone tried to deadwreck in mountains in the mountain phase of Ranger school, and that was one hellacious night of going up and down, and so I can firmly attest that just because it's called a foothill, it doesn't mean that you should go over it with, you know, 90 to 100 pounds of food, water and ammunition on your back. I wouldn't, wouldn't recommend trying it. I can also tell you that there are people that I entered the course with that I thought I would depend on. You know they just they seemed like they had the physical skills and traits necessary that you know like, wow, that's, that's somebody that I'm going to definitely depend on. And it wasn't the case. There were also people who physically didn't seem like they would be up to the challenges as much as someone else would. You know readily, you know just basically what they had been through, but their mind was so sharp and they were just such a dependable, disciplined human being that I would walk over broken glass to this day to help those, those people. Because they were dependable, they were where they needed to be, when they needed to be there, and they they were some of the least selfish people that I've ever met. Their mind never stops, they're always thinking ahead, they're always mission oriented and they're critical thinkers. So you translate this to the wealth advice industry. Often times you know that the clients that, or prospects that that have a you know, 30 or maybe even 40 times net worth of what their lifestyle expense are. They're more likely to drive a Ford than they are for a hearty. They might have a Costco membership rather than a private plane. They fly business class, right. So the reason they do that is because their vision is far greater than their lifestyle expense or their lifestyle goals. Right, they're more set on building something than having an appearance of you know. Whatever else the case may be, maybe they want to help their kids or their grandkids buy a business, they want to help people in their community. But back to that whole piece of you know that I mentioned earlier that discipline and consistency is greater than appearances. There are a lot of people that have a far greater impact than you would ever imagine. When you finally read their tax return, it's one of the most humbling things that you can ever encounter. How does this translate to the wealth advice industry? Well, yes, there may be some Hollywood caricatures out there of what a wealth advisor might look like, but at the end of the day, most of the people that I respect in this industry deep down are our nerds, right, if it wasn't for our wives, we wouldn't have any sense of fashion whatsoever, and our idea of a hobby is that we get to go to work because we love this industry and, frankly, the only way that we really unwind is, you know, when we find whatever it is our kids or grandkids are doing. We go do that because we want to invest in people. When we get done investing in the market, good financial advisors typically are really annoyed by most news, not necessarily because it's inaccurate, but because it's completely unhelpful most of the time, and the questions that we would have asked if we would have had, if that would have been our opportunity, are never asked right. But these people, these nerds, as I self-identified as are the people that you want beside you when those important financial decisions need to be made for your family and your family's future. They get it because this is their life's work. So just like going into Ranger school and me thinking, oh well, somebody is 6'4 and 220 and they're going to be a strong person If they're mentally weak, right, it's not the case. So someone that may have all the trappings of what you think or Hollywood thinks someone in the financial advice industry is may not be the best fit for you. It just depends. So thank you for indulging my trip down memory lane. I think I'll leave things there for now, but if you've got any questions, any thoughts about the above, please let me know. Also, please like and rate the podcast, as this helps me reach and serve additional listeners and, as always, know that I'm wishing you and your family continue truth, beauty and goodness in the road ahead. Have a great day.