Interview with Garrett Gunderson
Building Wealth and Keeping More of It with Garrett Gunderson
Most of us are taught that investing our money in Wall Street and waiting 30 years is the key to a profitable retirement. Well, it turns out, 95% of Americans are not financially independent by age 65. If you want to learn what the other 5% are doing, today’s guest, Garrett Gunderson can show you the way.
For 20+ years, Garrett has helped people keep more of what they make – legally and ethically – by plugging financial leaks and finding cash that is rightfully theirs. He’s the author of the New York Times bestseller, Killing Sacred Cows and the Founder of Wealth Factory, which helps entrepreneurs build their wealth and keep it, no matter what happens in the market.
In this episode, Garrett shares his advice for navigating a financial future, in a time when our world seems progressively unstable.
You’ll learn why Wall St. will never make you rich, insurance strategies to preserve and grow your wealth, and the exit deal that allowed Garrett to create ongoing cash flow and achieve time freedom.
You’ll also hear how Garrett is using standup comedy to help people win the money game and design a life truly worth living.
Featured on This Episode: Garrett Gunderson
✅ What he does: Garrett Gunderson is Founder and Chief Wealth Architect of Wealth Factory, a lifelong entrepreneur, keynote speaker and a New York Times best-selling author of Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths That Are Destroying Your Prosperity. He has dedicated his life to educate and serve hard-working, honest business owners.
💬 Words of wisdom: We are on the precipice of the greatest wealth transfer in history. Times are complex – inflation, low interest rates, and overinflated markets are poised to rob decades of progress. It’s overwhelming and a little scary. But you can avoid getting caught up in this turmoil. My aim is to take a different approach and make money less intimidating, more accessible. To reach as many people as possible so they can thrive in these uncertain times.
Key Takeaways with Garrett Gunderson
- Turning a financial services career into a standup comedy dream.
- How to leverage insurance to preserve and grow your wealth.
- Why investing in Wall St. will never make you rich.
- Investing in yourself, your skill sets and your abilities.
- How to make more money by helping more people.
- Investing in cash-flowing assets
- The exit strategy Garrett used to create ongoing cash flow and achieve time freedom.
Garrett Gunderson – Preserve & Grow Your Wealth with Whole Life Insurance
Garrett Gunderson Tweetable“Unfortunately, people have been trained that their biggest asset is their job, and they are trading their life and time for that job. That job is never going to keep pace with inflation.” – Garret Gunderson Click To Tweet “Wall Street does not promote cash flow. They are training people to wait for 30 years in the hope that one day, some day, they can actually create cash flow.” – Garret Gunderson Click To Tweet
- Garrett Gunderson’s Website
- Garrett Gunderson on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | YouTube
- Wealth Factory
- Disrupting Sacred Cows: Revealing the Sacred Truths for a Life of Prosperity, Love and Legacy by Garrett Gunderson
- The Money Tree: The Roots & Fruits of Poverty & Prosperity
- What Would the Rockefellers Do?: How the Wealthy Get and Stay That Way … And How You Can Too by Garrett Gunderson
- What Would Billionaires Do?
- Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths That Are Destroying Your Prosperity by Garrett Gunderson
- The Risks Of Cash Value Life Insurance by Garrett Gunderson
- Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm by Verne Harnish
- Shooting The Sacred Cows Of Money by Robert T. Kiyosaki
- Principles: Life and Work
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Read the Full Transcript with Garrett Gunderson
Justin Donald: Well, what’s up, Garrett? I’m so glad to have you on the show. This is such a unique highlight for me because I just love who you are, your personality, the energy that you bring, so welcome.
Garrett Gunderson: Yeah, man, it’s good to be back together. I should have done this during COVID with you when people try to connect us because I was going to– before COVID hit, I had four, five, or six trips already on the books to go to Austin, and I had heard from people that I just like and respect, I got to meet Justin. And so, I was like, cool. And then COVID hit, and then I just disappeared, basically, in the writing comedy and this one-man show, and then finally came back up before I did a tour, and there you were in the front row supporting me fool out, man. It was awesome. And then thanks for making time the next day to have some lunch and hang out a little bit and catch up. So, I really appreciated it.
Justin Donald: Well, it’s my pleasure, and I got to tell you, it was really easy being in the front row at your show laughing because you’re really funny. You’ve got a great bit, and I love, number one, that your routine was awesome, but then you tried out new stuff, and some stuff just landed beautifully. And then other stuff, if you didn’t quite get the response that you wanted, you had so many friends in the audience, they’re like, oh, I’m going to work on this one. You were just so natural, so confident. I mean, my wife and I loved our time at your show.
Garrett Gunderson: She’s got a big laugh, so she’s always welcome in the front row, always welcome, man. I just had live two nights this last Friday and Saturday. And Friday, I had like a third of the room with my friends. Two-thirds were just there because the club– and got a standing ovation, felt really good. Well, the next night, the guy that opened for me, who actually is the one that I first opened for is like, that might have been your best night of comedy, but I didn’t feel that way because there was a couple with their arms folded, scowling the whole time. And I was like, should I let them know this is a comedy show? And I got a half-standing ovation, which is fine. I mean, any laughter and clapping is fine. And then the guy comes up, dude, that was your best show ever. And I listened to it on my home. I’m like, yeah, it actually was. But it’s amazing how just seeing a few people. So, it means a lot to have a great front row, that’s for sure.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And it’s got to be really fun, nerve-racking also, but fun knowing that your friends are in the audience in a lot of these shows. Luckily, you have friends all over. You’re so well-traveled. You’ve spoken all over the world, really all over the US, for sure. And so, it’s neat that you can go to all these cities and just have a star-studded cast of friends and family that show up to support you.
Garrett Gunderson: I think that it’s like these comedy clubs don’t fully understand it. So, for example, I did La Jolla Comedy Store. I’ve done it three times now. And the first time I went, Keith Yackey and Garrett White had half the crowd was their people because I put them both on stage. And so, we’re just dealing with high energy, excited to be there. They’re not just trying to escape from their life. And so, like, the owner comes up and he’s like, “Dude, I’ve never seen something like that. That was amazing.” And he’s attributing way more to it to me than it actually was because part of it’s just who you have in the audience.
So, then I came back, and my friend Matt Hubbard, who’s a pastor in Southern California, invited his church. And him and his and the other pastor, the church opened for me. And again, these people are standing up and clapping in the middle of the show, and it’s just so much energy. And so, I’ve definitely been spoiled. But then when I went to Boston, and they were just drunk out of their minds, it was not as fun of an experience, like it was so much more work for me than just having this high-energy, excited crowd, yeah.
Justin Donald: Yeah, you got to prove yourself. They are ready for you to make an entrance, and really impressive.
Garrett Gunderson: It’s a hard reputation, right?
Justin Donald: So, this is going to be likely one of your bigger shows that you’ve ever done. I think you’re out of town. What city are you in right now?
Garrett Gunderson: Daytona Beach right now in my hotel, I just was having a conversation with Deion Sanders because he was going up on stage and I was sitting in the green room and I think I could actually beat him in a race right now because he’s injured. It’s the only time I could probably do that. And he said he wanted to do five minutes of standup comedy, so it’s like on his bucket list. So, I think he would do great. But yeah, there’s a couple thousand people here that know me as the financial guy because they know my book, which used to be called What Would the Rockefellers Do?, now called What Would Billionaires Do?
So, it was the first time I’ve ever walked in to check into a hotel, and it took me 15 minutes, pictures, people coming up. But they know I’m doing comedy here, but they don’t know me as a comedian, so it’s going to be a fun experience, like fun experience.
Justin Donald: Yeah, you’re going to do a total flip flop on them. They think you’re going to give this financial wisdom, which actually you do a good job of giving some financial education through your humor. So, I’ve got to give you credit on that because your bit’s not just being funny, like it’s very clever and it’s very educational, which is cool, but 2,000 people is a lot of people to be doing standup for, that’s big leagues. I’m just really excited for you.
Garrett Gunderson: Last year, they had Sebastian Maniscalco, a couple of years before Kevin Hart. So, I’m definitely getting to play in a fun league here. One of the things that we’re doing with this education entertainment thing is we’ve just started filming YouTube videos where we’re showing clips from the comedy tour and whatever that financial concept is funny, then we actually start talking about the education behind it. And so, we’re in the middle of one that we did last week. And Amanda Stolba is my chief of staff, and she’s always kind of my co-host and guest. And at the end, she goes, “Hey, do you have any good financial books that you recommend?” And jokingly, I just name off the seven books I’ve written, right? And she goes, “And that’s all you have to recommend?” She goes, “Well, I have one.” And she goes, “The Lifestyle Investor.” And I go, “By Justin?” And she goes, “Yeah, yeah, how did you know him?” Like, “Well, I have the book, and I know Justin. I’m going to his podcast.”
So, she doesn’t know you through me, she knows you through her own research as she’s really trying to get her financial house and a place of everything we’re talking about. She’s looking for these outside people. I was like, well, great, I can endorse that one. Like, go for it. Read that book, jump into it, jump out to it. So, she ended up giving a couple of insights from the book to the viewers. That video wasn’t even released yet, but I thought you’d enjoy hearing about that.
Justin Donald: That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s a real nice surprise. I’m glad that the book is kind of out there. And it’s funny, you can probably fully understand this. This is new for me where you have this book that kind of has a life of its own. It’s out there, doing things, and you have no idea. I mean, I feel like I wrote it and I’m done and I get feedback all the time, people pouring in like, “Hey, I love this. This was impactful. This changed my life.” And that is very meaningful part of the reason why, I mean, a majority of the reason why I wrote it. But it’s crazy, the life that it has and the directions that it goes. And it’s like its own little living organism out in the world, and your books have had a similar impact on me. And so, I’m excited about that. In fact, if you’re willing, I’d love to dig in because you said the title of one of your books changed. And I own the copy of What Would the Rockefellers Do? So, I have that copy, my title is that, and now, it’s What Would Billionaires Do?
Garrett Gunderson: So, the background on the book is, first off, like I grew up in the financial business with insurance. From 1998 to 2005, I sold a lot of insurance. I was doing one-on-ones back then and hadn’t written a book or anything. And Killing Sacred Cows touches on it, but it didn’t really go into a lot of depth. And so, I was getting a lot of requests of like, what’s a practical strategy that anyone could do? Because a lot of people, after they read my stuff, like, that’s great. But now, where do I invest? Because a lot of what I’m doing is pointing out the mess and philosophically giving them some ideas.
And so, this book was when I first started writing it, it was very much just like how anyone can start with even 50 bucks a month and start saving as a place to store cash, get better returns on their savings account, but use it for other investments. It wasn’t like the best golden goose to create cash flow. It was just kind of a storage unit. And as I was writing it, I came across this article about the Vanderbilts and just how they decimated their wealth. And it was fascinating because I started thinking about what I’ve learned about the Rockefellers, and I started to research this with my team, and they were getting some really cool stories. And it turns out, as I was doing webinars because a lot of how I write as I speak it and I like to teach it and then I take what comes from a lot of that. And one of the people that work for the Rockefeller family was on that call. They’re on the webinar and they reached out and they actually said, “Hey, I think you’re spot on with what you’re teaching here. If you want more insight, I’d love to give it to you.”
And she became a client of Wealth Factory, and her name was Sheila and she was a CPA, and I’m interviewing her on all this kind of stuff. So, we released the book, which, by the way, the way the title really kicked in for me was Verne Harnish’s book, the Rockefeller Habits. And I like the book, I like the title. I was like, man, what would the Rockefellers do? Because I look like Jesus, so what would Jesus do? I’m like, what would the Rockefellers do?
So, we put the book out, it starts doing pretty well, and then we get this letter from an attorney for the Rockefeller family saying, “We have no issue. We take no issue with the content inside of the book. None of that has to change, but we actually own a financial firm, and you using our name to sell books is competitive. We would like you to change the name of the book.” In my head, I said, “What would the Rockefellers do? They’d beat me in court. So, I’m going to go ahead and change the name.” That was basically what happened, yeah.
Justin Donald: Well, it’s interesting because, like I get that aspect, but I wonder if they may be missing the bigger picture here. They’ve got free advertising for a book that is a monster success out in the industry that is passively just more brand recognition for them. I mean, it’s more empowerment. So, if I were them and clearly, I’m not, but if I were, I feel like I would want that, even if it were in competition, potentially. I mean, we don’t even know that that’s the case. But let’s just say that they lose whatever percentage to Wealth Factory, they’re still going to increase beyond that because of the advertising.
Garrett Gunderson: Right. Okay, if I’m approaching it, I would have said, “Hey, we’d like, if you’re going to use our name, to actually work a deal where we could put links to our firm and maybe even partner or do a licensing deal, like more collaboration versus competition.” So, what you’re saying makes a lot of sense to me. I mean, look, here’s a story. I come out with Killing Sacred Cows, it’s New York Times. It’s a pretty big book. A year later, and I guess I’ll get to some of the background on this, it’s fair.
So, one of the guys that ran the Rich Dad companies had heard about my book, and someone that was part of their overall organization was someone I knew. And they said, “Hey, would you be willing to send a box of Killing Sacred Cows for the executives at Rich Dad?” I said, “Yeah, that’d be awesome. I love Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That’s an honor.” So, I send it. And a year later, there’s a DVD that they put out called Shooting Sacred Cows. Disrupting Sacred Cows is the follow-up book that I just turned in before this interview started. So, I got my manuscript diamond in the hands of the publisher. We’ve got it coming out later this year.
But Shooting Sacred Cows, and mine’s the 9 Financial Myths, and Kiyosaki’s was the 8 Financial Lies. So, the first thing I did was I did send a legal letter to protect my intellectual property, but Justin, I wasn’t really looking to sue them or fight them. I was just looking to say, “Hey, I’m aware of what’s going on, and I want to let you know I care about my intellectual property.” Then I reached out to them personally and just said, “Hey, I don’t know everything you guys are planning on doing with this, but maybe there’s something we could do together.” And they promoted me three different times.
I flew out to Arizona, did an interview with Kiyosaki. I was on his podcast a couple of times, and then we did some promotions to their entire database. And actually, the guy that gave the green light to using Shooting Sacred Cows was like, “Yeah, we admit we just kind of ripped your stuff off but really liked it, it was pretty consistent.” I was like, “Alright, I’m cool with it. If we’re going to make some money together, it’s not a big deal.” And that was a much better situation than being upset with them for the rest of my life versus working together and doing something together.
Justin Donald: Yeah, and it turned out even cooler. I mean, just the opportunity to collaborate like that and do some things together, regardless of whatever financial upside there was or there wasn’t, that in itself is a great experience, a great story, a different angle than what you would have been able to experience otherwise. And to me, it’s like, what a great honor. I have people that are ripping off my book and saying, here’s the summary, buy mine on Amazon instead of buying the actual book. And someone’s like, I’ve had several people there like, you should send a cease and desist letter, and I’m like, no, I don’t care. It’s no big deal. Like they’re doing some extra advertising. I want more people to read it. They don’t have to read it from my own writing. I look at it like, I’m flattered if someone’s willing to do that, if someone’s willing to copy or whatever it is, that is flattering to me.
Garrett Gunderson: So, What Would the Rockefellers Do?, someone put out an audiobook before I had an audiobook out with my exact cover, but their names on it, and they were selling it. So, we did ask Amazon to stop selling that because I didn’t do What Would the Rockefellers Do? with Audible. I just did it on my own. I did Killing Sacred Cows with Audible, but I actually didn’t do it till 10 years after it was originally released. And now, the audiobook has more reviews by double than the actual physical book.
Justin Donald: Yeah, your audiobook is really good. I listened to your audiobook on that, and there were moments where, I mean, I was cracking up because you’re even funny from reading a book, like some of your stories and your– I mean, it’s great. It’s entertaining.
Garrett Gunderson: I have an audiobook that’ll come out sometime soon. We’ve done a limited release. It’s of another book that I’m working on that I’ve been working on for five years. It’s my book. It’s the book that I’m putting everything into, and I’ve released the audio to a few people just for feedback, and then since I’ve been doing comedy, so I think it’s a book that nobody plays on more than 1.0. Like some books got a 1.5, 2-time speed. I still can’t slow myself down, but I definitely just interject so much more personality and stories and all that kind of stuff. And so, that’s the key, right? Getting people engaged.
Justin Donald: That’s right.
Garrett Gunderson: And the thing that you do is you add so much value to people that if someone tries to copy you, it’s Mongolian plumbing. Have you ever heard of Mongolian plumbing?
Justin Donald: No.
Garrett Gunderson: So, this is something– because I’ve had a lot of clients that they get really upset when people steal their stuff, and I’m like, well, the Mongols were at war with Russia, and they go into this bathroom and they see that they could flush the toilet and they’re like, this is amazing. We need to take this toilet back and show our wives how cool this is. So, they steal the toilet. But when you steal the toilet, it doesn’t bring the plumbing along with it. And so, a lot of it is, it’s still surface, it’s not the depth of it. Like by the time someone copies your material, you’re already thinking of new levels of depth and creativity and possibility and personal experience because of your actual investing. Like if I tried to steal someone’s stuff around tax liens, I don’t do tax liens. I’m never going to be as good as the person that’s in the game and playing the game. So, yeah, it’s an interesting world that people are still hijacking other people’s content. And I feel like if you put that much effort into something like that, why not put effort into something that’s uniquely who you are and what you can contribute? But I don’t know, people are confused.
Justin Donald: Yeah, it’s the easy way out. There’s no doubt about that, and maybe you can ride someone else’s coattails and make some money while doing it. I just think that we’re in this world where we can worry about little things that, to me, are just real petty. Or we can just say, “Hey, I don’t even have time to worry about that. I’m just going to focus on these things that either (A) really light me up and bring me energy or (B) these projects that I’m in the middle of that are my livelihood.” And so, that to me, just makes the most sense. But I love hearing some of these stories and hearing some of the things that you’ve gone through.
Someone once told me that there’s life before being an author and life after being an author. And I thought that was a total joke. I thought that was like, oh, whatever, like, they can’t change that much. It’s a massive difference just in every way, shape, or form, like, I’m the same person. But the way that people treat you, the engagement that people want to have, I guess you have some relationship equity, a relationship capital with people that you don’t know, it’s a fascinating space, but it also comes with a lot of other people that are maybe not in it with the best intentions. You got a ton of people that have great intentions and want to reach out, and then there are people that just are on the opposite side of that fence that they see you as the tallest skyscraper and they want to tear it down so that they can be the tallest.
Garrett Gunderson: Yeah. What I like about it is someone can read and get to know a lot about how I think and who I am, that when we do have a conversation that there are ways that we can accelerate the depth of that conversation or the understanding. Like, I’ve had some really, really intelligent Wall Street people, which I don’t usually say a lot of great stuff about Wall Street, that have read my book, and then they will have really productive conversations with because there are certain things that we can agree to and there are certain things that we can debate. And so, like I’ve had people in Killing Sacred Cows, I mean, Chapter 7 is probably the most revolutionary chapter of the book. And people that don’t view insurance the same way that I did when I wrote the book, it’s amazing how many people have a brand-new perspective and paradigm once they read that chapter, like completely different and really intelligent, go, yeah, you made such a point that I had really thought about it. And that’s probably the chapter I hear the most about that way.
Justin Donald: Yeah, and it is eye-opening. It’s interesting for me because I’ve used a very similar strategy. And really, I think there’s a lot that we have in common. I was really excited to have you on the show, one, just because it’s fun to talk and dig into what’s going on in each other’s lives. But secondly, I just think that we think about things so similarly where we live in this world of cash flow, it’s of high value because that is, in our minds in many cases, a superior type of investment if it can support your lifestyle, but at the same time, through the lens of insurance. How do you get insurance in place to work alongside? How can you use insurance, the properly crafted whole life insurance or uniquely non-term generally, just some sort of permanent life insurance that can give you advantages, maybe it’s premium finance, maybe it’s PPLI, where you can really use it to your advantage? And so, you do such a great job of laying that out. In my book, it was my goal to be able to do that and show how I could do what the banks do and have that fractional reserve lending where you take the same dollars, you invest them in two different places, you get two different returns. And so, now, it’s exponentially greater.
Garrett Gunderson: Yeah, I mean, I think that PPLI is something that I’ve read about in other books, but they scratch the surface, I mean, because you have to be pretty wealthy to jump into private placement life insurance where I remember I was talking to this guy. He was an insurance guy, and I was in my early 20s, and he talked about how he’d sold Donald Trump an insurance plan, like life insurance. I was like, wow, like how long ago was that? What did you sell him? And I go, have you ever done more with them? He goes, no, no. His team figured out private placement life insurance and never needed me again. And I was like, what is private placement life insurance? So, I start researching it.
And that was part of like when I wrote, What Would the Rockefellers Do? What Would Billionaires Do? is like, okay, most people can’t do that. So, how do we design something as close to that as possible and that the masses could kind of utilize? And premium finance is something that I’ve done in my own personal finances where you get a bank to actually give you a loan. But banks, they don’t love lending unrealistic. That’s not their preference. If they can lend on cash, that’s actually a higher preference, which usually means you get a lower interest rate. So, you can get one and a quarter percent of a loan from a bank to go into a cash value. So, just like you’d be in a bank to give you a mortgage on a home, you can also have them give you a kind of mortgage on a cash value plan. And so, that’s pretty fascinating as well.
But most of my stuff is pretty straightforward, just overfunded whole life policies that I’ve used over and over again. When I was 19 years old, I started with 50 bucks a month. By the time I was 20, I was doing $262 a month. And now, I’ve got 26 policies between the ones on myself, my wife, my kids, and business associates, and that’s batting the way I store my cash. Instead of getting 1% in a money market account, I’m getting 4%. Instead of paying taxes, I’m not paying taxes. I can access my cash very easily. I’ve used it to buy a business. I’ve used it to buy real estate. I’ve used it to buy even more real estate. I’ve used it to buy crypto. I’ve used it to buy things that make sense based upon what’s going on in the economy, but without the risk of losing the cash during downturns of the economy.
This is the problem, when people are overly leveraged and invested in things that are volatile, some of the times the best opportunities are when things are down, and they don’t want to cash out things when they’re down. This is my stability fund, and even if it’s only getting 4% or 5% tax-free, I know I can tap into that at any time. So, I look at it like as my medium-term storage. I still use a little bit of cash, a little bit of gold and silver for really short-term stuff, but this is the stuff where I’m going to have an allocation that I need to get to the money within a week, but I don’t need to get into it in the first hour, or it’s not what I’m paying bills out of or paying payroll out of. So, it’s really kind of that middle strategy for me.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And technically, you don’t ever have to pay it back. So, let’s say you hit hard times, and bills are tight, well, you don’t have to pay this back. This is a repayment to yourself. So, at whatever point in time that you do die, it would just be taken away from the death benefit. So, it’s really a unique strategy, yeah. Yeah, tax-free death benefit, tax-free distribution, tax-free growth. There are very few investments, if any others, that give you all three of those. And I think that that’s part of the reason that it drew me in and why I wanted to start utilizing these policies. And I did this early on. When I started getting into mine, people around me thought I was crazy. People told me, this is the worst decision that you’ve ever made financially because I was single, I wasn’t dating anyone. So, it wasn’t even like I was close to getting married. I had no kids. But I saw the way that the numbers worked, and I also knew other wealthy people that were doing it. And I was like, hey, if they’re doing it, there’s probably a reason. And so, that’s when I really started digging in.
And the other thing I like about it is there is a guaranteed return that is fixed, so you have the opportunity of upside if they do while managing the money with the dividend. But you have a floor that you’re going to not earn less then, and that’s different than the numbers you get from portfolios or financial planners. When you have money in the stock market where it gives you an average rate of return, which is very manipulative, it’s not a true return, it’s only averaging it out. And so, it’s not the actual return you get, it is really just a shame that that can be used and promoted, but it is. And so, I like having an actual return of what you really make. I think that’s important.
Garrett Gunderson: Agreed. Yeah, like if you have 100 grand and you lose 10%, it goes to 90 grand. And if the next year, you earn 10%, you’re like, oh, cool, back to even. No, because $90,000 earning 10% doesn’t get you back to 100 grand. If there were no fees, it gets you back to $99,000, plus you lost the time value of money over that period of time. So, your average is zero, but you’re actual is negative, and then the fees can make it even more negative, and the lost time makes it even more negative on a compounded level. So, there’s an economic value to certainty. When we have certainty, our mindset is different. And when we know that that could be there, we could pounce on opportunities without the fear of the volatility with that particular tool.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And I really dug into this in my book where I really wanted to attack the mistruths, the misalignment, the manipulation that exist in the financial services industry. And by the way, I’ve got a lot of friends, you’ve got a lot of friends that are great at what they do. They really want what’s best for their client. So, it’s not that everyone’s this way, but it’s really that the industry itself is broken. And so, I always wonder when I wrote this, like, what was the response going to be? And some people, some financial advisors and money managers weren’t crazy about me kind of opening people’s eyes to this, and others are like, this is incredible. I’m so glad you’re sharing this. And in some cases, in several cases, it’s almost like there was this wool pulled over people’s eyes where they didn’t even realize that the industry was doing that and steering in a certain direction. So, it opened their eyes.
And it’s funny because in my Lifestyle Investor Mastermind, there are many financial advisors. I mean, I just didn’t think that that was going to be a lot of my target market, but there are so many of them that want to learn this alternative investment space and how to invest outside of the stock market, how to get returns with lower fees, with more control. And so, it is pretty fascinating that the education in the financial services industry is really kind of streamlined and geared into public equities as a general rule.
Garrett Gunderson: Yep. It’s almost synonymous investing equal stocks in people’s brains. So, that has been a brilliant marketing plan by Wall Street. But in my comedy, I have this whole notion of like, does Wall Street have a brand you trust in any business? I mean, every movie is about Wall Street being evil and bad, and yet, people still hand their money over to them. I mean, I think that we got to see this really, with the quantitative easing that happened with the Fed. A lot of that money went to Wall Street, not to individuals. And so, they’re just adding all this money that’s going into Wall Street. And by the way, a lot of the public companies just bought back their own stock because they could get the borrowing at such a low rate that they could actually get the gains instead of investing in infrastructure or growth or employees, and so.
So, I’m not a real fan of the rules of Wall Street, and the first rule that bothers me is the fiduciary rule. Now, fiduciary as a customer sounds awesome, but fiduciary as the rules of stock management is a problematic moral hazard. And what I mean by that is when we have a stock that represents their shareholders, there are employees and there are customers, and the only fiduciary responsibility is to the shareholder, not to the employee and not to the customer. So, what that says is they always have to act in what’s going to be the most profitable, but we know that because of earnings reports, that’s a quarterly profitability, not the viability five years from now or 10 years from now. And often that comes on the backs of employees that are not being properly rewarded. And we’re watching that happen in today’s economy where they’re kind of fed up and walking away, and you have this huge demand for talent and a pool that isn’t connected to that.
And so, I really have an issue with only people holding stocks, getting the value. And I like that small business employs more people than big business and that most of the good that happens in the world often comes from small businesses that are not under the pressure of some stock report that is never really considering all factors. So, it’s not that it’s this case in all the ways, but I do find that, unfortunately, I wrote some articles in Forbes about how 84% of the gains in the market go to 10% of the investors. Now, part of that is that hedge funds have more money than the average investor in the funds, but it’s because they can sell short and they can also do other things on margin or with calls and puts, or even potentially using other derivatives.
And the average investor is simply long that average investor loses money because of flash trading that we saw in the past because of unidentified fees that are inside of everything from 12B-1 fees and expense ratios and admin fees and legal fees. And then we have the fact that they’re going long and going, oh, the market did 7% this year. Yeah, the problem is the hedge funds did 10% and the average invested at 4%, but because everything’s being said to average 6% or 7%, they turn on the blinders to what’s actually happening with their money. And most importantly, Wall Street does not promote cash flow.
And every finance institution that wants to take people’s money wants to create cash flow with it. Yet they’re training people to wait for 30 years in hopes that one day, someday, they can finally create cash flow before they ever learn how to do it over the previous decade. So, not that I have any passion towards this, Justin, that’s just all opinion that I have. And so, I’ve had zero money in the stock market since 2002. In May of 2000, I stopped contributing to the stock market, and it took me a couple of years to finally cash out a 401(k) that I had. I took the penalty and I put it in a yard in at my house so I could always see my 401(k) grow when I heard everybody else complain about theirs not growing. I watched the physical growth of my yard.
But I just invest in stocks that matter to me, which are my own. Now, there might be individual stocks that I could be enticed to buy, potentially, based upon what they’re doing, but I know it’s all secondary market, so it doesn’t actually provide any capital to that company. It simply is a market where you’re buying out someone else that held that stock, and they’re saying, this is where I want the cash either because they feel like the growth is done and they have a different priority for it. So, I’m not really apt to want to support that. I’d rather invest in people that I know and that I see. I’d rather invest in my own skill sets. I’d rather invest in companies that I have a say or control over which I don’t with the public company.
Justin Donald: Yeah, there’s a lot less control in the public markets and there are more fees. You’re a retail investor coming in, paying a higher fee for a lower return with a lot of volatility risk. And it’s not to say that we shouldn’t have exposure to the stock market. Like you, I have very little. And when I say very little, I mean, it’s a very small percentage. But at the right times, I may enter in. I did enter in during the beginning of the pandemic. There have been a few other times that I have entered in, during the last financial crisis, I got in. And so, I think that it’s really important long term to kind of know what you want to do. I think most people kind of look at the stock market as like the end all, be all, and this is where everyone makes their money.
But the reality is it’s a very small percentage of people that make their money. It’s more institutionally advantageous. And then the people who often make money there, the people that have great wealth that are placing a good component of it there, most people aren’t building their wealth. I mean, you have anomalies, but most people aren’t building their wealth and have this massive shift in net worth via the stock market. They had something on the private equity side. They sold the business. They grew a business and have massive cash flow. And so, they are placing some of their net worth.
And in many cases, it’s just a small percentage of their net worth to kind of maintain and slowly grow it. And I think that’s a really good distinction on who has money and how much they have in? When do people go in? Is the stock market really making people rich? Well, for most people, no, they made themselves rich and then they used the stock market as a tool to just make sure they’re not losing that wealth.
Garrett Gunderson: Right. Dave Ramsey is going to disagree and tell us that it’s all because you started investing early enough and always and never think about it and just let it continue to grow and diversify it. And they’re saying they had a book coming out with a study of 10,000 people showing how they could start with something little and end up with a lot. My problem with that is, first and foremost, we’ve got to invest in ourselves and our skill sets and our abilities and knowing our value and delivering that value. And if we haven’t done that, we’re putting into companies we know nothing about. I get why that happens because the world wants us to believe that there’s a hierarchy based upon education and genius, and that education is when you have a certain number of degrees or you go to a certain type of school, then you can get that job on Wall Street. And now, you know more than everybody else, and they can make money by handing money over to you.
They have no relationship to those outcomes. They don’t understand it. And it’s, unfortunately, not the returns they thought they were getting. Now, someone who’s wealthy and says, I’m going to take a portion of my assets to create liquidity and a hedge with the stock market, and they go for more stable structures where they’re not aggressively trying to get huge returns. I got to tell you, like, here’s how I feel about the stock market right now. It is built upon the back of inflation through massive amounts of money that were pumped in through this quantitative easing with the Fed that would put so much money in, and the market loves liquidity. And because there was so much cash that came, it pushed the value of the stocks up without that value actually translating or transferring to value to us, customers and people in the world. And so, what it’s created is this artificial hedge that essentially, people go, oh, look how much money I’ve made in the last little while with the market.
But as soon as the Fed starts talking about moving interest rates, the market moves because it’s trying to react to the future, not to the reality. And so, when the Fed has multiple times added massive amounts of money, especially with shadow banks that didn’t have liquidity, and they were overleveraged and then they got a trillion dollars from the Fed, it saved the people that were behaving the worst, the people that were doing the worse things and not being intelligent. Okay, the Fed has actually, whether it was intentional or not, rewarded bad behavior. And the recipients of that bad behavior have been companies that were bailed out, even though they weren’t doing the best work. So, this is my issue is I don’t want to support that behavior, even if I can totally profit from it. I’d rather support behavior where I see the direct outcome of the income, I see the direct outcome of the value. And even if that means I’m a little less wealthy, I’m wealthy in relationships and in lifestyle, not in the backs of something that is an artificial construct.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And it’s funny that you went there because I was actually going to say this as well where the business is, you’ve got all these hedge funds and banks that are actually incentivized to be risky because when they’re risky and it doesn’t work out, they get bailed out. But that doesn’t mean that the investors get bailed out, right? So, people are losing tons of money, but they’re getting their money back. And then during the stimulus, the money is going first to the banks. And so, the banks are getting their piece no matter what, the banks win, no matter what. But they also control the narrative and they also can freeze your money at any time because you’re guilty until you prove that you’re innocent. It’s the inverse relationship of what constitutionally, we’re supposed to have, which is innocence until proven guilty.
So, there’s definitely this contradiction there that is just interesting. And then you’ve got this whole situation with all this money being printed, inflation growing like crazy. There’s no way you’ll ever get me to believe that it’s only 7% like they said in the month of December, impossible when 40% of our dollars in circulation were just printed in the last two years. And they’re not even printed, they were just created on a ledger, right?
Garrett Gunderson: Right. But they print it, Justin. They’re all pretending like there’s a printing press popping out a trillion dollars in 30 days. That’s not humanly possible.
Justin Donald: That’s right. That’s right. And so, it’s unfortunate because you have all these assets that are getting blown up in value. But like you said, it’s not because they’re more valuable. Ironically, there’s a ton of assets out there that are not getting these dollars. And so, the smart money you’ll see, and some of this already is going to start going to these other underappreciated assets, maybe assets outside of, in our case, the borders of the United States and just going to places where it can really do some major good and have some tremendous upside. I think a lot of people are really worried about where do you put your money? Is there going to be a crash sometime? I mean, at some point there has to be some sort of a crash. I don’t know when, no one knows when. Anyone who tells you they know when is wrong.
Garrett Gunderson: There are many factors, man. There are too many factors.
Justin Donald: Yeah, but…
Garrett Gunderson: Okay, let’s say you and I thought we could predict it, and then the Fed goes, we’re going to have another $2 trillion. And then even if we could predict when that happens, what happens when the banks receive the money, do they release it or do they hold on to it because they held on to it for a long time? And the Fed was pissed because they weren’t lending and releasing, and there wasn’t lowering interest rates. All it was doing was creating massive stability in stable time instead of actually moving to the poor and the middle class because banks are not in the business of lending to people unless it’s Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they can’t afford payments.
And so, ultimately, we keep having these policies. And by the way, the Federal Reserve, they’re not even the government. They’re not federal or reserve, yet they’re making monetary policy and they’re ultimately giving money and they don’t really actually print it. I mean, it’s an insane proposition in my mind that our government doesn’t own our money supply, that they’re party to a central bank that’s private to dictate what’s happening. And it just ends up in the wealthy’s hands, it doesn’t end up helping people because if you got your unemployment check or you got money from the CARES Act or just that automatically came to your inbox, that may feel good temporarily, but all that did was raise all these prices because there was no value exchange for that.
So, now, when you go back to the income you’re on before, everything costs 40% more, but everybody had these inflation-adjusted assets, have 40% more value in their assets or more. And what it did is it’s going to increase our wealth gap moving forward. There’s no substitute for value. If you don’t learn how to create value, deliver value, serve, solve problems, all of these kind of things, and if you don’t have control over that outcome, unfortunately, people have been trained that their biggest asset is their job and they’re trading their life and their time for that job, and that job is never going to keep pace with inflation. So, the only solution is invest in yourself and become an investor and learn how to invest. And I get it, it takes effort. That’s why we got to crush this dumb narrative of it’s too complicated, just trust the experts.
Well, guess what? The experts are only in the normal Wall Street investments that are going to have a minimized overall return once an inflation gets accounted for and once they stop doing quantitative easing, and we’re watching that happen. When the Fed didn’t pump more money, the market’s terribly reacted. I mean, it feels complicated for the average person. But the reality is when we look at money as a concept, as a measurement of value creation, and we ask how can we make more money by helping more people or more deeply impacting the people that we help and think a little bit entrepreneurially of how we contribute to the bottom line or entrepreneurially, how we create the bottom line, that’s what’s really going to make a big difference. That’s what’s going to solve a lot of these problems.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And when you’re printing money the way you’re printing money, then if you’re not putting it to work, your money is really diminishing, I mean, by the day. And so if you’re not buying assets, then you really are losing purchasing power. And ideally, I always really like to kind of teach and share that I think you want to buy cash flowing assets because not only do you keep up with kind of this fiat currency today and spend those dollars today, but you’ve got an asset that appreciates in tandem with the monetary supply, the expansion of that supply. More dollars get printed means a dollar’s worth less, means it takes more dollars to buy something so assets are worth more. So, every dollar that gets printed means that your asset is worth more, even if you didn’t improve that asset, even if you did nothing to make it better. Simply printing money makes the asset worth more. So, you actually want to be in a situation where you’re buying assets that can appreciate.
Garrett Gunderson: Inflation is going to be a tough thing to deal with for the majority of the population. I mean, because when you’re in consumer debt, you’re just in trouble. But when you’re an investor that has investing loans, that inflation makes it easier and easier every year, the values, the cost of that loan improves your cash flow essentially. But when you’re used to a certain income, and then all of a sudden that income doesn’t do it for you, and then credit card starts to become the way to supplement it other than assets, now, bankruptcy is almost insured.
And this is why I feel like, hey, we teach everyone how to read, but we don’t teach them how to read financial statements or even understand what money is. And I’m a little bit concerned, though, because I kind of look at it like Western medicine. Western medicine is basically dictated by Big Pharma. Big Pharma is funding the universities, the colleges that are giving the degrees. They’re lobbying the Congress all the time. And so, we have all this terrible opioid information that’s wrong and that they funded to distract people, and then people are addicted to it. I would worry that Wall Street would infiltrate and start educating people on money, that they’d go, hey, the best thing we could do is indoctrinate people with, this is too complicated, or they have to invest the way that we’re trying to invest, which is not how we invest, right? And that would be my concern. So, what you’re doing, what I’m doing, I think, is really important because money is something that we all deal with and that has very little instruction.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And I think the proof is in the pudding, right? So, you can look at the different reports that are out there where over the last 15 years, only 5% of money managers actually beat the S&P 500 index. So, your cheapest way to get into the stock market is to just get into these indexes.
Garrett Gunderson: Totally.
Justin Donald: And then that outperforms 95% of the time the people that are managing money, and that’s over the last 15 years. There’s another…
Garrett Gunderson: Robo-advisors coming up. They’re going to be actively managed with low fees versus actively managed with human labor, which is high fees, or straight-up index funds. I mean, again, I’m not a big investor in the market, but if I were, to be robo-advisors and it would be index funds, period, unless somehow Ray Dalio put his arm around me and said, “I’ll let you put your money with me.” Other than that, I’m pretty much just going to the robo-advisors and index funds.
Justin Donald: Yeah, your average person isn’t going to be able to afford the hedge funds that really consistently beat the market, right? And by the way, you don’t even want your money in a hedge fund. I mean, that’s risky. I mean, if you were to do the hedge fund approach, which is where people with a lot of money, they’re going to come and say, “Hey, I want to put money with these hedge funds,” they’re spread out across 10 different hedge funds. They’re hedging their bet with other hedge funds.
Garrett Gunderson: Right. And even in hedge funds, I like the hedge funds that are trying to create more stable returns. So, they’re not hitting home runs, they’re just looking to stabilize so you don’t have wild swings, which again, that’s for people who’ve already made their money, and they’re saying, I need to have a hedge because I don’t want to just have it sitting in cash. So, yeah, I mean, there’s a different philosophy. I think that diversification is a strategy for growth is terrible because you get distracted, it’s diworsification. Focus is the strategy for growth, diversification is the strategy for preservation, but it has to be intelligent diversification where most people go, oh, I have three different mutual funds. Well, guess what? All three of them are holding some of the same stocks. And if it’s a growth fund, there are times where growth is not in favor, but they have to stay in growth. Otherwise, they get fired and sued because of the objective of the fund. And so, yeah, again, just go index funds if you’re going to go funds.
Justin Donald: Yeah, for your average everyday person, I do think that it’s the most cost-effective way from a performance standpoint, from a fee standpoint. And by the way, there are hedge funds that are out there that have an incredible track record where they haven’t lost money in 20 years, but like you said, they’re not hitting huge returns. I mean, you might be getting 4% or 5%. So, today, it’s not keeping up with inflation. At times in history, times in the last decade, it was, but you’re not losing money. And so, that’s a big angle of a lot of people where they say, alright, I’ve made a lot of money. Why don’t I put 15% to 25% of my portfolio with these hedge funds? The goal is to just not lose it. Singles are great, and that’s all that I need. And then let’s put this other 25% to 35% in real estate and then this other 25% in private equity. And then let’s have some fixed income over here.
And so, the way that these portfolios work, it’s a lot different than what I think most people realize when you look at the structure of a family office, and by the way, for those of you that are unfamiliar with what a family office is, it’s when you have someone that has a significant amount of wealth, and they kind of build their own management company around finances, everything and everything money-related for themselves. And then there are these multifamilies. So, there’s a single-family office or multifamily offices where maybe there are a handful of clients that are being served by investment managers and CPAs and attorneys, and you kind of have it all in-house.
And if you look at their allocations and you look at the way that they kind of set things up for the wealthiest people here in the United States, wealthiest people across the world, but I mean, I’ve looked at these strategies with a lot of these groups, it is nowhere close to what people think. And I can assure you, it’s not heavily weighted in the stock market.
Garrett Gunderson: That’s a good point.
Justin Donald: Yeah. There’s so much we could get into right now. I mean, I have so much fun talking about this stuff with you, Garrett. I mean, it’s an absolute blast because you’re a wealth of knowledge around so many of these things, public market, private market, you name it. But I love that you yourself have your hat in the ring and you’ve created cash flow, you’ve bought assets that cash flow. And recently, you had an exit, which I think is really exciting. And I think that should be celebrated. Any time an entrepreneur, you’re not just an investor, you’re an entrepreneur as well, and anytime you can sell a business, I think that there’s always room to have ample celebration.
Garrett Gunderson: Yeah, and I think that the way I sold it, you would like because I’ve got cash value. So, I wasn’t worried about getting a lot of cash upfront because then I’m going, where am I going to allocate this that could compete with what I’m creating in the business? So, I end up selling it for a lot less upfront and then created a licensing deal that’s been creating ongoing cash flow, which is essentially still getting me half the cash flow that I was getting before for one twenty-fifth of the effort because now, I’m just showing up as a presenter, which I’m good at, but I’m not dealing with the operations. And they’ve increased their budget towards online marketing and generating leads because I’m not necessarily better on stages during COVID and everything. And they’ve done really well without me.
And it’s great because part of the problem when I was the owner is, I had a partner, and he was really good, like he’s 17 years older than me. When you meet him, you’d think he was in the military. He’s just very systematic and consistent. I’m a little bit erratic and passionate. And what would happen is there was like this faction of the team, like half the team gravitated towards his consistency, half the team gravitated towards my inspiration, and it created kind of like conflict within the culture. And I saw that, and when I saw that, I called him, I said, “You know what? I really should just sell this to you because then people are going to report to you. You can hire and fire the way that you want. You can run the business the way that you want, but I’ll still be a spokesperson, I’ll still be a face, I’ll still create content, which is what I really want to do anyway.” So, we really just leverage, you said, of the strengths, and it’s gone extraordinarily well.
I mean, the transaction, we decided to do it in November of 2020, the same week I decided to create a comedy special. And that was instrumental so I could actually write and practice and be ready to perform within five months a comedy special, filmed with Emmy winners and an awesome stage and everything. So, it wouldn’t have been possible. It allowed him to really do it the way that he wanted to. So, it’s been a really nice situation. And then I’m working on another exit right now for another licensing deal that I had that I didn’t have ownership in the company, but I could trigger exiting them, buying me out. And so, we’re in the process of that as well because I’m really committed to edutainment. I want to educate in an entertaining way and I don’t want to be bogged down to any operational pieces that would prevent me from becoming a better performer or reaching more people.
So, I’ve got two books coming out in the next 12 months, maybe three, because I wrote a children’s book with an amazing author, Julia Cooke, who sold three million children’s books on money, or I have the books on money. She’s never written a book on money, but I knew money. So, we combined it. It’s called I Am Money and I Don’t Grow on Trees, and then I’ve got Disrupting Sacred Cows coming out. So, I’ve really been able to immerse myself in that and free up my time. And I think that that’s a tough thing to do when we get to know something really well and we can always count on it. But then something new and exciting that I could commit to, like too many people straddle, they never quite get there. So, I really release that. There’s a financial benefit, and I could really grow on this other side.
Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s incredible. The way that you structured your deal is fantastic. Not only is it a win-win where your partner is like great, I can purchase this for less upfront. So, that’s a huge win for your partner. But for you to be able to remove the vast majority of your time to make half as much as you are making, that’s brilliant, and I wish that more people would see the value in that. I think today, from a society’s standpoint, we’re conditioned to just want to make more money when making more money may, in fact, cost more time, but most people are glad to give away that time. And I’ve always been of the opinion that I’m happy to make less money if it can be less time.
Well, you went exponentially less time but just for a small fraction or a small reduction in the income. That, to me, is winning at life, like you win the lifestyle game. And that’s the most important game to win because then you can focus your energy on your passions like you are with comedy and content creation and you can really live what your purpose here on Earth is. And I admire you for being able to make that move. And I think that’s going to serve you and already has, but it’s going to serve both parties really well. That’s a win-win situation at the highest level. And it really allowed you to buy your time back to do what you’re most passionate about and you are just alive. You’re oozing with enthusiasm, and it’s incredible.
Garrett Gunderson: It’s nice and exciting, man. A couple of thousand people, I mean, I became a professional comedian, declared it. Well, I hired my manager on November 15th of 2019. Okay, so that’s a long time, in 2019. But it took me a year to really get to a place mentally to say, what am I going to do with my business? What is it going to be to do a new set because I’ve really got 20 minutes that I’m used to doing? And so, it’s like a year of training from November 2019 to November 2020.
And then it was a year of, okay, now I’m doing a comedy special, a 15-city tour, and I did that for the next year. And here I am, tonight, getting a full fee, what I would get paid at my highest level as a speaker, as a comedian, which most comedians probably, I don’t know how long it takes them to get there. And I’ve been on more stage time as a rookie because I did so many different cities. You saw us on stage for over an hour that night. So, I don’t do open mics because I don’t want to go and spend evenings away from my family when I’m in town to get three minutes. If I’m going to be, like on Friday, I did an hour, but my wife and my kids came. And yeah, I didn’t get paid a lot for that hour, like one twenty-fifth of what I’m getting paid today, but I did it from the comfort of like just driving up and then sleeping in my own bed.
So, I’m really calculated about what this lifestyle is going to look like. Like, I was talking to a producer about doing a TV series, taking what Jon Stewart did for politics but doing it for finance. And my manager’s like, yeah, you need to do a weekly show. I’m like, I’m not going to do a weekly show because I’m going to get to a place where the content is stressful and I’m going to be spending too much time away from my family. I’m going to do like six episodes a year, maybe 10, so I can really keep the lifestyle going. And that’s what I learned from doing that tour is I overcommitted a number of cities in a short period of time which infringe upon my lifestyle. And as fun as it was on stage, it took away from time with my family, time about my health, time at home. So, I’m really defining the game that I’m playing, like not the way that Hollywood wants or other comedians have done the way that I want to do it. It’s consistent with my life.
Justin Donald: Well, Garrett, this is just incredible. I mean, there are so many nuggets that we’ve been able to take. And for me, personally, I’ve just really enjoyed this time with you. Where can our audience learn more about you?
Garrett Gunderson: GarrettGunderson.com is the new site. It shows a little bit of the comedy career and what I’m up to and some really cool resources. There’s an awesome money persona quiz at the bottom, so there’s no charge for that. Yeah, it’s a good place just to navigate and see what’s going on.
Justin Donald: Yeah, and I just want to highly recommend that you check out Garrett’s show. Take a look at where he’s going to be, worth flying to another city, to go check it out, but maybe it’s in your own city, and just see what he’s got. The guy’s hysterical and he’s got so many good sets and one-liners. It’s just time well-spent. It’d be great date night material for anyone looking for some extra date nights and laughs and just a wonderful time. So, thanks for being on the show.
Justin Donald: And I just want to leave our audience with, to me, some of the greatest, I guess, words of wisdom, what I like to kind of close every show out with. But this is something that, for me, I kind of walked this, and so, I want to share this with you because this was the key for me taking things to the next level. And that’s this. What’s the one step you can take today to move towards financial freedom and to move towards a life by design, not by default, a life where you can use your gifts and use your passions to better the world? What’s a way that you can do that today? Thanks, and we’ll catch you next week.