I am fascinated how one small event leads to a series of dominos that change your life.

When I was an advisor, one client told me he loved having me there so he “had someone to kick.” You’d think that’s what drove me from the business, but it wasn’t. In fact, that one spurred me on.

Back then, my daily goal was to develop the best strategies ever created.  Today, each post I write is the best one yet. In fact, I’m diggin’ where this one is headed.

I was affiliated with a major financial planning company. You’ve heard of the firm. We had a quazi-big business meets franchise structure, so I owned my little company but had access to big corporate resources. One of those resources went by the name of Chris, who always worked hard to help my career. He was that Zig Ziglar type: “Focus on helping others get what they want and you’ll always get what you want.”

One morning, out of the blue, everyone in our region received an email from Chris:


This letter announces my resignation. While things are going well for me professionally and I’d love to continue earning this income, I know this isn’t my true passion.

I’m not leaving for a competitor. I’m not changing careers. I’m quitting because it’s impossible to decide what I want to really do when I’m working 16 hours a day at a job I know isn’t my true calling.

That note spoke to me like a Krispy Kreme doughnut to a guy on a diet.

Chris left the firm and became a mountain climber. He’s summited nearly every major peak in the world, including Everest. In fact, he helped my partner on the site climb Mt. Hood.

This letter made me examine my 39 year old life. I worked too hard. My young family was growing up without me. I was out of shape. Friendships all revolved around money and work. On the other hand, I’d built a business managing lots of money for responsible people. I loved my clients.

Chris’ words could have been my own: I, too, had this vague list of other dreams. but I’d never taken the time to define them.

Let’s Count the Reasons

I made a list

There were plenty of reasons to stay and to leave. Financially, leaving would turn my business into a mountain of cash from whomever purchased it, and I could use the money. But far bigger than the money was that feeling that my life was going away and I wasn’t paying attention.

So, at age 41, two years later, I sold my business and left. Cheryl found a great job halfway across the country that she enjoys and I started taking classes. For what, you ask?

I was going to become a high school English teacher.

My favorite part of financial planning was finding fun ways to teach topics people see as “boring.” I could do this as a high school teacher. The plan: I’d teach and coach track at some school. Awesome.

Things Don’t Turn Out The Way You’d Expect

I should have been more open. After taking the teaching certification test and beginning classes (which I loved), I began doing something I hadn’t done in years: I started writing in my newfound spare time.

Because business is in my blood, I quickly became bored writing without deadlines and explored ELance. Before I knew it I had a few steady clients. After exploring other paying writing gigs it became clear: I loved working from my home office and writing about money. The pay, although bad, wasn’t any worse than a first year teacher in our area. I had flexibility. My kids were finishing high school. I decided to write from home until my kids graduated, then re-evaluate teaching. Before I knew it, I’d started a blog with a friend. That was a year ago. Somehow, we’ve made it here!

The Blog – The Free Financial Advisor

My partner on the blog (we call him The Other Guy) and I have stepped in every hole imaginable.

  • We had this novel idea about giving serious advice on the internet. Nobody does that, right?
  • Google analytics? PageRank? Alexa? You mean you don’t just throw great tips on the net and people come running?
  • What’s the broadest name possible? How can we find a way to help people now that I’m not a financial advisor anymore? I know….”Free Financial Advisor.” That name doesn’t sound like a scam at all.
  • Podcast? Sure. We can screw that up as well as we can screw up a blog. Let’s do it!

It’s been a fantastic adventure. I’ve met a super new family of people here (capped off by meeting several new Yakezie friends at FinCon). Although I’m not the most active participant in discussions, it’s because I’m still soaking it in. I learn a TON from you all every day. In fact, I’m ecstatic when I can help someone new with a technical question. It’s fun to pay back some of the great help I’ve received from the Yakezie network.

That’s our journey so far. I’m excited about completing the challenge and what are sure to be new challenges ahead with our blog and podcast. With our limited tech knowledge, I came to Yakezie like a ship captain on the Atlantic Ocean at night with nothing but a flashlight to guide me… This has been such a great group. Yakezie has been like radar.

(I think I qualify for bonus points by completing my member post comparing Yakezie to radar. Maybe that’s a new catchphrase, Sam? Think about it: “Yakezie: like radar but better.”)