Transcript of Interview with Dr. Buck Joffrey
Dan: Welcome to another episode of Shoulders of Titans. This is Dan Lok and today I have the privilege of bringing you another entrepreneur: a brain surgeon; an asset manager and podcaster. Welcome to the show Doctor Joffrey.
Buck: Thanks for having me Dan.
Dan: Maybe give us a little bit of a background on how did you get into what you do today?
Buck: Yea, so sort of a slightly different story than your typical doctor. You’re right, I did start out as a neurosurgeon and a brain surgeon. After a couple years of that, changed focus a little bit and ended up doing head and neck surgery and cosmetic surgery training and so I had my board certification in that. I finished training around 2008 and, you know, it was going around in 2008. I just started making money for the first time. Because as you know, and I’m sure it’s the same in Canada, the residents don’t make very much money. So even though I was very highly skilled, I lived in San Francisco and I was making $45,000 a year. Which in San Francisco is below the poverty line.
Anyway, what was happening behind this was I was starting to make a lot of money: mid six figures, from nothing, pretty much, from an employment situation. And I was looking around and it looked like there was all these experienced doctors that had just lost an enormous amount of money in the stock market. And there was this recession and there were some of them who were actually looking at potentially retiring in the next year or two and almost half of their portfolio suddenly vanished.
So I didn’t want to get into this situation. I did end up starting my own business, because I got the entrepreneurial itch pretty quickly. Started my own practice but when I started my practice, and this is something as entrepreneurs you all know, my instinct at that point was to not slap my own name on it, right? A lot of doctors, a lot of surgeons make the mistake of starting their business and they say — well, you know, they want to be a superstar. They want to be famous, so they would be like “Doctor Joffrey, Plastic Surgery,” or something like that. I never wanted to do that, I wanted to create a brand. So from day one I said, “Okay, I’m going to create a brand, and okay I’ll be the first employee, I’ll be the first surgeon but after a while I’m not going to want to do this, so I’m going to give it a brand name and stick to it.” That happened. And I marketed the practice, this was a cosmetic surgery practice, in a very different way than your traditional cosmetic surgery practice. We were doing television, radio, heavy internet and it became a source of seven figure income for me within a year.
Then, of course, in terms of the business side of things, over the course of the next few years I rolled myself out of that business and, just as I had planned, plugged in other guys, because it was the brand that was famous in Chicago and not me.
So now it’s a passive income source. And I started two other businesses in a very similar way. Now here’s the thing: once I started making all this money — and this is where I think a lot of you entrepreneurs out there will understand where I’m coming from — when you have a bunch of entrepreneurs listening like you do, you have a lot of superstars, a lot of highly creative people, and a lot of them are making a lot of money. But what always amazes me is how they invest, right? Like you’re a superstar entrepreneur, you’re a super hot shot and then you invest like your grandma.
Dan: Correct, correct. Or sometimes it’s one thing to make it, it’s a whole other thing to keep it right.
Buck: Exactly, and it’s not only keeping it, but growing it. And that’s where my brand really took off; my current brand really is all about. Because listen, I’m not — I don’t think that everybody is meant to be an entrepreneur and I don’t think everybody should be an entrepreneur. There are plenty of people out there who are making a lot of money; whether they’re doctors, lawyers, engineers, software engineers, whatever, and entrepreneurs of course. But they’re making money and they’re not doing a good job of growing their money.
So here’s my influences Dan. My dad — I’m the son of immigrants — my dad came here in the late ‘60s, I was born in 1973, came on an engineering scholarship. And within a year or two of him coming here and actually getting his degree he started buying real estate. And this is a poor kid from India who very shortly after, within a decade, had become a millionaire in the United States, coming from nothing, right? So that’s my perspective.
The other perspective I had was the first time I really had any exposure to the stock market and traditional investing was when my Dad got caught up in it for the first time in the dot.com bubble. And he completely got raked over the coals and lost millions of dollars and almost didn’t recover. That’s my perspective. My perspective is 2008 watching all these other doctors out there wanting to retire and then losing all their money.
So to me, what I wanted to do is I wanted to invest like an entrepreneur should invest. Not like your grandmother. So that’s what I’m doing. And to me, my brand of investing, ultimately, is what I call real asset investing. So investing in real things. Tangible things. Things that you can see, touch and feel. Things that you understand. Things that frequently, and most preferably, cash flow. And that’s probably what my brand is all about.
Dan: I’m curious. Would you say your dad is kind of your mentor then? That he taught you about money and how money works?
Buck: I wish that were the case. I wish I had the story like Robert Kiyosaki, who I had the fortune of meeting in April. My Dad isn’t much of a teacher. He said things to me along the way that resonate with me now that I just blew off then. For example, I said, “Dad” — when I was thinking about going to medical school — I told him, “I think I want to be a doctor.” And he said, “Why would you want to do that?” So I’m like, “What do you mean?” “Do you want to make money or do you want to be a doctor? You want to sit there and work all the time and have your pager go off in the middle of the night?” And of course I thought he didn’t know what he was talking about.
You know, listen, there’s nothing wrong with being a doctor. The point is that he came at it from a very granular immigrant perspective. This is a guy who — his family did not have enough to eat when they were growing up. So he can’t be an idealist. He’s thinking about how to make money. You have to be well to do to be an idealist, right? So he’d talk about that. And long before I ever heard Robert Kiyosaki say the word ‘cash flow’, that is what my dad talked about all the time: cash flow.
Buck: Right? I said, “Dad, when you look at buildings” — I remember asking him “How do you know what to buy?” “Cash flow.” So, okay, whatever, whatever that means. I don’t know what that means.
Dan: And it’s interesting, because I think a lot of high paid professionals — it could be doctors, and I work with a lot of consultants and coaches and speakers — where they make a lot of money but like you said –I always say they are highly paid but under-invested. And somehow they are so busy, just working in their business, they don’t think about, “Oh I’ll just make the money, put it into something,” and they don’t think about it. It’s very interesting how that works.
Buck: Yea, and I think that, at least from the standpoint of high paid professionals, a lot of that stems from the fact that they tend to be good student. And what do good students do in the U.S. and Canada and in a lot of western countries? We all have a similar school system. What we do is: the best students are the ones who can follow orders and do exactly what they’re told and observe whatever they can and regurgitate it immediately. That’s what the best student does. Those are the ones who are most successful. This whole system is a product of the industrial revolution, this is true. Brought over from repressions in the 1800’s and it was a conveyor belt model. So each kid — you’d have 12 grades in the US and Canada, right? I assume.
Dan: Yea same, same.
Buck: And in each grade you plop a certain amount of information on it and then you go to the next grade and you plop, and it’s like a conveyor belt, right? And the kids who do best end up coming off and they get sent off to the next factory for polishing; grad school and college and professional school. Some of them drop off the conveyor belt and never finish —
Dan: I’m one of them!
Buck: That’s ok! But what happens with the kids who do the best is that the only thing they know how to do is follow a curriculum. And when there’s no curriculum, for example financial education; how to invest; how to look at real assets; then all they do is they fall into — they look for something else that looks like a curriculum and that’s usually conventional wisdom. And conventional wisdom tells you to work hard, get a job, invest in stocks, bonds and mutual funds for the long run. And it was made up by Wall Street, that’s the problem.
Dan: Correct, correct. Which, they definitely have the best interest in mind, right? Our best interests in mind.
Buck: Well, of course. I mean let’s look for example at mutual funds Dan. Most people’s retirement funds are invested in some mutual fund combination. There was an article from Forbes magazine recently that said — it showed that the average fees on a mutual fund came out to about 3.5%. And that in the last three decades, that if you had your money in mutual funds, your average return, annualized return, would be about 3.5%.
So that means that it would take two decades to double your money. Two decades! Hey, who’s got that kind of time, right?
Dan: Yes. Yes. So then what’s your investment philosophy then. So you talk about real assets. Give me some examples. Let’s say someone listening to this and they’re making good money. Maybe a few hundred thousand dollars a year, maybe even a few million dollars a year. What should they do?
Buck: Yea, so let me talk about just some principles here. Okay, first of all, when I talk about real assets I’m talking about — listen, I’m not just a real estate guy, I mean I do like real estate, but I mean I like, businesses, I like different asset classes. I’ve even got into life insurance products and so on because they make sense to me. So, real assets like that, things that you understand, because the more complicated things are — they are only made complicated — the only reason that a product has layers of complexity is for people to strip money off of it.
Buck: So if Wall Street — if you don’t understand a Wall Street product, it’s because they’ve figured out ways to pull off money. So stay away from things that are complicated. Keep with things that are generally real. We prefer cash flow, although obviously, it doesn’t always have to cash flow. But you have to understand it. And so there are other things that I think that are important to wealth building, that I think are counter intuitive if you’re listening to a guy like Dave Ramsay. I’ll tell you that, like Robert Kiyosaki, I believe that savers are losers. Save money, lose money. Keep money in the bank and inflation is running at two percent or more, it’s going to run more than two percent over a period of time. You are not only not saving your money, you are losing it. So the idea of not investing it, just saving it, you have got a problem.
The other thing I’ll tell you is: the other principle that I talk a lot about is leverage. Now Dave Ramsay will tell you not to use debt. I will tell you if you don’t use debt, you’re not going to get wealthy. You’re not going to get wealthy if you do not use debt. And I will say that, I have lived that. And debt doesn’t always have to be dangerous debt. Good debt, reliable sources of debt — I could tell you about a product, and just the short of it is: that you could grow money in a certain product, at a certain fixed rate, borrow it out and still be able to use the rate of growth in that money and double dip it into another investment. That’s leverage, right?
So, there are products out there that the wealthy know about, that most people don’t know about. But here’s the thing, they’re actually available to most people. It’s just that they don’t know about them. So what my show is about is really trying to reveal some of those secrets that are out there. And what I’m speaking about specifically in that case, with the double dipping your investments, is something we call wealth formula banking. Or you may have heard of it as infinite banking or cash flow banking. Anyway you have that. You have — and automatically when you invest, when you use that tool, you can take something that is giving you an eight or nine percent return, cash on cash, and turn that into something that’s throwing off thirteen, fourteen percent cash on cash. And this is real. This is stuff I’m doing. It’s not theoretical. And it’s not that hard. People just have to take some time to learn it.
Dan: And I think most people don’t know about it, is because it’s not being advertised or being pushed — these products being pushed by the banks or by Wall Street, right? Because that’s not what they want to do, right? They want our money for as long as possible and paying us as little as possible, and want us buy and sell as much as possible so they make the commission. And regardless, it goes up and down, they get their fees anyway and that’s how they make their money.
Buck: Right, exactly, and they call everything else “alternative investments”.
Dan: Or risky investments, right?
Dan: Oh those are very risky, you don’t want to do that, right?
Buck: Yea you don’t want to do that. Meanwhile, I own a few buildings here in Chicago area, apartment buildings for example, that one of them is almost a hundred years old, and obviously I haven’t owned it for a hundred years, but that has effectively been a business that’s been there for a hundred years throwing off cash.
Dan: I love what you said about savers are losers. I have a saying too, like people talk about a penny saved is a penny earned; I say a penny saved is still a penny.
Buck: Yea, and it won’t be a penny for long.
Dan: Exactly. And if you’re making, whatever, like fifty, sixty thousand, eighty thousand dollars a year — well you’re not making enough, just like, if you save money don’t drink that Starbucks coffee in the morning, then two or three bucks, if that makes a difference, we’ve got a problem, right?
Buck: Yea, that’s nonsense. The thing is that that’s a mindset thing. Here’s one of the ways — let me just briefly talk of the difference about the way people think who are sort of in the wealthy mindset versus middle class or lower class mindset. Part of it is that it’s what you spend your money on too, right? I mean, certainly I don’t think this is nonsense about Starbucks and stuff — I mean I think that’s ridiculous. You also want to live your life and have some joy.
But let’s take, for example, you want to buy a car, you want to buy a fancy car and all of a sudden — this happens frequently with physicians. And they’re making forty, fifty thousand dollars a year and next thing you know they’re making three, four hundred thousand dollars a year and they’re like, “Gosh, I want to buy this car.” Alright, so there’s two ways to go about that. And one is just to buy the car. Obviously, you could get a loan and then you’ve got payments and all that’s doing is dragging out cash flow away from you and it’s going into nothing, right? And then you have an asset that depreciates the second that you drive it off the lot and it never — the depreciation is not something you can offset on your income like with businesses.
Or you could say, “I’ve got — okay that car costs, it’s a really fancy car, one hundred thousand dollars. Okay. Instead I could invest that hundred thousand dollars into a cash flowing asset, and then have that throw off a certain amount of money, maybe it’s a thousand bucks a month, and then buy myself a car that’s, like, probably pretty close to that price, and now have my asset actually pay for that thing that I want.” You see what I mean? There’s a difference. There’s an additional step of thinking that says: how can I expand my means? Rather than just: I’ve got money now, good, I can spend it.
I’m not saying don’t spend it. I’m saying, first expand your means and then use your means to live your life.
Dan: Yes, and when the car is maybe three or four years you might want a different car, you still have the asset that producing for you, that’s working for you, right?
Dan: It requires an additional level of thinking; of not just being kind of mentally lazy and say, “Oh yea, I’ll just buy that.” No, no, no, what do you have to invest? What skills can you develop to be that kind of investor so that you could buy the thing that you want, right?
Buck: Yea, and that takes a little bit of education. And I think that’s what — that’s going back to my whole point about if you’re a good student and you’re used to curriculum style learning, it’s very daunting to think, “I need to teach myself something.” So people don’t do it. But the reality is there’s not all — listen, I’ve taught myself this stuff very, very quickly and rapidly and there’s some concepts that if you can just kind of change your paradigm, it’s really not that hard.
And then the hardest thing is just trying to look at deals and different things that you can invest in and figure out if they’re the right thing for you. That’s really what the most challenging thing is. But the way I look at it, you have two alternatives: you can just follow the herd and the lemmings and just jump of a cliff when the rest of them do, or you can take a little bit of time, and I’m talking about an hour or two a week, try to learn some of this stuff and start investing like an entrepreneur.
Dan: And if we think about it, that money is a big — regardless how we see it — it’s a big part of our life. And to think about: well you go to school for so many years and not learn about money. Why wouldn’t we spend a couple hours a week even to learn about money? We’re going to be working for that. We’re going to be working for it and working with it our whole lives. Our life is involving money, right?
Buck: Yea, and you know Dan, to that point too: I don’t pretend that everybody’s going to listen to what I have to say and my style of investing and resonate with it. I just think that people ought to actually try to get some different exposure and make some decisions for themselves. I think that the worst thing, the thing that drives me crazy, is people making a lot of money and then just handing it to somebody else. I mean that to me is — why make it in the first place?
Dan: Yes. A lot of that is mindset, don’t you agree? It’s how we think. Or sometimes entrepreneurs — they work so hard, “I make the money, no I want to buy the car. I just want to spend it. I worked so hard, I deserve this, right? I need to reward myself.” And a lot of that is just kind of emotionally — well the subject is an emotionally charged topic anyway.
Buck: Well, not only that but when they do invest it — my point is: they make the money, why make it anyway if all you’re going to do is hand it over to a wealth manager. Right?
Buck: That’s my point. My point is: look at this as another business. All of a sudden — you’re an entrepreneur, your listeners are entrepreneurs I’m an entrepreneur, and the way I look at investing, is another business of mine. How can I, in that business, how can I take certain capital and turn that into more capital and create more revenue? And from an entrepreneur standpoint that should make a lot of sense.
You know I had a guy on my show not too long ago who does — who is in the family office realm. And he doesn’t work with anybody less than a hundred million dollars’ net worth. He works with, obviously, a lot of business owners, because business owners are the ones usually who are making that kind of — who get there. When people make that kind of money, they don’t turn around and start handing all their money off to wealth managers, they’re active. They’re active and they make decisions. And a lot of them are investing in businesses because they know about businesses. They invest in real things because they can understand real things. So that’s what I’m saying. Is it’s a shift from a very passive role in your money to taking some time — and it’s actually kind of fun.
Dan: Yea, and we want to invest in something we understand. Personally I invest in things I understand and control. I don’t get the stock market, it’s not what I understand. I put my money in businesses in real estate. That’s it. And I keep it simple and I get it, like you said, we’re just sharing with what works for us. And what works for you, you’ve got to find out and try different things.
What about the concept of — because you talked about it — good debt and bad debt. I remember a conversation I had with my mentor many years ago. I was still kind of maybe — I was in the beginning of my career and I started making good money as a young guy. I would say six figure, two or three hundred K a year, and I thought I was some hot shot 20 something. And I was talking with my mentor and I said, “Hey, this is what I’m doing and this and that.” And he looked at my financials. He said, “Dan, you don’t have enough debt.”
Dan: I said, “What? What are you talking about? I don’t want debt, I’m just making money!” “No, you need more debt,” he said. “You need to have so much debt that you can’t sleep at night.” And I didn’t quite get it then, but now of course I get it now. And that’s exactly what you’re talking about. We got to use leverage.
Buck: Yea. I mean, so I think a lot of this will be intuitive to your listeners because they’re entrepreneurs. But there’s a couple things. First of all, how do we grow? We grow by using other people’s money. If you just rely on your own cash you’re not going to grow very quickly. And that certainly relates obviously to business activity. The other thing to remember is that — and then, to your point about bad debt — now bad debt, what we’re talking about there is just consumer debt. If you are just flat out buying a car — and Robert Kiyosaki family calls it the doo-dad — which is, you just buy a car and all you got payments going out for five hundred, six hundred dollars a month and it’s really not making you any money, that’s a doo-dad. Credit cards are bad debt.
But investing in real estate and using other people’s money, notably the bank, for example, that — not only are you going to amplify your returns, but then you’ve got leverage depreciation.
Here’s another thing that’s really important to remember about debt and a lot of people don’t think about: so debt erodes with inflation. This is a really, really important concept. Because what happens to your money in your pocket or in the bank with inflation? It loses value. Now what happens with money you owe somebody else with inflation? Over time the value of what you owe somebody else goes down. So again, debt is eroded with inflation. And virtually everybody out there, every economist, whatever, we in the U.S. we have twenty trillion-dollar national debt. And virtually everybody agrees that one of the very few ways that we’re going to be able to actually start pulling ourselves out in the right direction is just by inflation. Because if we inflate everything then it means what we owe is not as much as it used to be.
Buck: But in personal finance it works the same way. Think about, maybe your parents had a house — I remember my parents had this house that they bought when I was a kid. It was like — they bought it for like $125,000 or something like that. And now it’s — I did one of these apps, I looked at it and it’s like $500,000, $600,000. And okay, so if they did a mortgage on that house and their mortgage was like $100,000 or whatever, what happened to the $100,000? It’s gone! So that’s a very important thing.
The last thing about debt for business owners, this is really important again, your number one way for asset protection is debt. If you have a lean on something from a — say you bought a piece of equipment and you bought it for $100,000 and you put down $20,000 or whatever. $80,000, that debt that you own, that’s a lean on your business. Guess what? If somebody tries to sue you, they’re in line after all of this stuff. As my asset protection attorney likes to say: the goal of asset protection is to make you yourself look like a turnip. So that’s a fundamental principle I think it is really important to business owners. Don’t try to have your business not have debt. It doesn’t make any sense at all. You want manageable debt, but you want debt. Otherwise you’re not growing fast enough.
Dan: Yes. And a lot of that again is kind of psychological. They’re not comfortable with risk or they don’t understand risk and they might even have the scarcity mindset: “Oh, I don’t want any debt, something might happen and this and that.” So versus the abundance mindset we can use other people’s OPM, other people’s money, to grow.
So I want to break it down into, kind of a step by step — action steps that my listeners can implement. So, I guess what we’re talking about here, first thing is we want to increase their earning ability. So whatever they are making right now, we want to make sure every single year you’re earning more, right? From your businesses or from your skills. Would you agree with that?
Buck: Yea, I think the first step is — and I don’t pretend to — my show focuses generally on people who are making money already. So I think, obviously, I’m an entrepreneur, you’re an entrepreneur, you have an audience full of entrepreneurs. We know how to make money, right? And if you look at it from the perspective of the ingredients in that, the first step is yea, you got to figure out how to make money.
Dan: And after they make it — now would you say — what’s a good percentage to put aside. Is it like the richest man of Babylon, 10 % or is it 20%? Like what’s your take on that?
Buck: It depends how much you make.
Dan: Is there like a ratio that you recommend? Like if they’re making half a million or they’re making a million?
Buck: Well, no I don’t really have a recommendation, honestly. I think in my own situation, I’m able to invest probably about, literally about 75% of my income.
Dan: That’s awesome.
Buck: Because of the fact that you have to cover your own lifestyle and then you invest the rest. I don’t live cheap at all. It’s just that after a certain point you don’t really need. So what do I do? I don’t put money in the bank. I don’t really like banks. I generally tend to put money in two places. Either I invest it or I put it into these over-funded insurance accounts, like what I was talking about with wealth formula banking, what we do there. Those are the ways that I can multiply money the quickest.
So, I think the key — to me there’s a couple steps. And one is, okay first you have to — if you look at it, I like to think of it as Newtonian physics, right? So if you want to excel or if you want to create momentum in your wealth, momentum equals mass times velocity. Mass is how much money you can invest in it, velocity is how quickly you redeploy it. So I advocate not only investing, but as soon as you get that money back from something to reinvest it as quickly as possible, because that’s how you create this idea of compound interest, which theoretically, is supposed to work in the stock market, but when you lose half the value of your money —
Dan: And getting dinged by fees all the time, right?
Buck: Right. Then it’s hard to do. So then you use velocity. That’s a concept called velocity. And then of course, the last one we just talked about is leverage. Is trying to figure out how to use other people’s money. It’s not that hard to do. And again, people can certainly check out some of the stuff I’m doing and talking about on my show for more information on that. So to me those are the key things. But all of this is encompassed by one major tenet. And if you can’t get past that, then you might as well not do anything with this show. And that is: you have to look at your own money, your own investments, and say, “Okay I’m actually a pretty smart person. I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m a hell of a lot smarter than this person I’m handing my money over to called a wealth manager who took a three-year six-month course and basically does what’s going to get them the highest fees.” That’s what they do, right? That’s what they do. And if you look at your money and if you make that decision, that conscious decision, that’s the first place to start.
Dan: Yes. And nobody cares about your money more than you do.
Buck: Yea, right. And the thing, don’t — whatever I’ll tell you, this one, the other takeaway hopefully, is that I just don’t want people to drink the Kool Aid. Because what the wealth advisers and what conventional tells you is that the equity markets are just going to continue to grow at seven percent per year, compounding rate per year. This is how they do it, right? And they start talking about buckets and this one is growing and this bucket is growing. Well what’s in the buckets? These are high frequency trader driven markets right now. These are not buckets. Assets. So seven percent per year compounding. No, it’s not going to happen. Things are going to drop by forty percent and then they’ll reset, and that’s going to happen again and hopefully it won’t happen when you’re retiring. You’ve got heavy fees going on, you’ve got — and then they’ll tell you, okay, and then you save for a certain period of time and then you’re going to live off of four percent per year. Well if you didn’t save very much four percent per year is not going to be — you know, double your money every 20 years? Forget about it.
Dan: And especially, I actually had in 2008, a couple of friends would invest with like Lehman Brothers. Nowadays the whole investment banks, they could go. Not just losing money, it’s like wiped out, they’re gone, right?
Buck: They’re gone. And listen, at the end of the day, remember that — and I know this, I still — if there’s somebody out there who can tell me that they know otherwise — nobody that I know, and I know a lot of wealthy people, they never got wealthy because their investments were managed by a third party. I’ve just never seen it happen. I’ve seen a lot of people get very wealthy by taking their money and learning how to deploy it and getting wealthy that way. But I’ve never seen it with somebody who says, “Okay I’m going to hand this to my wealth manager and the wealth manager made me wealthy.” It never happens.
Dan: Yes, it just doesn’t happen. Or they actually the ones who are selling the investments.
Buck: Exactly, you’re making your wealth manager wealthy. You give him a thousand dollars right off the bat, typically. Your money is immediately going to become like $965.
Dan: He’s making money right now. That’s cash flow right there.
Buck: That’s cash flow and that’s why they do it, because they like cash flow.
Dan: So, we should learn from that. I’m also curious, what inspired you to write the book Seven Secrets of Eternal Wealth?
Buck: Well, I think what happened with that was that, I fortunately for myself I have set myself up to be in a situation where I can really design my own lifestyle. And I live in a fairly affluent neighborhood with a lot of hardworking affluent people. People I call — people who wear the golden handcuffs. They make a lot of money but they’re constantly, they’re working long hours etc. And I just had a lot of people saying, “I thought you were a surgeon, aren’t you supposed to be working?? And I’d be up walking my two-year-old, something like that.
Dan: Something just doesn’t make sense here. What’s going on, right?
Buck: Exactly. So it’s not that I don’t work, it’s just — and I like to work, I like to do what I’m doing — but I work smart, I don’t work long hours, I work — I work on my own terms and I let my money work for me. And that’s what has — I’m only out at training here Dan, and not to — just to give you perspective, I’m in a position I can write this book and mean it, so I’m eight years out of training. And my last day — and I’ve been down to one day of surgical practice for the last year and my last day is next week and I’m moving to Santa Barbara, California. I’m 43 and I’m retiring from medicine.
Dan: Oh wow.
Buck: So, I’m not coming at this as somebody — there’s plenty of people who have podcasts and stuff and talking about making money who don’t make any money. And there’s plenty of guys out there who make a lot more money than me I’m sure, but I have enough to move to one of the most affluent towns in the country, the most beautiful by far and away, that’s why we’re moving there, and to set up shop and figure out what to do next. And that, to me, is wealth. There’s people who monetarily probably have a few more zeros after them than I do. But what I can tell you is I can go live on the beach right now, which is what I’m going to do.
Dan: That’s very, very different. Very different. And I think so, basically the book is an answer to people asking you, “So how did you do it?” Well now instead of me explaining it, read the book, right?
Buck: Here’s the thing. They say what’s your secret? Well here’s my secret. There are seven secrets. The only one I wish I had added, which in retrospect I don’t know why I didn’t talk about, because it’s such a big part of it, is leverage and debt. But maybe I’ll have to come back with an eighth secret.
Dan: The eighth secret that’s not in the first book. That sounds like a good title.
Buck: There you go, the eighth secret.
Dan: Yea, leverage. It seems to me that also, so you read a lot, we talk about Robert Kiyosaki. What are some of the people that have impacted you or have influenced you in terms of financial education?
Buck: Yea, you know, I think that Robert Kiyosaki was probably my single biggest influence. And it’s so amazing to me, I met him last April, and we were on a cruise ship, the same cruise ship, and I talked to him probably — we’d have like 90 minute conversations for like three or four days in a row and it was just really amazing. The guy really is inspiring to me because I think, just his ability to just take this information and just show how simple it really is. It really is. And he’s my single biggest inspiration, because I think he created a mindset in me, that’s a big part of — by the way I forgot to mention — I was reading Cash Flow Quadrant right around the end of my residency. Changed my paradigm for good. Just his ability to relay that to the world and right now he’s living his dream; living his mission. He doesn’t need any more money, it’s just about what he cares about. And so he’s a huge influence on me.
And in really — other than that I don’t have a lot of people that I think, that I really look at as mentors. I mean, I think now it’s funny, as I look back at things my Dad said to me years ago and now I get it. So in that regard, he is a mentor, but we never really talk about anything of course. It’s sort of an Asian parent thing. You never really talk about stuff like that.
Dan: I get it.
Buck: But I think there’s certainly people I listen to just to get a perspective on the economy. I listen to Peter Schiff and Peter’s a doomsday guy, but I always like to know like what the doomsday guys are thinking because that’s the worst-case scenario.
Dan: At least we’re prepared for the worst, right?
Buck: Right. I still listen to Robert. I read a lot. And I’m trying very much, right now, to create content of my own. Because I think that my situation is fairly unique and I think there isn’t a lot of people talking about this. Which is: okay, I read Kiyosaki, I believe in the principles, now what’s next.
Dan: Yes. And they need some kind of a — because with Robert’s work, it’s more principles based right. Here are the principles, but you still have to find your own path.
Buck: Exactly. And so what I’m trying to do with my brand, and with my audience is say, “Okay, well you listen to” — and we talk about Kiyosaki a lot, I’m not a, I certainly don’t hide the fact that I’m influenced by him. But I like to think about it as sort of, okay so let’s take practical steps to implement all these things that you’ve learned about, and let’s take it even a further step: what are all the wealthy people doing out there that you don’t know about?
Dan: And sometimes, what I noticed, even through interviews and through podcasts. If you talk to these wealthy people, they’ll give you the time. And it’s not like they’re hiding from you. “Oh here’s what I’m doing, I don’t want you to know.” It’s not like that. Wealthy people, most of the time they are very generous. Even when you met Kiyosaki, you guys talk and exchanged ideas and I’m sure you guys had great conversation. It was not like, “Oh yea, I don’t want to talk, just leave me alone.” Right?
Buck: Yea. Well Robert’s an interesting guy. He is definitely not soft and fuzzy. He’s kind of — he’s an ex-marine. And I think — and he’s a very smart guy and I think if you engage him with an exchange of ideas he’s glad to do it. He doesn’t like small talk very much. But he’s definitely a — he’s more brilliant than even his books would show you.
Dan: Yes, definitely. And he still has now a dozen books out there, there’s so many. I have read every single one of them and I’ve got a whole section in my library, it’s like purple, right? All the purple books.
Buck: I mean that’s great. It’s like mindset, right? What do you do next?
Dan: Exactly. So maybe share with us — let me ask you this question, because I ask all my guests this question: If you could time travel back to a day of your early days and have a five-minute conversation with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired, with the intention of saving yourself mistakes and headaches, what would you tell yourself?
Buck: You know, that’s a good question. Because when I look at all these things that I did wrong, I kind of had to do them. All the mistakes I made along the way I don’t think I would want to tell myself about those things. Because they have made indelible marks on the way I think and the way I learn. And so I’m not sure I would want to give myself any hints.
Dan: That would be so funny: “I want to tell you a lot of things, but I’m not telling you anything.”
Buck: Well, listen, when I look back and I think about things that — you know, I lost money and I tried a business expansion, I was under-capitalized. Yea, I wish I hadn’t done that but boy I definitely won’t do an under-capitalized expansion ever again. Because I got reamed. And there’s no lesson like that. Somebody can tell you a million times: don’t try to expand a business and not be capitalized. But until you feel that physical pain, you’re not going to learn it. Someone can tell you not to buy a D class apartment building without a very good plan on how property management that’s going to be able to deal with it. Or could you lose $300,000 on the building and never do it again. And I’m talking from personal experience. You see, so I think — that’s one of the things that I think.
Ironically, I wish I’d followed more — okay, here’s one — I wish I’d followed more of my own instincts early on. Because I think that, one of the things again, obviously having gone the academic route, the physician route etcetera, I was a good student, right? So I also was sort of brainwashed. I also had that Pavlovian effect where everybody’s patting me on the back for getting everything right all the time. And so I never want to get anything wrong. So just like everybody else, I was that way.
So taking risks early on with your own career, and saying, “I’m going to start my own business,” and so on and so forth, those things all take guts. And I think I probably would have taken even more risks early on and just got them out of the way.
So I think follow your instincts. I listened to people and thought that they knew more than me, and sometimes they do but a lot of times they don’t. When I started my first business, my first cosmetic surgery business, the advice I got from a very well-known business attorney was, “Listen, this is a great idea, but I think you’re going to need a partner who’s older and who’s been around for a while to be the face of the company.” And boy was he wrong. You want to know how wrong he was? So that guy — it fell through and I went out on my own and started this company and that guy who was supposed to partner with me now works for me.
Dan: Oh wow. Interesting. Very, very interesting. So I think that the lesson here is: definitely some of the lessons we have to learn the hard way. But I think trusting our gut instinct. I think as an entrepreneur that’s very, very important. Because if we listen to our own intuition, most of the time it’s correct. Most of the time it’s correct.
Buck: Yea, and when somebody’s talking to you about your investment, same thing. If somebody tells you something you don’t understand, and they’re using language you don’t understand, they’re meaning to do that. It’s not because they’re smarter than you, and don’t be afraid to look dumb. They’re trying to confuse you.
Dan: Correct. Makes a lot of sense. Any final thoughts or contact information if our listeners want to learn more, if they want to get a copy of your book and also just learn more about — and also you have a podcast too, I know that. Maybe share that with us as well.
Buck: Sure. Well the podcast is: ‘wealthformula’ podcast and the website is: www.wealthformula.com and you can get pretty of resources on the website too. You can download that copy of Seven Secrets of Eternal Wealth there. You can get a free pdf. If you can’t get to a computer you can also just text to get that book sent to you. You just text 44222 and type in ‘wealthformula’ that’s just one word. Don’t let the auto-correct screw you up. 44222 and then wealthformula and that book will come to you in pdf format.
Other than that, it’s a great community, it’s a very active community, and I think for people who are interested in potentially taking investing into their own hands I think it’s a good place to start.
Dan: Yes and what we’re saying is invest in that financial education. Learn about how money works, not just — yea learn about sales, learn about marketing, learn about management, learn about leadership, that’s all part of business. But definitely, this is — if anything, this is the most important business that we can have. That is minding, that’s a true business if you think about it. Everything else is secondary.
So, thank you so much for inspiring us today with your story and just your generosity in sharing your thoughts and ideas. Thank you so much I appreciate it.
Buck: Thanks for having me Dan.