Transcript of Interview with Chris and Marlow Felton
Dan: Welcome to another episode of Shoulders of Titans. This is Dan Lok and today I’m so excited to bring you not one individual but two exceptional individuals who are entrepreneurs, who is also a couple, who built a successful business together. Chris and Marlow welcome to the show.
Marlow: Hi Dan.
Marlow: Thanks for having us.
Chris: How are you?
Dan: I’m good. Let’s start off by maybe sharing with our listeners a little bit about your background and how you got into what you do today.
Marlow: Honey do you want to start? Yours is so exciting.
Chris: No, you always start.
Marlow: He was a corporate CPA, so that’s why I said that was exciting.
Dan: It’s a short introduction, very short.
Marlow: It’s short. Yeah.
Chris: I’m a recovered CPA, fully recovered.
Dan: Recovered CPA, awesome.
Marlow: My background is actually in marketing and advertising. I worked for a couple of large media companies here in Denver. I really just got into the financial services industry because I wanted to know how money worked and what wealthy people knew about money. I was a financial victim in my 20s and I decided that I wasn’t going to do that anymore. I wanted to learn and so that’s really what drove me to get into the financial services industry.
Conflicts and Differences and The Purse Story
Dan: When you and Chris got married did you guys shared the same values when it comes to money or when it comes to raising a family, or were there conflicts?
Marlow: Well there was.
Chris: Lots of conflicts.
Dan: Just a little, a lot.
Marlow: Just a few. We have very different financial backgrounds. We came from two totally different lifestyles growing up, so we brought into the marriage two very different money programs that caused a lot of conflict and we had to work around that and deal with that together.
Dan: What are some of the differences?
Marlow: Chris grew up in Loveland, Colorado. I’m just kidding. Honey, do you want to answer this question?
Chris: I graduated in high school with a mullet. Marlow says because of my hair right now it be a skullet. I grew up and my parents told me that making money was difficult, making money was hard, rich people are crooks, they make money on the backs of poor people, and so it didn’t really matter how much money I was making. I’d been successful as a CPA. I’d been successful being an entrepreneur in financial services, but it didn’t matter how much I made. There was this root belief that kept self sabotaging my wealth, so Marlow who was a financial victim in her 20s kind of cleaned it up, and I never really cleaned it up. I just thought you just had to work harder. Work harder, make more money and one day the money would show up, so that was really the first initial conflict that led to the ultimate conflict that really led to the beginning of the writing of our book Couples Money, and Marlow is great in telling that story.
Marlow: Did you want to hear the story Dan?
Marlow: Now that Chris has teed that one up but…
Chris: It’s a great story now. It was not good then.
Marlow: It wasn’t great at that time for sure, but just to back up a little bit, my money programs coming into our relationship had a lot to do with the programs I learned from my dad. That was I didn’t want to appear to be cheap. I didn’t really need anything. I had everything that I wanted. Chris knows I had a horse. I had three horses.
Chris: She kept a horse growing up.
Marlow: Yeah, I had horses. We traveled all over the world. That was good in some ways because I expected money and I expected to always have a comfortable life, but I did learn a lot of things from my dad, some that I listened to and some that I didn’t. One of the things that I remembered as a child was being really embarrassed by my dad being really cheap. He was extremely frugal and it was embarrassing at times. So, I turned that into a money program. I know this now. I obviously didn’t know it at that time.
But I turned that into a program that said whatever you do, don’t appear to be cheap, and that’s what really led me to my financial mess in my 20s because I overspent in an effort to overcompensate making sure that I didn’t appear to be cheap. That was one of many revelations I’ve had. So because I had already turned that corner for myself as a single person, I came into marriage with Chris. I started to clean that up and then found out that Chris was spending money like nobody’s business and realized that we hadn’t really had a good financial conversation prior to getting married which we should have. It really escalated, all the anger and frustration that I had over the situation that I married escalated into one night Chris told me about something that he had done or the expense that we had and I wasn’t prepared for that and I got so mad. I just snapped and I started rattling off all the things that I was really angry about with him. I threw my purse at him, so it’s the famous purse throwing story.
Chris: And a knife.
Marlow: I did not throw a knife. He always says that but I didn’t.
Chris: That was on the other hand. You were so mad you didn’t know what you were throwing. She was throwing anything she could Dan.
Dan: Good that she was not in the kitchen. Was she in the kitchen?
Marlow: No. We were in the stairs.
Chris: No. She was way too close to the kitchen. I was getting the image of ‘The Matrix’ where the guy was kind of like bending over and bullets are flying by him. That was me, a CPA that was dodging stuff being thrown at him and in fear for his life basically because his wife is mad at him.
Marlow: He’s exaggerating just a little bit Dan, but I did throw my purse at him and threw at him multiple times while I was screaming all the things that I was done with, all the things I was sick and tired of. Then, he asked me a really important question and he said “so then why are you married to me?” That stopped me dead on my tracks and really forced me to make a mental shift. It was that realization of how powerful that was. That really for me started to change my perspective and in turn, changed our lives as we turned over a new leaf the next day and started a new chapter of our lives, that’s really when everything started to change.
Money Program: Beliefs on Money
Dan: So that was a turning point. For our listeners, we are talking about the money program, exactly what do you mean by that? Are you talking about beliefs about money or are you talking about any programming they have? What do you mean by that?
Chris: Basically, what I learned as I started diving into my beliefs because one of things that once the purse throwing conversation was done, I started taking responsibility for my money situation. Dan, if you ever realized whenever you have a problem you’re always the one that’s there, and I was blaming everything externally. So, I just started looking at the symptom of my money issues was always on the surface but there is always a root. I just started really studying money beliefs and money consciousness.
Really by the time we’re four, we’re 50% programmed on just about everything including money. By the time we are 10, we are about 70% to 80% programmed. By the time were 18, we’re 95% programmed on all things including our money beliefs. The biggest determination of your money success is really the vows that you gained to gain acceptance in your family. The vows that I unconsciously took on was, it’s hard and rich people are crooks and all that. So, what happens is we stop being programmed so to speak almost fully by the time were 18, but we don’t really look at those beliefs. They are unquestioned. I went through a process of several years instilling those processes now of examining really what are the things that come up around money. I just became very aware. I carried around a piece of paper in my back pocket for several years of just the stuff that were popped into my head like it’s hard or saving money is hard, making and keeping money is hard. It was really what I had to do because Marlow already did a bunch of that work because I had to really unravel the way I thought around money kind of one belief at a time.
Dan: If someone who’s listening to this and is struggling with money, what we are talking about how your inner work trace your outer world. The lack of money is simply a symptom of what’s going on underneath. Now, for someone listening to this what’s the first step they could take, that they could kind of look at or examine what their current money program is? How do they know where they’re at? How do they know what God put into the brain of theirs?
Chris: I think I just reframed it from a problem to a project. I hired a coach. I determined to devote at least 30 minutes to an hour a day because I was just sick of being a victim of money. It was throughout my family tree forever, so the people I worked with just say “Chris, give yourself a break. You have been thinking a certain way for 35 to 38 years of that time, you’re not going to spin out of it all at once. It might take a few years, but it’s going to be worth it. You’ve got to really take small steps.” They’ve just got me committed to everyday reading.
There are millions of books out there, like Joe Vitale has got a ton of books, Attractor Factor and he’s got a lot of programs around those things. I just started diving into those authors and just committing 30 minutes to an hour a day or 10 minutes sometimes just reading up on how wealthy people think. There are exercises in there. There are exercises in our book, Couples Money.
Just really doing a little bit of work on it every single day, listened to the CDs, but the big thing for me was just being aware and being conscious of what are just those things that pop up in my head, writing those down, like making money is hard, and so therefore because I thought that I had to work 80 hours a week. I just took that Dan and for literally two months just said “What if it was easy?” every time that would come up I would just deconstruct it with “What if it was easy?” because ‘what if’ is a very powerful question and then it became easier, saving money is harder but what if it was easy? Writing it down, writing it in opposite just affirming one or maybe two beliefs at a time and just knowing that if I just stuck with it and did small steps and did my work every single day, it’s like an hour glass of black sand, just dropping in one little piece of gold every single day. There is a compound effect there. Eventually, the external world starts to match with your internal stories.
Dan: This is very interesting because this is coming from Chris, coming from a CPA. Some people who are listening to this and many years ago, I never subscribed to this type of spiritual laws of money either and I was struggling and I didn’t know why. It was kind like the journey you’ve gone through. Once I learn some of these principles and applied them in my life, same thing, transformation or change. Now, for all people listening to this, well that sounds a little bit like gugu-fufu here, like you’re a CPA, like does this stuff work?, like share with me the after picture, once after the turning point, like how you apply some of these principles in your life and how did it work out for you.
Chris: I think anytime somebody speaks and the coaching I got was I just had to suspend my disbelief and whoever I got coaching from, I wanted to make sure that they got results. If they are getting results, I was open to conversations. So, since that turning point, Marlow really has a handle on all the intricate details of our financial situation. We quadrupled our income. We went from struggling and we were already making a great income, we quadrupled it and we did that during the great recession. Marlow you can speak well more than probably five, six, or seven times our net worth – our reserves, our savings, our holdings, and all the different things that we’ve done.
People can say it doesn’t work. You can either search for evidence that things don’t work or you search for evidence that they do work. Because of our financial situation how bad it was, I found the right people got the right coaching and the right mentoring from them, read the right books of the people that had results. We mentor about a 180 reps in our financial services business across the United States. Sometimes they look at me cross eyed when I tell them to do those things, but I told them “Am I living the results that you want? Yeah, well then you should probably listen to me.” People that struggle are skeptical. Broke people are skeptical. I haven’t met very many ultra wealthy, ultra successful people that aren’t open the ones, that are wealthier open to ones that struggle are skeptical, and that skepticism actually keeps them stuck.
Dan: I think also they are skeptical sometimes because when people say “I’m skeptical” I usually say “Well, you’re afraid.” It usually comes from fear of some form or maybe it’s the programming from the past who knows, but if you dig deep it’s some kind of a fear that’s holding them back. They’re afraid to try, maybe fear of success, maybe a fear of failure, or fear of looking bad. They have so many limiting beliefs. What if it didn’t work? What if it does work? Who knows?
Chris: I’ll always say “Hey, I’m okay with skeptical but are you willing to move past skepticism?” if you’re not, there’s nothing to talk about. There’s no coaching.
Dan: Let me ask you this question, why are most couples don’t talk about money, or sometimes in family conversation when the subject of money comes up it’s almost like a taboo “No, we don’t about money,” why are people so afraid of talking about money?
Marlow: You know that’s a great question. It stirs up so many emotions for people. I think we have more of an emotional charge on money than we do sex. People will usually, not everyone of course, be more open and talk about sex than they will talk about how much money they make or how much money they have saved. There’s such an incredible emotional charge on money, it’s power, it’s control, it’s weakness, and it really makes people really vulnerable, and it’s easier to just not talk about it. Chris and I actually fell into that trap when we first got married. We kind of just made too many assumptions. Because we were in the financial services industry, Chris was a CPA of course he’s not being stupid with his money.
Marlow: Wrong. I talked about in our book about financial infidelity and how powerful financial infidelity is. Most couples have some form of financial infidelity going on. It might be something really small or really big, but nonetheless it can gradually erode at the trust in a relationship.
Dan: Do you suggest as couple like before they get married they should kind of have a frank conversation about their money program? When should they talk about it?
Chris: On the first date.
Marlow: No, not the first date, maybe the third date, or seventh.
Chris: Or when they start talking about sex.
Dan: So what would you like to drink, by the way how much money you make?
Chris: Either you an avoider or what is your personality. What can you say about money?
Marlow: What are you doing with your money? Why? It’s really important that for relationships start getting serious and that could mean a number of different things, couple living together to being engaged. They absolutely have to get in touch with each other’s money programs, so they know what drives them and have money conversations. We have some programs where we talk and we dive into this a lot more. We have a program about having good money conversations. I’ll give you this gold nugget here Dan, the shortest way to explain how to turn an awkward situation into a much easier conversation is to focus on common goals and dreams.
In that way that’s positive. Chris and I could give on board easily with each other when we talked and dreamt together about what our dream house looks like and where we wanted to live and the vacations we wanted to take. Then, once we got that nailed down, we could back up and that conversation became different because when we talk about saving money, it had a purpose behind it. Rather than just pointing fingers and having an awkward “Hey, how much money do you have saved? How much do you make? What do you do about that?” and all that. That’s the cliff notes of some of the programs that we do.
Dan: So basically setting a goal and almost working together as a team, as a couple, growing together and say “Hey, you know what that’s our goal, that’s our dream house, that’s our dream vacation” what would it take for us as a couple? Who do we have to become? What skills do we have to develop? What beliefs do we have to develop in order to achieve that goal? Is that what you’re saying?
Marlow: Correct, yes, absolutely.
Common Beliefs on Money
Dan: That makes a lot of sense. You work with so many people, what do you see are the most common beliefs or money beliefs that people have that are holding them back? As Chris alluded to making money is hard, saving is hard. Are there some more of the other ones?
Marlow: Well, probably the biggest ones that I see between Chris and I we have literally over the last 20 combined I don’t even know how many years it’s been combined, 26 or 27 years, we’ve literally met with thousands of couples and talked about their financial situation. I will say that there are two that I see come up all the time. It’s either “I’m not worthy” or delusion. Most people are delusional and then the silent killer of financial situations is the “I’m not worthy.” Wouldn’t you say Chris?
Chris: That’s the big one and it’s why 90% of lottery winners are dead broke or in jail inside of 10 years. They get a huge pile of money and they don’t feel like they earned it or they didn’t deserve it, so they subconsciously attract situations in their life to give their money away. I had a trace of that, so I had once again just not made that a problem or make myself wrong. That’s the other thing is people go in to shame around money. They’re going to “I’m wrong?” they call things good or bad. The people that I worked with, the coaches that I worked with are just like the belief isn’t good or bad, it’s not right or wrong, is it serving you. If it isn’t serve you, you need to move. What they taught me was the whole undeserving thing or these money beliefs.
Who pays the price in your life when you’re having these beliefs or these lies? It was Marlow, it was my kids, our teammates, and our clients to a certain extent. Once I start to connect the prices, as other people were paying for my stuff, my mental head trash, so to speak, that’s when I said “You know I got to go make a change” and I got to get on this wealth project and once again turn them from a problem to a project. I think the other thing that Marlow and I discovered is I think couples think that it some like huge thing that they have to discover. It’s going to change everything.
Success, Dan is I’m sure you’re very aware of it, is all small steps, it’s all small things cared for. It’s kind of like the atom, it’s very small, but it’s very powerful. What was hurting our relationship and what we find in most couples that we work with is it’s small dollars, its unnecessary spending, it’s dying the death of a thousand cuts of a five and 10 at a time, and mine was eating out at Quiznos every single day. I actually talked about that in our book Couples Money. If I did a brown bag lunch instead of eating out, spending 10 bucks a day, six or seven days a week over five years compounding it 8% over 30 years; holy cow.
Until I started giving into relationship with is this 10 dollars that I’m spending becoming aware of, is it getting us further away from financial freedom or closer? It was the time I made that connection and the prices that others were paying for that, that I started cleaning up the small stuff, and when I started cleaning up the small stuff, our income started going up, and more big things started showing up. We really had to get it down to the small spending, the small dollars. Marlow, you can probably talk about it. I mean money is a relationship like anything else. You have a relationship with money and a lot of people have a negative relationship, and you’ve got to change that.
Dan: It’s almost like if people ask me the question what’s my relationship with money like? I said “just look at your current financial situation that tells you a lot.” It’s nothing more than reflection of what’s going on internally. What are some of the tips you could give couples even individuals? How would they manage their money? Are you talking about having a budget or are you talking about not spending or maybe the philosophy of investing 10% of what you’re earning? What do you recommend people to do?
Marlow: I personally don’t believe in budgets because I think often people put down a budget but then they never stick to it. The reality is way more important than the budget somebody puts on a piece of paper. One of the most important things that we did from I guess if you want to call it a budgeting standpoint of really shifting our household buckets of money is segregating funds.
Probably the most powerful thing people can do that people don’t think to do, they think it’s such a small thing or how could that make that much of a difference and it does. I wrote a chapter in our book Couples Money. There’s a chapter on segregation of funds and I have illustration that I use with buckets, of how you should have a bucket for all the important areas of your life. Most people usually just have a joint checking account.
They put everything into one place and they have this delusion of there being money for different things, because they haven’t segregated the funds. They haven’t said “Okay, we have just determined that we want to buy a new house.” For example Chris and I that was one of our things that we wanted to buy a new house. We set up a separate account, so we could see the direct results of our actions. If there wasn’t any money in the account, we had failed miserably that week at moving closer to our goals and dreams. You can have the travel fund. Obviously we want people to have the long-term retirement fund, but there are some of the short term things that are important too.
Segregating funds I guess is the short answer to that question and is super important when it comes to money management 101. It’s psychological but it’s very powerful.
Dan: So Marlow you’re talking like what’s a good percentage? How much someone should allocate let’s say every dollar that comes in? How much percentage should go to the buying of home or what percentage should go towards retirement or some other things in life? What’s common?
Marlow: Well, common is like nothing.
Dan: Yes. That’s correct.
Chris: Or it’s a black hole. You need to talk about the fun fund too.
Marlow: Yeah. I need to talk about the fun fund. But, to answer your question, I get asked that a lot. What percent of my income should I save, what percent? So, personal its going to vary so much from person to person. I always tell people you want to save as much money as you can, because I don’t want to tell someone to save 20% when they’re so far behind on their retirement. It’s going to take 50% for them to get there. That’s why I don’t necessarily like the percentages because that’s all relative to a variety of different things. Does that answer your question?
Dan: I understand. It’s kind of like what I’ve gone through myself initially when I had no money and when I learned I need to develop the habit of saving. I was only saving 1%. It was horrible. At least I was starting to develop the habit. It’s a little bit of money, eventually it’s 2%, 3%, 5%, 10%. Now at 10% that gets to you becomes a habit. Eventually, 20% or 30%, and to this point I’m only spending 10% of what I earn and 90% goes into investments and savings and all those things. It’s a process, absolutely a process. Chris, go ahead.
Chris: I think one of the things, that people who struggle think goal setting is logical, and the world class knows the goal setting is emotional. For years I’m telling people that they need to save money, doesn’t just make good common sense to save money. Marlow said we got to save money and I was like “Yeah, it makes sense” but it wasn’t until I actually sat down and said “okay.” What’s the feeling that we’re going after by saving that money because everything that we go after in life or hoping to obtain a feeling. For us it was relief. So, I had to ask Marlow “What would that feel like? What would that mean to you?” once again I think people have way too many goals and I think you need to have one goal, and our one goal was driving our savings because of how you feel and the decisions that we can make and the stress, the relief and all those things.
I went to work on my five to 10 minutes of visualization every day because I had to get my subconscious on my side. I had to plant that savings was important and what it was going to mean. It wasn’t until I really made saving money; I took it from logic to emotion that for me made all the difference in the world, and then the other things is we sit down with people and they’re like “I have this job?” or “I have this and only have so much income.” I sit down with people at that have jobs all the time and I’m like, you’ve got to have a plan B. What other ways you can make income? We sit around and this is what Marlow and I did. Weve got to raise our income.
We just can’t keep cutting the same pile up and saving and yes you just got to get started and save 1%. Sit down with your spouse and think about entrepreneurial things you can do. The book came from that conversation. The speaking that we do, all those things, what can you do to raise your income? The other thing we want to work on was raising our income thermostats because you ask people how much money they make and within a snap, there is number that comes in to their head. So part of the wealth project was we had to start seeing ourselves making significantly more money.
I think that’s the other thing the side of the equation of a lot of people don’t talk about is we need to cut this out or cut that out or whatever. Once we get out of debt then we will. As you know Dan, what you focus on expands, if you focus on debt, you’re going to get more debt. We released our debt but debts are not going to go away until you focus on creating wealth first. So, we always teach people to focus on creating wealth, focus on saving money, handle your debt, and get those reserves built.
Dan: Chris, I definitely want to ask you to talk a little bit about more of the financial thermostats, but let’s take a quick break. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversations with Marlow and Chris.
Dan: Welcome back and we are talking with Couples Money, Marlow and Chris. Chris, we were talking about the financial thermostats, exactly what do you mean by that?
Chris: We were struggling and I hit kind of a plateau of my personal income and I drove it decently for a number of years. For seven years, we were making okay money, but my income had stayed at certain level. It wasn’t until I understood that somebody asked me how much money you do see yourself making. That’s the number that popped into my head. That’s my unconscious income thermostat.
The way that thermostat works is like a thermostat in your house. Let’s say you’re used to making $5,000 in a month and you’re a commission sales person or whatever, and you go out and make $15,000, like the thermostat in your house, you’re going to turn on the air-conditioners. You’re not going to work as hard. You’re going to kind of cool your jets a little bit, because your comfort level is at 5,000 a month. The next month you make $2,000 a month, much like the thermostat in your house, you’re going to turn on the heat and you’re going to work harder. You’re going to prospect more. You’re going to do more things to get your thermostat up to certain levels.
It’s an unconscious thing, but it really is such a big governor. We watch in our company all the time. People hit a certain level of success and they just settle in there. Our mentor that we worked with a lot say “Hey, your biggest challenge in life and in your business Chris is busting through your comfort zones.” So, we had to go to work on really to get ourselves in a position where we want to be financially hit our goals. We had to double our income and we’re entering the great recession in 2008, right? So, I had to just look at that double and then really what we did was we took that doubling of income and we sat down. We said, “Alright, going from this level to this level is way too much. The double is too big. It’s overwhelming, but what is that doubling of income look like? What is our ideal income look like on a weekly basis? Can we do that?”
So Dan, our whole focus was what could we do that week to get our ideal income on a weekly basis? What’s the thing that we can do? As we focused on that ideal income on a weekly basis, we were automatically telling ourselves that making that amount of money was not that big of a deal. We took an annual goal. We dialed it in to a quarter and that we still do this today. It’s on my wall to the left as I speak here. It’s our goal from July 1st to September 30 of the income that we want to make, that we’ve never hit before. But the weekly goal that we’re focused on this week, we’ve hit that many times. Our subconscious knows it’s possible.
By focusing from the double down to a quarter, down to a week is very powerful and it really helped reset our thermostat of the amount of money that we see ourselves making which is the most important thing. The amount of money that we see ourselves making, the amount of net worth that we see ourselves having that has to happen first before it shows up.
Dan: That’s profound because basically then that becomes your new comfort zone, and then that also solves the problem where we’re talking about people feeling they’re not worthy, as you’re basically conditioning your mind saying “Hey, you know what this is normal for me, making this kind of money, making the ideal money that you make every single week. This is just normal day to day life for me,” and that becomes your new comfort zone. They’re very powerful.
Chris: I still have limiting beliefs in things that hold me back right? All I can do is work on that for 30 minutes to an hour in the morning or work on it, play around with it during the day. Where people screw up as they try to figure out how they’re going to double their income in a year, and that’s too much. The how to’s has too many variables. But, I can certainly focus on what I’m going to do this week and what I’m going to do today. We teach couples how to course correct at the end of the week what worked or didn’t work.
Where people really get stuck Dan is they go after big income goal or big savings goal, and where they first kind of jack it up is like “How are we going to do it?” You don’t need to figure out how. You just got to do your work on the internal gain that you need to work on, but then get a good weekly game plan pulled together. Daily game plan, focus on that, course correct, celebrate your wins, rinse repeat, have fun with the process.
Dan: So people don’t have to wait till the end of the year to find out “I feel so bad. I didn’t hit my goals.” So, basically guess what, you have a yearly goal, and you break it down to quarterly, monthly, weekly. If you’re not meeting your quarterly goal, you’re definitely not going to achieve your year end goal. If you’re not hitting your weekly goal, forget the monthly goal or quarterly goal. We’re talking about making that daily progress. Even those small steps.
Chris: That’s the key. To tell you the truth Dan, actually last quarter was first quarter that we’ve ever hit a quarterly goal, and it’s because we threw it out there so far, that is kind of like aim for the moon and hit the stars and whatever thing works right, the stars, the moon, or the other way around. It’s really not about hitting the goal. There are two different sets of goals. There is what’s called be-good goals and the other is get-better goals.
When people set goals and they don’t hit them and they back off and they beat themselves up. They’re trying to prove their worthiness by hitting the goal. That is self-sabotage 101. We set goals to get better. When we’re getting close to hitting a quarterly goal, right then we throw it out there again, and then we throw it out again. We have kept that one day I’ll kind of show you the spreadsheet that I pulled together of how over the last five years, we never hit a quarter but we kept increasing. Then, our income kept going up and going up. We get there and then we throw it out there again and again, because what’s that doing is in our heads we are seeing ourselves making more money, and we’re becoming more comfortable with that increased amount.
Be Both Spiritually Wealthy and Financially Wealthy
Dan: Also I think people a lot of times, that’s why I love you guys. A lot of people I notice who also study spiritual laws of money, study law of attraction I think sometimes they may be misunderstood little bit of the philosophy. Sometimes almost they use that as an excuse, meaning that they are wealthy spiritually, we’re not wealthy financially but we’re wealthy spiritually. They are struggling financially. They’re not making enough money. They’re not providing for their family. To them it’s okay because they feel rich spiritually. But in your case, you know what why not be both?
Marlow: Correct. Yes.
Dan: Why is that so common? I see people struggle with that. They study the same type of work that we study, the interpersonal development, but somehow they couldn’t make that breakthrough, but you did, both of you did. What’s the distinction? That’s what I want to try to get to.
Chris: You go Marlow.
Marlow: That is really very interesting because we’ve seen that over and over again. I really think it has to do with our label that we have. I explain to people that it’s not the money. I mean it’s not the physical money, but it’s the feeling, it’s the experiences, it’s the freedom. It’s the thing that money is going to give us. That’s how Chris and I look at money, as a vehicle to make our life easier, our life better. We know we’re good people and we’re going to do good things with it. I think often there is that label or that stigma that people attach to something that can cause negative results.
I think that there’s an underlying “money is bad,” or “Hey, you don’t need money” and really when I hear that come out of someone’s mouth “Hey money is not everything” and “Hey I don’t need money to be happy,” they’re obviously broke. Yes of course that’s true. Chris and I could be totally happy sitting at home watching a movie together on the couch. We don’t need to go out to big fancy dinner or do anything like that to enjoy each other’s company and to enjoy life. However, our relationship with money is that it can allow us to do so much more. It’s not the money, the money itself isn’t good, it’s not bad, it’s money, we see as a tool. I think that’s kind of the surface of really what the difference is for me.
Four Stages of Transformation
Chris: I think people at times are like “Why do you do this? What do you do for money?” and I’m like “You’re broke.’” Most often they are. If you’re in business, I attach the income and the revenue that comes in our business. It’s a score card of service that we’re delivering. So how is someone going to keep score? Like Marlow says it’s not about the money, who’s paying the price for that thought? What’s the stress thats in your life? To make changes we got to collect reasons, and so I’m a big reason collector. I got to go search for reasons to move past my comfort zones and make it emotional.
For us it’s about our incomes driving, we are bringing big value to the marketplace. It has to happen. I think the other thing Dan is people in personal development probably know the four different stages of transformation. The first is unconscious incompetence. Most people are unaware that they are incompetent around money. That was my first stage and then conscious incompetence. I became really aware once Marlow started throwing things at me.
The next stage was conscious competence which is you get the coaches, you read the books, you do the work, you do the seminars. You immerse yourself, you write, you journal, you visualize, you stay in that until you slide in to unconscious competence. What I think Dan, the breakthrough doesn’t happen because I think people stop conscious competence and they beat themselves up which you’ve got to be kind to yourself. So, they stop the conscious competence. If you’ve been thinking of certain way for 50 years, you’re not going to spin out of it, maybe even three, five, six, seven, it might take you 10 years. It’s totally worth it. So, they stop conscious competence. They go with what doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work. It will work. It has to work. It’s a law. If you stay on it, the outside world eventually has to bend to your intent of what is happening internally. It has to happen.
Dan: I actually agree with that because I can see people maybe think it’s not happening fast enough. “Hey, you know I’ve been studying this type of work. I’ve been going to the seminars for six months, how come I haven’t doubled or tripled my income yet?” What they don’t realize is it could be 20, 30, or 40 years of programming they’re trying to undo. That actually makes a lot of sense.
Marlow: I like to use the ocean liner example because if you’re in an ocean liner, if you’ve ever been on a huge cruise ship or ocean liner that as it starts to turn, it takes a while for you to even notice that it’s turning. Once you get it going far enough and in the other direction, it’s like “Oh wow” and it becomes much easier. That’s kind of how it is in the beginning and that’s why most people stop is because they don’t think that they’re making a difference when they are.
Dan: They might not see anything yet but something is happening. It’s almost they just have to have faith and trust the process. Well Chris, when you got started, when you emerged yourself into this type of material in personal development, how long it took you to see some results?
Chris: I think the bottoming out for us was kind of mid-08. I had already kind of started doing that work a little bit around that period of time. There is a frustrating period of time when you are doing the work. The results aren’t necessarily showing up, that’s why I think a lot of people try to do it on their own. They are their own worst enemy. Our big thing was reaching up to someone who was ultimately where we were. We were looking for a coach. We had dozens who approached us and we only asked one question “Are you financially independent?” When they say “no” we’re like “Sorry, that’s who we’re looking for.”
When we found the person and a series of people and a series of masterminding people that where we wanted to be, that was huge. They were able to guide us in all those things. We started seeing results within several months and they were small results. But here’s the thing Dan, we were looking for all wins. I found a penny on the ground. I would celebrate because we were closer. I didn’t look at the penny and go “It’s just a penny. That’s not going to help us. That’s not going to help us get our net worth.” No, I had to change my relationship with money. I had to increase appreciation and gratitude.
Just small things like that, every time we got paid, we weren’t like “That’s not enough. That’s not going to feed you” right? I mean, we had to get our lives off the layaway plan of one day we’ll be happy. We had to start celebrating small successes now in doing our best to be happy now, not some distant point in the future which is just a total lie that one day I’ll be happy. I would say it was probably maybe nine months to a year before we saw some pretty noticeable things. But the small shifts were there almost immediately, because we were looking for them. We’re looking for evidence that worked which is most people go “Okay, I’m fixed and now I’m going to find evidence of why it won’t work.”
Marlow: Yeah. It was a number of months and really a year before it was anything noticeable. After four years, it was mind boggling to look back and go “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how far we came in four years.” Then, it just kept going and became more exponential from there. The focus on the little things and the gratitude of any step in the right direction in the beginning was so incredibly important.
Dan: Do you guys have any daily ritual or routines that you do? Do you guys meditate? What’s your daily routine like? What’s your daily working day like?
Chris: I get up just depends. Monday is earlier whatever but I get up early, cup of coffee. I’m reading one of 30 books at once but I don’t try to rip through the books, sometimes I read the same page over and over again for several days or several weeks. It’s not about getting through the book; it’s about grabbing a concept and changing it. I’m a big journal-er. I focus on gratitude, writing down things I’m grateful for. There is a myriad of things from tapping. I’m weird. If you tell me to stand in the corner on my head is going to double our net worth, I’ll probably do it but I just believe that you constantly have to be—you’re either growing or dying, and there is no such thing as an in between. I’m a pretty big visualizer and I think visualizations are very powerful and I could go on with different things. The key is I got to go to a personal growth gym every single day. I have to do it because that’s where the secret is. There are a lot of things I can’t control but I can control the amount of time that I spend on growing me.
Marlow: If only one thing that someone’s starts to do every day, I would say that the most powerful they could do would be visualization. At least 15 minutes a day, every single day.
Dan: Would they visualize is their ideal lifestyle? What would they visualize?
Marlow: Yeah, their ideal life. I actually have a visualization exercise on our website, that kind of walks people through this process. But I have people write down in just exceptional detail, because the more detail the better, even if you smell steak on a grill, you smell the wild flowers and the meadow. All those kinds of things, where do you live, what exactly does it look like, what does it smell like, feel like.
Write down all the details and then take yourself there. That’s the process. It’s mind boggling. When we started doing this process, it was like eight to 10 years ago, and I want to create that feeling, because I was feeling so trapped and strapped, that I wanted to create a better feeling for myself. I thought for what brings me the most joy and for me it was a yellow lab puppy. So, I visualized me sitting in a meadow in Breckenridge in the summer time, which is one of my favorite places, and this yellow lab puppy running around me. It brings me chills honey, and I’m sure you know why.
Chris: Because the yellow lab is right outside her door.
Marlow: Yes. This was 10 years ago that I said “Oh, let’s create this feeling, this yellow lab puppy running around in this field in Breckenridge.” A month ago, Chris and I were in Breckenridge in a field and our yellow lab puppy was running around and it hit me and it took my breath away, and I was like “Oh my gosh. This is what I was visualizing for so many years, and here it is.” It gets me choked up just thinking about it, how powerful that is.
Dan: It was like a déjà vu, like ‘wow it happened’. You see this so many times in your mind’s eye, and it just happened. It’s so powerful, very powerful. For someone who is listening, who is an entrepreneur, and everyone listening to this, they’re probably on their own different types of business so what we’re talking about is incorporating some of these visualizations, setting goals, breaking down into quarterly goals, your financial thermostats, incorporating that as we are growing our companies, as we are growing our business.
Yes, we’re working on sales, we’re working on marketing, we’re working on leadership and management, but very often entrepreneurs are not getting the results they want because they kind of neglect the whole mental-spiritual side of money. I also want to quickly talk about your business, your company in the financial services business, obviously it’s a very competitive industry, what do you guys do to standout, like any business advice or any business tips that you could share with our listeners? How do you attract clients? How do you work with clients? Even how do you manage your team of over a hundred people?
Chris: I think the big thing is you’ve got to bring value and you’ve got to focus on the personal growth, and the personal development of becoming more valuable. Our business is the money management business. The analogy I often give is a lot of guys in our industry sell golf clubs, and so the analogy is I want to have a better golf game, and I always think it’s the golf club that’s going to make the biggest difference. My swing never changes as my wife can attest to, right? Until I go to work on my golf swing, it doesn’t matter what golf club I have. If I meet Phil Mickelson at the first tee of our golf course and we swap clubs, even though I’m right handed, he could probably take my clubs and beat me in 18 holes. Because that guy has been working on and he’s been going to the golf course swing gym so to speak for so long that he’s unconsciously competent around those things.
In our industry and in a lot of industries, I think people sell widgets and they sell golf clubs, but they don’t work on the golf swings. We want to work with our clients and our teammates on all the stuff that we just talked about. This is our massive passion. Until we get our clients and our agents to think different and walking coach–we’re coaches, we’re not sales people. We coach people until we get them to think different, it doesn’t matter what golf club we hand them. It doesn’t matter what product we give them. I think the thing that makes us standout is the passion that we have for just developing people and helping them make a difference.
The reason we wake up every morning is we want people just to fly high and have a better life. We want to coach them. We’re going to offer golf clubs but we got to change what’s happening internally. I think that approach Dan for what we do specifically is very unique. I think if you’re an entrepreneur out there doing whatever you’re doing, what else can you do to help that client have a better life? What can you do? How can you help them get connected better? What are the things that they’re worried about? Maybe creating masterminds with your clients, delivering shared value, talking about the things that we’re talking about, bringing personal growth and development into the entrepreneurial conversation with your clients or whoever you’re working with, whatever you can do to add value to their lives, will go a long way to help you grow your business.
Dan: We’re talking about almost adding value beyond than just your core service or product that you offer. Just like most people when they think in terms of financial planners or financial services providers, they think they’re just sales people. I really like how you re-frame the word coaches that maybe as you’re working with clients, maybe there is a product that you could sell, but it’s not a good fit and you don’t sell it, because it doesn’t add value to their clients’ life. I think that also leads to the next question. Tell us a little more about Couples Money and what motivated you to start it?
Marlow: We we’re actually sitting in a seminar, a personal development seminar, we had been kind of talking about it for a while of our story and what we had experienced up until that point. We published the book in 2011. In 2010, we were already starting to see some dramatic changes, and we thought we need to write about this. Now, looking back, it’s like “Wow, 2011” and so much more has happened since then, but it feels like I need to write a sequel or something. We were just kind of hit with “we have to do this” like “why are we not sharing this with people.” There is so much value.
There’s so much that we can share, so much we can contribute to help people that are struggling like we were. We will be doing a huge disservice to the world by not sharing our story and sharing what we did. So, we looked at each other as this opportunity was presented to us and we thought “We’ve got to do that. We should totally do that” because it was one of the things that we wrote down. We both wrote on a pad of paper in an exercise that we had done. That’s really the beginning of it and we kind of start putting the bits and pieces of it together from there. We believe we have the fear for financial cancer and we want to share it.
Dan: For our listeners, share any final thoughts on how can they get in touch with you. What’s the best way for them to learn more about Couples Money?
Marlow: The easiest way would be to go to couplesmoney.com and there are resources there and ways to get in touch with us at couplesmoney.com.
Dan: They could get your book on amazon.com as well, correct?
Marlow: Yes. They can get it on Amazon. It’s an audio book, eBook, and a paperback, and they can also order the paperback directly from our website.
Dan: Perfect. One last piece of advice for our listeners, if there’s one thing they could do, if there’s one piece of advice, one thought you want to leave them what would that be?
Chris: Schedule time to talk to each other.
Dan: Schedule time to talk to each other as a couple.
Marlow: But talk to each other about your goals and dreams, start there.
Dan: Big bracket talk, not bitching to each other. It’s a talk.
Marlow: Yeah. No bitching.
Dan: No bitching. No complaining, fantastic. Chris and Marlow, thank you so much for inspiring us today with your story and sharing your ideas and your thoughts and your journey with us. I appreciate it so much. Thank you very much.
Marlow: Thank you Dan.
Chris: Thank you.