Making 300% More Than His Corporate Salary by Starting His Own Financial Advisory Firm with Isaiah Goodman

Isaiah Goodman grew up playing sports, which taught him a lot about work ethic and putting in practices that might not be fun but lead to positive results. That same work ethic carried through to his professional career, and when the time came to start his own business that same work ethic helped propel him […]

Isaiah Goodman grew up playing sports, which taught him a lot about work ethic and putting in practices that might not be fun but lead to positive results. That same work ethic carried through to his professional career, and when the time came to start his own business that same work ethic helped propel him through the tough years when things didn’t seem to be going right.

Isaiah Goodman’s Website: https://www.moneyverbs.com/

Josh:
Hi everyone. This week we are here with Isaiah Goodman. He is a financial advisor at a company called Becoming Financial. And then more recently within the last somewhere between a year and six months, he’s also become a founder of an app called MoneyVerbs. It’s all about tracking your personal finances and I’ll let him talk about that a little bit more. Today, he’s making 300% more. So, three times more than his previous corporate salary working for himself, which is pretty incredible and must feel really good. But thanks for coming on Isaiah.

Isaiah:
Yeah. Thanks for having me. I’m really excited.

Josh:
So, let’s rewind back because I was reading your site and you’ve been financial advising for nine years. Part of that was in a corporate setting and then part of that’s for yourself. Let’s rewind all the way back as far as this goes. When did you first get an inkling or an idea that you might want to work for yourself rather than in a corporate setting?

Isaiah:
So, this probably goes way back to college. So, I was a student at Washington and Lee University down in Virginia. And did these fun competitions, this guy, Ted Williams. And if he ever hears this, he’ll love this story. He was an alum. He created this thing called grouperi. And the name is weird because it was based off of like the fish, grouper, grouperi. But he did these little marketing competitions where he would find a business and then he would have students pitch a competition to give them a marketing idea.

Isaiah:
And I think he had probably like 10 competitions and I won like six of them. And I got real money. And so, I think it was like 200 bucks, 300 bucks. But that was a lot for me and especially in 2008, 2009. And then being a college student, 300 bucks is a lot. And I want a bunch of them. And that’s when I was like, “I think I’m good at this whole business thing.” Being 2009, the last major recession, I decided to work at Target and make sure I got my feet under me and didn’t go too crazy. But then, being there a couple of years, I decided to be a little bit more of an entrepreneur after that.

Josh:
Was that the first time that you noticed that tendency in yourself of like, “Oh, there’s a competition. This is something I want to do and that I’m good at and I like doing?”

Isaiah:
Yeah. So, I was definitely an athlete growing up. I think it’s funny now I’ve got a seven year old son and I can see myself in him. I’m super competitive, wanting to play sports and win all the time. But when it came to the business world, it was really special especially going to a business school, did this really cool class called the ad class, where we would get a two semester class and we’d set it up just like an advertising agency.

Isaiah:
And I was the CEO of the agency. And it was so cool to be a leader and understand all the different parts of the business. And I still to this day think that’s my probably first experience in being this business leader. And then, I was captain of my sports teams and things like that. So, I’ve always enjoyed it and knew I could do it. But the competitive part was probably the biggest thing where it was like, “I can work hard and I can make money. I like that.”

Josh:
And I’m guessing, because reading through your background, you went to Northwestern Mutual, which I don’t know that much about but I do know it does play into that competitive kind of thing a little bit. What was that experience like? Because as best I know, you’re working for yourself, working there, at least you have a tiered commission structure. What was that first jump like? How did you feel without the stability of something that’s a very regimented paycheck.

Isaiah:
Yeah. So, I was working at Target and you get the same pay and it’s nice. Some companies do this where they do every other Friday. So, you end up getting 26 checks. So, I’m a couple extra in there for the year. Well, I went from that to you might make zero for a couple of weeks. And that was stressful. It was hard. I was taking a big risk. I was recently married. And we were pregnant in our first year there. And it was a lot. But the upside was just, it was crazy.

Isaiah:
You could go from making three or $4,000 a month at a place like Target to making $12,000 on one paycheck. And I was like, “Wow.” The upside is limitless and the downside as long as you could swallow that, to me, it felt like it was worth it. And after the first couple of years, they were really, really tough and doing everything you can to get by, you got enough skills, you got enough clients, enough connections to where years three, four, five, it starts to get easier and easier.

Josh:
Yeah. Because as far as I know, it is a process of going out and getting your own clients. And my experience with that, that takes a long time to build.

Isaiah:
Yeah. You get-

Josh:
What did you do? How did you make that happen? How did you make that work especially with being married and having a kid on the way? How did you balance all that? What was the stress like?

Isaiah:
Yeah. The stress was a lot. And I think there’s this really good book, Albert Gray. It’s a small book. Maybe like 40 pages. But it talks about the habits of this highly successful man. And it’s written in a certain language, right? So, forgive me for the man and woman language. But it says the successful man is one that makes a habit of doing the things that an unsuccessful man won’t do. And that just it’s stuck with me. Where it was like, if I do the phone calls… Believe it or not, this is when the iPhone came out, right?

Isaiah:
So, people’s frame of reference is weird but we used to do 40 phone calls a day because people still answered their phones. And we made our phone calls, we did our dials, we got referrals and that was the way to really work the system. And if you made it a habit to do the things that other people wouldn’t do, you would be successful. So, I didn’t fit quite long-term with how Northwestern was structured and what they wanted to sell for their products. And we’ll talk more about my future endeavors. But gosh, I always love them for the training they gave me around education and just what it would take to succeed.

Josh:
And what kind of habits did you put in place so that cold calls, what else was your routine? And how did you stick to that? Was somebody telling you that if you do this for long enough, it will pan out eventually? How did you convince yourself not to give up in month six, 12, 18 when the results aren’t coming back yet?

Isaiah:
Yeah. So, they do have a pretty good mentorship program. They do a lot of joint work where if you have a potential client, you can call an existing advisor or I could say a veteran advisor and he or she will come out and help you try to sell that client. So, there’s some help there where they could guide you. And they typically have some mentor program where whoever recruited you is helping mentor and lead you and train you. And again, that was phenomenal. I think the training and the education that I got was second to none.

Isaiah:
So, it was really about humbling yourself and learning from what people did ahead of you. At least the ones that are still there. Because in that industry… And you can lump it all together in financial planning, insurance investments, et cetera, only about one out of 10 people make it past the first year or so. And it’s very similar to the business world, right? Only a few businesses make it past five years. So, yeah. That was a big part of it. It was learning from others and then the consistency, the discipline of, I got to wake up at this time, I got to do this many dials, I got to keep this many meetings and just always propelling forward.

Josh:
And were you always a disciplined person? Were you the type of person that keeps a regimented schedule and all that kind of stuff or was this a new thing?

Isaiah:
A little bit of both because I grew up in sports. I had that practice mentality and I knew how hard you had to work to be successful in sports. I had really, really good grades. I went to Holy Angels up here in Minnesota and I had a 4.0, right? But I was still 14th in my class with a 4.0. So, I went to a good school and worked hard and practiced sports. So, I had that in my background. But this is a whole new level.

Isaiah:
And I think this is what made me successful later as a business owner is, when your family depends on you to produce, it’s different than just your family depending on you showing up to work, right? Because when you show up, you can skirt by for a couple of weeks and nobody will really say anything. But you can’t really take a day off when it’s your own business or it’s a sales commission type job. You got to get after it every day.

Josh:
Yeah. It’s an added pressure. How did that play into things? Did you like having that pressure? I guess, I would imagine maybe it’s sometimes good sometimes bad. How did that added pressure play into your motivation?

Isaiah:
To me, it had to be a switch. So, if I’m in front of a client, I had to really mentally talk to myself about like, turn the switch off, focus on just this client and what they need help with right now. Because in the back of my head, I’m talking to Josh and I’m like, “Man, I really need 2000 bucks,” well, the clients can feel that like, “Why is this guy being so pushy,” right? And if I turn that off and I was like, “Okay. What’s best for Josh?”

Isaiah:
And I was a very true to my nature and said, “Here’s what’s best for you. If I made a thousand bucks but you had a good experience, you would refer me to a couple of friends and now I can go make three or 4,000,” right? Instead of me trying to be pushy and thinking about, “What do I need? What do I need?” And then I probably wouldn’t sell anything. So, I still needed to turn that switch back on because the next day I’d have to wake up, get there, do my 40 dials and put the pressure on to make that stuff happen but still turn it off when I was in front of a client and really just focus.

Josh:
How’d you build that habit? Because it’s a hard thing to do.

Isaiah:
Gosh, practice. There was enough where I messed up where a client is like, “Dude, calm down. You’re too pushy.” So, I think trial and error a little bit, which kind of stings because you need some of those deals to go through and it didn’t go through. Learning from other people I think helps. Sometimes you can lean on somebody else. And honestly, I think for me it was probably reading. Reading helped me the most. And this is what’s been interesting too with that evolution of technology.

Isaiah:
Man, I’ve been on the edge of it my whole life. Because I grew up in the 90s, was able to see all the stuff changing with technology and computers. I still remember Macs being the ones with the colored apples and they’re all just like big tube TV, computer. And I saw that internet come out. I saw iPhones come out. And one of the big ones was audible. And so, I’ve listened to probably 300 books in the past 10 years. As I’ve tried to personally grow and develop, I’ve really downloaded from other people’s knowledge.

Josh:
Asking for myself as well as everyone else, what are some of-

Josh:
Your top picks in terms of books that have really shaped the way you do your business life?

Isaiah:
Yeah. So, like I mentioned, that really small book, that Habits of Highly Successful men, I think that it’s by Albert Gray, if you look that up. There’s a really cool book called The Game of Numbers, which it mostly is for financial advisors but basically, it talks about the premise that you can’t fail if you just keep playing the game. Because there’s however many billions of people in the world and if you talk to enough of them, enough of them will buy. That was really encouraging on some of those days where it was like, “Man, nobody wants to talk to me.”

Isaiah:
I think some of the other really good ones are probably more around me as a person and personal development. So, things like The Five Love Languages, really helpful for me and my wife to understand, “Hey, my bucket’s kind of low, here’s how she could help me out.” For me to understand my wife’s love language is quality time. So, if I’m working too much, like take a Friday off and go hang out with her and that kind of fills her bucket. Another good one is a lot of parables.

Isaiah:
So, I really like… One’s called The Energy Bus, where it talks about who you let onto your bus. And are they slowing you down or speeding you up? There’s another one called Who Moved Our Cheese. So, it’s a parable about mice trying to find the way to change. Another one’s called Our Iceberg Is Melting, that one’s a fun one about penguins trying to deal with an iceberg that’s melting.

Isaiah:
And then, another one that probably a lot of people have heard of is The Alchemist and The Richest Man in Babylon. So, these are all really, really cool books that I’ve been able to draw on and learn from. And then I remember them because of their story. It’s not just some boring nonfiction guy who wrote this book, there’s a story that I can recall.

Josh:
Yeah. Yeah. I like that. Books have been big in my journey as well. What’s your personality type? Are you more introverted or extroverted?

Isaiah:
It’s funny because I think I’ve evolved. The more clients that I’ve had, I’ve become more introverted. Because I think I need to eventually have some me time. When I was in college, I was definitely… What was it? ENFJ. So extroverted. And then now that I meet with literally hundreds of people per month, I think when I’m not meeting with somebody like this, I need to unplug.

Josh:
Yeah. All right. So, you did the Northwestern thing for a few years, four or five years?

Isaiah:
Five years. Yeah. I was there, I got the pin and everything. And it was interesting because 96% of people that make it five years with Northwestern, they retire there. It’s a great company and really good products. But for me, I just actually had an amazing year, year four. And it went down a little bit in terms of production at Northwestern, year five.

Isaiah:
Because I started selling other products from different companies. Because what I found for my clientele was… Maybe Northwestern Mutual wasn’t the perfect thing every time but they all have sales minimums, right? So, Northwestern, New York Life, MassMutual, all these places have like, if you work for us, you’ve got to sell this much of our stuff. And something inside of me was like, “I don’t really like that.”

Josh:
Was the motivation for going off on your own partly just that you wanted to offer a better set of services?

Isaiah:
That was it, is I didn’t want to be constricted to one company first or solely motivated by their products. Because you get paid the most if you sell their stuff, right? And also, I wanted to advise clients on things that I was really, really remarkably talented at but I couldn’t get paid for at the time. So, things like budgeting, student loans, paying down debt, managing credit, there’s not a product for that, that a company like Northwestern or Edward Jones, they can’t sell a product for that, it’s a service. And I couldn’t get paid for service work being at that company.

Josh:
So, you wanted to be able to just figure out what an individual person needed and offer the right solution to them?

Isaiah:
You got it. Yeah. Yeah. I had learned enough through my time there for five years and all the books that I’ve read that I’ve come up with my own philosophy on what does a good financial plan look like? And once I started practicing it with clients, I was like, “I could get paid a lot more if I charged for this.”

Josh:
So, how’d you make the leap? Who was your first client that was your client?

Isaiah:
Well, it was interesting. I did a little transition with MassMutual. So, I left Target, left Northwestern Mutual, went to MassMutual and they allowed me to DBA as my current firm Becoming Financial. And nothing but love for those guys. They still contract and sell their products. And their stuff is really, really good. But they had some minimums and stuff like that too. And so, it was probably actually a year after.

Isaiah:
So, when I started being molded to do fee-based planning, I did all the investment in time and energy to become an RIA. So, registered investment advisory firm. And then, I was solo dolo. It was all me. But I had had a whole year away from Northwestern Mutual. So, my one year non-compete expired and then I just started raking all my clients from Northwestern.

Josh:
And you already had those relationships. So, they knew and trusted you. How did you build your personal philosophy? Maybe it’s not your personal philosophy but what you guide clients through? How did you build that model?

Isaiah:
Like I said, a lot of reading. And I think I’ve a really good skill for synthesizing information and comparing and contrasting. So, I look at all the budgeting tools out there and I see that most of them fail. So, what can I do different to help my clients be more likely to succeed? I look at all the methods for student loans. And most of them fail. So, how can I help my clients do something a little bit differently or maybe look at it from a different perspective. If everybody’s looking at it this way, let’s look at it this way.

Isaiah:
And I think over time with, I’ve probably talked to probably close to 10,000 households about money. And the number of people that have actually signed up or paid me to work probably like 1100 to 1200. But having talked to that many and seeing what works and what doesn’t work, it starts to narrow in on, “All right. Here’s what I believe about budgeting, about student loans, about insurance, about investments and build this platform.” And now, in the last four years with all of my clients, it’s worked pretty well.

Josh:
Yeah. And then, I’m fascinated because you just recently launched a tool. And I’m wondering if, did you just try to condense down what you teach people and turned it into a tool?

Isaiah:
I wouldn’t even say condense. I would say democratize almost. Because when it comes to financial planning, there’s typically two spectrums. One spectrum is commission-based. So, I sell you an insurance product, I get 50%, 70%, 80% today. If I sell you an upfront mutual fund, you put in a hundred grand, I’ll get paid 5,000 today. We invest your 95,000 and off it goes. Or, assets under management, you bring in 250,000, we’ll charge you 1% per year and then we both get paid if it grows, right?

Isaiah:
Well, a lot of people, if they can’t afford the insurance product or they don’t feel like it’s right for them, the only other way for them to engage with the financial advisor is to have 250,000, 500,000 of assets. Well, not a lot of people have that. So, that’s why stuff like Acorns and Robinhood have really exploded the last few years. Because now you could put 500 bucks in an account and go for it.

Isaiah:
But the big disconnect is every single time I talk to people, they didn’t know what to do. What are the action steps that I take, right? So, I’m nervous to take action because I don’t know what to do. It’s like with sports. Let’s say it was like, “Hey Josh, we’re going to go play badminton.” And we’d go out on the court and you’re like, “How does this work?” And I’m like, “You’ll figure it out,” right? “You’ll figure it out.” That’s what we do with money, right?

Isaiah:
You’re 18 and they’re like, “Oh, you’ll figure it out. No problem. You’ll learn about credit cards and debt and interest. And by the time that you figure it out, you’re in your mid thirties and forties, if not later and you’ve made a ton of mistakes. So, with people not knowing what to do, what actions to take, I was like, “Okay. I can create a platform called MoneyVerbs where people can learn about and practice doing.” And that way it can be a little bit more affordable. They don’t have to meet with the financial advisor to feel confident to start to take some action steps.

Josh:
That’s really cool. So, I’m almost picturing it is like, you have this service that because of the barriers to entry, you can only offer to a certain subset of people but the stuff that you’re basically advising those people on can be accessed by anybody.

Isaiah:
Handle all information. Yeah.

Josh:
Yeah. So, you’re building this tool. How did you do that? Because I imagine you’re really busy with a full book of clients and then you have this idea like, “Oh, I’d like to make a tool.” How did you do that?

Isaiah:
So, big, huge thing. And this goes back to books, right? Another one of my favorite books I should have mentioned earlier is called Procrastinate on Purpose. It’s about this really good author, Rory Vaden. And he talks about this matrix of, is it important or is it urgent? And so, if it’s important and it’s urgent, then I need to concentrate, I need to focus and do it right now.

Isaiah:
If it’s not important and it’s not urgent, I should probably get rid of it. Or at least, if it’s not super important or maybe not unique to my skills but somebody else needs it to get done, that’s when I can delegate or start to automate this thing, right? I can use some other tool or I can hire people to do it at 15, 20 bucks an hour instead of what I would charge for my hourly rate.

Isaiah:
And then, last but not least if it’s important but not urgent, maybe it’s something you procrastinate on purpose to where you’re like, “Okay. I need to do this. I’m uniquely skilled and talented to do this but it doesn’t need to get done today.” And then plan out when it does need to get done. So, using that and now building out a team, we’ve got 30 people all over the world to help our MoneyVerbs. We’ve been able to get quite a lot done in… You and I were joking. We formally incorporated in September, 2019 but with the whole COVID, I think we should say we’ve been working on it maybe six months, eight months.

Josh:
Yeah. That’s so cool. And I didn’t ask you this before but what kind of percentage of what you’re bringing in today is coming from MoneyVerbs or even charging for it yet?

Isaiah:
I’m not even charging for it yet. So, if you hear about it, it’s on iOS, it’s on Android. We are going to have a freemium version. So, in the coming months, we’ll add some advertising and that’s a part of the game nowadays, right? Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, all that stuff. But we’ll offer a premium version. So, then, for about 70 bucks per year, you can now have access to all of this financial information. And sometimes people are like, “Oh, it feels like a lot.”

Isaiah:
We did a survey over 300 people said they would pay about that much for this type of information. And then I just put it in perspective, right? Like Apple music is 10 bucks a month. Spotify is 10 bucks a month, right? All these other platforms that you use all the time or don’t use, like you pay for Apple music and Spotify, you could get some financial education for the same or less.

Josh:
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s almost funny that we’re so willing to drop 120 bucks a year to listen to music but not that much to make sure we not have any money. I was going to ask you, how do you go about finding good people to help out especially at those levels where you can afford to hire 30 people? It’s a lot of people. How do you do that?

Isaiah:
Yeah. It was really tough at first. When we started, myself and a couple of co-founders, Jonathan and Jeff, they created this company called NCXT, N-C-X-T. And their whole goal, their mission is to help companies like MoneyVerbs get up and running, use human-centered design, do a lot of research so that they can help companies build the best products. Obviously with that, there’s some negotiations and you try to do as little equity as you can but enough that they feel compensated.

Isaiah:
And then, a lot of it is contractors. So, we worked with contractors who they might’ve had two or three other jobs or gigs. And so, they’re willing to work with us on a little bit more of a part time basis or lower wage as we get going. And then, as we’ve been able to get some profit and revenue from becoming financial, invest that into MoneyVerbs and then now, the next big stage is do a preorder and do some investor VC money so that MoneyVerbs can stand alone.

Josh:
So, is that your long-term play? Is it the MoneyVerbs?

Isaiah:
I think so. It’s interesting, with all the platforms out there… And they’re great. I’m not bashing on them. But something like Robinhood, you can hop on there and lose 2000 bucks and not know why. And so, we see something like MoneyVerbs in potentially in a space where you could learn about it, practice it and then go on and trade.

Isaiah:
Basically, anything from into it, we think we can compete with, Credit Karma, Mint.com, QuickBooks, any of those products, we think we could be up there and do pretty well and help people with that type of money management. So, then, that brings in mergers and acquisitions, right? If Intuit called and said they had a couple billion dollars for us, that might be the end of it for me.

Josh:
Maybe. That’s so cool. Well, we’re coming up on time but thanks for sharing that with us. I think that just was fascinating tracking how you were thinking about things and making those steps. For anyone listening that wants to check out either of your businesses, where can they go to learn more about that?

Isaiah:
Yeah. So, check us out, becomingfinancial.com or moneyverbs.com. All of our social handles are on there. It’s usually just Becoming Financial or MoneyVerbs. My personal stuff is all goodmani. So, at goodmani. And all of our social. And love to connect with you guys.

Josh:
Awesome. Well, thanks again for coming on.

Isaiah:
Yeah. Appreciate it, Josh.

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Josh Haynam

Josh Haynam is the co-founder of Interact, a place for creating beautiful and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. Outside of Interact Josh is an outdoor enthusiast, is very into health/fitness, and enjoys spending time with his community in San Francisco.

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