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Getting to the Heart of What Really Matters with Ryan Kilkenny

“What does money mean to you?” It’s a great question to ask as you help clients begin to express their values. But to get to the heart of what really matters to them about money takes time and patience.

On this Elementality, Carl interviews Elements client Ryan Kilkenny of Atomic Planning. Ryan offers his ideas on how to get clients to reveal their true feelings about money. While new clients may present a problem they need solved, as their advisor, you need to also encourage them to explore their deeper feelings about money. Discovering more about their relationship with money will allow you to better understand how to frame your advice—and begin to build the trust needed to establish a long-term relationship.

 


Podcast Transcript

Carl Richards:
How do you take them from this focus on the presenting question to getting clear about why, their purpose, these underlying reasons that you can really help them with?

Ryan Kilkenny:
That’s a great question.

Carl Richards:
Thank you.

Ryan Kilkenny:
I think the way that we get there is by asking more questions of them like, “Well, what does that mean? What does that look like?” And to try to get more clear about it, it is so hard to not answer the question, but what I’ve found is the sooner I answer the question, the worst the actual answer is. And oftentimes, that’s not the real thing that brought them there. It’s the thing that they think that brought them there, but that’s not really what they care about. There’s something else there, and it’s my job to discover what that is and help them discover it.

Jordan Haines:
Hey, Elementality listeners. It’s Jordan Haynes. As more advisors implement Elements into their financial planning service models, we decided to interview a few of them to see what challenges have come up, plus what successes they’ve enjoyed while using Elements. We believe learning from other advisors will help you see how Elements can revolutionize planning for you. Enjoy.

Carl Richards:
Greetings. I’m Carl Richards, and welcome to the Elementality Podcast. Super excited today to be chatting with Ryan Kilkenny. Ryan, welcome to the show.

Ryan Kilkenny:
Thanks, Carl. I’m excited to be here.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. One place I love to start with everybody is this thing we call the dream, and I don’t know if you can go back a little while to when you decided to get into this. And I’m gonna use the word industry speaking large, speaking broadly, ’cause often when we first get involved, we are just getting involved in the industry. We didn’t even know about this secret little profession called financial planning, but when you first got started and decided, “I want to be a financial advisor, a financial planner,” why did you do that? What was the dream?

Ryan Kilkenny:
The dream for me has always been to help people. So that started very early, immediately after college. I went off into the Marine Corps, and so the dream then was to serve my country, and so I did that for a number of years. It’s about eight years or so, and I loved it, but there was something else that was calling me. I’ve always really liked working with people. I like serving people, and this is a way or this is something that I felt that I could contribute, a way to be able to serve people.

Carl Richards:
[0:02:42.2] ____. What were you doing at the time, when you decided to start your own firm?

Ryan Kilkenny:
What I was doing at that time, it was COVID lockdowns.

Carl Richards:
Yeah.

Ryan Kilkenny:
So my life had changed a lot.

Carl Richards:
So what a great time to start a new company? During COVID lockdowns. Great time.

Ryan Kilkenny:
It was. It was. And so my career, it started at a big broker-dealer, and I began my career as a lot of advisors did at that firm, going around through neighborhoods and door-knocking.

Carl Richards:
Wow.

Ryan Kilkenny:
And so it’s been quite the transition to working remotely, and now I run a virtual practice, and so everything is remote nowadays.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, yeah. And so you decided to start you on firm because you just felt like that would give you, and tell me if I’ve got this right, like that would give you a greater opportunity to fulfill this sort of calling, you use the word calling, this service orientation that you had?

Ryan Kilkenny:
It was. Where I started, they had a system in place.

Carl Richards:
Sure.

Ryan Kilkenny:
It wasn’t what I agreed with.

Carl Richards:
Yeah.

Ryan Kilkenny:
There were things about it that I felt weren’t in alignment with my values, and I wanted to be a financial planner. I didn’t wanna be a salesperson.

Carl Richards:
Yeah.

Ryan Kilkenny:
But the problem was the way that the firm communicated their value and the things that they valued to us, all the awards, were sales awards. They were production, how much revenue was your practice producing? Nobody ever got an award because they helped a family that they were serving, and that really bothered me, and then I started to look at other things or ask myself, I guess, questions, dive a little bit deeper, and the more that I started to explore that, the more that I found was not in alignment with my values, and then it became I have two decisions, I know I’m going to go independent, it’s either do I join a pre-existing firm, or do I launch my own, and I just kind of viewed it as if I were to join somebody else’s vision and it wasn’t my own, I’d just be taking a half step to eventually you wanna take the other half step to create that vision.

Carl Richards:
It’s interesting what’s that bug? You can’t… I don’t know. I can’t remember. So the red pill or the blue pill, to use an overused analogy, once you take it, there’s no going back, like atomic planning had to happen.

Ryan Kilkenny:
I remember that day ’cause I…

Carl Richards:
That’s right.

Ryan Kilkenny:
I remember that day going into the office, having that plan. I’m gonna send that email. I’m gonna hit enter, it’s going to my regional leader, and I just know my phone’s gonna blow up afterwards, and yeah, it was very interesting. And almost like a surreal experience. On the drive home, I can recall exiting on the highway, in the town that I live in, and I’m just like, “I did it.” [chuckle]

Carl Richards:
Yeah, here we go.

Ryan Kilkenny:
I Ripped it off.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Amazing. So the name of the firm is the Atomic planning. Do I have that right?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Yeah.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Who is it for? Atomic planing, who is it for?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Atomic planning is for the families that I serve. Like where the inspiration for it came, I was reading Atomic Habits, it’s by James Clear. But the firm was created for the families that I served. I realized that they were starting to experience things in their lives that I honestly, like where I was at, at the broker-dealer, I didn’t feel that I was the best person to be able to continue to serve them. And so that bothered me. And so I decided, “Okay, what do I wanna create? What does that look like?” Okay, let’s go do it.

Carl Richards:
So who is that? Who is it for? Who are the clients you serve? Who’s Atomic planning for?

Ryan Kilkenny:
: So my firm specializes in retirement and tax planning for people that are over 50. A lot of people, I mean, they’re so well-intentioned. People work so hard. They try to do the right thing, and for many people, that thing has just been, “Okay, I’m just gonna put a lot of money into my employer’s retirement account.” They’re well-intended, and that has created second and third order effects that start to pop up in retirement. And so there’s some stuff that we can do about that, that we can use to address it, but at the previous firm, I wasn’t able to do any of that stuff, like tax planning.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, yeah. So walk me through just real quickly, I’m curious about, your first meeting. Do you have a set of questions that you like to use or a favorite question that you use with clients when they come in to meet with you for the first time?

Ryan Kilkenny:
I do. So I use a certain set of questions and some of those are actually on the website. So it actually starts with that first interaction. So all my meetings are booked through my calendar scheduling tool. And so when somebody reaches out, I wanna know why are they reaching out? And so one of the first questions, and this is a question that I’ve heard you and some other advisors say before, and it’s just why is money important to you? I just start right there. And then, there’s a blank box where they can type in their answer, because I wanna kinda start to get an idea of who this person is, like what led them to raise their hand and reach out and say, “I need some help.” So we start there.

Carl Richards:
So you’re trying to prep that even before the first meeting? So when they schedule the meeting, there’s something that prompts that, there’s a box, that question gets asked, they can send some response?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Correct.

Carl Richards:
Then once you have the actual first meeting, I’m assuming that’s generally over Zoom?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Mm-hmm.

Carl Richards:
Is that correct?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Everything’s through Zoom.

Carl Richards:
And are you diving into those questions in those first meetings?

Ryan Kilkenny:
We are. And so we’re never gonna get there during that first meeting, but I want that meeting to…

Carl Richards:
Where is there? You’re never gonna get where? What do you mean you’re never…

Ryan Kilkenny:
We’re never gonna get to that final, like what it was specifically that drives them, or some people might call it their why. But we’re gonna have a pretty good idea of where we’re going. And we’re gonna learn a lot about each other. I wanna make that meeting about them, and I wanna just give them the space to just talk, like air your grievances. Why are you here? Why do you think that I can help?

Carl Richards:
Yeah. I would imagine if you are like the rest of us, sometimes when we’re asking those kind of questions, like trying to get… Does anybody show up at your office asking to cry on your couch or help get clarity about their why?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Not really.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. So they typically show up with a presenting problem. Their portfolio has been bad. There’s been bad tax planning or something, right?

Ryan Kilkenny:
There’s a question that’s on their mind.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. How do you take them from there to… ‘Cause let’s just pretend like it’s performance, which sometimes it is, and we all know performance matters a lot, but it only matters in the context of what you’re trying to achieve, how do you take them from this focus on, let’s just use performance? But no, let’s not. How do you take them from this focus on the presenting question to getting clear about why, their purpose? There’s these underlying reasons that you can really help them with.

Ryan Kilkenny:
That’s a great question.

Carl Richards:
Thank you.

Ryan Kilkenny:
I think the way that we get there is by asking more questions of them like, well, what does that mean? What does that look like? And to try to get more clear about it, it is so hard to not answer the question, but what I’ve found is the sooner I answer the question, the worst the actual answer is, and oftentimes, that’s not the real thing that brought them there, it’s the thing that they think that brought them there, but that’s not really what they care about. There’s something else there, and it’s my job to discover what that is and help them discover it because it’s magical when you can kinda see the light bulb go off in somebody’s head, and it was their light bulb that went off, like you didn’t…

Carl Richards:
Yeah, yeah. That’s so cool. It is magical. Do you have any little tricks? ‘Cause that can be really hard for people. I think of it as almost like a liminal space, a space between, right? There is this very tactical presenting question, and I think you’re right, the quicker you try to answer that question, the worse the outcome is gonna be because your advice is no good. Because you don’t know what the real question is. So why a little bit longer, curious, a little bit longer in that space where you’re supposed to be like, “Oh, no.” ‘Cause it’s a little scary, right? You have to cede control a little bit. You don’t know where the agenda is gonna go necessarily. You don’t know what’s gonna come out of their mouths. Do you have any little tricks for being better in that space instead of rushing in and filling it or hurrying up? Like Michael Bungay Stanier calls it the advice monster. Do you have any little tricks for taming the advice monster and keeping him in his cage for a little bit?

Ryan Kilkenny:
I’ve tried quite a few different things here, and I’ll tell you, “Hey,” I have a tendency to get a little long-winded. And so one of the things that I have, literally, I have a Post-it. I’m looking at it right now, and it says, “Just shut up.”

[laughter]

Carl Richards:
It’s so good.

Ryan Kilkenny:
Like ask the question, make a statement, whatever, and then shut up and give them the response or give them the time to be able to think about it, and sometimes that could be just quiet time, but give them the space to be able to respond.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. So you literally have a Post-it that says shut up, in there?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Mm-hmm. Yep.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, so good. Like I used to write sometimes on my wrist. I used to write, “Wait, why am I talking?” It was just a reminder. And I’ve heard other people who use other ones that involve foreign words like… Well, we don’t need to go into any foreign language, but why am I talking? Just a little reminder. So you have a sticky note that reminds you just take a pause?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Absolutely.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Can you think of any examples where that pause was really important? Where you discovered something, where you’re like, “Oh, woah, that changes everything.”

Ryan Kilkenny:
So actually, it’s funny you asked, but just last week, I was having a conversation with somebody and I knew that our conversation was because they had a question. They asked me a question and I said, “That’s great. Would you like to see a tool that I use to be able to answer that question? Because I wanna answer your question, but I just feel that it’s irresponsible right now. It’d be irresponsible of me to try to answer without any regard of where you’re at in life and what things look like for you.” And so kinda during the course of our conversation, we figured out the thing that they asked was absolutely, I mean, it’s important right now. We all wanna do that thing. For them the question specifically was, should I save more for retirement? And what we determined was that that would impact the thing that we discovered was really important to them, and that was being able to purchase a home.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, yeah. So interesting, like the advice monster comes out and you rush in and just start talking about ways to optimize to save for retirement, and you completely missed.

Ryan Kilkenny:
It’s tempting.

Carl Richards:
Yeah.

Ryan Kilkenny:
It’s tempting, but I have to remind myself, and that’s why I’ve got that prompt, the sticky note to just ask the question and then be silent.

Carl Richards:
Shut up? Yeah, Ryan Sticky Note. Very cool. We’re just sort of shifting gears here a little bit. Doing this work involves helping people make really important decisions with incomplete information. Like it’s irreducible uncertainty, right? We can never get rid of the uncertainly because that’s just called reality. Giving people really important advice with incomplete information can be stressful. Have you felt that over your career? Have you felt that sort of like, “Man, this is kind of challenging?”

Ryan Kilkenny:
Absolutely. Maybe every day.

[laughter]

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Me too. Me too. So that’s good to hear. I was just checking in to make sure I’m not alone. What do you do to make yourself sort of harder to kill, in light of that, what do you do to keep yourself well-resourced and resilient?

Ryan Kilkenny:
So I would kinda go back to my training in the Marines. So in the Marines, the way that we’re taught is we learn to crawl, walk, and run, and one of the first things that we learn is, you’re never going to have all the information that you need, what do you want? You’re never gonna have enough. And so there’s the saying, I don’t know exactly where it comes from, but I first learned it in the marines, and it was, you just need to operate off 80% of the information, like an 80% solution is good enough. Take that and run with it, because at the end of the day, we’re never gonna get to 100% or very rarely will we ever get to 100%, and then even once we do, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. Things are going to change. And so we have to be able to improvise, overcome, and adapt. And what that really means to me is that like a financial plan is a living and breathing document, just like an operation order is within the Marines, and so you take the best information that you have available at the time, and you go with that. And then as things change, you make adjustments to that or course corrections.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, so good. So, Is the 80% thing something that gets thrown around in the military?

Ryan Kilkenny:
It is because one of the things that is dangerous is to freeze and to just freeze up, and one of the worst decisions that can happen is making no decision at all.

Carl Richards:
Interesting.

Ryan Kilkenny:
And when that happens, the consequences can be dire, and you get reminded about that in the Marine. So I’m not gonna say what the drill instructors say, but you get reminded of that on a daily basis.

Carl Richards:
It’s so interesting to me that that framework has made its way, it’s been a part of the military training forever. That quote of no plan survives first contact with enemy. It’s made its way into business with the Lean Startup and Agile work. It’s made its way into programming with Agile development. Nobody does waterfall development anymore. But it’s kind of hard to make… This is a challenging topic to talk about with financial planners that like, “Hey, that 30-year line that you drew, that’s kinda cute,” but the only thing you know for sure about it is that it’s wrong, that it’s wrong, and getting people to flip the switch from trying to confirmation bias their way out of any disconfirming evidence. Like, “Anything that shows up that makes this plan wrong, I’m gonna be defensive about.” Switching that to, “Actually, I’m gonna be actively looking for disconfirming evidence because when it shows up, it helps tell me where to course correct.” Right? Why do you think that’s so hard for us to get through our heads as planners? Do you think it’s just like a Physics, MD problem?

Ryan Kilkenny:
For me, I would say that it’s because it’s all I’ve ever known. It was the first thing that I, well, it wasn’t the first thing, but it was in the planning software at the broker-dealer. You see that line. And so, personally, I think the best way to deal with the line is just to get rid of it, because we know it’s wrong and it doesn’t really help us. All it does is serve to do one of two things, in my opinion. It serves to distract us. And then in that environment, with a financial planning software at the firm I was at, it was meant to sell.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, it’s true.

Ryan Kilkenny:
It was to drive asset gathering. It wasn’t to improve outcomes for people, or at least in my opinion, it wasn’t. So I think just get rid of the line.

Carl Richards:
[laughter] There you go. Just toss the whole thing out. With The One Page Financial plan, that book, that was actually compromise ’cause I did wanna write the Zero Page Financial Plan, the no-plan plan. So let’s shift and talk real quickly just about your use of Elements, just ’cause one of the goals of this show is to help people who use Elements use it better, like to hear stories from the people we love. We sometimes refer to as users of the software. So tell me just, is there a story you can think of where your use of Elements… Well, first of all, how has Elements changed the way you think about your job or the work you do?

Ryan Kilkenny:
For me, it’s made it tremendously easier, and how I think about things. I used to think of data entry and reflecting the family that I serve. I used to think about getting the information in the financial planning software. I used to think that that was my job. And I had to always have that perfect because we all just know that every family wakes up at 6:00 in the morning, and they look at their financial planning software. That’s like the worst nightmare in the world, and it never happens. But so I used to view that as like, that’s my role, and it’s changed dramatically. Elements has really changed that. So they’ve made that process so much easier. You can connect your accounts. I never had the ability to do that before, where I was at. Now I can connect an account just like I can with anything else like Mint or insert other software. So it’s modern. I love it. It’s easy, it’s so easy, you just can’t use it. You don’t have an excuse not to use it, and so like the thing, biggest impact for me has been I meet with the families that I serve a couple of times a year, if I’m lucky. We try to meet 2-3 times a year depending on what’s happening in their life, but we’re doing fall meetings and we’re doing spring meetings. And the number of times where we just spend so much of that time, maybe I have an hour with them. We spend 30 minutes just updating the tool, sometimes more.

Ryan Kilkenny:
Now we’re not doing that. We’re just confirming that the data is correct because the tool is actually prompting them to occasionally update their data, and then when things are connected and the data just pulls in on a daily basis, it takes a lot less time to do that. So the big impact is that I’m spending meetings actually talking about the things that are important to the families that I’m serving, as opposed to doing data entry and editing whatever various input that we’re looking at.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Super good. That’s great to hear. One of our goals is to lower the cost to serve clients so that we can serve more. So that’s good to hear. Can you think of an Element story, just a story where maybe a specific Element or even the scorecard gave you the framework to have a meaningful conversation with a client or a prospect?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Yes. Yeah. So once somebody inputs their information into Elements, it will populate their scorecard, and so the thing that I love about it is, it helps folks kinda connect the dots and to be able to understand how everything is connected. And so, I have a family that I serve and they have a thing that happens to a lot of people. This has never happened to you, Carl. It’s never happened to anybody, but we say something is important to us, and then what we’re actually doing is nowhere close to, like there in complete misalignment. And so I actually had a family, where they were going after financial independence. That’s what they’re working towards over a long period of time, and they were able to spot pretty quickly the amount of money that was going to pay off debt. And in this particular case, it was car debt and so their cars on a monthly basis were pretty close to my mortgage payment, and that bothered them, once they saw it and we didn’t really talk about necessarily what to do about that. I don’t think my job is to tell people what to do. It’s help them make the decision that’s right for them.

Ryan Kilkenny:
And sometimes the best decisions come from the people that we serve. And so the next time that I talked with that family, we were just having a conversation. It was about something else, and they just said, “Oh, by the way, we sold one of the cars. We don’t have that payment anymore. And so now we can put that towards what their goals were.” And so that was huge for me because it was something that we’d talked about but when they can see it and understand that you only have a certain amount of resources. You have your income, right? And you could do certain things with it, but you can’t do everything with it. And for them, it really pointed out the fact that what they were doing with their money wasn’t in alignment with the things that really mattered to them.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, super cool. Super cool. Let me just wrap up with two questions. You can take as long as you want to respond. But I think of them as a little bit of less sort of rapid fire questions. One, is what’s the most useful tool that you use and why?

Ryan Kilkenny:
What I would say is, I do use quite a few different tools in my practice to help people, and I’ve been excited about many of them. But it’s kinda like the shiny new thing, and then occasionally, some of them wear off. But one that hasn’t would be the Elements software. So in building my firm, I’m a solo RAA, and I don’t always like to be in the office, but I always wanna be able to help somebody when they need something. And so for me, I can’t think of another software that I use that is so mobile-friendly, that if a family calls and they have a question, I could immediately view their scorecard from my phone, have a speaker phone or have the AirPods in, and we can talk through what’s on their mind. And so, I can’t think of something that’s been more impactful for my practice than Elements. I’m super excited, I would say about half the families I serve have it right now, and the other half, we’re rolling that out in the fall meeting.

Carl Richards:
Amazing. Well, that’s not the answer I was expecting. So I’m gonna ask you other than Elements. [laughter] So thank you for the answer. I love it. Other than Elements, do you have one little simple tool? It could be your AirPods, it could be a pen you love. Is there one other thing that you’re like, “Man, this thing has really made a difference in my life?”

Ryan Kilkenny:
I would say, it probably would be the AirPods.

Carl Richards:
It’s so funny.

Ryan Kilkenny:
Sorry. I have to charge them quite a bit because they give a lot of use. They’re in my meetings, mowing the yard yesterday, AirPods. Just the seamless. So I actually will just say, Apple.

Carl Richards:
[chuckle] Apple has changed your life?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Apple has been amazing, amazing for my business and just my life.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Perfect.

Ryan Kilkenny:
The number of products that I use of theirs is quite a few.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, it’s funny. Reese has two pairs of AirPods and he uses them. He goes through both of them every day. He’s a mad man with the old AirPods. So here, last question, what’s one thing that you know if you did it, this is a two-part question, though, so it’s the last question of two parts. What’s one thing that you already know, if you did it more regularly or you did it at all, it would change your business?

Ryan Kilkenny:
I think, for me, it would be if I was more consistent, and specifically, something comes to mind, but it’s content creation. One of the biggest challenges that I have is, especially as a solo RAA, is time management. And it’s getting all the things done that need to get done, and one of those is creating content for the people that I wanna attract. And so I have a weekly newsletter. I would say I’ve been pretty good with that. It’s gone out every Saturday morning for over a year, but I’m not perfect, and something that I’ve really struggled with has been the podcast. So I launched a podcast in March, envisioned a weekly podcast, and there have been stretches of three or four weeks, multiple times this year, to where it’s crickets. I say it’s gonna come out on a certain day, and I have that in my head and it doesn’t go out. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about… The newsletter’s small, not everybody can read it, but the podcast is just out there. It’s available, anybody can consume it. And to me, sometimes hitting that button, that publish button, is really scary.

Carl Richards:
So the second part of this question is, what gets in your way, right? We’ve identified something that you know would make a difference. We could spend an hour talking about why it would make a difference, but let’s just stick with the it, “You know, it would make a difference in your business. Probably in your personal life, too.” And what gets in the way? And that you’ve already given me a hint, so I’m curious about it. Is it the production of it or is it the send, the publishing of it?

Ryan Kilkenny:
Sometimes both. [chuckle] So I don’t like to waste people’s time and I want everything that goes out to be impactful and to make a difference in their live and sort of sometimes it’s the struggle of, “I have this idea.” How do I communicate this in a way that it resonates with people or, yeah, in a way that where it resonates and it’s authentic to me, but then also at the same time, it’s like, “This isn’t good enough. Like it could be better,” and that drives me nuts?

Carl Richards:
Yeah, yeah. Well, if it’s okay, I’d like to fire you from that job. I wasn’t planning on doing this, but I’m officially firing you, Ryan, from the job of deciding whether it’s good enough, right? Because it’s so crazy. I can’t tell you the number of times, where I’ve shipped something where I’m just like… Especially happen in the The New York Times, just like, “I got nothing. Oh, this is gonna be it. They’re gonna fire me for this one,” and it would be the best perform, like the most impactful. I’d get emails and the editors would like it, and then I would write something I thought was a masterpiece and I’d send it in, it would be crickets, and nobody would respond. So I finally after that happening so frequently, I realized I’m the worst person. The judge. And it’s funny, there’s a bunch of different and interesting… I wish I could remember who said it, but the person said, “If you’re having a hard time meeting your own standards, lower them.” Right, which is really interesting, and I don’t know how you blend that with like, “I care about the quality of the work I do,” but the other version of it for me is, “If there’s something I’m having a hard time doing or it’s scary or I’m stuck, if ever I’m stuck, I make it smaller.” Like make whatever the thing is that I’m trying to do smaller, because smaller is less scary. What’s your plan for doing it more often this next 12 months?

Ryan Kilkenny:
I think, for me, getting ahead, getting ahead to where the current thing that I’m working on isn’t the thing that’s going out tomorrow, so actually getting a little bit ahead. And for me, especially initially with the podcast, if we’re talking about that one, it’s been a little bit of trying to find my voice and that’s been a little bit difficult for me, or it’s just been a challenge, something like an internal struggle or what have you, but I think the way to help for me, too, is to sprinkle in a little bit of a mixing of things, most of the podcast episodes are by myself. So I am creating it, no guest. But what I have found is, sometimes it is a little bit easier to have a guest. That date’s on the calendar, were recording, and I have to show up to it. And so I think that could be a way as to do a few more guest episodes, and then maybe that’s a way to be able to get ahead so that they come out on the frequency.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, I love that. I love the idea of just creating forcing functions. So the calendar is a forcing function, a guest is a forcing function. Somebody paying for something that I have to deliver is a forcing function, so I love that. Well, Ryan, thanks for spending time. I just wanna ask you one parting question. It’s sort of a version of the Tim Ferriss billboard question, but I’m curious about this. Let’s pretend you had a chance to like, one, let’s use billboard, right? There’s a billboard, there’s gonna be a bunch of your target audience, like the people that you serve are gonna drive past this billboard, and How would you explain in a… Just again, you don’t have a lot of words here. It’s a billboard, what would you put on a billboard to help somebody understand the value of real financial planning?

Ryan Kilkenny:
I think it’s about answering their questions, and so it’d be a short statement to the point of… Actually, my website, it says, “Get your questions answered.”

Carl Richards:
Love that.

Ryan Kilkenny:
And at the end of the day, and I think you said this earlier, has anybody ever come to me and said, “I woke up, and I’ve got a financial planning problem,” or “I need a financial plan is… ” No, no, they’ve got a question on their mind and they just want to have an answer to it.

Carl Richards:
That’s right.

Ryan Kilkenny:
It’s like the immediate focus in a very busy life, and it’s on their mind right now. We almost never take enough time to think about this stuff. We plan vacations, spend weeks and months planning them, very little time on ourself and things like financial independence and retirement. So I think it would just get your questions answered.

Carl Richards:
Beautiful. Amen, Ryan. Thanks so much for spending your time with me today.

Ryan Kilkenny:
Thank you, Carl. It was great to be here.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, cheers.

Jordan Haines:
Next time on Elementality.

Carl Richards:
I just wanna pause real quick to bring up a couple of points, one, just emphasize a couple of things you said ’cause I love the framing of, “What are we solving for?” It’s really, really… That’s really… It feels much more sort of spreadsheet-y language, but you’re getting to the same place like, “Hey, hey, I understand performance is important, Johnny. Like glad you’re here. Could we back up with it?” Like “What are we solving for?” It feels much different than, “Can you cry in my couch?”

Phil Telpner:
Right. Right. Right.

Carl Richards:
And I find all of these tools are really useful, like George Kinder stuff could be way out on one spectrum. And what are we solving for, it could be on the other spectrum, and they’re all great. And as you’ve pointed out, it’s finding something you’re comfortable with.

Abby Morton:
You can learn more about the Elements Financial Monitoring System at getelements.com/demo and schedule a time to talk with one of our friendly financial planning experts. Elementality’s executive creators are Reese Harper and Carl Richards. Elementality is produced by Abby Morton and directed by Jordan Haynes. Have a good one.

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