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EPISODE #020

#20 The 2 Keys to Success with Stephanie Barnier

Stephanie Barnier joins the Sherpas Cave. Stephanie is a certified financial planner and the CEO of Clear Sky Wealth. We discusses success, failures, passion and Stephanie shares her 2 keys to success.

 

Key Takeaways:

 

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Transcription:

Speaker 1:

From his first job flipping burgers at McDonald’s and delivering The Washington Post, Craig Willett counts only one and a half years of his adult life working for someone else. Welcome to The Biz Sherpa podcast with your host, Craig Willett. Founder of several multimillion-dollar businesses and trusted advisor to other business owners, he’s giving back to help business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs achieve fulfillment, enhance their lives, and create enduring wealth. The Biz Sherpa.  

Craig Willett:

This is Craig Willett, The Biz Sherpa. I’m grateful that you’d join me today in the Sherpa’s Cave. I’ve got a special guest for you, Stephanie Barnier. She’s a certified financial planner and the CEO of Clear Sky Wealth. Her business is located in San Diego, California. I’m grateful that you’d join me today. Thanks for being here, Stephanie.

Stephanie Barnier:

Oh, it’s great to be here, Craig. I look forward to this conversation.

Craig Willett:

It’s going to be very insightful. In fact, I really look forward to some of the insights you’re going to be able to share with us today that will help inspire us on savings, investment, and business ownership. Speaking of business ownership, you might want to tell us a little bit about how you were able to eventually, through your career, start your own, but where that seed started.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. Passion. It has played a really big role in my life since I was young. This might be the case for you and a lot of your listeners. Some advisors, they don’t follow your passion. I cannot agree with that. Here’s why. I started my career at Morgan Stanley, and at that time I said to myself, “One day I’ll have my own firm, I’ll have my own registered investment advisory firm.” I didn’t

Craig Willett:

So, you had this dream early on?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah, and I didn’t think much of it then, but I planted the seed early on. I didn’t think about it much going forward. I believe when we’re most uncomfortable in our lives, that’s when we make changes. So, before I even started at Morgan Stanley, investing was a passion of mine, it was an interest of mine. I was a little bit of a nerd. People wouldn’t know it because I didn’t talk about it, but I knew a lot about it in high school. Investing, what makes the market and why, and my dad taught me a lot of it.

Craig Willett:

No wonder why we get along. I remember growing up, my favorite thing was real estate. I learned it at the kitchen table from my father and I always wanted to do that. I became a real estate developer over the years but not first. I started out in another career, but I always saw myself as a teenager, in my mind’s eye, doing something. I didn’t know what it was. So, I’m anxious to hear your teenage story here of how you developed this passion.

Stephanie Barnier:

Well, when we’re young, we don’t really think about what the impact it makes on us until we’re older, whether it’s a parent or a teacher that has influenced us. My dad is really into business, and I appreciate that because he taught me what a good company looks like when it’s being run efficiently, what a niche is, what it means to keep your competition out because you’re one of a kind. And

Craig Willett:

So, how did he teach you that? Just by example or did he sit down, and you have conversations about that?

Stephanie Barnier:

We talked about specific companies that were doing that and why their revenues were higher, and why their sales were higher and their earnings per share performed better quarter over quarter.

Craig Willett:

Wow.

Stephanie Barnier:

I knew a little bit more about this than most people did, so it became almost second nature to me. I knew what to look for when it came to investing and efficiency with investing. I didn’t choose that path right away because a lot of the advice out there is, “Follow the money” or “Follow where there’s a job. Don’t follow your passion.” So, my first job was in sales and marketing with KB Home right out of college. It was a time that the housing market was quite hot, similar to what it looks like right now and the home builders were booming then. And so, I did work in that space. However

Craig Willett:

And that’s the easy step, right? But you have to get some experience somewhere, but the easy step is so you can get a paycheck.

Stephanie Barnier:

Right.

Craig Willett:

It’s that you go out into the unknown and hope that whatever you do brings a return.

Stephanie Barnier:

And I think that is a really, really great step to prove to yourself that, “I know what it takes to get a job, I know what it takes to earn a salary, have a 401(k).” If you want me to tell you about my biggest mistake I made with money, I can tell you on the show too.

Craig Willett:

Okay, great. I can’t wait to hear that. You can share it now if you’d like. I mean, I think now that you’ve teased us, let’s hear it.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. So, that was my career, but I found myself going back to the investments and I would find myself at work, online looking at Yahoo Finance and doing things I probably shouldn’t be doing at my job that I was working at first right out of college, but it was a really great experience.

Craig Willett:

You didn’t have to remind me, but I’m a lot older. I would go down to the Merrill Lynch office and sit in front of what they call the Quotron at the time and look up different companies and watch the stock market trade because we didn’t have CNBC on TV where you could watch.

Stephanie Barnier:

The tickers are fun to watch, and I still watch them on CNBC from time to time. But they are fun to watch, so I kind of have an idea of what you’re saying.

Craig Willett:

So, you had this passion you were developing even while you were working selling real estate and that really helped you take the next step to college? Did you go to college and study or?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah, yeah. I studied at the University of San Diego and played soccer there as well. I was really a focused kid and I had a goal in mind, and that was to play soccer on a scholarship and do the best I can be and set records and graduate. But once I graduated, I didn’t really have a plan. My plan was to play soccer and that was really where the end of my vision stopped. But I’m holding the vision of playing on that green field. I’m from Phoenix, you know how hot it is. I trained in the summers and it’s 115 degrees. My heart so wanted to be on that green surface and with that cool weather because I knew I could play at a better level if the heat wasn’t on my back so much.

Craig Willett:

So, you like to, one, compete and, two, you like to perform. Do you like a challenge?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah, and I like to push myself. Here’s the thing. Well, this is the one thing I have learned over the years and even when I play soccer. When I was competing with others, I was stuck at a level. I think competition is good. When we’re competing with others, we’re only as good or maybe as good as that person we’re competing against. So, for me, when it comes to competition, it’s more about staying in my game of skill, and my game of focus, and my zone of genius. And that’s the competition now. That was the competition in soccer as well. I’m six foot. I was a forward. I could score a lot of goals on headers.

Craig Willett:

Because you

Stephanie Barnier:

And not a lot of people have those three things going for them. So, playing to your strengths is a genius way of competing, and I think that’s more and more of what we’re seeing in sports. I know that for athletics, but also in business.

Craig Willett:

So, how would you translate that into a career in finance—this drive, this passion to compete in what you know? Meaning, you don’t really look at—and I love that. I love that you don’t look at your competitors and say, “Hey, I’m looking to wipe them out,” because I think that’s the wrong focus. In fact, I think Henry Ford said the best competition is that you improve yourself every day rather than try to take somebody else out.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. I thinkmy honest belief is we’re all here put on earth for a reason with a different skill set and a different blueprint for what we can deliver. It’s our job as employees, as employers, as people to uncover that and let that shine. You know, 20 years ago I probably wouldn’t have said that to you. A few years of wisdom has

Craig Willett:

Okay, so there’s some hard knocks here and challenges. What were they like? I mean, so you started with Morgan Stanley eventually out of college, right?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah.

Craig Willett:

And then you decided someday you would have your own. But what led to that and what challenges did you face?

Stephanie Barnier:

I faced so many challenges. When I’m uncomfortable, I know I’m on the right track. I know that’s not a great gauge for everybody, but it’s a really helpful one to know. If I’m uncomfortable, I’m pointing in the right direction. It means I need to do a shift, I need to do something. I didn’t know anything about running a registered investment advisory firm and nobody wrote books on this at the time. I read blogs and I studied other RIA firm models to understand how to start one. I did this when I was eight months pregnant with my second child. I started the firm when my son was

Craig Willett:

You do like challenges.

Stephanie Barnier:

I joke with my husband, like “What were we thinking?” However, when we’re comfortable, we don’t make changes, and I was in a situation where I needed to make a change. You might be asking yourself, “Why didn’t you wait? Why wouldn’t you wait until your kids are a little bit older at least until your son finished nursing?” Two reasons. I’m a person that builds the airplane, the last 40% of it, while it’s flying. That’s just the kind of person I am, and I asked myself to determine if I’m ready to move forward. If I’m ready to move forward, does it feel contractive to stay where I’m at right now? Do I feel suffocated? Do I feel tight? If I do, I need to move forward and take the next step.

Craig Willett:

Right. And there’s two different types of uncomfortable. One you just described and that is, “I’m kind of stuck and I’m not happy and comfortable doing this.” And then there’s another, “Yeah, I realize my plane is only 60% built and I’m not sure how far off the ground it will get but I’m willing to fly it.” And you have that motivational discomfort where you take yourself to an edge, but you know you’re progressing. So, there’s two different types and I think I like the one you focus on, and that is the one that takes you to the edge of progress.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah, and it’s not comfortable, Craig. However, nobody has the exact formula and the exact answer. That’s what I realized, is how if this person in business has done it so successfully, there is no way to replicate it exactly how that person has done it because that’s their blueprint. They have figured it out, that method. It’s our job to figure out that, “Yeah, having some structure in place is important.”

Craig Willett:

Right. Some kind of secret formula. It’s like, the success of Coca-Cola is the original recipe, right? I mean, even when they tried new Coke, it didn’t work. So, right, there is a certain formula to a service or a product or whatever you choose to do in business. I like that idea. So, you jumped out on your own with this 60%-built plane and figured it out? What were your biggest challenges that you faced?

Stephanie Barnier:

The biggest challenge at the time was a lack of sleep, honestly. That might sound a little bit crazy, I don’t know. Maybe some of you, you do know—babies don’t sleep well. When my son was three months old, I hired a business mindset coach. My gosh, how this has shifted and changed my life. I remember telling her, “I need to open my RIA in three months. Can you help me?” She said, “Yes. Well, okay, let’s work on this.” I said, “I can’t. My baby’s not sleeping.”

And the first thing we did is to work on how to get my baby to sleep. As she is coaching me through it, honestly, I was rolling my eyes on the other end of the phone, thinking, “I need to open this business, and then we’re talking about how to get my baby to sleep?” She’s a mother of two as well, so she knows the importance of having to be able to clearly think and how important it is for a child to sleep. So, that was the first thing we worked on when I hired her. It was the exercise of going through the process of getting to the result as quickly as possible.

Craig Willett:

Do you have any tips on how to get a baby to sleep while we’re at it?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah.

Craig Willett:

Did you learn  something that we all need to know?

Stephanie Barnier:

There’s no special formula. Every child is different.

Craig Willett:

Oh good because we had four different experiences in our home.

Stephanie Barnier:

Exactly, exactly. But here’s the key to overcoming that challenge or any challenge is it’s the key to success, and my key to success is to be coachable and use your intuition. Those are the only two things I have on my vision board. I have a number of other things on my vision board as well. Those are the two-key focuses, is be coachable and use my intuition.

Craig Willett:

Those don’t seem to be a combination that’s very compatible. When you think about it, people that go with their intuition say to the coach, “I don’t need you because I have a feeling of what I should do. Yes, I hear you, but I’ve got my own path.” So, how do you mix those two? That’s kind of a great combination that’s pretty rare.

Stephanie Barnier:

Being a soccer player most my life and sitting the bench because I played with girls that were two or three years older than me was humbling.

Craig Willett:

Oh, okay.

Stephanie Barnier:

There was always that room for improvement. There was always that room to push myself. In a way, I put myself in that situation. I learned at a very, very young age.

Craig Willett:

You balanced the intuition with, “Hey, I know I have this instinct to go do this, but I don’t know everything about it, so let me get some help along the way.”

Stephanie Barnier:

Exactly. And being coachable also means just being curious, right? Being curious and learning new methods that work. Those two things balanced me out, where I get the coaching and then I dive into the intuition and follow that gut instinct. Some people are like, “How do you know intuition? What does that mean?” It really is that meaning of if you feel it in your gut, and some people feel it in their solar plexus, in their chest. They just know the answer, and that’s the next step. That’s the next truth to building their business.

Craig Willett:

All right. That’s really cool. So, were there some areas or niches you decided to focus on early in starting up your own investment advisory firm?

Stephanie Barnier:

That’s a great question because

Craig Willett:

There is one that I do see that you have. You have a program called the Mindful Money Makeover. I love the name. If someone participates in that, what can they expect to receive in return? What benefits do they get for doing a Mindful Money Makeover?

Stephanie Barnier:

So, one of the biggest challenges when you’re an expert, and you maybe see this one in your business, Craig, is when you’re an expert in your field, you have a lot of tools in your toolbox, you know a lot of things. My question was, What do people actually need to know in order to move forward with their money and get unstuck or get their money working for them? You don’t need to be a mathematician or have your CFP or your CFA to build your wealth and be wealthy and do really well.

That was my question, so I did research. Again, being very coachable and curious, I did research and asked over 35 self-employed women what they needed when it comes to running their business, when it comes to being really effective with running their business, small business or consulting business? This was the best thing I ever did because it taught me what they needed so I could build a program that really served them. Did it take time to do this research? Yes. But way less time than creating something that doesn’t even work or isn’t effective.

Craig Willett:

Right. And that shows your passion to care about who you’re going to serve and really understand their needs and their problems, because it’s in solving their problems that you come up with solutions that they can identify with. So, I’m curious, what were some of the things you identified that were common among these women business owners that really helped you develop a program to serve their needs?

Stephanie Barnier:

One of the things that a lot, not all, some business owners are really adept at looking at money and looking at cash flow, one of those things is just, “What am I looking at when it comes to my profit loss or my balance sheet or my bank account? What am I looking for?” Creating a simplified system, again, simple so you can make your decisions of what your operating expenses are, what the profit is, what the revenue is, and how much you’re paying yourself. If you know those numbers, you know how to run your business. It’s really that simple. I know you have an accounting background. There’s a lot more detail in it. They don’t need to be accountants.

Craig Willett:

No, please. It’s a curse.

Stephanie Barnier:

Right? Paralysis by analysis is what I say. We don’t need any of that. I don’t need you guys to be paralyzed. I need you to move forward with your business and know what it means to run a profitable business that you have cash still at the end of each month. So, those are some of the things. It’s how to look at the bank account, how to simply know how much money you’re making.

Craig Willett:

Right. Which direction are you going? And then, sometimes I think it’s eye opening to a business owner to realize, one, their profits and, two, that they do have cash flow and that there are choices. They can reinvest some in the business and they can save some for themselves and set it aside. So, how do you help them approach that—how to allocate what goes back into the business? Because when it’s your business, you want to grow it and you want to make it as profitable as possible, and the way to do that is you leverage yourself by reinvesting. But you also have to have a balance of, “Life has other destinies for us and doesn’t always work, so we have to set some aside.” How do you approach that?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. You touched on this. It’s a balanced approach because rarely have I ever seen a company that has just spent money to grow, be successful in the long term. Just spend, spend, spend to grow. One, it can lead to burnout and, two, it can lead to being broke. If the business owner is not taking care of their own financial well-being and not doing the things to take care of themselves— whatever your definition of well-being is, it takes money for me to go and get a massage, right? I need to take care of myself and to have those times of relaxation or take time off from the business and be able to rest. Those things take money. And so, to be sustainable in business, that’s a really important one. A business owner has to be taken care of. At the same time, the business needs to be taken care of as well as the employees. It’s not just one focus or another. It’s that balance you’re talking about.

Craig Willett:

I like that. When I think about sustainability, just to grow, grow, grow and if that’s your objective. And sometimes I wonder, we look in our country and we’re measuring GDP, and we’re measuring growth. It has to be growth, and if we didn’t grow as much then everyone’s sad. I think it has to be the right kind of growth. And, you said it, you can have a business that you’re trying to grow, and your objective is, “I’m growing it.” I’ve heard people tell me this, “But, Craig, I’m growing it so that it’s big enough that I can sell.” But what happens if you grow it out of business and never get that chance to sell? What do you have to fall back on if you put everything in one basket? So, how do you teach people in your Mindful Money Makeover? Sorry, I wanted to call it something different, but I love that term. But the Mindful Money Makeover, how do you help them determine percentages for what to put into savings, and then how to invest?

Stephanie Barnier:

Those are all really important. Those are tactical pieces of it. How much to invest? How much to save? One of the things that we start with is the mindset of money, and that’s why it’s called Mindful Money Makeover—that particular program—is because everybody knows your mindset when you’re going in to talk with a prospect or with a client. Everybody knows your money mindset before you even say anything. Your revenue leads that.

 

So, if you’re trying to grow a business to astronomical levels and sell it, if your money mindset and that foundation isn’t strong or there are things that haven’t been worked on such as, “No, I’m not deserving of money,” or money sturdythose old storiesor “A Fool and His Money are Soon Parted.” I mean, we’ve heard all of them before. If we haven’t cleaned those up, there’s going to be a stumble, a fumble along the way in that process because the subconscious mind is unsure of that growth. There’s going to be blocks along the way.

Craig Willett:

So, this process is not just a formula process they go through, it’s trying to tackle, “How do you perceive money?”

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. Exactly. And perception is everything.

Craig Willett:

I read a book. I can’t remember who wrote it, but I know it’s a dental advisoradvises dental practicesbut he says he can give people the same formula but some practices never get to theI think it was called the million-dollar practicenever get there because they don’t feel they deserve the money. How do you help people that feel like they don’t deserve it?

Stephanie Barnier:

We work with two energies, the feminine energy and the masculine. The masculine energy is what we really know in business. What we’ve been talking about is putting money away, the structures, the systems, the percentages, and the how to’s. As business owners and as a country, we’re really good at the outcomes and the results and the how to’s which is very important to masculine, but that balance goes back to the feminine energy as well as really—people might be like, “What are you talking about?” It is such a key important piece because it’s the unseen, and the unseen becomes seen with the masculine energy and the results.

How we do that is through gratitude. It might sound nuts, but gratitude is the gateway to prosperity. Being grateful for what we have now, what’s in the bank account. Grateful when we write a check, and we have these practices because that’s what we teach. Forgiveness is a really big piece of it as well. Forgiving the money mistakes that we’ve made in the past. Don’t let me forget, Craig, to tell you about my biggest money mistake I made.

Craig Willett:

Yeah. No, I’m going to focus on that. I’m not letting you go today without hearing about that. I find that very interesting because that counters a lot of culture in businessthe forgiveness, the gratitude. We express it, but I think we try to automate it, send out the thank you and extra whatever. But you’re talking about heartfelt emotional adaptations, aren’t you?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah, and noticing patterns. Noticing where things show up where we might sabotage situations around money, and being aware. So, it’s awareness. The practices of money awareness are the gatekeepers to higher levels of wealth without burning ourselves out with that balance that we’re talking about.

Craig Willett:

Okay. I’ve got to hear a story here about how we sabotage ourselves. I mean, don’t use names, please, but if you have an experience that’s not your own but that you want to share that you’ve maybe helped someone with, I want to hear that. I think that’s something I find a lot of people do. I know I do it. I’d love to hear it.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. I’ll share two stories. One client in particular that always says, “I lose money whenever I make an investment. I lose money. I always put money in at the wrong time. I put money in” Even though they might be thinking about that when they’re doing it, their subconscious mind hears that: “I make the wrong investments.” Of course, I’m an advisor, I help them make the right investments.

Craig Willett:

Right. That’s why they call you, right?

Stephanie Barnier:

Right. “I always buy the real estate at the wrong time.” That message that they’re saying to themselves becomes true and they sabotage, and they haven’t reached the levels that they wanted to. All the years that they’ve worked in business has been, in a way, defeating for them as they share that with us. So, that’s one example of sabotage.

When you get to a revenue level and then you get in a fight with your spouse or your partner or something of that nature and it leads to you being sick for three weeks and you can’t work, it is a form of sabotage as well. We have these limits, these upper limits when it comes to money and we all do, and recognizing them is the biggest key to the change.

Craig Willett:

That’s exactly what I was going to say, to be aware of it and to be able to detect or diagnose your own patterns of it. Then how do you turn that around? Let’s say we figured out I’m a sabotage. Let’s say I just say, “Every time I make an investment, I think it’s going to do okay but in my mind I go, I’ve lost so much money in my life making investments. This one’s probably not going to turn out too.” How do I change that?

Stephanie Barnier:

When the good ones happen and they are the right investments, we celebrate. That is a way of telling our subconscious mind, ourselves, that we did something right and we want more of it, which could create a pattern by rewarding ourselves.

Craig Willett:

So, it’s a party time.

Stephanie Barnier:

Right. Exactly. That’s a big component to the feminine energy where people are like, “Celebrate? No, we got to get on to the next level of revenue, XYZ.” It’s the biggest one that I’ve missed in my life and career is the celebration, and it’s the one I focus the most on putting it on the calendar and celebrating, right? When you celebrate there’s [inaudible] unless you overdrink.

Craig Willett:

You caught me there. I am not one to celebrate in any way. I mean, whether I drink or not, but I’m just not a big celebrator. I had a sales manager one time say to me, “We hit these goals and objectives,” and I said, “Yes, so?” He said, “I thought that would be your reaction.”

That’s good. So, we have to celebrate. We have to have—what you’re saying, to overcome some of these barriers, you set the marker to recognize and you make sure that you not only recognize for a minute in your mind, but you do something physical to celebrate.

Stephanie Barnier:

Right.

Craig Willett:

Okay.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. And it could be going out to lunch with a friend or a spouse. During the pandemic, there has been social distancing, so celebration looks like me going to lunch with my husband and I’m sending a picture to my teammates, “Hey, this is how we’re celebrating.”

Craig Willett:

Oh, okay.

Stephanie Barnier:

They send pictures to us, and they share the same thing.

Craig Willett:

And so, how does that—you mentioned gratitude too. So, does this celebration feed into the gratitude?

Stephanie Barnier:

Absolutely because it’s a cycle, right? It’s like

Craig Willett:

How does it relate?

Stephanie Barnier:

Like rinse, repeat.

Craig Willett:

Okay. You’re trying to keep that going. Focus on the positive, celebrate when you achieve and it’s great

Stephanie Barnier:

We do more of those, and we’re telling ourselves that message. It’s also telling the higher consciousness that message that this is what we want more of. Then that’s how we break those old sabotage cycles.

Craig Willett:

That’s interesting because if you’re not aware of that and you’re not careful to set the right objectives—because if you set unrealistic objectives, you’ll never have a chance to celebrate. So, sometimes doesn’t it have to start small?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah, you’re right. Small win. You have a tenant that’s paying top dollar. Great. Celebrate that.

Craig Willett:

I like that, yeah. Or a tenant renews their lease even though they told you they were looking elsewhere. I like that.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. And that’s all it takes is those little wins along the way. In business, nobody’s going to give you a gold medal. You may make a lot of money and you may be at the top of the mountain, but if you’re not there celebrating with anybody, I think when the game is over and you don’t have anybody around you, what’s the point?

Craig Willett:

Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, what is the point if you’re there alone, right? Climb the ladder of success and it’s leaning against the wrong wall because it’s not what you wanted at the top. Great.

 

How do you market your business and this little niche that you have on the Mindful Money Makeover? Because I’m curious about that.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. It’s talking to people. It’s the one way. We also have a YouTube channelI have a YouTube channel that I

Craig Willett:

Okay. We’re going to put it up and link it to this episode too, so people can get introduced to that.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah, and Instagram as well as the other area where—marketing, in all honesty, marketing is not my specialty and using consultants is great. But what I’ve learned, if you’re marketing a program such as this or anything that is super unique, you have to be really clear on the messages. So, we’ve been working, creating those and drafting those and getting them out as quickly as possible. When you’re a small business owner, you tend to wear a lot of hats, and being a mom is really important to me. I chose both, a business owner 50% of the time and being a wife and mom the other 50. So, again, the balance is so important for me.

Craig Willett:

I think that’s admirable. So, what do you doI mean, how do you measure client satisfaction? Because I think people that go through your program or your clients and they have these successes and they celebrate those successes. Aren’t they more apt to tell others about that? Tell me a little bit about how you’ve grown your investment advisory firm besides the YouTube channel and besides the marketing because, again, I think those are the masculine sides of the business. Lets’ go to the emotional side which really is, when people are happy and get value and a change is made or a difference is made in their lives, they’re happy to tell other people. So, tell me a little bit about your experiences there.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. So, we ask them. I mean, strangers that is. Not in the survey, we ask them on Zoom or during a conversation if it’s the program, what’s been most impactful for you, what have you taken action on, what can we improve? We really want that feedback because we want to be as effective as possible. Some of the common themes is, “It’s exactly what I need, it’s not too much, it’s not too little. It wasn’t totally foreign to me, but it was enough for me to be able to dive deeper. Worthiness comes up a lot. A level of worthiness to ask for a meeting or to know that I’m worth the price or the services that I’m offering and having faith in myself.

We want to know what folks are moving forward on. Even when it comes to their investments, we focus on the goal and the money supporting the goal. If they have a goal of buying a house or retiring in 15 years, we’re goal oriented in this business. We ask them, “How do you feel now that you’ve reached this goal,” that they’re retiring. We just let them share how they feel. They may feel great, they may feel lonely three months later and go back to consulting work.

So, it’s a people, human business. That’s what we want to know about their experiences. What are you going through? And also, the questions create their own awareness. We’re pretty personable people so we like to think that we keep it comfortable for them, but we really hold the space for them to answer the question in entirety for themselves and not just for us.

Craig Willett:

Well, I was going to ask you the question, How do you build trust, but I think you’ve just explained that. You’ve taken that you ask about it and you react and help them react and see, and you take an interest in their well-being, right?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. Exactly.

Craig Willett:

I see that a lot with a lot of large money managers that advertise on TV. They show things like, I don’t know, maybe a phrase, maybe I shouldn’t use it, but “Life well planned,” or show people in their later years, like I am, doing things that they have always wanted to do and now they can because they invested properly. That’s an image we’d all like to attain, but how do you go about helping your clients do that?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. We measure how much risk they have to take in order to get to the goal that they want to get to. It’s a risk-reward measurement. That’s our starting place. We also work on the mindset along the way and ask questions. Nobody’s mindset is wrong. The question is, How can we open ourselves up to more abundance and more prosperity? And if they already have that, how can we create more gratitude along that way? And being the coach. One thing about being coachable is then being able to coach easily as well because I’m aware of how I receive information and what feels good and what doesn’t.

That’s the foundation, is how much risk-reward do we need? What’s the risk-reward? How much risk they have to get to the end of their goal? Are they aware of that? We explain that through the financial planning process.

Craig Willett:

Great. So, how do you focus your time on making the biggest difference possible in your clients’ lives?

Stephanie Barnier:

You focus on the things that matter that are closest to their hearts. That’s how we know we’re making the biggest impact is, are they directing money or goals, are they doing the things that they want to do? I think the pandemic has really opened people’s eyes, like, “I’ve always wanted to go to Europe.” Well

Craig Willett:

Now you can’t, so time to pay, right?

Stephanie Barnier:

Right. Like, “Go to Europe.” One of the biggest mistakes that I have madeand this isn’t the one with my 401(k), by the way.

Craig Willett:

We’re going to get to that one.

Stephanie Barnier:

With money as being too much of a penny-pincher in the past. Actually, I’ve never shared this story before with anybody. I might do a YouTube video about it.

Craig Willett:

Oh, good. All right. You’ve heard it first here on the Biz Sherpa podcast.

Stephanie Barnier:

It’s hot off the press here. Being too much of a penny-pincher, a money pincher and focusing so much on the baskets. There’s a FIRE movement happening out there and I might have had that mindset in the past, which is, “Retire early.” Financial Independence Retire Early is what the acronym stands for.

What happens when we are so tight with money is that we start to ration. Our shampoo, we start to ration gas in our car. Like it’s become such a focus, almost an obsession, that we forget to take care of ourselves. If we can’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others. And you can’t pour from an empty cup. That’s a mindset, empty cup.

I would say, about eight years ago, I realized I had this. I’m not investing in my mindset growth, I’m not investing. I was in this saving mode where I wasn’t helping other people, which is really what I love to do. And starting a business isn’t inexpensive at times, right?

Craig Willett:

Right.

Stephanie Barnier:

So, you have to be able to let the reins go out if you’re really ready, when you’re ready for that road. So, that was one of my biggest money mistakes is being ultraconservative and saving too tightly where I wasn’t living in abundance and open to prosperity. I was just focused on the penny-pinching.

Craig Willett:

Yeah. You know, you see that if you read any financial columns or follow any websites, and that there’s always something about, like you said, the FIRE movement and/or, “Here’s some ways to save.” To me, it’s always been uncomfortable. I’ve always feltand I told an employee this one time, he said, “What kind of home should I buy? I’m getting ready to buy a home for my family.” I said, “Buy one that pushes you, that’s big enough but that you really are pushing the edge so that you have the objective to make more.”

That doesn’t sound very prudent but, really, sometimes we need to really enjoy the fruits of what we’ve done because as a CPA, I saw this too many times. Unfortunately, it was always the widow not the widower that was coming to me. The widow would come to me where both she and her husband had been working their whole careers and saved up for the trip to Europe or the cruise around the world, and now they lost their husband. They had the funds, but they didn’t have the fun. In other words, they lost the companion that they were working to do that with. And so, some of it is you have to be able to enjoy along the way, right?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. And there’s that middle point between there’s entitlement where you spend, spend, spend and think everything is owed to you and then there is that scarcity mentality. And so, it’s that middle and it’s that abundance mentality that I was really going for and I find that a lot of my clients are going for that. Like-minded.

Craig Willett:

That’s great. I think that. I love this abundance mentality. So now, I’m really dying to hear what your greatest failure was.

Stephanie Barnier:

Okay, here it is. I had a lot of experience understanding investments, how they work. I didn’t know how 401(k) plans work right when I came out of school. InvestmentsI took courses on it. However, retirement plans is a whole other beast in itself. When I graduatedthis is going to sound crazythe internet wasn’t really everywhere. I had dial-up in my apartment. There wasn’t as much information and access to it, and I was working for a company, a publicly traded company. I didn’t contribute to my 401(k). I didn’t get the match. I was saving a lot of money so that I could move to Europemaybe that’s another podcast later

Craig Willett:

Oh, I want to hear about that.

Stephanie Barnier:

So, I was saving a lot of money. My rent was low. I was paying $400 a month. I didn’t have any student loans, I played on scholarship, but I did have enough money to put into a 401(k) to at least get the match, and I didn’t do that. I would say that was my biggest money mistake as a professional in this industrybefore I was even a professional in the industrythat I made. I can only imagine what it would have socked away, even if it’s at $30 or $40,000, 18 years ago. Compounded, do the math, it’d be well over $150, $200,000.

Craig Willett:

Worth more than the trip to Europe.

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. Yeah. There’s my biggest money mistake that I made when I was younger. At least get the match for anybody that’s contributing.

Craig Willett:

So, let me guess. If you have clients that have the opportunity to do a 401(k), your experience there makes you a better coach today though, right?

Stephanie Barnier:

Yeah. Exactly. That’s the thing. You hit it, Craig. Any mistake is an opportunity to learn from it for yourself, but also to coach others.

Craig Willett:

I think that’s great. So, if you were to summarize in just a brief minute as we wrap up, What are your greatest keys to success that drive you each day that you feel bring you satisfaction when you go home at night in your other 50% role as wife and mother? What do you take away from the business? Besides the rewards at home, what do you take away from the business interactions you’ve had?

Stephanie Barnier:

Did I ask questions that were meaningful to my clients and inspired them to take the next step with their goals to reaching their financial goals? That is one of my biggest things each day. And when I go and go into my introvert side on the investment world, did I find the opportunity? What opportunity is next for investing? Where are we not looking that others are not looking? Which direction do we need to look at adding a percentage to?

I’m always staying curious in that space. There’s always something to find. There’s always a bull market somewhere no matter where in the markets the general investment markets are going. So those were the two things, whether I’m talking with people or I’m doing my investment management.

Craig Willett:

The research. Yeah, I love that. Really, I’m grateful that you would take the time today. What I love about what you just said is it takes good interaction with someone who cares about you to ask you the right questions. You may not like to hear the question as the person being asked the question. Often, I’ve seen in my life or in people that I’ve advised, is asking that right question. There’s not an immediate answer, and so sometimes you don’t know if you’ve asked the right question. And sometimes it takes time. I’ve seen through the years where others have come back and said, “You asked me this and I didn’t know how to answer that. I spent time reflecting and I went and did this as a result.” It makes a change and a difference in their life. I think, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. The purpose of the question is to invoke thought and thoughtful change, right?

Stephanie Barnier:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, you nailed it.

Craig Willett:

Great. You embody that. I loved it today. I loved your taking the time to be with us. I love your bull-market-somewhere comment too, by the way, because it’s often we think, “Well, it’s getting high, it’s dicey right now, I don’t want to get in.” But there’s always opportunities out there and inefficiencies. But more importantly, I really appreciate you taking time to share your successes, your failures, and your passion. I can tell you’re passionate about what you do. I’m sure you’re just a great blessing to your clients. I think that’s what we need to, as business owners, embody and remember, is that if we’re passionate about our product and service and we make a difference in people’s lives, we not only have the satisfaction when we go home at night but we also have other people who are happier. I’m grateful that you’d spend the time today, Stephanie. Thanks for carving out this time to visit with us and share your insights.

Stephanie Barnier:

My pleasure. It was a joy. Thanks, Craig.

Craig Willett:

Yeah. I look forward towhen you come to Phoenix, let me know.

Stephanie Barnier:

I sure will.

Craig Willett:

All right. Great. Good to talk to you. Have a great day.

Stephanie Barnier:

Take care.

Craig Willett:

This is Craig Willett, The Biz Sherpa. Thanks for joining me today for this episode.

Speaker 1:

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