Owning a Small Business from a Family Perspective with Jan & Adam Fichman
Owning a Small Business from a Family Perspective Show Notes
Almost every entrepreneur experiences both failure and success – and every serial entrepreneur has stories of both to share when looking back at their careers.
Jan and Adam Fichman are a father and son duo of self-made serial entrepreneurs. Jan founded the 7th Heaven record store in Kansas City, while Adam founded the first company that made it possible to send a video from the internet to a cell phone. He now runs Lifted Logic, a web design firm.
Today, Jan and Adam join the podcast to share the story of their family history in owning a small business. You’ll hear about the companies they built alone, lessons passed across generations, and how Adam’s small business has served Jan’s in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- How embracing the “fail forward” mindset can set you up to succeed – and what Adam learned from launching a small business that fell $2 million into debt.
- Why so many entrepreneurs are “unhirable” in a traditional sense – and how this further inspires entrepreneurship.
- Why small business owners need mentors in areas where they don’t succeed – and why Jan considers himself to be one of Adam’s worst clients.
- How dumb money follows smart money – and can become smart money again.
- Why being a one-person operation simply is not the definition of success.
- “Baseball players fail 70% of the time and they go up to the plate, and they make $10 million. You don’t have to be successful all the time. You just have to be successful at the right time and exploit it.” – Jan Fichman
- “If you’re not doing and buying badly sometimes, it means you’re not trying to think outside the box.” – Jan Fichman
- “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffett
[00:00:07] Dean Barber: Welcome to The Guided Retirement Show. I’m your host, Dean Barber. Our goal every single episode that we put out here on The Guided Retirement Show is to give you more education to help you make smarter decisions. Now, today, we have the opportunity of interviewing a father-son duo. I’ll call them serial entrepreneurs. Both of these guys have had multiple failures and both of these guys have had some amazing successes. And I want you to really pay attention to what these gentlemen are talking about. It’s Jan and Adam Fichman.
And Jan owns a company in Kansas City called 7th Heaven. I think he’s been in business for 47 years. Adam was one of the first guys to develop technology that allowed videos to get to your cell phones all the way back in the early 2000s. He now owns a company called Lifted Logic that is a web development company. This is a fascinating conversation. I had a blast with this interview and I’m sure you’re going to love every minute of it. Here are Jan and Adam Fichman.
[00:01:11] Dean Barber: Guys, thanks so much for braving the COVID-19 coming in to spend some time with me. And obviously, all of our listeners here on The Guided Retirement Show, we’ve got Jan and Adam Fichman. And you guys both have some really unique stories, both self-made, both entrepreneurial in spirit and little bit different paths on how you got there and what you did. Jan, I’ll start with you since we’ll give the age before beauty thing here.
[00:01:42] Jan Fichman: That’s for sure.
[00:01:43] Dean Barber: Yeah. And by the way, the masks are because you’ve got some immunocompromised conditions, right?
[00:01:52] Jan Fichman: I’m taking the utmost protection.
[00:01:54] Dean Barber: Good for you.
[00:01:55] Adam Fichman: We’re all both smiling under here. You can tell from our eyes.
[00:02:00] Jan Fichman: And my wife and I happen to be living with Adam and my daughter-in-law and my two little grandkids. So, we certainly want to make sure that everybody is protected.
[00:02:09] Dean Barber: Everybody is safe.
[00:02:11] Adam Fichman: He has like an infusion therapy last week that just basically kills his immune system.
[00:02:16] Dean Barber: Yeah. So, you would be very susceptible. All right.
[00:02:19] Adam Fichman: We’re both definitely smiling. It’s hard to see.
[00:02:21] Dean Barber: That’s awesome. All right. I can see it in your eyes. So, Jan, you own a retail store called 7th Heaven?
[00:02:28] Jan Fichman: Yes.
[00:02:29] Dean Barber: All right. So, take me back to how did you come up with the idea to start 7th Heaven? And what was that like when you began?
[00:02:40] Jan Fichman: Well, I wish I could say it was a grand idea that I had in high school to do this, but in reality, I really wanted to go to med school. And so, when I got out of Center High School in 1970, I tried to get into the six-year med school program at UMKC. And I made the final 36 but I didn’t make the final 9 or 10 kids. So, I took a lot of the science and math courses at UMKC for a couple of years, and then my cousin who was my hero had graduated and went on to dental school.
He called me up and said, “How would you like to make some money this summer?” And I had been working at Pinkies Ben Franklin at Ranch Mart for a number of years as a stock boy, and I really did enjoy the job. And so, I quit and I spent the summer selling 8-track tapes at state fairs.
[00:03:32] Dean Barber: Interesting.
[00:03:32] Jan Fichman: Yes.
[00:03:34] Dean Barber: There may be some people listening that don’t even know what an 8-track tape is.
[00:03:37] Jan Fichman: Probably not but it was just part of the history of how music is conveyed to our ears. And so, we did that for the summer and I oversaw my cousin’s two guys and it was my brother and I on the midway of the state fairs next to all the carnies and we were making really good money. At the end of the summer, I thought, “Hell, I don’t really want to be a doctor.” All you do is listen to people complain all day. So, I kind of had an epiphany and said, “You know, I’m not going back.”
And my mom said, “Well, all I want you to be is happy.” So, she goes, “If you want to go back to school, you’ll go back to school.” My cousin quit dental school. Now, his parents were not quite as thrilled at all and he had more money than I did. So, he ended up getting a warehouse off of 39th in Maine and I started just hustling in the urban core. We sold to gas stations, little bitty record stores, and I ended up having accounts that were from Kansas City to St. Louis.
[00:04:44] Dean Barber: Wow.
[00:04:45] Jan Fichman: It just kind of built it up and it was really pretty easy. Then, of course with the bootleg 8 tracks, sooner or later they decided to change the copyright laws and put all the bootleg guys out of business. So, we opened up a store. Kind of at the behest of a cousin in California and so we opened up one of these little hippy stores, which I had no idea what any of this was but we carried used jeans and smoking accessories and turquoise jewelry and record albums and just kind of grew from there.
[00:05:19] Dean Barber: So, how has the innovation of technology changed your business?
[00:05:28] Jan Fichman: Well, when it comes to the music side of it, physical product isn’t really desirable because it’s not portable. And today, people can listen on their cell phones, they can stream it in their car. You know, they can have it anytime, anyplace. So, we still do sell some CDs because not everybody is capable or wanting to learn how to stream but we’re back selling vinyl again because it’s…
[00:06:00] Dean Barber: That’s the in vogue thing.
[00:06:01] Jan Fichman: Very tactile cool thing to do.
[00:06:03] Dean Barber: Yeah.
[00:06:03] Jan Fichman: So, we’re into that in a very big way.
[00:06:06] Dean Barber: I’ve got a son who’s totally into the vinyl collection. So, that’s a big deal for you.
[00:06:12] Jan Fichman: It’s a big deal. Very little money on it. The new music margins are just razor thin. And we do a razor-thin on purpose because we want people to make a journey to the store.
[00:06:25] Dean Barber: Interesting. Okay. So, Adam, here’s your dad who is showing, “Hey, here’s how you can make all this money. Come join me. Work alongside me,” and you said, “I got some different ideas.” So, tell your story. Your story is fascinating and start from your early college years.
[00:06:48] Adam Fichman: Yeah. Well, I was even going to comment on that. We were talking about this on the way over here, the dynamic changes in which a small business can but largely has to make over the longevity of 50 years. And so, kind of I think what got me into a lot of what I did was I learned a hell of a lot more from watching his failures, which were very constant. And I think most of us in business probably fail forward. You know, it’s like you trip, at least you moved forward a little bit, right? But you fell on your face, but you move forward. So, for me, I think that that was really, I wouldn’t be here right now had it not been for his failures way more than his successes.
[00:07:28] Dean Barber: I’m glad you brought that up because I think it’s really interesting that a lot of people, they see successful business owners, and they don’t see the failures that you had. I mean, I’ve had multiple failures over the years, right? And I tell everybody here, “You take that failure, and you learn from it and just figure out what you did wrong and do it better the next time. And there’s no perfect.”
[00:07:48] Adam Fichman: Right. No, I mean, I’d watch him come home. My mom definitely was very much more attentive to the failures than I saw them were on him. And for me, that was largely how I got to where I got to. And so, kind of the backstory on that, I started getting into computers when I was really young. He always was going through point of sale systems at the store. And so, here was a broken 286 and a broken 14k modem and I’d have to fix it, and then get online on the bulletin board systems back in the day.
And then I started getting into programming. I wouldn’t say I was a great programmer, but I was into it and I enjoyed having that. I struggled a little bit with school, and I never really learned how to learn. And so, I realized through that journey, I found something that I really enjoyed in technology.
So, in college in 2003, my girlfriend at the time, wife now, had just gotten a pre-release of the video, Scroll Wheel iPod, and we were trying to drag a video of our dogs onto it. And I drag it into iTunes and said, “Incompatible format.” And so, me and a couple of buddies that were also into computers said, “Why don’t we just make a website that you can upload a video to, it’ll convert the video into iPod format, and we can download it and put it on the iPod?” It ended up growing into about 20 million users a month. It was one of YouTube’s larger competitors. And we were fortunate enough, we got our provisional patents in really early thanks to Toby Williams here in Kansas City. And we ended up being the first company to send a video from the internet to a cell phone.
[00:09:32] Dean Barber: That’s amazing.
[00:09:34] Adam Fichman: You know, we were kind of talking earlier about luck. I think that we largely created our own success. So, if you want to call success luck, I guess you can use it interchangeably, right?
[00:09:48] Dean Barber: I don’t think it’s possible.
[00:09:49] Adam Fichman: It’s synonymous, right? We had to go create what, I mean, we were $2 million in debt to our hosting company. And I just remember thinking through that, mentioning on his failures, well, you know what, I have to believe in myself and I have to keep failing forward. So, you know what, I had to.
[00:10:05] Dean Barber: Okay. So, hold your thought. I got to get your dad’s reaction. What was going through your mind?
[00:10:09] Adam Fichman: That was a good phone call.
[00:10:10] Dean Barber: What was going through your mind when your son’s out here trying to do something that you probably don’t even know what he’s talking about and he’s $2 million in debt. You got to be thinking, “Oh my god, what has happened? What were you thinking?”
[00:10:23] Jan Fichman: I’m not sure I was really too worried about it. I mean that’s just, you know, baseball players fail 70% of the time and they go up to the plate, and they make $10 million, and they fail 70% of the time.
[00:10:40] Dean Barber: Good point.
[00:10:41] Jan Fichman: That’s what I always use. You don’t have to be successful all the time. You just have to be successful at the right time and exploit it. So, with Adam, we get kind of involved and we knew the attorneys. And so, we connected this kid up and I think this was so early on that nobody that was in their 40s understood what the hell he was even talking about.
[00:11:09] Adam Fichman: Yeah. They were IB attorneys and they’re like, “We don’t know what the hell this is. We don’t know what’s happening.”
[00:11:15] Jan Fichman: But everybody wants to be on the cutting edge even if you don’t know what to do. I used to call him up at school and I wanted to like attach something to an email. And I call him up and he goes, “What do you want?” I said, “Well, how did you tell me to attach the thing to an email?” and he’s like, “God dang it. I told you. How many times have I told you how to do this?” And blah, blah, blah. I said, “Well, gee, I didn’t grow up with this stuff.” And that was just early on but all these young kids got it.
[00:11:44] Adam Fichman: Well, I remember even at that time, I mean, not to embarrass him, I don’t think he can quite get embarrassed but through our childhood, we saw ebbs and flows of both doing well and then really, I mean, there were times when we were not doing well. And during that time was one of the times when they at the store were not doing well. There were some consolidations in the store. They were struggling hard.
[00:12:12] Jan Fichman: Embezzlements.
[00:12:13] Adam Fichman: I mean, it was rough like don’t know where you’re going to make your next house payment or if you can, or if you’re going to get kicked out or how you’re going to make your car payments. And so, I was watching them and his attitude towards that. During the same time, I knew he couldn’t financially help me, even though he wanted to. He had nothing to be able to help me with. And I knew well, he’s not doing well and he’s still hustling and trying and going to work and pushing forward through this horrible situation.
Well, I can too like why not? I mean, so it’s a little bit of money that I owe. I didn’t even think, I remember calling him like, I think he goes, “Well, you’ve been so successful, you’re going to go out of business. So, congrats. You succeeded to fail. So, great job, Adam.” And I’m like, “Well, sh*t, what do I do?” He’s like, “I don’t know.”
[00:13:07] Dean Barber: So, what did you do? Where were you? You had the $2 million in debt.
[00:13:11] Adam Fichman: Oh, dude. It was interesting. So, I cashed out. My grandfather had like a little bond. There was like $2,500. And I think that was like all the money I had. I cashed it in. I flew out to CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, and I just said, “I need to start reaching out to like, I just need any connections, I need somebody. We have this technology and we have this thing that is worth something and we know it is. We just need to find people that need the same thing.”
And so, I met a few people while we were out at that trade show and one of them, there are a few connections actually. The guy that owns National Lampoons. I met him at a Kinkos at two o’clock in the morning. We’re putting stickers out to like label all of the magazines so we could pretend like we sponsored CES because that was like our last hundred dollars. So, we stick them on there 2 in the morning. And it just started kind of naturally growing out from there. We were out in LA a lot. We got connected with a lot of the startups there and got some penetration there.
And then largely we connected with Sprint, some of the carriers, and Verizon and said, “Hey, let’s license you guys this software to sell more data plans.” How do you sell a data plan back then? On a Treo.
[00:14:27] Dean Barber: And what year was this? Where did this take place?
[00:14:28] Adam Fichman: Oh man, this is ‘04, ‘05. So, the only device, I mean, we were pushing videos to Razor phones and Sidekicks and Treo 600s, the old brick Gameboy phones. And it was really by accident that we found the phone piece of it but that was really what dug us out. It wasn’t for the iPods. It was the phones and you think growing up hundreds of millions of dollars will bring you joy in your life. I think most people would try and argue about it and then you realize pretty quickly and even being out in LA with people with ridiculous amounts of what, they’re all chasing.
We’re all chasing purpose more than anything. It was funny. We were talking earlier about retirement. Why a lot of small business owners our purpose is our work. It’s not necessarily the money. I didn’t have that anymore.
[00:15:20] Dean Barber: Yeah. So, you sold?
[00:15:22] Adam Fichman: No, we retained it and we just licensed everything. So, we never even ended up selling. We just ran it until it had no more licensing partners. During that same time towards the end, I didn’t want to retire. I wanted to keep working. And so, I started Lifted Logic up, which is what I do now. And I just couldn’t imagine not working. Literally, we’re just talking about this.
[00:15:44] Dean Barber: But you were in a position financially that you could have done nothing.
[00:15:47] Adam Fichman: Yeah. And I still am right now. We talk about this a lot. I could just go move to an island somewhere and disappear and raise my kids and bring my parents with me. That sounds pretty boring.
[00:16:00] Dean Barber: Yeah. So, a lot of people say, “Well, Adam, you got lucky.” But it doesn’t sound like a luck story to me. It sounds to me like you had a lot of sacrifice but the most important thing that you have was vision. Right? And I think that comes from your dad, Jan. I mean, look at the vision that you had. Right? And your cousin that dropped out of dental school.
[00:16:21] Jan Fichman: Yeah. And my cousin that dropped out of dental school built his business up with selling music in truck stops. And back in those days, truckers liked to listen to comedy. Well, everybody likes to listen to comedy. And so, he thought, “Well, maybe I should start my own truck stop comedy label?” Because he was not a very happy guy because of his parents so he would go to a lot of comedy clubs. And that’s where the inspiration came. He thought, “Well, heck, I know what a good comedian is and I know what these truck drivers will buy.”
So, he started recording guys and he said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll give $25,000 but I record three of your performances. I own everything outright. You give up any and all rights to that.” Okay. So, they had to sign the paperwork. He knew he had to have a lawyer and drop the paperwork and do it right. Well, he did that six times with the guy by the name of Jeff Foxworthy.
And he’s got about, Arnie, he’s about 72. Wait. I think 72 going on 73, and he is still recording comedians in his stable of, I don’t know, 80, 90 different comedians. Now the physical product is no longer viable but he makes some money off of his downloads and streaming and licensing. Again, I mean, he had the vision to come up with these ideas. I think my father was an entrepreneur. He was in the used car business for many, many years. And it was just something that he was in the family, on the other side of the family.
They’re the rich ones because they had new car dealerships. But my dad was the poor one and had the used car lot. But we can see from my dad, his vision, and he worked hard, and it was very tough. We were struggling middle class. And if you didn’t sell a car, then you didn’t have money for groceries. But thank God, grandma did.
[00:18:28] Adam Fichman: Do you think the commonality between all of us is we’re basically un-hirable as a family?
[00:18:32] Jan Fichman: Probably. I’d still be a stock boy at Pinkies Ben Franklin.
[00:18:36] Adam Fichman: I don’t know if any of us would actually be hired by anyone at this point. I think we’d probably make it a week and then we’d be, I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s the same for you like do you think you’d still be hirable as you kind of go out?
[00:18:48] Dean Barber: No. No way.
[00:18:50] Jan Fichman: Well, it’s hard to keep your mouth shut at this point.
[00:18:51] Dean Barber: No way. You’re exactly right. I mean, because I know what I want and I’m seeing out 10, 15 years into the future with every decision that I make as the Managing Director here at Modern Wealth Management and the founder of it and a lot of times the things that I’m thinking of, that I’m seeing to the future, nobody else sees that stuff. And so, I make decisions that people like why are we doing this? This doesn’t make any sense. Well, it will. But it doesn’t always work. Right?
Some of the ideas that I have aren’t always the right ideas but I have a whole head full of them and I know that you guys do too. And that’s the interesting thing but you’re acting on that. And I think the reason that I really thought it would be interesting to interview the two of you was not just your story about your success, your failures, your dedication, the time that you spent, the sacrifices from family time, Jan, that you had to have, especially in that retail world.
Adam, you don’t have to have that now in your world, which you’re blessed to have that but I think there’s a similarity to the mindset that I see in successful entrepreneurs and successful CEOs or business owners to the successful mindset that I see in people who actually achieve their financial independence and can live their life for the reason that they want to. They may have some passion that’s outside of work that’s not going to generate income, which is really what drives them is what they want to do.
And the people that have that, and they sacrifice, and they save, they live below their means and they’re planning for the future just the same way that a successful CEO or a successful business owner is planning for the future. And so, we hear it all the time. You know, Joe, he got lucky, man. Look at him. He’s retired and he’s sitting nice 55, 60 years old. He can do whatever he wants to do. Him and his wife are traveling the world. Boy, he got lucky.
[00:20:55] Dean Barber: You know, he didn’t, right? There’s no such thing as luck. Luck defined is when opportunity and hard work come together. That’s when those two meet.
[00:21:08] Jan Fichman: And I think people have to define what success is.
[00:21:13] Dean Barber: Absolutely.
[00:21:15] Jan Fichman: And, Adam, we’re just talking about when we were walking in and I said, “Well, I was never driven by the money part of it.” Obviously, wanted to make as much money as I possibly could but it was coming up with visions that paid off down the road because I thought it’s like at one point in time, I mean, our whole businesses revolve around music, in the lifestyle in music. So, it’s taken us to futons and modern furniture. Why? Well, we had 10,000 square foot store on four levels and I thought, “Well, but this kind of fits into the lifestyle of the young people that buy music that are living in apartments, in the furniture, in the coolness. So, we try to just do that. And today, it’s a lot more difficult.
And we made a decision a couple of years ago that we had to shrink the store because today’s young people don’t get as big a kick out of a lava lamp and a strobe light as their age group did 20 years ago.
[00:22:29] Adam Fichman: I mean, it seems like you’re, and I don’t even know how I don’t think I even noticed it, but it kind of sunk in, it seemed like you were always really quick to accept your failures and remember your successes. It wasn’t like you forgot your failures. I mean, look, I remember we brought in Boost Mobile. I mean, trying different things and realizing that it failed miserably and there was never a shameful like attitude towards it, I guess.
[00:22:59] Jan Fichman: I try to leave my ego. Well, probably I just don’t have much of an ego, I guess. But it’s like I used to tell my buyers, “It’s okay. I want you to screw up. Because if you’re not doing and buying badly sometimes, it means you’re not trying to think outside the box.” And I think that big box stores stay within the box. Merry-Go-Round is a great example. It was a big rock-and-roll or type of store back in the 80s and 90s and they bet the boat on bell-bottom jeans. Okay. They did an entire summer or a whole period on bell bottoms.
[00:23:44] Dean Barber: And that was in the 80s.
[00:23:45] Jan Fichman: Yes.
[00:23:46] Dean Barber: Too late.
[00:23:47] Jan Fichman: And it failed. Well, they thought it was going to make a comeback. So, they bet the boat on it and they had 600, 700, 800 stores. And the problem is when you buy millions of dollars’ worth of a fashion product and nobody wants that fashion, what do you do with it? You know, you can’t even sell it for $3. Nobody wants to be seen in that stuff. And the company failed. So, you have to be careful not to bet the house on it but our failures, every time we’ve failed miserably…
[00:24:17] Adam Fichman: You know what, I got to say, sometimes you did bet the house on it. I mean, there were definitely years where the house financed decisions, right? How the hell did you know, okay, this decision I should bet the house on and I know I’m sure a lot of entrepreneurs, I mean, at some point either took a second on their house for their, and like sometimes it worked, but when you say that, how did you know which ones when to bet the house on it?
[00:24:45] Jan Fichman: Well, because our greatest failures came from outside influences, not from inside bad decisions.
[00:24:53] Adam Fichman: But how did you even like, I guess, I don’t know what made me feel okay with having that debt other than knowing that I had to believe in myself. But how did you know when those decisions would come through where…?
[00:25:06] Jan Fichman: I think it’s just…
[00:25:07] Adam Fichman: Was it gut?
[00:25:08] Jan Fichman: I use a lot of gut because it’s kind of like this is what I do.
[00:25:16] Dean Barber: Fifty years, right?
[00:25:17] Jan Fichman: Yeah. It’s 47 years plus the two years on the carnival trades in our hustling, but it’s really, I think just being able to, well, first of all, you have to understand your audience. You know, Adam many years ago being a rock star was probably one of his big deals. And so, he was at Illinois Wesleyan and Bloomington, Illinois, so it’s parents weekend, but they were having a talent show like on Friday. He says, “Come down to the talent show because me and these guys, we’re going to play.”
Okay. So, this school it’s like Blue Valley North. It’s more affluent, pretty white kids. And so, Adam and his guys, they’re doing Back in Black. And so, they do their performance of Back in Black, and they hear the little bitty clapping like this. No whooping and hollering and everything. Then the guy that follows him does the Macarena, and the house goes nuts. And I said, “You know, Adam, the reality of it is you have to play to your audience. This was not a Back in Black audience. You know, this was not an AC/DC group.”
[00:26:25] Adam Fichman: Yeah. They were not.
[00:26:27] Jan Fichman: So, that’s what we’ve always tried to do is we know our target audience.
[00:26:32] Dean Barber: But Adam is not a Macarena kind of guy.
[00:26:34] Adam Fichman: No.
[00:26:35] Jan Fichman: No. He might be dancing to them, but not performing it. No. And I think that’s what we’ve – and Adam has really helped me a lot in teaching me some critical thinking skills in the way that we did our marketing. And we set up a system to track a lot of our traffic, who they were, and all this kind of stuff, and helped us come up with these numbers to see the effectiveness of our marketing with radio stations, and I’m not going to name who it is, but there are major 18 to 36 audience.
The music defines the psychographics of the listeners. You know, if you’re listening to 99.7, that’s different if you’re listening to 98.9. They all maybe 18 to 36 heavy, but the mental psychographics are different. Okay. So, we get that and so we did a huge promotion and we proved to ourselves that the amount of money, the acquisition cost was too much.
[00:27:49] Dean Barber: Yeah. So, your cost to acquire new business was too much.
[00:27:52] Jan Fichman: Exactly.
[00:27:53] Dean Barber: Okay. Let’s take a quick break. This is The Guided Retirement Show. I’m Dean Barber. We’ll be right back.
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[00:29:13] Adam Fichman: I learned a hell of a lot more from watching his failures, which were very constant. And I think most of us in business probably fail forward. You know, it’s like you trip at least you move forward a little bit, right? But you fell on your face, but you move forward. So, for me, I think that that was really, I wouldn’t be here right now had it not been for his failures way more than his successes.
[00:29:54] Dean Barber: Welcome back. I’m Dean Barber, Managing Director at Modern Wealth Management and this is The Guided Retirement Show. Alright. So, where does Adam come in on this? Because, Adam, let’s skip from your development of how to get videos to cell phones and all that to what you’re doing today. The company is called Lifted Logic. And what was your idea behind Lifted Logic and how did that flow into what your dad’s talking about here?
[00:30:20] Adam Fichman: Yeah. So, I was fortunate. I got to work. When Facebook was starting really early, there was about nine people there. It was a really small knit circle back then. After the first dot-com crash, there wasn’t a lot of us kind of getting in there. And so, started getting into with talking with them on how do you look at assets of users? Why is a pregnant woman on Facebook worth more than a non-pregnant woman? Why was she buying more in that nine months?
What was the amount she was buying? What type of products? How much was that worth to the company to be able to put that product in front of a pregnant woman? Where we decided that we kind of saw things differently was the conversations would shift into how do we convince somebody to get pregnant? And so, largely there’s a reason I haven’t been on social media. I’m in the digital world for 10 years longer than that, probably 14 years. So, I have no social media. I just don’t. No, I don’t. I mean, largely, our company may have it but I don’t track things that don’t have value.
Largely, the marketing world is based on emotion, and all of these non-measurable things that everybody’s trying to put out there. And I came back to the fact that I grew up in retail, I looked at inventory turns, I looked at velocity of sales, I looked at metrics because that was what we all needed to make. And so, I’d find myself in these conversations where we would talk about Facebook likes and the company’s like, “Well, oh, my God, we killed it. We got 10,000 Facebook likes overnight.”
And you’re like, “Great. How many products did you sell?” And they’re like, “Well, none.” And I’m like, “Well, then that’s awful. Who cares?” If I can’t give my employee a bonus of Facebook likes for Christmas, then it probably shouldn’t be measuring it like they would all be pissed. Like, “Here’s your bonus this year. It’s 1,000 Facebook likes.” They’d be like, “Where’s the check?” It’s like it’s laughable, but we do that as business owners, right? We’re like, “Well, we better get it.” So, I just wanted to build a company that wasn’t sales focused. There are 30 of us and we do high-end web development, videography, photo, design, and dev. We do everything in-house, and we handpick all of our clients.
[00:32:21] Adam Fichman: We have almost four years of work booked out and no salespeople. We bill almost 1,000 clients a year. It’s a weird agency. We just kind of interview our clients and then if we like them, we’ll work with them.
[00:32:35] Dean Barber: So, are you working with 7th Heaven?
[00:32:37] Adam Fichman: We are.
[00:32:38] Dean Barber: So, you like your dad?
[00:32:40] Jan Fichman: I am their worst client.
[00:32:41] Adam Fichman: I may play the fifth on the enjoyment of working with him as a client. It’s funny. I bet most people when they see us walking into a room, and if you had to guess on how we approach business and financials and looking at things, we are way drastically different and most people are going to guess it very wrong. I think that, one, it’s a good reason why people like you exist because we all, as business owners, need mentors in areas that we don’t succeed in.
[00:33:16] Dean Barber: Correct.
[00:33:16] Adam Fichman: I mean, like geezus. And being able to see the differences between us, we all want to get to the same place but like we have this vastly different approach towards it. I think it’s probably why we clicked and I was like, “Oh my god, these guys are incredible.” He is way more debt accepting. He’s willing to leverage debt and utilize borrowing and loans and putting it out there. And maybe when I was younger, I mean, I’m still not that old but when I was in my 20s, sure. I am a very cash-heavy individual. And we go at it a lot. I very much like Chris…
[00:33:53] Jan Fichman: He has no inventory and you know.
[00:33:55] Adam Fichman: My employees, I got labor but he’s willing to get into debt and do creative things and take that risk. Most of my money’s in like CDs, which is crazy. You know, you get what 1% now, so thankfully older, but like my money largely sits way less invested than I think most people. I don’t want to have that anymore in my life. He, on the other hand, and you know, when people look at me like, “Oh, yeah, I’m sure that’s…” I’m way more conservative than he is by a lot.
[00:34:32] Dean Barber: You wouldn’t think that just by looking at the two of you.
[00:34:35] Adam Fichman: No.
[00:34:35] Jan Fichman: Probably not.
[00:34:36] Adam Fichman: They’d be saying, yeah, he’s probably – I am super, super, to probably be extreme.
[00:34:43] Jan Fichman: But I knew that the business we were in there were possibilities of interruptions from various sources throughout the years, and just cyclical financials. We have to worry about recessions too. So, we were able to get into some real estate with a very small amount of money down. And I knew this was going to be, that’s my savings. I didn’t like the stock market, don’t know anything about it, I don’t want to follow it, I don’t want to look at the charts. I’m more of the least amount of money I can put into something and then let somebody else make payments for me, seem to me, in the long run, the way to accumulate more net worth.
[00:35:40] Adam Fichman: Yeah. That’s why we both own millions and millions of dollars of real estate that he’s okay with having to pay. I buy cash. I don’t want a mortgage, I don’t want a loan, I don’t want to deal with it.
[00:35:52] Dean Barber: So, it’s interesting. We did a show on my radio show, where we talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly of debt, right? So, I’ll give you my analogy. Jan will appreciate this. So, debt on real estate can actually be good but at times, it can be bad. And sometimes it can be downright ugly. Right? So, let’s just say that today you really can’t do this anymore because of a lot of the banking laws that changed after the Great Recession.
But it used to be you could go into a business property, a rental property, whatever, put 5% down, put 10% down and finance it for 30 years and have your people make the payments, and life is good, right? So, let’s just use an example. Let’s say about a million-dollar property, we put $100,000 down, that property increases in value by 10%. You’ve just doubled your investment, right? Because you only had $100,000 of your own money in there and now you get 200,000. So, that leverage in that particular example, beautiful thing, right?
But what happened in the Great Recession was that people freaked out over the dot-com bubble, stopped buying stocks, and started buying real estate. So, remember these ads, “If you own a home, we’ll loan you up to 120% of the value of your home.” And I knew the day that I picked up the newspaper, this background is still reading the physical newspaper in early it was mid-2007. I pick up a newspaper and there’s a full-page ad in there that you get a free BMW with the purchase of a Pulte home. And I’m like, “Oh, my God, it’s over. This is it. The mania has gone nuts.” And that’s when I decided that it was time to get out of the stock market. Because there was no way that this whole debt situation was going to end anything other than horribly ugly.
[00:37:55] Dean Barber: And so, what happened was, as people started failing on their subprime loans, that leaked into a prime loan crisis because you had defaults, people being forced to sell, so all of a sudden now, there’s more sellers, wannabe sellers than there are willing buyers and so you push the price down of this real estate. So, if we reverse that thing, and say, “You know what, I got $100,000 down, if that property decreases in value by just 10%, you’ve lost 100% of your money.”
If it decreases by 20%, now you’ve lost 100% more than what you put in. And so, that’s what was happening and there were so many of those loans that were out there that were like these five-year balloons, especially in the residential real estate market. Let’s do a five-year balloon and do an interest-only loan, and those things start coming due and you got to refinance, and they’re doing a reappraisal of the house.
Your million-dollar property isn’t worth a million dollars anymore. Guess what? It’s worth 600 and we’re only going to loan 70% of the value of that house. So, now you’re going to lose everything that you put in and more or you’re going to have to come up with a bunch of cash to put in to keep that property.
[00:39:07] Adam Fichman: You know what, it’s awesome listening to you. Like one of the biggest things as an entrepreneur, I’m sure this is the same when you deal with people with money is in your best asset when you’re starting, right? Like you are the expert, you know it, and then it somehow evolves into you are the worst asset you have in making those decisions.
[00:39:24] Dean Barber: You got to hire other people to do it.
[00:39:25] Adam Fichman: That’s what I was going to say. People like me I think that that’s what is nice about knowing people like you is that eventually we have become our own worst assets and having somebody that can look at both of our situations and still see like the truth and the success from both of those. You know, I don’t think enough people rely on, again, we all go and read and read and read and we don’t rely enough on experts that are doing and have the knowledge base built into the passion for their industry like we do for ours.
[00:39:54] Jan Fichman: Well, and I think in kind of to your point, it was either Vanderbilt or one of the wealthy Carnegie or somebody back at the wealth scions of the day and came through the depression with all their money. And so, they asked this particular gentleman, how did he know to make that decision? He was so brilliant. And he said, “Whichever way the masses are running, run as fast as you can the opposite way.” Because in reality and this is somewhat systemic is people get hooked into this stuff, the financing crowd.
I had a friend that was in the mortgage business and he said he’d get a call on Monday, and they said, “Hey, Joe, we need you to loan 5 million out this week. And here’s what we want you to do. Don’t fax this stuff to Larry. Fax it to Willie. Okay. And he’ll take care of you.” And so, what that says is, and what everybody knows, maybe not outright is they said just find somebodies.
Because we’re going to sell. We get all this money from the Middle East coming in and it’s got to find a home. So, you know, out of 100 loans, we know, these five or 10 are not going to be good, but, hell, nobody’s ever going to notice them. But the problem is the greed part of it. You know, it’s the greed that promotes all of this.
[00:41:20] Dean Barber: So, there are two things. There’s the fear and greed, right? Warren Buffett has a great quote. He goes, “You want to be fearful when others are greedy, and you want to be greedy when others are fearful.” That’s what you’re saying. Do the opposite. But when you think about the whole aspect of money, I think there are two types of money.
There’s the smart money, and then there’s the dumb money. So, here’s what happens. So, the smart money’s in early, whether it’s in real estate or whether it’s in the stock market. Those are your two primary or whether it’s in an asset like gold or crypto, right? The smart money’s in early. When the people that have made the big profits want to get out, they have to sell the fact that, “This is still great and look at what you’ve missed out on,” to lure the masses or the dumb money into the purchase. Okay.
Think about the dot-com bubble. It was an absolute 100% perfect example. You had the technology-heavy NASDAQ index up 100% for two years in a row. All right. And almost all of the money like 95% of the money that went into the NASDAQ index came in in the fourth quarter of 1999, at the end of the game. And then the NASDAQ subsequently lost 70% over the next three years. Well, what happened? The smart money wanted out so they had to convince the dumb money to come in and buy.
Look at what you’re missing, brick-and-mortars is gone. It’s all about tech. If you’re not putting your money here, you’re stupid, right? Well, they had to sell and you got to remember, in whatever market we’re in, for every one of the seller, there has to be a willing buyer.
[00:43:19] Dean Barber: And so, if you can follow what the smart money is doing, and understand, because you start hearing that narrative, right? And when the smart people already owned real estate, and they wanted to start getting out, what do they have to do? They had to convince everybody else because you got to get somebody to buy your stuff. And so, I think that if people could learn the difference between the smart money and the dumb money, and really understand what to look for, you can make a huge difference in your decision-making process and come out on the right side of it more times than not.
[00:43:55] Jan Fichman: And then the dumb money becomes smart money.
[00:43:57] Adam Fichman: I was going to say what happens when the smart money ends up overwhelming? Is there still that fine balance that you need in that structure to have some of that dumb money still there?
[00:44:08] Dean Barber: The dumb money will stay until it’s – because why? Okay. So, Wall Street teaches you that that you never sell.
[00:44:17] Jan Fichman: Long term.
[00:44:19] Dean Barber: You got to take the long-term approach. You don’t want to sell it now. It was down 50%. Don’t sell now, you should have sold a long time ago, right? There were valuations that make no sense. WalkYourDog.com is selling for multiple billions of dollars, but they don’t even have any money. They’ve never made a profit, but they had the dot-com behind their name and they incorporated and they sold shares. They went public and people like, “Oh, yeah.” Well, who made the money?
[00:44:48] Adam Fichman: I think we’re working on that with TikTok right now. I think we’re literally watching that happen. You know, Chinese tracking application being sold with no revenue stream for Microsoft is going to pay how much.
[00:45:01] Dean Barber: So, let’s talk about your knowledge of TikTok and what they’re doing here.
[00:45:07] Adam Fichman: Yeah. It was one of the only apps that I had installed behest, I had an employee that fell in love with it right in the early, early, early days.
[00:45:20] Dean Barber: Well, it was only been around three years, right? 2017.
[00:45:23] Adam Fichman: That’s a long time in the tech world. That’s forever. And so, he downloaded it and started using it and sending me a lot of the, for me, I have a hard time. So, I’m the oldest one at my company. I’m 35. The rest of the 30 employees are younger than me. So, I still try and understand what they’re chasing through these applications. And for me, I still have to obviously understand, what is this? But they’re just recycling the exact same thing over and over and over again.
[00:45:53] Dean Barber: What gives it a $50 billion value that Microsoft wants to buy? Why?
[00:45:58] Adam Fichman: You know what? I mean, I think that, largely, it’s users. That’s it. So, the same thing we were kind of talking about with Facebook…
[00:46:05] Dean Barber: It’s an audience? That’s it?
[00:46:06] Adam Fichman: It’s an audience. It’s a delivery medium for ads. That’s it. You know, they can split these like what he’s talking about what the psychographics on the radio, they can pinpoint down, okay, you know what, I guess we can even take it back that when people say, “Hey, man, you hate social media.”
[00:46:22] Dean Barber: Yeah.
[00:46:22] Adam Fichman: Why do you tell most businesses to not do this? The first question I’ll ask, I’ll say, “Okay, so let’s talk about Jim Johnson, the big plumber in Kansas City.” We’re just going to use them as an example. Sure, we can all apply whatever big plumber we want in there. So, if I asked you so, Dean, all right. Let’s say you use Facebook. I don’t know if you do or you don’t. But let’s say you’re on Facebook. Who’s one of your favorite bands?
[00:46:49] Dean Barber: AC/DC, man. Back in Black.
[00:46:51] Adam Fichman: So, let’s say that everybody’s still alive.
[00:46:53] Dean Barber: I would have cheered for you.
[00:46:55] Adam Fichman: Thanks. So, okay, you get on Facebook. Everybody’s still alive in AC/DC and they are coming to Kansas City, $10 tickets, hundred person venue. There’s no such thing as COVID in this example, a hundred person venue. Here’s the ticket to buy. I imagine, are you going to click on that and buy that ticket?
[00:47:16] Dean Barber: Absolutely.
[00:47:17] Adam Fichman: Yeah. So, Jim, the plumber, sitting in my office, saying, “I got the best social media campaign ever.” “Probably not but tell me about it.” “Adam, I am going to do a $99 main drain cleanout. It’s going to kill it.” “That’s going to fail miserably.”
[00:47:39] Dean Barber: So, why did you think it was going to kill it?
[00:47:41] Adam Fichman: Because he goes, “You know what, $99? I basically paying them to come to their house. I’m losing money. Do you know what this is like a $300 thing? I’m doing it for $99. This is going to kill it. It’s amazing.” We all sit there, whether we work at a company, own a company, or look at ourselves like this, right? Like, everybody believes they are the equivalent of that rock band. Who wouldn’t buy this? Who wouldn’t buy this on social media? It’s such a good deal and you’re like, “It’s awful.”
[00:48:11] Dean Barber: That reminds me of somebody that wants to try to prepare their own taxes.
[00:48:17] Dean Barber: You know, I can do this for free.
[00:48:22] Jan Fichman: Free is expensive.
[00:48:24] Dean Barber: Free is very expensive sometimes. Okay. So, continue.
[00:48:27] Adam Fichman: So, you know that isolation, right, and realizing everybody believes and they hear you have to do social media. You have to use social media. So, they become these massively primed marketing dumps of money. Every single business at least some point in time of me working with them, “Adam, so I need to do social media, right?” “No, no, you don’t. No, probably not.” But that’s what we’ve been told and so we’re seeing billions and billions of dollars being dumped into a system that’s not being measured on the outcome.
[00:48:56] Dean Barber: But do you think that the reason why that is happening has to do with the streaming technology on television and the DVRs and everything to where what was this massive marketing medium on television is virtually, I mean, I don’t watch a commercial on TV. I refuse to watch any television show where I’ve got to sit through the commercials. I’ll either do it, I’ll DVR it, and I’ll watch it an hour later so I can skip through the commercials. I don’t want to see all the ads, right?
[00:49:26] Adam Fichman: Right. I think it’s this attitude shift where every single, every tech startup now has gotten into this strategy of ad paying out their income like, “I’m going to sell a bunch of ads. I’m going to start a flashlight app, and I’m going to sell ads,” and realizing that there’s people out there that are still, again, I kind of see this like I do that when you’re talking about subprime mortgage. Like, it’s this movement and shift towards everybody being convinced now they need to dump this money into advertising, but largely we’re over advertised too and they become less and less effective the more saturation it is.
[00:50:01] Dean Barber: They get my wife and she’s not pregnant. Our fifth one just finally went off to college but, I mean, she’s buying stuff all the time. I was, “Well, where did you get this?” “Oh, it was on an ad on Instagram or it was an ad on…”
[00:50:16] Adam Fichman: Well, people love buying things. I think that’s where it comes down to.
[00:50:18] Dean Barber: It makes us feel good.
[00:50:19] Adam Fichman: If people love buying things, but we hate being sold to, like that’s the ultimate crux of marketing is that everybody wants to buy sh*t, but nobody wants to feel like a sucker. Like, I want to think that I went into that store and I picked these jeans out because I liked them, not because the store knew to put them on a mannequin right out the front when I walked by, they were basically advertising it. Social media has just gotten to this there’s no limit to the inventory so it’s bottomless.
Like they can deliver constantly and I think people are seeing TikTok in that same way. For those people that don’t know, really the shift from the first dot-com to the second, this was a huge systemic shift in the internet that we were in the early days of, so the Web 1.0 and the Web 2.0. The Web 2.0 became an adjective for a lot of things, style and all, but really what it meant was user aggregated content. Okay. So, this was the shift.
ComedyCentral.com back in the first dot-com, they were producing their own content. They would shove their own stuff out there. This is mine. Then some of these early Web 2.0 that some of them like Myspace bridged the gap between both, we are only aggregates of the users in which using our service. If you take the users off of Facebook, what’s left?
[00:51:36] Dean Barber: Nothing.
[00:51:37] Adam Fichman: Nothing. Ads.
[00:51:37] Dean Barber: There’s nothing there. So, who are they going to advertise to?
[00:51:40] Adam Fichman: So, literally, that’s what they’re doing is they’re buying this inventory. They’re buying inventory of eyeballs and that’s what these numbers are is what is the potential that we can shove ads in front of these eyeballs? And so, it’s just a math formula for them, right? If every single view of an ad is worth 10 cents, and I can put it in for one out of every 10 users, it’s just this math formula they run through and that’s how they kind of get to their valuations, and largely, they’re not making anything. It’s just that they’re buying off inventory that hasn’t been sold yet. It’s hopefully pennies on the dollar but those pennies add up to billions really quickly on TikTok.
[00:52:14] Dean Barber: So, would that be a similar for people that maybe still don’t understand the language you’re speaking at them? But that’d be similar to a radio station, right? The only thing they have is airtime, right? And they’re counting on people listening, right? And so, then they’re selling ads on the radio, right?
[00:52:30] Jan Fichman: And the listeners, again, when we go to buy time, we look at time spent listening on the station. So, years ago, before all the internet and everything, people would spend say 45 minutes average listening in the mornings. Maybe on their drive to work or they get up in the morning, they turn on the radio, they’re jamming to AC/DC and brushing their teeth and all this, get in the car, listen to Johnny Dare, going to work. Today, the time spent listening has dropped. The audience…
[00:53:04] Dean Barber: Because I can Bluetooth right to my stereo when I get in the car.
[00:53:07] Jan Fichman: Now you don’t have to listen to stuff you don’t want to listen to.
[00:53:10] Dean Barber: I got to listen to exactly what I’m going to listen to and I got to be honest, most of the time I’m in my car. I’m listening to podcast. And so, hopefully, we had a lot of people listening to this podcast but that’s it. So, now, the ads that are in the podcast, I skip them.
[00:53:27] Adam Fichman: You know what they’re doing? Basically, the best way to picture this is there’s a strip of highway that was really dead for a long time. Then a mall went in at the other end of the highway. Now, a bunch more people are driving down that highway and somebody looks at this and says, “If I buy this strip of highway, I can put up 50 billboards that I could sell each billboard for $1,000 a month.” I can buy the highway for $100,000. So, in two months of me having my billboards up all broken and even selling it. It’s literally the exact same thing that we’ve been dealing with in real life, just it’s now gone digital, and that highway is infinite.
[00:54:00] Dean Barber: But the TikTok users are kids. So, how are we, I mean…
[00:54:06] Adam Fichman: You know what, the demographic is changing, though. So, it was largely children in the beginning but what happens is parents follow children. And so, largely Facebook was an invite-only for college kids when it started.
[00:54:18] Dean Barber: Right. But isn’t Facebook losing its own demographic?
[00:54:21] Adam Fichman: Facebook is declining in users and pageviews and length of visit and Facebook has just gotten so damn big that they can own whoever their competitors are. That was the kind of that big Congress presentation a couple of weeks ago. They’re so big that they can go buy the next thing.
[00:54:41] Dean Barber: Interesting.
[00:54:42] Adam Fichman: So, they can’t ever really fail. I mean, it’d be really hard for them to fail at this point, failing some security and other issues that could take them down.
[00:54:52] Dean Barber: Alright. So, tell me what did you do. What did you do for your dad’s company, 7th Heaven? And maybe we should get it from Jan first.
[00:54:59] Adam Fichman: What did we do?
[00:55:00] Dean Barber: Did you understand when he started saying, “We can help you do more,” I’m assuming you’re saying you’re doing digital marketing, right?
[00:55:06] Adam Fichman: Yeah.
[00:55:07] Jan Fichman: Well, we fell into the same ideas as everybody else’s, that we had to be on social media and do all this kind of stuff. And then they explained the whole fallacy of that to us. And so, we built out, our Adam’s company built out a really nice website for us. You get an idea of who we are, what we carry. We did put up a shopping cart very rapidly during the COVID, which is…
[00:55:38] Adam Fichman: I have fought for them against him putting e-commerce up for years.
[00:55:42] Jan Fichman: And the reason is part of it was, it’s not tied to our POS system, which is antiquated. So, of course, the one item that we had up and the item that we hadn’t sold for years, somebody online buys it, but ironically, the night before somebody bought it, so now we don’t have it to sell. So, we are updating. We’re going to go and purchase a new POS system, which will plug right into Adam’s website. But again, listening to my son, he says, “You don’t want a whole bunch of stuff.
Let’s just focus on some stuff to blow out.” So, what’s interesting right now, and so I’m not going to, and I have always hired people that were smarter than me because I think they’re smart. So, I just found people that were much more organized to do the backend accounting work and whenever. I like music. I’m not into it. Like the guys that run my department, they live it, love it, know it, and everything.
Same with all the other departments, I find people that are passionate about it, and then we train them, then we let them run with it. We help them make successful buys. We celebrate the successes, and we learn from the losses. And that allows me to, as the kids were growing up, when Adam was going to take his first strokes and swim, I was there with my camera. When the other son was in a soccer game, I could be there. The most important thing the business enabled me to be a better dad, hopefully, and enjoy the kids. Because that’s really all, you know, I don’t think Warren Buffett on his deathbed is going to be talking about his favorite leveraged buyout. I just don’t think he is. And if that’s where you’re at, and that’s really kind of a pathetic life.
[00:57:33] Dean Barber: Well, if you think about it, Jan, when you get to your later years, and you ask people if they have regrets, it’s never that I didn’t save enough or that I didn’t. It’s all the things that I should have done more with my family or with the people that I care about. That’s where the regrets come from. And that’s why we’re doing The Guided Retirement Show because we want people to do the opposite of what Wall Street wants you to do. Wall Street wants to teach you to die rich, right?
We want to teach people to be able to live rich, to be able to understand that they can have clarity and confidence and control of their overall financial picture. Why? By hiring smarter people than they are, right? You get a good CEO. That CEO is not going to pretend to be the CFO, that CEO is not going to pretend to be the chief legal counsel, right? And that CEO is not going to pretend to be the chief tax person. No. You’re going to hire somebody that knows how to do that.
Yet, for some reason, it’s been ingrained in people’s minds that you don’t need these professionals. You can do all this stuff on your own. Why? Because all the data is online. Back when the whole dot-com thing was going on in the internet really started to become popular, people told me, “Dean, you’re not going to have a job anymore because everybody’s going to be able to have all the information that they need to make their own decisions and do their own things.” And quite the opposite has actually happened. People need me now more than ever because now we’ve got information overload and how does this apply to my personal situation?
[00:59:05] Jan Fichman: There’s so much BS out there. How do you? Unless you’re trained in a particular area, you don’t know what’s BS and you don’t know what’s the truth.
[00:59:15] Adam Fichman: People that succeed are the ones that people don’t see the people below them. Right? Talk about Patrick Mahomes. He’s got his coaches. He’s got his dieticians. But nobody notices them. Right? I think the more successful you get, the less you even see the people behind them. Like any good entrepreneur will say having somebody like you behind them is what allows them to be good at their job.
[00:59:38] Dean Barber: Right. Because you got to focus on…
[00:59:39] Adam Fichman: You can’t be good at everything.
[00:59:40] Jan Fichman: It’s the infrastructure.
[00:59:41] Dean Barber: It is.
[00:59:42] Jan Fichman: You’re only as good as the infrastructure. My father was in the 13th Armored Black Cat division under Patton. And he was at the end of the war when they were moving through France and Italy and into Germany. And he goes, “Yeah. They give us these little white hills and we just kept driving. We’re driving the tanks in half-tracks. We’re just moving, moving, moving.” He said, “The reason we were successful in the war is because of our infrastructure. We could move what we needed to the troops on a timely basis.” You know, the Germans were in their summer coats in the middle of Russia during wintertime freezing to death, because they didn’t have their winter coats. So, it’s the same with a business. If you don’t have the infrastructure, you can’t do it.
[01:00:28] Dean Barber: Yeah. I think of it like this and I tie this back to what we do. Like my example of the CEO, finding all these people to work for, right? No CEO in the right mind is ever going to have a successful business if they try to fill all those shoes. And I think that…
[01:00:47] Adam Fichman: Unless you want to stay a one-person operation.
[01:00:49] Dean Barber: Yeah, but that’s not success, right? That’s just it’s not. It’s not sustainable. It’s like you’re on a never-ending treadmill, right? One that you just can’t get off of. You’re going to wind up dying someday because you just wore yourself completely out. I think that every individual is actually the CEO of their own finances. Okay. They are the CEO of their finances, right? Now, if I’m the CEO of my own finances, look, I know the tax code better than most, but I am not going to pretend to be an expert in taxes.
I’m going to hire me a really, really smart CPA, right? Well, what I wound up doing was hiring a whole bunch of CPAs to work for me here because I found out that my clients, the CPAs, that their CPAs that they were working with weren’t really doing the forward-looking tax mitigation strategies that I knew were available. And so, people need to get out of this mindset that this is something that I can do on my own, that I don’t need the support of others, whether it’s in their personal finances, whether it’s in even your physical fitness.
Your example of Patrick Mahomes, it’s okay to seek out those experts and to hire people that are smarter than you. Not a lot of people are willing to do that because they think that there is a risk. I know situations where people have come in to talk to me like I was scared to come in and talk to you. Why? Because I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know everything to my wife. Because I want to put on that air of confidence. Well, it’s better to admit that you don’t know everything.
[01:02:24] Jan Fichman: She probably already knows it, anyway.
[01:02:26] Adam Fichman: Yeah. And you know what, even when I came in, we’ve had a lot of help over the years but sitting down with somebody, that’s how you do learn. So, when you do leave, you are smarter than when you came in.
[01:02:37] Dean Barber: Absolutely.
[01:02:37] Adam Fichman: When I left that meeting, I was sitting there going, “Well, man, that makes a hell of a lot of sense.” You know, it seems obvious once you know it, and so does everything. Right? And having people like you out there that are willing to sit down and talk and not make anybody feel dumb or bad, even no matter where they’re at on that spectrum is invaluable. Like, we all need that.
[01:02:57] Dean Barber: Yeah. I always say that I want my clients to be smarter than the average financial advisor. Now, some people might say that that’s not very difficult to get into. But the truth is the more educated I can get my clients and my prospective clients to be, the easier it is for me to communicate with them. And the more protection they’ll have against what I call the predators that are out there that are just trying to sell a product or earn a commission or something like that, you need that, it’s counsel, right? You don’t need a financial advisor that’s a salesperson. You need somebody that’s a counselor, somebody that looks at your entire picture. And you did the same thing with your businesses.
[01:03:40] Jan Fichman: Sure.
[01:03:41] Dean Barber: This has been a ton of fun, guys. We’ve been going for an hour now. Doesn’t seem like it.
[01:03:46] Adam Fichman: No. It just flew by.
[01:03:47] Dean Barber: Yeah. So, great stories from both of you. Fascinating. And I don’t see either one of you slowing down anytime soon.
[01:03:56] Adam Fichman: No, we’re not going to stop.
[01:03:56] Jan Fichman: I hope not.
[01:03:59] Dean Barber: Well, thanks so much for taking the time, especially during the COVID thing to come in here and…
[01:04:05] Adam Fichman: We’ll be ready to come back mask-free soon.
[01:04:07] Dean Barber: Do it.
[01:04:07] Jan Fichman: We’ll hope so.
[01:04:08] Adam Fichman: Yeah, man.
[01:04:08] Dean Barber: Yeah, we’ll do it again. All right. Thanks, guys.
[01:04:11] Jan Fichman: Thank you.
[01:04:11] Adam Fichman: Thank you.
[01:04:12] Jan Fichman: You’re welcome. It’s a pleasure.
[01:04:13] Dean Barber: Well, I don’t know about everybody listening, but I thought that was a ton of fun. I want to encourage you guys to check out what is going on at 7th Heaven, Jan Fichman’s business. And I also want you to check out what’s going on at Lifted Logic. That’s Adam’s business. And these two guys, if you couldn’t tell are still very, very excited about what they do even though they are financially independent.
Pay close attention to what we’re talking about, though, because the reality is that they both failed multiple times. They both had a lot of successes. It’s the same thing in our everyday life. Let us help you. Let us be your partner at Modern Wealth Management, to help you think through decisions and to help you set that vision for yourself utilizing our Guided Retirement System.
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Investment advisory services offered through Modern Wealth Management, Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Adviser.
The views expressed represent the opinion of Modern Wealth Management an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Information provided is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute investment, tax, or legal advice. Modern Wealth Management does not accept any liability for the use of the information discussed. Consult with a qualified financial, legal, or tax professional prior to taking any action.