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Are You Smart? Or Did You Just Get Lucky? – Episode 205

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“Pure luck.” “The luck of the Irish.” “Some people have all the luck.” Does the idea of “luck” really play a role in finances?

James Taylor, Clark Griswald, and Lady Luck all get a mention in this episode of the Dentist Money™ Show—although (as you might guess) the lady wins most of the attention. 

Having the stars align, finding your pot-o-gold, or just plain luck can play a role in people’s lives … and in their finances too. If you’ve wondered why—or maybe what it takes to increase your own lucky odds—Reese and Ryan take a keen look at karma when it comes to investing.

Podcast Transcript

Ryan Isaac: Hey Dentist Money Show listeners. This is Ryan Isaac. I’ve got a great show for you today, but I’ve got a question for you first. How lucky are you? Here’s another question. How much does luck have to do with the success in your life? Today, Reese I dive into the topic of the role of luck in our financial success, and the outcome of our financial futures. Join us today for stories about a flat tire on a vacation, or celebrities getting a lucky break to jumpstart their careers. We appreciate you for joining us. Thanks for listening. Enjoy the show.

Announcer: Consult an advisor or conduct your own due diligence when making financial decisions. General principles discussed during this program do not constitute personal advice. This program is furnished by Dentist Advisors, a registered investment advisor. This is Dentist Money. Now, here’s your host, Reese Harper.

Reese Harper: Welcome to the Dentist Money Show where we help dentists make smart financial decisions. I’m your host Reese Harper, here with my trusty old cohost, senor Ryan Isaac.

Ryan Isaac: That’s awesome.

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: That was really surprising. That’s because you got back from Mexico.

Reese Harper: Oh, Mexico. Yeah. [foreign language 00:01:12]. Yeah, James Taylor has a song called Mexico, if you’ve never heard it from, I think it’s the 1984 album.

Ryan Isaac: Okay.

Reese Harper: It’s quite classic.

Ryan Isaac: And you listened to that the whole time.

Reese Harper: My kids, I played it for my kids to warm them up for the trip. I’m like, all right, we’re going to play this song. And they like learned it really good, and they started singing it, and big into it. My son’s a guitar player, my 11-year-old is, so he like really is-

Ryan Isaac: Feeling it?

Reese Harper: Yeah, he feels it, getting into it. J.T., yeah.

Ryan Isaac: Different generation of JT [crosstalk 00:00:01:47].

Reese Harper: He had a long career. What a legacy.

Ryan Isaac: Okay.

Reese Harper: I felt a little bit of the luck of the Irish with him when I first…

Ryan Isaac: That’s a great segue.

Reese Harper: Great segue.

Ryan Isaac: I was going to say, I feel lucky to be here. That’s what I was going to say. But I left the luck of the Irish… I actually think I might be Irish, I think. I have a red beard. I think I’m Irish.

Reese Harper: Sir Ryan Isaac is not traditionally-

Ryan Isaac: Scottish.

Reese Harper: That’s a Scottish sir.

Ryan Isaac: It’s English or Scottish. Anyway, today kind of an interesting topic. It’s based on a few articles I’ve been reading lately, that really got me thinking about the role of luck in our success in career, in money, in our position in life, in where we’re at. Just the flat out sheer luck that, at the end of the day, you weren’t one of the people hit by a car, or who got cancer that day, or just something, you made it another day and you were just lucky to still be there.

Ryan Isaac: Because some people weren’t, in so many different ways. And so I was thinking about this recently. I took a drive, we took a little family trip from the hot old desert of Phoenix up to Utah.

Reese Harper: Beautiful place.

Ryan Isaac: Beautiful-

Reese Harper: Well, Phoenix is beautiful, too, but I thought you were talking about-

Ryan Isaac: She’s got her own beauty.

Reese Harper: You drove up to Utah?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: Oh yeah, [crosstalk 00:03:19].

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, remember? Hey there.

Reese Harper: Yeah, we went to dinner. You and me had some tacos.

Ryan Isaac: We did go get tacos, yeah. We didn’t sing James Taylor together, but we did get tacos.

Reese Harper: That was in preparation for my Mexico trip.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, we were getting you ready. I think we did well. So on that drive, we left Phoenix, and this time of year… Well, it was a few weeks ago, so it was still in the mid to high 90s, it was pretty warm, even in the evening. As we got into the middle of the desert and central middle of nowhere, Southern Utah, temps dropped a lot. This time of year, it gets quite cold.

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: So we’re probably three plus hours from our destination for the night, and I get the little low tire warning on my car, and so I’m like, “Yeah, that’s kind of weird. Let’s check that out.” We pull over to get some gas, and I look out and it’s not flat at all. It’s kind of fine. And I chalked it up to the temperature changing that quickly. We went from hot to cold. Honestly can’t tell you the thermodynamic law that would make tires expand or contract in the heat or the cold or changing temps [crosstalk 00:04:27]

Reese Harper: But it does govern. It does govern.

Ryan Isaac: It changes it.

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: I remember when I lived in Utah during times in the winter, sometimes I’d get those things, but they were fine. So anyway, I looked at it, I’m like, “Oh, this is cool. We’re okay.” Keep driving, and about, I don’t know, it was probably like 30, 40 minutes out and I’ve been going 85 miles an hour for two hours, and I’m about 30 minutes out from destination, and I’m like, “You know, that sounds kind of funny,” but I can’t really tell. And then when we got off the freeway five minutes from the hotel, I’m like, that’s a weird sound.

Ryan Isaac: As I pull up to the front, the tire was demolished. It was like hanging off in flaps behind my car. And I’ve got my whole family, I’ve got my precious little children and my wife in the car, and I’ve been driving 80 miles an hour for like three hours on a completely destroyed tire. And as I got out of the car, that was my first thought, was like, “Holy crap, that was lucky.” Oh, and then it turns out, as I had to take the tire off and get it fixed, I didn’t… Shout out to my lack of knowledge on changing tires, I’ve never changed a tire that had one of those locking lug nuts. Have you ever used… They have a special, star shape on top of them?

Reese Harper: Yeah, yeah.

Ryan Isaac: You ever done that? I’ve never done that before.

Reese Harper: I haven’t changed my own tire, but I know what you’re talking about.

Ryan Isaac: So, well when I changed it, I had no idea. So I had to pull up YouTube and go, oh, I thought it was stuck, and then I figured out it was locking lug nut, and then out of sheer luck, again, sitting in my glove box, which I’ve never noticed, and we bought this car used three years ago, there’s the special bolt attachment for the locking lug nuts. It’s still sitting in my glove box, and I’m like, I can’t even let keep a phone charger in this car without losing it. I’m so shocked this is still in here.

Ryan Isaac: So I’m thinking, as I pull up to the hotel, how lucky was this? Because if I was on the middle of the desert with no signal, I would have thought the last lug nut was stuck, and then I would’ve had to call a tow truck or something. And then for some miraculous reason, we actually pulled in and made it, as opposed to all the other stories of people who blow at tires and roll cars [crosstalk 00:00:06:39]

Reese Harper: So I’m trying to figure out how you didn’t notice that your tire was blown out.

Ryan Isaac: That’s the thing [crosstalk 00:06:45]

Reese Harper: Were you wearing headphones?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: Were you listening to some…

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, I do audiobooks when I drive, but even the last 30 to 45 minutes, I had nothing on, but there was no, like the car-

Reese Harper: So it probably didn’t blow it up until right at the end.

Ryan Isaac: It was like probably [crosstalk 00:07:04]

Reese Harper: It was in the driveway.

Ryan Isaac: The only sound I ever noticed it was when we got off the freeway, when we were sub 30 miles an hour, and I was like, “Oh, that doesn’t sound good,” and it was almost shredded. I can’t believe it was still on there, but anyway.

Reese Harper: You’re like Clark Griswold, dude, you’re like sparks flying. You were probably driving on metal on the asphalt freeway for like 50 miles, and there’s probably sparks flying up behind your car.

Ryan Isaac: Probably, like a long groove now in the desert highway somewhere.

Reese Harper: You’re like, what is the white collar desert dweller know about sparks and tires?

Ryan Isaac: What am I supposed to do?

Reese Harper: I don’t know.

Ryan Isaac: I have no idea. It was just a crazy [crosstalk 00:07:50].

Reese Harper: “Hey honey, what’s that fire in the back of the rig?” “I don’t know, I’m listening to my audiobook on the financial industry.”

Ryan Isaac: I was going through the Mitch Rapp series.

Reese Harper: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ryan Isaac: Vince Flynn, Mitch Rapp. Anyway, so that [crosstalk 00:08:08].

Reese Harper: I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re alive.

Ryan Isaac: I’m glad I’m here. I couldn’t believe we rolled in, and that it made it, but that got me thinking. And then I’ve seen a couple of articles, most notably, shout out to my favorite financial writer right now, it’s a guy named Morgan Housel, he writes for a firm called the Collaborative Fund. Anyway, this guy, he just has such a cool brain, and such a great way of expressing himself. He’s written a few pieces on the role of luck in our finances.

Ryan Isaac: And I kind of just wanted to turn that into a discussion today about you as an entrepreneur. I think about, we’re 12 years, 13 years into this business, Dentist Advisors, and I think about the way that you and I met. The sheer luck of me sitting in a career that, I’m really grateful, and I love the career that I have, and it’s fulfilling, and I have a good lifestyle, and I’m just really happy with it.

Ryan Isaac: But the way it started was like, it wasn’t intentional. I wasn’t doing anything above average to make something happen. I just happened to move into a neighborhood near you at a certain period of time. I don’t know how we [crosstalk 00:09:18]

Reese Harper: I think I remember during that, if you think about that coincidence, it’s like I was looking for someone to help me get this business off the ground. If the person who left wouldn’t have left at the time they left, I wouldn’t have even had the conversation with you, either. And if the great recession wouldn’t have happened like in the month, probably, or two, that it occurred, you and me might’ve not actually really had the… It’s just like all those random-

Ryan Isaac: How they line up. Yeah. And maybe someone will call it coincidence. Someone’s going to at me with #blessed, these are blessings. This isn’t luck. And then someone’s going to come out with me with something more philosophical and deeper. But I guess the question for today, and everyone listening, is just take a look back in the last maybe 10 years of your life.

Ryan Isaac: A lot of people will argue the fact that if you’re born in a place where you have medicine, running water, education, and an economy to live in, basically in the United States, in this century, compared to all the humans that have ever lived on this earth, it’s a small percentage of people, and that alone is incredibly lucky to launch a lot of people into situations that other, more talented, hardworking, more dedicated people around the world just never have the luck to start with in a good place, to even turn their hard work and dedication in anything.

Ryan Isaac: So I think that’s the kind of thing to think about, is I’d be curious your thoughts as you look back over this business, and you look at clients who have financial success, there’s no question that hard work, and intelligence, and dedication, and grit, all those things, play a huge role, but what’s the role of luck? And what’s the role of acknowledging luck or failing to acknowledge luck in our situation? What does that do to us?

Matt Mulcock: Hey Dentist Money Show listeners. It’s Matt Mulcock with Dentist Advisors. I want to invite you to join Ryan Isaac and me for a monthly webinar series, where we tackle one of the element’s topics. You’ll have the ability to ask questions, answer live polls and get it behind the scenes look and how we work with clients. You can sign up for free at Hope to see you there.

Reese Harper: I was just trying to do in my head, some math of if I’m born in the United States at 300 and… There’s what, 327 million, 330 million people in the United States, and then there’s about 7.8 billion people in the world. And not to say that the United States is the best place to live…

Ryan Isaac: Or the only place,

Reese Harper: The only place. There’s two other countries I would consider living in, probably, besides that. I would consider Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Just because I speak English right now. Mostly, and Spanish.

Ryan Isaac: It’d be easier, yeah.

Reese Harper: It’s easier, but I like those places’ economies, and maybe Singapore, and maybe Germany, maybe England, I don’t know. But there’s very few places. The U.S.-

Ryan Isaac: I’d go to the warm one.

Reese Harper: Yeah, you would?

Ryan Isaac: Australia and New Zealand, yeah.

Reese Harper: We’re talking, the United States’ a pretty small population relative to the-

Ryan Isaac: Compared.

Reese Harper: If there’s 8 billion people in the world, and there’s 300 million in the U.S., we’re talking less than 5% chance that you actually even end up… And then for all of you lucky people in Hawaii, okay, living there, then you got… There’s a lot of luck and circumstance, and I think that’s probably the best example to lead the entrepreneurship discussion.

Reese Harper: Because I think too many times in business we’re quick to give ourselves credit, all right? Really fast to give ourselves credit. And the truth is that there are a whole host of circumstances, some which are luck, many which are luck. And we’ll talk about that in a second. But I also think that the luck of who we end up interacting with in our life is probably the biggest luck.

Reese Harper: Like the fact that the team that we have here in our business, some of that is hard recruiting effort and trying to find the right people, but some of the best people that make up our culture in our business really are just coincidental connections between humans that were also lucky, coincidental connections that…

Ryan Isaac: Well, there’s a lot of great studies on, yeah, which we’ll get to. There’s a lot of great studies on whatever you call it. Acknowledging it is really powerful for various reasons.

Reese Harper: Just acknowledging it’s critical, but I think whether you call it luck, or whether you call it coincidence, or whether you call it the universe bringing you what you deserve based on the intentions of your effort, whatever. There’s a lot of different ways to look at this. But I feel like it’s important to acknowledge it, and particularly the humans around you that are responsible for the success you’re having as an entrepreneur.

Reese Harper: I know in my own personal case, I continue to feel just more… I didn’t always feel as grateful and as humble and in awe as I do now. When I was younger, in my early twenties or mid twenties, I didn’t have the same level of gratitude for the… I think I’ve always been grateful, I’ve tried to be, but I just think as I’m aging, I just keep seeing how most of the goodness that’s in my life has come from people around me, and their influence, and their hard work, and their effort, and their sacrifice, and their world, and it makes me hope, and think, and wish that I can help them as much as they’ve helped me.

Reese Harper: It’s just the luck that we experience from other people impacting us, it is super unusual to just look at the individuals in your life, and see how you’ve come in contact with them, you know?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. Okay. Kind of on that same line then. When you look at the outcome of some people’s financial decisions or business decisions, you were saying earlier, there’s this tendency when we have successes to kind of credit it to our own efforts, right? Or our own strengths, but there’s this principle that an outcome doesn’t necessarily equal a process.

Ryan Isaac: What I mean by that is there is plenty of favorable outcomes that have happened to people especially we’re just talking financially, that were actually the result of dumb luck. Terrible process, really bad input, those were bad decisions, that was bad thinking, that was a lack of thinking, terrible processes, but you arrived, just luckily, at a conclusion that made you a lot of money, or put you in a really favorable financial position.

Ryan Isaac: On the flip side, there’s quite often times where you have a good process, you’re critically thinking, you’re doing your homework, and you make decisions that don’t pan out. One of those things that I think of that come to mind is marketing and hiring. A lot of times you go through a really well-thought-out process to hire the right people, or do the right marketing, and you just waste money. It doesn’t turn out favorable.

Ryan Isaac: Other times you don’t really have a process, or do any critical thinking about something, and end up with a great outcome, just because it’s purely lucky. And there’s this danger in not acknowledging that, because what’ll happen is people will tend to think that they can repeat the lucky outcome, right? Like, “Oh, I gave money to this investment, or I tried this thing and it like panned out really big.”

Ryan Isaac: And the danger in that is that you can attribute that luck to some kind of skill that you could see beforehand, or some kind of signal that made you act in a certain way. And we see that in the way people behave with markets and investments. So I’m just kind of curious in what you’ve seen with that, with clients and financial outcomes, and luck and process [crosstalk 00:18:06]

Reese Harper: Well, for dentists, I think they’re in a career that’s quite predictable in most cases. They’re not going to have exponential surprises on the upside, okay?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. Like one dental practice doesn’t end up being worth like a hundred million dollars-

Reese Harper: On accident.

Ryan Isaac: And one’s on accident, one’s worth a million or something.

Reese Harper: The only way that-

Ryan Isaac: Like a tech company.

Reese Harper: Yeah, but they examine, the dentist will often look outside of their own industry, and see examples of exponential wealth, or exponential success-

Ryan Isaac: Okay, that’s good [crosstalk 00:18:48].

Reese Harper: And sometimes feel like they’re doing something wrong, or that there’s got to be a better way.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, that’s a good point.

Reese Harper: I hear that quite a bit. Like, “Oh my gosh, I’m tired of this old… I’m saving money in the stock market, and it’s growing at 10%, and it’s moving along, but man, I got to find something to really get ahead.” And the reason that they’re feeling that way is they’re watching someone in a different industry that has a situation where either through skill, or luck, or a combination of both, they’ve had exponential success.

Reese Harper: And the truth is, that there are some things in life that are just a lot more risky than others. Going to school and studying dentistry, and getting out and owning a practice, or being an associate, or growing a dental practice, it is not extremely risky. It’s not. It’s difficult. It requires a ton of effort. It’s a very difficult career to get into successfully, but there’s not a significant amount of risk in the enterprise itself, right? If there was, then there wouldn’t be as much lending.

Reese Harper: Financial advisors can’t get a loan for anything. You can’t get a loan as a financial advisor at all, because the success rates are, mathematically, quite horrible. And in dentistry, the success rates are quite predictable, and they’re quite high. Being a dentist still took more risk than it would have taken to be an elementary school teacher.

Reese Harper: I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with making that choice, but if you’re an elementary school teacher, you didn’t actually take on the same level of school risk, or debt risk, or the… you’re delaying income for multiple years as a dentist to eventually be successful.

Reese Harper: But dentists will compare themselves sometimes to people that took significant risk. Significant risk, and then wonder why can’t they do that in their own situation? And in these situations where there’s significant risk, meaning other business startups, different types of industries, there are significant risks that have a very, very high probability of loss.

Reese Harper: So in a normal business startup, they’re not even funded with debt. No one wants to give a startup business debt, because they’re not even sure if the idea is even going to work. It’s like an idea that’s never even had any kind of validation from the market. And so there’s not even-

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, plus they couldn’t charge an interest rate high enough to account for that [crosstalk 00:22:01]

Reese Harper: Yeah. It’s like, “Well, I’ll charge 400%.” Well, you can’t, because we don’t know if you can pay it back. There’s no confidence to pay it back. So it’s like you have to throw money into something that’s literally going to disappear. And as a dentist, I think it’s appropriate for some dentists in some cases to take risks like that.

Reese Harper: But let’s talk just briefly, Ryan, about the difference between process and luck, as it relates to making investments outside of your dental practice. Because I-

Ryan Isaac: Well, we’ve told these stories before. These are some of my favorite examples of this. We’ve told the story before of the cook on the Titanic that was one of the lucky few survivors. His process for surviving was to figure he was going to die, go below decks while everyone was drowning and drink for a few hours, and then just jump into the water without a life Fest or anything, and he just survived. Now you can’t equate that outcome with a smart process, because if you replicate that process a hundred times, like that guy’s drowning 95 of them.

Ryan Isaac: Or there’s one of my favorite news stories in this, along the same lines of this, he’s 102-year-old World War II vet that credits his life longevity with drinking Coors Light every day. But I think it has more to do with the luck of his genes and other things in his life than that Coors Light. I mean shout out to Coors Light.

Ryan Isaac: So there’s a disconnect between process and outcome. But that disconnect exists when the outcome’s favorable. Let me see if I can find this line here. This is from one of Morgan Housel’s articles I was talking about, called The Ironies of Luck. I’ll post this in our group here, but let’s see.

Ryan Isaac: Because his whole point in this article is exactly what you’re saying, which is risk and luck are, he says, two sides of the same coin. On one hand, you have risks that you can calculate, on the other, you have luck. He says, “Experiencing risks makes you recognize that some stuff is out of your control, which is accurate feedback that helps you adjust your strategy. Experiencing luck doesn’t,” he says, “It generates the opposite feedback. It’s a false feeling that you’re in control, because you did something, and then got the outcome you wanted,” which is terrible feedback.

Ryan Isaac: If you’re trying to make good repeatable longterm decisions, and with money and investing in business decisions when you equate like random outcomes to some process, or know they don’t mix, you’re bound to just repeat bad processes into the future that will-

Reese Harper: Eventually burn you, yeah.

Ryan Isaac: They’ll burn you. The same thing that made you win on one thing, is eventually going to burn you if it wasn’t a smart process to begin with. And that’s the whole risk thing you’re talking about. People who go into some of these industries, they’re evaluating risk and acknowledging, “I’m a VC firm, and I acknowledge the risk of putting money into 100 companies, and X number of them will go to zero, and never come out. But two of them are going to go to $1 billion.” And that’s the calculated risk, and the outcome of luck.

Reese Harper: I think, as an investor and as a financial advisor, I’ve got to see how capitalism doesn’t reward people for their process all the time.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, exactly.

Reese Harper: On average, better process clearly results in better outcomes. On average. So if I were to say, look-

Ryan Isaac: That’s your best bet for longevity, too.

Reese Harper: It’s just, there are these outlier cases where you’re like, my gosh… so this person, I’m thinking of a case right now, a story that I was told recently, where someone created a competitive app to Instagram that was getting significant traction but had less than like… It was a very, very small like piddlance of revenue. It was only nine months old, but it was a domain that happened to be similar in name to Instagram, and was purchased right at the time that Facebook was going through its Instagram acquisition.

Reese Harper: And so this single developer, in his house, who had built an app to share photos in a totally different small vertical, was acquired by Facebook. This person I was talking to didn’t actually know the transaction amount, but it was a mind-blowing, multimillion dollar acquisition, after only having coded for like six months, because he was in a bidding war over a branding element between Facebook and Instagram during a period of time where they were going through their acquisition.

Reese Harper: And he was just collateral damage. It’s a tens of billions of dollars’ acquisition of Instagram, and this guy was just part of that collateral damage, essentially, that had to happen to clean up the IP and make sure that there was…

Ryan Isaac: Do you remember what the domain was?

Reese Harper: No. That was a story that I just heard recently. In my own personal example, I get phone calls, periodically, from people that have insane amounts of money, and when you find out how they earned it, it can just be baffling. When you’re like, okay, so that was kind of an accident, or a lawsuit, or a weird death in a distant family that resulted in an inheritance that you weren’t even expecting, and then that money…

Reese Harper: There’s a lot of wealth that exists in the world. There is a certain amount of money flowing through the economy that passes hands in ways that don’t follow process, and that aren’t based on good predictable business practices. And that’s okay. I think it’s fun to see people that succeed that way, and just be like, man, that’s good for them.

Ryan Isaac: That’s part of what makes entrepreneurship so appealing, is like there’s always that possibility of getting lucky. That’s why Vegas exists, right? Because you can strike it rich by you just like got lucky at the table one night, or something.

Reese Harper: In my own life, in my own business, my own life, I can think of four or five critical things that have happened to get me to where I’m at-

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, me too.

Reese Harper: … That I’m like, I don’t think I deserve that.

Ryan Isaac: You didn’t control. You didn’t.

Reese Harper: Maybe I was in a position to work my hardest and follow a process, but that piece of luck, or that piece of coincidence just made all the difference. The reason we’re bringing this up, is as investors, we don’t think it’s healthy to try to duplicate things that are out of your control, and things that you can’t really follow.

Ryan Isaac: Yes, exactly.

Reese Harper: So I think it’s important to kind of tie a bow on this a little bit.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. And you asked for a specific example. We’re in 2019 right now, we’ve had some pretty good market cycle of growing markets, and a lot of talk about when’s the next recession? When’s the next downturn? They’re all cyclical.

Ryan Isaac: And one of my biggest worries is that when people get to the point where they’re trying to start to time when markets that are at a top, and then want to get back in when markets are at a bottom, one of my biggest worries is they’ll accidentally luckily do that once in their life, where this cycle is something that they’ll see dozens of times. They’ll see a lot of downturns, and they’ll see a handful of recessions, they’ll see a couple crashes, and it’s not a repeatable process.

Ryan Isaac: But I worry a lot when people talk about timing markets for that one reason. Because I think it’s almost more dangerous to get lucky once than to get burned, because you feel like it was just human nature. We feel like, “I could do this again.” Because then, what we do in our heads is we replay the scene backwards, and be like, “Ah, I guess I did see this coming. I did know that, and I did take this information.” We give ourselves too much credit for it.

Reese Harper: I have a lot of people that will say stuff like that to me. “Well, I just didn’t do anything, but I knew that ’08 and ’09, I saw it coming. I should’ve gotten out. I just knew it, and I’m not going to let that happen again.” I’ve had a lot of people that I’ve talked to that have gotten out of the market in 2013, 2014, 2015, once they got back to a break even point.

Ryan Isaac: 2018.

Reese Harper: Every year between ’15 to ’18, and the rationale is, “I’m not going to let this happen to me again. I know it’s coming,” and if you knew it was coming in 2013, you’ve missed out on a significant amount of market upside, enough to where you could ride the whole next decline and still be further ahead than had you bailed out.

Ryan Isaac: We wanted to take a break for just a second and remind you how easy it is to book a free consultation with one of our dental-specific advisors. What you do is you go to, and you’ll see a big green button that says book free consultation.

Reese Harper: Can’t miss it.

Ryan Isaac: Click that button, and book a time that works for you, or you can just call us at 833-DDS-PLAN. Let’s start a conversation about how we can help you with your finances.

Ryan Isaac: I started compiling this list of, okay, well, what are we in control of, then? We can all agree that all of us are going to get lucky at some point, and it’s healthy to acknowledge that, but what can we control in the meantime?

Ryan Isaac: And I started writing on this list, and then I thought, man, I think all of these things are just basically the 12 elements that we report on every year. And then I went to the elements calendar on our website. You can go to, go to the elements page, and really, what we’re reporting on every single month are things that are within somebody’s control. And what we’re reporting and showing is the outcome of process and decision making in all these areas of someone’s life that you actually do control.

Ryan Isaac: If you look at the elements table, it’s things like what you save, how much debt you’re in, what you choose to spend, how you allocate a portfolio. It’s choices in a business that determine your profitability. It’s insurance purchasing choices. It’s choices on where money goes, how much liquidity did you choose to build? How much money did you choose to put into different asset classes? I thought that’s kind of interesting that the stuff that we’re monitoring for people every month, all year long, are things that we actually have control over.

Reese Harper: I agree with that. I know those are really critical. I would say to just add it, to kind of tie another dimension to this, I think there’s a ton of things from a personal financial perspective we actually control, and that’s obviously the focus of what we do. I think you can control how open you are to being wrong. I think you can control how open you are to not always having the right answer, and I think you can just not assume too much about yourself. I call it being flexible, or being humble.

Reese Harper: My kid was listening to, we don’t even listen to country music a lot, but there was, it was…

Ryan Isaac: You need to, you need some more of that in your life.

Reese Harper: … Always be humble and kind. What was the name of that song? It’s the famous male country singer that you’re like-

Ryan Isaac: George Strait? Conway Twitty?

Reese Harper: No, he’s newer, newer. He’s married to another famous country singer.

Ryan Isaac: Oh, you’re talking about… and she’s blonde, and she’s like a mega star.

Reese Harper: Yeah, shows how little I know about country music.

Ryan Isaac: It’s not LeAnn Rimes. See, people are going to like hate on us for the… Shout out to the country fans.

Reese Harper: Midwest country fans.

Ryan Isaac: Well, I can say, Kendrick Lamar has a song, be humble. That’s the whole chorus, sit down and be humble.

Reese Harper: Tim McGraw. Tim McGraw.

Ryan Isaac: That works, too. Tim McGraw, yes.

Reese Harper: I was thinking of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Ryan Isaac: Tim McGraw.

Reese Harper: [crosstalk 00:34:59] And I was just like, it’s cool to hear him sing that, at the point he’s at in his life, and I thought, I wonder what makes certain people stay humble and be aware that they can be wrong. And then some people are super rigid, and they just are always convinced that they’ve got the right answer, and that they are doing things the right way, and they don’t listen, and they’re not flexible, and their ideas can’t be challenged.

Reese Harper: And so I think it’s just important to just approach life in a way that you’re open to being wrong about your ideas, because that’ll protect you, and helps you listen. And it doesn’t mean you don’t have really strong opinions, but you control a lot of things with your personal finances. And those are the things that we really track. And I think if you combine that with an open mind about not being too certain, and being a little bit more flexible, keeping an open mind about, essentially, just being humble to the feedback and ideas around you, that can protect you a lot from getting into trouble with your investments.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, I think that’s good advice. We can wrap it up with this, I was curious on how many cool stories are out there. There’s probably hundreds of famous artists, musicians, actors who got famous out of some random crapshoot of a lucky break.

Ryan Isaac: So two of them I thought were really interesting was Bruce Willis. One of the things that kick started his career was he was struggling so much that he started doing carpentry on the side, just Bruce Willis building cabinets in someone’s house. And he actually went to, I think it was George Lucas’s house, to build some cabinets as a carpenter, Bruce Willis. And that was his first major introduction. Thought that was so crazy.

Ryan Isaac: I read the story of Charlize Theron. She was, in the beginning of her career, trying to cash a check from a job in another state where she got the check from, and the bank wouldn’t do it, and she started flipping out in the bank. She was on her last dime. She needed the money to just buy food and pay rent, and she flipped out, and an agent was in the bank and was like, “Whoa, that was a performance. Here’s my card.” And that’s one of the big ways she got a break.

Reese Harper: That’s funny.

Ryan Isaac: I don’t know, man. I think that stuff happens to all of us, and I like what you were saying to kind of finish this, that I think the more success we have, if we can fight the tendency to credit ourselves with everything, and look back and go, man, those are some pretty lucky breaks. My tire didn’t explode and didn’t fly off on the side of the freeway.

Ryan Isaac: And I think not only are we more likely to be open to more situations that create more luck, I’ve said that luck builds on itself, but we will be in a better position to help other people around us experience the same kind of luck, get their own lucky breaks.

Ryan Isaac: So anyway, shout out to luck, luck of the Irish, Lucky Dan, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Kendrick Lamar. I love how I just started tossing out… I’m the least-qualified country music person, I just started saying things like LeAnn Rimes and Conway Twitty. Wasn’t there a guy, Boxcar Willie? I don’t know.

Ryan Isaac: Anyway, well, thanks everyone for listening. We feel very lucky to have all listeners. Actually, it’d be really cool, make us feel even more lucky, is if you rated us on iTunes, a rating on iTunes helps more dentists see the podcast, and go, “Oh, there’s a cool podcast. I should give that a listen.” And maybe your rating will be the reason that someone gets their lucky break. They luckily see a podcast, hear a tip, and avoid a disaster in their lives that sets them up for life.

Ryan Isaac: So set someone else up. Give us a rating. If you want to chat about your situation personally, get into more detail, get some advice, and get pointed in the right direction, go to our website,, click on book free consultation, and set up a chat with one of our advisors. Or if you want to post a question to us, we are very active in our very civil, very fun Facebook group, Go in there, post a question, we use this stuff for podcasts all the time. So again, thanks for listening, everyone. We’ll catch you next time.

Reese Harper: Carry on.


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