“Off the Wall” Podcast

Peak Performance for Executives & Finding Purpose in Your Wealth with Dr. Julie Gurner

Dec 05, 2023 Wealth Building for Executives

Adding onto our last episode for executives on navigating career growth and transitions, this time we’re talking about peak performance and finding purpose in your executive role, wealth, and beyond.

Today on Off the Wall, hosts Jessica Gibbs and David Armstrong welcome Dr. Julie Gurner, a nationally recognized executive performance coach and psychologist who’s helping executives achieve world-class performance in fast-paced, high-pressure, and highly competitive environments. Julie is here to share her insights and advice on making the most of your executive role and the wealth that comes with it.

Throughout our conversation, you’ll learn how to overcome the overwhelm, fear, and stagnation you may feel as an executive, without losing your momentum. Julie offers tips on how to master the art of delegation, prioritization, and accountability as an executive leader. Then, she guides you through the process of figuring out your purpose (in work and in wealth), giving advice to those of you who have exited or will exit a business but may not know what to do with your newfound wealth.

This is an incredibly rich episode packed full of wisdom and advice that you can only get from a renowned executive coach, so tune in and get ready to take notes! Julie’s insights are sure to lead you to the answers you’ve been looking for.

“Humans are notably bad at knowing their own blockers, and so, it really does help us to get outside of ourselves to begin to develop that potential a little bit more.”
– Dr. Julie Gurner

Are you looking for clarity, conviction and unfiltered advice about your wealth?

You’ve come to the right place.

Episode Timeline/Key Highlights:

[00:19] Introducing Dr. Julie Gurner & the topic of today’s episode.

[01:49] How to know if you’re a peak performer or a typical performer.

[04:01] Why peak performers can’t push themselves to the next level.

[06:46] Why do I still feel overwhelmed and scared of risk after years of executive experience?

[09:46] How to push through overwhelm without losing your momentum.

[12:03] Mastering delegation and prioritization in an executive role.

[18:05] How to identify and order your priorities in life and work.

[20:17] Finding your answer to “What is your purpose?”

[29:25] Defining “wealth” and the options your wealth gives you.

[31:40] Advice for people who’ve exited a business and don’t know what to do with their newfound wealth.

[35:15] How Julie finds purpose in her work.

[36:20] How to connect with Julie & get her weekly newsletter for peak-performing executives.

About Dr. Julie Gurner:

There’s a reason she has a 2-year waiting list for new clients. Dr. Julie Gurner is one of today’s most prolific executive performance coaches, Doctor of Psychology, and nationally recognized executive performance coach for individual and corporate clients primarily in finance and technology. She is trusted by top percentile talent and their teams to help them achieve world-class performance in fast-paced, high-pressure, extremely competitive environments.

Julie’s international client reach includes such cities as NYC, Singapore, Sydney, Oslo, Dubai, London, and San Francisco. She’s been compared to Wendy Rhoades of “Billions” in The Wall Street Journal (2019) and Named a “Game Changer” by IBM. She has also been featured in Fast Company, Time Magazine, NBC News, Forbes, BravoTV, Greatist, US News, Martha Stewart Living, Vox, and more.

Connect with Dr. Julie Gurner:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-julie-gurner

Follow her on Twitter (X): https://twitter.com/drgurner

Subscribe to Dr. Gurner’s newsletter on Substack: https://drgurner.substack.com

Contact directly: julie@drgurner.com

Transcript:

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:00:33] Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Off the Wall. Hi, Dave.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:00:35] Yeah, hi. It’s good to be back on the pod with you. I know last week you did one by yourself. It turned out awesome. I’m kind of worried that maybe I’ve worked myself out of a job.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:00:45] Oh, I don’t think so. I think we’re better as a duo. Yeah, so since you brought it up, those who haven’t gone back and listen to our episode last month was with Deborah Brecher, who’s an executive performance coach. She talked about some common transitions that executives face in their career and how to approach those successfully. It was a great episode, and I actually see today’s episode as a as a good continuation of what Deborah talked about. I think these are all helpful things for all of us to kind of hear, think about, and how can we apply them to our own lives in our own work. So continuing the theme of of coaching and how to how to make the most of what we have to offer. Today we have Dr. Julie Gurner as our guest on Off the Wall. She’s a psychologist and a nationally recognized executive performance coach. For over ten years, she’s been working with top percentile executives, talent and teams operating in fast paced competitive environments to help them improve productivity and decision making, refine their instincts, leverage personal strengths and optimize their leadership capabilities. So in this episode, she’ll be unpacking the key traits of peak performers what they have that others don’t, and what lessons all of us can learn. So welcome, Julie, to Off the Wall.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:02:05] Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here. Great to speak with you, Jessica, Dave- I’m excited for our conversation today.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:02:13] Yeah, thanks for making the time.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:02:14] Yeah. So I think listeners are probably hearing the term peak performers and wondering, is that me? So what are these people in the top 1% of performers and how are they different from a typical high performer?

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:02:29] Yeah, it’s a really good question. You know, I in the past when Simone Biles was kind of struggling in her recent Olympics, I spoke with BBC about that. And one of the things that we know is that, you know, people, whether they’re in business or an athlete, the people who are at the top are separated by a level of obsession and kind of perfectionism in their craft that those who are high achievers are, you know, just don’t contain. People who are peak performers generally are people who, you know, they are engaged, they are, you know, they want to learn everything there is to learn. They want to rise in their careers. They want to be spectacular at what they do. But they aren’t the people who have that level of obsession that gets people to kind of the .01%. And those people are just you know, they live, they breathe it. It’s hard to catch somebody with that level of obsession in their life. And I think that’s really the difference that drives them to being kind of, you know, Olympic level, to being, you know, kind of leaders of industry. That kind of obsessive mindset over what they do and caring about the small details and just living, breathing it all of the time. I think is very frustrating to those they must live with. But but it is something that I see consistently across the board.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:03:54] So when I hear that, Julie, I mean, I like to think of myself as a peak performer. I mean, I started a business and everything and, and like most people, you know, I think and I know I’m capable of more and I want to reach that just like these top 1% of performers. But I think people really don’t know how to push that next level. I mean, why is it why do I feel like that? Why do other people feel like that that you work with?

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:04:19] I think that that sign of frustration and kind of knowing that you’re capable of more is always a really good first signal. And so I think when people experience that, you know, there are two ways that people really deal with that. One is that they go, I know I’m capable of more, but and then they kind of settle into “But I have a family, but I, you know, I kind of enjoy life where I’m at, but I like my schedule a lot.” There is that kind of branch that people can go down. Then there are the individuals who say, you know, I know I’m capable of more and I’m going to do X, Y and Z to try to pursue that. I’m going to seek out maybe some assistance. Maybe I’m going to, you know, start the process with talking to my boss if I’m, you know, at a job and say, hey, what are the skills I can build on? These are my goals. These are where I’d like to be. So what’s challenging is that humans are notably bad at knowing their own blockers. And so it really does help us to get outside of ourselves, to begin to develop that potential a little bit more. If you’re in a company or corporation having the conversation with your boss about, Hey, you know, these are the things I’d like to do in my career, what do you see I need to develop. For someone who’s more junior, that’s a great approach. For somebody who owns a business, runs a business to say, all right, what’s the next level look like for you? If you’re frustrated where you’re at, tell me about what that next level really looks like. What would lead you to say, all right. I don’t feel quite as small. I don’t feel quite as stuck. I feel like I’m kind of making motion and having momentum. And so really kind of thinking about those things. I think it’s just so important to challenge yourself and to push yourself and to set those kinds of goals. I think a lot of times people know that they’re capable of more and then they stay the same. And that’s a really challenging place to be because that kind of choice, eventually what happens is that you stay the same. You watch other people start to get ahead and move forward. And then there’s this cycle of just that is compounding hesitation, right? You hesitate. You watch others make the move. It starts to make you feel less capable. It starts to kind of grind in that settling. Whereas if you started to take those chances earlier, you know, usually you figure it out a long way.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:06:37] Right. Do you think as a quick follow up question, is it common? I look back at the arc of Monument Wealth Management that we started almost 16 years ago now, and I feel like on day one, I felt overwhelmed. On day two, I felt over year on year 15, I felt overwhelmed. But as I look back at the arc of the whole firm, what’s happened has been amazing. Why? Why do I still feel like this? What is it that that causes somebody like me to feel like, Geez, even though I look back in the firm is completely grown and doing all these things, why do I still feel like I’m I’m scared or I’m not taking enough risk or I’m constantly reevaluating myself? Is there something common with that characteristic?

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:07:23] I think there is something really common about that. And you named a number of different things, right? You name two kind of fear you named overwhelmed. You named growth. And so I do think that those elements are incredibly important. But are those things reflected in the priorities you’ve set for your position? So, for example, if you feel overwhelmed, has it been a priority in growing the firm that you pull out of more of the work? And have you created systems to make that happen? Usually when people feel overwhelmed in what they develop, it’s because they don’t make pulling themselves out of it a priority. They just continue to be operators and they continue to be deep into the work. And so you have to create systems that if that’s a goal of yours, to say, Hey, I feel overwhelmed and it’s year 15 and I need to start pulling out because this is not my vision of what running a business should feel like. You know, in year 20, then you can start making that a priority, start creating systems to be able to pull yourself kind of more out of the so day to day or the work that is overwhelming. But usually what happens is in the pace of things and you know, years pass very quickly, that we don’t make those types of things a priority, we make bottom line revenue growth a priority. We make more customers a priority and some of those other things.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:08:40] So I want to pick up on that feeling of overwhelm because I feel like everyone gets overwhelmed. I think you’re talking specifically about your work. I think also you can expand that to everyone. You know, everyone’s got a life, a personal life, right? And so personal things, family things as well as where kind of that that inner match that is very easy to get overwhelmed. I think it’s a feeling that everyone can identify with having felt probably many times over the course of your life. So I just want to dig in further about how do you keep or how, thinking about peak performers, how do they push past this feeling of being intensely overwhelmed without losing their momentum?

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:09:17] So that’s a really good question. And I think that what you need to really think about is that if someone is overwhelmed, they’re not maximally effective, right? Because they’re so diffuse, they’re spread over so many areas. Usually overwhelm is because of increasing demands and multiple demands. And so kind of knowing where you are best and kind of what I tell clients is what is your best and highest use for your business? Tell me what that is. And they’ll say, you know, deal making, negotiating, finding and sourcing deals, whatever it is that is their highest and best use. And I’ll say, okay, well, what is everything else? And now how can we begin to piece that out or form things around it to support that so that you can pull into the things you’re great at and really move the business forward and other things can be going to other places. So you want this individual who heads the firm to be maximally effective. And if they are diffuse and they are spread out and they can’t be effective, then it will limit the firm’s growth. It will limit the company’s growth. So I want that person to be in the place where they feel like they can make motion on the things that they’re great at and that matter to them. But we have to do that by cutting and really sharpening the focus, because overwhelm is usually fueled by, you know, overwhelm is vague. It’s competing demands. So we want really to have sharp priorities to know where you are best and then to start really focusing people on those things. And it’s very unnatural for us because as business owners or even people in a business, we like to put out fires, we know how to solve problems and so we’re going to run and solve them. But then we end up making 80% of our day about fires. And then when you’re tired at the end of it is not when you’re doing your highest level strategy work or some of the things that really matter to moving the needle forward. So I do think about that and I try to get everyone, whoever they are, to tell me what’s your highest and best use for your firm and pushing it forward. Where are you most impactful? And then we start forming everything else around that.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:11:19] Yeah, that’s interesting to me because ever, ever since I graduated college and I joined the Marine Corps and the word delegate, delegate, delegate in order to prioritize is just been this mantra. And I don’t feel like I have ever truly mastered the art of delegating and prioritizing. So I’m wondering if we can talk a little bit more about that, because in a world with just not enough hours in the day and too many responsibilities and then, you know, maximizing the time you have is so important to be successful. And I’m guilty of it. I’m guilty of saying I can do it faster myself than I can by explaining it to somebody and watching them make mistakes and everything else. And that’s a difficult trap. So what are the strategies that you recommend for prioritizing and making the most out of the day? Are there ways to prioritize an ever growing to do list?

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:12:06] Okay. So there’s a couple of things. One is prioritization, but you also mentioned delegation. And I think that with delegation, we’re looking at, you know, really giving ownership to people what do they own and making sure that they understand that they own it. So, like, if there’s a metric or maybe it’s onboarding a client, it’s not like, Hey, could you onboard so-and-so, it is, you know, you’re going to own onboarding so and so from the first phone call through X, Y and Z process to X, and then you’ll hand me off, hand it off to me when it reaches X, right? It’s clear it’s usually reductive and people feel very they almost feel like they’re simplifying things too much for people when they are kind of giving very specific and clear directives. But it’s so important. You have a lot of things in your head and a lot of times when people struggle with delegation, it’s because they already know the 20,000 steps that have to happen in their head. So they tell someone, Hey, go do this. And then it doesn’t happen right. And it’s because they don’t have insight into those 20,000 exact steps that are living in your head. And so there has to be a way of being really specific and clear and making sure that they have absolute ownership of it and that they know that they will be held accountable for kind of that end result. Accountability is huge and it’s something that so many people struggle with because we don’t like having conversations around, you know, what you’ve done or what you haven’t done, especially if you haven’t done things correctly. And so when you talk about priorities and how it kind of fits into it, I think that your priorities have to be all encompassing, right? I mean, you have priorities like in your family life, you have priorities as a father or mother or, you know, wife or husband or whatever. And then you have priorities in your business and then you may have priorities and kind of any extracurricular activities that you do. And so, you know, you have to make sure that what you say you value is actually reflected in the calendar that you keep. Like I would challenge any of your listeners, you know, tell me the things that you value and then pull up your calendar for the week and tell me how you’re spending your time, because the things you truly value are going to show up on that calendar and the things. Then it’s going to feel like a misalignment and you’re going to get a lot of pushback. So if you say like, you know, my family comes first and you have a wall that you’re working until 10 or 11 at night, you know, it’s not going to feel to your family like your family comes first. So if but if you make specific time for them and you put in even if you have to schedule it in, which feels so mechanical, but if you have to schedule in like, hey, family dinner, making sure that that happens. Do that. And I don’t know if you all do that, how you make sure that you work in kind of the priorities that you have outside of work, with the priorities that you have to keep for work to be going well. But that’s a hard thing for everyone to kind of wrangle, especially when we have work demands everywhere we go. It’s not like we can leave work at work most of the time.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:15:10] Yeah, I actually found. So, you know, I have now a hard stop at 4:00 every day because I have to go pick up my son from daycare. I found that I’m much more efficient with my time because I know, okay, we got to wrap it up because I got I got to be in the car. And I just find that, you know, I have a great team at Monument that supports me in that and that people kind of understand and that and then it’s the nothing happened as far as work. You know, I’m not I’m not missing any beats. I’m not missing anything from the team. I’m not missing anything with clients. It’s just sort of a mental thing with me. I’m like, okay, this is this is this is how my day flows. And that structure actually has been really helpful for me with my work and then also really helpful for me with my family.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:15:53] Oh, I bet. I bet. And Dave, do are you able to kind of integrate that as well?

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:15:57] I am, actually. I have a great example of that as well. You know, when I go and get on the scale at the doctor’s office, he doesn’t believe that I actually do workout during the week, but I do. And and a lot of it here’s the trap that I fell into and then here’s how I fix it: I say to myself, okay, I’m going to I’m going to go get on the treadmill at 5:00 and then at 4:50, I see that I have ten more things to do. And the next thing you know, it’s 5:30. And then I’m like, Oh, just do it tomorrow. And I’d fall into that trap. Now I have it scheduled on my work schedule. Everyone can see it and it’s during the workday. It’s at 4:30 in the afternoon. It’s kind of when I go out and start my workout for the day, but I’m also not a 9 to 5 worker, right? So if I’m taking an hour out during the day and then, you know, doing some work on the back end, too, I started putting on my calendar and I do not miss workouts no matter what my doctor thinks. I, I am making those workouts because I put it on my schedule and I’m not scared of hiding it from anybody either. Everybody sees it.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:17:00] That’s great. It’s great personal accountability, too, because if you can’t make a meeting but they see that you’re online. Hey, I thought that you were at that workout 4:30.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:17:09] Right? Exactly. Yeah. What I should do is eliminate some of the happy hours where I’m taking in too many calories after the workout. But that’s another topic.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:17:16] Different story. Yeah.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:17:17] Yes. Yes.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:17:19] So I am I am interested. I just one other question I want to ask about prioritizing, because if you’re having trouble, if you’re serious and you’re having trouble coming up with your priority list, you know, are there questions you would suggest kind of asking yourself to help you order your priorities?

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:17:33] Sure. I mean, like, what do you value in your personal life? What do you value in your work? What do you value in your business? And then making things like if you value kind of revenue growth in your business, that should be like we talk a lot in business about having your North Star metric. Like what are the things that like is really the North Star, the thing that everything lines up behind. But there should be those North Stars everywhere, right? In your relationship, it might be, you know, what do I really value about my marriage? Maybe I really value that I have time to spend together. And so you create a date night. What do you value about being a parent? Maybe it’s, you know, being able to attend sports games. And so you make sure that you put one of those on the calendar. What do you value about your business? Or could be a number of things, but like that North Star metric might be revenue growth or bottom line growth or customer growth. And so you’re going to make sure that you put customer growing activities on your, you know, weekly calendar and that you’re doing the things you need to do, whether that’s prospecting or other types of activities. So I think that you ask yourself, what do I truly value? And if you can answer those questions, they really do become your priorities pretty quickly and then you’re able to translate those into action items and making sure that those action items find their way in your life on a regular basis. And the great thing is, if you’re able to to line up your priorities with what you value and you’re actually able to take action on it, your life feels in alignment with who you are because you’re not dropping the ball. And I think that’s what ends up happening when we have either the wrong priorities, they get messed up. We don’t know what they are, is that we have these ways in which we’re we’re feeling busy all the time, but the things that matter most to us aren’t really pushing forward. And so that’s how those things happen. It’s just this misalignment.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:19:20] Yeah. When I hear you say talk about values, that kind of a leaked word for me in my mind is also purpose. Something that I like to talk about a lot is, is what is, you know, it’s what do you I like I mean, I talk about in terms of wealth, right? Like, what do you what do you value? And then that can inform, you know, what is the purpose for your wealth, You know, what is it that you hope to accomplish with your wealth? What is it that you hope to pass on to your next generation when they inherit this wealth? So that’s why to me, purpose and and value are always kind of interlinked in my mind. And and I think, though, that this question of like, what is my purpose, right. It’s it’s a bit of an Oprah question. Right? But it’s such a huge question. Right. And it’s just really difficult to answer. It’s not something you can just ask someone and they’re probably able to give you an answer right away. So. You know, how do you help people unpack that question?

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:20:14] You know, there are a couple of different types of individuals out there, But I mean, some don’t really think about purpose until they get a little bit later in their kind of career. But the thing that I like about it is in how I get try to get to it when I have clients who do really care about it is I ask them what’s their driver? Like, why are you right where you are today? What got you to this point? And for some people, they may say something like, you know, I just never wanted to be in poverty again. Or, you know, I just never wanted to be limited by or have maybe they had an experience when they were younger where like money was the reason why health care didn’t get to a family member or, you know, there’s a driver behind why people sometimes go for what they have. And, you know, if you can get to that driver oftentimes, then you can ask them, well, okay, if you have this driver where maybe you never want to be poor again or you never want to make money a limiter, how can you then translate that into your purpose of helping others escape that also? Right. Like there are other ways of translating that driver across the board. And so that’s where you kind of start poking around and digging in. That may not be where it is for that person, but at least that starts a conversation of like what your driver was internally and then thinking about how to use your position from where you’ve driven from to help others go help others in the world. And a lot of times there’s a lot of connections that we find in those spaces.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:21:48] And then I would imagine, you know, peak performers that they’re using that answer, like, what is my purpose? And to be more targeted in what actions they’re taking.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:21:56] Sure. And I think a lot of times they’ll use it for what they do outside of their work. And you know, what sustains them when they retire which is really challenging. You know, there’s this void in people’s lives, whether they are an athlete or a business person. There’s such a void when you decide to retire, even though it’s something that people look forward to and people usually stay engaged in some level. Like maybe if you’re in business, you’re going to be on the boards, a few boards of different companies, but it’s not the same, right? It’s not the same as like going to your team and having this kind of energy or momentum or building something or solving a hard problem in the same way. And people deeply miss that. So you will find that like when people near retirement, I think that’s where purpose and giving back and finding things outside of work really become important. And I think setting the table for that long before it happens is also incredibly important because you’re not going to leave work. And, you know, there was a wonderful paper published on, you know, entrepreneurs who exit and how, you know, they end up starting companies again. You know, oftentimes, yeah.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:23:04] We’ve seen that.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:23:05] Yeah.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:23:06] We have.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:23:07] It’s, it’s just there’s this void that, you know, they think that they wanted they’re stressed, they’re burned out and then they get to the end and they’re like, I don’t know what else I can do. I don’t know what else I would do. And, and so they begin this process again. So thinking about it in advance and especially probably for the work that you all do, how do you create legacy? How do you think about that? These are all things that I would talk about with clients, not just kind of purpose, but then, you know, thinking purpose ties into legacy and how they’re remembered and, you know, how the family name carries on and how, you know, they use what they’ve been able to achieve to do some greater public good. So there are so many aspects to it, I think, that you can flush out. And I’d be interested what some of your clients find to be a purpose for them outside of the work that they’ve done. Did they start foundations, you know, charities? Tell me a little bit about that.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:24:05] Yeah, I think some have, you know, I always find the question of philanthropy really interesting. It’s something that you just can’t assume because someone has a lot of money that they’re interested in philanthropy, You know, like my background, just by by way of sharing it. Prior to being a financial planner, I worked in philanthropy. I worked with high net worth individuals giving to organizations. And and it was very interesting to kind of see why people give. I do find that interesting. And these people who are on the board, they definitely were peak performers. And and I think, you know, some it definitely is for the kind of connections that, you know, they’ve been used to building their whole career and and to building a network of people that they can continue to sort of learn from, contribute to kind of build those those bridges. But I think for others it was more of, to your point earlier about, you know, what is my priority and what is it? And they had they were able to articulate really specific vision for their philanthropy of of this is what I support- this slim lane, right? You know that’s not how a lot of people you know, it’s very easy when you’re doing charitable giving. A friend says I’m raising money for this or, you know, hey, you want to join the board of this? Or, you know, like it’s very easy to kind of just say yes and then all of a sudden and now you have charitable, you’re giving to organizations that are kind of a variety of different themes and kind of it’s something I always like to talk about with clients. You got to, what you were saying, snap back to your original purpose, your story, your driver, your priorities, and what is the type of giving that is aligned with that? And once you can really articulate that which some people have been able to do, then you can be really clear about, you know, what’s your direction going forward, how you’re going to have the most impact. You know, it’s you’ve spent your whole career building and now, as you said, you have this opportunity to have impact. How can you do that in the most effective way? So. So I love having those conversations and I just fully want to acknowledge that, like they are not easy conversations for philanthropy to have. And then, Dave, I think also I think, you know, maybe philanthropy is or, you know, they want to support, you know, my church or synagogue, you know, or my alma mater. And that’s kind of like where I end it. And they find other opportunities to have impact or, you know, sort of continue their next chapter and other ways. I mean. And Dave, what can you think of?

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:26:41] Yeah, it’s I’m thinking specifically of a conversation that you and I had recently with somebody that I had gotten to know very early on in my career. And they were two business partners and they sold their business and they got each the equal amount of money. And I had fallen out of touch with her for a while. And we recently got together with her 15 years later. And she said to Jessica and I over lunch, she said, I have the exact same amount of money, which is a significant amount of money now is I had 15 years ago last time we got together and I was like, oh my gosh. So, you know, through some conversation she said, I have given it all away. I’ve all the growth for the past 15 years. I’ve given it all away and right and, and started charities and just, you know, all over the all over the world an amazing woman and and so generous. But what she said was that the money that I have is enough wealth to sustain what I want out of life and to take care of my family that I don’t really need or miss all of the additional money I could have had had I not given it away. And I thought, wow, now that doesn’t really apply to everybody, because there are other people who just say, you know, I will give it all away when I die. I want to amass because there’s kind of there’s always this fear, no matter how much money you have, that you could something bad could happen and you could run out of money. But this all comes back to, you know, I mean, really a word that I keep hearing when we talk about this is the word wealth. And and I have this quip that I say all the time that my compensation includes a lot more than just money. And that kind of defines my wealth. What am I what is my compensation look like? It’s not just all about what ends up in my bank account. And I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on how people that you meet actually define the word wealth through all of your actions because you clearly connected with a lot of sophisticated people, successful people.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:28:36] I think that they define wealth and even the success as really optionality. Like I have, I have and the more wealth you have, the more choices you have, right? And so you do have one of my clients had said that to me years ago, and it really stuck. And it seems to resonate with a lot of other individuals as well. And I even think about, you know, with the notion of philanthropy, sometimes I’ll ask clients, what’s a problem you’d like to solve or be a part of solving, right? And they almost all have things that frustrate them in the world or things that they would like to see improved. And so it’s an area where, you know, I think that when you’re when you own a company and then you exit a company, you don’t always realize that the amount of wealth you have now is just. It’s so iro that you are the same person. But now you have the ability to make such a significant impact in the things that matter to you. So it is really interesting, you know, how they define wealth and how they look at options and optionality just across the board right? It’s really nice.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:29:39] I love that you say like I’m the same person despite this wealth, because we’ve seen that so many times with business owners that we work with. They’re just hardworking people. They had an idea. They built a business. Someone decided to buy it for a lot of money. They never saw themselves being in this position. They came many of them came from really humble means and all of a sudden they’re like, I’m the same person, but I have all these dollar signs next to my my net worth. And and I think it is an interesting thing to kind of grapple with like, okay, what do I do now? Because really, like, they’re not really fundamentally changed. They’re still their priorities. Their values are still the same as before. It’s kind of it’s just takes a moment, I think, to realize, okay, well, what do I do next? What are the doors that are now open that weren’t open before and what do I do with them and what steps do I take?

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:30:35] Yeah, and I know we’re coming up on on one of our final questions that that Jessica I know is going to ask, but if we could just stay on wealth for one more minute because spoiler alert, I think the title of this episode could be Your Wealth is Defined as the Optionality it Creates or something like that, because that was so great what you said. And it was it was really it resonated with me. But I’m wondering if you have, since we were talking about people who exited and created significant wealth for themselves, what sort of advice you have for somebody like that who exits and creates huge wealth for themselves and their families, but then they find themselves with nothing to do. I mean, like, I want to stay on that for a second because I’d love to know how you have seen people actually overcome that feeling, not not necessarily what they do about it, but how do they overcome that feeling? How do they reconcile that?

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:31:20] I’ve had a lot of individuals come proactively to work on that prior to exit, and I think that that’s really smart. So if you have that opportunity to speak with someone, work with somebody, whoever it is, even have those conversations with your family, you know, begin to think about that before the moment comes. I think the people who struggle the most are those who work, work, work, work, work. Have the transaction then, oh my God, what am I going to do? So you want to be sure and you want to really line up a number of different things. I mean, for a lot of people, it’s engaging with wealth management, you know, making sure that they have really solid advice to allocate and protect the wealth that they’ve been able to generate. You want to be sure that they are finding level of personal satisfaction out there in the world. You know, people exit these companies and they’re 42 and they’re not done yet. And sometimes we find that even even older and kind of moving forward. So I think that the best advice I could give is to kind of prepare in advance. And if you know you’re going to exit, if you know that that kind of event is coming or you’re working toward it, to be sure to start thinking about what that looks like before it actually happens and begin to prepare for that and develop other interests. Begin to, you know, like one of my clients started to get involved in some other kind of community activities that they were very interested in. One became very involved in politics, you know, like so there are things that you can continue to do, but you have to start positioning before the moment comes. And I think that makes the smoothest transition.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:32:48] Just to kind of add on to what you’re saying. I think I love that idea of thinking about before the transition. I think brainstorming this is a whole potential of things. And okay, now your post exit or post transition and being open to, okay, I’m going to try these things and I did not like that, but I have this whole range of other things that I can sort of brainstorm ahead of time and things that I kind of want to try and being willing to give them a try. And if they work great, and if they don’t, you have other things that you can explore.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:33:19] Such a great attitude. I mean, I think that that’s so important. I think a really good example is, you know, a lot of people think that being on a board is something that they want to do. Then they have the experience of being on a board and they realize it’s not quite as exciting as they may have had and they may not be as impactful in that position. And, you know, I’ve had clients become very resentful, you know, likes to say, you know, here I am on this board and clearly they don’t value my opinion, but they want the, you know, the resources and the contacts I bring to the table. So like it or the name. So there are like a lot of variables that go into it being able to be honest. As you said, Jessica is such a such a cheat code to being able to sit in the next phase in a place that you genuinely like and isn’t about like the optics or about other people because you don’t need that. So doing something that truly makes you happy and being able to find a lot of satisfaction in that is a really wonderful place to be.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:34:10] Well, in that spirit of what we’ve been discussing, I’d love to know truly, how do you personally find purpose in your own work?

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:34:18] For me, My purpose and how I think about my purpose is really being a catalyst. Being a catalyst for others to be able to do their best work, live their best lives, achieve the things they want to achieve. And being able to see my work in the wild all over the place is really exciting for me. And so I think that for me, the impact of that and seeing that resonate outside of myself and in various platforms and kind of without any fanfare about it is is probably the most meaningful thing that I could develop and I can continue to do this for the rest of my life. So I won’t continue to have a ton of clients, but I will have a periodic client here or there. I think it’s just so rewarding to me and it would be hard. It would be very hard to stop.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:35:09] I can imagine so. Well, thank you so much, Julie. So those of you who’ve been listening, you can probably tell Dr. Gurner is, she’s excellent at what she does to the point where she actually has, she told us a two year wait list for her one on one coaching engagements. So if you were thinking, Yeah, that’s amazing. I’m going to call her up. Sorry. The wait list is full right now. But I think she has a great resource for if you’re looking more for more of her advice and insights. She has a substack called Ultra Successful has over 19,000 subscribers. And Julie, I’d love for you to just tell us a little bit more about about your newsletter, what you share in it, and what readers kind of get out of your newsletter.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:35:58] Sure. You know, one of the top questions I get are, you know, there’s there’s only a certain capacity that I have as a person, but there’s a lot of information and ways of operation that can be distilled from working with people who are in the top 1%. So across the board, what I try to do is pull the lessons learned from sitting in those rooms and kind of create, you know, brief writings and weekly challenges for people to begin to challenge themselves, examine themselves and really look at, you know, you know, we started this podcast with the question of, you know, people feel like they’re a peak performer, but are they read through some of the writings and see what resonates with you. And it also talks about sticking points that people go through who are, you know, en route to being that peak performer or being in the top 1%. And so I’ve really tried to distill a lot of the learnings. And every week coming out with, you know, we have a free week and on Fridays, which is more of a magazine type style and then a deep dive every Monday of some of these learnings that challenge people, hopefully to self-reflect, do some journaling and to think about their own journey forward.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:37:05] I have been following for a couple months now, and I think that weekly challenge in particular is really, really quite interesting and unique.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:37:12] Yeah. Over time, I’ve signed up for all kinds of email newsletters and everything, and when I wake up in the morning, I’ve got ten of them in there. And when I see yours in there, it’s, you know, I read it. It’s fantastic. And your you’re clearly one of the top performers in your field. And this has just been a real honor to talk to you. So thank you so much for your time and having we learn something too, which is really great. I will share with you the one thing that I remember my business professor saying to me is that when you have a two year wait list, you should probably raise your hourly rate until you don’t have a wait list anymore.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:37:43] But you know, that advice is good and I have raised my hourly rate, so I have to think about different structures. I think that’s my, my, my kind of hang up right now. But yes, the advice is good and I’ve taken that to heart. I’ve raised my rates every every six months. So I think at this point. So yeah.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:38:01] Well, we we don’t have a we don’t have a two year waiting list, so we’re a little jealous. We’re working on it.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:38:07] Oh well you can always can you always. And just more clients as a business, you could then hire more individuals and kind of flush it out

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:38:16] Yes. But they’re only one you so.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:38:18] Yes exactly.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:38:19] So our well soon with AI maybe will be cloning and there’ll be multiples with me all over the place so.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:38:26] Until the impossible is possible.

Jessica Gibbs, CFP® [00:38:28] Absolutely.

Dr. Julie Gurner [00:38:29] So thank you so much for such a wonderful conversation.

David B. Armstrong, CFA [00:38:32] Yes. Thank you so much.

About "Off The Wall"

OFF THE WALL is a podcast for business professionals and high-net-worth investors who want to build wealth with purpose. A little bit Wall Street, a little bit off-the-wall; it’s your go-to for straightforward, unfiltered wealth advice on topics that founders, business owners, and executives care about.

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Feb 16, 2024 FAQs

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