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This business coaching lesson provides practical steps to achieving financial freedom.

Results-Focused Training, Tools, and Workshops from Expert Business Coaches.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Two Financial Paths: 1. Exchanging your time for money. This is typically the path of the poor and the middle class.
  • Lesson Nugget: Working at a job that you exchange time for money puts an automatic cap on your success.
  • Ask Yourself: Is it time for a change? Ten years from now will I want to be working in the same industry I am currently working in?

[MUSIC PLAYING] lynda.com of mindset, business mentors

-My name is Clay Clark and I'm the CEO of thrive15.com. Today we're joined with Braxton Fears, a semi-retired commercial real estate guru and business mentor who's been able to achieve financial freedom before the young age of 36. And he's going to be teaching us about the path to financial freedom. 11 practical principles we could all apply at our lives and businesses.

In today's training we're going to learn about assets. We're going to learn about liabilities. We're going to learn about cutting expenses. We're going to learn about how to basically stretch a dollar and to get a little bit farther with every dollar that we have.

Financially, the principles we're going to be teaching you today are going to be worth a lot to everybody. But more importantly, the one thing we can't make more of is time. And so if you apply today's principles you're going to find yourself have more free time because you're going to be able to achieve that financial freedom that much quicker. Remember, at thrive15.com we all believe that knowledge without application is meaningless.

So as you're watching today's episode take a moment to ask yourself, what can you do specifically to apply these principles so that you can achieve financial freedom like our business mentors? Because if not, today's episode may just prove out to be more meaningless than Steven Seagal's acting classes.

-All right. Well we are here with Braxton Fears. How are you doing?

-Good. How are you, sir?

-Doing awesome. A little back story here, if you don't know who Braxton Fears is. Braxton, you are one of my favorite humans. And what I think is interesting about you is you have had, I think, maybe four or five different careers. And how old are you now?

-I'm 35.

-35. So just a little back story. You've worked in accounting, then you went into landscaping, right?

-Yeah. Landscaping business.

-Then you went into admissions.


-Then you went into commercial real estate. And now you're in that real estate/ministry hybrid, right?

-That's right.

-So you've switched career paths numerous times. But the one thing that I think is exciting about what Braxton's been able to do, what you've been able to do, is that you have achieved sort of a state of financial freedom. Where you have saved diligently, you've worked hard, and you've built your life to a point where you have a house you enjoy and a family enjoy and you're kind of free.


-And I think that's exciting. And so today what we're going to talk about is the path to financial freedom and 11 steps that we could all take to get to a great place financially. And maybe he'll give us tips on how to make a great hair choices, too. He has the most incredible hair I've ever seen. So Braxton, there's only two paths we can all take here. The first is the poor and the middle class. We tend to work for money, but we exchange our time for money.

So I used for Target. And say you're making $7 an hour. And if you're here 40 hours you make $280. And you work there. And you, at one point, started off in accounting, right?

-That's right. Right out of college I worked for an accounting firm. And I realized after about two days that that was a bad deal, because I just hated it. It was like you know the term, you put in your time? It's a term that people use in careers. It's also a term people use when they go to prison. And that's what it felt like. And there's a time where, maybe early on in your career, where you do put in your time. But as a general rule, that's a terrible way to look at your career.

You're exchanging a certain amount of time for a certain amount of money and it feels very empty. You have an automatic cap on your success. And so figuring out ways to get out of that exchanging time for money is key to taking the cap off so you can keep growing, keep moving forward.

-I remember you told me a story back in the day. I remember you were there and you looked at your boss. And you were like, if I'm here for a given period of time I could become this. And I guess in the tax industry-- you might have to walk us through a little bit-- but I guess in that industry there's a busy time of year where you might be working 80 hours a week. It gets kind of crazy.

-Right, right.

-But you kind of looked in the future and you said, if I stick in this career for 5 years or 10 years, this is where I'm going to become. And you didn't want that?

-Right. Well I mean, the top of the thing in that industry is to become a partner. And it just didn't look appealing to me. I've worked 20 years to become a partner. It didn't look appealing to me. Now some people, that's what makes the world go around. Some people like that kind of thing. But ultimately, no matter how hard I worked it still was going to cap out somewhere that wasn't determined by me. It was just-- I could give as much time and as much effort into that industry as I could and I would still cap out somewhere. So that did not sound appealing. And it really is just a different kind of prison.

-I always call it the cage. But the idea is that you're in this cage. It's kind of comfortable


-And you get to take two weeks of vacation a year. You get enough food and water. You're an animal in a cage. People feed you and then you get to get out of the cage and go in your dog run and have some fun in the backyard. But you're really in this cage. Now why is it so difficult for people like myself, or people like you when you were in that job, why is it so difficult for us to think beyond the idea of exchanging time for a set amount of money? Why is it so hard to-- if I have a salary job right now, why is it so hard for me to think about, well, I'm going to leave this set salary and go do something else? What was scary about it for you, or for most people, in your mind?

-Well, in our culture it's kind of programmed in to you from a fairly early-- unless you're from a different way of thinking, most people are programmed, through teachers and professors or whatever, that we're preparing you to get a job. Just to go get a job. And it's kind of hard to get out of that because you think, well that's the safety. I'm going to rely on somebody else to give me a job. And so the safety aspect. I mean it is there, but it's a little bit of a fake safety. Because it really is very unfulfilling just to have that cap that you put on yourself.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Lesson Nugget: The path to financial freedom may require short term pain for the long term gain that you are seeking.
  • Lesson Nugget: First you have to budget and intentionally save. The next step is getting your money working for you and not just sitting in the bank.
  • Lesson Nugget: Don't change jobs for the sake of change, look for a situation where you have more upward mobility and potential to grow.
  • Two Financial Paths: 2. Betting on yourself and making your money work for you.
  • Lesson Nugget: Early on your path you will probably have to work to learn, not to earn, in order to get out of the wage cage.

-So you have, basically, path one, which is where you're exchanging time for money. And it's kind of a false security. You're kind of in this cage, because you believe, that if you stick in this career for 20 years, eventually, maybe you can become a partner or an owner.

And a lot of people, maybe you're watching this. Maybe you just got laid off, or maybe you know of someone who just got laid off. But you have that false security, because you're not really in charge.

BRAXTON FEARS: That's right.

-Now the second path seems a little more scary, but you're kind of betting on yourself. And this is the path of the rich or the wealthy. And this is where you, basically, are moving into this place where you're self-employed. And you're really never letting you're money rest. You're investing in yourself, you're investing in a business, you're putting money into your in yourself. So what does it mean, in your mind, to have your money working for you, or to invest in yourself?

-Well, I mean, early on in a career, you probably don't have money. But as you start to budget and intentionally save, you want that money, not just sitting in the bank, but you want to put it somewhere where it's going to grow for you. And that's when it really gets fun. You're not just burying it and saving it for whenever you retire.

It's not necessarily a retirement plan, but it's a plan that gets you moving in a bunch of different areas. So never letting your money rest might mean that you have a bunch of things happening at once. And that's when it gets really fun.

-Now, let's break it into the real talk here. You're work at the accounting firm. And I don't know how much money you had the bank at the time. Let's just say you got-- did you a few thousand dollars saved up when you decided to leave the big accounting firm, to go into the landscaping career?

-Yeah. I did. And I went into a landscaping career, because it was something that gave me an ability to run a business for someone. And I was jumping at a chance and it was a sacrifice. I had to take a pay cut to get myself into that.

-Do you mind sharing what your pay cut was, just so people at home can relate?

-Right out of college, in the year 2000, I made $37,000 a year, at Ernst and Young accounting firm. And I thought I was on top of the world. After two days, I didn't. I no longer felt like I was on top of the world.

But then, it was a process. I mean, it wasn't like, OK, I quit. I didn't do that. It was a year. I worked for a year. And it wasn't fun, but I put in my time. I kept my commitment. And I was looking for an opportunity, not just to switch jobs, so that I was exchanging time for money, again, but where I could run a business.

I wasn't in a position to start my own business at the time, at least I didn't think I was. So I found an opportunity. The guy paid me $22,000 a year, plus bonuses for more business that I got.

-I want to make sure we're getting this. You went from $37,000, in the cage. We'll call it the wage cage, OK? The wage cage. You might want to put that on the video, that wage cage. $37,000 over here. And then, you went down to $22,000.

-And it was $37,000 if I worked 40 hours a week, or 80 hours a week.

-40 or 80.

-It didn't matter. I made $37,000 a year, either way.

-But then, you jumped down. You said, OK, I like this promotion. I have an opportunity, so I'm getting promoted. I have a chance to go from making 37 to 22. I'll do that. It took you a year.

-Yeah. And the value, to me, was that I was going to be putting my time into something that was going to be an education for me.

-I want to underscore this, because it's super important. If you have a job right now, you're thinking about making the jump from the wage cage to being self-employed. You're going to have to think about your next job. You're going to work to learn, not to earn so much. You're literally going to have to say, I'm going to take less money for an opportunity to learn more.

I have a similar story. I won't get into the super details, but I had an opportunity to intern for somebody who was very successful, multimillionaire, helping them grow their company. And I did it for free, because I wanted to see how she did things. And I didn't get paid anything. And I think, up to this date, I've probably put in 150 hours helping that person. Never have been paid. In fact, I contributed money into things, but it was just the opportunity to shadow amongst somebody who's really done it.

So you're working for the landscaping company, now, a year later. And did you get paid-- you got $22,000 plus commissions?


-And so you had to go out and hustle.


-Had you ever sold before?

BRAXTON FEARS: Never had sold before.

-Did you do well at it, or was it hard?

-I did pretty well at it. I could have done better, knowing what I know now, but no one was managing me, or looking over my shoulder, so I was all on my own. But if I would have had somebody helping me out, it would've been so much better. But it was totally worth it. I would have done the same thing over.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • "Plain Talk on the Art of Persuasion" -Soft Selling in a Hard World
  • "Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness" -The Richest Man Who Ever Lived
  • "You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct, and control your own environment." -Think and Grow Rich
  • Lesson Nugget: Don't blindly put money into things that you don't understand. Invest in the things you do understand or in people you trust.
  • Lesson Nugget: Having a plan will help you guide your decisions. Don't act only on the emotions of your current situation.
  • 50% of Americans are spending more than they earn, but don't realize it. -Huffington Post 5/13


-What book, if you could say going back and talking to your-- how old were you when you moved into landscaping?


-If you could talk to your 22-year-old self and say self, this is the book you should have read right before you transition. What was the book, the sales book, that you should have read to be more successful?

-I think my two favorite books-- one was a sales book. It's "Soft Sell in a Hard World," and


-By Vass that's--

CLAY CLARK: V-A-S-S. -And then another book that's not really a sales book but you got me into this book was the Solomon book.

-Oh yes.

-I just recently actually read it. I wish I would have-- my 22-year-old self-- would have read that book. What's that book?

-We're going to put it on screen. Neither one of us can remember the title, because what I do is I don't memorize things very well at all. It's a book about Solomon. And it's basically giving you the proven principles from Proverbs. And if you're not into the Bible-- it's totally fine-- then you can find the same principles in "Think and Grow Rich," which is a secular book. But it's unbelievable principles that will help you.

So you're out of the wage cage. You're moving in here into this self-employed-- or in this case you're working for someone else but it's largely commission based-- at that point, did you have any extra capital? Or were you just work as hard as you could just to tread water? Did you have any capital leftover?

-I was gaining capital. I didn't have a whole lot, I was a very, very young. My wife was still in school. But I was starting to-- we had a plan. Even at that early age, we just intuitively figured out we need to have a plan, which is a big deal. And so we did that. That decision to do that-- kind of that leap or that step-- prepared me to make and to take other steps like that in the future, which is huge. And it was a big, big deal to me.

It was a big deal to leave a secure, seemingly impressive job out of college. And everybody that I knew-- everybody in my life sort of sneered at it, and thought that's stupid. And that's going to happen sometimes when you make tough choices that you know are right, but you have to almost not care what anyone else thinks.

-I remember when my wife came home from work. And I was yeah, I was also laying on the futon kind of in that crazy Doctor Brown from "Back to the Future," sort of wild-eye look. She was like, how was your day? And I'm like, I quit my job and dropped out of college today. And I just had like both things had happened at the same time. I had to make that jump.

I'd thought about for awhile. But I know it's scary, but I know you can do it. There's either the wage cage, or there's kind of this self-employed world. And you can do it, but you're going to eventually have to make that jump.

Now, we're going to skip forward years and years down the road. In a full disclosure, you are a venture capital partner in Thrive. And you amongst a lot of other great people have invested in Thrive. What are other things that have you invested in over the years? I know you've done some real estate. What other things have you invested in?

-Well, I've done the stock game, you know, mutual funds-- I've done that. I've invested in properties where I've bought distressed properties and fixed them up and sold them.

-So properties, mutual funds--

-Yeah, really besides a couple-- I invest in people like Thrive. I invest in people that I trust and invest in my own business. I'm not into stocks anymore, because that's not something that I'm in. It's seems counterproductive unless your business, your core business is stocks.

My dad is very into stocks, but that's because that's the business that he's been in. But it doesn't fit me, because I don't know anything about that stuff. If I had time to do that, I would. But real estate has been a business I've been involved in, so its always seemed like a productive business for me to be in because I know that game.

-I think it's interesting, but one of the things about with Braxton that I think we could all envy or look at and go man, I wish I could configure that out. I know doctors that I've worked with who no matter how much money they make they spend it all. They make $400,000 a year. They spend $407,000. They make $500,000, they make $507,000 or they spend &507,000.

Even NBA players-- you all heard about the professional athlete who makes a ton of money-- the NBA basketball player. And they spend more than they make. In fact, in America, there's all sorts of stats that show over half the population spends more money than they make every year.

And what you've done is you've been very diligent about living below your means. So you're able to create a gap between what you've saved and what you need. And you've kind of created that financial freedom. So really, we'll move on into our next principle, or step two, if you will.

Every successful person I've ever met is very educated, yet only about half of these people have college degrees. And what am I talking about? So I'm going to go to you with this question here-- there's a phrase I've heard a lot in the world of entrepreneurship about you learn more, you earn more. If you want to earn more, you need to learn more.

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