Intelligence Without Dedication Means Nothing with Ken Smith

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Passionate about educating people, the sport of motorcycling, and living every day like it is your last.

After an accident that forced Ken out of college, he knew he had to make changes in his life. He hit the reset button and became motivated to live every day with purpose. Keep people in your life who are productive to you, and who you are productive for them. 


{04:12} What drives Ken

{11:00} What makes Ken a Titan

{18:36} Stress-Relieving Hobbies

{20:20} The Youngest of Seven Kids

{29:00} The Importance of Mentors

{34:00} What people don’t know about Ken

{58:20} Final Advice for the person struggling

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Ken Smith Bio

Ken is the Chief Executive Officer of Empirical Wealth Management. He guides the firm’s long-term strategy and is a senior financial advisor.  Ken is passionate about educating individuals on how to become smarter investors. He hosted an informative financial radio show titled “Empirical Investing Radio” on VoiceAmerica and has designed a proprietary program “Empirical Income Planner” to help individuals plan for retirement.

Connect with Ken:

Hey guys, welcome to the show. I’m Carol Carpenter, and there’s my co-host, I guess trying to look intelligent, Travis Johnson, and we have a special guest today…

Trying to look intelligent… I don’t know what That means… trying to look intelligent.

Well, you kind of had a pensive look on your face. Yeah, I don’t know if that was boredom or being pensive, but our guest today is Ken Smith. 

Hi Ken. 

Hi Carol, hi Travis.

Ken is the CEO of empirical wealth management and a senior financial advisor; he guides the firm’s long-term strategy. Ken is passionate about educating people on how to become better investors; I know this because of empirical evidence. He is In Washington State, a fellow motorcyclist who is passionate about the sport and owns a Ducati Redmond. Welcome, Ken. 

Thank you; it’s nice to see you.

It’s nice to see you too.

I’m over here on this side, googling “pensive.” to see if I was getting slammed or not. 

No, we’re not getting slammed. wouldn’t do that to you, Travis. 

Just like every other episode. 

OK, everyone else, since it’s the start of the new year, I figured I’d give you a get-out-of-jail-free card. 

Perfect, perfect; I appreciate that. That is greatly appreciated, and I have to ask, “Where is your energy today, Carol?” like running a financial institution, and I only do coffee shops. That’s some exciting ****, but we didn’t get any energy from you. 

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

We kind of had it before I was spent, no. 

You know what I mean; you didn’t do your warm-up stretches like Ken was doing before we got started. 

He stretched before the whole thing. 

He looked like he was doing something from the 1950s, like going to a boys’ school. Kind of pseudo-calisthenics where nothing happens when you’re stretching. It’s all these weird, awkward movements, and it looks like something like that.

It just doesn’t Effective anymore maybe? I don’t know. I’m not in charge of that stuff. No one has asked me for any kind of physical fitness advice. Let’s be honest for a while. 

I’d appreciate any suggestions for my warm-up recall warm-ups. I’m always trying to learn new things, so 

I got to, ask Ken, like, “Carole’s a huge fan of yours and was so excited to get you on the show, and I don’t yet know why.” So usually, when we do these interviews, the guest either knows me or knows Carol pretty well. So, the other person, “I’ve got to know all the stuff; tell me all the things that make Ken. Run what? 

What drives you? What sets you on fire every day? Why did Carol do that? Why was she so excited to have you on the show, Ken?

I think maybe. We met at the dealership after we opened the Ducati shop. I found out that she does track events, I Boone. and so, I think we explain the formation, t information and I reached “Hey and said, hey, I’d like to learn” I’d like to sponsor some track days, and I’m still learning a lot about the motorcycle industry because I’ve been riding my whole life, but I know very little about it. I am new to the business part of it.

Carol and I were concerned that I would want to do something different than what I had done previously when purchasing motorcycles. And so, you know, sometimes it’s a little underwhelming, and I feel like it’s very, sectional and so I started when we did get a chance to talk. I was telling her I want to make a luxury brand experience and community in Redmond, and where the buyer can form relationships with other riders, particularly those who are passionate about Ducati.

I Like all motorcycles of all types and pretty much, case, in this case, I fell in love with Ducati a few years back when I bought my first bike. So, we started talking about my first Ducati, and I said, you know when I was in my wealth management business. This is what I’ve been doing. Since 1995, it’s been a long time, and what I loved about both is I’ve always been an entrepreneur, and I love the idea of creating something useful for the clients I work with, so that’s always been my ambition. 

What can I do to add value? And as I was listening to and reading all of the materials, I began to share a little bit about that Travis when I was younger. I learned pretty quickly if you want to be successful: The best way to do it is to create something that adds value, and you can’t help but be successful. You know that you will if you consistently bring value to the people that you’re serving or the target audience in a unique way you will be successful and so when we started my financial advisory business, those were the foundational principles with empirical support, and I have a lot of goals. We built a very, you know, good team together, and I think that’s another thing I learned along the way: the team is there to contribute to the success, and I’m grateful for that.

Oh yeah, team.

We believe we have a great team at the Ducati Redmond shop. Now it’s a matter of taking a very long list of ideas, visions, and dreams and seeing if we can Execute them, but that’s a long, long answer to the question that I raised in Carole’s discussion about all of her  Endeavors I felt like we had a common thread in that we’re both very passionate about doing something unique, adding value to the people that we work with, making personal connections, and making it more of a relationship in our businesses. Not just for the commoditized exchange of money for some, you know, cold products or services. But I had a feeling that’s about you, Carol. We had that in common when we met, and I felt like I did.

I agree, and what I think I enjoyed was that you had two different businesses that were opposites of each other, so it kind of showed how flexible you were and if you could take some of the principles of what you had learned empirically, and then apply it to Ducati. Yes, the motorcycle industry is kind. It’s distinct, it’s unique. It’s so different from every other industry, and you found that out right when you came into Ducati Redmond—it doesn’t get run like normal businesses.

Yes, yeah. 

The industry is very much about knowing people and creating relationships. That is not Unlike other businesses, that’s the foundation. If you don’t know anyone in that industry, let’s say a sponsor in helmets, it’s really hard to get in until they know you or have at least heard of you.

Yeah, I’m learning. We’re still learning, but fortunately, they have some team members with that experience and knowledge, and you’ve been extremely helpful. By the way, in all of our conversations So thank you for that, you’re welcome. Yeah, you’ve always. 

love to share.

Thank you. Yeah, so that’s the background, Travis. I believe we met and then decided to organize an event. This next weekend is our kind of first “Co-op” event, and then I know I want to do a track day with you. On the motorcycle side, we just talked, and I told you about how my other company got started. When I was in me the basement, to now we amassed nearly $5 billion in assets on the empirical side, we have multiple locations, and I’m happy to hear if there’s any interest in doing any of that or not


Yeah, this is, like, yeah. I want to.

Get to the nitty gritty.

I’m referring to what people do. 

Many people are preoccupied with what other people do, and we’re not human, are we? We’re human beings. And who you are is far more important than what you do because who you are penetrates everything that you end up doing as part of who you are as a person.

Like I had business meetings all day yesterday, I had a lunch meeting downtown at Joey’s Pizza in Oklahoma City, not a sponsored thing. I just love Joey’s pizza, and we sat there. I haven’t talked about business for like 2 1/2 hours, and I would much rather do that than go and sit down and talk numbers and talk metrics, and this, that, and the other—I don’t even know what the guy does. I believe I know what he does, but it never came up, and that is far more valuable to me than anything else you mentioned. 

Because motorcycles are a relationship-based business, if you are not building genuine relationships with the people out there, regardless of what it is, you will fail. Is that what you do? You’re going home, and you’ll be alone. And all of that stuff is going to hit you because you are alone, and you haven’t built any relationships. 

What we have found is that all of that external stuff is the fruit. That comes to bear every season, and the reason that happens is because of the work that we do on our roots. 


And I got to know Ken. What is it about you that makes you a titan? And what are those qualities about Ken that cause all that fruit to ripen every year?

When I was younger, you know if we were discussing my personal story.

Every story takes place when you were younger. Come on, Ken. Here’s a photo of me when I was younger. Every photo is.

Yeah, a couple of minutes ago

A photo of when you were younger.

That’s pretty good. Is it some principles when I was? that you know. In all of my quests for an opportunity in the world, I grew up in a very loving family. But we didn’t have a lot financially, and my dad worked very hard. He worked multiple jobs so that work ethic part was something for me. I mean, I started working when I was 14, and then through high school and college, I always had multiple jobs at varying times and was growing up. I was motivated by the way I did it. It was kind of multifold. 

That led to me doing financial things, but it was my intention to secure my financial independence, for my family, and for not have to struggle, and I and I began to realize that everyone deserves to achieve that. It’s not about being money-hungry or greedy or any of those kinds of things. Everybody deserves to have that financial independence. As a result, I’ve always been the creative urge to be in business or do something there, contribute, and do something unique. 

And so, when I got connected to the advisory side of the world, I thought, “Hey, this is interesting.” And a career opportunity because I can assist people; in essence, I can run my own business and be that entrepreneur. But I can also help people secure their financial future. The very thing I knew I wanted, regardless of what my career would turn out to be. 

So, while all of that was going on, I dropped out of college and spent a lot of time was spent reading. It’s all about success books. development materials because it wasn’t something that, as you know, was talked about a lot in our…

What are some of the titles? Here are some of the authors back then.

One, when I was 24, I went through all of Tony Robbins’ available material.

That’s a commonality. There are many people like that.

And yeah, I read, Think, and Grow Rich. 

Did you do that, yeah?

I think that’s a book by

Napoleon hill 

Napoleon Hill taught you How to Win and Influence Friends. That’s still a book by Dale Carnegie that I hand out to my younger advisors and team members. And then there were a whole series of entrepreneurial books. You know, I would just search on Amazon, like, “Hey, what?” Running your own business “Good to Great” was a book I once got.

Jim Collins went from Good to great.

There’s a book called Jam. I read pretty early on about great entrepreneurial masters, and then you know everything related to those types of themes. That I could find, you know, in the deep blue sea. new things, such as simply trying to open my mind to what our successful companies do. What are successful people like? 

In the midst of all that one of the things that I will share with some of the younger team members that I try to mentor is the first step is to accept that anything is possible. You know. I think a lot of times we grow up where parents are like, “Don’t do that.” It’s a lot. of risk, or that’ll never work, or And I see it with my kids, and I see it with certain friends, family members, and people wherever they are. They’re not happy where they are in life, yet they’re so open-minded to what’s possible and what you can achieve.

And I and others noticed a marked difference once they knew. when I was younger. “You know what doesn’t matter what my background is such that I didn’t wind up going to Harvard. Anything is still possible for me”, and I believe that’s equivalent to subconsciously performing some real magic and then going into situations with an open mind that this could work. Or it’s possible.

I’m suddenly getting into it possibilities that I never would have thought were possible before, right? And so, becoming the owner or CEO of the company or getting opportunities to invest in things or, for example, even the Ducati shop. I would say that 80% of the people that I knew would say, “Well, there’s no chance that you would ever even be able to be the one opening because you’ve had no experience with them.” You didn’t even work in a motorcycle shop. You know, as a guy, how do you do the counter thing?

Well, don’t you think that’s somebody else’s insecurity?

You know, everyone likes to share their insecurities with other people, so it can create doubt.

But as long as you keep an open mind, I mean, come on, I was pre-qualified and here I am in the motorcycle business. How did that path get started? Where does it lead? did right because anything is possible. 

And if you’re open-minded, you can do anything. The problem is a risk. Who defines the definition of risk and taking that chance Why do we believe it’s right? Because if we’ve never taken that risk, how do we know that the result will be something negative when the result can be something completely different and positive, right? 

Which is obviously what happened with Ducati Redmond. I mean? yeah, you had a passion for the sport, and you opened it. and everybody’s probably looking. You acted like you were freaking nuts.

Well, I’ve seen Ken. He is freaking nuts. No, this is good, Ken. You talked about how your work ethic makes you tight and that you believe everyone deserves financial independence. You have an open mind. You believe anything is possible, and you use that curiosity to go and try new things. 

Now, when you open something like a motorcycle shop, you might have some kind of goal in mind, and people might measure your success or failure based on whether or not you achieve that goal. But what don’t often think about is what always happens: all these other lessons and all these other things that happen. Because they are something like that, the journey to the perceived original goal is often much more powerful and impactful than the original goal would have been in the first place. 

I don’t know who the number one Ducati dealership in the world is. I don’t know if that’s you or one of your goals, but the things that you have to do and learn and execute and understand and grow and perceive and be and where to achieve that, that’s the stuff that makes the difference. 

Being number one in a dealership means something. It means you have the most sales. That doesn’t mean anything other than that. Does it feel good? Here it is, but like the plaque on the wall behind me, it was great that day and it looks pretty. But what is the real lasting value and impact of just a piece of wood with some engraving stuff? It looks fantastic. Love it. But, aside from that, the moment and my reflection on it, the new awards we receive—or rather, that we receive—really don’t mean much, just as Burnley doesn’t mean much to anyone else. It’s all those other things that we encounter, impact, learn from, and grow through that make all the difference.

I agree. 

That was it. We’re done. What distinguishes you? That’s something a lot of people don’t know. I see guitars in the background. Is that a passion of yours? Do you collect? Do you play? Do you have a secret CFP band that you go see? with something? a nerdy name for something you do on the weekends.

It’s a stress-relieving hobby for which I have guitars in all of my offices and which I’m enjoying even at home by purchasing nicer guitars and learning to play. And there are a few guys in various offices where I travel. I’m in Bellevue, WA, but I go to our Irvine office a lot, and I’ve got we’ll fool around with a couple of guys who play the bass and drums, but it’ll mostly be for a fun hobby.

I think. You know, probably no one outside of it knows because they didn’t see it that way. I like doing that, and then there were other things. I don’t think you know. I haven’t advertised it in any of my motorcycle-related LinkedIn material, and the majority of my clients are likely unaware of it. My team didn’t even know that I rode motorcycles. 

Wait a second. Nobody knew you rode motorcycles Up to that point in empirical.

Probably not. Yeah, it wasn’t it’s just something I did on my own, and there was no one else at the company that rode so, and I wasn’t talking about it. You know, I never have. talked about, so a lot of them were surprised, and they were like, “You’re doing what?” And I said, “Well, I’ve been riding on and off my whole life, so it’s just something I.  


In your bio, you mentioned that you come from a family of seven. That’s insane. 

Yeah, that’s right.

Yeah, so are your brothers, are they older than you are? You are the youngest of five brothers. Then I’m assuming 

Yes, yeah, yeah, I’m the youngest. 

Oh, my dear God, what’s the order of your family like? Where do your sisters fit in?

There are right above me.  So, it’s me and then up there. Sister, sister, and then all brothers. 

So, you’re the youngest of seven.

Yeah, I’m the youngest of seven. I had written in there where they were the ones that my brothers taught me how to ride. And in particular one of them, yes, yes. 

What’s the difference? The span of years between the eldest child and you 

My mother has a gap of about 18 years from her oldest child to me, she was busy for 18 years, yeah? 

Yeah, that’s the same in my family—not me, but my dad, who is the youngest of seven. He had three brothers and three sisters, and his oldest brother lives in Oklahoma, not far from me, and I believe they are 18 years apart, yeah.

Span wow. 

Well, no wonder. Your dad had to have so many jobs.

There were a lot of kids. Mom was at home and 

the kids to support.

There are a lot of hungry mouths to feed

OK, so like. Which brother ended up getting you involved in motorcycles, or were they all involved in motorcycles and kind of, you know, got you involved when you kind of got to an ancient you could throw your leg over?

Yeah, they were. My dad even had a motorcycle when I was little, but eventually, he decided they were dangerous, and he got rid of them. But I remember he used to take me around. I was like, “Oh, this is awesome.” Then all of them—my brothers—rode bikes, and then they all used to go riding dirt bikes together. And they and I were like, “That’s exactly what I do.” And so it is, my brother Denis he was the second eldest, and the one who used to come over almost every weekend, and then he would teach me to ride. He had a variety of bikes, but it was a pretty big bike. But I would sit in the front. He’d kind of show me how to ride, and then, and then, and then. Eventually, I got a dirt bike and, you know, would ride dirt bikes and stuff.

I always wanted to race, but my parents were very risk-averse about everything, so there are a lot of things that I’ve done as an adult, when I first started, I always wanted to do martial arts, just a little bit, but I was like, “You don’t want to do that. “I want you to pick fights” He didn’t. Understand, what do you think? That was the true purpose of it.

Yeah, and martial arts is phenomenal for teaching discipline to boys. Because I got my kids involved in Taekwondo, where there’s a little bit of a hierarchy, they started to understand structure a little bit more, and the discipline that they learned in Taekwondo helped me at home.

It was phenomenal.

Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah, yeah, and I started it when I was like 30 and stuck with it till, I got the second level of black belt in the Catch Kimbo martial arts system, and then I had to kind of take a break the last few years, but I want to get back into it

There are a lot of things to do later in life. I was like, “Hey, I have these unresolved.” I’m going to. I’m going. To do, and that’s another thing, Tavis… going back to what made me tick is that I don’t give up on things, and maybe later down there, but eventually I will do them, and once I start, I just don’t stop like I didn’t until I was a black belt? I will know how until I learn to play the guitar very well. I will keep plugging away at it.

The same goes for the company. A lot of extremely intelligent people are probably much smarter than I am, but I have this tenacity where I will just keep chiseling away and not stop, and I will do it. You know, if I have to stay up all night multiple times as I have, that’s another thing I’ve got in part thanks to him. It’s like. It’s not always how smart you are, but there’s this… a lot of successful people were not afraid to fail. And they never stopped. They just kept plugging away, and so forth.

No, no, it’s true. I know a lot of really smart people who, once they get going, have road bumps along the way.  It takes chunks out of them, you know, and they can’t overcome that, so they quit, and it’s like, “But you’re so smart”, but I think Being that intelligent sometimes works against you because you’re just kind of like, “Well, I’m so damn smart. Why isn’t this working well? This is a failure. I just have to, you know, kick it to the curb and try something else.”

It’s Like no stick at it, keep going. Figure it out. I think it is. When you are that intelligent, the failures seem that much more insurmountable. And I think people, you know, think they’re less intelligent, which, in truth, I don’t believe they are. like you’re saying you are. You just have that. The extra thing that makes you want to work harder, want to make it successful, and I think that’s the difference.

Intelligence without dedication is essentially worthless. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t execute. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t execute. What is it? that you can think of and solve in your head. If you can’t bring it into reality, then it doesn’t matter that you have the solution if you don’t have the connections, the dedication, or the way to implement it, like it doesn’t mean a whole lot that you’re intelligent. 

Our basics for the intelligence system are pattern recognition and predictability, which is great if you’re doing something that matters. Right, yeah, yeah. Yes, if you’re in sales.

And you need support.

If you’re in sales and you’re intelligent, you can recognize the patterns and implement the system that you need to use. The intelligence is then excellent because you recognized and repeated the pattern that you implemented in the system. 

The problem with that is that when you’re intelligent, that’s it. leads to boredom. And you’ve solved that puzzle, so whoopie! What do you do if you can make some money? Because now you’re bored. I came across this problem at the end of last year. the last six weeks of 2020-22. How many 20s are in that? like I just had a 6-digit year. There goes my intelligent claim out the window. 

I didn’t do a whole lot, and I felt pretty worthless. I wasn’t working on any projects. Laying around like a lump I watched a lot of TV, which I hardly ever do. And then last night I went to an improv class and got to do something different, meet new people, try new things, be loud and crazy, and just do something different.

Yeah, but you’re expanding your mind, right?

And now I feel great again, yeah? 

I can conquer the world.

Make Travis great again. Send him to improve.

Yeah, well, and I think This is why I like what you do, Ken: you’ve opened your mind by working in two different industries, to two different concepts too, and I think when you do that, you become even more creative. 

Do you know what’s next? You could be opening up something else, right? Another company, but I also know that even for myself, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, you know how to burgeon it with empirical data when you were in. Did you not have mentors or advisors? 

Because I believe that having mentors, advisors, and people who support, encourage, and motivate you is critical to your development. So, with the empirical, did you have that? I mean, did you have multiple people or did you have one trusted source or

The partner who had originally hired me was 22 years my senior, and he was a great mentor. His name was Jack Monteith, and he was He left empirical psychology about five years ago, but he was a fantastic mentor to me.

And then I look to other people in the industry that I know studied their materials and their books, and when possible, we had them. A little radio show was Capable of interviewing some of those. Some of those guys and it wasn’t us, we hadn’t seen them.

Is that still running?

We kind of got sidetracked with other business stuff during the financial meltdown in 2008, and 2009; So, we took a break from it. We just never got back to it, but I always enjoyed it, and we had a chance to interview authors and some leaders within the industry and things like that. 

And that’s how I’ve always felt. You know, modeling yourself after people who’ve already done it and been successful is a great strategy, so I’ve tried to study and look at what those leaders have done, and for sure, I think that’s very important.

How about you, Travis? 

Do I have any mentors? Or do I mentor people? 

either one or both.

I’ve had a slew of mentors over the years. You know, going through the foster care system and living in trailer parks, there were a lot of people who gave you great advice. They were giving you advice, but a lot of it was based on their actions and what not to do. 

Fortunately, even though I wasn’t in the right place, I was picking up on those lessons to employ them, and then we get into a system like the Navy. You’re assigned a mentor, and of course, that’s just like a paperwork drill because you and that person may or may not jive. You may not be in the same energy You may not care about each other, but eventually you pick up some people who come by and give you some tips, and eventually you start mentoring other people.

I’ve got a few people who have followed me through their careers, and every time I see them, they are just praise me profusely for the things that they were able to accomplish, and part of me is really happy.

All of the mentoring doesn’t mean **** If you don’t put it into action, the world is meaningless. And of all the people you advise, only a fraction implement it and do well. So, I’ve got a guy, Sean Crude.

Well, you know what they call people who ask for advice. And you don’t take, do you?

Those are *****k holes.

Yeah, that’s right.

Yeah, those are *******. They ask for advice, and they get the opposite.

You haven’t heard that.

Wait, as soon as we just defined that and said the word, there was someone that popped up in your head. And since we’re recording this, I don’t want you to say who that person is. But we can. We can all think of those.

Don’t throw those people under the bus. Bus, yeah. 

We all think of those people in our world. 


I’ve got people, especially in the podcasting game, that I talk to on a fairly regular basis, whether monthly or weekly, and I see them growing and growing and growing. And it’s insane, and I love it. 

We had the opportunity to interview Mark Timm, and he is amazing. We asked him about his mentorship and what he does. 

And I am currently seeking to work with a mentor. So many people give me advice in the podcasting space, and I’m looking for a new one. Right now, I truly believe it is a part of my development. Part of the reason for the last six weeks being kind of crappy is that I didn’t have a mentor to whom I was reaching out. Out to. 

Did you ask? 

Mark No, but I probably should give Mark a call, huh? I know I can get 5 minutes of his time.

So, when we interviewed Mark Timm, I didn’t know anything about him, and Travis had a conversation with him prior. This gentleman was mentored by Zig Ziglar 

Oh wow, yeah, he was one of the first guys I read his materials on sales with when I got in. 

Yeah, and an incredible interview. So yeah, when it comes out, we’ll let you know, because he was a very interesting person. A wealth of knowledge and information

Yeah, it was amazing. He incorporated his family and runs it like a business. They’ve got training, and they watched Shark Tank together. And no kidding, both Kevin Harrington, who was the original shark on Shark Tank, and Mark Timm were mentored in person by Zig Ziglar. And he co-wrote this book, which has mentored millions of people and is simply amazing. 

If you’re listening to this right now and you don’t have a mentor, find one. Or if you’re not currently mentoring something, you’re doing life wrong. There are not a lot of things that are right or wrong. That’s one of them that we don’t get. 

We don’t become the people we were born to be. We don’t get anywhere in life unless others pour into us through the relationships we frequently form. When we’re doing life together, it’s those who truly believe in us when we don’t believe in ourselves who help us get to the next level year after year after year. 

Very true. Very true. So, have we already asked you? What else might you like besides guitars? that nobody would know. Let’s go back to We’ve been discussing everything from our childhood, right? Is there any experience that has had a profound impact on you? 

No one knows if you have something like the Smith family fight club.

I believe those guys were older brothers who were so close in age that they were constantly fighting, but luckily, I had dodged the steel cage death matches by the time Well, they were already all pretty much out of the house by the time I even knew what was going on. 

In addition, you were a theme on, your mother is going to protect you. You’re the baby.

Yeah, that’s true, and she was very protective. 

Yeah, I was with mine too.

Wow, that’s a great question Things that happened things that don’t.

Yeah, I think I’ve only shared a fraction of what I should have with many of the people, even though I’m always present. about the way, I grew up and just wanted to have a different experience in life in that sense, so I don’t know if there were any particular trigger events. Maybe I’ll bring it up again while we’re talking.

Sure, and I’ll jog your memory a little bit.

So, I’m a little confused about that. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I know it’s a lot of history to have to go through in one shot like that.

Yeah, the older you get, the more files there are. 

Oh, that lady is working overtime up there. 

Okay, with your podcast here. If you don’t mind me asking a question, what are you hoping for? What are you two hoping to accomplish with this? Do you want to know what mine is? What is yours? 

vision for it.

Yeah, what’s your vision? 

I think Travis and, we were tired of hearing podcasts that only talk about people’s businesses, which is why there’s a hang-up. When we have people on, all their programed to do is talk about their business and try to pitch to us how successful they are and what products or services they have to offer. 

And at the end of the day, you know, you and I are completely different people, but we connected on that intimate level of wanting to connect with people, and that connection did not include businesses. Because while they’re parts of us, they’re not the core parts of us that make us who we are, right?

And our values, ethics, and morals are very similar, so why not get to know the person? Because if people trust the person, Whatever business you’re going to do, people are going to follow you. Attempt to figure out what you’re doing, you should know they like you as a person. And it was really important for us to kind of bring that back into this world. 

I believe that far too many people have started podcasts that are entirely based on. I run this business, or I run multiple businesses, and look at how successful I am, and here are the products that I have What does it matter? If I don’t like it, I can return it.

A lot of people do 

I don’t. 

A lot of people care about that. That sort of thing. There are only so many shows that deal with such topics. When I look at this, I’m curious. I want to know the real Ken. 

I want to know the real Rock Carol. I want to know the real Travis, like what makes me tick, where the things that just light me up completely are and where the eternally frustrating things are. What roadblocks do I have where the stories of hardship turn around? What were those magical points in life When someone climbs the hill of business or whatever their professional life looks like, you had a new profound understanding? Reach the top. 

You know they’re above the clouds. There’s a lot. There’s very little air there, and there’s no one else there. Getting that thing—that plaque on the wall, that number in the bank account—is lonely. They find it means nothing. 

Just like Mike Timm, he mentioned in his episode how he had the best business day of his life, and when he got to his driveway on his way home, it was like a hill. You can be in the driveway, but not yet. See the house. He didn’t want to go home for that reason. He didn’t want to see his family, but because he knew he wasn’t bringing the juice that he was bringing to his business home to his family, He wasn’t present. He wasn’t with the people that mattered most. He didn’t know how to connect with them, and he decided at that moment to take care of the people that mattered most to him because anything in the business world meant nothing if you didn’t have relationships with people to share it with. That’s the stuff that really matters.

Josh Lee in the first episode that we ended up releasing. Talked about. How is he even? made a $1,000,000 handshake deal that cost him 10 million bucks, and when he is and the second woman in his life is Rachel, who is now his long-term partner, and his spouse was getting ready to leave Seattle to come down to us. And he didn’t want to tell her that he had just been completely financially wrecked, and she said to him, “I got you”, and your big thing is that we can say that as other guys can, but. It’s very hard for us to let a woman in her life say that to us and mean it because that’s the guy we always have to feel like we would be the provider and would have to do it, or we would only have value based on the amount of work we put into whatever the equation is. 

That’s the stuff that matters. Your CFP with $5 billion in assets under management? That doesn’t mean anything to the vast majority of people. It’s wonderful that you’re there. I know that your clients think it’s fantastic. But at the end, of the day, that doesn’t tell us anything about who Ken is or isn’t. Why Ken matters You can spend all day on any other podcast talking about your business. The things you have to offer and how you got their success, but this is the show that you come on so people can understand who you are, why you matter, and why they want you in their lives. 

This is the show that you send clients, but they, like you want to know me better, and here’s an episode I did with Karen Travis that lets you get to know me a little bit better as a person, and you’re going to find clients they were like. Dude, I didn’t know you were playing guitars. My best friend is Jimi Hendrix’s cousin, and we have a 10,000-guitar warehouse that is all dedicated to him. I’m going their next weekend. Do you want to come? 

And all of a sudden, you have a whole new relationship with people who were always in your sphere, but now you have a whole new relationship with them. Especially in the financial world, they don’t get to know you as a person well, and none of those other things will ever happen. You’ll never have those deeper conversations. Those deeper commitments.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine if your clients learned about the real you and took you on some fantastic vacation where you two had something in common? You had this. core experience together. Do you believe that person will refer you until the end of time? They would Instead of trying to figure out how we can get them to refer customers, you have real-time experiences with them, real connections, and all of a sudden, they can’t help but say your name. 

You know, after I met Carol in person, we had kind of known each other a little bit in the circles that we run in. But it didn’t mean anything until we spent that time that week at the ranch in Texas. And now I’m thinking, Road We truly believe this. Know who each other is and what motivates us.

Do you remember the first phone call? I’m not sure how many hours passed because you were driving, but I think we talked for about 2 1/2 hours before Travis said, “I’ve got to go. “I forgot about another call. I had another call, and we spoke seamlessly through this call, and those are the kinds of relationships you want to have.

Where you don’t necessarily have to agree with their viewpoints or opinions, but you can connect on this cool level of, “Hey, I respect you as a person. “You respect me as a person. We can say whatever we want about each other to each other”. 

One thing about Travis and me that I love is that we are brutally honest with each other. I love you, dear. Yes, but I also know that among the people I speak with daily, some may dislike me, and I know this because I am blunt. 

And I’m not blunt because I come from an uncaring place. I’m blunt from a very caring place because I think people are so used to seeing their line of ******** and then people accepting it and just moving on in the conversation. I’m going to interrupt the conversation and say ********. And they’re shocked because nobody’s ever done that to them before, but to me, it’s like, “Why, why?” Is it a waste of your time to feed me ********? I’m going to tell you it’s ******** so we can move on and figure out what’s going on.


Yeah, yeah, I don’t allow the people in my life to lie to themselves. And some people are just not ready for that. And that’s fine with me; as long as they’re willing to call me on my b****, that’s all right with me. I’m happy because I know I say some ****, I say. I know, I know, I do. 

It’s OK, though, but it’s real. That’s what we love about it, Travis and I. And here’s Ken. Ken is so mild-mannered that he won’t say anything. He’s just nice and accommodating.

Until I lose it 

When was the last time you lost it? When’s the last time? You just? You regret it; you’re embarrassed that you did it, but you did it. What were the circumstances? What happened? Why do you regret it? 

Sometimes the case at work. Because I am very passionate, I may expect something to fail if it does not go exactly as planned. I can get a little intense, but it takes some time, and I try to be very strategic about how I am communicating things until the point where something does go sideways, and then I never like to fully scream at people or 

You’re not a screamer. 

No names, I’m not. Big 

Yes, that’s not. What I heard

You know, but I do get excited, I do get intense, and then I have this. You know that when I get to that level, it takes a while to step me off because I’ll hammer the point home in like 20 different ways, and I’m aware of that.

Well, you’re a parent, you can’t help but parent them.

Yeah, yeah. 

And Travis, I was wondering if we were setting ourselves up for a difficult time. People don’t know. Maybe when I was in college, I rode cycles back then I remembered what brought me the bike. I had it, and I was in a pretty serious accident and was in the ICU. Do you know? The guy pulled out. Riding home to the dorm one day after, you know, I had a buddy in college who also rode, and we were going somewhere, and we got back to, like, literally a couple of blocks from the dorm I was living in. This was like my first one here, and this guy didn’t see me and just pulled out from a side street, you know, and I just drilled right in the side of the car and stuff, and then, the next thing, I woke up in the hospital, and obviously, my mom was very, very stressed, and I had to get out of school for that semester. 

Yeah, so what happened? What was broken? What was cut up? What did you excel at, such as skimming over a story but never providing any details? And what are the details? 

Yeah, I broke my collarbone, and it cracked a rib and a vertebra in my back and left some scars. And you know my arm and my stitches and things. 

We call that “street cred.” 

Like but. 

Yeah, did you lose your pole-vaulting scholarship?

Yeah, well, you know, two things came out of that whole experience for me that probably changed the course of, you know, going and getting out of school, going into my early adulthood, and going through my life. 

And one was just connecting on a spiritual level with, I came out with nothing permanent damage, or that there’s nothing I can’t do as a result of that, you know, and I felt very. I am beyond fortunate about that, and so for me, there is a spiritual element to me that maybe a lot of people don’t understand. I work with things that should not exist. know about it because I’m pretty. 

Oh, that just makes you that much more interesting now Ken, talk to me. 

They keep you updated internally on this. 

What do you mean by “spiritual”? 

Yeah, I just believe in a creator, and I believe in God, and I have my relationship with that. I know it’s something that is very important to me and is a cornerstone of who I  

So, voodoo-like. 

No, no, just Christian.

Stop it, Travis.

He’s just poking at you. 

I’m looking for specifics. Ken, I want details.

I’ve got to have it.

I need Travis doll over here right now because I’m poking.

That’s the spirit, Ken. That’s a. 

We do it, Spirit. And most guests are uncomfortable to some degree. because most people don’t care about a person when they ask how they’re doing. They don’t want to know the answer. Ken, we want this. To know the answer, we want to know what spirituality means to you. And guess what? There’s a huge part of the world there—probably 3/4 of it. That’s not going to agree with you, and whoopsie ******* do because you’re not hurting them. And it’s. No big deal. So, like, someone’s going to hear this and a client will be like, “I guess I can’t be a client.” Let’s get a drink now. Yeah, the chances of them hearing this are almost zero anyway.

Everyone is spiritually unique in some way. You know because I know you can be a Christian. You can be a Catholic. Be whatever you want to be. It doesn’t matter, and spirituality is not going to affect you. What makes you… you? 

My parents were Christians, so I grew up attending Christian churches. non-denominational. So, when my mom was Catholic, my dad was Lutheran, and when they married…

Oh, OK. 

They decided to Be it too angry to be a Christian as if they’re so angry and everything is doom and gloom? My wife and I grew up Lutherans, and everything is like Hellfire and brimstone, as if, “Oh, if you violate this rule.”

Oh, my goodness. 

going to hell, but if you do this also, then you’re going to hell. And if you’re present. We’re already preparing to send you. A new circle of hell Wait, that’s Catholicism. I forget which one that is. 

I’m not going to say anything about it.

But I love the fact that you’re so daring in this interview, Ken.

Yeah, yeah. 

But you know, it’s coming. Yeah, I think when you go to Your teenage years You kind of have that rebellious part where it’s like Hey, I’d do it as soon as I could not be forced to go to church or whatever. I don’t anymore, right? 

And then, while in the hospital following the accident, I thought to myself, “Hey, whether I go to church regularly or not, this is important to me, and I, you know, kind of reconnected to it in my way, and I’ve had it since then, and I believe it played a role of any fulfillment or things I’ve done that have been positive in some way? I do give a lot of credit to this and that. to my connection with God, and that’s spirituality. 

And then the second thing that came out of that experience, as well as other difficult experiences such as going through you, is aware of the market meltdowns when I was just a few years—I mean, we started this company in 2006, and 2008. We were in a financial crisis, so it was one of the largest. The most difficult ones you’ve encountered since the depression and in the history of markets, right? And so, during each of those times—those difficult times—even in the accident, I realized that we are on this planet for a very short time. As time passes, it appears to be getting shorter and shorter. It’s going by faster in an exponential way for me and for everyone else I include in my life. On the things that I did side to spend time with and on, and then if something started with that, I got into that accident that “hey, I’m not going to have people in my life who you know aren’t productive to me and me to them by the way.”

I’m not saying I’m perfect at that, I think we all have people who still irritate us or whom we keep around for whatever reason longer than we probably should, as you know. But I’m sure it is during those times sometimes when I hit the reset button, it reminded me that hey, this is only here for a short amount of time, and so I can’t create a positive impact on their lives, and they are not for me. Whether it’s business partners, friends, or family stuff, I feel like you know you still have to hang out with your family occasionally.

You’re tied—yeah, you’re tied to him, but 

But in all those areas, you know. 

But you can limit your time with those people too and just put them in a different quadrant of your life. 

Yeah, yeah. 

You know, the places where they’re not as much a part of the core. 

I also have that basic group of people around me that I spend the majority of my time with, and I feel like there’s a very mutual contribution and that’s been mutually beneficial. Officially, yes, but then there are other people, of course. You must simply. You know, kind of go yeah, maybe. We move them over here and see what happens because time is the most precious commodity we have. We can’t buy more of it, and we can’t get more of it, right? So, if we, and I mean it if we. Use it, and if we want, we can choose to be with whomever it is that you know sucks the daylights out of our lives. You know, they take that time and take it from other places in our lives. 

And that could be robbing you of time with your family and friends who truly, truly matter to you, right? So, it’s really important to pick that core group. It’s almost like you fill each other up. Even if you’re depleting, you’re filling each other’s cups, which is a good thing. In a sense, it’s very spiritual because these are people who are constantly… We talk about it all the time. You have a cup, and you know people either fill it or drain it, right? You want people that fill it. 

Does Travis fill your cup?

He does. He does. When we make this decision, I was so excited because I never anticipated that I wanted to do a podcast before, but we just talked about it, and it never even occurred to me that it could happen. 

But the fact that he said yes shows that he saw value in it. And obviously, I saw value in him, right? because we wouldn’t have been thinking about it, and then we have these Tuesdays where it’s like coffee with friends. Then it’s like catching up with people you enjoy, and we don’t have people on here that we’re not interested in talking to. So, I walk away really fulfilled for the day, and it sparks the rest of my week and my creativity. 

Yeah, absolutely. 

I want to make another comment on the “time-sucking business” because no amount of shared DNA means that I have to put up with your ****. And just because it’s not just the time, right? Because they can put you in a mood, they can put a thought in your head like that you think about it for weeks. which doesn’t just take away your time. It takes away your peace of mind, so when you’re with the people you do care about, you’re not present because you’re thinking about this other stupid thing that your cousin said. about some nonsense political topic that no one cares about, and it’s three weeks later and it’s got a little hold on you, and you’re like, “Why is this like this?” Why do I even see that you don’t have to? You don’t have to see that damn person. 

Like, oh, you know, Uncle Billy’s going to be here for Thanksgiving, and he’s going to make all the girls feel uncomfortable. And this, that, and the other thing all tell that guy not to come. And if he can’t fix his behavior, he should come to ruin it for everybody. Uncle Billy doesn’t show up. No one. We don’t appreciate you. Yeah, yeah, **** uncle. Or do I not care? People need to hear that it’s OK to not give someone your time, energy, effort, headspace, or anything else just because you share a last name or grew up in the same house or some other nonsense commonality. I just had to say it because I knew someone needed to hear it.

And then I wanted to tell Carol. Thanks so much. for being in this fantastic relationship that we have together. I’m looking forward to seeing you this weekend. I’m driving down tomorrow. I can hardly wait; I adore personal time. 

By the way, Travis, where are you? 

I’m currently in Oklahoma City. 

Oh, okay, and you’re South Carol; you’re Olympia, right?

Yeah, are you in California right now or not? Are you in Seattle right now? 

I’m in the Seattle area. 

No, he goes back and forth. He goes to California, so I never know exactly where he is, and every time he says he’s taking a flight, I’m like, “I don’t even know where you are taking a flight from or to” right? 

Yeah, yeah, I do travel a lot, but I’m in. Yeah, I’m in Seattle this week. Till Friday so. 

Gotcha, as we’re getting ready to wrap up here. I’ve got a couple of questions for you. One is, “Where can people get a hold of you?” What’s the one place that you want to send them to? The other one I’ll ask you after you answer the first one.

For me, the empirical: do you want me to give out my business information?

You tell the people who are listening where you want them to go. Whatever benefits you the most If it’s LinkedIn, it’s LinkedIn. If it’s empirical, it’s empirical. If it’s both, then you don’t have one place you want them to go.

OK, well, you know. Yes, I have empirical in my email’s case method and on, and it’s, so if you’re interested in motorcycles, that would be Is there any way to contact me? If you have an interest in wealth management, you know we help clients. 

If you’re allowing me to do a little plug, we have clients who are looking for, you know, a comprehensive wealth management experience. We manage client investments. We have a tax group, and we partner with a legal firm. So, we are their investment manager, and we do financial planning and retirement planning. We help manage the photos, but we also do their taxes and estate planning. and we are. We are in a fee-only capacity, so we’re not making commitments of that kind things so a management fee is usually charged, so that’s how we typically assist on the advisory side. And then obviously, if you like Ducatis,

And who doesn’t?

And who doesn’t? Yes, they completed the racing season. Isn’t that, right?  so you want to purchase one. Let’s talk, but 

Second question. 

The second question is: if someone’s struggling right now with wherever they’re at in life, what advice would you have for them?

I would say, without a doubt, don’t give up. And you know there’s always a way out of wherever you are. So, yes, I would encourage them to do everything we’ve discussed. Since you know about this from this interview and discussion.

All of us have gone through difficult times, and so, you know, for me, it was taking the time to again start to dream and create a vision. You are aware if you’re there when I’m struggling or thinking, “Well, what do I want?”  You know I’m not happy with whatever the circumstance is and in whatever area or aspect of my life. Well then, what would be perfect? What is your dream, and how can you focus on it? Then your mind begins to consider alternative routes. That has been my experience.

But reverse-engineering it from the end goal of what you want out of your life. 

I’m not a therapist, so Travis and I don’t play one on TV or do any of that kind of stuff, but I’m just doing what my experience has been. You know when I Hit those. It’s a three-person group, and then you should start thinking about well. What is it I want? I’m not going to muck around. 

 I do notice family, friends, and other people in my life. They sometimes prefer to remain in a depressed, depressive state rather than saying, “Hey, there’s certainly a time for that, but. “Then let’s let it go. Let’s change the environment. Don’t do what you know. Don’t stay in the pit. Let it go

It’s perspective; yeah, the problem is refocusing and changing your perspective.

And when you can get it. We all have downs You’ve had those down times, but, but if you can keep that. You can get it. We all have down. You know those down moments but. If you can keep it. They are brief because your perspective is, you know, high energy and high frequency. And you can get out of it. That was pretty quick. 

Would you say that six weeks is pretty quick or not?

On a personal note: 

On a personal level, you believe that is ******* not.

I believe that everyone, including Travis, requires some downtime. We’ve been going non-stop over the last year, so we have six weeks at the end of the year to kind of regroup and have that moment of creativity. There’s nothing wrong with it. 

There it is. I’ll let my wife know that Carol is fine with it. I thank you so much for being our guest today, Ken. 

You’re going to take six weeks off, is that right? That is what this means.

He did!

Oh, you already did.

the end of the year? Yeah, yeah.  

What are you doing today? Oh, do you want to do something? I was like, “No, nothing is actually on my agenda.” That’s what I’m going to do. There’s a comedian out there. I just heard this. He’s like—I think it’s like an old Bill Burr thing he’s like. They have a way of ******* up a good time, just like girlfriends. Like, what are you doing? What do you want to do Brunch no… No, I don’t want to do brunch. No, I don’t want to talk about this. This salmon acts in this manner. taste like salmon like that. He’s like, “No, nothing is what I had planned.” Something very specific is missing. 

“Nothing is a thing.”

nothing is on my To Do List

You’re yes.  

Check that off by the end. of the day. Thanks again.  

You bet.


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