Before I begin my last blog for 2018, let me just say...

A Mighty Thank You, Stan!

Thank you Stan Lee for teaching us the power of story-telling. More than that, thank you for showing us how to live!

Stanley Martin Lieber, better known to the world as Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel and the father of modern entertainment, was a big influence on me since in high school. His death last November 12, 2018, struck me hard that it is even difficult to talk about it without me sounding depressed. Nonetheless, I'm writing to you about him because he changed the way I see my job as a financial planner. Sounds far-fetch, but let me explain.

I slunk behind a dark mood of introspection following Mr. Lieber's death. But then, the tributes started pouring in, I was slowly being reminded of how great Stan Lee's life was. He had a perfect retirement. He left an indelible legacy. He impacted millions of people. And he showed passion in his work.

And then it struck me. Shouldn't we all strive for an ideal retirement?

As a long-time comic book reader, I am a big fan of Stan Lee, but I am a bigger fan of how he lived his life. Stan Lee lived in the spirit of fulfillment. Asked about how to be happy, Mr. Lee said that he simply loved his work so much and that you should find yours too.

Despite his age, Stan Lee was still occupied with the excitement of telling new stories, creating new characters exploring new ideas, and collaborating with old and new talents.  In his 80s and 90s, Stan Lee's vitamins were his continued foray with storytelling. In contrast, his father had a short life because the man didn’t find his real calling—he didn’t have a reason to live that long, Stan Lee said.

Without a doubt, Stan Lee lived an ideal life simply because he did what he loved to do until the end.

I'm writing to you now with the strongest of convictions that we should all do the same.

The way to get there is to direct yourself to do what you love to do in a long term financial plan--or what I call a Purpose-Driven Financial Planning.

The Purpose-Driven Financial Planning

In my view, however, let us replace retirement planning with another plan—a long-term, purpose-driven planning.

This might be controversial to some, or it might challenge conventional wisdom, but I believe that every person needs to pursue entrepreneurship—or at least make money for something he/she believes in, find it meaningful, passionate about, fulfilling, and is excited about every day.

Doing what you love to do cancels out negativity and the hard work that comes from trying to reach your retirement goals.

The Energy

More importantly, doing what you love to do, fuels success for every other thing. Most people in business who really succeed are the ones who are most passionate about their work. They have a competitive edge (if you can call it that). By empowering what you already love doing, you are in fact creating wealth within you, so everything that comes out of you can multiply with ease and grace.

Financial planning is done in isolation or by a set of pre-conditioned goals—like saving for retirement, education, protection, etc. is like asking the client to save just for the sake of saving. Yes, you will also hear that financial planning needs goals. But what are goals without putting your heart in it? Yes, I would like to save for my retirement, but are you actually excited that you are putting your money into your retirement? Tell me honestly.

Flip the Script

What I’m saying is that you should be putting money where you should be excited. This is where we flip the script. Oftentimes, we distinguish between needs and wants. Needs are something that exists for your survival and comfort. Want is something you buy for your enjoyment, pleasure. Normally, to save money for the future, we control what we want,  and pour our money to what we need—like insurance, healthcare, etc.

The Power of Wants

But we have to advantage of the energy that “wants” gives us. Remember the keyword here: "energy". When it comes to long term financial planning, giving in to what we want is vital to our success. Because our wants empower us to take action and pursue our ultimate goals. We have to be selfish about this kind of planning.

We are therefore responsible to create a financial plan that will create wealth and success to the client, not just a way to dish out a pre-existing menu that we have chosen for them.

The Four Philanthropist

As such, this reminds me of the story of the four philanthropists. The story goes that long ago in a region where slavery is the norm, there is a prison complex that houses a group of men and women enslaved since birth. Despite living in poor conditions, the slaves have gotten used to their life. However, four good philanthropists happen to pass by and saw the slaves’ plight. The first philanthropist noticed that the slaves were drinking dirty water, and so order his men to construct a well that would provide the slaves fresh clean water. He even ordered them to construct aqueducts and pumps.

The second philanthropist felt sorry for the slaves when he saw them eating their masters’ leftovers and so he organized his rich friends to donate food for the slaves for as long as possible.

The third philanthropist ordered new beds and mosquito nets so that the slaves could sleep well.

But the fourth philanthropist knew better. He wasn’t as rich as his three colleagues, but he understood what the slaves really, really want. It’s not the supply of clean water, not better food, or a better place to sleep in.

They wanted freedom.  So the fourth philanthropist held out his hand and brought out a key and opened the prison gates.

Financial planners could fall into the trap of acting like the three philanthropists, planning on something that the person may need, but not really want. In the same way, you may buy insurance for something you need, but not really want. You may have a goal—but do you really want that goal? Or was that goal something that was thrust into you, or society expects from you?

Challenging Convention

We are defying a lot of conventional wisdom here precisely because we are following a more fundamental rule of life: follow what you love and everything will take care of itself.

Sure you need to plan for your retirement, your next car purchase, your children’s education; but after you plan for your protection and your emergency funds, you need to fund the capitalization of your business that you love. And that my friend should be the replacement of your retirement planning.

Retirement planning takes years, and so should your purpose-driven planning. You have to know yourself first.

I firmly believe that you will find success if you do the thing that you love. And yes, I define the word success to include financial success, financial freedom. We can all succeed in a business that you are passionate about.

And your success in that line of work would then create the wealth needed to fund your next goals—your children’s education, other long term pursuits, and yes, your retirement—for as long as you need it.

Stan Lee never Retired

Stan Lee never retired, not that he was never tired, it was because he loved his work so much he need not retire. And he lived a long prosperous, fulfilling life because of it. Why not believe that we deserve the same fortune. All it takes is to forget what other people say expects from you or demands you to do, and do what you have been planted on this earth to do.

This new, alternative to retirement plan considers the fact that money should be working for you, not only through your investments but also with your own business. Your goal will be to build a well-oiled machine that is earning passive income for you. And the earning potential of this income stream is strengthened by the fact that you created it and you funded it with your passion.

Thus, my best hope for all of us is to find that inspiration--our true love, as it may--in our entrepreneurial endeavors. Moreover, may we be bold enough to go after what we really want in life. for fortune favors the bold indeed.

May the next few years be a period to soaring higher. May our finances multiply. And may we find our abundance from things that makes us happier!

 God Speed to our New Year!

And as Stan Lee would say, with unperturbed gusto,

EXCELSIOR!