Wealth Podcast Post

Embracing Change with Michael Kay

George Grombacher October 7, 2022

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Embracing Change with Michael Kay

LifeBlood: We talked about embracing change, how to successfully transition from full-time work to retirement, how to lead a healthy and fulfilled life, the right questions to ask, and how to get the support you need, with Michael Kay, Founder of Chapter X, Life Coach, and podcast host. 

Listen to learn how community can help you through tough transitions! 

You can learn more about Michael at MichaelFKay.com, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Michael Kay

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:15
weapon. This is George G. And the time is right. welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Michael. Okay, Michael, are you ready to do this?

Unknown Speaker 0:22
I am ready.

george grombacher 0:23
You’re born ready for time you’ve been on the show. So thank you so much. And welcome back. Michael is the Michael is a financial advisor. He’s the founder of financial life focus. He’s the founder of Chapter X. It’s a community of and for men who are exploring what provides meaning and purpose. It’s also the host of the Chapter X podcast. Michael, tell us a little about your personal life more about your work and why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:49
Okay, well, I guess we could start with with the real easy stuff first, which is, I transferred ownership of financial life focus to my partner on January 1, and I am in this stage of an i It’s not I can’t even call it semi retirement, because I’m pretty well there, with the exception of the occasional client meeting or conversation with staff or others who want to talk to me. So my time now is, it is my Chapter X. So I’m spending a lot of time in creating content for Chapter X, which is, as you said, for men who are transitioning to this next stage of life, of exploration of who am I, when I’m no longer my job? How do I find meaning and purpose? What do I do with myself? In this last year, I became a certified life coach. And in this last year, or so, I reengaged in, in music, which I haven’t done in over 50 years. And I’m currently playing with two different groups, one to a local Symphony Orchestra and one a jazz group ensemble. So my life is full i On a personal level, I have three granddaughters to a local one is in Chicago, which we just came back from from visiting her. And we’re getting ready to celebrate our miracle babies second birthday. And she was born at 24 weeks gestation, that of one pound seven ounces, and spent 97 days in the NICU. And she is a she’s a miracle baby. So we’re we’re moving in on her second birthday within the next next couple of weeks. And my oldest is six in kindergarten. And our newest baby out in Chicago is seven months old. And the Smiley is baby ever. So life is good. Yeah.

george grombacher 3:05
Outstanding. Yeah. How long? Have you been considering the transition? Because you spent a long time as a financial advisor. So when when did you decide to transition? Tell us little bit about that?

Unknown Speaker 3:19
Well, Jeremy and I had created a succession plan, and, and worked on that for years. And we started to move into it over time, and we accelerated it. And it was during during COVID Er, and it just made sense to me. Although it was hard, you know, when I’ve been working literally, since I was 12 years old, and not as a financial advisor. But I’ve been working literally since I was 12 years old. And the idea of my work life, coming to an end was emotionally destabilizing, even though I’ve been mentoring and coaching people in you know, clients in the financial side of it. There’s this other side of it, and that’s where I think I got really excited about the idea of life coaching. Because without, you know the focus on money. So yeah, so we accelerated it, we pulled the trigger, as of one 22. And as I said, I go in occasionally have a meeting occasionally. But most of my life now is exploring and learning and growing. And in coaching. I’ve been doing some coaching for some financial advisors who are really trying to explore changes in their life changes in their practice, and that’s been really quite nice. And then, as you mentioned, I just kicked off a coaching program for Chapter X. And we’ll see how that goes.

george grombacher 5:08
I love it. Congratulations on, on on all of it. What What instrument do you play? Michael,

Unknown Speaker 5:15
I am a trumpet player, okay. And I was classically trained to my Early life and family of musicians. And I walked away from playing when I was 18. And never touched it again. And one day, I just got inspired and said, I need to do this again. And I found a teacher and been playing. So it’s been, it’s hard work mentally, it’s a mental game, you know, just like anything else. The idea that I know where I was, I know what my proficiency level was. And now 50 years later, trying to recoup some of that or figure out where you are, was a challenge. And it still is a challenge, especially now that I just started to play with a local symphony orchestra. And that’s a whole different, it’s a whole different ballgame, as they say, just because of the, the precision of it. And you know, someone and they I showed up a rehearsal, and they put the vortex eight symphony in front of them, you know, like, so? Yeah.

george grombacher 6:30
Nice. Yeah. So with Chapter X, there’s obviously a big enough problem that you have devoted time and attention and resources to solving. Tell me about that.

Unknown Speaker 6:44
Well, the one thing that I found in the decades of working as a financial life planner, was the fact that what had already spent all this time saying, Okay, I want to, I’m saving for retirement. Okay, well, now what? What does retirement mean to you? You know, and I, and you hear the whole thing from Oh, I, I want to I just want to fish, or I want to play golf, or I want to do nothing. And but there’s so many considerations as to what this this chapter of our life looks like. Because typically, if you’re retiring sometime in your 60s, or early 70s, early to mid 70s, and depending on what your health is, okay, what you know, how, how well do you sleep? How well do you eat? How well do you take care of your body? I love you exercise, you know, what are the things that you’re doing that are that promote good health and longevity? And, and then you match that with this huge shift. Think about a George, from the time that we are young we are we are taught to work hard to succeed, climb up the ladder, do the things that are going to make you successful? You know, it’s almost, you know, it’s almost about domination. Okay, you’ve got to be better than the other guy. Right? All these things that go into building a successful career. And I put that in quotes, because everyone defines success very differently. But it but for many people who say, Okay, well, I, you know, my idea is to make as much money as possible, climb the highest on the ladder that I can. Okay, now you take that away. And what do you what, what do you take away, you take away prestige, you take away social connections, you take away a stream of income, you, you take away the thing that you’re occupied with for the bulk of your day. Now you’ve got this blank page, and what do you need to what do you need to do you need to create relationships. I had a fascinating, I recorded a fascinating podcast yesterday with Quinn Kennedy, who’s a PhD and researcher in aging. And the things are so clear in terms of, you know, what you should be eating, at the types of exercise and, you know, things to stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s and to be able to live as healthy healthfully as possible. And I’ve had many guests on the podcast, who are, you know, exercise gurus, who are holistic physicians, things like that. One of them is they David Bernstein, who is who just retired as a as a gerontologist. And he dealt with the aging population, and what we learn and he’s written two fabulous books around that. So I’ve really learned so much about what does it take to live your best life? But now you have this time to be thinking in wordly How can I give more of myself through what I’ve learned, what I, what I’m doing? What’s going to bring joy to my life? And I think what we come to the point is, once we, you know, we raise our families, we do all these things we accumulate. It’s not about things. It’s about connection. And how do we connect? How do we relearn how to connect with people? Right? You know, it’s, it becomes this whole unknown, I’ve never had to figure out how to find friends. You know, most of the people that I’m are, they’re still working. So it becomes this challenge of moving outside of your comfort zone. And, granted, it’s uncomfortable, right? So it’s that acknowledgement of saying, Okay, well, what do I do with that? Well, I tell I tell people, no one ever died from being uncomfortable. Right? I think I think we even talked about that once before, it’s like, you’re going to be out of your comfort zone, you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing for decades, now you’re doing something else? What does that actually mean? How do you create your day, your week, your month? That brings you joy? And what are those aspects? So, you know, that’s really where the focus is. And it became abundantly clear that men

Unknown Speaker 11:33
especially are terrible at it by because we’re the, you know, We’re the 100, we’ve been taught the hunter gatherers, we were, we’ve not been socialized. You know, women, women, by and large, know how to create relationships. Men are about domination, especially in the workplace, or on the battlefield, or, you know, unless you’re on the same team, you’re the enemy. Okay? So it’s really a shift of mindset. So it’s been super fascinating to deal with, but it’s, these are big life issues that, you know, the idea now that you hear is work life balance, well, work life balance, maybe until recently was never a thing it was, you work your butt off, as long as you can do as well as you can come home exhausted, get up in the morning and do it again. But now, yeah, I think some sanity in terms of looking at your life in a more rounded level of what do I need for my health? What do I need for my sanity? Right? And is this really what I want? So Chapter X really focuses on, you know, asking those questions. And I lay myself completely open, I had times where I was despondent, and I share that with the community. There were times that things were wonderful, or things that I’ve observed. So that’s really what you know what I’ve been doing, I added the tide, the podcast, and I invite the members of the community to come onto a Zoom meeting once a month, and we share openly and vigorously about our experiences. And it’s been it’s been really interesting. I’ve learned so much, and hopefully the people in the community are as well.

george grombacher 13:35
I’m sure that they are, think that there’s so much value in, in asking that question, is this really what I want? And it seems so obvious, but we just know, like, who? Who am I to ask that? How indulgent of me I’ve got work to do, I’ve got responsibilities, right? So we don’t do that. Right. And, and at our own peril.

Unknown Speaker 14:01
Exactly. So we’ve come to the end have we come to the end of our work life, whether and there are many people who come to the end of their work life, not by choice, but you know, they get, they get a package from their companies and say, you know, your services are no longer required. We appreciate the fact that you’ve been here for 35 years, but you’re done. And they’re thrown into retirement, there are people that have that leave because of health issues or the business goes out of business or, or whatever it is, there’s there’s multiple reasons why people leave, or that they just come to that place where they say I just don’t want to do this anymore. And you know, I’ve been completely blessed and you know, having first part of my career as a as an accountant or a CPA, and then going into financial services and finding life planning, and creating a firm around the concepts of the whole person. Have a values drive big decisions, rather than it’s just about the money, it’s just about the money. And so coming at creating Chapter X out of this, this, this idea of how do we make this next chapter because we don’t know how long we have, right? And we but the one thing we do know is that this chapter is not the is not the longest part of our life. Right, we don’t know how long we’re going to have our health, we don’t know how long we’re going to have our cognitive abilities, we don’t know how long we’ll have mobility, you know, we don’t know any of these things. So, you know, why not make what we have as vigorous, as robust, and as important as possible. And all the research points, clearly to the idea of, it starts with connection, you know, connecting with other human beings and giving back to the world. And it’s not about money, it’s about how you can impact others, through your experiences, through your knowledge through things that you care about. And then making sure you have time to go for a walk, you know, or hit and hit the gym, or make sure you’re doing the things that are provide that, you know, so it’s, it feels, in certain ways, very indulgent. It’s like, okay, I’m, how do I map out my debt? How do I want to do for myself today, but the reality is, is I need to be healthy, so I can give my best to my family, to my children, to my grandchildren, my wife, and to the other people in my life that I that I love and care about, whether they’re dear, dear close friends, or people in the Chapter X community, or someone that I need, you know, online in a coffee shop? Is that how do I bring the best of myself forward every day?

george grombacher 17:05
So in developing the program, I imagine it was harder to figure out what to leave out, I’m sure that you weren’t trying to figure out, um, you know, geez, I wish I had more things to talk about. And I believe it’s a four month program, how did you? How did you sort of distill everything down?

Unknown Speaker 17:21
Yeah, you know, it’s, it is not, it’s four months, because it really takes time to kind of break through certain levels, there are definite tiers of decision making. And because, you know, the first step is kind of being comfortable where you are, you know, being comfortable in the discomfort, right, and being able to acknowledge that, and then it’s kind of these different ways of looking at and mapping out, and testing and trying. So my belief is, is that within the four month period, you should have a pretty, pretty good ramp up to going forward. If it can’t be done in four months, there’s probably other issues involved that are beyond the scope of a coach. You know, there are people who are suffering from depression, and other levels of other issues that are not really coachable. And those are things that have to be looked at, they could be medical, you know, they could be emotional. And those are the things that people really need to be like, Okay, well, this is not in the purview of a life coach, this isn’t the purview of a therapist, or have, you know, a psychiatrist or something else so. So that those are the kinds of those are the things and it’s not the kind of thing that in terms of coaching, where you can say, Okay, we’re going to we’re going to do this, we’re going to coach for, you know, three times a week. You know, it takes time to synthesize, practice, analyze, and kind of get those things together. So back then, so I’ve kind of structured the program along that line. But it’s also flexible enough that it’s going to respond to what the needs of the individuals are. So we’ll see we’ll see how it works out, and what kind of response I get.

george grombacher 19:19
Yeah, well, that, that that makes a lot of sense to me. And you’ve mentioned a couple times how what makes life rich and rewarding and fulfilling are the connections that we make. And that reminds me of the famous Harvard grant study that is the longest running study on what makes a happy life and it’s exactly what you described, so that you have that community element to the program, I think, from my perspective is what will make it a really, really, really successful program because they’ll be able to go through no doubt coursework and independent learning but then be able to connect and learn from and teach other folks who are in similar state Sure, yeah,

Unknown Speaker 20:01
you know, I see, you know, people who are coming from coming to the Chapter X community who are their attorneys, their doctors, their business executives, they’re, you know, from all different walks of life, but they all come with one thing in common. They’ve never done this before. Right? None of us have. And, you know, this realization, or, you know, coming to the idea that this is not, you can’t do this is not something that someone has mastered, you know, that you come in with mastery, you know, you have mastery at the thing you do. And you go as then you become a novice in in the in Chapter X. So, how do you change your mindset from mastery, to being a novice, and saying, Well, what was some of the excitement you had? Remember your first job? How exciting was that as a novice of learning, of growing, of changing of adapting, and becoming from sheer novice, and growing in your mastery, this is the same idea. You know, so what we what I hope to will happen is that people who go through the coaching program will come out with a feeling of mastery, or at least towards mastery, as they come through this because they’ve looked at all these different areas of themselves. But you know, that there’s, there’s, there’s a huge gap, right between coming from this place of mastery, whether you’re a physician or an attorney, or whatever, you know, you get up in the morning, you know, what you’re going to do, whether you’re a writer, whether it doesn’t really an executive, you know, your job. And now that’s gone. Now, what do you know? Right? You don’t know a lot, right? You might know, I gotta find a pickleball game someplace. But I know a lot. What have I said, Well, favorite, one of my favorite stories, and years ago, client, small business owner came into our office, and he was going to sell his business. And I asked the question, so what do you do in retirement? And he says, I’m gonna play golf. And his wife looked at him and said, Hey, I just want you to play golf two days a week, but then two days a week, you’re gonna get a part time job, you’re gonna volunteer two days a week, and the seventh day will be a wild card. And he looks at her and goes, okay. When people you know, when I’ve heard, and I’ve heard it, countless times, I want to play golf. Right? 365 days a year. Right? Seven days a week. 52 is really, year after year. If that’s all you’re gonna do, that’s all you want to do. You know, maybe it sounds good in their head. But the reality of it is, is a departure.

george grombacher 23:21
Got to embrace that beginner’s mindset. Coming in with a fresh set of eyes and you’re willing to engage. I love it. Well, Michael, thank you so much for coming back on where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with the Chapter X community and program?

Unknown Speaker 23:38
Sure, well, you can find more about me. I will be workshops I’ll do talks, whatever. I at WWW dot Michael F k.com. All one word. And the Chapter X is there the coaching informations there and its environment.

george grombacher 23:59
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did show, Michael, your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to Michael F. k.com. That’s mi ch AE l fky.com. And check out the great resources check out the Chapter X podcast wherever you listen to your podcast. And if this is something that piques your interest, definitely check into it because, like most things in life, it’s probably not going to happen on its own. So thanks again, Michael. Thanks, George. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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