Welcome to the Life Unlimited Podcast with Larry Heller. You deserve complete financial advice so you can confidently live your life your way. For life. Now, let’s get into this week’s podcast episode.
Matt: Hello and welcome to another Life Unlimited podcast with Larry Heller. Today, Larry’s going to interview Jerome Meyers, a premier coach who works with NEOs, newly exited operators, business owners who’ve just sold their practice and are having an existential crisis. Larry, take it away.
Larry: Thanks for that intro, Matt. Jerome what is the founders founder exit paradox?
Jerome: Man, it’s the way we describe it is, is all the feelings that you would get when you have an existential crisis, but it’s brought on by something that is considered a major achievement. So think selling your business, think whatever major accomplishment, [00:01:00] retirement, whatever you’re, you may be going through in a way that everybody sees You and thinks. Oh man, everything is great. Everything should be good. But on the inside, you’re having questions. You’re having doubt. You’re struggling with why you don’t feel like everything is great.
Larry: Is this occurring when you’re saying occurs after the founder has sold the business?
Jerome: 100%. It is always, it doesn’t matter how well you plan, there’s always going to be this uneasiness about stepping into the new space. And a lot of people feel like they might be relieved when they sell their company, maybe because they fell out of love with it or some experience have caused them to want to do something else. But we found that there’s always. this experience that we call the founder’s exit paradox, where they’re questioning whether or not they made the right decision and a bunch of other things when, post exit.
Larry: Okay. [00:02:00] And there are what, eight, eight exits of a founder. What are they?
Jerome: Yeah. So the first exit is when someone stops being an employee for a lot of people that’s leaving corporate America. We call that breaking the golden handcuffs from there, you exit from being the chief everything officer.
And so a lot of folks say, Hey, I’m the CEO. But when you think of a CEO, they usually have folks reporting to them. But when most people go and begin their new venture, they’re everything. They got to do everything from going to office depot to get the paper to delivering. The products that they sold to people and a lot of time building it.
And so the next exit is getting out of that space so that you actually become the production manager, where you have people doing the things for you on a daily basis. And so then the next exit happens when you start hiring people that can do the jobs better than you can. And this is when you truly become a CEO.
And so you have somebody who is managing the workers who are doing the work. The other way I like to [00:03:00] say it is things get done without you having to tell people to get them done. And exit four is when you fire yourself from being the CEO. And usually this person is seen as the owner of the company. And so while you may have owned the company before you were the owner, the employee.
The copy maker and insert whatever other tasks need to be done. Now, when you fire yourself from being CEO, the person who is a CEO actually reports into you and you can make those strategic decisions, then comes the place where you install governance. And so some people skip this step and they’ll go straight to exit from being an owner.
But having a board in place allows the company to scale. It gives you more of a steady structure. And this is a place where we have seen people unravel or disconnect their identity from the business, right? As the CEO, or as the owner, you spend 15, 20, 25 years building a [00:04:00] thing. Your name is synonymous with the business in a lot of instances.
And so when you become chairman of the board, it’s your ability to step back and tend to see the business as a product, the ability to see your business as a product is one of the biggest differentiators that we’ve seen in people who have a really hard time post exit and the folks that don’t, then there’s actually, you want to jump in?
Larry: What do you mean by product?
Jerome: When most people think about their business, they think about the thing that their business sells as the product. When you become the chairman of the board, the business is actual product. So you can buy and sell businesses. The mindset that you can buy and sell businesses and the businesses are the product that you buy and sell versus the products that the business sell being the things that you buy and sell is a mind shift.
It’s a change. It’s a shift that Makes the difference between the person who [00:05:00] I think really falls into a deep hole post sell because the way that I’ve best heard it described is this like losing a child, right? Like they put their heart and soul into it. And this is something very different than that.
Larry: It’s, I got a, I got a few things to unwrap, but when you finish the, there’s one more exit.
Jerome: Yeah. So exit six, actually two more. So exit six is when you actually exit the business. And so you’re chairman of the board and you, you decide we’re going to sell the business as a whole. And so the whole business is gone now, you’ve got this financial windfall. Some people might liking it to winning the lottery. And so you’ve got all of this money. So what do you do with it now? And people will do a bunch of different things. The thing that I think. is probably been most advantageous is instead of trying to figure out how to make the nest egg [00:06:00] last, they invest it in other businesses so that they generate income.
They generate cashflow from the asset that they got from unlocking the value of their business. And then the last one, when they have the cashflow thing figured out, hopefully they still have the nest egg. They can start doing the philanthropic things that will make their life significant in a, Grand way.
I think so many people chase financial freedom and they forget that there is more to it than that. They think financial freedom is the F they should be chasing or pursuing. But fulfillment is and the only way that I’ve found that you can find fulfillment is through positively impacting the lives of other people.
So exit eight is building the Whatever the philanthropic vehicle is for you in order to impact the lives of other people and set it up in a way where it will live on past you.
Larry: Okay. Yeah. So let’s talk about some of that. Cause I’ve been through [00:07:00] this with a lot of clients. I have a little bit of a different tilt on it for some people. Uh, but and are CEOs of, of larger corporations, or this could be for someone that started a small business or even a business like myself, which is named after me. Is it the same for all the different types of businesses?
Jerome: I haven’t found that it varies whether you’ve got a hundred thousand dollar company or a hundred million dollar company or a billion dollar company.
Like, the only thing that I think has a big difference or impact on it is how long they’ve been doing it. Somebody who’s been in something for less than five years has less of an attachment to it than when they’ve been doing it for 20, 25 years.
Larry: All right. So we actually send a, um, a book from a coach called uh, retirement heaven that addresses a lot of the similar things that you’ve addressed there.
And one of the things that they addressed in there, it doesn’t happen actually [00:08:00] immediately immediately, they’ve got all these other things that playing golf or traveling and doing that. And this feeling doesn’t come about for sometimes years later. Do you find that to be the case or do you think most of it happens pretty quickly?
Jerome: So I think the honeymoon phase post exit varies very, pretty drastically. It’s, you know, from a couple of days to maybe a couple of years. But what I found in the folks that we’ve worked with is that it’s all about. If they had it planned out, if they don’t have hobbies, if they don’t have, uh, identity outside of the position when the position is gone, it happens almost immediately for the folks who’ve got relationships with friends and they’ve got this bucket list of things they want to accomplish and they’ve had this list of things they wanted to buy and now they can buy the things and they want to enjoy the things.
Those folks spend a little more time [00:09:00] enjoying the exit success, but there always comes a point, regardless of who the person is, where they want to do something where they know for a fact that their life matters, they want to know that people are going to fight over the opportunity to carry their casket.
Larry: Yeah, I, yeah, I, I don’t, we’ve had a a lot of these, a lot of these either corporate executives with years of experience or business owners, uh, and we obviously plan for the financial and the cash flow and all that is taken care of and they have all these dreams and the, and their goals and some of them have been retired for 7, 8 , 9 years and have transitioned Greatly. And the ones that have transitioned greatly are the ones that had plans or had some other activities and knew that was going to happen. We have a client that had spent, I think, almost 40 years at a major bank. So it’s a personal friend. And he, he had a [00:10:00] consulting business set up not because he really needed the money, but he wanted to stay, you know, connected have some type of purpose is what we’re doing. So I agree with you a lot on this. And the question is, how can you better, you know, better prepare for, you know, for this time?
Jerome: Yeah. If one is knowing that you’re going to go through the six centers of doubt on the backside of it, because at the end of the day, you are stepping into a new world. This is a new phase of your life. And all of the other experiences that have happened are great. But unless you figure out how they fit into the next thing, because you’ve got to answer the question, what’s next? What’s next? The beach, the golf course, driving cars, backpacking through Europe, walking the Appalachian trail.
Like those things are only going to last for so long. At the end of the day, if you’ve built something big, if [00:11:00] you’ve been at the helm of something big, you’re going to want to build or create something else. Now, where you channel that energy, I think is a question that all of us probably need a little bit of help getting answers to, especially when you want to mix it in with all the things that you’ve done in the past.
Larry: Right. So can you, can you share an experience or a client experience where you’ve kind of work with somebody who’s gone through this and some of the steps that you’ve done to to make it happen?
Jerome: Yeah. And so our process is the same for everybody because they, everybody wants to individualize attention and then they want to walk away with a plan on what to do next.
And so what we do is we bring folks in for a two hour interview. And in that interview, we touch on six. The six areas that we deem are important for a centered life. And so the first one is self image. Next is relationship, then work, health, prosperity, and significance. We do the, and we believe that those [00:12:00] move in order.
So when working on your self image. We want to understand all we want the comprehensive set of data so that we understand exactly how they got to the place that they are, the things that anchor their identity, the things that they feel are superpowers, the way that they interact with other people. And so as we go through the interview, we’re teasing out.
Answers to these questions so that we can formulate it, review it, analyze it, and then come back and present a report to them that gives them a strategy for what we believe is next, a strategy to eliminate the friction to accomplishing it. The giving the way that I describe it, Larry, is it’s really hard to read the jar when you’re inside of read the label on the jar when you’re inside the jar.
And so giving them this. Third party perspective, I think gives them some clarity that they may be missing because they’ve been so close to it.
Larry: Right. Yeah. So, [00:13:00] but without, without naming a client, I mean, for just the audience can kind of get an experience. Can you, what, is there something that pops up for somebody that was in a position and some of the strategies that you were able to put in place?
Jerome: Yeah, I’m, let me think about one that wouldn’t be easily identifiable. So we had a client that came to us who was buying a lot of cars traveling all over the world and really struggling with What were he was going to do next? It was just like, I wanted to do this my entire life and now I finally can.
And so he was on the hedonic treadmill. And so we spent time with him and started asking questions about what really mattered for him. And what we found was that the thing that mattered most to him was access to education. He was somebody who went to the military, struggled with [00:14:00] the. Traditional education system.
So he went into the military, learned on his own, practiced things, built a really large business, contracted back to the government, and on the backside of that had his exit. When he got to this place, he realized that the doors that he wanted to open were for folks who didn’t really fit into the education system as the majority of people go through.
And so his new venture that he’s working on and building is to help people get access to the education outside of what they would normally get in the school system. And not only is he working directly with that group, but he’s also putting together a program that helps mentor the parents so that they can help make sure that the children get exposure to the things that he probably wish he would have had exposure to. And that is something that he’s super excited [00:15:00] about and it’s bringing the market and it’s checking the boxes and kind of keeping him grounded because I mean, he’s, he could be continuing to do a lot of the things that could eventually be self destructive to him and as well.
Larry: So by going through this process, you’re able to identify what is going to be his passion, what is going to get him excited through the day, meaningful purpose in life all those things that they had while they were running the business.
Jerome: That’s correct.
Larry: Okay. So let’s talk about, you know, talk about this red pill. What is, what is the red pill and why should you take it? Sounds a little, sounds like it could be fun.
Jerome: Yeah. So there, there was a movie in 1999. I typically call it a documentary called the matrix. And in that movie, the main character Neo is posed with the choice of taking a red pill or blue pill. And if you took the red pill, it was going to Reveal the truth to him and take him on a [00:16:00] journey where he could actually live out a life of his wildest dreams. And so we encourage people to take the red pill and specifically to walk into their truth. What I’ve found, Larry, is that a lot of people who’ve built things tend to hide a little bit. They tend to be people pleasers. They, they tend to want. To present a specific facade to the world so that they’re liked. And that’s a challenge when you get to this place where you reach financial freedom. And they were only doing it because they feel like it will lead to more dollars. But when you reach this place of financial freedom, I think it gives you the option to do the things and live the way without all of the constraints that people who are counting on the person to like them to give them money has to, or chooses to. And then you can actually say, Hey, this is the problem that I want to solve. And I’m putting together a group of people to solve that problem, which [00:17:00] is what I think the significance play is, which is level six of the red pill.
And our goal here is to help people walk in that space and be courageous about it because sometimes we see a problem, but we don’t want to say it’s a problem. We don’t, we’re not courageous about it. And so the goal here is to help people be more courageous and step up and be that leader for things that may be a little controversial, but at the end of the day, they’re sharing and living out their values.
And there’s no question about what they believe.
Larry: So do you think this process can help before you’re actually getting to this point? Cause I know a lot of times I’ll, I’ll talk to, you know, executives, a business owners, and they’re like, Oh, I got it all planned out. I’m going to be playing golf 20 times a week.
I’m going to be helping with this. Charity, I’m going to be doing nothing and I’m going to be happy that I can get up and do nothing from people who have worked 60, 70 hour weeks. And I’m like, [00:18:00] okay, but doesn’t always work work out that way. But is it too early to have this kind of conversations before? And as I have to go through this after they’ve retired to really get a feeling of it not working before they can go through this exercise with you.
Jerome: Larry, I think there are two groups of people, the ones who always say this will never happen to me, and then they have to touch the stove in order for them to find out that it’s hot, and the folks who want to learn from the mistakes and understanding or knowledge of other people.
And so for the people who are in that latter group of they want to learn from other people. Pre planning is always better than post planning, specifically because it keeps you from going so deep down in the trench when you’re on the other side of it, because I will tell you, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re going to have some experience with the founder’s exit paradox.
There’s no way around it. And the better and more prepared you are, because you have a plan, you’ve been intentional about what post [00:19:00] exit looks like for you, you won’t experience it at the same intensity as somebody who walks into it and gets blindsided.
Larry: I love that. I love that analogy. I’m not exiting business anytime soon, but I’ll keep that in mind when I get when, when I get to that point. So what is the most important thing for someone who recently left their job?
Jerome: To find, to figure out what’s next. That is the thing that’s because we are so achievement driven because we’re so goal driven and that has been the thing that has allowed us to achieve the success that we have. If you don’t have a place to channel that energy, it will become self destructive if you think about a nuclear plant.
If the load isn’t taken off the nuclear plant it begins to self implode that and that creates a tremendous amount of collateral damage. We are just like those plants. We’ve got to have a place to direct that energy and there’s, but so much golf, so much fishing, so many beach trips that you can [00:20:00] do before the people closest to you, those relationships that we talk about start to be negatively impacted from it.
Larry: Yeah, well, one of the actually part of it is losing all those business relationships. And you know, how do you replace all those relationships that are gone as well in, in your life? And sometimes they might’ve been your only relationships other than your immediate family.
Jerome: Yeah. Unfortunately, men tend to play in a sandbox with their friends.
Right. And so whoever’s in the sandbox, you’re my friend and we’re playing. And so what we really encourage people to do, and this is your question is a great one because we want to encourage people to network intentionally. So that they’re cultivating relationships outside of the workplace. So when they exit, they won’t feel like everything and everybody left.
At the end of the day, you, if you only have relationships at work, and those are the only people you spend time with, you, you be. You’re in this echo chamber, right? [00:21:00] You don’t have any understanding of what’s going on in the world. Your exposures, your experiences are all the same. And I think diversity is one of the best things that we can have in our life.
Larry: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’re lucky enough that we do all the financial planning for them and put everything together. Most of them can figure out, uh, you know, they have more than enough money to live. They could do some charity things, but trying to get, figuring out the purpose, the emotions, what’s going to, you say next, I mean, figuring out what’s, what’s next and especially people are living longer, living healthier, living longer.
And if they, if they’re retiring earlier, they got a long time in front of them. You know, the, having something like this, like this program can, it can help and maybe do it before they kind of go down into the trenches and they have to build themselves way back up. So, any final words you want to give our listening audience out there?
Jerome: I would just love to end on a note of telling them that their dreams should be [00:22:00] real. And, you know, I don’t know when the last time they heard something like that, but the fact of the matter is you’ve built amazing things, and I don’t think it stops with whatever your last exit is. And so if folks are interested in learning more about the Founders Exit Paradox, they can go to TheExitParadox.com, and we’ve got a free white paper that folks can download and learn more about this. Struggle that many founders have post exit.
Larry: Great. Thank you so much today, Jerome, for joining us. This is a real important information, uh, for those of you out there that are close or, or have already even sold a business or retired as a corporate executive it can happen to, it will, according to Jerome, happen to you at certain period of time.
So plan ahead for this. So thanks again, Jerome, for joining us today.
Jerome: Larry, this was awesome. Thanks for having me.
Matt: Thanks for listening to another Life Unlimited podcast with your host, Larry Heller. If you wanna know more about anything that we [00:23:00] talked about in the podcast today, please make sure that you go to the show notes for all of the links for all of the stuff that we talked about today.And if you know somebody who truly wants to live a life unlimited, please make sure you go to heller wealth management.com.