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April Is National Financial Literacy Month

John D. Richardson

John D. Richardson is a financial planner who has been providing sound financial advice to his clients since 2005. His primary focus is to help people align their financial decisions with their values and truths to live enriching lives. As a Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) and a Life and Annuities Certified Professional (LACP), John advises clients on retirement planning, investment planning, and risk management. He serves as a NAIFA leader and has held several leadership roles at the local, state, and national levels.


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • John D. Richardson talks about his personal history and the origin of his nickname JDR
  • How John got started in the financial services industry 
  • Embracing change and finding alignment in your life and career
  • Why should financial advisors maintain authenticity and transparency? 
  • John speaks about his involvement with NAIFA
  • The importance of assuming leadership roles 
  • What is the impact of the Leadership in Life Institute (LILI)?
  • John’s insight on time management 
  • Why John is involved in politics

In this episode…

Financial services is a diverse industry with many possible career paths. Some professionals venture into the insurance space while others prefer to advise on personal investments. Yet some finance professionals struggle to identify their passions and choose a company that aligns with their values. How can you find satisfaction in your career and begin serving clients effectively? 

NAIFA leader John Richardson experienced similar struggles. For years, he tried to take his career in the financial services industry to the next level with little success. After joining multiple industry associations, John built strategic alliances with other professionals, delegated areas he was no longer interested in, and added value to clients by tapping into his expertise and remaining authentic. When you identify your professional strengths, you can grow your leadership and service clients with transparency, professionalism, and care. 

On this episode of Advisor Today, Chris Gandy and Suzanne Carawan sit down with financial planner John D. Richardson to discuss his secrets for thriving in the financial services industry. John explains how he got started in the financial services industry, the value of being authentic and transparent as a financial advisor, his involvement with NAIFA, and his insights on time management.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, or NAIFA, the #1 association for producers in financial services.

At NAIFA, we enhance professional skills, promote ethical conduct, and advocate for legislative and regulatory environments.

By joining NAIFA, you gain access to a partnership that elevates your performance while providing greater purpose to your professional work. NAIFA members are happier, make more money, and stay in the business longer.

Get in touch with NAIFA and learn more about how to join NAIFA by visiting NAIFA.org.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:02 

Welcome to NAIFA's Advisor Today podcast series, where we focus on how financial advisors work, live and give to their local communities and our greater financial services industry. Now, let's get started with the show.

Chris Gandy 0:21 

everyone, I'm your co-host Chris Gandy with our wonderful co-host, Suzanne Carawan, and welcome to Advisors Today's podcast, where we feature some of the brightest and best in the industry as it deals with our NAIFA family. So with that being said, we have a wonderful guest today, and I'm super excited to interview him and those out there, bring out your pens, and get ready to take some notes. We have a wonderful guest. But before we go to our wonderful guest in the introduction, Suzanne, can you share with us our sponsor for today's podcast?

Suzanne Carawan 0:53 

Yeah, sure. Well, today we are sponsored by the LUTCF, so a lot of people do not know that NAIFA has brought this back this entire designation that many people get early in their careers, really jumpstart them to success. NAIFA's brought it completely back in-house, we've overhauled the program, we've revitalized it, and it has relaunched now open for registration. So if something if you're out there and you're listening, you don't have that LUTCF might be something you want to dive into starting now and make it a goal for 2024.

Chris Gandy 1:25 

Wonderful. All right, Suzanne, well let you do the honors of introducing our guests for today's podcast. And then we'll jump right into it.

Suzanne Carawan 1:33 

Well, today we have one of our best, I think everybody always says that about John D. Richardson. And as a matter of fact, I just called him John a couple of minutes ago. And he's like, well, I never call him that because he is known to us as JDR. So effectually. And we know John is JDR within the walls of NAIFA. And if you don't know him, you need to sell as we wanted to spotlight him and all the good work that he is doing for NAIFA and has been doing for quite a long time. So with that, John, how long have you been a NAIFA member?

John Richardson 2:00 

So I've been NAIFA's member as long as I've been in the business. So 18 years.

Suzanne Carawan 2:05 

Coming up on 20. All right.

Chris Gandy 2:09 

So John, it's great to see you. Thanks. It looks like you're standing around looking at the snowing behind you because it's completely white.

John Richardson 2:18 

Yeah, no, no. So I do a lot of Zoom meetings. And I basically removed everything for them in my home office. And so I removed everything from the back walls, so that there's no distraction, so they can focus on what we're talking about. And that's it second, oftentimes, a lot of people I talked to you, they got not to pick on them, but they've got a bunch of stuff on the walls of How Great Thou Art and like this and that and so I just like to keep it clean, simple. Let's focus on you and your needs. And that how great of a Rockstar whatever I'm doing in my life. So yeah, that's why you got a blank slate. It's so it's a blank wall is what it is.

Chris Gandy 2:54 

Okay, got it. Okay, I was gonna ask this little Star Trekky. I know a Star Trek where you got this glow around you. But you know, people they don't know, you got a wonderful glow. And like, we'll get into it here in a second. So, let's go to JDR, when I think of JDR I think of FDR and I think of some of JFK, I start to think, kind of presidential. So how did that nickname find you? Because you've kind of embraced that. And it's kind of been like this the thing like when people probably say your name, and they're like, who you talking about when they say oh, JDR or we know him, like how did that become a thing and how did you kind of embrace it and use it?

John Richardson 3:34 

That's a great question. So okay, yeah, I got a cut. I'm trying to remember how did this all start? Just like, it's like, why does John wear bow ties? The answer is when I was in college, at the University of Tennessee, I was dating a lady and at the time, she said, you know what, you'd look cute wearing a bow tie. And then she gave it to me and I practice I was a resident assistant at the front desk, whenever I wasn't busting people for underage drinking or for having people, you know, in their dorms, in the rooms after hours or whatever. I was busy learning how to tie bow tie or memorizing Trivial Pursuit cards because that's what I would do in my spare time when you have downtime, but I would practice and so I wear a bowtie so back to my name. So my full name is John Daniel Richardson. Born in the late 70s. My father, believe it or not installed the computers at the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Back when computers were the size of a refrigerator and many people don't know that. And so yeah, he was like, you know, Jack Daniels That's a great name. My mom's like no, I don't think so. We're not gonna name or kid after a whiskey though it's a great whiskey we're not gonna name or Jack Daniel but they compromise they call me John Daniel with the understanding that when I turned 21 I could go back to Jack but I've been known as JD or John Daniel my whole life by my family. And so it depends on how you know me is how you refer to me. If you nose kid growing up This John is a my college years is Richardson because that's what people do they call you by your last name. If you're in a fraternity, it's this thing. And so within the business world or within NAIFA's, it's JDR. There was a lady who used to work with NAIFA years ago who had a three-letter acronym, MGC. And so she's like it, I'm going to start calling you JDR. And I was like, okay, so if I got to say, if there was a lady who impacted my life, it was MGC, who got the JDR started, and I've been running with beverage cans.

Suzanne Carawan 3:49 

I did not know that. Yeah.

Chris Gandy 4:35 

That's interesting. You talk about the bow tie, which is a unique feature. Fairly nostalgic. So tell us a little bit about John, your journey in the business? Like, how did you get started? There's lots of our listeners out there. We have some experience. And we also have inexperience, obviously, that are in NAIFA family. But how did you get started and find your way in the business? So you can rewind the tape back to your first couple years in the business? How did you get in it? What motivated you? And really, how did you kind of break through to kind of know that this was kind of a calling for you during your course of your career?

John Richardson 6:16 

Yeah, that's a great question. So, I'm sure I'm much like many people that find their way into this business. This was not on my radar at all. In fact, I went to the University of Tennessee, where I got a degree in political science with a minor in Spanish and never in a million years, would you would think I'd be a financial guy. But obviously, there was a bigger plan at play the whole time. When I was in college, I had the best summer job a kid could have. I sold books and Bibles door to door, not for one summer or for two summers, but for five summers. Now who in their right mind, for straight commission goes door to door selling Bibles. That's nuts in the southeast. Well, I did it. And I fell in love with talking to strangers and learned a lot about myself in the process. And I thought, you know what, career-wise, I want to do something where I'm adding value to other people's lives. I love the idea that every day is a different day. And I get to talk to strangers and make new friends. And when I meet somebody new, I asked myself, why did my path cross with their path? And at that moment, how can I help them and it's sometimes it's a short-term fit, and why just introduce them to somebody we move on. We don't connect yet other times, some people for a season, you're in alignment with them, you're doing life, and then you kind of go your separate ways. Other people, your long term, they're lifers, you're going to do life with them the rest of your life. And my job is to discern, which is it and be open-handed and all relationships. And so we're guarding this industry. When I graduated from UT moved back to Nashville, I worked for John Hancock selling Long Term Care Insurance, talk about cold calling, I was on the phone calling through a system called the Griffin Network. And this was dry wet right after the do-not-call lists were a thing. And you couldn't call somebody because you get fine. So dial endless system, smile and dial and banging out about 200 to 250 calls per day, calling through a list to sell people long-term care insurance. I lasted about nine months. It's like as bad as much fun as beat my head against that blank wall behind me over and over and over again. I'm like, This is stupid. I'm out. I want to teach. I have a heart of a teacher, and I was like, I don't want to do this anymore. The people that brought me into the business. I love them. And they're I'm some I'm still friends with other ones I have lost connections with. But nonetheless, I feel great. John Hancock, great company, great experience, I learned a lot. I'm not the only one who cut their teeth kind of coming in this business doing that. But I went to school went to teach it with Metro Nashville Public Schools for about a year. And as a full time substitute school teacher and loved it. A friend of mine was like, John, don't get me wrong. Teaching is great. But what if you put your resume out there and just dream bigger? And what I mean when somebody picks you up, so I did. And for a guy named Dave Ramsey, I'm sure you guys have heard of Dave Ramsey on the radio. So for two years, I was part of his team. He actually hired me I was in the first year I was on the phone calling pastors at churches all over the US selling on who Dave Ramsey is and his message of hope and why they'd want us to live via satellite. The second year, I was on a plane flying to city to city as a part of his front team. So two months before Dave would come to that town to host a live event for five hours, myself and another guy we would fly into that city and kind of stir things up. And then within a matter of about a month or so they would sell out of all the tickets. And so I got to I don't know how it was like in my mid to late 20s I have a dream job and literally I'm fine to paint and I'm pinching myself like this the coolest thing ever. You know, I get to represent, at that time, Dave Ramsey wasn't as much of a name brand as he is today because this was back in 2003 2004. So it's been a minute. But after two years of working for Dave, instead of working for man, I wanted to be the man and become an entrepreneur. And so I left his company and in 2005 got my life and health insurance license again, series 766 partnered up with AXA advisors are also known as the equitable. And basically started a career of planning and insurance and investments, all that good stuff and haven't looked back since. So, to answer your question, Chris, never thought I'd be here. Yeah, but wherever I am, I'm gonna be all in. It's gonna, whenever I'm in for whatever's in front of me, I feel like it's an alignment with my values, and it helping people let's go and so 10-year career with LSI AXA, and then went from there to another company Garden, which is another rig broker-dealer and learn how to do planning, comprehensive planning, and then made a shift recently in the last four years over to MassMutual, where I charge a fee for my time. So now I do fee-based financial planning. So whether it's 24,000 a year on the high end, for people got a lot of pieces moving around, they're business owners, and they just got a lot of stuff to plan out. Or foundational planning at 3000 a year, those, that's my range is what I charge for my time. And so that I know that when I give them advice, whether they purchase a product or not through me or through our connection, I don't compensate for my time. And that removes that sense of I've got to sell something, which I've been struggling with for many, many years leading up to the last four years. So it's kind of nice to build a business with assets under management, a fee-based business, and by the way, but 85% of those folks still do product, they still implement solutions with our team, because the report is thick, the trust is thick, and they very paid me and so I'm like, look, you paid me for the advice. If I'm acting in a fiduciary capacity, I'm telling you the truth, I'm gonna leave you better than the way I found you. And you can take it or go implement with somebody else. They're like, oh, you already got my stuff. Let's go ahead and enroll with you. So that's, I guess, the fast that's an abbreviated version of an 18-year career in this business.

Chris Gandy 11:59 

Wow, that's a that's a journey. So what do you think was, because what do you think was the catalyst for change? Change is hard. You know, I just posted something about change today. And part of it is, is understanding, most of the change comes from within first and then out. But you made changes along the way that lead to success. without you knowing what was going to come at the other place, like you left AXA going to Guardian, not knowing if you were going to have success there, he left Guardian said, okay, the best partner for me to work with is the MassMutual. But again, there's change, right? And so how did you deal with change in your life and in your career and advice you would give to others about how they can deal with change?

John Richardson 12:57 

Sure. So first, let me and this is not going to be popular, I'm gonna save, I'll just say right now, my identity is not in the company I work with at that time. So I'm not like not with AXA, not with Guardian or with Mass, and I love them. And they're great. But there's some folks are like, this is my, I say that because my identity in this industry is with NAIFA. NAIFA, has been the common denominator throughout my entire career NAIFA people, during different seasons of my life when things have been really good. And things have been really challenging. personally, professionally, ups and downs, those that's my family, they've always had my back, they've always been there for me. So when it comes to I know, I don't know what the future holds, I may be with MassMutual for another 15, 20, 30, 40, who knows, or I may go independent, or may do an IRA or I may just you never know. And that's okay. I don't need to know. But as for where I am right now, it's a right fit. And I'm whatever leads my clients in the right direction helps them and I still feel like is alignment with my values, and what's a good fit for me because, everybody's got to find the right fit. That's the beauty of NAIFA it is a big tip. And there's some folks who embrace the property and casualty insurance space, I don't I delegate all that to a person who's on my strategic alliance, some people are all about health insurance. I was that industry years ago, then Affordable Care Act and life change. And I'm like, now I delegate that out. But when it comes to planning, and having meaningful conversations about with people about what's important, and about gathering assets and building a that AUM-based business or a fee-based business for me, that's where I want to hang my hat. Great example, I have a partner all things income protection, this is another not very popular thing to say, but I'm a dear friend of mine. That's all he does is disability insurance. And so all my clients, I delegate to him now I could write that business internally, and hit all kinds of internal metrics and so forth that I delegate out to him so that he can shop those that coverage with about 15 different companies and take care of my clients and that's one less thing I got to worry about and not to mention, I'm kind of staying in my lane. That's his lane. That's my clients love it. I love it. He loves it. I spent quality time with him. When we do NAIFA's events, you get the idea. So long story short. Again, it's one of those things where as you go through life, think about like MacGyver, maybe and MacGyver had that satchel, right, he was always prepared, because I'm an Eagle Scout. So I got to be prepared for life. But I'm picking up little tools along the way, or ideas or meaningful conversations or NAIFA's power phrases or sales concepts or, and I'm just putting in the bag. And then as I meet somebody with a discerning ear, I'm listening to what they're really saying, I'm having a conversation at both the head level and the heart level, because I want to truly hear them. And then based on repeat back to them what they've said, they know, I'm actively listening, and then dispense what the appropriate solution would be. And sometimes, to be honest, it's probably 75% of the time. It's not me, John is not the answer. I'm the Sherpa. I'm the sidekick in their story. They're the superhero, I want the spotlight to be on them, I'm walking with them in this season of their life. And then if there's another person in their story, if they had, like, whether it was Marvel, and you have X man, or you've got superheroes, and there's a superhero missing in your story, and I got to go, I happen to be a part of a team and I can put that person plug them into their story and add value to the life by doing so then. So be it. So to answer your question that's kind of gives you an idea of, of how I work. Does that make sense?

Suzanne Carawan 16:32 

Yeah, extreme humility, such humility. But I think you're also probably the biggest cheerleader, right? When things go well for people.

John Richardson 16:40 

Oh, yeah. Yeah, I want. So another thing I do, that's probably not normal. So I'm not, there's some people that are very sterile in their approach to this business. And that's cool. I want to be more I want to blur the lines, you know, obviously, keep things professional, keep things compliant. But at the end of the planning process, we've had meaningful conversations at a very deep level, where they've been transparent, honest about their numbers, which be honest, shame, fear, uncertainty, doubt, all the things that keep people from making decisions are all twisted up in and I'm like, look, I'm gonna save place. We're like, in a safety net, like, there was a movie, we meet the parents, we're in that safety net, you can be your authentic self, and I'm not going to judge you. And they get that pretty quickly. We go through the planning process, most of the meetings are via zoom at the end, or third person, if they're in zoom, and I can chance to head out their way and actually meet up with them in their hometown. Great, we break bread, we do whatever equals fun to them. I play tabletop strategy board games. To me, that's fun. So if you want to have a fun activity with me, let's order in. And let's play board games. Some people want to go out to eat, we go out to eat, some people want to, I went to a comedy show recently. And the client was like, oh, I've been wanting to hear that comedian. Like I love, love live comedy, let's go. And so I brought my wife who's my secret weapon. Because people like me, they love Telly. And I bring her along. And of course, get a couple of seats for my client and their friend or spouse or whoever. And we just go and have a big time. The idea there is this, we take care of business, but I bring in that personal aspect, because I want them to see John Richardson with and without the bow tie, I want them to see me in the professional space. And they know that okay, John knows what he's talking about. And he cares about me, but also they see me being in my comfy casual attire, which is usually like a button down, you get the idea of just being myself and you know, my nerdy kind of self and they're just like, okay, I see John, I know how you work. And so I feel like that creates a high sense of loyalty, because they truly see me for who I am. And if they don't care for that brand, that's okay. There's hundreds of other advisors out there that can help them. But whenever we have challenges, which we do, because it's going to happen, we're going to have friction in life, they give me the benefit of the doubt, because they know I care about them as a person first. And they are willing to be patient with me more. So same thing with my compliance officer, I overshare with my home office compliance person like this, what I'm up to, this is what I'm doing. She's like, you're so weird, but she knows my story. She knows my candidates. And so if anything ever pops up in the future, she's gonna say, that doesn't sound like John, the John I know is super thorough, that John I know, explains all of these different things and explains all these details. So you can't say that he didn't cover that because I'm like, on the front end here are all the reasons why you don't need to take a look at this annuity solution. Now, here are the perks on the back end. And here's the reasons why it would make sense for this portion of your money but on the front end here are all the bad things. So it's fully disclosed and I feel like people appreciate that depends on the personality style drivers don't they want to tell them what to do? But most people that are analytical or they want to know the bigger picture. I want to make sure I cover all that and do in a way that they appreciate it.

Chris Gandy 19:54 

So John, thank you for sharing that insight, I think it's very important that people understand that you didn't just arrive at where you are, right? And so, to our NAIFA family, you've earned a name JDR. But tell us, how did you get involved with NAIFA? We're talking a little bit about your NAIFA journey and all the things that you're a part of, because you're part of a lot. But tell us, how did you get involved with NAIFA? And what keeps you engaged with NAIFA? At the level you're at work, don't go into too much detail about what all the stuff you're doing. I'm gonna talk about some of those things. And we'll get into that. But, sure, how did you get involved?

John Richardson 20:39 

Yeah, yeah. So much like many people, if you if you've been in the business, they say, Well, I went to meeting, somebody asked me and I signed up. So I signed up for NAIFA, just like everybody else. But again, this was another unique story that many people don't know. I was at my one year mark. I was a NAIFA member for a year because somebody said you need to sign up. But I said, Okay, I think it was my general agent or manager at that time. But at the one-year mark, I showed up to the NAIFA meetings, and I you ever been in a crowded room, and yet you feel completely alone. That was my experience at a NAIFA meeting, I showed up a roomful of people. And everybody was sitting there, it was like that whole flashback to my childhood, where I'm in the lunchroom, and all the cool kids are sitting at these different tables. And I'm that awkward kid, I'm not I think I was wearing a bowtie at that time, which is probably my own fault, because I was probably sticking out being kind of nerdy, but I'm walking up with my, I want to sit with the everybody but everybody's got their table. It's kind of cliquish, that I'm on the outside looking and thinking, I've got so much to offer. I really want to be accepted. I want to be known. I want to know them and want them to know me. And I was like, but I felt on the outside, sat down, ate lunch, in my brain, I thought you know what, I'm done. I'm done. I've been a NAIFA member a year, I gave it a fair shake, because that's what we should do, you should at least try something for a season, see if it's the right fit? Well, I gave it a year, I'm out until I got this email from our association Exec. Her name was Linda. And she said, hey, you should go through this class called leadership in Life Institute, we commonly referred to as Lilly. And that was like, Okay, I don't need another activity. But the more I read, I'm like, oh, my gosh, this sounds just like a Dale Carnegie training for NAIFA, members. And I'm all about leadership development and personal development, and communication. And I was like, okay, this sounds great. And they said, oh, and by the way, we're offering 100% paid scholarship with the understanding that you give two years back to NAIFA's. I'm like, alright, well, if they'll do that, I'll commit to two more years, and NAIFA, and extend that one year and into three. And then at the end of three years, and maybe we'll see if I still want to do this or not. But at least I want to give two years, went through the training and fell in love with it. Actually understand. I didn't know NAIFA was until I went through Lilly and then I got it. I got it went to the national event and went to DC to a advocacy conference because, I called her my Lilly mom at the time, Brenda, she's like, you need to go to DC, it'd be great. Some of again, talk about outside, I'm sitting in a room with all these guys who are like, double my age who had been in the business forever. And I forgot what year it was. But this is before the National Leadership Council. This is like what it was like AALU NAIFA. is like the very first one. And but I got to sit at the table with a bunch of legends that people have been doing this and just kind of pick their brains. And it was great. So long story short. Yeah, it was LILI that basically kept me and NAIFA got me going. And when they were done, this is so funny. They were dealt with literally they're like, Okay, well, you got a two year commitment. So I'm gonna, so I showed up at the board meeting. And Linda and the other people, they're like, Yeah, we're gonna get, we're gonna put John in charge of the YATs. Because he's a young guy, we don't really have a ye thing. So you're gonna do and yeah, it was a brand new concept. And I started like, well, if I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna be all in. So I started creating all these events, and doing all these things. And a buddy of mine who is older and wiser than me, he's been in the business long, whose name is Ron. Many, many years before I was in the business. Anyway, Ron looked at me said, John, you're doing so many good things. I tell you what, you have my permission to send as much of what we've been doing for all these years on fire. Just go. And as your ruffled feathers. And as you upset people, I got your back. Do you know how much permission that gives a young guy when you got somebody who's been there, done that who's gonna step up and when you step on somebody's toes, which you will to say I got you, and it was great. And so I totally was, I was just my authentic self and went in. And I remember Linda, in a meeting at the end of the table, and I remember she's the one to send out the email. I remember her saying, who the heck is this? John Richardson guy?

Suzanne Carawan 24:55 

Who unleashed this beast.

John Richardson 24:56 

Yeah, exactly. And I'm gonna say I'm like me and so like I said, Life is too short to be dull and boring. Wherever you are, be all in and be your authentic self. Figure out what your purpose and calling in life is, and go do it. And just be all about it. And then you look back at times, you're like, oops, I made a mistake there. Again, if you've got good rapport with people, they'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say, look, I see your heart. I know, you probably didn't mean to say that. But I know, your heart was good. And I know you're trying really hard. So again, that's why you just your presence. So that's, that's how I got my start. And that's why now this kind of beginning of my NAIFA's story went from right into LILI. And then from there, the leadership chairs, I just kept working my way up the all NAIFA Nashville, and then NAIFA's, Tennessee, and I'm serving on national committees within the NAIFA's world.

Chris Gandy 25:49 

So John, not only are you serving on committees, but you're leading, you should just say, Hey, I'm gonna sit here and just warm this heat to see warm until somebody else comes, you decided that I'm going to actually be part of leading so share with us a little bit, why leading from the front by the work that you're doing is super important. And then you and I happen to have an experience together. I'm not gonna steal your thunder. But share with us a little bit about our, how LILI has impacted you and I collectively together because of that.

John Richardson 26:28 

Sure. So when I was at the University of Tennessee, involve the Student Government Association, because I've always, there's two different types of people. There's folks who, who stay at home and they're totally happy, watching Netflix, doing their comfort, comfy, casual, staying at home, they're more introverted nature, then you got me, I'm on the opposite end of the continual I like to join everything. But when I get I'm involved, but then I'm like, okay, how can I take my authentic self and plug it in here and positively impact this group that I'm committed to, and sometimes, just like my one year NAIFA's, which turned into now, so a lot of my life, you get involved with something, it's not a right fit, and you say, I'm just gonna let that go. So it's okay to prune along the way. If you it's just like flowers or roses, you prune off with the stuff you don't want, and you focus on you do so. I guess back to the question, which was sorry, Chris, I know, we lose connection. Oh, the leadership? Why lead. That's why leading from the front. Yeah, so a buddy of mine, the SGA back in college, he said something and you know people will say things in your life, and you never forget. And so he shared a story. He's like, if you think about the ad, or the dogs, the sled dogs up in Alaska and these races, and you think about all these dogs running nose, and nose in nosed Ed. And he said, you know what, if you're not the lead dog, that you never changes, and that idea stuck in my head. And I thought, you know what, if I'm gonna be here, I want to be out front, because I want to be able to look, not to mention, I have a visionary kind of mindset, I like to see of what could be, and then take people to where they want, they maybe not necessarily where they think they should be, then you kind of hear and you're like, you know what sounds like we should go here. And here's an idea to get us there. Like, oh my gosh, that's a great idea. Let's go for it. And if it doesn't work out, we can always go back to what wasn't working. But let's hey, let's at least try and think outside the box and think a little bit bigger. Because there's no harm in that. Because there's plenty of people that have plenty of impact that we can have my job and my finite time on this planet, it's as much of an impact or dent in the universe as I possibly can, while I can, because I've got all this energy and enthusiasm to give and who am I to play it safe, and be that fifth or that lead that dog and just kind of go with the flow and that's a lot of people do that. It's like why just be your authentic self. Be confident in who you are. Some people are not gonna like that. And they're gonna, you're gonna have as the great philosopher Taylor Swift would say they're gonna be haters gonna hate, hate, hate, and you just got to shake it up. And that's okay. Other people are gonna see that game. They're gonna be like, game respects game, they see your heart and they're like, okay, his style is different than my style. But you know what, I respect him because he's being his authentic self. Let's go. And so that's why, if you're gonna do something, be present, be all in. And if you're gonna say yes to something, when you say yes, commit to a period of time, so I do like, with NAIFA's stuff, or if Boy Scouts stuff or other things I'm involved in. I want to know the beginning and the end. So I'm gonna give it all until that end, and then I'm gonna reassess and decide what am I going to do for 2020, whatever. So for example, right now around Thanksgiving is when I write, I start to write my, you know, these different six domains of my life, that targeted habits and outcomes I want to change Ah, so the habits basically form the goals out there like that just a wish list or things that I want. It's like, no, I'm gonna change these habits, which is going to help me get these things I want, personally, professionally, spiritually, all these different domains, right. And then I'm going to actually kick it up a notch because I actually listened to the NAIFA live presentation talking about the 12 Week Year, Brian Moran's book. And so like, what if I had four years next year in 2024, instead of four quarters? And what if you get the idea? Yeah, so that's, that's kind of the big picture, as I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna lead, you have to first lead yourself before you can lead others. Before you can lead yourself, you got to truly know yourself. And the thing is, Polonius, he said in Hamlet to thine own self be true. So if you don't know yourself, figure yourself out, go take your Myers Briggs Personality, go take a DISC profile, go do the Enneagram. Go do any of these things where it tells you, this is how you think and how you basically take in information and process it. And then how do people observe you. The biggest moment for me was, I got a strong personality. And until I didn't, I didn't realize that for the longest time, and you could push people away. But once you realize, oh, this is how I think and how I communicate, then you can start to track people because you know that you can temper what you're saying to people who are different personalities. True story, we just went through a Dale Carnegie training is 12 weeks, three hours each session. I just graduated like a month ago, one of the ladies in the room is my polar opposite. I mean, this woman is the most analytical detail person on the planet at the end of the day, and I'm very expressive and very loud. At the end of the session, I asked her like, so how did you take me in? How do you observe me or whatever. And she's like, John, you're while you're a lot, you never once did, I felt overwhelmed by you. In fact, I felt like you were actively listening to me the whole time, which was like that. So I've pulled a 180 from where I was just a handful years ago, where it's when you're out loud, it could be all about you. I don't want to be about me, I want it to be about others. But I need to be able to adjust myself a little bit or temperate so that people can receive me well. And so that leads us like Chris or second part of question, which is LILI. So if you're a lead, lead yourself, so you can lead others, LILI, again, leadership in Life Institute went through back in 2008. And it's hard to believe it's been 15 years since I went through that experience. So I was about I guess about three years into the business when I went through Lilly, which sounds about the right time because we're maybe around that maybe two, three years, something like that. Because you want to be in the business for a minute to know this is your career choice before you go through Lilly. If you're trying to figure out LUTCF get a designation, that's a good foundational designation, then you graduate up to LICP LACP, and so forth. But Chris and I, we got to do life together, over a period of 10 sessions online through leadership for LILI online. And one of those moments for me was you get to share your heart with others. We get kind of sorted no through these NAIFA meetings, but then you're actually you get to see the softer side, kind of like this commercial, the softer side of Sears, well, this was like the softer side of people are professionals and you truly know them. And you start to form relationships, not just for a short term, but for a more of a long term as you're doing live together. And so whether cherrick writing your eulogy and sharing it, or talking about your those things, those values that are most important to you. So to me, that was a high-quality experience.

Suzanne Carawan 33:34 

John, were you the moderator?

Chris Gandy 33:37 

Yes. John was the moderator. He was our moderator for our LILI class.

Suzanne Carawan 33:44 

Yeah. Maybe people don't know that. You can then volunteer to then moderate and lead the LILI classes. Okay, I got it. I got it. So JD is LILI dad got it.

John Richardson 33:54 

Yeah, so I wouldn't go that far.

Chris Gandy 33:58 

He is my LILI leader. He has led me. Yeah. Leadership?

John Richardson 34:02 

Well, I would say facilitator because you're basically you're seeing people, and you're helping them bring out things inside of them. You're just asking questions, you know, and they in the LILI boats they talk about, it's like you want to go a little bit deeper, just like there's four levels of depth when it comes to me the conversations of most people play it safe. You talk about the weather, sports, superficial stuff. I want to go as deep as quick as possible to get to those things that matter. But I have to have permission to go there. And a person has to have rapport and trust with me, just like my previous employer Dave Ramsey once said, you got to first be walking with a person with your arm around their shoulder before you flick them in the air. So before I go deep with somebody, I have to be transparent. I got to be vulnerable. I have to open up my story so they can say oh, wow, John really got open there. Okay, so I'll be open. And I've found from my experience, that when you open up and you start to share your story, people see it they get to know you. It builds a Not only credibility, but also connected, you're connected with them. And your the trust goes way up. And so all the all the good things that we want in life, because I believe people crave authentic relationships, but they go through life like this, you're a kid, you're told not to talk to strangers. And then you get into this business and are like, can they tell the opposite going to talk to many strangers as you possibly can, but you can't. Because hardwired Mom and Dad told me stranger danger, I'm supposed to be like this. Well, there's two things interesting. You should guard your heart at all times. And I'm responsible for three hearts, my heart, my wife's heart, and my puppy dog Piper's heart, I guess he's my baby girl, and I got to protect her from all the craziness in the world. So I'm supposed to guard those things are important to me. That being said, there are safe people who I meet, and you discover them through doing programs like LILI or experiences like LILI, where you realize you can be open and your authentic self, and you can let them into your safe place they get to spend those are safe people. And so how amazing is it through a professional organization, that you get to have a personal kind of a connection with people and have conversation about things that matter at a personal level? And that's what really does. And so, yeah, yeah, like twice as a facilitator in person, and then a third time online, which was this year. And I had plenty on my plate. When Brendan said, Hey, you want to do this? I'm like, Huh? It's like another hole in your head, do you really want another own your head, but then I'm like, You know what, it's not about me, it's not about me. And when you get opportunity to serve and to the poor, and others, you learn more about yourself less. Now back on those areas that perhaps you're not proud about, that you need to work on, or you become more aware of those areas, those rough areas of your life, your communication skills, or whatever. And also your giving back to, from an organization that gave me so much. And so that's why I serve, I don't have any NAIFA tattoos, though. I've been joked. But if you cut me, I do believe NAIFA's bleed blue, I should say, because, you know, you have this, this is part of my like my day in company to the NAIFA.

Suzanne Carawan 37:04 

You really did, you really nailed something that's a true fact about NAIFA It's hard for people. Like when I first came here, I was like, I've never seen people so passionate about their professional association. But it's more than that. Because there is that nuanced part of that NAIFA family that people do. They do develop, we actually just did a survey and asked people, you know, what are the top five things you get out of NAIFA? And one of them was friends for life? Right? And so it's like, really trusted people that they can do life together? I have a question for you. JDR, which is you just mentioned you breeze through a couple things there Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts, etc, etc? What do you and you mentioned your goal planning. But let's talk about you do so many things, right? You do stuff across the board? Like you said, your six domains? What is your recipe for time management success? I know obviously you're very good at being able to, you're not a short term, you know, satisfaction person, because you could probably grew up doing that if you're getting an Eagle Scout, right when you did. But what do you do on the time management to shove all this in here?

John Richardson 38:09 

It's a great question. I'd be lying to say I'm doing it with excellence, because I can still grow in that area. But what I've learned along the way, is that there's a few things I've done that work one, I do time blocking. And so I've got time, whenever I'm doing NAIFA's stuff, like right now I got this time block, I'm all in. I'm not thinking about what I'm going to have for lunch, I'm not gonna think about later on tonight, I've got a meeting after hours, I'm not thinking of any of that stuff. I'm thinking about you guys and being present with you. And so wherever you are, be all in and be present in that time block, and go and just go and just all in. And then when that time block is done, I need a little minute. And usually walk stretch a little bit transition, shift gears and then go into the next block. And then the next block and the next block. So my calendar, if you look at it, it's color-coded. And so if it's a green block, it's business. I'm on Zoom meetings, I've got a few of those this afternoon, where I'm talking to folks catching up. We're in the planning process and working so that's green, if it's purple, it's purple is NAIFA. If it's blue, it's like a planning or getting ready for client meetings or personal development. Oranges politics, khaki is Boy Scouts, red because Kelly Anne and my dog Piper near and dear to my heart, they're red. And so anything that's personal, I'm spending quality time with those people I love is red, so you get the idea. So if I look at my counter, I look at the night before I kind of map out because I don't want to surprise myself because I've done it before and there's nothing worse than just feeling the world. Then you got a meeting at seven o'clock. The client calls in you're like oh shoot, I forgot to look at my calendar night before. I usually start my day at eight and I'm caught up and caught flat-footed. And it's super embarrassing not to mention a word that hurts your credibility. So the night before I check, I kind of look at it's mapped out it's color-coded. But then I'm like okay, I got this and then I can kind of see well, today's a heavy day I got A million things going on. So when people call in, they're gonna go right to voicemail. And that's okay. I'm not going to call them back probably till eight o'clock tonight, it's all good. And but again, if they know you and they have rapport with you, and you call them back, say, look, here's the deal, whenever I'm with somebody, I'm present with them, I'm all in. That's why I'm returning your phone call within 24 hours, but it's later on in the evening, or you get the idea. So yeah, it's color-coded. And outlet, my wife and I, we have a joint color, we call it our jolly calendar. I'm John. And Kelly, her name is Kelly. And so together we may using they're gonna be jelly or jolly, because both of us are upbeat, happy people, we call it our jolly calendar. So I've got a work calendar that he doesn't have access to for compliance purposes. And, and I have all my business stuff on and then we got the jolly calendar, which he reminds me all the time, honey, you didn't put that on the jolly counter, because it's all my Work calendar is color-coded, but it's not on my so when we date night are fun activities, or whatever. So that goes on our jolly counter. So by doing keeping those shared calendars with people who are important to me in my life, there's transparency, it keeps me accountable and keeps me on track.

Chris Gandy 41:09 

Very good. John, you mentioned politics, right, do allows for us to kind of talk about the political aspirations, and some of the things that you would like to do with politics. Why get involved in politics? I mean, I understand you may admire politicians and in pontificate like them. But you've gotten really connected in the political world, you know, without going into how heavy your you've been involved. But why get involved in politics? And the importance of doing that? And especially in in us, I mean, you're running a small business, essentially,

John Richardson 41:51 

Right? Yeah, it's like, I'm running a business on top of running a business, you're a because being on politics, and so you know that back to the expression, if you're gonna be a part of something, take a leadership role. But I believe there's two types of people in politics, there's folks who are behind the scenes, who are part of the machine. And then there's those people who are out front who are leaders. And I believe that you get to kind of choose your path or choose your own adventure. And when if you want to be this person out front, and leading and being elected official, you should be doing the things preparing you for that season of life. And when I said season is not a lifetime deal. It's hey, I'm going to give to two years or four years or eight years, I'm going to do my time, make as much positive impact as I possibly can and then get out, go back to work, go back to doing your thing. Don't be a career politician. Again. That's my bias. Funny should ask me a question. A buddy of mine, gave me this book just yesterday, and I'm working on it's called Leadocracy. And it's all about adding more leaders into government and politics. There are so many people when they think of politics, they think of what do you call a bureaucracy, and it's, it's hard, and it's just it doesn't work. And there's too few people from the private sectors. This book is all about successful people kill in the private sector. They know how to lead people, they can lead themselves, well, they can lead others, they need to be involved in government and politics. And that way, we can actually possibly impact our communities at the local state and federal level, but there's so many votes, they're like, well, that guy wouldn't be a right fit, because he's super smart in business, but he's not as polished a speaker, or perhaps he doesn't have the coolest hair, all these superficial things that people vote for these different reasons. But you get the higher quality leaders to step out of their comfort zone again for two years or four years, to go serve in the public space, make a positive impact and go back to the private space. They become better. As I'm reading this book, I'm learning more about it. They become better people, because they understand that it's a cooperation between the private and public sector, we all got to get along. We're all in the same plan together. It is not a blue versus red or, again, we're all on the same team. Let's figure out a way to work together because I believe personally, that politics these days, it's divisive. It's polarizing, it's a hot mess. That's why I decided to run last year, I'm like, I'm over it. What if Mr. Rogers ran for political office, and my campaign was like, we need to learn how to love each other again, be kind to each other again. And that was my message. When I went door to door. And I won, I beat up my opponent who was definitely more polarizing than I was. And that was awesome. When people are like, you're weird, but in the look the right way. I'm glad you're, you're doing something. Let's go. And so my four-year term of office, I got one year down, I got three more to go to make as much of a positive impact in my city of Nashville. And then when I'm done, I'm done. And three years from now, I'll figure out what the next step is. And maybe it's been it's been real. It's back to the private sector, or there may be something else that again, part of the secret life I believe, is keeping your hands wide open. So things can come in and flow through and you're a conduit for others. And versus a close-fisted, I got to get mine. It's all about me, to me. This is a scarcity mindset. It's also, some cultures, it's a fist, and it looks like we're about to fight versus a pommeau. But even a dog, they see a fist, they know that you're not so friendly, palm open, they're like, oh, he's a friend. So why don't we do that with our time and our talents and gifts and pay it forward, whether it's through naval or politics, or scouting or whatever, or whatever organization you're in getting give back. Because time is finite, let's go make the most of what we have of it. And let's leave, let's have that ripple effects. So that 100 200 300 years from now, or even 1000s of years from now, people they will remember your name, but you actually throw a stone into a pond that rippled out. And it continued to grow. And it's kind of fun to know that you had a positive impact in this world. So to me, that's an underlying motivation. There's no that the my life mattered. And I actually did leave a positive impact in this world.

Chris Gandy 46:01 

Wonderful. All right, Suzanne, I think JDR, he killed it. He's one of such a great job. He's a natural selling Washington's before everyone. So you're just able, that's who he is. He is a leader. And many of us can take a lot of notes. If you didn't, if you didn't take a lot of notes. I did you know, you can always get better. John, I liked the idea. You said you choose your path or your adventure. Now that's kind of it's kind of interesting, because, you know, we are constantly making conscious choices and subconscious choices. We're either moving closer our goal or further away. So with that being said, we do have a lightning round John, we do not have a gambler and Becks, but we do have a lightning rod. Well, before we go to the lightning round. Suzanne, do you have any other questions for Mr. JDR before we get to the lightning round, I

Suzanne Carawan 47:00 

will just testify, actually, because this is a very NAIFA's thing. And it's a very JDR thing. I've been to John's house, and he goes to the NAIFA dinner there. And he when he says he's got games, he's got games. This man's got games, he's got like a game closet, like tons and tons and tons of games. So yeah. And then I'll give you one last thing that one of my favorite quotes in life is from Eleanor Roosevelt, who says most people tiptoe softly through life to arrive safely at death. Right. And so you are totally living that because you're not why not? Why not? You're right. Why not give to gain? So I think that's a great thing. So thanks for your leadership. Yeah, with that, Chris, we will do our time for the lightning round.

Chris Gandy 47:41 

All right, JDR so many people may know you, but they don't know you. Okay, so this is an opportunity for our NAIFA members and those people who are considering joining NAIFA's getting to know the man behind the bowtie, right. And so I'm just gonna ask you questions. We're not going to ask you, when you were seven years old, why'd you pull the little kid's hair? We're not going to ask you questions like that. We're gonna ask you questions that you know the answer to. So just, whatever comes off the top, that's what we're gonna go with. okay, so we'll start off with something easy. Okay. Is the level of Boy Scouts that you got to?

John Richardson 48:19 

Eagle Scout.

Chris Gandy 48:20 

Eagle Scout. Great. How many knots can you tie?

John Richardson 48:24 

Oh, easily? Probably three dozen. Probably about three, six or so.

Chris Gandy 48:30 

That's pretty impressive. Okay, so you remember though, you remember those things? Right? Sure. Yeah. AppleSoft. Okay, so it gets a little bit harder from here. JDR. Are you Ready?

John Richardson 48:39 


Chris Gandy 48:40 

Here we go. So, favorite quote.

John Richardson 48:46 

That's a good one. So it's a passage and out of the Bible. It says, Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. And that's Psalm 133:1.

Chris Gandy 49:07 

Awesome. All right. John, your proudest moment is in your career.

John Richardson 49:20 

That's a great question. Well, I'll tell you what, in San Antonio, Texas, in I think it was in 2018. I received the yet Leader of the Year award. And so I got this really heavy trophy, which was, it was big and glass or whatever. And I got this red jacket that afforded me an opportunity to start doing live with a whole bunch of other people that were previous yet recipient leader recipients as well as people in the front. It's a good topic. So I got to join like a little fraternity within the NAIFA world and I'm very close to these people. And we do like a lot of life together. So much so that we have a monthly book club up, where we read books, and we talk about them. So I would say be experience. It's open more opportunities for me to serve NAIFA at a much more meaningful level and form deeper, more meaningful relationships.

Chris Gandy 50:15 

Favorite food?

John Richardson 50:19 

Well, I'm a big fan of white castles. My wife, whenever people come to town, she says she's like, oh, I know, this amazing restaurant is called White Castle. And people are like, have you lost your mind? Like, oh, best? So yeah, I'm a big fan of white castles, as a steam with the cheese and oh, oh, we got a big red. I know. It's like probably on the scale of holiness, like at the bottom. But that, but the only thing they don't offer at White Castle is banana pudding. That would be my dessert of choice.

Chris Gandy 50:53 

Wow. All right, John, if you could go back and tell yourself something in your first year, what advice would you give yourself, if you're in the first year of the business?

John Richardson 51:07 

Good question. Be more intentional with the gifts and abilities that you have to be more intentional in all areas, whether it's through mentorship, through the choices that you're gonna make regarding the kinds of clients you want to work with. If I now want to know, I go back, and I would specialize quicker versus trying to be a broad, be a generalist. As they say, there's riches in the niches, you just kind of figure out your lane, figure out what you're great at, delegate the rest, be strong in those areas and own it and own it like big time, and I'm still working through that process. It's one of those things where I love to say have it all figured out, but I don't and so I'm constantly have a mentor, I've got multiple mentors that coach me up on a regular basis every other week, helped me get more and more dialed into why I'm doing what I'm doing to take it to that next level so I can impact more people's lives. Because I feel called to lead leaders that's like a purpose or calling my life. So be or intentional, so you can be a stronger leader of leaders.

Chris Gandy 52:19 

Alright, John, last question. You go back in history, you can have dinner with anyone, whether they're alive today, or they passed away. Who would you have dinner with and why?

John Richardson 52:37 

Well, all the presidents come to mind, of course. And there's, of course, a lot of people out of the Bible that come to mind. But I wouldn't say my grandmother, my mom's mom. I miss her so much. And to have an opportunity, go back and just spend another day with her. That'd be awesome.

Chris Gandy 52:59 

Well, John, we appreciate you and all the work you do. We appreciate that the fact that you've only begun to scratch the surface of what we know you're capable of. And thank you so much for being here on Advisors Today's podcast. John, we're going to give you the floor. Is there anything you would like to say to NAIFA abroad to our listening members?

John Richardson 53:21 

Yeah. So if you're an eighth a member, figure out what were your right fit is you're on the bus, get in the right seat, and go and get more involved. If you're kicking the tires and wondering, should I get on the bus? What are you waiting for? Becoming a NAIFA member today. And realize that sometimes when you're on the bus, this is the of course, you know, you talked about put the right person in the right seat on the bus. Sometimes you're in one seat for a season. And you're like, you know what, I don't need to be in the seat anymore. Sometimes it's your turn to drive. Sometimes it's your turn to navigate. Sometimes it's your turn to be the rowdy kid in the back of the bus. Because that's what the other kids, and that's okay, the or but you're on the bus and know that NAIFA throughout your entire career will always be there to help you move, keep moving in the right direction. But realize, again, this is one of my values is that we're all on the same level. And though we may have days where you have some awesome days and some character-building days, you treat folks fairly and you treat folks with kindness and realize that you're serving in that season for a time but guess what, that time will pass and then you'll be in a different seat and that's okay. Because your identity is not wrapped up in a title or in a moment. We're all the same we're all serving and trying to make an impact. So get on the bus get involved and when the time for you to switch seats is time, don't be grumpy and just sit there and be like, well I'm not gonna move because this is my seat. It's got my name on no get up, move to a different seat. give somebody else a chance who's coming up to sit close to drive the bus to navigate and that's okay. It's totally okay good. It's a big old bus and we got plenty of seats for everybody.

Chris Gandy 55:01 

Thank you, John. As long as you're driving the bus you're leading from the front.

John Richardson 55:06 

That's right, you get a better view from the front to right.

Chris Gandy 55:09 

Better view from the front, view continuously changes, Suzanne. Yeah, that's gonna take more I close it.

Suzanne Carawan 55:17 

You know what we are looking forward to seeing everybody. Next week if you believe it at National Leadership Conference. We look forward to seeing you, John. And you, Chris. And so we yes to reiterate John's point, if you're not a volunteer, think about it get involved.

Chris Gandy 55:31 

We will see everyone at NLC. Thanks, everyone for tuning in to Advisor Today podcast where we uplift and promote the opportunity to meet some of the superstars in the industry. To make the industry better for all of us collectively, together as John would say, it's best that we get a chance to live life together and share certain life great moments. And As Suzanne said today, it doesn't pay well to tiptoe through life. You're gonna be in it. Be involved, get involved. Volunteer. We'll see you next week, same time. Thanks for tuning in to advisors. today's podcast. See you soon.

Outro 56:10 

Thanks for joining us for NAIFA's Advisor Today podcast series. Make sure to subscribe to get future episodes. And if you're interested in coming on the show, let us know.



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