Never Sacrifice Who You Are For What You Want (featuring Ron Dickinson)

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Back in 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes wrote an essay in which he predicted his future grandchildren would only need to work 15 hours per week. He imagined that by now people would work Monday and Tuesday with a five-day weekend. His argument was based on the belief that over time, thanks to technology and new ideas, we would become more productive. In other words, an hour of labor would produce more and more output.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we work an average of 34.4 hours per week. Keynes missed his target. And I’m sure there are a number of reasons for why this prediction didn’t come true, but in this week’s episode of the Truest Fan Podcast, we explore one very important possibility.

My guest, Ron Dickinson, talks about his view that whether you’re building a business or a portfolio, things take time. We shouldn’t rush what we believe to be important. In fact, speed can work against us.

Ron, an amazing business leader, family man and wealth advisor, also shares his favorite expression: never sacrifice who you are for what you want. Priceless wisdom for growing as a person and as a leader in a world that seems to move at lightning speed. Invaluable advice in an age when many of us pack longer and longer hours with more and more tasks. Too often not achieving the results we seek.

Listen now to meet Ron Dickinson.

To listen, click the play button above. Or click the “Subscribe” button to go to your favorite podcast player.

Show Highlights

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Podcast Transcript

Rob  00:00

Well hello friends. In this week’s episode of the Truest Fan podcast, we’re going to hear the person that I refer to as the other sage from Omaha, even though he actually lives and works across the river from Omaha Council Bluffs, Iowa. Today, you’re going to meet Ron Dickinson, an amazing person and financial advisor who’s going to share a couple of really important ideas with us a couple of important concepts that can be easy to forget. First of all, we’re going to talk about the fact that things take time. Whether you’re building a business or building a portfolio, you have to give it time you can’t be in a rush, even though the world pushes us to move fast. And Ron also shares his favorite expression, never sacrifice who you are for what you want priceless wisdom for growing as a person and growing as a business owner. I hope you’re listening.

Announcer 01:05

You’re listening to the Truest Fan podcast. And now here’s your host, Rob Brown.

Rob  01:15

All right. Welcome, folks. Welcome back to the Truest Fan podcast. I am super excited today because I have with us or we have with us Ron Dickinson, the founder and CEO of Dickinson investments. Ron is a longtime client and I consider him to be a very important person friend in my life. So, it’s really great to have Ron on the call. Welcome, Ron.

Ron Dickinson  01:39

Hey, thanks, Rob. Glad to be here.

Rob  01:40

So as I get started on the podcast, I oftentimes throughout the question, who’s your favorite baseball team, because one of the inspirations for the Truest Fan book is my being a truest fan of the Cleveland Indians, now known as the guardians, but I know that Ron is not a huge baseball fan. So, I’m going to ask a little different question. Hey, Ron, what is your favorite hobby?

Ron Dickinson  02:03

Oh, my favorite hobby. I like to bicycle and not just around town, I do a lot of endurance, bicycle long distances. And so, my largest trip I wrote across United States with my son, and I’ve done several tours up in Alaska and the Yukon and Utah and around the country. So, a couple weeks, I’m going up the northwest part United States for a three-week tour. And it’s a good adventure. It’s a venturing as long distance. It’s challenging. It’s mountains. I enjoy it hard work.

Rob  02:29

Yeah. So, in addition to seeing the beauty, and obviously, it’s great exercise, what else do you get out of biking like that, because for some people riding like across the United States, it took you a few months to do that. It can sound boring, right?

Ron Dickinson  02:46

I suppose it’s not for everybody. But it’s, you always have to have a goal in front of you to inspire you to improve. And so, when my son first suggested me to do that, I said, I don’t know how to do that, but I’ll figure it out. And so do a lot of studying how to get a different kind of bicycle had to get different equipment and train myself differently. So, you start thinking through all the aspects, what it takes to accomplish it, you read lots of blogs and other advice for people. And then you start working towards the goal. So, part of it, the planning is exciting to me and the training. And I trained for a year for something very diligently and a lot of people wouldn’t enjoy that. But always keeping that long term vision in front of you. And then when you go do it, the first time I’ve ever the first time I rode in Colorado, I didn’t think I was capable. I was going up a mountain and I just stopped and almost had emotional moments. Like I’m here. I’m really doing this. It’s something I visualized I wanted to be able to do, I wasn’t sure I could. And here I am doing it. And so, you break through those barriers. And then then it becomes more common or acceptable, and you start believing in yourself. So, all these different endurance trips are accomplishing and belief and then once you’re doing it, you kind of relax and enjoy the scenery around you in all the beauty. Yes, there’s beauty, there’s hard work, there’s breathing, there’s going up a mountain and coming down fast on the other side. To me, that’s just rewarding experience that I agree it’s not for everybody.

Rob  04:07

Yeah, no. And I wasn’t trying to minimize it at all. But you really pulled out one of the things I was hoping that you would say the fact that by doing those rides, and in some ways, it’s the beginning thinking, hey, this is something that I can’t do, and then you do it. And to get to the top of that mountain in Colorado, you say, you know, hey, I really believe in myself that planning that preparation, that desire really allowed me to believe even more in myself and be able to do things that maybe I otherwise thought were impossible or I’d even thought about doing and you know, as you know, that’s one of the lessons of being a truest fan is believing in yourself.

Ron Dickinson  04:43

Yes. So, I’ve always been most of my life I set very large goals that are beyond my current ability. I dream about them, have passionate about them, and then I just keep diligently working towards them and most haven’t been able to accomplish not everything. So, I remember early in life too. It’s like unless you reach a point of failure, you don’t know where that boundary was. So, if you just sit in a safe spot the whole time, you don’t know what you could have done. And some people might look at this and but if I get out and fail, that I’m somehow diminished, that I’m less, you know, that feels bad. And it does temporarily, I’ve had rides like that, or it just didn’t work. But I want to know where that line is how far I can push myself, I’m not some super athlete that ever be notoriety or anything. But I just want to know where the lines are both in business and physically and relationships, etc. How I can make the best of this.

Rob  05:29

Right, because sometimes when you hit that barrier, that maybe you call it failure, think of it as failure, it’s just telling you where your limits are now, and there’s maybe something else that you need to go back to do to prepare better, so you can break through it the next time. So that point, that barrier, that perceived point of failure is just a current limitation that you can work through if it’s something that you really want to do.

Ron Dickinson  05:53

I do not finish in Colorado, it means I abandoned the ride. It was 125 miles, three mountain passes, and I got about halfway through it and altitude sickness. undertrained and I broke down I had to abandon it felt low for a few days. And then I started breaking it down into steps for what it would take to accomplish it like, Well, how do you handle altitude? You live out there for a while, maybe I’m too heavy, maybe I’m not trained enough lift weights, nutrition, I break five or six different areas. And then I start dissecting those areas and say, how do I maximize myself at each one. And because of COVID, I haven’t been able to be out there to accomplish it. But that’ll be the end of the summer, have a plan to go back. So, I’ve been working on those things haven’t maximize everyone on perfectly but pretty confident now.

Rob  06:35

Yeah, that’s, that’s great. I can’t wait to get word from you that you’ve made it this time, because I have a strong feeling that you that you will. So that takes me to another question. Changing gears, a little bit. You know, we all get advice during our lives that stick with us, you know, little nuggets of wisdom or truth. Are there one or two thoughts that you kind of keep with you all of the time as you are striving to do new things? You know, you talked about it as it relates to biking. But you also briefly mentioned that some of those same thoughts apply to businesses are kind of a nugget or a grain that carries you through that.

Ron Dickinson  07:12

Yeah, when I first started, I started my business, I was really young, I was 26. I went out on my own but a wise older gentleman, I was talking to him. And he said to me in this back in the 80s. He goes, how do you make a million dollars as significant money back then still is but significant. And he goes $100 at a time, and you think well, that’s simple. I can go make $100. But there’s a process then working towards the big goal, the million dollars, but make $100 Save the $100. How long will that take me, and you can figure it out. And that’s the truth is everything has a process to it. Everything has you know, if you set a big goal, there’s really micro steps you can use to work towards that goal. So, I’m very analytical and very goal setting person, I’ve always set large goals long term and see how far I can push it. And then years ago, I read something I wish I could remember the author of it. But there’s a quote that I put on my email now that says never trade who you are for what you want. Because sometimes in especially in business, it’s easy to start down a slippery slope of your dreams are so big that you start cutting corners, you start cheating a little or not treating the other party to the equation, how they should be treated just to get what you want. And you start trading your core values of who you believe in yourself, Faith wise, value systems and relationships, you start trading those off for that goal. And we know sometimes those goals when you achieve them are a little bit hollow unless you did it the right way. So, I have that on my email for years and years more than a decade is still there. And it’s just a reminder of myself and a reminder and other people who hopefully you can trust me, and I want to be a trustworthy person that other people put faith in to help them in an honest manner.

Rob  08:48

So never sacrifice who you are for what you do.

Ron Dickinson  08:53

What you want, what you want. So, who I have my core values that I live day by day faith and value systems, your true nor some people will say, always keep focused on that and never deviate from it. Even if it hurts you. Even if you don’t get something or the other person wins. You never trade that off, it may come to challenges like that all the time in business where you have to make a decision like oh, I made a mistake and a cost somebody some dollars, maybe cost them a client $1,000. But I really should make good on that I should pony up, tell them my mistake was made and cover as far as my business expenses. Or you could say, but nobody’s going to find out. If I don’t say anything. It’ll never be found out. And so occasionally, if people jokingly criticize him might say you’re transparent. You’re too transparent Ron, and I go, that’s one of my core values is everything’s on the table. Even if you don’t know about it, if I feel it wasn’t right or whatever, I’m going to always put all my cards on the table and do what I believe is right and your behalf and we’re called to do that in our business as fiduciaries. But I try to live it and I’m not saying I’m a saint in any way, but I have a system that I start feeling guilty if I don’t Up to, it’ll drive me nuts. So, it’s always, there’s another concept I read, and it was always do more than you’re paid. And so, you be paid more than you do kind of plays into that in a nonfinancial way. Always do what’s right, always treat the other person best, and then it’ll come around to you. So, in marriage, the same thing, if you’re always thinking of your spouse, you want what’s right for her, then you’ll get what you want the end from that. And if you try to be selfish, it’ll come back and hurt you that way. So, it’s a little bit of a Karma thing to do what’s right all the time.

Rob  10:27

Yeah, no, I hear what you’re saying. Because it has when you live that way, and sometimes it even talking about it almost sounds like a brag, right. And we’re also called to be humble, right? But in reality, when we have that in our mindset, and we live that way, and we think about it consciously in all the interactions that we have in life, whether it’s working with somebody on our team, or working with a client, or having a disagreement with a family member, if that’s always there kind of creates some momentum that just allows it to build and show and spread. Because when I think about somebody living with that kind of value, that kind of integrity, you know, I think about how it radiates around them, you can just see how it impacts their decisions and other people in their lives. And it’s, it’s like that light that’s hard to dim, you know, maybe the cloud passes in front of it every once in a while, but the light is still there.

Ron Dickinson  11:24

And you’re right, though, you have to be very careful. Because if you can, you can come across as bragging, egotistical, especially when you combine it with heavy passion. So, when I get excited about things that have heavy passion in this, I’ve been accused of that before I proceed that egotistical in the short run. But in the long run, I think it winds out in trust and strength with other relationships eventually.

Rob  11:46

So, is there anything that you do to intentionally share those values that integrity with you with your family with, especially with your with your kids? Or do you just live the way that you feel that you should live and then hope that it transfers to them? Or some, some combination of the two?

Ron Dickinson  12:06

Yeah, so hopes not a strategy, right? I think for the most part, I try to live that way, for people that I don’t have permission to share with and try to demonstrate integrity and thinking about them. But with my kids and my wife, we talk about it directly. And I try to model, and I might come home and say here’s what I did, you saw what I did, here’s why I did that. And here’s what I hope the result is. So, I think part of that transparency, and with your families to mentor them, and my boys are grown now. And my oldest one is ready to be mentored by him. In some respects, he’s turned out to be a good man. So, it takes a lot of mentoring. And I think between my spouse, my wife and I, we have mentored each other over the years. So, when you get married, you tend to grow to a new creation that’s different than either one of you individually. So hopefully, I’ve influenced her. And she’s definitely influenced me towards certain things. And so that’s a slow process over time meld together. And coworkers, they think I’ve been very blessed with long term long term good workers. And I hope that is the interplay of this thinking of each other first.

Rob  13:09

yeah. Well, as I mentioned to the audience a bit ago, we’ve worked together for a long time. And that certainly one thing that I could witness to is that those values that you have, have certainly spilled over to your team, because they’re so great folks who really care about each other. But also, when we have conversations about what’s going on in the business, the client first high integrity attitude is very evidence does that way of living and Bing and thinking influence who you’d like to take on and work with as a client, you know, because sometimes, you know, in the industry, we get really hung up on, you know, my ideal client has X number of dollars, or their bank account, or their net worth is this big, and we put aside the other stuff and cross our fingers and kind of hope we get along. Is there anything that you do or think of intentionally, that really helps you determine who you can serve best?

Ron Dickinson  14:05

Well, early in life, I’d say, when I first started business, I would take anybody who had the ability to pay me and that backfires. Eventually, I did get to a point probably 15 years ago where I was willing to fire clients or release clients or reposition them to somebody else. And the satisfaction of that is somebody who creates negative energy for you. Having that off your plate is just so tremendous. I haven’t had to be overly selective lately I’ve been I have clients I enjoy you know, you when you meet with a prospect, you can tell I’m really going to enjoy this client, we dovetail our core values dovetail or their mode of operating in life, we don’t tell together and so I think there’s an attraction process that you know, when the fit is natural, and then there’s other prospects. I mean with that, maybe I just don’t encourage you strongly or they’re not a good fit for me, but they may be for my partner or the other people working here. So not everybody likes me, and we don’t know Neck chemically with each other, but they might with somebody else if they’re a valid client, I’m getting more selective as time goes is limited amount of time limited number of years left with it. So, I’ve been, I feel very, very blessed in my relationships. I’m not sure I selected clients, or they just dovetail together between employees and family and customers. I like a lot of Greenland relationships in life that I enjoy.

Rob  15:22

Well, I think that’s part of that is attraction that comes from the things we were just talking about a little bit ago that those values that integrity, because it does reflect on those people that are around you. Because for some people that might just not be what they’re what they’re looking for, for whatever reason.

Ron Dickinson  15:38

I’ve been, you know, customers, I’ve had some customers for 30 years now. And like you go out to a movie together or dinner together, but they’re friends after certain amount of time, and you want to do what’s best for them, you have an obligation and employees 10, 15 years or more that I’ve been blessed with.

Rob  15:54

And I guess to maybe to put that in in perspective, you started out although your primary business now is that of an RIA, you started out as a CPA and did tax work for years. And then that spawned a small kind of fledgling RIA business, that’s when we first met. And since then, it’s grown to a very significant practice with a several 100 million dollars under management and grows every year. And it’s a great business.

Ron Dickinson  16:23

Yeah, an exponential curve to it. That’s worked really nicely. But yeah, it started doing tax returns, nuts and bolts and serving people and had big clients have really small clients. And I used to say, I didn’t care if the person across the desk was a millionaire, or a welfare mother, when they had their hour or two with me, they were king or queen of that hour. And my job is to help them maximize their situation. And over time, I don’t know if I deselect the clients or selected others, but they just kept growing and growing types of clients. But a lot of tax returns business returns. And at one point, we decided to start up an RA practice because I was just actually people requesting it from me, like I want you to manage my money. Like I just kept saying that I go, I don’t do that. I’m a CPA, but I want you to do it. And I’m retiring next year, and I started thinking about it and I go, Well, maybe I could. And so I went took the BFS from the CPA society and got my CFP license and started small, you know, just under 10 million in the first couple of years and started working those services and figuring it out and modeling other people that I respect, and it just kept growing. Yeah, so we’ve grown up probably 350 million right now management at two other advisors with me in the office. So yeah, it’s been very nice. It’s great. I sold the CPA firm a number,

Rob  17:32

it’s a great team, you know, one of the things that you said that I think is really important to re-emphasize when you talked about that hour that you gave a client, whether it was a small client or a big client, you always reminded yourself that that was their hour. And I think that’s really important and good to think about. Because in this world, it is so easy to be distracted, especially if we’re doing more stuff online. And we allow ourselves to be to be distracted, you know, and we do we do things that we wouldn’t do if we were sitting one to one with our best clients, we if we were sitting with our best client a one-to-one meeting, we wouldn’t check our text messages or email or you know, whatever it might be, we would give them our full attention. And I think when we’re working with a client or talking to a prospect, maybe even one that we may choose not to bring on as a client, they gave us you know, a lot of respect by coming to us and saying, hey, you know, can you help me would be we’d be a good fit for each other. So, give them that hour give them that attention. And that can carry over into the way that you mentor your kids or your teammates or serve on the causes that you care about.

Ron Dickinson  18:45

Yeah, it’s really obvious when you’re not engaged. And my wife reminds me of that constantly. Would you look up from your whatever you’re reading and listen to what I’m trying to tell you? Yeah, so that’s your metric to me, and I don’t do it on purpose, but I do it and I apologize and then re-engage, but with clients, you need to be engaged.

Announcer  19:10

Are you ready to discover your true purpose, live with impact and build an ever-greater legacy? Then you need to make time for what truly matters most. Go to truest fan.com/challenge to begin the free Truest Fan seven day QuickStart.

Rob  19:35

So, I think my favorite lesson of the seven truest fan lessons is that smiles, and kind words go a long way. What do you do to make other people smile?

Ron Dickinson  19:48

That’s off the cuff. So we do a lot of joking in the office of poke at each other a little bit and they just did the guys in the office do we sometimes maybe curious too far, but we enjoy that banter and have fun In a way, and just maybe come in and tell, tell if somebody smile, otherwise just compliment them or just when they say something, well tell them they did something well, but we tend to be very focused, firm and sometimes too much head down and quiet and go about our business. And once why he’s got to break up that monotony of it. So, I’d say it’s maybe not the best person at that.

Rob  20:19

Yeah, I actually think you’re very good at it. Because to me, part of that is, you know, that those kind words and that acknowledgement that you give people regularly. And I just think that is so important, because there are times like, like we’re going through now with the market where people may be a little bit more on edge, making sure that they have the proper perspective. And they’re realizing that the planning that’s done, the work that’s been done is putting them on the right track that they don’t have to put their put their head down

Ron Dickinson  20:47

with customers, clients, helping them understand that they’re going to be okay. And I still remember back in 2008, when the market was crashing, unraveling, I was very nervous. And Miro talking to you, and you said something about, oh, they had 5 million now they only have 4 million, you know, that’s a real problem, isn’t it? It’s like, oh, from five deaths, 35,000 foot view, it’s not a problem, they still have plenty of wealth. But from their perspective, it’s very nervous. And maybe with seasonality to my life, that’s I’m getting better at coaching people to let them know, it’s okay, these are normal cycles. This is even this last one where the market dropped 20% you show him statistics or remind them of other cycles, we’ve been through, say this is statistically in bounds. This is typical that this happens, it’s normal, it’s even healthy, even though we don’t like it. And your financial plan is in order. And we predicted all this stuff already. And it’s going to be okay. And once you get through some of those really bad cycles and saw the resiliency, then eventually the market comes back, you have more faith in it. Yes, I have a lot of faith in our economy, it gets tough.

Rob  21:49

Yeah. And I think that’s one of the ways that you that I when I think about you, and the way that you encourage your team and your clients on the business side of things is you speak about that resilience of the economy. And that’s also I think, part of your core beliefs, that this is a great country. And we can’t forget that as we are living our lives and planning for the future.

Ron Dickinson  22:11

Capitalism, I believe in America, and there’s times there’s negative parts to it. There’s a greed-based system, unfortunately, and greed takes us too high and takes us too low and fear and but eventually it works out for the betterment of everybody overall good. And so even when chips are down, you have a confidence of faith that there’s going to be a light at the end of the tunnel, you don’t want to be backed into a corner, though, had a relative use to save when he was younger, you could make a bad decision. It was what else could I have done. I was like, well, now that you’re in the corner, nothing but you could have not gotten yourself back into that corner by doing these steps ahead of time. So not have an excessive debt. Everything is paid off, having lived on less than you make all the things that make you successful actually sound kind of boring. They’re not some magical pyramid formula that you need to be involved in and stick to the knitting, do the basic things right over a long period of time. And these reminded people, they’ve done it, and they’re in position to be safe, and they’re okay. That’s part of our job, we do as much counseling as I do money management.

Rob  23:06

Absolutely. So just a couple of more questions. So one, sort of a quick question, is your firm currently accepting new clients?

Ron Dickinson  23:15

Great question. Yes, we are. We always say we’re busy, but we’re always looking for more. Okay. And we’re fortunate to be less accessible.

Rob  23:22

So, with that in mind, there might be some folks who are listening to this call who resonate with your values, or maybe their bicyclists too, or I didn’t say that you are located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, right outside of Omaha. So those are all things that on top of this great discussion, people might say, hey, I’d love to talk with Ron or somebody on his team, what’s the best way to connect with you and kind of figure out if you’re a good fit for each other.

Ron Dickinson  23:47

So, a lot of people will go to our website is to investigate. And so that’s Dickinson. investments.com. And do my name on the screen is spelled Dickinson. And we have videos we post every week, a podcast, we do a one thing this week, and all three of us will post once you can watch those and just say is this somebody I want to be working with? Or you call us directly.

Rob  24:11

Yeah, I’ll put your contact info in the show notes. But I would be, sorry for the barking in the background. It’s definitely real. But anyway, it’s a long story. I won’t go into why he’s barking. It’s kind of kind of bad, bad timing. But I’ll put in the show notes how to how to get in touch with you. So that to make it clear. And one thing that I would also encourage folks to do who might be interested in talking to you is every week Ron and or someone on his team posts a short podcast video called One thing This Week, and they do a great job with that. So that’s something to look for. So last question, Ron, is, you know, reflecting on what we’ve talked about so far, thinking about your values, the importance of not sacrificing who you are for what you want, realizing that things Take time, there’s a process to things that building a Million Dollar Portfolio starts $100 a time you share these great nuggets, is there anything that you have that maybe pulls that together or you want to share with the audience before we log off?

Ron Dickinson  25:13

I think it’s just important to have a perspective of have a certain passion in life and always be learning and even when I entered your retirement years, I don’t plan on stopping sitting in a chair to help drive a bike as long as possible, but there’ll be a point where I can’t, but you always want to be learning and pushing it keeps life interesting. Otherwise, it’s just going to get boring. And I’ve seen people kind of settle into a routine that’s not very exciting for them and then they lose interest in life. And so, the old baseball analogy you want to come in sliding into home plate all scraped up and leaving nothing, nothing on the field behind Yeah, so live life to the fullest. Have passion and whatever it is for you. Enjoy, enjoy, other people in relationships.

Rob  25:53

I think you’ve demonstrated to the audience that that’s what you do, and you’re biking with the way that you love and care for your family and the way that you’ve built a great business. So, it’s been excellent having you as a guest on the Truest Fan podcast. Thank you so much. And thank you all for listening in. Please leave your comments. Rate the show you love to hear how we’re doing on the Truest Fan podcast. Until next week. Remember, I’m rooting for your success. 

Take care.

Rob Brown

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