INTRODUCING MICHAEL GORDON: FAMILY MAN, SPORTS FAN, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
Michael Gordon is Chief Business Development Officer at Independent Advisor Alliance. As CBDO, Michael is focused on being a private practice consultant by engaging and challenging financial advisors who are currently affiliated with an independent model as well as advisors who are looking to break away from the traditional bank and wire house platform
MICHAEL GORDON’S BACK STORY
Team Sammy: Share with us a little bit about growing up – your family and community.
Michael Gordon: I’m married and a proud father of four. I love spending time and having fun with my family, reading, working out, and cooking. I also enjoy collecting sports cards, especially with my son, discovering great sushi restaurants, coaching sports, being involved at my church, and volunteering at organizations that are important to me and where I hope I can make a positive difference.
HALL OF FAME PARENTING
Team Sammy: Tell us about what it was like growing up – your family and community?
Michael Gordon: I grew up outside of Philadelphia in the Garnet Valley area. Although I moved away many years ago, I still love cheering on the Eagles and the Phillies, and I have fond memories of my hometown.
When I was growing up, my dad owned his own business – a business that he worked hard to build and grow successfully. From him, I learned the value of hard work, the importance of believing in yourself and pursuing your interests and talents, and the reward that comes from creating something you can be proud of. My mom was nurturing, supportive, and always there to love us and cheer us on. My parents led by example, and my siblings and I learned a lot from them both.
As a kid, I loved playing sports – especially baseball. It was a great way for my dad and I to bond, and I have so many good memories of our time together on the field or hitting together in the batting cage that he built in our back yard. I also loved just being outside – playing in the creek, spending the day exploring the woods near my house, and playing sports with friends. I’m thankful for the childhood I had and the strong foundation it provided.
A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE
Team Sammy: What was one of your first money memories?
Michael Gordon: I remember one Christmas when I was young – maybe 6 years old. My dad asked me if I got everything that I wanted for Christmas. For some crazy reason (being 6 years old), I said no. He asked me what I didn’t get that I wanted – and I really couldn’t think of anything. After struggling to come up with something for a few minutes I said Matchbox cars, even though that wasn’t really true.
After that fun exercise, he told me to get all of my new toys together, because in the morning we were going to drop them off at the shelter for all of the little boys and girls that didn’t have anything. Although my dad ultimately decided to let me keep my toys and we donated some other toys to kids in need, I learned a very valuable lesson that day about being thankful for all I’d been given, and about how important it is to remember and help those who are less fortunate.
I’m thankful my dad cared enough to teach me those lessons at a young age.
A FAMILY TRADITION
Team Sammy: What was your first saving experience or memory?
Michael Gordon: I collected baseball cards from the time I was very young – something I still enjoy and do today with my own son. I remember having to save money to buy my own cards, and my parents would match what I saved to encourage saving.
I also remember when I went to buy something, I would take forever and shop multiple stores for the best deals. Although I’m sure it was frustrating to my parents to have to drive me all over town, I’m thankful they spent the time and energy to help me learn the value of saving and spending my money wisely.
WORKING WITH DAD
Team Sammy: What was your first job (formal or informal)? How much did you earn and what you did with the money?
Michael Gordon: My dad was an electrical contractor and had his own business. At an early age during the summers and on breaks from school I would work with him. From working with him, I learned not only how much expertise and effort went into his trade, but also the value of a dollar well-earned.
SAVING FOR A RAINY DAY
Team Sammy: Did your parents talk to you and/or teach you about money / personal finance growing up? What do you remember? What, if anything stuck?
Michael Gordon: My dad always told me to save your money for a rainy day and to pay cash when you could. He was old-school for sure. He also felt it was very important for me to pursue my education. Although he was very proud of the business he built, he wanted me to have the chance to pursue my own interests, and to have unlimited opportunity, as long as I was willing to work for it. I was the first one in my immediate family that graduated college. That was very important to my folks.
PARENTS LEAD KIDS FOLLOW
Team Sammy: Who was your primary or one your main money mentors as a child or teen?
Michael Gordon: I’d have to say that my parents were probably my primary mentors when it came to money and most other things. They taught me a lot about the value of money, and about how it’s important to find the right balance between spending and saving – between spending your money on things you enjoy in the present, and saving money for things that will be important in the future. They lived that example out for us, and I was thankful for that example.
A WAKE UP CALL
Team Sammy: At what age and how did you come to realize money had a value?
Michael Gordon: Attending private school was a real wake up call for me in terms of understanding the value of money. I attended Malvern Prep, and my parents definitely made a lot of sacrifices for me to be able to do that. I saw how hard they worked to invest in my future, and I feel so thankful for the investment they made, and for the faith that they had in my future.
A DOUBLE PLAY: LEARNING AND EARNING
Team Sammy: Did you work as a teen and/or in college?
Michael Gordon: I worked with my dad primarily in the summer months, and while I was in college, I had a variety of non-paying internships. I attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where I majored in Economics. Fortunately, that opened a lot of doors for me in terms of internships that I could try to see what types of work I enjoyed and what suited me best. I worked for Citibank in London, UK, UBS in Winter Park, Florida and Janney in Philadelphia. I never worked full-time in college though – getting grades was job number one.
QUALITY IS A KEY
Team Sammy: What was one mistake and one smart money choice you made as a kid or teen?
Michael Gordon: I loved collecting cards. I was a part of the junk era of collecting. I wouldn’t trade the fun and the experience but looking back, I would have collected vintage cards and held onto them.
Team Sammy: What peaked your interest in personal finance?
Michael Gordon: I was always interested in business, stocks, and money. I remember investing as a teenager before the dot com bubble. That was fun for sure, everything went up.
ONE MONEY HABIT
Team Sammy: One question, I ask everyone is: If you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be and why?
Michael Gordon: I think it’s of immense value for kids to realize that money should have three primary purposes – spending, saving, and giving. If it’s important to you, and to your family, the first 10% of what you earn is for God, and for giving to those in need. The rest should be a blend of saving and spending – it’s important to find that balance between enjoying the fruits of hard work and buying things that make you happy, and saving for a rainy day. Give, save, spend. That’s a balanced and healthy approach to money that will serve most people well.
THOUGHTS FROM MICHAEL: COVERING ALL THE BASES
Team Sammy: If you have any thoughts on the following, feel free to share your thinking:
Is important to teach kids about money? Why? At what age should parents start?
Michael: Teaching kids to have their money work for them at an early age is a core principle that should be taught. The freedom to live your life on your terms by making good decisions and not to be beholden to anything or anyone is priceless. Being able to obtain financial independence so you can pursue the things you really value and feel passionate about is paramount.
Should personal finance be taught in schools?
Michael: I am not a huge fan of the current school system….a topic for another day perhaps. But yes, personal finance should absolutely be taught. Not everyone is fortunate enough to receive this sort of education at home, so learning the basics in school can pay huge dividends for kids, and for our economy generally in the long run.
What are you thoughts on student debt?
Michael: The college system is broken. Outside of a handful of schools that provide substantial scholarships or give students the opportunity to fund their own education through work and involvement at the school, there simply aren’t many ways to get a college education these days without also incurring an often crippling amount of debt. For a young person, that’s a very difficult way to start the first chapter of their lives when they’re on their own. I actually just had this very discussion the other day. I enjoyed my college experience, but fortunately didn’t have to pay much for it because of my scholarships. If I had to pay tuition out-of-pocket today, I never would. Community school for two years, vocational schools, and transferring in are all things that I would consider, depending upon the circumstances. Of course, everyone is different – it ultimately all depends on your passion and what path you want to pursue.
Any thoughts on credit cards?
Michael: Credit cards are great if used appropriately. They can build credit and help you in times of emergency. I definitely made the mistake of maxing out a few credit cards while I was working in London during college. I learned a lot about the currency exchange because the pound was strong and expensive. I don’t regret it though because I was able to travel throughout Europe and knew that I would never have that chance again.
Do you have any financial pet peeves?
Michael: I hate wasting money on things that seem needless – things like buying water at a gas station five minutes after leaving the house when we could have thought ahead and packed our own. Things like paying more for one item at a store when I could get the exact same item somewhere else for half the price. I suppose it all goes back to my frugal baseball card shopping habits as a kid – that desire to be savvy and smart about what I spend my money on has never really left me.
Having said that, I have learned that paying for experiences and things I enjoy are worth it to me. Experiences and good memories are priceless, and they’re well worth the money they cost.
I listen to Tim Ferriss quite often. During one of his podcasts he mentioned something about testing himself to see what he can go without. If you force yourself to eat ramen or sandwiches all week, you learn you really can get by without a lot. There is so much waste and so much excess out there. It’s all about carefully considering what you value, and what you can go without.
Do you have a favorite book on personal finance or money management. Does one lesson stand out – what is it?
Michael: Think and Grow Rich (and The Richest Man in Babylon. I actually read both of these books fairly recently, and will certainly be buying copies for my children and nieces and nephews.
What about a favorite quote?
Michael: I have two:
(1) Albert Einstein said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
I’ve always loved that quote because of its simple truth. I’ve found that often the most successful and happy people aren’t those who chase success and money for its own sake, but rather those who pursue their passions and give to others – those kinds of investments always tend to multiply and produce greater happiness in the long run.
(2) As a kid who grew up loving baseball, I always loved that Babe Ruth said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
There’s a lot of truth in that simple statement. We should never be afraid to take chances, to make mistakes, and to recognize failure as an opportunity for growth. Our next home run might be just around the corner, and we’ll never know if we don’t keep trying.
I also love to tell my kids they are real life superheroes. When I ask them, “What is your greatest strength?” they know that it’s “The power to choose.” I hope they’ll always remember that.
Any favorite magazines, websites, resources?
Michael: I love podcasts. The access to information is incredible. Tim Ferris, Tony Robbins, and The Harvard Business Review are a few of my favorites.
Any financial heroes?
Michael: My parents showed me the value of a strong work ethic, and of choosing to save and spend money wisely. Those early life lessons were invaluable to me.
If your goal is to make money that won’t be a life fulfilled. If you find something fulfilling, the success will come and your greater power will provide.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MICHAEL GORDON
To discover more about Michael Gordon, family man, sports fan and financial advisor, check out his LinkedIn Profile.
Sammy Rabbit loves championing and raising awareness on the importance of early age, youth and family financial literacy education.
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