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Investing During The Pandemic: Eszylfie Taylor On What We Should Do With Our Money Considering All Of the Volatility and Uncertainty Today

An Interview With Jason Hartman

As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eszylfie Taylor.

With a client roster that includes Hollywood celebrities and legendary Hall of Fame athletes, Eszylfie Taylor has achieved his unprecedented success at such a young age due to a combination of education, motivation, a positive outlook, and a deep desire to help others improve their lives. He began his career at age 22 with New York Life Insurance Company, where he soon reached the ranking of #1 Broker in Los Angeles and #1 Agent for the company’s African-American market. Recently, Eszylfie was chosen as the face of LinkedIn, where he was featured for his remarkable story in national commercials and billboards as well as being tapped to be the lululemon yoga representative for Los Angeles. His scientifically-backed lifestyle app Mind. Body. Money. just launched with the purpose of bringing together video content to help people open their minds, move their bodies, and grow their money.

Eszylfie currently sits on the board of three non-profit organizations dedicated to business empowerment, children’s health, and social services in addition to mentoring upcoming youth as the Founder and Head Coach of Futures Stars Camp. Beyond his passion for business, he is raising three daughters in Pasadena, CA, where he still resides.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

Initially, I was drawn to the industry because I wanted to be successful. I had always had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to do really well; my goal was actually to be a millionaire by the age of 25. I graduated college at 22 and figured that for 3 years, that was a pretty big goal. But I came into the business with admittedly, if not selfish aspirations, delusions of grandeur. 20 years later, I’ve shifted away from the mindset of “what do I get out of this business?” into “what can I give to my clients?” I think about the skills that have been provided to me that allow me to help people and make an impact in their lives, which is definitely the driving force today.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

It’s not so much amusing but I’ve learned not to judge a book by its cover. I have learned that some of the seemingly most successful people with the nicest clothes and the fanciest cars are the ones who are in financial ruin and those that come into my office in a t-shirt and jeans might be worth 30 million dollars. It has taught me to engage with people, not to judge them, and really ask questions to find out where they are coming from — more times than not, you will be surprised.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m always looking to grow. In life, you are either green or you are brown, you are growing or you are dying, there’s no staying the same. So I’m always looking to grow and I continue to expand my footprint across the country. I’m licensed in virtually every state in the country. I’m always bringing on new advisors and new staff. Just want to provide better service to my existing clients and provide a bigger reach. I think there are so many people who need help and guidance and don’t know where to turn. If I have anything to say about it, I’m going to put myself out there and be a resource for them.

I think one of the things I’m doing that’s a little different is going through this media chain. I have a docuseries that I produced called Mind. Body. Money. and a Mind. Body. Money. app in the app store that really speaks to the balance in those three areas: mindset, health & wellness in your body, and good stewardship of your money. My mantra isn’t to tell people what to do per se but just to educate people and show them how things work. When people know better, they can do better. I want to use this platform I have of a national presence to spread the message.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I don’t think I can point to any particular person or experience that shaped my life — there’s a myriad of experiences. As a child, I had a really influential basketball coach who imparted the principles of hard work, dedication, and perseverance to me that translated off the court to school and into my business. I like to shock the world, I like to do things that people think would be impossible. Most things in life seem impossible until someone does it. That’s what sports and that mentor did for me, he showed me that no matter what physical gifts or talents or tools you have, if you don’t put in the work and take action, it’s all for nothing. That’s what I’ve seen in sports and in life. You might have people with all the “macho gifts” that don’t work, and they don’t do much. And then you have people with average gifts and talents that really work and are dedicated and passionate that do well. I saw that in sports and I saw that same thing translate into life.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Anxiety is really just a state of mind. The advice that I would give to people to remember that is that the past is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That is why they call it the present. I encourage people to be present in the now, to focus on the things you have in front of you and to take advantage of them. Don’t worry about the things you cannot control.

Do you have a problem? “Yes!”

“Can you do anything about it?”

“No.” Well then don’t worry about it! No matter what, I am not going to give any energy to things I cannot control. I have learned to completely detach myself from the outcome — I don’t control the outcome, I control the effort. I am 100% focused on the process and what I can control.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know the stock market and the economy in general have become extremely volatile and uncertain. Many people “dollar cost average” and put aside a monthly sum into a long term savings plan for retirement, college, or a home purchase. If a loved one or a client came to you and said, “I have been saving and investing $500 every month in an S&P 500 index fund. Over the next few months until the dust settles, should I be doing something else with my money?”, what would you say to them?

The answer to that is really based on the individual. But ultimately, no one has ever called me upset to say that they have saved too much money, so I don’t think you can ever go wrong with saving. The challenge is, if someone calls me to ask if the market is at a high, if now is a good time to buy, if the market is all at a low, etc. No one person knows that, and that is exactly why dollar cost averaging is valuable. What are you going to buy when the market is high, what are you going to buy when the market is low, but on average you are getting the best price.

The only additional piece of advice I would give someone is, if what you are saving for is a relatively short-term goal, for example you want to buy a home in the next three to six months, then I might take less risk because if there is a correction, I don’t have the time to recover from it. If it is moderate to long term objective, you should, historically speaking, be okay.

Eventually the economy will recover and rebound. Certain sectors, like travel and hospitality might be hurting for a while. But other sectors, like technology and healthcare, might do very well. If someone wanted to prepare today to take advantage of the future recovery, what would you suggest they do?

There are the three I’s: the Innovator, the first to something; the Imitator, someone who follows suit and does well; and the Idiot. What you should do is counterintuitive to what you feel. What I mean by that is that when the market is at its all-time high and everyone has made all this money, what are you compelled to do? You want to say, “yeah, I’ll get on this train, and I’ll do that same thing, too” right? Then the market drops and there is a correction, then you are saying “I lost!” Warren Buffett would say, “When everyone wants to get into the market, I want to get out. And when everyone wants to get out of the market, I want in.” The whole premise of making money in the market is buying low and selling high.

What I look at is this: what stocks or funds can I buy that are good value but undervalued are undervalued right now and that I believe have long term utility? Especially if we are looking at the potential resurgence of the coronavirus and another shutdown, things that have scale and utility and that don’t require in-person utilization of those goods and services. That’s what we saw with the Amazons and Zooms of the world. They shot up during the pandemic because they didn’t require in-person; they were built for remote services.

Are there sectors that provide exciting and lucrative investment opportunities today, specifically because of the volatility and uncertainty?

We’re in unprecedented times. We are in the midst still of the longest bull run our country has ever seen. We had a major market correction since 2008. I wish I had a crystal ball and I could tell you. I like long term things that deal with infrastructure and technology; again, things that’s have utility. Oftentimes you try to think of what the most creative or innovative thing is, what makes people’s life easier and more efficient. Those are the sectors and companies I would look to.

Are there alternative investments that you think more people should look more deeply at?

Alternative investments can be a nice addition to an investing portfolio. When people oftentimes think about diversification, having four different stocks is not really diversification because it is one particular asset class. If I add some alternative asset classes, perhaps some business development funds and investment trusts to my portfolio, then I can have different types of risks and different types of yields associated with my investment portfolio. I don’t believe in a perfect product but I’m a firm believer in perfect planning through balance and diversification.

If a person in their thirties and forties came to you today and said that they have $10,000 that they want to put away today for a long term investment what would you advise them to do with it?

If they had $10,000 for the long-term into retirement, they’d probably be better served to look at some kind of retirement account versus an after-tax account because they will get some tax deferrals they wouldn’t otherwise get in an after tax account. But again, very individualized — what’s the timeline and what are your risks? On a scale of 1–10, with “1” being conservative and “10” being aggressive, where do they fall? In general, especially if someone is getting in for the first time and they don’t have a lot of money, mutual funds inherently offer less risk and more diversification than individual stocks do because with individual stocks the value of your portfolio is tied to the performance of a company so it could do really well — or not. In a fund, there is a conglomeration of stocks so there is a ton of diversification due to the number of individual stocks. This can allow people who are getting in for the first time to get their feet wet and fall less into volatility.

Ok, thank you! Here is a more general finance question. You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

You have to identify your why and where you are going. For example, say they want to buy a home in ten years at a certain price range. Great, now there is a target. What is the down payment? Now you have your numbers. Now that there is a number, you have to identify risk tolerance. So its identify:

  1. What is your objective?
  2. What is your timeline?
  3. What is your risk tolerance?

And this will determine the mix. In and of itself, there are hundreds of thousands of individual stocks out there so when you really start to narrow down the “why” and the risk tolerance, then that take thousands of options down to probably dozens. Those are the things I’d really be focused on. Once you’ve made that choice, stay the course. Don’t get too high on the highs, don’t get too low on the lows. There is always going to be volatility in the market. Any time the market has been trading at a loss, it has recouped those losses one hundred percent of the time. The question is then “when?” If the time arises and you are properly diversified, based on past performance, you should be okay.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” This is about give and get. You can give, you can share, it doesn’t take anything away from you. Think about a candle that is lit and a candle that is not lit, when you touch them together what actually happens? For a moment, that flame actually gets bigger. It’s all about sharing and giving and connecting with other people and it will come back to you. Perhaps not even from the person you helped — maybe it’s someone who watched what you did and saw your spirit, you don’t know. I just believe that no good deed goes without something coming back to you.

I’ve learned the more I give and share and connect in my life and the less its about what I get out of it, the more I’ve been blessed and the more I’ve been given.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’m all about the power of the mob. J. Paul Getty is the first recorded billionaire in United States history and came up with wealth building. To put it simply, I’d rather earn 1% effort from a hundred people that 100% of my own. I think if we can all come together and just do a little bit, even if we feel like asking “oh, does my individual effort really matter?” Mother Theresa said it best: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone in the water that makes many ripples.”

If we all just do a little bit, if we all get better, if we all participate, if we all did that. There is the recent Tweet-off with Elon Musk asking him to give 10% of his Tesla stock to end world hunger. Whether that’s true or not, he responded something like “okay, show me that plan and I’ll do it.” But when you think about it, you can look at it by income and give a particular percentage. What would it be if every American said, “I’m going to put in $100 to end world hunger” and if everyone did just a little bit, although those numbers are more consequential to some than others, we can make MASSIVE change. Just a little bit from a lot of people can have a monumental effect.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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