How to Make Business Decisions Based on Your Mission and Vision: Entrepreneurial Advice with Patrick Donohoe

“Long-term success requires you to be crystal clear with what your mission and vision are. It also requires the ability to use those things as a guide to make the best decisions.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick Donohoe, the President and CEO of Paradigm Life, an insurance and financial services business whose mission is to inspire people to take control of their financial life and pursue financial independence. Founded in 2007, Paradigm Life has advised clients in all 50 states and in every province in Canada on reliable financial strategies that reinforce their mission. As a result, Patrick was named one of the nations “Top 100 Most Influential Advisors” by Investopedia.
Additionally, Patrick hosts The Wealth Standard podcast that covers an array of financial, economic, and personal development topics. The Wealth Standard is frequently ranked among the top financial podcasts on iTunes, and boasts over 250 episodes with a variety of notable guests.

What is your backstory?

I had my first professional “awakening” in 2002 when a friend adamantly encouraged me to read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. The book changed my entire life and made me realize that I didn’t want to pursue the standard path of corporate America. Almost everything I read in Rich Dad, Poor Dad was a complete contradiction of what I was taught and told to do with my life. It was a lightning bolt to my life.

Shortly after this experience on New Years Day 2003, I moved to Utah (from Connecticut) to finish school. I loved it so much that I decided to make it my permanent home. After graduating with a degree in Economics, I bounced around for a few years, working in different, finance-based industries. It was during this time that I met the person who would become my mentor. Her name is Kim Butler, and she’s a former financial advisor to Robert Kiyosaki. It was her guidance and coaching that eventually inspired me to form my own company at the end of 2007.

Then, 2008 hit…

The near collapse of our national economy left my company, Paradigm Life, and my personal life in a state of chaos. My business felt like it was in ashes and my partners had all departed and gone their separate ways. I was on the verge of bankruptcy.

It was like divine intervention or serendipity. I had faced the reality that I had failed. It was time to close the doors and start figuring out what me, my wife, and our young family were going to do next. Then, out of the blue, a series of random events started to stack on top of one another. I reconnected with my mentor Kim who provided some much-needed inspiration, and a local marketing and investing company called me about partnering on some educational material for their clients.

The next thing I knew, all of the time I had spent planting seeds and networking started to pay off. A trickle of interest became a flood and we took off! Paradigm Life tripled its size in three years, and we’ve been growing ever since.

I feel very blessed to work in an industry that continues to have such a massive impact on the lives of so many people.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

Story 1:

There is a facet of the financial industry that I was oblivious to prior to 2011 — financial publishing. This multi-billion dollar industry sells newsletter subscriptions, coaching programs, memberships to high-level mastermind groups, tickets to live and virtual conferences, and more.

On a family vacation in the winter of 2011, I randomly came face-to-face with Mark, one of the pioneers in this industry. He wrote a dozen books on personal finance, marketing, and business, and played an instrumental role in transforming one of the biggest publishing companies in that space — now at over $1 billion in revenue. I knew none of his background, yet found myself walking up to his office, about to shake hands with a legend to talk to him about my business.

He had, without a doubt, heard every financial strategy out there and had been pitched on every one of them — but I was somehow meeting up with him.

Here is the backstory — Mark’s partner Tom had contacted me a few months before having heard from a client of ours about the type of insurance policy and strategy we specialize in. This partner was fascinated in what we do because he had never heard of it before.

We ended up doing business with him and he lived just an hour north of where my family was spending Christmas. So we set up a time to meet in person. After we had lunch, he arranged for me to meet Mark.

Mark’s office was right out of a movie — it was beautiful. Past the unsuspecting front room was a pool room, art studio, and massage area. His office decor and ambiance felt like what an executive office at the top of the Empire State Building in the 1920’s would have been like. He had dozens of pictures on the walls of him playing golf, fishing, or speaking at events with all kinds of notable people. Tom introduced me — “Mark, this is Patrick. Patrick, tell Mark what you do…….”

With a frog in my throat I fumbled through my words as they came — not even prepared.

Their publishing company ended up doing a series of essays, webinars, and newsletter segments about the financial strategies we specialize in at Paradigm Life, which helped Mark and Tom grow their business by several multiples.

Paradigm Life also grew tremendously and still has a great relationship with them to this day.

Story 2:

I think it’s incredible that we have such a diverse mix of people that work for Paradigm Life — from former lawyers and radio personalities, to professional rodeo cowboys. We’ve somehow come together from very diverse backgrounds to create something powerful that’s completely different than any one person’s individual background. We even have a Wealth Strategist that used to be the commander of a top secret attack submarine in the Navy. Sure, we work really hard, but we have a ton of fun in our office and everyday brings something new to keep us all in stitches.

In my book, Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: A Financial Strategy to Reignite the American Dream, I talk about relationships being the most valuable assets on your balance sheet. Relationships are what saved me time and time again and came through at perfect moments.

When you create value for people and benefit their life, they have the natural inclination to reciprocate. Sometimes it’s immediate, sometimes it’s over time, but every major opportunity I’ve ever have had has reinforced that belief.

A commitment I made to myself is to do everything in my power to keep bridges intact, even when people take advantage or don’t value the relationship as much as I do. In several instances, those relationships have became positive and fruitful over time.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

In 2015, I created The Cash Flow Wealth Summit with two of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Advisors, Tom Wheelwright and Andy Tanner. The Cash Flow Wealth Summit is a one-of-a-kind, two-day online event that features an elite faculty of 40 high-profile experts from around the world, all lecturing on a variety of wealth-based topics. Unlike other events, this summit is available to anyone anywhere in the world. We just wrapped up our fourth annual conference, and have already started plans for 2019’s event.

I’m also heavily involved with the Prosperity Economics Movement that I co-founded with my mentor Kim Butler and her husband Todd Langford. The three of us are also developing a new financial software company that will solve some of the biggest challenges financial advisors face in gathering, securing, and utilizing client data.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

Those that fought and challenged the status quo and, in some instances, sacrificed their life for it.

I’ve also been inspired by the revolutionaries during the enlightenment period in europe — those that inspired the Founding Fathers, such as Descartes, John Locke, Voltaire, and Adam Smith.

Ayn Rand is someone who inspires me through writing. She definitely challenged the status quo. She articulated the capacity that humanity has to create and the ideal environment in which it does so.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from?

I like to read books that make you think deeply — usually topics on philosophy, psychology, and human behavior. Examples are all of Steven Pressfield’s books — short, concise, and powerful. Letting Go by David Hawkins, Biocentrism by Robert Lanza, Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, and books by Deepak Chopra always make you think.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

I write about topics, ideas, and strategies that are not mainstream and are often considered to be against the grain. In my opinion, the grain isn’t working and there is very little valuable advice on what Americans should do differently with their life, both financially and in general.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

Do it! Don’t be afraid to share your passion, commitment, and dedication with others. You may go on to inspire those same three qualities in people you’ll never personally meet. Push yourself to overcome the notion that the world wouldn’t benefit from what you know.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I am a partner in an organization called The Prosperity Economics Movement (PEM). The mission of PEM is to empower financial advisors to learn the whole truth about money and apply sound financial principles to the advice they give to their individual clients.

Here is some background: Since the late 1970s, due to ERISA legislation, high interest rates, and a few other factors, the modern day financial planning industry was born — using the stock market as the primary means for individuals to save. 40+ years later, its history has offered lackluster benefits to individuals, and superior benefits to financial institutions.

The majority of financial professionals that give people advice today are heavily influenced by these same institutions, which they represent — specifically the financial products that are offered. These behemoth companies not only influence the financial advisor, but likewise the general consensus of people as to how they should manage their money and what products they should buy.

The Prosperity Economics Advisor learns the whole truth about money and bases their strategy and advice around principles, not the underlying financial product or the companies that back them.

PEM carries out this mission by hosting monthly educational webinars, an annual live summit, and an online membership platform that trains advisors on how to apply the principles of prosperity economics to actual financial strategy.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why?

  1. I am in the relationship business, not the financial business. Had I known what I know now when I started Paradigm Life, my focus of study would have been much different. All the numbers and math on earth won’t save you if you don’t have the ability to expertly communicate your vision and get others to believe in it. Relationships and trust are crucial in this process.
  2. The importance of leadership. Management isn’t leadership, but leadership without management usually ends up in failure. True leaders don’t lead from the top. They lead from the ground, working hand-in-hand with their teams.
  3. Establish core values and make your decisions through them, not through your instincts. Doing this helps override emotional responses and decisions. Not only for yourself, but for your team as well. As my company grew, the dynamic of different personalities, opinions, and perspectives converged. When challenges arose in whatever capacity — marketing, sales, HR, etc. — nobody wanted to be the one to blame. So, meetings and dialogue got heated. People got offended. People felt wronged. When you put differing opinions up against one another you will no doubt have conflict. And there is rarely progress when you have unhealthy conflict. Core values are static, unchangeable principles that provide a common ground to situations like these. One of the values my team has is to operate with a team and family spirit. I describe this as having eachothers’ backs and working together. When conflict arises, the principle of team and family spirit allows for open dialogue and healthy debate, not a blame game.
  4. Value the principle of focus. Long-term success requires you to be crystal clear with what your mission and vision are. It also requires the ability to use those things as a guide to make the best decisions. If a decision aligns with mission and vision, do it. If not, say no. This also applies to teams. We have a structured business rhythm where we operate in three four-month cycles. These cycles are short enough to be motivated immediately and long enough to make a difference. We start each cycle by agreeing on certain company initiatives and goals. Then each department creates their goals that support the overarching ones. Normally, each team member has three KPI (key performance indicator) goals and two professional development goals. Incentive compensation is tied to these goals and paid out when the cycle ends. The company stays focused and so does each member of the team.
  5. A foundation to business success is the culture you operate within. Several years ago I read something that impacted me greatly. At the time, I had ill feelings towards certain members of my team. These attitude made me not want to come into the office sometimes. The book made the case for how families are impacted by the office environment they work in. The idea was that people spend most of their professional life away from their families and loved ones. If the office environment is unhealthy, toxic and people aren’t valued, that affects their personality and subsequently how they treat their family. The author tied suicide, drug addiction, alcoholism, and divorce to how the individual was treated in their professional life. That did it for me. We parted ways with over a dozen people over a six-month period of time.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with?

  • Simon Sinek
  • Dan Ariely
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Thomas Sowell