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036: Dr. Jordan Grumet - Getting to Good: Mitigating Risk & Regret In Life & Finances
Episode 362nd December 2022 • Mindful Money • Jonathan DeYoe
00:00:00 00:47:19

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Dr. Jordan Grumet, or Doc G as he is affectionately known, is a doctor of internal medicine and a hospice care medical director turned financial blogger and author. He has been a financial independence blogger for a decade and hosts the award-winning Earn and Invest Podcast.

Today, Dr. Jordan talks about his roots growing up in Evanston, Illinois, what it means to live a regret-free life, and what inspired him to write his book, Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth, and Living a Regret-Free Life. Jonathan and Dr. Jordan discuss side hustles, following your passion and the powerful life lessons Dr. Jordan has learned over the years from his hospice patients.

📺 Watch on YouTube

https://youtu.be/hxgjKuB9CVk

Key Takeaways

01:01 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Dr. Jordan Grumet, who joins the show to share his background in hospice care, financial independence lessons, and what it means to live a ‘regret-free’ life

08:11 – Growing up in Evanston, Illinois

09:41 – How Dr. Jordan got into blogging about financial independence and what inspired him to write his book, Taking Stock

16:20 – Dr. Jordan’s approach to writing about finance

19:01 – The parable of The Three Brothers

21:54 – Passive income and the fallacy of retiring early

25:40 – Dr. Jordan breaks down a simplified financial plan

28:58 – Side hustles

33:15 – Common themes Dr. Jordan hears from hospice patients on their deathbeds

38:47 – The Life Review

41:50 – The last thing Dr. Jordan changed his mind about and one thing he would like others to know about him

Tweetable Quotes

“How do we have a good death? We live a good life. How do we live a good life? We start thinking about those things that are deeply important to us - those things we’ll regret when we’re on our deathbed if we don’t pursue them now. And we start to think about how to live a more purposeful life and bring those things into our day-to-day, as opposed to putting it off until some other time.” (02:40) (Dr. Jordan)

“I took this phone call and it was Jim Dahle. He wrote the book The White Coat Investor and he asked me to review it for my blog. I read it and it changed my life. It defined what financial independence was for me. It gave me the vocabulary to understand my finances. Within a few hours I realized, ‘Hey, I actually have enough money and I could stop working today.’ The problem with that is the only way I’ve ever felt a sense of purpose or identity was being a doctor. And now I wanted to walk away from this thing that I felt like it was crushing me. But then who would I become and what would it mean?” (10:51) (Jordan)

“We can be different brothers at different times of our lives. Sometimes we can use the techniques of each of them. The idea is not that you define yourself as one. It’s that you use these archetypes as guides to help you decide how you want to build your financial life.” (20:41) (Dr. Jordan)

“I think the more evolved way is to really get rid of that ‘RE’ [Retire Early] thing and just start thinking about what’s the best way to bring purpose, identity, and connections into your life regardless of what path you take. And we’re finding that you don’t necessarily have to stop working to do that.” (24:50) (Dr. Jordan)

“I think side hustles ultimately allow us to bring passion and necessity together in one place. And that’s why I think they’re very powerful.” (30:29) (Dr. Jordan)

“It just drives home this point that it’s not whether you succeed or fail. It’s that you put your energy and time into doing the thing that was important to you.” (35:22) (Dr. Jordan)

Guest Resources

Dr. Jordan’s Website

Dr. Jordan’s Financial Blog

Dr. Jordan’s Twitter

Dr. Jordan’s Book

Earn & Invest Facebook

Earn & Invest Twitter

Earn & Invest Podcast

Books Mentioned:

The White Coat Investor Book

Financial Freedom

Mindful Money Resources

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Transcripts

Jonathan DeYoe: Hello. Welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Dr. Jordan Grumet affectionately referred to as doc g. That’ll probably be easier for me to remember going forward. He’s a doctor of internal medicine and a hospice care medical director. He’s been a financial independence blogger for a decade. He hosts the award winning earn and invest podcast. We’re talking to Jordan today about his new book, Taking Stock, a hospice doctor’s advice on financial independence, building wealth, and living a regret free life. Jordan, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’m excited to have you, and I’m excited for the conversation. You know what I want to start with? Usually I start with something that’s a, uh, softball. But now that I’ve just screwed up the intro a little bit, I’m going to go right into some depth. Why regret free? Why is that in the title?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: So my thoughts are that people come to me all the time asking how to have a good death. I’m a hospice Doctor, right? So people want to know all about death. Is it scary? Is it painful? How do I have a good death? And what I always tell people is, you tend to die the way you lived. So if you lived a peaceful, happy life, then you’re probably going to die a fairly peaceful, pain free death. And then people go further and they say, well, how do I live a happy, peaceful life? And I say, you know what? When I talk to my hospice patients, a lot of the time, a lot of the things we end up talking about are regrets. It’s the things they wish they had woken up to and done while they still had time. By the time they become hospice patients, there’s so few days and months left over that these big things in their lives that they always want to do, it’s often too late to then go and try to do them now. So how do we, uh, have a good death? We live a good life. How do we live a good life? We start thinking about those things that are deeply important to us. Those things we’ll regret when we’re on our deathbed if we don’t pursue them now. And we start thinking about how to live a more purposeful life and bring, uh, those things into our day to day as opposed to putting it off till some other time. Putting it off till we retired or putting it off till we have enough money, or putting it off till we have enough emotional energy to do these difficult things. I think the goal is to start doing them now.

Jonathan DeYoe: I know you know this because you’ve been writing in the fire community for a long time, I should say the phi community for a long time. But the idea that regret minimization is probably the better way to look at it than happiness, like satisficing. I’ve heard it say well being, but the whole idea is we’re human and we regret, and so let’s think about it up front and decide what we’re going to do. And so we make better choices.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yeah. Happiness is a difficult term. I have a few thoughts on kind of what we’re actually striving for. Right? So we like to say happiness, but it’s such a broad term. And obviously you can’t be happy all the time. So I think the better question is, how do we spend as much time as possible doing the things that are purposeful to us? So I figure we have a set amount of time on this earth. It’s not a commodity. Time passes no matter what we do. So all we really have control over is what we put in those specific time slots. How do we fill that time? So, I think happiness looks like filling your time with as much purposeful work as you can and then minimizing work you don’t like. Right? So how much of our time are we spending doing things we don’t like? Because we have to. Because that’s how we make money, or that’s how we take care of our things or whatever it may be. How do we minimize those time periods and maximize those where we’re doing things that really feel fulfilling to.

Jonathan DeYoe: So I got to go back to the beginning here. Where do you call home?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: I live in Chicago, outside, actually, of the city where northwestern university is located. So it’s Illinois.

Jonathan DeYoe: That’s my wife. That’s where my wife grew up, Evanston. Her father just sold her house in Evanston, I don’t know, two years ago. So, uh, he moved to wisconsin. You like it there? Beautiful.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yeah, I do. I grew up here, moved to various places, and then when I decided to settle down with my wife in practice, we came back and we really do like the community.

Jonathan DeYoe: So just curious, growing up there, what did you learn about money and entrepreneurship?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: Interestingly enough, I lived in two very different places. So I grew up in Evanston, and then when I was seven years old, my father died unexpectedly. He was a doctor, and he had a brain aneurysm. He went to round at the hospital one day, got a severe headache, collapsed and died. Evanston was a little bit of a rougher town. There wasn’t as much wealth as where I eventually moved. So a lot of times in Evanston, I learned more about the hustle, like how to get things done, about street smarts, those kind of things. My mom eventually remarried, and we moved just down the way when I started high school. But it was in winneck, Illinois, a much more affluent area. Interestingly enough, again, the street smarts wasn’t the same. I got all that from Evanston, but what I learned in Winneck and what I learned in that school district is these were people who were born into money, so there was a confidence about them. They kind of knew how you got things done. Even the high schoolers had a good idea of how businesses work, how someone makes money, how they look at the stock market. These were the people who were going to go and become ceos of companies when they grew up. So I kind of learned different lessons from each place that I live.

Jonathan DeYoe: I have actually never heard anyone talk about their experience in high school as if, yeah, these are the people who are going to be ceos in the future. They know what’s going on. They understand business. My son was a freshman when he was a freshman. I’ve been in this business for 25 years and as a freshman in a very good high school, private high school in the Bay area. And he brought a bunch of seniors, a couple of juniors and mostly seniors, and they were all worried about money. They all had no idea about money. They all had no. And this is a very affluent, well to do high school, private school in the Bay Area. Pretty well to do place, and they didn’t have that experience. I’m just curious, what were the markers that let you say, hey, these people know what’s going on?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: Well, one thing you also have to remember is we’re talking about the 80s as opposed to now. So remember, in the was this overwhelming optimism, especially going into the 90s. Nowadays, the likelihood you’re going to make more than your parents seems like a very difficult thing to do. But that’s not how it felt in the kids had amazing modeling when it came to business from their parents. Their parents were the movers and the shakers. These were the people who just got it done. They were the millionaires and billionaires. And so I think their children were modeling that same behavior. So there was this assumption that, yeah, I’m going to do well, I’m going to do well in school, I’m going to take over dad’s business or mom’s business, or I’m going to create my own business. And so I think there was just more of an understanding that it was quite possible and there was a way to get there. Whereas when I grew up in Evanston, you didn’t have as many of those ultra successful parents. So it was more like, I’m going to have to hustle my way to survive, which in itself, I think is a really important skill set. But it was very, again, different from what I got in the more affluent area, where it was just assumed you’re going to survive. The question was, how are you going to one up your parents? How are you going to be as successful as them? What can you do to set yourself off, even as a young kid?

Jonathan DeYoe: Do you have any particular experience as a kid growing up? And probably the Evanson piece, maybe the other, where this became integral to your money story.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: That’s an interesting, uh, know. It really taught me that there were different ways to survive. Right. So the people that I grew up with from Evanston and I maintained some friendships during high school, and then I compared them to the kids I went to high school with in Wineca. The kids from Wineca went to better colleges, took on more corporate jobs. The kids from Evanston were much more, you know, one failed out of college, went back, eventually became a lawyer. One ended up working at a local Walgreens, but then rose through the ranks and eventually was manager of multiple Walgreens. So it was a lot more scrappy. On the other hand, I saw people succeeding with a lot less means. So when I look at how I view money today, we look at money as a tool to be successful and do the things we want to do. But there are other tools, too. And what I saw from the kids that I grew up with in Evanston is they were really good at using their community, their connections, their energy, and their youth to get ahead because they didn’t have that major tool of money that some of the kids did in places like Winneca. So that was kind of something I really carried with me, the fact that you have a lot of tools at your disposal, and you can be really thoughtful about which ones you use to be successful.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. But before we dig into the book, how does a doctor get interested in financial independence and fire and fi and blogging, and how does that happen?

ed blogging about medicine in:

Jonathan DeYoe: So what do you think is a bigger influence on you? Was it the white coat investor, or was it your hospice patients?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: I think they have very different influences. The white code investor taught me how to structure my finances, how to invest appropriately, how to define financial independence, how to consider what financially is enough. My hospice patients helped me understand more about emotionally. What’s enough? It’s a very different question. Again, money is a tool. I don’t think it’s, uh, our ultimate goal. So I didn’t understand the tool, and that’s why I was struggling. Once I understood the tool, I still had to figure out what are my real goals in life. And that’s where kind of the teachings of my hospice patients really came in.

Jonathan DeYoe: Okay, so how did you get from your blogging? Did someone say, hey, you should write a book? Or did you just decide, you know what, I’m going to turn my blog into a book? Or did you start from scratch and just, I have some thoughts here, let me write a book. How did you get to the book?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: So I’ve written books about medicine in the past, and I self published, and I never put much into it. Right. I took a bunch of stories, a bunch of blog posts, threw them together, had an editor do some basic work on it, put it out, didn’t market them. So it was not particularly successful. I had always wanted to write a book and traditionally publish with a traditional publisher, but a, I had a lack of knowledge, and b, just like my hospice patients, it’s one of those things I really wanted to do, but I was using every reason not to do it because it was painful, difficult work. I was too busy. I didn’t have enough time. It cost too much money. Whatever it was, I found an excuse. And a friend of mine really took me to task a guy named Grant Sabatier. Some people know him. He wrote the book financial freedom. He’s got a pretty successful platform. Him and I were chatting one day and he’s like, look, I’ve read a lot of your stuff. I think it’s amazing. He’s like, you’re a really unique voice with some unique experiences. You need to write a book about this. And he pushed me, and I’m really glad he did because it let me get rid of all those excuses with him pushing me, not only did he said, look, you need to write this book. But then he said, I’ll help you. It’s like, I’ve published a book. I have an agent, I’ve been through the process. I know how to do a book proposal. All the reasons why, I kind of told myself, you can’t do this or it’s too hard. And he was just saying, no, I’m going to help you do this. This is something you should do. And I’m really thankful that he did that, because this was one of those things that was deeply important to me. And I kept putting it off, and all of a sudden I had no excuses. And it really clicked in my head that all of a sudden this was the right time, right place, and I had the right resources. So often when you talk about whether it be a blog or a podcast or any kind of content, I’ve always had this theory, you got to be the right person at the right time, saying the right things, and you can be the right person at the right time, but maybe you’re not saying the right things, or you could be saying the right things at the right time, but maybe you’re not the right person. It all of a sudden made me realize that this coalesced, and I was the kind of unique person to say this at a time where we’re really struggling with what money means in our life, where the fire financial independence movement has evolved and is evolving towards purpose and identity already. And all of a sudden, I had all the right resources and it kind of clicked. And I said, if I don’t do this now, this is never going to get done, and this is the time to do it. And that was kind of what changed everything.

Jonathan DeYoe: So how did you. I’ve written a book. It took me a long time. I’m in the industry writing the book, right? So it’s a little bit, I had the content background and I had a bunch of things I could quote and write, all that stuff. How did you go about writing a book about finance? I mean, you’d already been blogging for a while, but what was your step by step process?

one. I had been writing since:

Jonathan DeYoe: So, reflecting on the book itself, it sounds like it’s a mix of you interviewing patients, your personal experience, maybe some direct research. So a question. Do you have two brothers? I mean, there’s three brothers. Do you have two brothers? Uh, is it autobiographical?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: So it isn’t really, because we don’t match up. Right. So we don’t match up the way the story of the three brothers, it’s a parable. It’s about how you get to financial independence. The eldest brother is more the kind of grind it out, work really hard, make a lot of money, and retire early, kind of that typical fire movement person. The middle brother is more the side hustler, passive income person, and the youngest brother is more the passion play. Right? They just go for what they love, and they feel financially independent right away, as long as they can make enough money to support themselves. The truth of the matter is, I’ve been all three brothers at different parts of my journey. So actually, it’s more than anything, it’s autobiographical. But I happen to be the youngest of three brothers anyway, but in different parts of my career, uh, I’ve really been all three brothers. I mean, I started as the youngest brother when my dad died. I wanted to be a doctor, and that was my passion in life. I would have done that regardless of what you paid me. I had no interest in even thinking about money at that point. But at some point, I got really burned out, and then it was like, I need to make as much money as fast as I can to retire. And all of a sudden, I was the eldest brother. That kind of typical financial independence, retire early practitioner. But then in doing so, I started looking at medical side hustles, and one of them, in this case, was hospice. I could be a hospice medical director, make a few extra. Would just need to be available for some texts and some phone calls and a few weekly meetings. And so, in a sense, I also became a middle brother. So in lots of ways, I’ve been each of these. And that’s kind of part of the philosophy of the parable of three brothers, is you don’t have to be just one. We can be different brothers at different times of our lives, and sometimes we can use the techniques of each of them. The idea is not that you define yourself as one. It’s that you use these archetypes as. I wouldn’t say instructions, but as guides to help you decide how you want to build your financial life.

Jonathan DeYoe: So when you were thinking about three brothers, two brothers, four brothers, did you have any elements that didn’t really fit the three that fell outside that, or do you think the three is complete?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: So I’ve since interviewed a friend of mine on my podcast, and he calls himself a, uh, fourth brother. He says that instead he backloaded the sacrifice. So this is someone who lived a great life but didn’t think much about money, and now he’s playing catch up. So it’s the idea of doing all the hard work at the end. So, for me, I really love the path of three brothers because it just defined different ways of looking at life. But there are many paths, right? There’s many different ways to look at your career, to get to financial independence, or even to look at relationships or other parts of your life. But I think the three are most instructional because it gives you an idea of how we can do things differently. Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: So the three brothers is one of three parts of the book I wanted to just talk about. So we’ve kind of talked about that. The second thing I want to talk about is the hallmark of fi, like passive income. Talk about Fi. Why not re. And then talk about passive income?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: So, passive income is interesting. Part of the reason is a lot of us don’t believe it really exists. What passive income probably is, is residual income. It’s actually front loading, the sacrifice, working really hard, setting up these income streams, and then doing maintenance once they’ve been set up. So it’s not exactly passive, but it always has been the dream of financial independence. If passive income is your thing. The idea is to develop these revenue streams so that you can make enough to cover your monthly needs. And in a sense, once you do that, you’re financially independent. At least if we take the definitions of the second brother, it’s a great way to live. The issue always with any of these ways of becoming financially independent is there’s some risks, right? So if you’re a big fan of passive income, you know what? A lot of people realize they can’t make enough money on passive income to actually support themselves. It’s really, really common. The other issue is, let’s say you build up your passive income streams and you’re doing wonderful, and then a Google algorithm changes and all of a sudden your online product isn’t getting as many hits. Or you wrote a book, but a better author comes along and all of a sudden everyone starts buying their book or a better podcaster. Or you invest in real estate, and all of a sudden, in your area, for whatever reason, there’s a nuclear explosion and real estate goes down, right? All these things you can’t control. So the risk of passive income is you get to the point where your passive income stream may dry up. Now, the other question is generally about financial independence and retire early. As I define the parable of the three brothers, it’s really only the first brother that’s searching for early retirement. It’s almost a fallacy, this idea that retiring early is the thing we want to do. In my opinion, we really want to live a life of purpose, identity and connections. Now, the eldest brother doesn’t like their path, they don’t like working, or they don’t like the job they have. So for them, the only thing they can really do is put off purpose, identity connections till they make enough money to retire and then pursue those things. And I think that was really the old way of thinking. I think the more evolved way of thinking is looking at it like a middle or youngest brother, where what you’re really trying to do is find ways to bring in purpose and identity into your life now, as well as have some financial means now, whether that be through passion, finding a job you love that supports you, or whether that be through passive income. So at some point, after you’ve front loaded the sacrifice, you have more time on your hands and could start doing those things you want to do while you’re not maintaining your passive income. Either way, the point being is that you don’t necessarily have to retire early. If you’re into the passion play you may be working in your, as I say in the parable, you get to the end of your path, you may turn around and start to walk back the way you came. In other words, you’re going to keep working as long as you’re physically able, because your work is actually fulfilling a sense of purpose and identity for you. So I think the more evolved way is to really get rid of that re thing and just start thinking about what’s the best way to bring in purpose, identity, and connections into your life, regardless of what path you take. And we’re finding that you don’t necessarily have to stop working to do that.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I totally agree. When I got your book, that’s the chapter I turned to, is basically get rid of re, because I completely agree. Instead of retiring early, we should do things we like. We should have more purpose, more passion, more engaged. Right.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: Often, uh, we find that when we stop worrying about retiring early and start doing the things we like, some of those just happen to produce revenue you like. I like hospice work. I would do it even if you weren’t paying me for it. But you know what? It pays pretty decently. So I keep doing it because I like doing it, but I make money at it, so I’m not really, quote unquote retired. On the other hand, this is something I would do regardless.

Jonathan DeYoe: Um, that’s beautiful. So you actually heavily simplify financial planning, and there’s like four legs. So can you just break out your simplified version of a financial plan?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: I certainly can. And part of this book, and I warn people, this book was intentionally light on the personal finance, financial independence specifics. And the reason why is there’s so many great resources for that. I just didn’t feel like I had to be another voice that went through all the specifics of how you save and invest and build a portfolio, et cetera. There’s so many people who do it better than I do, and so I didn’t want to go there. And so the book itself brings these topics up, especially for someone who’s not familiar with them, but it doesn’t go into the depth that you’ll find elsewhere. But, yes, I often talk about a, uh, financial plan like a table. And the idea is to have multiple legs supporting that table, so that table is stable, right. You don’t want it to fall over every time the wind blows. And so we look at people’s financial lives, and sometimes it sounds really familiar. You have the one legged table, right? Someone who works for a company, and if they own any stock, all the stock is in that company. Their health care is set up through that company, everything they have. And what can happen, of course, if they lose their job or if their company goes bankrupt, something like Enron, they kind of lose everything because they were dependent just on that company. Then you can look at adding another leg to that. So let’s say you have your employment, you have your company, and then you start investing in an S and P 500 index and some bonds. All right? So now you have another leg. So a, uh, two legged table is not perfect, right? If you put them in each of the corners, it can still stand. Maybe if the wind blows, it’ll still stay up. But again, there are other things we can do to make it more stable. We can throw in a third leg, something like a side hustle, right? So if you put a side hustle in now, you’re much more stable. Now, if one leg is taken out, you still have the other two legs to hold you up. And then last but not least, we can think of other things. And I use three different leg or four different legs, but you can substitute. Right. So for some people, it could be an annuity, right? Some people have a spea or annuity that gives them some income in retirement. That could be one of your legs. God forbid, I’m not a fan of it. Some people have stuff like crypto as part of their process. I wouldn’t suggest it, but some people do. Or you could throw in real estate and that could be one of those legs. The point is to be fairly well diversified, have multiple income streams, and you want to protect your financial house. You want it to stand through the hurricanes and the tsunamis and all the things that can happen, because we all know they will happen. We’re all going to go through lots of economic downturns. God forbid we may have an illness ourself or a death in the family. Things are going to change. We may be laid off when we don’t think we will. So the idea is to risk mitigate, to have a stable structure that is your financial house, so that when unexpected things happen, we can be okay. Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: To risk, mitigate and regret. Mitigate. There’s another book title for you. That’s your next book.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: That should be the next one.

Jonathan DeYoe: So one of the legs is that side hustle, build your own business kind of a thing. And I guess you could probably sub out crypto and real estate for that one as well. But since you’re sort of running your own program and you’ve built your own blog and you have your own podcast, can you speak to the benefits, the non financial benefits of running the program, of having the hustle. And I’m assuming that your evanstonian self is the one that sort of brings the hustle, right? And speak to that connection?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: Well, first and foremost, we’re going to do some kind of work our whole lives, whether we’re retired or not. We may call it something like employment when we work for someone else and we get paid, but even in our retirement, we’re going to do our dishes, we’re going to mow our lawn, we’re going to do things that are work. So I guess the big question is, what kind of work do you want to do? For me, I start thinking of side hustles as, why don’t we look at things that have some purpose for us, that give us some sense of identity, things we like doing. For me, it was hospice work. And why don’t we pursue those? And why don’t we pursue them joyfully? If it happens to make money, great. If it doesn’t, that’s also fine. But again, when we’re talking about our financial house, we’re creating yet another leg of stability. How can we start adding in strength to our foundation? When you work for yourself, when you do a side hustle, a lot of whether you succeed or not really is up to you. Whether you pivot, whether you change, whether you learn, whether you modify. It’s not like when you go to a job and work for someone else where their financials may change and you get laid off or the company may fail, or they may decide they don’t need your skills anymore. I think side hustles ultimately allow us to bring passion and necessity together in one place. And that’s why I think they’re really powerful. Side hustles make you learn. You can learn. If you’ve never owned a business, you have to learn how to incorporate that business. You have to learn how to do the accounting, you have to learn about the taxes, but then you also learn about the field. I was not a hospice expert when I started doing hospice as a side hustle, but it pushed me to learn and to get certified and to work with other hospice professionals. And again, it also bring me joy. It was the kind of thing I found I like doing, and it was exciting to embark on this new path. If you’ve ever started your own business where you sell something, there is nothing like the feeling when you look online and see that first sale go through. I mean, there is just a huge sense of joy. You could be making $100,000 a year. And yet you sell that first thing and you make $5 on it, and you are, like, the happiest person in the world. There’s just something about it. So side hustles give you not only financial stability, they give you passion. They give you happiness. They give you drive. They give you something to do in your free time that’s meaningful. All of these things are good. I can’t think of a reason not to. And nowadays, because of the Internet and how the world is set up, you don’t really have to put a lot of money into starting a side hustle. A lot of side hustles are expensive as setting up your own website, getting, hosting, maybe, like, I started a podcast, I had to pay for my microphone, $70. None of this is too expensive. I can’t think of any reason you wouldn’t do it.

Jonathan DeYoe: Right. I love the idea that the side hustle is the thing that forces you to learn more and in depth about the thing that you want to learn more and in depth about anyways. It sort of holds your feet to the fire. It’s the self accountability. It’s beautiful. I love the side hustle.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yeah. I mean, for me, I knew, like, I started podcasting because I wanted to talk about money. One thing I learned in this quote, unquote, side hustle is that I love interviewing people. And that sent me in a whole different place where I started studying people who interview people and what are good questions and how do you structure a conversation? I had no idea how much I would love that, but I would have never known unless I started this side hustle.

Jonathan DeYoe: Who’s your favorite interviewer that you studied?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: Oh, that’s easy. That’s Terry Gross. I love Terry Gross from fresh air. I also love Oprah Winfrey. Who doesn’t love Oprah Winfrey? Right. But to me, that’s one of the ways I want to spend my time. I want to interview people and use as few words as possible and ask succinct questions that get them to tell their truths, get them to tell the special things about them that no one else knows. And I think that’s a fantastic skill and will be interested in it till the day I die.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, it’s fulfilling. I agree entirely. There’s a ton of noise out there. How do you live a better life? How do you get more financially successful? You sort of have a unique insight into folks basically literally on their deathbed. Right. So could you tell us one thing that many of the people share that you walk through this process that’s something that they would have spent more time on. I really wish I had. Could you share that one thing?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: There are countless things that people answer that question. I wish I had spent more time doing x, talking to y, pursuing z. Everyone is different, and it really depends on who they are. But I’ll tell you one thing that really strikes me, that we get wrong. People regret that they never had the energy, courage, or time to try the things that were important to them. Not succeed, not meet their goals. It was really the trying. I have so many examples of people who failed ultimately to meet their goals, but on their deathbed, it wasn’t whether they succeeded, it was that they had the courage to try. And I think that is key. We’re all so afraid of doing hard things because we fear we won’t succeed or, uh, we fear we’ll suffer while we’re trying to do these things. But what you’re going to regret is what you didn’t try to do, not whether you succeeded or not. And that’s a real take home. I’ll give you an example, which I’ve given multiple times in the book and on podcasts before. I had a patient named Ernesto, who, in his 20s, decided to leave his high paying job right in the midst of when he was building his career, take a year off, train, and eventually try to climb Mount Everest. Now, when he got there, uh, they were in the midst of climbing. The weather changed, it became dangerous. They had to come back down, and his time was up. He had to go back home. He never succeed. But when he was dying in his forty s of leukemia, that’s all he could talk about. And it wasn’t that he could talk about that he didn’t finish or that he didn’t get to the top. He wanted to talk about what it felt like to be pursuing his dream. And again, it just drives home this point that it’s not whether you succeed or fail, it’s that you put your energy and time doing that thing that was important to you.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Wow. I hear that over and over and over from coaches, from any kind of business person, uh, doctors. It’s just don’t be afraid to try. Do really put the action into it. So what’s just another way to look at the same kind of a question, a little bit in the reverse? Is there something that people worried a lot about, thought a lot about, and then come to the end of their lives? Like, I don’t know why I spent so much time worrying about that.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yeah, money. I mean, no one on their deathbed says, I wish I made more money. Like, I died with a net worth of 500,000, and I wish I had a million. No one says that. No one says, I wish I worked more nights and weekends. Money is something that takes up a lot of our emotional energy and, in fact, distracts us from thinking about the real important things. And, um, so what you find is what people regret is that they became clouded. Maybe it was by money, maybe it was by society’s expectations. Maybe it was their family’s expectations, or maybe it was their own unrealistic expectations of what they should be doing or what they should want. You know, when you’re on your deathbed, you drop all that, and for once, you’re able to look at your crazy out there dreams and say, was this possible? Wasn’t this possible? Do I still have time? And so the real question is, why can’t we do that now? Why can’t we drop all society’s expectations and listen to those whispers that tell us what we really want in life? And I think they’re there, right? People wake up in the middle of the night excited by an idea and can’t go back to sleep. By the next morning, they tell someone else that idea, or they start talking to themselves and they crush it. They tell themselves, it’s not possible, or I’m not the person to do it, or that’s just not important. What I need to do is go back to my job and do my nine to five and make money. And I, uh, think we all stop paying attention to those whispers at some point in our lives after childhood. And only later, when we get to our deathbeds, do we start listening to them again. And so the question is, what if we started really doing those things that felt important when we were much younger, when we had a little more time, a little more energy, maybe even some resources to pursue the things we really wanted to do. I was a victim of the same exact thing. You know, the first thing I did in medical school? My first week of medical school, I became a volunteer in the inpatient hospice program at Northwestern and loved it. So did I go into hospice right away? No, I told myself, that’s not what I’m going to do. I’m going to go into eternal medicine. I’ll make more money. I’ll be more important. I’ll be like the investigator who makes all these great diagnoses. I had all these reasons in my head why I couldn’t do hospice. And I burned out. And I eventually found hospice at the end of my career and found a real sense of purpose and meaning in it. What if I hadn’t listened to all those voices in my head and said, hm, this feels real purposeful and meaningful to me. Why don’t I start here? Maybe I would have never burned out. Maybe I would have never gotten to financial independence based on some number, but I would have loved my job, so I would have been happy working until I was 70 doing this thing that seemed really important to me. Yeah, I think we have to start listening to those inner voices and not being afraid to pursue some of the things they suggest.

Jonathan DeYoe: So how do you calm the noise enough so that you can listen to the inner, so that you can hear the glimpse of that inner voice.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: So when we work with hospice patients and we get them physically comfortable, and we manage their nausea, and get them in a safe place and their family around them, we do something called a life review. And a life review is just a structured series of questions where we ask people about their lives and ask them about their hopes and dreams and their failures and successes, and we really go through and talk about their childhood and their adulthood and the important relationships in their life. And it’s really a time of discovery where people can really be thoughtful and introspective about who they were, what was important to them, what they did that was great, and what they did that wasn’t so great. And so I think, uh, a real way to quiet all those outside voices is that we should be doing life reviews as younger people, maybe every six months, maybe every year. I think we should sit down in a quiet place and turn off our phones and start asking us those really important questions. What was important to us? What were our dreams? What dreams do we have as a kid that we let go of? Why did we let go of them? I mean, these are all questions we can ask ourselves, but we have to be thoughtful and intentional about giving ourselves the time and space to actually listen and be introspective.

Jonathan DeYoe: Another good book idea would be just a list of those questions with empty space after them to help us, to trigger us to, uh, write.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: And there are some templates for how to do a life review. They’re out there. But the idea is that we need to start being thoughtful about these big questions. And certainly there’s no reason to wait till you’re dying to start asking them.

Jonathan DeYoe: Do you think that social media hurts us? Hurts our ability to really sit down and think and be introspective, meditate, whatever?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: I mean, I think it can certainly, depending on who you are. It also tries to convince you that someone else’s version of happiness should be yours. And so one of the things that I’ve learned from the dying is it’s really unique. What our sense of purpose and identity is, are very unique to each person. So for one person that could be working on and trying to solve climate change, for another person, it could be procuring a modern art collection. Everyone is slightly different, and we don’t need to be the same. Like, your purpose doesn’t have to be any more meaningful than it makes you feel good and brings a sense of peace to your life. Some people will have a sense of purpose that tries to change and impact the world, but other people will just try to create activities that make their days worthwhile, and that’s all. Okay. And I think social media homogenizes that and makes it seem like purpose and identity are very specific things having to do with lots of expensive stuff and looking really good. And we all know that that’s not real life. It’s just a portrayal of how we think things should be. Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: You’re not looking at anything fringe, usually, because it has to be sort of the middle of the bell curve attention span. Right. I just want to say thank you for coming on and talking about all these things and sort of bringing the meaning and the purpose, uh, into the beginning and the end, actually, of the conversation. A couple of personal questions. One is, what was the last thing you changed your mind about?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: What was the last thing I changed my mind about? I’ll tell you a big thing that I wouldn’t say recently, but within the last few years, I changed my mind about when I started understanding financial independence. I thought everyone had to be the eldest brother. And I met a guy named Cody Berman, who’s a young guy who worked for about six months, decided work wasn’t for him, and started side hustles and passive income, and is obviously fabulously successful now. But I realized that my version of how I thought we should do our careers and the way we should do things was somewhat antiquated. It was very Gen X, it was very kind of me, a 49 year old white male way of looking at things. And he really softened me up on this idea, which eventually became the parable of three brothers, is that there’s really lots of different ways to get where you want to be and that there isn’t only one traditional path. And I think that, for me, was really eye opening. It was a real big sea change in my way of thinking about things. Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, that’s beautiful. Is there anything people don’t know about you that you really wish that they did?

Dr. Jordan Grumet: That? I really wish that they did. I think, obviously, there’s lots of things people don’t know about me. In some ways, I like to say that as a podcaster and someone who writes about finance, I’m looked at as a financial expert. I am, um, by no means perfect when it comes to personal finance. In fact, I do lots of things wrong. Like, for instance, if you’re looking at the fi community, most of my wealth is either in tax deferred 401 traditional iras, or in real estate that I own, et cetera. I have almost no Roth Ira holdings. I’ve not done backdoor iras. I haven’t done all these things that people in the fi community, I, uh, think are so important, because at some point, I looked at my life and I said, the hassle for doing it and the gain that I’ll get from it just isn’t incrementally as important as my time and my energy and my interests. So there are lots of things I like to cut corners on financial things, because I’m convinced that if you can get 80% of the way there, you’re going to be just fine. And we love in this community to spend a lot of time talking about that top 1% of things. So I don’t own any I bonds, I don’t do high yield savings accounts, like, none of that stuff. Now, some people say, well, you’re privileged. You’re in a place of money. You can do that fine. But my point being is that on some level, we need to get to good first, and then you can decide for yourself if you want to try to get to perfect. But I think we need to spend a lot more time getting to good.

Jonathan DeYoe: Jordan, I’ve been doing this professionally for 25 years, and I can’t agree with you more. I mean, people really get lost in the details when 90% of your long term benefit is going to come from two decisions. It has nothing to do with all the detail crap that we talk about. But, uh, the detail crap does sell books. It does create advertising for podcasters. It does create all kinds. Opportunity, opportunity. So there’s someone with a course that will sell you something, for sure. Tell listeners how they can get in contact with you, how to get your book, et cetera.

blog that I wrote from about:

Jonathan DeYoe: Book out and I would recommend you check the book out. Great book. It’s heavy on the life, light on the finance. Jordan, thanks very much for coming on. I very much appreciate your insights. I will make sure everything is in.

Dr. Jordan Grumet: The show notes thanks so much for having me.

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