Ep #547 – Starting at the Finish Line
Matthew Newman is the author of the best selling book, Starting at the Finish Line. Matthew is a financial services wholesaler and father to three small children, who was diagnosed with grade three astrocytoma (brain cancer) at 39 years old. Matthew’s memoir chronicles the journey that he and his entire family took together which got him to a place of clarity, understanding and appreciation. The book’s underlying message of why it’s important to get your financial planning in order is both inspirational and actionable.
- Getting a wake up call
- The power of connection
- Being in the moment
- Understanding the value of real relationships
- Giving from the heart
- The gap in education
- Changing the meaning of events
To find out more about our guest:
Full Transcript Below
Rod: Welcome to another edition of “How to Build Lifetime Cashflow through Real Estate Investing”. I’m Rod Khleif and I’m thrilled you’re here. I know you are going to love the guy we’re interviewing today. And I’m going to tell you, let me pre-frame this, we’re not going to be talking real estate. We’re going to be talking about things that are much more important than real estate. Now, this gentleman’s name is Matthew Newman. Matthew wrote a bestselling book called “Starting at the Finish Line” and I want to let him explain why he wrote the book, and why he’s, you know, spoken on stages with 15 000 plus people, been interviewed on ESPN, done three Ted Talks. I’m going to let him get do it justice because I don’t want to mess it up. So, anyway, welcome to the show brother. It’s great to have you here.
Matthew: Rod, thank you so much for having me. It’s an absolute honor. And it’s funny you learn the greatest lessons in life with the deepest darkest times. You’re given this new understanding of reality. You can be gifted with this new set of lenses that you see life through and what you learned is you actually learn some of these basic lessons that make total sense that get lost in the shuffle of everyday life. And you talked about the book, of why I wrote the book. I’m going to share a little bit of the story first because I think that will lead into a better way. I remember graduating from the University of Delaware in 1996. And for those who don’t know the University of Delaware, we go by the Fightin’ Blue Hens. I like to call it the ass kicking chicken. And I remember graduating and Maya Angelou was giving her beautiful speech right on the football field. And my mom and dad come down. I grew up in Northern New Jersey right outside New York City and I’m wearing this blue cap and gown. And I grew up with these two different backgrounds if you will of education that were being facilitated through me. My mom was a school teacher. My father was a financial advisor. Two completely different occupations that were planting seeds into me at a young age as most of us have that don’t bloom and make sense till later. But I remember them walking on the field and my dad looking at me going, you know, not bad buddy. I’m like, Dad, college graduate. King has arrived, right? He goes, What do you want to think you want to do now? I go, Dad, that’s easy. I think I want to join your practice. I want to be a financial advisor. I’m going to clean my language up and in my father’s very thick Bronx accent he said, There’s no bleeping way you’re joining my firm. And every picture of me at graduation’s like, it gives me one of the greatest lessons in life, Rod. There’s no free lunches. You go out and earn it. You find if it’s something that you love, find if it’s your craft, find it if you want it to be a career. And if you have a passion for it, we’ll talk in a few years. So, I decided to become what’s called a wholesaler.
What a wholesaler was is you get the same licenses and everything as a traditional financial planner, financial advisor. But companies that manufacture a mutual fund, a 401k life insurance, they have wholesalers go out and meet with advisors and try to show them where they should utilize their products in the portfolios they’re putting together. And I was doing this to get licensed. So I moved down to the beautiful city of Philadelphia which within one week of being in the old city area, on the Cobblestone streets, with the Liberty Bell, National Constitution Center, I might have been the guy from North Jersey, Philly became home to me immediately and I started my career. And I remember my dad sitting down with me he goes, Three things I want to bring up to you. I go, What’s that? He goes, One, if you don’t believe in the products and a family member wouldn’t own them, you don’t sell them. You lose the battle to win the war. It’s about building true relationships. Number two, always be honest with people. Over time, they’ll tell if you weren’t. That’s how you really maintain these relationships. And number three is because you’ve got a soccer scholarship to college. Go take that work work etiquette. You do that, great things could happen. And I started to say the same thing every day, Rod. The job of the financial advisor has to be there when things are bad, to give people good news at the deepest and darkest of times, to have a plan in place prior to the negative because most people want what they can’t get. They want life insurance after it’s too late, they want long-term care as they’re bringing someone to a home, they want some type of financial plan after they lose 30% because they don’t know what they’re doing. My career takes off. Three years later, I became the number one guy at my company and four years later, I became the number one person in the entire industry.
And I remember my father sitting down with me it’s like, Not bad kid. I’m like, Right, dad? Because I think we should talk about you joining my firm. I said, You can’t afford me anymore dad. We’re done with that talk. I found my passion. And as my business started to keep going and going and sharing connection, I then met my future wife in Philadelphia. We get married. And what’s interesting is, she came from a very different background than I did. I’m a Jewish guy. I grew up in Northern Jersey like I mentioned. Teacher, financial advisor. My wife grew up in a town called Minersville, PA which is old mining country Pennsylvania. It’s quite a beautiful area years ago. There’s no mines open left. It’s become an opioid place. It’s really scary how bad that it’s gotten. And she’s a catholic girl, grew up in a 500 square foot row home. Her father was a highway construction worker. Mom was a janitor. And I heard all this negativity about in-laws. We were very different. My father-in-law liked to hunt, he liked to fish, he liked to fix things. I did none of that. But I’ll tell you this, we both like to drink a beer and watch baseball and I was determined to make him a Yankees fan that was going to happen in my life. A couple years later, unfortunately, my father-in-law got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at 60 years old. My first experience with cancer happened when I was 15. My grandma, grandma Harriet, was diagnosed with cancer. I wasn’t old enough to understand, to digest it, to get the realness of what I was doing. But one day she was grandma Harriet, the next day she was wearing a cancer turban, and the next day she was gone. What I do remember is what it did to my mom. My mom was never the same person again. She cried every day. Every weekend, we were at my grandparents house in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. They were at our house in Parsippany. My mom spoke to her every day but she became a different person. I wish I could have hugged her more. I wish I could have been there. I didn’t get it. My wife and my father-in-law were two peas in the pod. They were the same way. My wife is pregnant with our third child. We have two kids under three. She drove him every day back and forth, 45 minutes, University of Pennsylvania. He went through his Whipple procedure. Chemo reclaimed she showed what realness and warriors really do which is protect family when they truly need him the most. My father-in-law had two major goals. One, he wanted all three of his grandkids to be born. And two, he wanted to fight long enough that they’d have real-life memories of him. It was an honor to be a part of this and see the way that he took on this challenge. Two years later, he’s still fighting and I got in a car accident. Miserable icy they bounced into the car in front of me.
That night I come home. I didn’t go to the hospital. My wife’s yelling at me, You should have went and got your head checked. I said, I’m fine, you know, all that stuff. And I had the worst headache known to man. I’ve never really got headaches before. My wife suffers from chronic migraines. My father-in-law sitting on the couch, cancer’s like a roller coaster goes up, down, left and does whatever it wants. His roller coaster was going down. I got three kids now that are under five years old. It’s not about me. My wife goes, Go to the hospital. I tell her like, No, but my head is killing me. She goes, yeah, trying chronic migraines. I don’t want to hear about it. Over the next two weeks, the pain got more and more severe every day where there was no lapse in the pain. Two weeks into it, I started to lose all ability to sleep. I would pass out on the couch with my father-in-law, Larry, at 8:30 watching some on TV. I’d wake up at 10 in massive pain. I was giving a speech and I speak all over the place on finance at that point. And as I was giving a speech in Bridgewater, New Jersey, I went to make a point, I felt a hot flash hit me in the face. And when the hot flash hit me in the face, slur and gurgle poured out of my mouth in front of 100 people. I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know what was going on.
But I remember seeing myself standing outside my body going, You’re having a stroke. You’re having a stroke right now. I got myself together and over the next three weeks I had nine more of these. On may 14, 2013 I was given a speech in my hometown of Parsippany, New Jersey, and for the 11th time I felt a hot flash hit me in the face. I turned my back on everybody to point to the powerpoint so that way I could hide myself while I was going through this. And that was the moment I’d said, I’m going to the hospital right now. Meeting ended, I walk out, I got in my car, and I went to a place called Capital Health in Hopewell, New Jersey. My wife was shopping at a place called the King of Prussia mall which I’m sure a lot of your listeners have heard of. She meets me over there as we’re having a little break from Larry’s chemo at that point. We meet in the parking lot, we hold hands, we walk in, they tell me they’re gonna make CAT scan. I’m like, CAT again, right on man. That’s cool. That’s not a problem. So they give me a CAT scan and they come in three hours later to go, Mr. Newman we know the issue. You have a lesion on the left frontal lobe of your brain. Now unfortunately, a lot of us in the industry we’re in we speak of vernacular that makes sense to us that doesn’t make sense to others. So my vernacular, you know, there was– well, lesion’s a cut or a bruise. Car accident, I probably ding my– he goes, It’s causing massive pain. I’m like, Yeah, man. It’s causing your lost ability to sleep. Like, Yes. Because Mr. Newman you’re not having strokes, you’re having full-blown seizures. I wasn’t upset by this. I was like, Yeah, that’s it. Let’s fix it. I went in for countless MRIs and MRAs. And at three in the morning, they said we need one more MRI and MRA and we need to do with contrast. So yeah, no problem. My wife goes, I’m gonna go home. I’m gonna make lunch for our three kids. I’m gonna find a ride from my father to chemo. I’ll be back in an hour. I said take your time, you know, we’ll see when this is done. So the woman, nurse comes walking in she goes, Right Mr. Newman, one more MRI/MRA for you. I’m like, I just did the broad street run. The biggest 10 mile around the country eight days ago. I’ll walk. No walking Mr. Newman, liability. You gotta get in the wheelchair.
Matthew: Like in the wheelchair? She pulls up the clipboard body goes, Mr. Newman MRI/MRA, we need to see how big your brain tumor is. I said, It’s a lesion. And that was the moment at 39 years old I was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Matthew: And I’ll tell you what happens, reality kicks in. They put me in the tube for an hour and a half, they brought me back to a bed, they plugged me into 30 machines. I started to cry. And I started retrospective on my life. And I started to think, there’s something I must have done that caused this. I think I’m a good father, I’m a good husband. And strength is not how big your arms are, strength is not how much you bench press, strength is something located deep down in that belly that we could find it, we could grab it, and we could own it. I saw it. I didn’t know I had it in me. I grabbed it. It was mine. This is my journey. Cancer is just along for the ride. And I start cursing my brains up and the nurse comes running in they still tell the story to this day, Oh my god, are you okay? Guys, I’m fine. I’m okay. That was my moment that I realized if I was going down, I was going down swinging.
Matthew: So the next day, my parents are coming down along with my father-in-law. And I remember me saying to my wife I go, Hey, give me the iPad real quick. She goes, Yeah, do you want to watch a movie? They’ll be here in 20 minutes. Reality is Rod, you hear your son’s got brain cancer, he’s gonna die. That’s the perspective that’s out there.
Rod: That’s the most common one for sure.
Matthew: No question. So, she gives me the iPad and all I did is talk about my career, planning in advance of the bad, having a will, a power of attorney. People want what they can’t get. And I started to pull up all my stuff. This is not about how much money you have for everyone listening. You can go on LegalZoom and do this stuff for $19. The basics of financial planning is legal documentation so your wishes will be carried out if something bad happens. A power of attorney makes sure the person you want to make the decisions is going to make them. These are all basic tools that we do no education in the US education system at all. We just assume people graduate and good luck, go figure it out. Pick your right benefits even though you know nothing about it. And as I went through that iPad, I then realized that every speech I ever gave in my career was about me. I was the shoemaker whose kids had shoes. It was like pouring kerosene on a fire. You want a full? Let’s go. All this is taken care of. My family’s gonna be okay. And when my father-in-law walked in, he didn’t say word to me. He nodded his head and I nodded my head at him. He was my cancer partner. I started to stop believing in irony at that moment. Things happened for a reason. It happened so we can connect and he could show me the way to act, how to have dignity, I’d have independence, how to fight like a warrior.
Rod: When was this? How long ago? Was this–
Matthew: This will be eight years in May.
Rod: Okay. Wow.
Matthew: When my father walked in and my mom, he gave me the same look he gave me at Delaware. How are you doing bud? But I saw it in his eyes. I saw the fear. I saw the anger. I said, Dad, come here for a minute. My dad sat down on the bed and I went through the iPad. I took the iPad and I threw it on the bed. I said, Dad, there’s only one thing on my mind. He goes, What’s that? I go, Getting better. My family is taken care of. I don’t have to worry about any of that. My wife’s not going to be looking to move the home or anything like that. All the planning, everything we talked about was done. If I’m going down, I’m going down swinging like a maniac and anybody could do whatever they want with this. For the first time in my life I saw my dad break down and cry. So I went through surgery, I went through a full craniotomy, got half my head pulled off, they took my jaw, they took the tumor out, I wouldn’t know the severity for 10 days. But what I started to do was I started to write. And what you realize is, for all, I started to write messages to friends and family on my perspective, my appreciation of living in the moment, my understanding of what chemo and radiation is doing to me. But the realness of being there with my children living in that now. It wasn’t about tomorrow. It wasn’t about yesterday. It’s I’m getting these understandings of basic life lessons through cancer. This is my journey. Cancer’s just rides shotgun. I will define myself but I’m seeing life from this different perspective. You shouldn’t have to go through this to understand it. And most people won’t make it long enough to enjoy this process that they’re taking on.
Rod: So your perspective, you use the word enjoy.
Matthew: I did and I started to write. So I would start to send out emails to friends and family on this new perspective I had. Do you remember at the beginning of this I told you that there’s seeds planted in us, that we learned later in life, and then my dad was an advisor. Well the seeds for my mom being a writer and a teacher started to bloom. I never wrote in my life and I would get these every day. Hey Matt, could you put this person, on that person, on this person. I never thought about it. Four years into it, I had found out I had a grade three astrocytoma. I’d be going through tests for the rest of my life. I had 20,000 people following my email. I’d never been on social media. And you start to realize that cancer is like buying a car. You buy a car, you leave the lot, you see the car everywhere. No, car was always there. You just never noticed it until you had a direct connection with it. Cancer affects everybody in some way. There’s depression, there’s disease, everybody– life is not all rainbows and unicorns. Most people hide behind this mask of perfection when the reality is they all have their scars that they’ve taken on and they’re sick of the shtick. They don’t want some canned speech from someone giving them something. They want to connect with someone. That’s where inspiration and motivation are truly derived from by hitting people in the heartstrings and letting them know they’re not alone on the path that they’ve been placed on. I was writing for me. Every time I wrote an email, I never read it. It was like vomit. I’d get it out of my system.
So I decided I was going to write a book for myself because it made me feel better. It was my outlet to alleviate everything that was being pushed down into the belly. And on march 23, 2018 my book came out. I called my mom in Parsippany, New Jersey. I go, Hey ma, the book’s coming out tonight. This is exactly what you said to me. You know no one’s ever going to read it, right? Like, Oh god, no one cares about me. I’m some jerk. All I care is about me. She goes, But you’re gonna put three copies in your safe so when your kids are old enough, they’ll be able to read the reality of what happened. I said, Mom, I couldn’t agree more. And one week later, we were number one on Amazon in four categories of my joy at the ground. I started to have this different understanding of what people wanted. To know that there’s others like them that are out there that we all take on challenges in life. And where the inspiration comes from is from those who want to in some way share their experience. There was no business plan. There was no ghostwriter. There was no any of this. I did it for myself. I did it because it made me feel better and I never, in a million years, thought we’d be sold in 17 different countries and all this other stuff would start to happen. So when I brought on social media Rod, I started to get messages every day from people all over the world who just want some type of connection. They want to find that thing in their belly that will help them take on the challenges at hand because cancer, disease, depression, they may take us physically. They will never take us spiritually. And if we allow them to be what we’re defined for and them to be what we’re remembered for, that’s on us. I want to be remembered for me, for who I am, and take the lessons that I’ve taken from this. Am I glad I went through it? No, not by any stretch. It’s horrible. But I can kowtow to cancer or I can allow it to come with me on my journey and just ride shotgun.
Rod: May I ask you a question?
Matthew: Yeah. Ask me anything.
Rod: Are you better because of it? Just curious because–
Matthew: It’s a good, great question. There’s a lot of lessons I’ve taken from a no question. I’ll give you a perfect example. When my five-year-old was having a lunch at his Pennington Montessori school and I’m gonna answer this with this story. I was five days removed from cancer. I had a second head. I was a mess surgery all this. I wouldn’t know the severity of this for ten days. But I had this new understanding of life. And my wife says, You do not have to go to this. I’ll never miss it. You know, in the past maybe it was bus– I’ll never miss this. So that morning, we take my three kids to school. A five-year-old, a three-year-old, and a two-year-old. We bring them to school. Again, I have to dress up and my wife takes the two boys, Luke and Jake. I take my two-year-old daughter, Lola, to the class. I hold her little hand. We walk to her class. She takes her little pink jacket. She puts it on the little hook. She goes, I love you daddy. Thank you for taking me to class. I thought, Why don’t I do this more? You know what I usually would do when I take her to class? I’m looking at my phone. I’m seeing, what’s coming next? So I got an appointment. Do I have a call? It wasn’t about that. It’s not about me. It’s not about the business. It’s for five minutes, I couldn’t make it about my daughter? And this is what I had to go through to learn this basic component of life? So I come back euphoric. I’m going, this makes sense. So that day, my son Luke is having his five-year-old father’s day picnic at school. My wife’s like, You’re a train wreck. Don’t go. I could never, I will never miss this ever. So she takes me. I can’t drive. She takes me to the school and Luke’s waiting outside. And he gives me a big hug he goes, I love you daddy. Thank you for being here. I started to cry. I didn’t cry out of fear or anxiety. I cried out of happiness. This was our moment. We own this. And we walk in I’m holding his hand, we got our little brown bag lunch and every dad’s gonna sit next to their son for 30 minutes and then it ends and they all go. We walk into the backyard, give me a big hug, how happy I am. We sit down and I look up. And Rod, I’m going to show you what I saw from every parent. I went, Oh my god, that was me.
Rod: No kidding. So he just showed, by the way, those of you who are listening, everyone was, every other parent was looking at their phone.
Matthew: Every one of them. And that was me by the way. I had a Blackberry and an iPhone. There’s no anger, no animosity, but to go through this to realize, my phone was in the car.
Matthew: That moment. So what it started to make me better at was I don’t bring my phone to dinner with my kids.
Rod: Well, you’re present. That’s the bottom line.
Matthew: Yeah, exactly.
Rod: Is your present. You know, I tell the story, I mean, it pales in comparison but, you know, I remember coming home to my kids every day and playing with them. It’s my greatest rewritten life this what I’m about to share. And I’d play with them every day but I wasn’t there mentally. I was distracted and it’s my greatest regret to this day. And so, and you know, you had to have a huge wake-up call to get that gift. And that’s what it is, it’s a gift. And that’s how you answer the question. You know, the question was, did you get anything good out of this? And you got the gift of recognizing to be in the moment, the power of now, and being there when it really matters and that’s a freaking gift. I can tell you right now because like I said to this day I’m 61 years old. My greatest regret is not being there and missing things with my kids because my dumbass thought it was more important to show the world I was good enough by being a huge success. So, you know, thank you. Yeah, wow. So, that’s living in the moment, the power of now. Now, I know that, you know, you’ve done these several Ted Talks and let’s talk about, actually before we get into that, talk about a little more about connection. I mean, we’re on this topic right now and maybe drill down a little bit more about how important it is to really connect, to allow yourself to be vulnerable, to you know, please, please let me let you tell.
Matthew: Yeah. So it’s interesting. You know, one of the things I thought was always important was building relationships. And you started to have a new perspective on the way relationships were really constructed when you took this on. Everybody wants to be there for, you know, with you during the good times.
Matthew: A lot of people take off during the bad ones. So what I started to have a better understanding of when I started sending these messages out, what real connection is. Connection is hitting people in the heart strings where you almost feel like you’re an extended member of their family and I’ll give you an example. Regardless the craft that you are in, whether it’s sales, whether it’s legal, whatever it is, everybody wants to give some cool thing out with their little logo on it or something like that and I tell this story a lot. I go, When was the last time you gave golf balls to somebody with your logo, Dominium Capital? Will use me for example real quick. And you got a handwritten note in the mail that said, Rod, I can’t tell you how much those golf balls mean to me. Oh my god, I got them. I think I’m gonna get a tattoo of the logo on my arm. I will never, when I lose them in the woods, I will look for nine freaking hours because they belong on my mantle right there. And you start to realize we waste our time. When was the last time we found a book that relates to somebody? We just put a little handwritten note on the inside, Hey Rod, I was thinking to you today. I wanted to share something with you. When was the last time you sent a text message to someone, a DM something? And just let them know you’re there and you just want to check in personally. That means more than we realize and you started to have this better understanding of what real relationships were about. A lot of them are a facade, unfortunately. A lot of us have these amazing relationships you build up through work but the reality is if you left your craft or something, you’re never going to talk to those people ever again. Then there’s those of us that dig in deeper and we build something that we will have for the rest of our lives. So focusing on, connecting on a deeper level which you don’t have to go through negative times. You could take the lessons from those of us that did that and transpose them into your life and you could change the way you’re looked at in a variety of different ways.
Rod: Love it. Love it, man. I mean, I gotta tell you, you know, let me show you on the wall behind me. I’ve got hundreds of thank you cards. You can’t see them all behind the green screen.
Matthew: I love it.
Rod: Because of the impact they have on me, you know, I put them on the wall. In fact, I just put up some more cork that’s going to fill up the whole wall back there and because, you know, that’s someone taking really the time, you know, and very often, you know, I mean I’m blessed. This is not ego, please know that. But I’m so– I literally get love every single day in some fashion. I get cards, gifts, DMs, emails and these are people connecting at a deeper level with me. They’re not just, it’s not surface and it’s the greatest gift. I’m sure you do the same. I’m sure you do as well and it’s, you know–
Matthew: I’ll give you a quick story real quick. So I have a friend of mine, he’s a client of mine as well too, his son gets a scholarship to go to the University of Alabama wrestling, roll tide, I mean, really cool, right? Great wrestler. So what happens is, due to a pandemic, guess where he wasn’t going? They weren’t doing indoor wrestling. You’re not, that’s not going to happen. So I’m talking him on the phone one day and he’s telling me how upset his son is, you know, and he’s, you know, he’s going to go there at some point but it’s just a miserable experience. But looking forward to this his whole life, you know, blah-blah-blah.
Rod: Right, sure.
Matthew: So, I went and bought a book called “Unstoppable”.
Rod: I know.
Matthew: Four dollars on Amazon. Now, Anthony Robles is the author that happens to be a good friend of mine.
Rod: No kidding.
Matthew: We met a number of years ago. He’s just a wonderful person and he’s the wrestler who won the National Championship with one leg at Arizona State with story. It’s just– and that doesn’t even, that pales in comparison to the whole story of his life. So, what people don’t realize is you can go on Amazon and you could buy used books for like $2, $3, $4. I ordered his book and I wrote a note on the inside cover, Hey, this too shall pass. Just want to send something good to read, something that would inspire you, let you know you’re going to be there in no time, but give you something to keep fighting and doing all the training you need to do. Here’s the question I have, so his son’s I guess was like 18-19 years old. Who do you think called me?
Rod: Right. Probably his dad. Yeah.
Matthew: Crying. Here’s the point that I bring up. Do I have to, as a client relationship, do I have to establish myself with him any further going forward?
Rod: No, absolutely not. I mean, if you do something that thoughtful for someone’s child, forget it. I mean, family at that point.
Matthew: And that’s where I go with this. What I did during the pandemic for a lot of people, a lot of guys I know had kids in college that were clients who had a business relationship of some type, I would send the kid a notebook for $3 from the school and say, This too shall pass. You’ll be there. Just want to give you something good to write notes in when you get there. What’s the– there’s the shtick of the logoed stuff and then there’s the heartstring, and that became clear to me from the connections that I started to build through something I never planned on.
Rod: Yeah. I love when you said that they don’t– guys, you don’t have to go through what matt’s gone through, you know, that that example he gave the guy that wrote “Unstoppable”, what he went through, you don’t have to go through it. You just need to get the lesson and that is you need to live in the freaking moment. You need to connect on a deeper level. You need to allow yourself to be vulnerable and because there’s incredible strength and vulnerability, and that’s how you truly connect. Well, let’s shift gears for a minute and talk about the current education system and this is a topic that makes me freaking crazy honestly, but I’m trying not to be negative. But talk about how it’s failing and just give us your thoughts on that if you would?
Matthew: Yeah. So I’m obviously somewhat jaded because my mother was a teacher. She taught English as a second language to kids that came from other countries right outside New York City and what she did was amazing going to different countries and staying with former students of hers. It was really something exciting to watch. But the issue that I have that I talk about often is the goal, not saying the conviction, but the goal of the US education system is to get people into the real world and prepare them. Some go after high school and they start their craft, their career, or whatever it may be. Many go on to college. Then many after that go to grad school, maybe they go to law school or medical school, and it’s a siphoning of a smaller and smaller group to go into the real world. We try to prepare them through some type of educational comprehension if you will. What I don’t understand is how we don’t prepare them in some monetary capacity? And let me make my point clear. This is not about how should you invest. We don’t teach what is a 401k. We don’t teach that when you get your job, how to select benefits. We don’t teach the kid who gets married at a high school and has a child that when they leave their job, they won’t have that insurance any longer. You don’t have to spend a lot of money but I want you to think of what I went through having all those boxes checked.
Now, I want you to think of two components: regret and resentment. So the person’s laying there, they go through something they never planned for that’s just popped up on them, that they have to deal with now and they’re thinking, Oh my god, where are my kids going to be. Oh my god, my wife’s not going to be able to stay right. And what happens is you go down something called the downward spiral which the American Medical Association wrote on. We’ve all heard of the couple that’s been married for 50 years. A husband gets cancer. He dies. Wife’s healthy as a horse and what do we often hear happen six months later? She dies. You’d fall into that spiral. The fact that we don’t give some type of– you start to make a lot of money? Go find an advisor. Go someone’s going to manage something for you. But the basic components of what to check when we make those mistakes, there’s been no education on how important that is. And what we find, as I mentioned earlier, is people want what they can’t get. Because once you get sick, you’re not getting life insurance. You’re not getting long-term care. It’s not going to happen. So I believe we’ve done an injustice to children by not making them more aware on a practical platform of how important it is to not only be educated on different subject matter but to be educated on what’s really going to happen when you enter the real world.
Rod: Yeah. And sadly, that’s just one example of the failure of our education system is planning, you know, for a situation like that. But yeah, well, listen. You know, I know that we talked about your three Ted Talks and I’ve been threatening to do one myself. And you said that the last one you did was your favorite. Could you expand on that?
Matthew: Yeah. So actually it’s the middle one that I did.
Rod: It was the middle one? Okay. Got it wrong.
Matthew: But the last one I did was actually, I was in Long Island, New York and it was on march 7th, and within a week or two later we all know what happened. The whole go down to the pandemic. But what’s interesting is, my first one I did was in Delaware. My last one I did was in New York. The middle one I did was my favorite speech I’ve ever given because it was a Ted Talk at my old high school.
Matthew: And I go back, got to go back and talk to the kids. It really reflects on your age when people are coming up to you after and saying, You graduated with my mom or something like that. You’re like, Oh my god, I’m getting older. But your home is where the heart is. And what I point out and it’s hard for some people to understand is that the people who knew you back then, they really know you. They know who you are. You may have become something a little bit different but we all stem from the root of where we came from. I was beaming happy. It was such an honor to be at a place that I went through and come back and be able to talk to students and be able to connect with people on what used to be my home, a place I went every day for school. The principal of that school is one of my favorite people I ever grew up is one of my best friends growing up. It was, there was a feeling of honor and it was almost like a microcosmic circle except I was back where I started. And it might not have been the most elaborate one, it puts a smile on my face every time–
Rod: Or the largest reach but it was the most impactful and, you know guys, anything you can do that impacts the life of a child is your success. You are a success when you impact the life of a child positively. Well, listen Matt, this has been a real treat to have you on the show. I’m very grateful. Guys, get his book. It’s titled “Starting at the Finish Line” and really a pleasure to know you and to see how, you know, it’s not what happens to a person, it’s how they respond to it and the meaning they place on it. And what happened to you destroys a lot of people where, you know, if you just make a decision about anything that happens to you and you change the meaning, life is about meaning, you change the meaning as you did, it can be it can be a very positive, empowering experience. So, again, thank you for sharing brother. It’s great to have you on the show.
Matthew: It’s an honor. Thank you so much for having me.
Rod: You bet, buddy. Take care. See you.