017: Financially Free & Living a Life by Design with Arman Assadi

In this episode, I’m speaking with Arman Assadi. Arman helps leaders and creatives find their flow. He is the host of the FLOW podcast, co-founder and CEO of Project EVO, founder and CEO of Assadi Ventures, and co-founder of Steno, a stealth startup.

Arman is also the co-creator of the EVO Planner™ (the most funded planner of all time), and has also been the chief strategist and copywriter behind 13 different 7-figure launches. Fortune 500 companies, Silicon Valley startups, celebrity thought leaders, and New York Times bestselling authors have consulted Arman and generated tens of millions of dollars with his strategies.

Today, Arman joins the podcast to talk about the investing philosophies that have allowed him to create financial freedom and live a life by design.

Key Takeaways

  • Why so many entrepreneurs get trapped by trying to optimize investments, businesses, and hustle.
  • How to avoid becoming insanely depressed during the journey of making money.
  • Why changing your mindset changes everything. 
  • Why it’s so easy to get wrapped up in events like meme stocks.
  • The value of asking yourself why you shouldn’t invest in something.


The power is really in capital. If you get the capital, you have the opportunity to shape the world. This is something that people don't talk about enough. You have a seat at the table when you have capital. - Arman Assadi Click To Tweet


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Connect with Justin Donald


Justin Donald: Arman, great to have you on the show. So glad that you could be here to join us. And really, I'm excited to kind of just expand on some of the things that we started talking about on your show when I was on a handful of weeks ago.


Arman Assadi: Yeah, man. Thanks for having me. I'm honored to be in front of a Wall Street Journal bestseller, number one. It's been awesome watching your journey, Justin, and getting to know you so this is great.


Justin Donald: Well, thank you. I appreciate it. It's funny. We were talking off-camera or off recording earlier and it's totally unexpected, totally flattering. I just feel like it's such a blessing and really a testament to my community because I just have some raving fans that have gotten the word out and I just truly am humbled and feel blessed. It's just a wow to me. It's still a little surreal but I'm so appreciative for everyone in my world. It's cool so thank you.


Arman Assadi: Yeah, man. You deserve it. You deserve it fully.


Justin Donald: Well, I am so impressed with you on so many levels and I could get into a lot of it. Before we even dive in, I'd love for you to share and maybe we should actually talk about how we met because our mutual friend, Mike Koenigs, connected us and I remember he just spoke so highly of you. He's like, "You've got to meet Arman. He's just awesome. You guys are going to connect on so many levels,” and we have. We really have and getting a chance to get to know you and then obviously spending some time on your podcast, which I definitely want to talk about here today was just great because I got this insight into who you are, what you believe, what your frame of the world looks like and we have so many similarities. The lens that we look through to see life and live life and experience just a life that is purposeful and not on autopilot is just so fun and so refreshing, and you're great at that.


Arman Assadi: Thank you, man. Thank you. So, we did. We did meet through our friend, Mike Koenigs. I mean, Mike is the man. Shout out to Mike. 


Justin Donald: For sure. 


Arman Assadi: And he said the exact same thing when I started connecting with Mike. Him and I just started chatting. Who are we introduced by? You know how this game works. It's like one entry with another. Eventually, him and I started connecting. I had him on my show. I think the very first person that he told me about was you. He's like, "You've got to know this guy, Justin Donald, like he is the sh*t. He is the man. He is the real deal.” And it's interesting because people sometimes say that and one of the things that we uncovered on my show when we interviewed you was the conclusion that I really reached with you is that you are the real deal. Like, there are so many people out there that have this whole game backwards of lifestyle investing or investing in general and it ultimately comes down to the fact that they're making all of their career and money off of teaching other people how to do something that they themselves have absolutely no clue how to do. And we see this, whoa, my God, more than ever in this day and age, I don't know how much you're paying attention to TikTok and the 22-year-old stock day trading investors that are building these huge followings teaching people bullsh*t for a living. And so, you are refreshing. You're the real deal. You don't hype yourself up too much at all. It's like this very concrete, tangible approach with those 10 commandments. I think where we really like found common ground and as a deep principle and philosophy and tenet in my life is freedom. 


Ultimately, this whole game we're playing, which is very much a game and cannot, should not be taken too seriously is about freedom. It's a means to an end and often it's enjoyable. Don't get me wrong, making money, building businesses, and investing are really enjoyable things. But at the same time, what's the point? And a lot of people get lost in that and trapped by that and trapped by overly optimizing their investments and overly optimizing their businesses and hustling too much and starting one business and closing another. And it becomes extremely overwhelming to the point where you thought you became an entrepreneur for freedom but, in fact, you ended up becoming imprisoned by the very thing that gave you freedom initially, and that's scary and terrifying and it happened to me with one of the companies I built. And so, I am in a mode of never letting that happen again to the best of my ability while continuously optimizing for this thing we call freedom.


Justin Donald: Yeah. You say it so well and so eloquently, and that's it. People just spend so much of their life chasing this net worth number and trying to make more money and they're willing to spend all this time to make more money as if that's the end game and that's the ultimate thing, whereas I really believe that the end game is buying your time back, that it's not about how much money that you make. It's really about having cash flow to live, a lifestyle that you desire because it stems from freedom. And when you have that time freedom, you can have freedom of impact and freedom of relationships, and freedom of purpose. There's just so many freedoms, to me, that are more important than this idea of having a lot of money. Now, I think you can have both but I think that you've got to be careful in general who your master is, right? Money is a master. It’s a very dangerous master because it always wants more of your time and always wants you to get more of its stuff and you can become entangled and then trapped. And it is not what it seems or appears to be. It's never as cool or it never feels as good as what you think and freedom of time, that has everything because you can spend your time how you want. You can use your gifts as you see fit. You can live a life that is truly purposeful in your eyes because it's directed by you. You can spend time and as much time as you want with those that you love most. And you can travel if you love to travel or you can read a ton if you love to read. You can become a student, which we've talked about this. I just want to learn. I know you do too. Just be a student for the rest of our lives and teach people what we learn.


Arman Assadi: That's my mission too, man. It's like just to have what I'm optimizing for is like some people might be familiar with Alan Watts. He’s a great philosopher, a great teacher. He brought a lot of Eastern philosophy and mysticism to the Western world. And it's not that I want to do that, precisely, but it's that life of almost being a student and an academic and sharing the journey and documenting as you go is so fulfilling to me. Like I'm continuously optimizing for that. Now, while I would love for my investments to spin off, "Thank God I met Justin Donald to teach me these 10 commandments,” and really shift a lot of my thinking because my approach and we can go into that. My approach has been different up until now. And now I have sort of a merging of philosophies. Yours and it's funny, you mentioned money being a master, MONEY Master the Game by Tony Robbins was one that sent me in a certain direction at that time. Great book. Learned a lot. Ultimately, I would love for that. I would love to be able to be completely financially free through these assets. And at the same time, I would be just as fulfilled, if all I really need and this isn't the same level of freedom, but it's similar. If I ultimately had to show up in the world as a creator, meaning that all I really needed to do was learn my craft or the various disciplines that I am fascinated by and share it and I say share because I enjoy the sharing part, I enjoy the teaching part, I enjoyed this. This is my craft. This is what I want to do. 


And if I knew that I could do this and be financially free as a result of it or through the labors of sharing that knowledge and the right amount of sponsorships and brand deals and whatever, beautiful. Beautiful. And I don't necessarily have this specific thing that I want to sell to people at all. It's really just build community just like you're doing, help the people that want to be helped, and put it out there kind of like in a very unattached way. Some people really enjoy mentoring others and coaching others and working with people one-on-one. They have a great disposition toward that. I'm not as like patient with that and I don't get as much fulfillment out of the individual, as I do. I do but not as much as I do out of seeing an idea that I put out into the world. Just spread. And my kind of philosophy is, "This is my idea. This is my philosophy. This is what I've learned. Do with it as you like.” I'm not attached to your success or failure. Take the information, put it side-by-side next to all these other wonderful books and the knowledge that people have spread out into the universe and you determine if it's useful for you. And if I can do that and be free while I do that, that is the ultimate for me and if I can also have this seven-figure a year of passive income, hey, that would be fantastic too.


But it's great that you realize you don't need that, right? So, that can be a component of it but you don't need it and that's not what makes or breaks it, right? So, you can have the freedom that you want on whatever scale it is and you can always find a way to accumulate more cash flow or accumulate more net worth. That's great, too, but if you can do that in a way where either, A, you love the thing that you're doing or, B, that it becomes a little bit more autopilot where that happens, that's where it really can get exciting. I just think that for most people, a lot of people really spend let's just call it like some of their most prime years where they have the best thinking, the best energy, doing something that they don't love, or working more than they want to work or afraid to make moves because what if this negative consequence happens, and so many people just get chained to a job or to their business, or whatever it is. And so, I love that you can look at it from a simplistic standpoint, but you can also say, “Hey, it’d be fun,” in either of these camps. I just want to do what I want to do and that's the power of true financial freedom.


Arman Assadi: Yeah. You’re touching on something very important and there's a danger in what I am saying as well that I think is important to address and acknowledge for myself, and for anybody listening. You can, look, like when you're trading your time and your labor for money, that is easily a trap and you're not going to become wealthy by doing that. And so, I want to distinguish that the game in my mind is you do have to have equity in things. You do have to accumulate assets to create true leverage in your life, where one action or one decision creates a 10X outcome. Otherwise, I'm trading. I'm trading my time or my labor or my energy for dollars. What is the purpose of those dollars? I get those dollars to then live off of and then my cost of living goes up. The next thing I will be trapped to everything that I just described, right? Like, that thing that I'm saying I love to do could easily become a trap if I start to get X amount of dollars in brand deals and sponsorships in YouTube revenue. And the next thing you know, my cost of living has gone up in accordance with what I'm making. I'm a prisoner. I'm trapped. So, what is the purpose of that cash? The purpose of that cash does need to be to make a few good decisions every year to build true wealth, to have these assets, to have a stock portfolio, whatever it might be, otherwise, you can become trapped to that. 


But for me, I think the point that I've reached in my life, and this is more of a blessing, I don't think I was always able to do this because for the first eight years of entrepreneurship, and this applies to employees as well, it’s like you just do whatever you got to do to get the capital. And if you're lucky, you do something you love. So, I like to tell people that if possible, ask yourself the question of what would you do if money were no object, and try to do that from the very beginning so that you don't become insanely depressed through the journey of trying to make the money. Because if you can have energy and follow the thing that creates and generates the highest energy because there's a positive feedback loop there that will allow you to also generate more money, great. Do that. And it might not make as much money as a job at Google or say you're an entrepreneur and you're sitting at a crossroads and you have the opportunity to start this like sh*tty e-commerce product that you don't give a sh*t about versus like something that you see can really make money has a need in the marketplace. It solves a problem and has like an impact factor and it excites you and you want to get up in the morning and f*cking crush it, do that. 


Do that because when you hit those obstacles, and those challenges show up like that is the differentiating factor between entrepreneurs, right? Can they adapt and see everything to the best of their ability with a growth mindset? What am I going to learn from this? Why did I just lose? You know, I've lost six figures at a time multiple times in my business, multiple times, like I wanted to get up and just cry or scream, and sometimes I did. The point is it's like I learned over time to see these things as true lessons that thank God, I wasn't worth 10 times this when this happened or the business wasn't 10 times bigger, because the loss would have been just as large as well. So, they're all lessons. I think that's a very important point to kind of distinguish with people.


Justin Donald: Yeah. I love that you look through life or look at life through this lens of lessons. You're very philosophical and you spend the time thinking about what you really believe. That's one of the things I love most about talking to you. You've thought through it. This isn't like you're just winging things here. You've actually spent time contemplating these things, probably journaling them, reading books about it, and you're developing your own opinions and your own beliefs as opposed to borrowing, whether conscious or subconscious, someone else's beliefs because it's really easy to do that, especially with the people that are most influential in our lives, our parents, mentors, friends, anyone that we spend a lot of time with that we really kind of connect with. It's easy to take their beliefs and their values as our own without questioning them without even asking ourselves, is this beneficial? Does this serve me? Does this not serve me? We just often adopt things as our own. I've seen this in my own life. I've seen it in a lot of other people's lives but I think when you can take the time to think and Naval Ravikant talks a lot about this and I love his book, I love his podcast. I love so much of where he comes from because he has spent time thinking and deciding what his frame of the world looks like and who he wants to be and how he wants to show up and how he wants to spend time, and you're very much like that.


Arman Assadi: Thank you. I think that's why I love Naval as well. Yeah. Big, big fan of his work and everything he's putting out into the world. He's a beautiful example of that. And not to go too deep down this rabbit hole of philosophy in general but something important to call out there is, look, the reason I'm not on autopilot is – and I'm just like everyone else. Like, I was on autopilot for so long. I did just do my best and react to everything that was thrown at me in life and life just kind of felt like survival at times, and even on moments of highs, the inverse of that is that while perhaps I was on autopilot, things were like bliss as well. I've had periods of just like living in a bliss bubble especially in my 20s, like just getting paid well, living in San Francisco, New York City, just time of my life, partying. And so, it's like there's this bliss bubble and that is just as dangerous but the reason that I sort of stopped living on autopilot and I live with intention, and I asked myself these questions is because I faced something that is an inherent truth of life that most people are afraid to face, and that is that I might not wake up tomorrow. It's that simple. Most of us are absolutely turned off or terrified of that concept. 


And so, we defer it into the future, knowing that it is either imminent or way out there, and we have no idea when it is but the power that a person activates in themselves, when they acknowledge, “I'm going to die. What is this life that I'm living?” Not about what it means. We're not talking about that. We're not talking about the afterlife. We're going to talk about any of that. That's not for this. It's more what am I going to do with the time I have and if I like today, not like did I put it all out in the line? Did I jump off a cliff? Do crazy stuff? Not like that. Not adrenaline-pumping things. Just is my compass pointed toward the north star that is of the highest and greatest, most ideal version of my life? That's the question. I didn't go to bed thinking that each day, knowing that you follow the thing that gives you the most energy and most excitement and most impact, most connection, most fuel. It's hard to fake it after that. It's hard to bullsh*t yourself. It's hard to stay in a job you hate if you ask yourself that question. It's hard to stay in a relationship you hate. So, it's hard work but, man, is it worth it. It's like you talk about fulfillment. That's where we really connected as well. It's like it's about family. It's about connection. It's about fulfillment. Well, those are the hard questions you have to ask yourself, makes a huge difference when you start to have that conversation.


Justin Donald: Yeah, there's no doubt. Tony Robbins always talks about the most important thing is asking yourself high-quality questions and better quality questions. So, how can you upgrade the questions that you're asking yourself? Because that's the world that you're going to begin to live in. That totally resonates with me so I'm a huge Tony Robbins fan. I've gone through all of his programs and events and I've learned so much from him over the years. I'm actually one of the senior leaders that can go to any of his events and run a team and I just love that I can serve in that capacity, but also get plugged back into him and to that network. It's just tremendous. But you are speaking the truth here because you're asking yourself such good quality questions and you are allowing those to be your north star to kind of guide and direct you to live this killer life. By the way, you have a killer life like I want to make sure that people listening know this. The last time that we spoke, you were in the French Polynesia somewhere. I think you were in Tahiti. 


Arman Assadi: Yeah. 


Justin Donald: Right? And we're like hanging out talking and I'm just seeing this gorgeous place that you're in. I mean, talk about that a little bit because you got a great life.


Arman Assadi: Yeah, man. So, one of the things with like my interests and the things that light me up are travel. I absolutely love to travel and feel most alive when I do. I started kind of later than a lot of my friends but probably earlier than many people. It was like I think I was 23 when I first went abroad and I took a trip to Europe. I used the entire two-week vacation period that I had at my job at 3M to go travel and I knew like in my soul that I was going to love it. It exceeded my expectations times like 10 like I always knew it's like I read the book, The Alchemist, and that book’s been around a while. Right? 


Justin Donald: Oh yeah. I've read it. Great book. 


Arman Assadi: I read it at that time and it was like this boy traveling through especially the parts of Andalusia, the southern part region of Spain, I was like, “I got to see this, I got to see this.” It just lit me up and it lit a fire in me and now I've been to something like 46, 47 countries since then. Every single one is a new adventure and my level of hedonism and adaptation has gone up. So, I can't be comfortable backpacking around like I did on that trip anymore. I like staying at nice fancy places now and I enjoy it and I deserve it and I believe that. And so, yeah, when I interviewed you, I was on an island called Mo'orea in French Polynesia next to Tahiti and Bora Bora and postcard, man, like something out of a movie, something out of Instagram, exactly like what you see and overdeliver and once in a lifetime type stuff. That is where I personally really like to invest my money is in travel and experiences. I also do like nice things but I'm not crazy about it. Like I recently just bought a classic car. I love that, this convertible, Mercedes convertible. So, yeah, life has been extremely full of its challenges. Don't get me wrong. I mean, there was a point when I first started, I think I had $18 in my bank account and I accumulated tens of thousands of dollars of debt but time, skill acquisition, experience, the right relationships, doors start to open and the proper belief system, right? You know this. 


It's like, what was the story really going on in my mind? Was it one of death and suffering or was it one of anything is possible? Actually, it's interesting because I think I'm hitting a new level just right now where I didn't allow myself to think in terms of, well I’ll say it in terms of money, but it's also in terms of success and everything. It's like I'm allowing myself giving. It is funny. It's like you have to give permission to yourself to think in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars, or even a billion dollars or more. In terms of not in my pocket but in terms of value created valuation of the company and the idea that I'm now working on, I never allowed myself to go there before. So, as you put tremendous value in the world, you absolutely have to enjoy and live life and you have to take it sometimes. It's right in front of you. You know, for me, it's like a lot of people sit back and they go, "How do you travel so much, Arman? How do you do that?” Because that's like before COVID, man, I was like once a month, one week per month, probably going somewhere, staying somewhere, creating an experience somewhere, and people didn't get it. They're like, “I don't understand how you do it.” But it's just a decision. You just make the decision and you go. We have all these mental blocks about why we can't, and that's only what gets in the way. It doesn't matter how much money you have. It really doesn't like when I didn't have money, it was like frequent flyer miles and points and credit card hacking. Whatever. Like make it work. There's a blog or a podcast out there on how to do it, I'm sure, in no matter what stage of life you're at.


Justin Donald: That's right. Well, you and I, we share some very similar values and that I like to spend money on experiences and I also like to spend it on travel. I've traveled all around the world. I love it. It's one of my favorite things to do. Absolutely. It is interesting because, in the younger years, you can afford to do it on the cheap. You might not have a whole lot of cash but once you do it in like a more fashionable way, a little more chic, boozy way. It's like, “Oh, it's hard to go back.” I even remember with my wife, she's very minimalistic, minimalistic, which is nice on many regards. And so, I even remember like traveling with her I thought at first, I'm like, "Okay. She's probably going to want to like upgrade the way that we want to do it,” and she was totally cool but as we would upgrade, it was like, even for her, "Well, it's hard to go back because this is kind of nice.” So, now when we travel, we want to make sure that we do it right and so I'm very much there with you. 


Arman Assadi: It’s super hard. It’s very hard to go back. Yeah. And that's a real thing that I'm very careful of. It's the thing I bring up often in my content and my conversations with friends. Hedonic adaptation, very dangerous. You can be so rich and wealthy and miserable for that reason. Like, it was a stupid example but an example that I think people should know about is like Dan Bilzerian did an interview with God. I think it was like London Real, that podcast. And he was just talking about the fact that he was basically numb, numb to women, money, experiences, just he's like nothing can get me excited or happy anymore. It’s like you have to be so diligent and careful to not blow your money or your metaphorical hold on all these things to try to receive maximum pleasure because it's like a drug. It is a drug. And as an addict like you can easily just give yourself so much dopamine and so much pleasure and so much hedonism that you adapt this hedonic adaptation. So, like my wife is funny too. It's funny, I warned her the first time we traveled first class, I was like because I had done it and then I was like, "Okay. We're going to do this.” I was like, “You do realize like you're going to want this every single time.” And she's like, “No, I'm so easygoing. What are you talking about?” 


Justin Donald: Exactly. Same conversation. 


Arman Assadi: And she literally, we tried to do it one time after that, and she acted like she was dying like, “I cannot do this. No way. Never again.” So, you got to be careful. 


Justin Donald: And, man, when you fly private, it's really hard to go back. That's just a nice experience. I love that we're on the same page and so much of this that when you have resources, I don't want to buy more stuff. I want to buy experiences and I want to celebrate relationships. Like that to me is the greatest use of the capital that I have besides impacting organizations that I think really do great work on this earth and really like from a totally personal standpoint, I love travel, I love good food, I love good wine. I love relationships and people and I want to do all these things and hang out and have deep conversations and conversations like you and I have just all the time, nonstop, and I love it. Then also, I think that when you are in a position to be able to gain great wealth, it's important to make sure that you are charitable with that wealth, both time and money and that you can kind of put organizations that are doing great work on other people's radar. So, that can be done through your time, your money, but it can also be done through your platform. And so, those are kind of the things that really stand out to me like where should the money go? Should it be to like for more consumerism, like should we be buying more stuff for ourselves? 


I don't think that that serves anyone and I think that actually, moreover, it's a hindrance. It's like detrimental to get more stuff. Because at a certain point in time, you've got all that you need. When you earn a certain amount of money, your life isn't going to change by earning more than that. So, then how do you direct those funds? That's just an interesting conversation. We could have a whole podcast about that, I believe. 


Arman Assadi: Oh, my God. Yeah. I mean, my current thought on that recently changed, actually, and all my thoughts are constantly evolving. Of course, we all should be open to that and the key thing I really learned here recently is, obviously, we know the importance of getting the money. You got to get the money to get the freedom. You got to get the money to make the impact. But one of the things that isn't discussed as much is when you look at the world in and of itself, and what runs the world, everything is run through financial incentives. Every behavior on a macro and micro level, individual or country or region, or even a formation of countries like the European Union is based on financial incentives. How we approach the climate, if you care about that, it's all financial incentives. So, the power is really in capital. If you get the capital, you have the opportunity to shape the world. This is something that people don't talk about enough. You have a seat at the table when you have capital. And so, it's like I don't think anyone listening to you has the beliefs of like money is evil because like if you're in the wrong place, right, that you still got to work on that. But once you're past all of that and you really believe that money is fundamentally beautiful and good, and you deserve it, another thing to realize is like if you have a way in which you see the world that is positive, and it is a position or a vision that you would like to see manifest, you can use the capital to do that. 


You have a seat at the table, people want to hear you out, you can invest in the people that are pushing those agendas forward. I mean, you can do so much. You can start up. You can do what you're doing. You can literally invest into writing books and a podcast to get that worldview out there. Dude, you're doing it, right? Like, you probably have thought about this. It's like I've achieved a certain amount of success in my life. I have the capital I need. Now what? Now what? Get that worldview out there into the world.


Justin Donald: That's right.


Arman Assadi: So, people don't think about that enough. 


Justin Donald: Yeah. To me, I just believe that if you can change someone's mindset, everything changes. So, if I've got a message that I believe will resonate and I can have impact on the way that they think, then it's going to shift their behavior. It's going to shift their routines. And so, my goal, my effort is that I can put content and philosophy around investing and lifestyle and prioritizing relationships. If I can put this out in the world and I can help people think about these items, these expressions or philosophies or ideals, however, you want to look at them, if that can be top-down and people say, “Oh, my goodness, the worldview I had was this,” but I'm exposed to a different way of thinking about it. Oh, I don't have to just invest in the stock market or I don't just have to use qualified plans or I don't have to do risky equity investments in startup and seed round investments and hope that I hit it big which is like playing the lottery. And by the way, it's not even about the money. It's to get the freedom. It's to get the lifestyle, right? That's the thing. Most people don't realize it doesn't cost that much. Most people are working so hard to build this huge nest egg of all however much dollars it is hundreds, hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. 


I would imagine most people recognize that if they truly want to retire on a nest egg approach, it's going to need to be in the millions. Otherwise, you're going to spend your principal down. And to what degree of millions that is varies per person and what people believe they can do but most people don't realize that it doesn't take that much like some people I've got friends are like, “Well, once I have 5 million, I'm set,” or 10 million or 20, or 50, or 100, whatever the number is. The number is totally subjective and really, truly irrelevant. But what happens is you can actually accumulate assets that produce income for less than a million dollars, that total less than that, but the cash flow covers what you need to live and you can have a great lifestyle now. So, instead of working so hard and taking what's likely the best years of your life or at least thus far, and like being a slave to something, you could instead have that lifestyle now. You could live this great life and not wait until you're retired when you don't have your energy, when you likely don't have the health that you have today. Hopefully, you do. Hopefully, you have the time. At least, you make the time to be physically fit and mentally fit, intellectually fit, emotionally fit, all these areas, but I mean, the average American does not. The average person in the world they don't. 


So, once you get to that retirement age, it's like, why did I work this hard for all these things? I would much rather have people have this mindset that they can adopt of like, “Hey, I don't need to retire today.” But wouldn't it be cool to live a life that's really inspiring today? And then all you really need is something that's inspiring today, and then a compelling vision of the future. So, you don't have to just have a compelling vision of the future but you do need that. It's part of the journey, right? It's part of what makes the journey so much fun but if you can experience it now and not have a total delayed gratification and wait until you potentially are in not as great of health and maybe you didn't spend time in the relationship you should have over your life because you're too busy accumulating money, rather than spending time with people, the ones that matter most that is a worldview that I'd love to change and have some impact and influence on.


Arman Assadi: That's beautiful, man, and that's why it's valuable. That's why we have to. It's funny. We don't all have the – like that worldview is not very dominant in the conversation. It's typically hustle, grind, make money, build business at any cost. And so, yeah, that's extremely valuable and extremely important. 


Justin Donald: Yeah. It's interesting. So, one thing I definitely want to do, I'd love for you to share what you're working on now. One of the things I'm intentional, I try not to always get into what people do right out of the gates because I don't want someone to be summed up by what they do for a living but I always want to explore it and I want to talk about it. Then also you've got an incredible podcast and I have shared this with you. I've shared this with other people. I think you're one of the best interviewers, podcasts interviewers out there. And so, I hope people check you out and get a chance to hear just the great questions, the philosophies that you have, but I'd love to talk about those. And to me, that's kind of near and dear to your heart.


Arman Assadi: Yeah. Well, thank you, man. That means a lot. And it's fun because I like being on this other side, too. It's great to do both. Well, it’s something you said earlier. It's kind of not what I do but it's a part of what's kind of on my mind right now is like the meme stocks and Reddit and Wall Street bets. It's not a part of my strategy at all but I think it's important to bring up because it's so dominant in pop culture and culture as a whole right now, but also like, how easily we can get swept up by things that are not aligned with our investment philosophy. I had so much FOMO and was paying so close attention to all of this and had no choice but to get involved. I have no choice. I mostly got involved out of I said, “What am I willing to lose? And do I really believe in the fight, like what this fight represents?” And so, I went, alright, I'm willing to lose 25K like I would be willing if it all went away and, literally, GameStop went down to zero. That's okay. And I went a little bit of all of them, even Blackberry and Nokia.


Justin Donald: Nice. 


Arman Assadi: But the reason that I did it was because the principle of what the fight represented and I really do view it as a sort of war that is currently going on in the investment world between these retail and institutional investors. But also, man, outside of that, the level of FOMO that shows up when certain opportunities arise is so dangerous. This is completely outside of what I do to day trade or to invest in individual stocks. I invested in individual stocks before and they're actually the highest performing part of my portfolio but I view that as like an accident. They're all FANG and tech stocks, high growth tech companies, whether they'll continue to get such amazing returns in the next five to 10 years, we'll see. But I view that as an anomaly and I want to make better strategic decisions that either spin-off cash, their existing assets, like real estate, and things like that, or investing in companies or just putting it into this Vanguard index fund, VTI or VTSAX. And yet, even though that is my strategy, I got so caught up and the reason I bring this up is because we need some sort of measure in place in our psychology to sort of ward off these potentially fatal decisions. 


One good one is just like, what am I willing to fully lose? Like that is helpful like viewed as if you're at the casino. You're placing a sports bet or you're about to play blackjack, and you're just like, "This is my allowance.” That's one way. But I think there needs to be an even more, sort of, especially for the more amateur investors like that did crush. We'll see what happens next. We're talking on in the middle of all of this or could be the end of all of this. We'll see. Like, we'll see if like there is a squeeze, still. We'll see if GameStop comes back but right now it's at like $90 a share. So, a lot of people lost a sh*t ton of money. And one of the things that you said, that is so simple and profound that I kept in the back of my mind is every time an investment comes in front of you, ask yourself why you shouldn't invest. Duh, like, so simple. Don't look for the reasons it's a yes. Look for the reasons it's a no. And overwhelmingly, the meme stocks had 9 out of 10 nos. The one yes is like, "Join the fight and maybe get 500% returns.” And it's like not even a flip of a quarter. It's more like a shot in the dark and none of the math adds up. None of it. It's just a gamble. So, I bring that up for that reason because I think that's one of the most important things I've learned lately. 


But where I'm investing my time and what I do is in places like this with content. I'm developing and building an in-house media company and content team. Everything from we're going to be doing - we just started doing YouTube. We are just about to start doing TikTok. I'm going to start getting into live streaming, I actually have this crazy. It's not a crazy idea but it's just a big commitment. So, I actually want to take my show. It's called Flow with Arman Assadi. 


Justin Donald: It’s fantastic, by the way. I want to give you a shout out there. I love your show. I love your great questions and the depth of conversation you get into and longer form. It's great.


Arman Assadi: Dude, thank you. I love it. I think if I had to guess, it's better for people to tell me why but if I had to guess it's because I am in love with it. Right? It's that thing that I talked about earlier. It's what I would do if money were no object. So, there's no way it can't be authentic because I would do it for free. So, what I'm investing and I'm investing a tremendous amount of money into this is to develop my own in-house content team to distribute this content. I have so much experience having helped other Wall Street Journal, New York Times bestsellers, authors, entrepreneurs, media companies. Brands do this stuff for like almost the last 10 years. So, I am finally shifting to really building my personal brand and really building out my platform and I think that I might be speaking prematurely here because I'm always shifting and moving and recreating, but I think I want to take the show to be live and I think I want to do it almost every day. And so, if I was interviewing you, it would just probably be this thing where I would take some tool like StreamYard, which allows you to stream to all the channels like YouTube and LinkedIn, and Facebook, and I'm going to find a way to even stream to Instagram, and what I've noticed that's really working for me and what I enjoy doing is like the audience is really engaged. 


I think it's because I'm often talking about controversial things that many people are not willing to talk about because it could be like career-ending so I totally understand it. I just don't give a f*ck. I don't know why. I'm playing this very long game. I'm like, “I don't know. This seems important to me. I got to talk about this.” And I think that that's giving people a space to have these conversations and share their opinions and I love their opinions. I don't mind if they disagree with me. And so, I think by going live and doing this, it would be like it could be a member of my audience that just jumps on Zoom. It'd be something like this and just stream and turn the show into this, from this more, and it's not my show. It’s not highly produced by any means. It's very raw. It's Flow with Arman. So, it's like very raw but not prerecorded and just go live and talk about what is in on my mind that day, whether it's something philosophical or something like Reddit, Wall Street bets, and if I'm interviewing you, it's like, "Well, Justin, I'm going live every day this week at 12, like which day works for you?” And then it's just like we're live, people are watching, it's recorded, it gets shared to Apple podcasts and podcasts later, and the video goes everywhere, and we create clips from it. And Justin jumped on for 45 minutes and shared about like The Lifestyle Investor. I think it will have this like dynamic thing. So, I'm very excited about that and spending a lot of time thinking and planning, and building the systems to support all of that. And I recommend that to anybody that's thinking about doing content. I think that live streaming is really where it's at.


Justin Donald: Yeah, that's for sure. The book launch director that I worked with, her name is Amber Vilhauer. She's amazing with NGNG Enterprises. She got me into live streaming because well, first of all, I've never done it but she said engagement is through the roof. And so, we use StreamYard and I got a chance to really experience what that was like. It's cool. So, to me, if you can blend both worlds where you can have a podcast from the content that you live-streamed, that to me is the best opportunity for growing your brand, getting the word out because, I mean, the data on attention and how long someone listens and how many people listen, it's just through the roof, I mean, many multiples above what just a standard podcast is.


Arman Assadi: Yes, absolutely. And outside of that, I obviously have to do things that make money because this stuff is a passion and isn't going to turn a profit necessarily until the reach is quite large to really get to a point where - and the amazing thing about it is, like I said, it's a long game. So, when you get to a point where you get say 50,000 downloads a month, which is pretty soon for me here, then the sponsorships can be very lucrative on the audio side. And on the YouTube side, it's not quite as good but, I mean, you can easily make seven figures a year from just YouTube monetization when you're getting into the millions of views total in your channel. But outside of that, I'm an entrepreneur. Creating content is fun but it's not building a company. So, my company that I've ran up until this point very recently is called Project EVO. We've done some really remarkable things. We changed the game industry of we created a personalized planning system based on what we call your brain type. So, that was awesome. We raised over a million dollars on crowdfunding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It's actually the most funded planner of all time but there's a technology component so we had an app that measures and tracks people's progress. It's like personal development junkies would be all over this thing. 


Then the thing of that that we created that I'm most proud of is a personality assessment called the elements assessment. So, the brain type assessment is free. People can just literally Google brain type assessment or Project EVO. That'll come up and it'll tell you which of the four brain types you are but the deeper personality assessment that you get like a 25 to 30-page report on, it's called the elements assessment. That took me four years to build, four years


Justin Donald: Wow. 


Arman Assadi: And a lot of investment and time, but it's the best personality assessment on the market. It blows Myers-Briggs away. That stuff is so dated but it is based on similar Jungian psychology that I'm very passionate about. But I've shifted most of my time out of that company, actually, and I don't have to run that day-to-day anymore. I finally shifted out who is that that says, is that E-myth or one of those books in our industry, where it's like you got to eventually move from working in the business to working on the business and just making those bigger decisions. So, I really set myself up in 2020 to move toward that. I'm now working on a crazy idea. I don't say this to sound douchey. It really is part of the go-to-market strategy that it's pretty stealth and it's the first time I'm exploring a more traditional venture-backed startup. So, I'm currently in the phase of building a prototype and the plan is to go raise capital. I think it's going to get a lot of attention, I'll put it that way. I'm really going to be disrupting an entire industry and it's actually related to podcasting. So, I’m very excited about that but it's a little premature to talk about. But if people keep up with me on my content, I'll be documenting the journey of this for sure.


Justin Donald: That's cool. Yeah. I want to ask so many questions but out of respect and making sure that you have the runway that you need and not too many trade secrets are given, I will refrain, but I'm excited about what you're building because you are always all-in on the things that you do and it's cool. Your passion for what you do is there and I love that you have gained lifestyle back. You bought your time back. You bought freedom by this move. So, a lot of people, they don't ever make the move because they're afraid that their business is going to fall apart or they're afraid that their income is going to decrease. You made the move and that's a tough move, right? There's a lot of uncertainty tied to it but the moment you made it, you just gained so much of your life back that you can now redirect in all these other areas. I just had John Lee Dumas on my podcast. His aired last a few episodes ago. And so, he shows how it's possible and he breaks down his numbers every single month, every single year. And last year, he grows 2.3 million, profited 1.7 million just on podcasting. 


Arman Assadi: Yeah. He's such a cool example of content because the way he set everything up, he's so focused on profitability and he's so efficient with the team. If you look at his reports, it's remarkable. You know, it's like he finds great talent, doesn't overpay. Each person on the team getting like $50,000, $100,000 a year salaries. It's like it's very efficient and he's proof of that concept. And he does, I think, I don't know if he still does, but it was like a daily podcast. So, it's like a lot of sponsorship opportunity.


Justin Donald: No kidding. Yeah, he's done really well with that and I have no doubt that you're going to do the same thing, obviously. You know, it takes a certain number of subscribers to be able to monetize but at the end of the day, I was sharing this with someone else. I don't even care, I mean, is it good to monetize the things you do? Sure. But if you love what you're doing and you have a way to cover it and sustain it, I think that that's incredible and there is a danger to look out for at the point where you are monetizing it if it's influencing what you're doing, the brand you're having. So, you still need to be brand representative, right? So, to me, I'm like if I ever do that, I want it to be brands that support good lifestyle and healthy living and all that but there's a temptation to take the quick dollar, the easy dollar because this group wants to sponsor you. That group has a promotional piece that they want to do. And so, you got to be aware.


Arman Assadi: Very much so. That's a really important point.


Justin Donald: Well, this is so great. So, tell me where and what I'm excited about is following you along the way but I want others to have the opportunity to do that too. So, where can our listeners find more out about you?


Arman Assadi: Yeah. So, home base is ArmanAssadi.com. Pretty much everything can be discovered through there. My main time these days is going into I think the best way to talk is probably Instagram. You know, just being there. That's the main platform I'm spending time on. You can DM me there. I also have my phone number. People can text me on the website or on Instagram. 


Justin Donald: Oh, you’re brave. 


Arman Assadi: Yeah. But I'm expanding into a lot of new channels like YouTube is going to be a primary focus. So, I highly recommend people subscribe to the YouTube channel. I'm building a whole new studio in this room that you're looking at right now. We're about to just demolish it and redo everything. It's funny. So, our mutual friend, Mike Koenigs has a badass studio.


Justin Donald: His is amazing.


Arman Assadi: It's beautiful and I sat there thinking like, how do I want to build this? What do I want it to look like? And the conclusion I reached is, I think the days of the default for a show being in person is gone. I just think like Mike’s set up is beautiful but I realized I was like, man, to coordinate with Justin or the people you really want, they got to fly in or you got to fly to them like I got to set something up, where at least on my side is taken care of and the shot is beautiful, and really high production. And like, okay, their shot, you can't control it, it is what it is and if they can come in person, they come in person. So, YouTube, I'm very excited about and, yeah, all the platforms though but ArmanAssadi.com is the place to be.


Justin Donald: I love it. Well, I'm also embarking as you are in this YouTube world and having a channel and figuring this whole game out, which is it's fun. It's fun to me to be a total novice, and to just step a foot into a realm that is really unknown. It's funny because I wrap up my podcast the same way every single time but I take my own advice, which is to move one step closer to financial freedom, to the life of your dreams, to shifting from autopilot to proactive life by design, and to me, that's getting out of your comfort zone. It's stepping into a realm that you don't know very well, being a novice, needing help, asking for it, finding mentors, finding a peer group that can support you, and I just love that process because I asked people to do that and I think therefore it's really important that I'm willing to do it as well. And because of that, I feel like it's more what I talked about, it's more relatable because I'm doing this constantly. And I know you are too. So, thank you. Thank you for joining us. This was great. And to all of our listeners, take one step forward and move towards the life you desire.


Arman Assadi: Thank you, Justin. I love it. Thanks for having me on.


Justin Donald: Thanks for being here.



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