Interview with Charles Schwartz
Rewriting the Rules of Wealth Building with Charles Schwartz
For entrepreneurs, the cost of success can be high. Most people subscribe to the “more work = more money” mentality, and unfortunately, they lose the plot in the process.
I mean what’s the point of making more money, if you’ve got no time to spend it and nobody to spend it with?
The good news is, you don’t have to sacrifice your family, your health, or your freedom in order to succeed. You don’t have to grind for 80+ hours per week in order to earn passive income and live a life by design—and today’s guest, Charles Schwartz, is living proof.
Charles is an entrepreneur, wealth-hacking consultant, and coach who’s spent his entire career building businesses from scratch and flipping them into multi-million dollar empires. His expertise has earned him a reputation as a go-to coach for those who look to retire early and live life on their terms.
Defying the relentless “hustle culture,” Charles champions freedom over status, proving that greatness can be achieved without losing sight of what truly matters in life.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
✅ The 3 lies that are sabotaging your success.
✅ The powerful lesson Charles’ grandfather taught him that shortcutted his path to success and how you can use this same strategy to build a life on your terms.
✅ The truth behind wealth creation and why you don’t have to be a millionaire to achieve lifestyle freedom.
Featured on This Episode: Charles Schwartz
✅ What he does: Charles Schwartz is a wealth hacking consultant, speaker, angel investor, and coach. Best known for coaching entrepreneurs on how to retire, along with his Persona Shifting Workshops. Charles’ book, Who Changes Everything, is an insight to the powerful tool that allowed him to retire at 36, become a millionaire at 37, and be invited to lecture at Yale at 38. His strategies and insights have empowered people to discover what exactly hinders them from achieving the life that they want. His work has created millionaires, and honed people to become the best versions of themselves. He has spent his entire career building businesses from scratch, and flipping businesses into multi-million dollar empires.
Charles has been invited as a guest speaker at Yale University, the American Heart Association, Microsoft, The United States Coast Guard, and various local events in his hometown, Florida. He attended the prestigious Harvard Business School, previously known as HBX, to perfect his mastery of the art of negotiation, and further imparts his knowledge to others through personal coaching.
💬 Words of wisdom: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Key Takeaways with Charles Schwartz
- The lessons Charles took from working in a hospice for eight years.
- Why hard work doesn’t work.
- Success leaves clues – good mentors will help you find them faster.
- Leveraging cash flow to buy back time and find complete freedom.
- Breaking the chains of net-worth identity.
- How the ability to read people’s triggers helps you level up in business and life.
- Techniques for priming yourself for peak performance in every environment.
- The three most common lies told in the success space.
- Going a step beyond surrounding yourself with smarter people.
Free Strategy Session
The Lifestyle Investor Insider
Charles Schwartz on The Truth Behind Wealth Creation
Charles Schwartz Tweetables“Understanding that you don’t have to accomplish anything in order to be enough and to be worthy of love is the first fallacy that I would really get in your face about” - Charles Schwartz Click To Tweet “Having your time back is the only resource that ever matters.” - Charles Schwartz Click To Tweet
- Charles Schwartz Website
- Charles Schwartz on LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
- Who Changes Everything: Unlock the Secret that will Transform Your Life by Charles Schwartz
- Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization
- Chris Voss
- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss, Tahl Raz
Rate & Review The Lifestyle Investor Podcast
If you enjoyed today’s episode of The Lifestyle Investor, hit the subscribe button on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, or wherever you listen, so future episodes are automatically downloaded directly to your device.
You can also help by providing an honest rating & review over on Apple Podcasts. Reviews go a long way in helping us build awareness so that we can impact even more people. THANK YOU!
Connect with Justin Donald
Get the Lifestyle Investor Book!
To get access to The Lifestyle Investor: The 10 Commandments of Cashflow Investing for Passive Income and Financial Freedom visit JustinDonald.com/book
Read the Full Transcript with Charles Schwartz
Justin Donald: What’s up, Charles? So glad to have you on the show.
Charles Schwartz: Hey, Justin, I’m glad to be here. Thank you for inviting me. I really appreciate it.
Justin Donald: Well, we’re going to have so much fun. I mean, I feel like we have endless stuff to talk about. It’s actually hard to decide what direction to go in because I feel like you have this expertise in so many different genres, and I want to capture the essence of so much of what you know, but I also want to tell your story because you’ve got an incredible story.
Charles Schwartz: I think we should do on how we do everything else. Let us organically flow. We’ll see where it goes.
Justin Donald: I like it. And for people that don’t know this, I probably should mention this more, but I really love just the free flow that podcasts allow me to take. So, my conversations are not scripted. It was funny, I was talking to my COO, Ryan, and dear friend, and he’s like, “What? You don’t have notes?” And I’m like, “No, I just see where the conversation goes. Maybe I have a couple of talking points on something cool in their background, but that’s it. Normally, I’ll just kind of see where the conversation takes us.”
And so, I’m excited for our conversation here today. I would love to learn more about your story, though. You have a really cool story. You grew up in a very low-income, middle-income, kind of in that genre of household, yet you somehow emerged as this incredible entrepreneur that has started, scaled, and sold many companies. And I’m just curious, how did you go from where you were to where you are today?
Charles Schwartz: I will try my best to answer that. I’m very similar to you, by the way. There are no talking points. We just go with the flow. And I think that’s important. I think it’s about connection and rapport. And so many people marry their notes instead of actually interacting and holding space for the other person. So, I love that you do that. It’s to say I don’t take notes for anything I do, ever. Even on my mastermind, we just go.
So, my story really starts really simple. I grew up poor. I couldn’t afford the last few letters of poor. And then from there, at 36, I retired 37, I became a millionaire at 38, I was lecturing at Yale. Now in between there, there were a lot of trials and tribulations. I was not the smartest in my class. I was not the most popular in my class. Actually, at one point in college, I got asked to take a break, which is a nice way of saying I got on academic suspension. So, there was all of that.
But I think one of the biggest things that radically changed my life was I spent eight years in a hospice watching people die. I was a very arrogant teenager. I had a 92-mile-an-hour fastball. We didn’t know where it was going to go. We knew it was going to hit the guy next to the plate. I just couldn’t find the strike. There was one time, the only time I ever balked, which if you know anything about baseball is if you move improperly, the person who gets to move a baseball was called a balk, was this guy in the third base crowd yelled at me and he told me that if I threw a ball at the ground, I’d miss. And he was right. I just sort of laughed at him. It was that bad of how I was in baseball. It was quite embarrassing.
But for me, I learned some very specific lessons because there’s a famous book called Rich Dad Poor Dad, I had dad and grandpa for me with very polar opposite ideas. My father was an individual who worked very, very hard. That was his mindset. He was a corporate guy. And my grandfather on the other side was the opposite. He retired at 50. He was a World War II vet. He grew up at a time that was very challenging. Based on where we’re from, it’s very hard for him. And he’s only asked me for two things in my entire life, which was, one, take care of his wife when he died. He passed away from cancer. He asked, “Take care of my girl.” I did that.
And the second one was years before, I showed him where I was working at hospice, and he kind of held me by the shoulders, almost in tears. And he goes, “Promise me you’ll never work for anyone else.” And it was a fundamental change in my life. I promised him. I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t realize that I truly was an entrepreneur to my core because I just don’t like working for other people and I love my time. I wanted to buy my time back on a high level, but that’s kind of the very broad overview of it. I can get more details anywhere you want to go.
Justin Donald: Wow. What an incredible start to your story. I’m excited to kind of tackle some of these things. So, was your grandfather an entrepreneur? Or what made him say, like…
Charles Schwartz: I think he was an entrepreneur before with school.
Justin Donald: Yeah.
Charles Schwartz: So, how my grandfather did was he was a butcher. And then World War II broke out, and he ended up on a vessel and they put him in charge of the store. And from there, he came back after the war. After World War II, he came back and he bought a small little hotel. He sold a butcher store. He bought a small little hotel. He sold that up in New York and he came down to Florida, bought a bunch of land.
And at the time, it was hard to get a job based on what his last name was. There was a lot of antisemitism that was going on at the time. So, he kind of was pushed into that and he wanted to become a doctor, but the GI Bill didn’t cover merchant marines. So, he had to go just figure it on his own and he didn’t have the education or the background to do it.
So, he ended up buying a hotel that would not allow him to book. He went down in Miami and he said, “Hey, I want to rent a room here.” And they said, “No, we don’t serve you. We won’t serve your kind.” And he’s like, “I’m done with that.”
So, he sold his land, he bought the hotel, and he made sure that everyone that once he’d found a niche in the market, he found the whole, he’s like, I’m going to serve to everybody who has this, this, and this. But he was smart enough to sit there and say, “These are two, two rooms.” He split them into one ones. And he worked his tail off and he was beaten to this idea that you had to grind.
And it was probably the only argument we ever had was the difference between working hard and working smart. And I’m just not a grinder. That was the lesson that hospice taught me, that you just don’t do it. So, my grandfather was absolutely an entrepreneur, not by choice, but because of what happened. And then he just scaled it from there and he learned what passive income was.
Justin Donald: So, when did you start your first company? And what was that like? I mean, what was it? What ended up happening there? Was that one of your success stories? Or was that a failure story?
Charles Schwartz: A lot of failure stories. And if you haven’t, you’re not a successful entrepreneur. I think the first real one was a lawn care company. It’s embarrassing. There was a lawn care company. I was a little guy. I was like 13 or 14 years old and I knew what everyone else was charging. So, we went around and I went around my neighborhood and I said, “Hey, I’m going to charge you this,” but I was lazy. Most entrepreneurs I know are intrinsically lazy. So, I was like, “Wait, if they’re going to–” I don’t remember the exact numbers, but I was like, “All right, if they’re going to charge me $10 to do their lawn, I’m going to pay my friend $7 and I’m going to keep the extra three.” And that’s why I very quickly started doing when I was a little guy. So, that’s the first “business.”
But the one that I scaled first that I built from the ground up was actually an IT business. I used to be an IT guy. And we were what’s known as an MSP, which is managed sales provider. And I was working at hospice, running their entire IT division. And my last boss, I hope I ever have in my entire life, is an individual named John Webb. He was an amazing guy. I love John. And he sat down and he goes, “You need to start forming your own business.” I was like, “Why? I’m going to work here forever. This is a hospice. I’m going to be here for the next 30 years. This is my home.” He’s like, “Cool. That’s so cute. No, that’s not how the real world works.”
And he pushed me. He’s like, “Go start doing this for other people. And you have a pager.” Yes, I’m that old. It’s been 45 years. “You have a pager, if I need you, I’ll call you. But everything else, you’ve systematized, you’ve done that. Now, go do it for other businesses.”
And watching other business owners because that became who my client was, I met with the owners of businesses and I watched these guys who were smart, who weren’t working harder, who were kinder, who really didn’t want to be in service to others, or for some of them, some of them were magnificent gifts of human beings, were making more money when they didn’t work versus when they did work. And my entire life changed because, during the day, I was at hospice watching people dying.
And then, in the afternoons, I’m watching business owners make more money while they’re sleeping or outsourcing it to their staff through systems and operations than anything else. And I was like, “Wait, there are so many things that I’ve been told that are just factually untrue.” And it was one of the major lies that I had to pivot around. There are about three or four other ones, but that was the major one of the rule, hard work won’t save me. Hold on, I’m confused because I was brought up incredibly in this idea that you have to grind. And that’s what it was. And that’s just not true readily.
Justin Donald: Wow. And so, how long from start to finish was that from when you kind of opened the doors of this IT business till the time that you sold it?
Charles Schwartz: It was a bit. It was about 10-plus years. It was 13 total years. The first 10 years, I never wanted to sell it. I had tons of options. I never wanted to sell it. And I was like, “Why would I sell it? I’m making six figures. I’m not doing any work. That was silly. I don’t want to sell it.” I wasn’t burnt out from it yet. And it wasn’t until again my grandfather stepped in and he goes, he asked me, I think I was 34 at the time. Maybe I was like 34. He was, “Why don’t you retire?” I’m like, “I’m sorry. What? I’m 34.” He’s like, “Why don’t you retire?” And I go, “I don’t even know what that looks like.” He was, “Let me give you the formula to teach you how to retire.” I was like, “Okay.” I was excited. “Let me give you the secret.” And he was, “X minus Y equals Z.” And I’m like, “All right, that’s it?”
He was, “x minus Y equals Z.” And I’m like, “All right, fill in the blanks because those aren’t numbers. Help me out here.” He was, “Okay, X is how much you make. Y is what it would cost to pay someone else to do your job? Z is what’s left though. Can you live on Z?” And at the time, again, just randomizing numbers, let’s say I was making $185,000 a year. It would cost me $75,000 to hire someone else. I hire someone better than I would normally do. So, I gave him a 10 grand bonus. Could I live on 100 grand? I was like, “Yes.” And I’m like, “Oh, my God, why am I not retired?”
And that became the how do you put systems in place? How do you do this? How do you find passive income? If I’m going to sell it, I need a plan of how many continue to create this cash flow. And I didn’t have that when I retired, when I pulled out, I didn’t understand that concept yet. I just was like, “Hey, this is great. I can sell this. Someone’s going to offer me a couple of million dollars for this? Okay, this was nice,” because at that point, I was burnt out. It’s hard to be in IT.
Justin Donald: Yeah, no kidding. So, what I love, though, is your grandfather basically busted his butt and made it based on work ethic, and probably, some good ideas, too. But let’s say work ethic was the foundation of it, but I think, later recognized, wow, I probably worked too hard, or I could have shortcutted this process. There could have been some sort of a hack to get there faster, sooner, better with a better quality of life. And then he poured into you these things that he learned, which is just so neat, and then that you were able to adopt those and not just copy what you saw before you.
Charles Schwartz: I think we’ve talked about this before. It’s about success leaves clues, and you’re just going to copy someone else’s success and you find mentors, you find people who are smarter than you, and put your ego aside, have the humility come in, say, “I haven’t done this, How can you help me? I’m curious. Can you help me out?” And I think having that humility is important.
But my grandpa, at first, we battled. We battled intensely because he would see me hanging out at the beach and I’d have a tan, which for some reason I don’t right now. I had a tan and I was going to hang out and do it. He’s like, “What are you doing? Why are you so tan?” I’m like, “I’m fine. I don’t need to.” He’s like, “No, you should be scaling this. You should do that.” And there’s a story about the Mexican fisherman, which I don’t know if your audience knows it that, right, you’ve heard it, that I was so latched on to because I watched these people in the hospice environment who work their entire lives.
Justin Donald: Tell it. Tell the story. I’ve got to imagine there are people that don’t know it, but tell a short version of it because it’s good.
Charles Schwartz: I don’t know, a very short version of this. There is a Harvard grad or he’s already done it. He’s in Mexico on his vacation and he sees this Mexican fisherman and he comes in, he’s this huge fish and he docks the fish and he goes off like, “Guys, what are you doing?” He’s like, “What? I’m done fishing.” He’s like, “What do you do now?” He’s like, “I’m going to home. I’m going to have siesta, make love to my wife. I want to hang out with my friends and I’m going to go to sleep.” He’s like, “No, you’re doing this all wrong. What you need to do is you need to get your butt back in the boat and you need to go. Listen, I have a Ph.D. from Harvard. I know what I’m talking about here. Go back out there. Then we scale it and you get more fish.” And he goes, “Okay, then what?” He’s like, “Well, then you get more boats.” He’s like, “Okay. Then what?” He goes, “Then I’ll bring you to the United States and I’ll teach you a distribution company and we’ll scale this.” He’s like, “Okay. And then what?” He goes, “Well, then we’ll sell the companies.” I was like, “Okay, then what?” He’s like, “Then you’ll fish in the morning, go home, have a siesta, make love to your wife, hang out with your friends, and go to sleep.”
So, the idea was he had already done and lived his dream. He didn’t need to do all this other stuff. Go after what fills up your soul. And for me, it’s time. It’s one of the things that you and I are very, very aligned with was, when you had your success, yours was I want to make sure that when I have a child, my wife will be able to buy her time back. It’s such a gift to give your spouse and even to yourself. Again, watching people pass, I was like, my time is more important than anything else. That’s why I got so focused on my health. I was like, okay, I can’t buy more time. I can always make more money. That’s easy. How do I buy more time?
And so, the Mexican fisherman story is, what is it that you really want? What is your real goal? Do you want to become a president? Well, go sign up for a company, 120 bucks, you form a company, and congratulations, you’re president of a company. It doesn’t have the same value. What matters more, and I jokingly say I want to become a shore erosion technician, I will sit on the beach and just watch the shore run and be left alone. That’s my ultimate dream. I want my time back. I want to be able to do what I want.
Justin Donald: Oh, I love it. We align so much on that, buy your time back, spend it with the people that you love the most, spend it on the activities that you are most passionate about, that you feel most fulfilled in doing. And you will never have to retire, right? So, it’s a beautiful thing.
So, I’m curious if you did what most entrepreneurs do, which is you had a big exit, you take all that money, you rolled into the next big thing, or did you do it different? Did you put some money aside? You may have even had a couple of companies going at the same time. But I’m curious, how financially you made your moves after what I imagine was your first big windfall. You had good cash flow from the business, and then your first windfall, I’m assuming, is from that first business.
Charles Schwartz: Yeah. So, there are a couple of things and I love to talk about how I got there. But once the windfall came in, I literally burnt out. It was intense. I was doing so many different things. I took a break. And then after I took a break, I was like, okay, well, what do I do now? Because at the time, I was like, I’m going to sell all these assets. I’m just like, cash flow, cash flow, cash flow. And I grew up so bored that I locked into my money. I got afraid of it. It was one of the reasons I don’t play poker is I’m horrible online.
But also, we played a poker game and I had my chips. The color of my chips were black, and every one– there was a blue one, there was white ones, and there was red ones. And I beat everyone in the game except this one person. And I only focus was to get that one black chip that I lost. I wanted my chip back and I got so attached to money that I was like, all right, I’ve got a problem.
So, now, I’m like, how do I create more money? I just started hunting after riches and not wealth. And that was a huge mistake I did. I didn’t go after cash flow. And cash flow is the only thing that matters. Sorry, kids, I would much rather have less in the bank and a higher cash flow coming in every month than opposite because you’re talking about investing to a lifestyle. You want a specific lifestyle and lead to live so you can work with the people you adore, that you do have fun with, and you can spend the time doing the things that you love.
Regrettably, I didn’t do that. I went after and I was like, I’m going to acquire businesses so I got a big exit. I’m going to acquire systematized things. I got into coaching on a high level. So, it was just creating this cash flow and I lost a little bit of the systems and the operations of working, having automating things for a little while. And then I slowly started getting back into creating any sort of residual income. And a lot of the residual income that I had was from scaling businesses, having equity in those businesses, and having to exit out.
The stuff that excites me now is assets that are real estate because, for me, true wealth is real estate. There’s just no way around it. I want to make it so that if I get hit by a car, God forbid, or I get eaten by a purple dragon, that wealth still is given to the family. So, that’s where my transition is from an entrepreneur to a wealth creator. And having that lifestyle being created is where I am right now, but I had to divorce some lies in order to get there.
Justin Donald: Yeah, I think a lot of us maybe are, let’s call it wooed by cultural mindsets, and we hear all these things about net worth and how important net worth is, especially for those of us that are a little bit more on the alpha side and really kind of go after it, are achievement-oriented. And so, the big fallacy with that though, you have a lot of people that have a lot of wealth, but a lot of them spend a lot of time, they sacrifice their health to get it. And so, for the longest time, it’s not even real. It’s paper money. It’s when you hear that people are cash poor and asset rich, they don’t have dollars for today to do all the stuff they want, but they have these assets that hopefully in time will yield that, but often, they sacrifice their health to get there and to grow the number that actually doesn’t matter as much.
And I know from you and how you’ve done kind of your business and how you figure things out that you were able to create cash flow prior to having a big net worth. And what I want people to know all the time, all day, every day, is that you don’t have to be a millionaire to live this incredible life. You can have passive income. A lot of people just– they think that you have to have X million of dollars. No, you don’t. You need to have more cash flow than your cost of living. And you could literally have a net worth of, I don’t know, a few hundred thousand dollars to accomplish that. And it could be way less, right? If you have a low cost of living, if you’re single, if you’re able to live on less for a period of time, there are other hacks around it, but you don’t have to have a lot of net worth to be financially free, to be– and I would call that true wealth is owning your time, right?
Charles Schwartz: Absolutely. Absolutely. There are so many entrepreneurs that I’ve worked with where we’ve systematized and scaled their operations, and it’s bigger than they ever thought. I’m like, “Are you happy now?” They’re like, “No.” I was like, “What do you really want?” They’re like, “I just want to spend time with my kids.” I was like, “All right. Let’s talk about exiting now.” And they’re like, “What?” I’m like, “Let’s systematize your operations so we can increase your EBITDA so that we can get a higher multiplier when we sell. Let’s go down that operation and then let it sell and buy these assets.”
And again, for your audience, I’m sure they know it, but assets make you money, liabilities cost you money. Buy things that make you money. And every single one of my clients has exited out of being an entrepreneur because they don’t want to have to be an entrepreneur. Sometimes they do it, sometimes they want to do it and play and do all that. That’s fine. They don’t want to do it. They want to be able to spend time living a life that they want.
The best example I have with this is, I know his daughter, but he was 62 years old, and last year, everything was great. And he owned the company, making multiple millions, got two boys, crushing it. But he’s working, a light week would be 80 to 100 hours a week, and he’s crushing himself. That’s a light week as an entrepreneur.
A year ago, he got diagnosed with a rare brain cancer. Now, he’s dead. Now, his kids have all these millions, but they don’t care about any of it. They would rather give up every single dollar they had just for one more dinner with their dad. So, there are so many entrepreneurs that are hunting after, I want to be the biggest and the best, and look at me and look at all these awards and so on and so forth. It’s not relevant, guys. I’m sorry. Having faced death as much as I have in my life, it’s been one of the greatest blessings.
The first six months is rough, watching people in terminal environments. But after that, it was the greatest gift to kind of reset priorities, which is I want to be around people that I like, I want to be around people that I trust, I want to have fun, I want to be around and serve the people that I love. And I want to live my life. I want to get up and go to Switzerland. I’m going to Switzerland. If I want to take a nap, I’m going to take a nap. Having your time back is the only resource that ever matters. And the only way to do that is getting your health under control, and then working with someone who can teach you how to create this cash flow. There are just some lies you got to get rid of in order to do that.
Justin Donald: Yeah, there’s no doubt about that. And I love your mindset on it. I love that you’ve coached a lot of people to this. The danger here is a lot of entrepreneurs start a business and that business eventually ends up owning them. They don’t see it, they don’t think it. In time, they realize it.
Other people, maybe it’s not the business, it’s the money. It’s earning more. It’s climbing the corporate ladder, it’s the title, it’s the name, it’s the significance, it’s partner, it’s owner, whatever it is. And we’ve got to be careful that those things don’t trump all the other things that for most people, they figure out later in life are more valuable, right? And relationship is really being top of the list. But a lot of people lose sight of that as they’re chasing riches, as they’re chasing significance, as they’re chasing notoriety.
Charles Schwartz: I think it comes into a simple disease that most people have, which is if I do this, I’ll be enough. And if I’m enough, I’ll be worthy of love. And that fallacy eats them alive. And you sit down and the easiest way for your listeners to do it, think of the person you love the most in this world. What do they have to do to be worthy of your love? And if you’re a rational human being, the answer is nothing. I love my grandmother. I love my grandfather. They’re no longer with us. They don’t have to do anything. They just don’t do anything. I love them, period. They were gifts in my life.
But for some reason, that gets twisted around, be it society or ourselves, we’re like, hey, I need to become– I need to have this much money, I need to be this weight, I need to earn this much, I need this title, I need whatever this is. Therefore, I’ll be enough. And then the people I love will then, I’ll be worthy of their love. And that is just not true. The people that love you, love you for who you are. Period. Full stop. And if they don’t, they don’t really love you the same way. So, understanding that you don’t have to accomplish anything in order to be enough and be worthy of love is the first fallacy that I would really get in your face about and say, “Listen, no, you don’t have to do anything in order to be worthy of love, period.”
Justin Donald: I love it. That’s powerful. That’s a great lesson that everyone could stand to hear again and again and again. It never gets old, and it’s probably one of the most relevant things that any of us should know and understand and hold closely. So, thanks for sharing that. Your story is great. You retire at the age of 36. I want to toss out there that you retired a year earlier than me. So nice job. But I also…
Charles Schwartz: I got your back for being number one on Wall Street versus not. So, I’ll take that win.
Justin Donald: I like it. Yeah, I ended up getting that number one spot, but you’re still a Wall Street Journal bestseller and we’ll need to talk about your book as well. But I’ll tell you what’s cool about that is you decide to start coaching people. And so, you talked about this a little bit. And a lot of your clients refer to you as the millionaire maker because you help them become millionaires. You were able to do this at a young age. You then coached other people to do this. And I’ve got to imagine some of the recognition you got from that landed other opportunities that I’d love to get into today.
Charles Schwartz: Absolutely, yeah. Being able to do that, it’s funny because I was making people millionaires before I was a millionaire. So, it was a weird paradigm. But what I was focusing on, and again, we can get into it, had nothing to do with systems at the time. I had nothing to do with operations. I had nothing to do with that. It was something very different because I was doing 30% year-over-year growth in my IT company. We were just crushing it at the time when no one else was.
And I took that, and I was part of something called EO, which is Entrepreneurs’ Organization, which is phenomenal. I was part of their accelerator group because my company hadn’t scaled that and they allowed me to sit on their board, which was a gift for the short time that I was there because I didn’t have the time for it. But I was telling people and presenting. I’m like, “Hey, this is exactly what I’m doing at the time you were using Facebook ads.” And I’m like, “This is what our emails look like and this is what our Facebook ads look like and this is our systems.” And people wanted to learn.
So, I was working with people one-on-one and I was like, “Hey, absolutely, I met you at the event so I’ll help you out. No problem.” I wasn’t charging anyone. And then I was like, “Well, they’re not doing what I told them to do.” And at the time, I was a Microsoft trainer as well, so I knew how to teach. I was like, “What am I doing something wrong? I’m giving them all the things. I must be delivering it wrong.” So I was like, “Oh, well, it must be price.” If I charge them for that, then they’re actually going to take action because they’ve spent money.
And as a fellow person who runs a mastermind, you know that’s not the case. It’s not always the price. People won’t take the action. So, it got very confusing and very frustrating. And then I finally figured out, which again is what I wrote the book about, what it was, what that secret was that completely changed it. I was like, “Oh, that’s how you do it.” So, that’s kind of how the path led to that.
Justin Donald: I love it. And so, how did you end up lecturing at Yale? That seems like a big leap and quite an honor, I would imagine. So, that’s just a cool part of your story. Tell us a little more about that.
Charles Schwartz: So, as you already know, your network is your net worth. It’s just how it works. I knew one individual that was there, and at the time, in one of her courses, I actually spoke in one of her classes and mentioned, “Hey, could you come out? Can you talk about this? Can you talk about the thing that you specifically do, which is teaching entrepreneurs how to scale and retire and do all that?” And I was like, “I would absolutely love to do that. Please understand, I’m not your normal speaker. I’m going to ruffle some people’s feathers.”
Because when you show up to an Ivy League school, because I’m certified by Harvard in negotiation and there’s all this wonderful stuff, you honestly walk into the environment for the people who are not Ivy League people. You literally think that they’re going to be levitating and curing cancer because they’re bored. You really think that these people are just brilliant beyond all measure. And they are. They’re very intelligent, but they’re not more intelligent than the average Joe.
The difference that they have is their discipline. They decided very early on that they want X and they’re just going to drive through it. But how I got into Yale was, honestly, a lot of it was because I had already been speaking for a long time. I’d been seen in lots of other environments. Someone was there at one of the events I was speaking at and had a radical experience. He was on stage and had a breakthrough. And then I also knew someone that like, “Hey, I know you’re certified over here from Harvard and you’ve done all these things.” And they’re like, “Would you be open to speaking?” I was like, “Yes.”
And again, I’m a Florida boy, so I don’t understand when white stuff falls out of the sky, when it’s frozen, it’s very confusing for me. And I went up there and the time I spoke, they actually had a blizzard, so I got kind of trapped up there at the same time, which worked out well because my 45-minute talk ended up being multiple hours. So, it was fun. I had a really good time. It’s an amazing place. If you have the opportunity, take your young children to Harvard or Yale, show it to them. They will work their butts off in order to get back. I would have if I had known.
Justin Donald: So, tell us about what certifications you got with Harvard that kind of accompanied this opportunity at Yale. I mean, you now have two of the most prestigious universities in the world, certainly two of the top in the U.S. that you can kind of throw on your resume. Most people don’t have that.
Charles Schwartz: So, there’s a guy named Chris Voss. Chris Voss wrote a book called Never Split the Difference, which if your audience hasn’t read it, go read it as fast as you can. It’s phenomenal. Chris was the former FBI hostage negotiator. It’s one of the things that I really liked about him was things either work or someone doesn’t come home.
And even in the IT division when I had my IT company, the people, they’re financial or health-related. So, if we don’t do it, if it fails, either their medical care is going to drop exponentially, it’s going to cause pain, or in a financial institution, they’re going to be losing $10,000 plus every minute. So, I like the things that either work or someone doesn’t come home. And Chris is a huge one on that.
And I got an opportunity to spend some time with Chris. And one of the conversations I came up with is, listen, you’re phenomenal with human behavior and persuasion. I don’t know how to do it. It’s great. We need to put some credits behind it, some accolades. And I was like, “All right, how do I do that?” He’s like, “Listen, there’s this program. Go and see if you can apply for it, get access to it. And they have a negotiation program.” And I was like, “You want me to take that?” He’s like, “Yes,” he’s like, “I know the instructor.” We’ll have that conversation.
So, I went in, and at the time, I think it’s changed now, but went in and the rule was very simple, I wasn’t allowed to voice my opinion during class. I just had to sit there and take what it was and not apply the practicality of it. Because when I was in my undergrad, I got in trouble with the dean of the college for voicing my opinion. At the time, it was about IT.
But yeah, there are ways that you don’t have to be a student, you don’t have to go in and to get the MBA or whatever it is. They do have certification programs that you can join and be a part of it. They have some challenging acceptance, at least when I was doing it, it was a little challenging to get accepted, but I think it’s a little bit easier now because they’re trying to push out that knowledge. But that’s how I did that one.
Justin Donald: That’s awesome. I love it. And so, you have some of the best in class that you have learned negotiating from and a derivative of negotiating, or maybe, part of the parent of negotiating is persuasion. Where did you get your skill set? I’m sure this is you had to have learned things before and after Harvard. And that one is probably geared a lot more on the negotiating side of things, but you’ve had a lot of success with persuasion. You’ve spoken about it. You know this inside and out. And I’d love to learn where you got your expertise.
Charles Schwartz: So, I love that you asked that question. But for years, I didn’t know how to answer it. I would give some random answer and it bothered me because I didn’t know where I got it from until I finally figured it out. So, I think it’s the first time, not on stage, I’m actually giving the real answer of how I did this.
It happened very, very young. I grew up very poor, and the human mind only cares about at its core, it’s constantly thinking about three things and three things alone. Can I eat it? Can I propagate with it? I cleaned it up. Can I propagate with it? And is it going to kill? That’s the only three things that matter at all times. And I grew up in an environment that was violent, not at home, but my school was. The school environment was very, very violent.
I was a minority, and there was just, again, an immense amount of violence. So, I had to learn how to start reading people as a survival mechanism, being able to say, “Okay, look, he looks like he’s pissed off, let’s get out of his way.” And we all do this. Little children, I know you have a daughter. I don’t remember how old she is, but do you have kids that walk up that are four or five years old? And they’ll point out that one thing about you that just destroys your entire ego, like when they forget they have that innate ability, that’s what kids have. I started being able to do that as a survival mechanism. So, one of the three, again, will it hurt me? Can I eat it? Can I propagate with it? That was the first one I learned was how do I survive.
And I started using that in school. And then I was like, well, hey, all of a sudden, there are these things called girls, and they seem pretty amazing. How do I influence and persuade them to go on a date with me? So, that was when that started being built. But then I realized that if I use any sort of influence, persuasion, or manipulation on them, they would never talk to me again. So, that was, don’t do that.
And then, the next one was, since we were so poor, I had to find a way to eat and I needed to figure out very quickly. We talked about opening the landscape company when I was very young. We have food. We talked about this with my dad. We were in the car one day, and I said, “Daddy, I really love that you had candle night.” And candle night for us was once a month, not every month. We would all get together, light candles. We play board games. And we’d eat snacks. I loved it. And he goes, “You’re an idiot.” I’m, “Excuse me.” He was like, “Candle night because I couldn’t pay the electric bill. That’s why we had candle night.” And I was like, “Oh, my God.” So, I just didn’t know because he hid it behind that.
So. I had to learn very early on that it was a survival mechanism, that it was kind of propagated with you, that I wanted to date these girls, and that I needed to eat. So, it wasn’t a negotiation. You take someone without any money at all and say, “Go sell these spatulas or your children die.” They’re going to find a way to sell those spatulas. So, it really was birthed out of that.
And then, as I said before, I was a little bit of an arrogant jerk growing up before I had some sense knocked into me for feminine energy. God bless it. Women just reset that side of me. I started using it in business. I started being able to read people and identify exactly through their mannerisms a lot of its body language, picking up when people breathe differently, their tonality, those things started changing.
So, where Chris Voss is wonderful at language, that’s only about 7% of what’s going on. The other 93% is how you deliver it, how your body’s doing. When you say certain things, how they change in and out because if I start whispering, your audience is going to react differently than when I was loud. So, being able to change that, it just became this organic flow of just survival.
Justin Donald: That is awesome. I love it. So, I’m curious, and I guess this probably fed into your whole thesis and other ideas around persona shifting. But I would love to kind of take that next leap because I think this is an important topic to cover.
Charles Schwartz: Yeah. So, this one is going to be a little bit– I’m going to ruffle some feathers, guys. So, there are going to be some people, if you’re listening to right now, if I haven’t rustled your feathers yet, this will. Everyone asked me, how did you retire? What’s the secret? What’s the hack? Tell me how. Tell me what you did. And there are three things that you’re going to have to divorce as quickly as you possibly can if you want to change the success you have. There are three things. There are three lies that we’ve been told since we were very, very young. And I’m warning your audience now, I’ve got to upset you.
The first one is the lie of how. If I knew how to do it, I would do it. Well, if you have an iPhone and you have access to Google or any Android device, that lie is gone. You can go online. You can figure out exactly how anyone’s ever done it. You and I are both authors. We have literally written exactly what we’ve done in detail, in black and white, and get it for Kindle, its like $9. You can buy a book for 15 bucks. So, that’s the how. So, the lie of how is gone. That one, you don’t need to know how to do it. You have access to the Internet. And now, you have AI which will just tell you what to do. So, that one’s gone.
The next one is the lie of what. Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Now, listen, I love sushi. I love sushi and ice cream on levels I can’t possibly explain to you. If you made me eat sushi every single day, I’m going to kill you with some wasabi. I’m going to throw it at you. It doesn’t make sense. So, when they’re like, do what you love. If you end up doing what you love over and over and over again, you end up not loving it. It’s just how the world works. So, that one’s gone.
And the last one is the one that really bothers people and it’s the one that upsets me the most, which is you need to find your why, and your why doesn’t matter. The light version of this is everyone I’ve ever met in their entire life knows exactly why they want to lose weight, why they want to get in better shape, why they want to make millions, why they want to do whatever it is. Everyone knows exactly why they want to do what they want to do, but no one’s done it.
And the first time I ever was exposed to this was in hospice. And again, for your audience who don’t know what a hospice is, a hospital is a place you go to get better, a hospice is a place you go to die. That’s how it is. It’s terrible. You have a terminal disease. And this patient at the time had lung cancer and she was dying. And her daughter was trying to get to the hospice before she passed away and she ran into traffic. And this woman was gasping for air the best she could. And regrettably, she didn’t get to say goodbye to her daughter, which was heartbreaking.
And as we were walking out of the room, one of her family members goes, well, for why we’re strong enough, she would never have smoked. And I paused. And one of the nurses walked me away. Why does it matter? Because if we all know why we want to do it and we’re not doing it, there’s got to be something else. And if I’ve eliminated what and how, then what’s left? What is the one thing that’s left?
And the reality is the only thing that’s left is who. And we talk about this all the time, which is why I named the book Who Changes Everything, which if your audience wants, you guys can have it for free. It’s yours. We’ll give you the links. I’m sure it’ll be in the show notes. You guys can have it. It’s a free book. Who matters more than what, how, and why.
And what I mean by that is if you go to an interview, you’re going to walk, talk, dress, and sound a specific way. If you go when you hang out with your friends on Friday night, you’re going to walk, talk, and sound a different way. But if I take that Friday night version of you and bring it to the interview and mix those up, it’s going to be a very awkward interview, to a more extreme example, when you’re making love to your wife, it’s a version of you versus or your partner, or if you’re having a negotiation, it’s a different version. But if you come into a negotiation, trying to make love, and it’s going to be really, really crappy, icky time versus a very weird negotiation. That’s what I’m talking about with who. The human being, when we’re doing this, we all have a version of us that’s not enough. I’m not tall enough, I’m not short enough, I’m not built enough. I’m too curvy, I’m not curvy enough, whatever that laundry list is, we have a not enough version.
And then we have an unstoppable force. We have a version of that’s feeling confident, that’s had the success. The problem is we keep going to the version of us that broke it and ask it to fix it, much like going to a three-year-old who’s eating cereal and say, “Here, eat.” They’re going to make a mess. That’s what three-year-olds do.
But if I go to that three-year-old, say, “Here’s a broom, clean it up,” not going to watch. It’s a crazy concept. You would never do that. But we do that in our life. We sit down and we say, “Okay, the version of us broke us. It’s not enough. I’m never going to be good enough. I’ve never made the money, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. How can this version of me give me an answer so I can create the wealth that I want, create the success I want?” That doesn’t work. You have to be able to persona shift and move in and out into different versions.
So, once I got rid of the lie of the what, how, and why, all of a sudden the only thing that was left was who. And the first time I ever did it was that when I was coaching that person who kind of pissed me off, my persona shifted. I moved him in and out of who he was. And that’s just persuasion and influence. There are specific techniques. You can do that without someone knowing it. I did that, and also, he got it instantaneously when he did it. And I was like, “Oh, I figured it out. I’m delivering this ineffectively. How do I deliver this effectively?” And I had to move the version of them that broke it into the one that fixed it. So, that’s a very long-winded answer to it, but that’s the secret.
Justin Donald: Well, that is just fascinating. And I couldn’t agree with you more on the who topic anyway because whatever you want to accomplish, just find the who that’s done it and emulate them, copy what they’ve done. I think the who being like you, like the person that needs to show up, you need to show up in the right way as someone that’s hungry and ready to take action. But I also think the who in your world, in your ecosystem, like for me, I know I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today and various different things without the successful people that I surrounded myself by. I have always found really healthy people to surround myself by so that I can learn to become and maintain a high level of health, to become healthy.
Same thing when I look at being intellectually strong, I want to hang out with people that are much smarter than me, just play the game of life intellectually at a much higher level. Same thing with emotional strength, same thing with finances, and actually, like becoming more educated instead of outsourcing your financial knowledge and expertise to someone else who may or may not actually be good at it, or who may only be good enough to have passed some of the tests to manage your money, but isn’t actually consistently good at it and is actually maybe even brand new in their job.
I decided I need to surround myself with the who, the experts to do it, and even scaling the Lifestyle Investor, I could have never done what we’ve done without the team that has helped enable me to do all these things, that has kind of lifted some of the load in certain places and offered their expertise. And so, I love the who concept because you can use it in so many different genres, including what you’ve just talked about but beyond even in finding that expertise that you really want. So, I appreciate you sharing that. I thought it’d be fun…
Charles Schwartz: The expression is if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. You have to have people that are there. But having the people that are smart enough isn’t enough. You have to create an environment where you identify their pain, and by working with you, it helps eliminate their pain, just like when you do sales.
So, each one of your employees, each one of the people working underneath your command or with you, you have to intrinsically know their desires and their needs. And it’s an exceptionally simple process to do once you learn how to do it. But a lot of that shows up with how you show up. There are so many people who deceive themselves. These people are just my employees. They’re objects. I’m just going to use and abuse them. But here, hey, you know what? I’m really excited about you. What can I do to help you out?
Well, when I delivered it like that, the person knows that this person sees me as an object. So, you have to show up differently. It’s part of the game. You have to understand how to move yourself in and out of those versions of you on command. And if you cannot do that, I don’t care who you surround yourself with, I don’t care how amazing they actually– you go to these big events, you go to these masterminds, you get access to it. And if you’re showing up as the not enough, this kind of woof version of you, no one’s going to work at all.
I have a dear friend of mine. He’s like a puppy. His name is Ross. Every single room he walks into, everybody loves him. No matter what he does, he loves him. And the reason everyone loves him because he loves people. And that’s authentically who he is. He loves people. I love that for him. I don’t have that gift. He loves everyone. I love individuals. He loves everyone.
What drives me is the service to others. And I think when people authentically connect to that, then you’re like, oh, okay, these are my people. And if someone doesn’t connect and it’s not your people, if someone is driven by whatever is, just release the right or the wrong, it just is what it is. When you release that, hey, you’re not my people, awesome. Let go. Move on.
Same thing when you’re dating. That’s not your person, let go. Move on. But when you find that person that you’re like, hey, this will be fun. Let’s work together on something. We see the world through the same way. Latch on to that. Stop whatever you’re doing, Get ahold of them. Connect with them, because I guarantee you, they’re going to create more happiness and more success. And a byproduct is most likely more wealth. But you’re going to have a fun time getting there versus, hey, I made you a million dollars, you made me a million dollars, but I can’t stand you. You don’t want to do that. It’s just not worth it. You need to surround yourself by people who are smarter than you that resonate with who you are as well.
Justin Donald: I couldn’t agree more. That was so well said. Thank you so much for spending some time with us today. I just love who you are, how you show up, just the content that you have that you can deliver in such an effective way. Where can my audience learn more about you, Charles?
Charles Schwartz: Right now, it’s just IAmCharlesSchwartz. I’m not actively selling anything. I’m not coaching at the moment. All my programs are offline. Everything is on a waiting list. But if you want for your audience, we’ll give away the book for free. It’s yours. It’s called Who Changes Everything. I don’t make any money on it. We’ll give you the link, click on the link, you’ll get it. You can always email me at IAmCharlesSchwartz, just IAmCharlesSchwartz because we’re really complicated and creative.
And then, on Instagram, if you want access to me, it’s iamcharlesschwartz. Everything is going to be around that. And I just wanted to make sure that I could give something to your audience, which is, hey, yeah, here’s a free copy of the book. You’ll know this as an author that if someone buys your book, you can’t even shop at Taco Bell with the amount of money you get from it. There’s just no money in selling books. So, yeah, if you want it, it’s yours. It’s yours completely for free. I just really appreciate coming on the show.
Justin Donald: Well, thanks so much. This has been a blast. And I love our conversations. Every single one of them, I leave feeling just more refreshed and eager for the next time that we get to hang out. So, I’m excited for when you come into town and we’re going to do some cool whiteboarding and strategizing on a couple of cool topics that we talked about off-air, but I am really thrilled about that and just the prospect of a new project that we can have some fun collaborating together on. So, thanks again.
And I always love ending my podcast with a question to my audience. So, I want this to be a real question, not a rhetorical question. That’s why I ask it every single week. What is one step you can take today to move towards financial freedom and move towards a life that you truly desire, one that’s on your terms, so not a life by default, like most people live, but truly a life by design? Thanks, and we’ll catch you next week.