Interview with Rich Christiansen
Building Family Legacy & Generational Wealth with Rich Christiansen
As we grow older, we realize that while money can provide comfort, it cannot give us the lasting satisfaction we get from relationships and family.
Today’s guest, Rich Christiansen, has dedicated his life to teaching people how to not only build a life of abundance, but to do it without sacrificing time with family. He has founded or co-founded 52 businesses, of which 17 have become multimillion-dollar successes, each capitalized with $10,000 or less. What’s even more remarkable is that all five of his children have founded million-dollar businesses before they finished high school.
Rich is the first person I think of when it comes to guiding families to a life of wealth, happiness, and unbreakable bonds, and today you’ll find out why.
In today’s conversation, you’ll learn:
✅How to help your kids be successful, confident, and happy without being spoiled.
✅ How to build a family legacy that will last for generations.
✅ Why you don’t need to invest massive capital to build a thriving business.
Featured on This Episode: Rich Christiansen
✅ What he does: Rich Christiansen is a thought leader, educator, mentor, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. He has founded and co-founded 52 businesses which range from technology, SEO, imports/exports, real estate, online sales, innovative products, lead generation, and most recently, worm poop. He is the co-author of the book Bootstrap Business: A Step-By-Step Business Survival Guide and author of the bestselling book, The Zigzag Principle. His third book, co-authored with his sons Alex and Tim, is called Even if Your Toes Turn Purple: Raising Teenagers that are Confident, Happy, and Stand Out.
💬 Words of wisdom: “Every ounce of joy is extracted from the depths of our loving relationships.” – Rich Christiansen
🔎 Where to find Rich Christiansen: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | YouTube
Key Takeaways with Rich Christiansen
- Why nothing can replace the fulfillment you get from family and relationships.
- Rich’s strategy for building multi-million dollar businesses with small capitalisations.
- The critical age for kids to have a rite of passage and become self-sufficient.
- Fostering entrepreneurial spirit in your children without entitlement.
- Using the Legado Framework to build an unshakeable family legacy.
- Traditions and routines that will strengthen the bond of your family.
Rich Christiansen Tweetables“Anyone that thinks wealth is money, well, I got news for you. Wealth is knowledge. Wealth is emotional stability. Wealth is wisdom. What I really want to pass on to my children and grandchildren has nothing to do with the dollar bills.”… Click To Tweet “You find out really quickly in those failure points who your real friends are and who really believes in you.” - @richchristianse Click To Tweet
- Follow Rich Christiansen on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | YouTube
- The Zigzag Principle: The Goal Setting Strategy that will Revolutionize Your Business and Your Life by Rich Christiansen
- Even If Your Toes Turn Purple: Raising Teenagers That Are Confident, Happy, and Stand Out by Rich Christiansen and Tim Christiansen
- Legado Family
- Stephen Covey
- Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
- The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks
- Brad Johnson
- Garrett Gunderson
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Read the Full Transcript with Rich Christiansen
Justin Donald: Well, hey, Rich. I’m so glad to have you on the show. Welcome.
Rich Christiansen: Thank you, Justin. Really enjoyed our conversations, getting to know you. And thank you for the integrity with how you invest and approach things.
Justin Donald: Well, thanks for sharing that. And to my audience, I just want everyone to know that I’ve heard your name for a long time from many people spoken with the highest regard. And I knew at some point we needed to meet. In fact, your book that we’re going to talk about here today has been highly impactful to me. So, we’re going to get into that as well. And I just have been thrilled to really start our friendship and get to know you more and just the energy and the passion that you show up to life with and that you show up to your relationships with is just contagious. So, thank you.
Rich Christiansen: Thank you, Justin. Thank you for acknowledging that. I really appreciate your focus on relationships. I think that that’s our common thread. End of the day, if we don’t have just those key trust blood brother and trust network friends, then everything else is just like meaningless. And oftentimes people end up chasing all this physical stuff and it really has no context to it. The savor of life is this deep, tender, beautiful, meaningful, loving relationships.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And you hear this all the time with people that have a friend, a family member on their deathbed. And often sometimes it’s information learned too late, which is those people who are dying, they don’t care about the stuff. They don’t care about material possessions. Their comments are remembering the highlights of these relationships or wishing they had done something different with relationships. It’s always focusing on the relationship, not on the stuff, not on the money, not on material possessions. No one’s wishing they had owned another house on their deathbed, right?
Rich Christiansen: Yeah, I know. Dead true. And I think that we’ve mentioned earlier in our conversation, I used to be the young up-and-comer in the room, and I loved it. I loved being the young buck that everyone was betting on. Very fortunate to have some amazing mentors. Now, I find myself on the other side of that equation, kind of the older dog. And I got to tell you, it’s even more meaningful and more deep and understanding just the vital nature of a couple of key precipice, a couple of key switches that turned on, particularly with one of my key mentors, Dr. Horn, a conversation that we had that flipped me off from chasing the things of the world to understanding and getting me on a path of the depth of relationships and primarily my family, not jeopardizing my health, my trust relationships, and most importantly, my family. And it’s made all the difference. I’ve got a lot of friends a lot more wealthy than me, but ironically, all my friends want to be me. And, you know what, I want to be me because I’ve got this rich, contextual, deep relationship life. And that’s where all the joy is extracted from. It’s every ounce of joy is extracted from the depths of our loving relationships.
Justin Donald: And I love hearing this from you because you have experienced success at some of the highest levels, not only yourself, but in even partnerships with other people, partnerships with your children. You know, we’re going to talk a bit about this because you have an eye for entrepreneurial things. You have had a lot of success in this department, this category. You’ve founded or co-founded 49 or so different businesses and 16 of them have become multimillion-dollar successes. And the cool thing to know is that you’ve done this with as little as $10,000 or less, which is just astounding. So, I would love to hear, first and foremost, when you learned or how you learned that you had this knack for entrepreneurship, like when did it all begin? And then secondly, what are some of the lessons that you learned along the way as you were experiencing this entrepreneurial success?
Rich Christiansen: Yeah, definitely an old chapter of my life and an area that I’m very grateful for. You know the question, is an entrepreneur born or grown? I think it’s a little bit of both. In my instance, it was definitely in my DNA. It was in my genes. I could not help it. I came out of the womb selling and hustling. I was a natural-born hustler. Now, at the age of five, I’m melting down, creating candles and selling candles or pulling worms out of the ground and selling them to anglers. And so, I always had a lot of it in me. And my life’s been really an amazing life, although my mental ability, my aptitude, it’s mediocre at best, but I’m incredibly tenacious and just kind of I’ve had this very uncanny ability to see five, six steps ahead and then around the corner. So, most of my businesses weren’t really huge, big like billion-dollar companies. They were just similar to your lifestyle, seeing a need, couple or three ahead and then asking the questions what other people not willing to do and how can I contribute? So, it was a fun phase of life. I haven’t operated now in five or six years, but I just did discover a very interesting formula. I think you’re referring to Zigzag Principle of a recipe of how to approach it that really left for me guard railing things.
So, I don’t mind failing. I just want to fail very, very quickly. And that’s the reason I use small amounts of capital is it wasn’t because I couldn’t afford more because my first zig is drive to profitability and I want to get there or not get there as soon as possible. So, I’d always put guardrails on my zigs and my zag, drive to profitability, add resource process, then put the scale element. Most people increase the angle of declination too steep. Go for scale element, and that’s why only one in 20 businesses succeed. If you pull that angle of declination way down and you go for profitability first with a guardrail, then your probability goes up and if you don’t get there, that’s great. You don’t end up losing your house and going bankrupt. You just have a nice little loss and off you go on your merry way to the next one.
Justin Donald: So, I love that approach in strategy, Rich, because even someone that isn’t risk-averse or that is risk-averse, we hear a lot of the time entrepreneurs are, you know, they’re risk takers, they’re daredevils. I’ve never felt like that. You know, I feel like my moves have been very calculated. I have known the total that I could lose at any given time in any deal. And most of the time I have some protections in place, so I can’t lose everything. I would just lose part of my investment. But the upside is exponentially high, right? So, there’s this risk-reward or this asymmetric risk-reward that exists. And I like hearing that you’ve been able to do that even in these operational businesses and like a true operating company. Like, it’s easy, maybe I should say easier potentially to do that in something like real estate, a lot harder. You have to be a lot more intentional to do that in an operating company in a business, a start-from-scratch business. I mean, if you buy a business, you’ve got some idea of what it’s doing already. And so, a lot of people are of the mindset, hey, buy successful businesses, even buy small businesses while they’re cheap because proof of concept exists. You can buy based on a profit multiple when it’s, in fact, profitable. But you’re talking about businesses that you built ground up from inception. We don’t know if this is going to work or not.
Rich Christiansen: Yeah, that’s true. I know a lot of people call it brain damage, but it was my art. It really was my art, and I loved that, hoo, breathing life into something. You know, I think there’s four stages of business ownership, and you got to be really clear what you are. The first, are you an idea person? So many people place so much credibility on ideas since like ideas are okay for me but it’s actually not the most valuable part. The second part is this what I am, as Rumpelstiltskin, I was weaving gold into straw, hoo, breathing life into something that’s inanimate. And it’s tricky and it’s hard and it’s not where the Big Bang is created. The next is replacing the duct tape and the belling wire and then optimizing to make it more efficient. And that’s where a lot of the really big wealth occurs. And then the last stage I hate, I just hate. It’s systems and processes and buttoning it up and protecting it and time cards and don’t mess the machine up. And so, I think as you’re looking at yourself as an entrepreneur, a business person, you’ve got to very carefully understand what is my skill and where do I translate and where do I not? In my instance, I know I could have made a lot more money than I did.
I mean, my sweet spot was really grow to like $10 million to $15 million. And then quite frankly, I got bored with them. So, I think just understanding where you fit, what your art is, and then going into that category. I do also want to go back and comment on this concept of risk aversion. I mean, I actually think for me, we’ve done real estate. I love real estate. Buying a business, someone else’s business, that terrifies me because who knows where the buried bodies are? I mean, in my instance, $5,000 or $10,000, miss, miss, miss. I don’t care. There’s $40,000 hit million-dollar business. Was it worth it? So, for me, it’s like, I don’t mind the failure. I just want a lot at bat. And so, being a lean startup, I don’t call myself a serial or dead because this is a different life. I can’t even believe I’m talking about it. I kind of buried this life about seven or eight years ago, but for me, it was number at bat. It wasn’t trying to get wood on the bat all the time. So, it was quick in successions and can I live with the risk? So, I would always guardrail. Guardrails was the fundamental premise. How much time? How much quantity of time? So, duration of time. Three months is all I got at this one. Quantity of time, I’ll give it 15 hours per week. How much money?
And then the most important guardrail for me was always relationship capital. I would not go pull every key person in my relationship network into every business because I knew only one is going to fail, one’s going to be mediocre, and one’s going to succeed. And I don’t know which is the three so I’m not going to expose my relationship capital to all the insanity. So, I’d very carefully put the first network in of the opportunity, either someone that loves me so much and they know I’m just at bat and it’s like, “Yeah, Rich. You failed these three. I don’t care. The next one, I know it’s a big hit.” Or third or fourth down the line that I can afford to lose the relationship capital. So, that is one-on-one in Zigzag Principle right there.
Justin Donald: I love it. And I love your whole theory of failure is okay. In fact…
Rich Christiansen: I love failure.
Justin Donald: I want to fail as quickly as possible because I need to know as fast as possible if this is going to work or not. That’s great.
Rich Christiansen: Everyone always quotes my hit rate and I did, I founded or co-founded now 52 businesses and 17 became multimillion-dollar businesses. I never use more than $10,000 in capital, but the best stat of all, no one ever quotes I failed 19 times. 19 times. I failed two more times than I succeeded. But I never mortgaged my home. I never went bankrupt. I never put on the line what I wasn’t willing to lose. And so, the whole modality shifts when you put yourself, “Can I afford to lose 10,000?” Yeah. Do I want to? No. But I approach it a lot different than, “Oh, my house is… Oh, no.” Then you start making really poor, stupid, bad chase-the-bet kind of decisions. So, for me, being the failure on. As a matter of fact, you know, I love failures. I got to the end of my career and I was like, “That is awesome. I’m three failures down. Not only is the next one going to be a hit, but all the insurance salesmen are not showing up at my office anymore.” So, you find out really quickly in those failure points who your real friends are and who really believes in you. I do. I loved it when I hit a couple of three failure points because all of the notoriety and all the little magazines trying to interview you and all the nonsense and noise just goes away for a period of time.
Justin Donald: Yeah. You know, that’s a great point because it is noise and there are seasons where, you know, I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs that desire that. They desire the limelight. I know that that’s not you. I know that that’s not a driver. We’ve talked about this. You know, about how for a long time, and for me specifically, I lived in the shadows. No one knew what was going on. I was not very public or open about my successes. And I know you’re that way as well. And so, one of the things that I’m so glad that you’ve been public about, or at least public enough with me and the circles that we’re in, is the success that you have helped foster from an entrepreneurial standpoint in your five sons. And this to me, so we talked about like, hey, you had 17 wins, you had 19 losses, right? But I actually think the biggest wins of all are that you helped, whether it be like truly hands-on helped or you just helped steer this entrepreneurial spirit that you could have five sons run multimillion-dollar businesses. They created a million or more in business. And then on top of it, you had them shut it down and give it all to charity. I’d love to hear that.
Rich Christiansen: Yeah. Yeah. And I appreciate your bringing that up because everyone loves to talk about the fact that we did that and indeed we did do that. I’ve been very hesitant to talk about it until recent years. And it was a joyful part, but it was only one-fifth of the value base of what we were going for. I mean, the reality is we very clearly on the upper hand and I’ll just state that my everything is my family, my trust relationships. That’s what really mattered to me. And so, put a lot of that, similar to what you’ve done, put the focus in that not perfect. I mean, that’s the big fear I have because our family is as messy as most families are but I think that we got really clear early on is, what is the value base? What are we going for? And at a young age, my wife and I both grew up very poor and without any resources. And all we saw is anyone that had money, their kids were just a complete hot mess. They were entitled. They were just in the ditch most of the time. And so, we did not want that to happen to us.
And what ended up happening is early in my career, I was very blessed to have some really good opportunities to the point that at a young age, I was making more money than my father and my father-in-law at the end of their career. And my wife and I were so terrified by screwing our kids up. We moved to a very poor neighborhood with an agreement we’d never let our kids ever know we had money. About two years into that little experiment, I had a friend come to me and says, “I’ve seen you do some stupid things, Rich, but I’ve never seen you do anything this stupid. Because if you pull this off, which you will not pull this off, but if you do pull it off, what’s the outcome? The outcome is as you die, your kids find out there’s a fair amount of money there and you promptly proceeded to completely destroy all of your grandchildren and likely your children.” And I thought about, “Oh my heck, you’re right.” So, I went on this deep search, this long, deep search for a model that could support not having entitled kids, having a really strong work ethic. And what I found was all this financial planning stuff, which was really good, family trust and saving money, and all that sort of stuff, but nothing with the values.
Rich Christiansen: So, I was very fortunate at that point to have Stephen Covey as one of my major life mentors, went and had a conversation with him about it. And he had encouraged me to do a family constitute or a family mission statement and said, “Rich, it looks like this is something you need to create.” So, some like 30 some odd years ago, I then put this very interesting model in place to run our family with my wife and I together, and then promptly proceeded to tell nothing to anyone. The first basis of it was very cleanly getting our values. And then what values we didn’t want to pass on. And then we put symbols, doctrine, traditions, and then I think the fourth when you’re talking about is the rites of passage, deliberately inserted rites of passage in place to cement several of the key values. And so, everyone likes to jump directly to, “Oh, yeah, your kids each created a million-dollar business when they’re in high school.” It’s true, but it was only one or four of the five pieces, Justin, of the rites of passage. And I think it was sequential, intentionally sequential. And if it would be okay, I’d like to tell maybe what the leading up ones were.
Justin Donald: Of course. Yeah. I mean, I have so many questions about just this whole foundation and strategy because I’ve met one of your sons and I am just blown away. He is incredible and kind and authentic and just a wonderful human being. And so, I can only imagine the rest of your children are this way. And so, whatever you’re doing is working. So, yes, please share because we all need to know this.
Rich Christiansen: I have to be really careful. It really is my biggest nervous thing is I don’t want my family to be the poster children. You know, I really value the privacy. But I think end of the day, what we did do and laid the framework really did work. And what I’m so grateful for and proud of now is, is I got hundreds of families that have also put the framework down. I was coming back from my wife and I went out and chased the aurora borealis, one of our vision map things for this year. And on the way back I’m at the train station. This woman comes, “You’re Rich Christiansen:. Oh my gosh, here’s my family logo.” And then the daughter, my favorite part is this beautiful little 12-year-old girl sitting there and saying, “That’s me right there,” pointing on the thing. “This is me right here,” bright eyes and braces and all the confidence of a little awkward 12-year-old she was owning and knew her place. So, what I’m super grateful for is this is now, you know, we’re not going to be the poster children. You look at our family, we got all sorts of little hot messes going on, but it works. And this foundation of stability is so critical because all the divisiveness that we’re seeing, all the breakdown of society, the misogyny, the visceral meanness politically, it’s all because no one feels key part of a tribe. And so, I think family being the core essence, we got to get back to healing and stability in the family. So, you want me to jump back to the rites of passage here quickly?
Justin Donald: Yes. By the way, that’s so powerful. Yes. Let’s go through these rites of passage.
Rich Christiansen: Well, and I can tell mine, but maybe it would even be better served to tell some of the people that we’ve worked with is, oh, my gosh, some of the, oh, my mind blows with some of the rites of passage that people have put in place that are ten times better than ours. So, our first one was titled In Honesty, Openness, and Basing Our Family on Trust and Open Communication Even in the Challenges in Life. So, at eight years old, this is when the child’s skull closes, when the pineal gland then kind of becomes self-regulating and kids become self-governing. So, at eight years old, our family, my wife and I would take each of our sons to a dinner. They got to pick the first place to go to dinner and then go to a private place and talk very, very openly and transparently about sex, about drugs, about bowling, about the use of technology, and your brain had opened, a very open dialog that most parents are not even well ever opening. But if they do open, they’re waiting until they’re 14, 15 and that’s too late. So, eight become the eight is great with intention of honest, open, deliberate, transparent communication. 12 years old was a rite of passage.
Particularly, I had five sons and so this was a male rites of passage which is so deeply missing and lost in our society and thus we don’t have young men with modeled older men bringing them in what it means to be divine masculine. And I don’t know if it was intuitive or quite what led me to do it, but I would take each of my sons away for three weeks, three weeks into a third-world country. The first week would be about great play and fun and a bonding experience that, well, most people would never have. I mean, all the way from riding elephants to Taj Mahal to Pokémon Center, you know, of the world to go just have a cool experience. And then the second week we find ourselves most oftentimes in the orphanages in Kathmandu, Nepal, where there’s like 100,000 little girls rescued every year from the dowry that were being sold into sexual slavery or killed and their organs harvested for China and India. Most of the organ harvest and sex slavery comes from that very, very tender little group in Nepal. These are beautiful young women. So, we’d spend a week touching and holding humanity. And as a 12-year-old, you do not have a little beautiful four or five-year-old girl holding and clinging to you as probably the first male in their life they’ve ever seen with integrity, the hold of kindness to them, and leave that the same.
So, at that point, there was not one ounce of entitlement. So, that was what we would call the non-entitlement trip. And then we would take a week coming back very, very slowly from that experience. So, coming back from that, Justin, we would then take a week to come back very carefully, talk about what it would mean to be a Christiansen man, to protect, to provide, to provide safe space for women, and to fix things. And so, at that point, my sons knew the context of what it meant to be at least be a Christiansen man. And so, that gave a real purview. 14 years old was a real important one. My wife and I would do this one together, and this one would be private victories, not public victories. My worst nightmare would be for my sons to throw the winning touchdown in a big game and be carried off the shoulders. I wanted the private victory so we would take each of my sons, my wife and I together, up a major world mountain peak. The first three went up Mount Everest. So, we went up to Kala Patthar and stared up the nostrils of Mount Everest, crying your way to the top, and then coming down as a man that you can do very, very hard things, and no one knew about it. I had sons on Mont Blanc. We went up Kilimanjaro. My youngest son, he was up Mount Kili with Tim also went on that one, Huayna Picchu.
So, really beautiful texture of doing hard things and internal private victories. And then we hit the passage that you did of self-accountability and taking control of your future. When my son shook my hand, no longer would they ask for anything. They’d pay for their own mission. They would pay for their own college, their own car when they got back, and even our family vacations. And at that point, I did help them build a business. And then each of the three oldest built million-dollar businesses and the fourth and fifth had done it so many times, they asked other objectives, and that’s why we ended up with Toes Turn Purple. And then very fun at 18, we would kill the business, shut the business down and give the extra back to charity. And at that point, they’d go serve humanity deeply for two years, living very humble, very poor, with nothing but service of humanity. And at that point, we titled that Killing Your Father. They became their own man. And at that point, I treat them as my peer. And even to this day I still do. My sons are my peers. I call and ask for their input. My son, Nathan, just this last week, I was in a real tough personal spot, had him come over and give me a blessing, and had a good conversation. So, at that point, my son’s become my total peers and that’s the rites of passage, Justin.
Justin Donald: That is so powerful, Rich. I just love hearing this, hearing the story, and I think there’s more to it, right? Now, if my understanding is correct, I think you adopted a daughter from Nepal. Is that correct?
Rich Christiansen: We did. When we were over in Nepal in 2000 when my wife and I found this beautiful, beautiful little Sherpa girl and brought her back and raised her, our little Nawang. She had come from Khumjung, 14,000 feet. There, the little girls are not educated and she had been because her father was the lead climbing… So, if you had read Into Thin Air, he was the lead climbing Sirdar that got Rob Hall to the top the first couple of trips and then didn’t in ’96. And so, he was a little more progressive. Very tender to daughters, even though many were not. So, she spoke five languages at that point, but still pretty humble circumstances. And we were able to bring her back and raise and spend time with our beautiful little Nawang, great richness and deepness. And then also her two brothers also came over and consider us their second mother and father. So, a real beautiful, deep part of our life.
Justin Donald: That is just incredible. And I have to tell you, you have been on my radar for a long time. So, I’ve had a lot of friends sing you praises but you had mentioned this book, and I’ve got it right here because this book was a game changer for me, Even If Your Toes Turn Purple. And I mean my book, I was showing you this earlier. I mean, it is just totally marked up with highlights. I mean, there’s just so much I’m flipping through this thing and there are so many things that I highlighted because there are so many things that I just want to keep going back through and using year after year after year. And so, this has really become a foundation for a lot of the things that we do in the Donald family. So, what you’ve done lives on and I know you know other people are using it but it’s cool when you hear that your impact reaches further than you would have known or when someone you don’t know reaches out and says, “Hey, I love your work.” In fact, I use some of the foundational work that you came up with.
Rich Christiansen: Thank you, Justin. That really does delight me. And actually, a really fun story because that book was requested by Timothy Tyrus. He’d saved for his college mission and done all this stuff like by the age of 12. So, when his turn came around, as only my bright, yellow, vibrant Tim can do, he’s really a fun personality, but he says, “Dad, I want nothing to do with another business. But what I do want is please help me become a bestselling author.” It was the funnest of all of them. It was so fun. We gathered together every night and his friends had come over and the topic was sex. We would double the outcome. We’d have 20, 30 kids sitting there having very frank conversation on that very fun sex chapter. He’d write a chapter. I’d write a chapter. Ended up being probably the funnest of all of the five businesses that we built. And it was really meaningful. So, thank you for enjoying and partaking in that book.
Justin Donald: I love it. And what I’m excited about is you’ve kind of doubled down on all this, so this kind of got it started. But you had built so much more depth into what you’re doing with Legado Family Values and the Legado Family Legacy. And I’d love for you to take a moment to even share more of that.
Rich Christiansen: Sure. Thank you for highlighting that, Justin. Yeah, it was something that was so private to me that even when, like our dear friend, Garrett, would try pulling it out of me I was super quiet and said, “I don’t know if this is going to work until my grandchildren are raised in a very, very private phase of life.” And then about four years ago, I had a profoundly personal spiritual experience that I knew that I had to bring this out just because and maybe the most significant contribution from thought leadership that I could bring forward. So, at that point, I did begin working and modeling out what we had done but making it in a way that normal family could walk through that wasn’t quite as painful as what we did. A series of very fun exercises of how to get your values, which seems to be the main trip-up point and actually the critical basis. You know, we get values in our business, but most people don’t think to put it in their family and for heaven’s sakes, even harder, they don’t have a clue in the world what their personal values are. And if we don’t get our personal values and particularly our family values in alignment, then how do we expect anything to be but a hot mess?
So, spend a lot of time on little exercises and activities. And actually, even this last couple of three months, my primary focus has been how can we get our personal, our family, our business, and our wealth investing values in alignment and understand what they are. So, this little Legado platform starts with values, then equal to the values of what do you got to throw away? What came into you epigenetically? What values were passed on that just are not serving you well anymore? And my wife and I’s family guilt and shame were used like peanut butter and jam. And any time you want a little behavior, you just throw some guilt and shame into it with a little scarcity, and voila, but it very poorly served our family. So, we made the decision to extract that. So, this Legado program helps the families identify what their values are, what they need to throw away, and then it plants on top of it these four major pillars, the first being symbol, the symbology that’s so critical to identify your tribe. The second being what’s the doctrine or the governance or the rules. The third being are the traditions where you return to your tribe and kind of feel safe and enact it. And then the fourth, we discovered already the rites of passage. Then and only then can you put the platform to hold the weight on top, which is the family constitution, the will, the trust, and then you know and understand how to pass things on generationally, not only the money wealth but more important, the value wealth. So, that was a quick flyby of the Legado structure.
Justin Donald: Well, I love it. And it’s great because you had said when we first started, “Oh, that’s years ago. That’s 5 to 7 years ago, I was starting businesses and operating and doing all these things. And I just want to commend you for stepping away from the thing that you knew well that provided a lot of income that was safe because you had a formula for success and you got out of that and into education and into impact. And you’ve had a profound impact on so many because of it. And it’s cool that this has become a business as well. But the beautiful thing that I’ve experienced when I started Lifestyle Investor, this was like a passion project. It was never even about making money, making a profit. Like I just had this desire to share these things that I’ve learned with the world. I never even had any like thought that it could be as profitable as it is today. And then because of that, I think the foundation of it is the right content because it’s where my heart is. And because of the success that it’s had financially, it’s given me an arm to be more generous and to be able to shine the light on other people, other groups, other charities, other foundations, other organizations that are doing things in a very incredible and humane way.
Rich Christiansen: Well, thank you for that focus and highlighting that attention at the stage of life. And I think as we do get a little older, our purview changes a little bit. I really enjoyed Brook’s book, The Second Mountain. We go through a period of life. We got to get to the top of the mountain in fame and fortune. And then when we get there, it really is, I got there a number of times and it’s like eating a box full of Krispy Kreme donuts. It feels really good when you’re doing and then you get there, it’s really hollow and really fleeting and you don’t get at all what you’re looking for. And then we go through a period of life where it’s about meaning and matter. Stephen Covey used to call it live, love, learn, and then to matter, the rich savor of mattering. And I’ve been very fortunate to actually climb and get to the top of that mountain. And it’s really rewarding, particularly when it’s done privately and not for the purview of look at me. And I really savored that mountain but I do have a little problem with David’s book because I think he’s missed the most important element. And it’s the third plateau. There’s not just a second mountain.
There’s a very, very private high plateau. It’s the secret plateau of knowing who you really are and being okay just with sitting in your own company. It’s quite elusive, you know? It really is. But can you laugh at your own bad jokes? Are you okay just being with who you really are? I think as we get a little older and we get a glimpse into what that might look like, that becomes the real savor and salt of life.
Justin Donald: Yeah. That’s such a great statement. And this whole idea of making sure that you love yourself, that you have this self-confidence, this self-assuredness because I’m reading a book right now that talks about how a lot of people are so uncomfortable with who they are that they have to self-medicate with alcohol or recreational drugs or even pharmaceutical drugs, all kinds of different things that it’s hard to be in their own presence because I think in order to be best for other people, we have to be certain and confident and comfortable and truly love ourselves. Like, that’s how we can be of best service to others. Because we’ll exude that, we’ll give them a different energy, we’ll give them a different love, we’ll give them a different, more meaningful, more depth type of relationship. Right?
Rich Christiansen: Well, I think it even goes further than that because self-medicating was creating businesses and I was the king of it. I wrote the dang book on how to do it. I was back in an event. It was actually in a prison. It was remarkable and Kat Holt was running the event. I don’t know if you know who Cat, very remarkable young woman and very bold. And she says, “We’re very privileged to have Rich Christiansen: with us today. He’s created 50,” at that point, it was like 49 or something. “I’m just saying, guys, I think someone in here has some daddy issues.” It’s like the reality is it’s a little bit too hot and, guys, I just got to tell you that until we have the courage to pierce with reality, face our own demons, and to not medicate whether it’s business or drugs or whatever else, and really know ourselves and get to the point we’re uncomfortable internal, that’s what it’s all about. And then the relationship with our loved ones and our family so they’re in a transparency and genuine and they can love us transparently. And what I’ve been doing this modeling, this thing called Infinite entrepreneur.
If you have pictured the infinity symbol, and the first phase of it is I, the I. Have you done your personal work? Do you know what epigenetic stuff came into you today? I was speaking with a young woman today and her husband and her family had done all the oil fields and raped and pillaged the country that they lived in for extreme wealth. And with tears and sorrow, she expressed how that had come in. It was part of her and she needed to heal that I. Have you done your I work, your personal work? Then the crossover point to we. We just talked about how I did it in the model but have you put the effort in to heal your family? So, your children and more importantly at my age, your grandchildren. Don’t meet my grandchildren. Please, not my grandchildren. Don’t make them carry my junk and my difficulties. So, the we work. Then you can go to the all work, which is business. Now, I started there. And you know what, I burned it too hot. I taught all of you guys how to go do the Zigzag principle. Do this and blood brothers. Ah, I just added fuel to the problem, and the only one that’s more dangerous, sorry, Justin, but is yours, the wealth. I have the opportunity to work with a lot of very, very wealthy individuals.
And you want to talk about hurt and harm, go add wealth to the equation when you haven’t done the I work or the we work, then you got a hot, hot mess. In the model of infinite entrepreneur, there’s latitude to go up and down in there but tragically, most of us don’t live there. We live the infinity symbol vertically, where we’re dropping our children and grandchildren off cliffs, only to take three generations to carve up. And I beg you, I beg you, I just beg you, those of you seeking wealth, that you don’t do that. Focus is, Justin, I’m so impressed with Lifestyle Investor because you start with lifestyle, which is part of the I and the we work. So, we’ve got to have first the courage to face our own demons, then put in stability our family, then we can go do the all work and then the wealth becomes a kicker to fuel the whole thing rather than just falling it off a cliff like so many of the people tragically I get to work with.
Justin Donald: Yeah. You know, that’s so true. And this is why we see over and over that generational wealth falls apart. You know, you get one to two generations, that’s really it. Part of that is that there’s a lack of education around wealth, but there’s also just holistically a lack of education, top down on many other things that are needed to support understanding and using wealth wisely and using wealth not just for yourselves and not just for personal consumption, right? And unfortunately, that’s what happens.
Rich Christiansen: My modality has shifted pretty dramatically on this the last five years or so because I used to think all those dumb, dumb kids, they lost all that wealth, I don’t think that anymore. I just got to reading the Kabbalah, and I don’t know if any of you have read that, but it’s a fascinating, very dry piece of work but very interesting because they have this concept born of shame in there that when we come into extreme wealth or we come into a deep, deep addiction, then there’s born of shame and our ultimate freedom is our ability to express our soul and not be born in jail or shame. And tragically, I mean, how would you like to be Prince Harry or Prince Harry or Meghan? I mean, how would you like to be William? I mean, how would I talk about control, your life born in a very, very fine golden prison? Wow. How heavy is that? And so, for me, the trick is, is get out of dropping my grandchildren out because wealth is not money. I mean, anyone that thinks wealth is money, well, I got news for you. Wealth is knowledge. Wealth is emotional stability. Wealth is wisdom. What I really want to pass on to my children and grandchildren has nothing to do with the dollar bills.
As a matter of fact, I tell all my children, “Yeah, anyone that names a grandchild after mom or I, gets double inheritance,” and they all laugh because they know what’s coming next. Get double inheritance. Name a grandchild after us. Yeah, but the bad news is there’s no inheritance because I want them to stand on their own feet and be their own man and women as appropriate. But I think we’ve got to be social careful we do not view money and dollars as what we’re trying to pass on. We’re trying to pass on wisdom and heart. The model that I love, that in this infinite entrepreneur is, is it flows, number one, but it also has all this latitude for life experience. Downs, we went through a very deep, deep family down this last year that almost cracked our entire family. But there was a guardrail on the bottom of it with protection so we could get the contour of life experience with the ups that come with it but it’s guard railed and so you don’t have to drop off and put the third generation in destitution and addiction and abuse. We can actually model this. And now I’m to the point where I’m very confident that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to flow and have this I, we, all, and the wealth then becomes the kicker or the money becomes the kicker that then fuels the future development of the family unit.
Justin Donald: I absolutely love that, Rich. And, you know, when I think about just the next generations that are to come, I’m constantly thinking about legacy but not from the standpoint of like needing my name on anything. I don’t need my name on stuff. I don’t want my name on stuff. I don’t want a building or a hospital or anything named after me, named after my family. But legacy to me really means being clear on my values and allowing those values to be lived and fulfilled long beyond my time here on this earth. And so, I’m constantly thinking, like, what’s the best way to do this? I actually think giving the wealth that we’ve been able to create from a financial standpoint to our daughter, it would be a train wreck. I want to teach her from an educational standpoint. I want to give her an opportunity to learn from an entrepreneurial standpoint. I want to help partner with her in buying real estate, starting a business, supporting in ways like that. So, what I want from a legacy standpoint of Donald’s family values is like what we stand for from a principled standpoint to be passed down.
But then I want the dollars, the actual financial part, to live in some entity. Like, you could just give it all to charity. I actually don’t trust that charities do a good job, most of them. I don’t know that they’re like good stewards of the wealth that they inherit. So, I would rather build some sort of entity that lives on that keeps paying interest in making payments to the things that we do as a family value, things that we collectively have discussed that we get our daughter involved in. And those can live on for hundreds of years supporting people, supporting organizations, supporting charities, supporting foundations, supporting movements that actually matter.
Rich Christiansen: You hit it right on the head. You’ve got it. You’ve totally got the model. And this thing’s completely ass backwards is the problem. Most people think, “Oh, look, first thing I have to do is do a will, trust, constitutions of the stack.” How do you do that? How do you even do that? Because it’s optimized to money, and instantly it puts your individual values out of balance. It puts your family values out of balance. Most of the time business, not always, but then nine times out of ten, the wealth investing values. If you stand for security of the environment and helping others and you’re investing in fracking and oil, energy, or worse yet, drug trafficking, I mean, what do you think’s going to happen energetically to your family? It’s just going to misalign. And although I’m not the expert on this, it’s a whole new conversation of what we’ve done and I’m not the one to probably have it. Scott Ford, the very capstone of that is how do you then take once you know your values and your symbols, doctrine, tradition, rites of passage, and put it in an organization so it passes on? And truly what you’re passing on is the we are well, the emotional intelligence, the value understanding, and the structure so that you bless your family into generations rather than hurt them.
And I do agree with your statement that 99.9% and everyone’s got to make their own basis because everyone’s values are a little different. You can’t copy my values and I can’t copy yours. But at what point you understand the values, then you can fuel mechanisms generationally to pass on those values and the wisdom and also the benefit of it. And stability, I would add.
Justin Donald: Well, I’m just so thankful that I’ve got some friends. My dear friend, Brad Johnson, is the one who first told me about you. We did a book study together where we were being intentional in our parenting and leading our families. And so, we do a chapter a week until we finished your book, and we’ve been talking about revisiting it this year. I’m thankful to Garrett Gunderson, a mutual friend who actually made the connection. This has just been incredible and I would love for people to learn more about you, more about Legado Family, Legacy, and Values. So, where can people learn more about you, Rich?
Rich Christiansen: Thank you for that, that offer. And if you just go to LegadoFamily.com, that’s where all my efforts are. You’ll watch closely because this concept of independent entrepreneurship and balancing all parts of your life is what will be coming shortly. But LegadoFamily.com is where you can go to get all the information. Justin, with you, thank you so much for reading Toes Turn Purple and I want to make positive we get you out one of our big Legado gift box with all the framing and framework and all the beautiful graphics in that. So, I’ll make sure I get that out to you and your group also. I really just respect you and appreciate what you’re doing and the integrity with how you’re approaching your craft.
Justin Donald: Well, thank you. Feelings are mutual. This has been such an incredible gift for me. I’m glad so many people get to listen in but selfishly, like, this was really for me, too, and this filled me up. So, I appreciate that. Thank you. And I like to end every episode by asking our listeners a simple question and that’s this. What’s one step you can take today to move towards financial freedom and move towards the life that you desire on your terms, not a life by default, but rather a life by design? Thanks so much and we’ll catch you next week.