Hannah: I guess my first question is, we’re talking about the history of life planning, but what is life planning?
George: The mystery question.
Hannah: Well I think I came to the right person.
George: Well, I think you’ll find a diversity of thoughts about it, which is great. I think that life planning is listening professionally, is listening so well to your client that you’re able to inspire them to the place that they reveal as being their place of greatest freedom. And you inspire them to move to accomplish that freedom in short order. So that would be my definition I think of life planning. You can do it for yourself, but it’s much harder to do it for yourself, much easier when you have someone who’s really supportive there to help make that happen.
Hannah: I’ve heard people say that life planning is financial planning well done.
George: Yeah, done right.
Hannah: Or done right, yep.
George: Right, yeah.
Hannah: And I’m fascinated by the fact that you start with just listening as really kind of the core of that. We can maybe dive in more on life planning, and I’m sure there’s been evolutions of it, but how does something like this start? How did this get started?
George: Well there’s so many stories. I could tell story, after story, after story of the beginning of this, and then we’d have the beginning nailed but we wouldn’t get to the whole history. Partly it started in the experiences that Dick Wagner and I had individually. Dick was really key, largely because he had a political sense and a community, and I didn’t. And so he had been working to develop really financial planning, and understanding it more and more as life planning because it was clearly client-centric from the beginning.
Meanwhile, I’d been of in my corner of doing practice, actually doing life planning, giving three questions to clients, listening so well that I would spot there passion for freedom and where it was, helping them working with emotional intelligence to really be there where they felt sorrow, or anxiety, or frustration. And so working with the practices and developing specific skills. And he and I met at a wonderful event that the ICFP, before the FPA was created, where I felt like I was this hayseed because I’d grown up on … I was born in West Virginia and I grew up on the Ohio, West Virginia boarder and I thought, who am I? And he was the head of this big organization with thousands of people.
And I remember he was the only person in the whole conference that talked about spiritual values. And so I very, almost fearfully, went up to speak to him. And he had a crowd of people around him and I waited until they all died down and moved out. He already had an eye for who I was. I went up to him and I said, have you ever read Jacob Needleman’s book Money and the Meaning of Life? And he went, I can’t talk about that here. Come on, let’s go over in a corner and I’ll tell you. And he said it’s the book that he felt he was meant to write, that felt so close to him. And it was a book that really inspired me. It was very close to the life planning I was doing. It was very close to his conception of financial planning moving forward, and we completely bonded over this being a secret society between him and me and a few other people maybe that we’d bring in.
And the next thing we knew was six months, nine months, a year later, the woman who ran the ICFP before Dick, and I’m just spacing on her name. Wonderful woman, and she’d seen me speak, and she said, I gotta have you at the FPA retreat. So really, in many ways it began right here at the FPA retreat. And she gave me all these things. She says, why don’t you talk about estate planning? I said, no I don’t wanna talk about estate planning. Well, how about budgets or investments, she gave me all these things. I said, no. I said, where is it? She said, Colorado Springs. I don’t want to go to Colorado Springs. And then finally she said, what about, is there something we’re playing with called the human side of money. And I said, you got me, I’ll do it, but only on one condition. And I said, that is that Dick Wagner partners with me.
And I’d only met Dick that once, but I knew he would be a great partner and we’d be able to launch something from it. Little did I know that he was the one that had actually talked to her about the human side of money, so he was passionate about the topic too. So we came here to retreat, to Colorado Springs, and we had the greatest time. And we delivered three conversations with the community, each from our own domain. Mine more from skills used as practitioners, his more as you know broadly philosophical, economical, the rest. And just a marvelous time. And the first time we had a full room, and the next time people were standing all around the edges of the room. And the third time, because back in those days you gave your presentation three times, and the third time people couldn’t get in the room.
And that was really the launch of life planning. At the end we were like Bogey and Claude Rains at the end of Casablanca, we walked out arm in arm. We said, wow, what are we gonna do next? And created Nazrudin from that. I had told a series of Nazrudin stories, so that was kind of the birth of the community of life planners, the initial community Nazrudin was. So that was the beginning I would say.
Hannah: Let’s talk a little bit about what was going on in the world of that. It sounds like there was such an appetite for what you were saying. So there was really nobody else talking about the human side of money?
George: No. I mean it’s amazing, you read the press now and you’ll see it all the time, they’re talking about it. There was just a big article in The New York Times, nobody mentioned Dick or me, but we were the ones that started it. So it’s really exploded. It’s really, I think, what we were hoping would happen. There’s a lot more to come, and we ought to talk not only about the history but a little bit about the future toward the end perhaps. But no, nobody. I mean, it was … you’ve gotta realize that largely financial planning was a transactionally oriented business, largely commission oriented. It grew out of two traditions, one was sales and one was law.
And neither of them are particularly … I mean in sales you are related to being human and all, but you’re not really trying to create an authentic relationship, you’re trying to convince the person to buy something. So the reason that so many people came, it was like all of the leadership, I think there were like six president in a row of the ICFP and then the FPA who did the two day training, six in a row. And all became avid Nazrudin members, and included Roy Diliberto, and Yesky, and Guy Cumbie. Anyway, an astonishing kind of beginning to the whole thing.
Hannah: For the people listening to this who don’t know what Nazrudin is, what is Nazrudin?
George: Well, you’ve gotta understand, I left Nazrudin. I started it with Dick, but it was a community. But I began to think of life planning as something different. So Nazrudin was a community, and still is, a community of open source. It was open ideas as to … really about the human side of money. And so it was where we all gathered together and we had a community of like-minded people wresting with these issues. Most of us, I think many of us, felt we were more like astral counselors with our clients. We realized that when someone talked about a divorce there was pain there, and not just an opportunity to sell a product. And so we were all kind of oriented toward the human beings that were in our offices.
And there was nobody talking about it, it wasn’t part of the profit model for people. It wasn’t part of how they thought of money. So Nazrudin was a place where we got together and really explored in a very open way all of these questions. And many wonderful communities came out of that, Money Quotient, a lot came out of it, Susan Bradley’s work came out of it, Rick Kaylor’s work came out of it, Ed Jacobson and all the work of appreciation came out of it, and certainly the Kinder Institute came out of it. So that was a … to me that was the first period. I think of three periods when I think of the history, and that was the first third of it.
Hannah: And so Nazrudin, was there an invite list? How did people … I mean, it still exists today. How do people find … we know, spoiler, there’s no website for it.
George: Right, it’s totally … it’s a mystery. Well I mean, I think it’s all down to how we conceived of it. We wanted it really to be personal. And so anybody can join, it’s just that you have to find out about it and then find out someone who’s in it, and they need to lead you to the person who can bring you in. And so anybody who wants to can come in, it’s just that that process has to be followed somehow. And it happened, but Dick and I, as I said, the first time I met him he kind of hushed me up and took me to a corner of the room to talk about it because this hadn’t come out of the closet. We were hiding around all the press. And particularly I think him, in a position of political sensitivity leading a whole industry, largely of sales people, a lot of sales people, certainly spreadsheet people and people who were concerned about the law and not so much the personal side.
So when Dick and I walked out of the room together at the FPA retreat that third time arm-in-arm, I said okay, I think maybe we could do something. Maybe we should get some people together and have ongoing conversation about this. And he said, leave that to me, George, I know just the people. And so he sent out a personal email to all the people he knew. And I knew nobody, so it was just like a match made in heaven as far as I was concerned, and I think as far as he was concerned as well.
Hannah: So you have your first Nazrudin meeting, all of these people do they … they don’t really quite no what they’re getting into. They show up, and then what was that like? Can you describe what that first Nazrudin meeting was like?
George: I think everybody … I mean, Dick had been a leader for sometime and I’d been a teacher for many years and led workshops, so both he and I had good workshop skills and facilitation skills, and we knew we wanted to draw the people out. So I think there was just this energy of excitement. People couldn’t leave, they were in this room together at Estes Park in Colorado, and we’d come together for a few days to just hang out and discuss all of these questions. And the way we would determine what the mini workshops within each day would hold is we asked people to just speak them out and we would then vote. And there was a “Law of Two Feet” where if we didn’t like the room we were in we’d get up and go someplace else.
So this wonderful sense of freedom. And back in those days you weren’t necessarily teaching, you were more holding a conversation with some offerings as well. So you presumably knew something about what you were doing, but you were facilitating a conversation.
Hannah: And listening, right?
George: And listening, listening is huge. Listening is huge, yeah.
Hannah: So you spoke of three different phases of life planning. So we have this first phase, we have this Nazrudin group who are just coming together to talk about this. What is the second phase and how did that transition from that first phase to the second phase go?
George: Well the transition happened about halfway through the first phase, and the transition happened really with the release of my first book Seven Stages of Money Maturity, because it gave a structure that people could fasten around, people could talk about, people could teach. And all of the different life planning techniques that I knew were already in there. And I had basically drawn a lot from conversations in the book, from the conversations we had at Nazrudin, so it really was a Nazrudin book but filtered through my layers of experience. And so it started … it added a lot of energy.
So for instance, I know that I was asked to speak at all of these different organizations, and I don’t think any of us had been before. So suddenly it was happening that corporations were starting to talk about it and other organizations in the financial world were starting to talk about it. And so it really exploded with keynotes and then breakouts. And you don’t have the same person come back the next year, but gosh it was a good theme, who do we invite next? And so all the other communities began to develop.
So in the second half of that open phase that I think of, there were all these other communities developing. Rick was beginning to develop his work with psychology and Susan Bradley with Sudden Money, Money Quotient was taking form, Ed Jacobson on appreciation, appreciative inquiry. And what happened at the end of I think that open phase was that Dick and I worked together beautiful as a great partnership for about 13 years, and then there came a time where I had built so much in Kinder Institute and had put a new designation out there, which was the registered life planner, and Dick had always questioned the term life planning. I liked the term life planning, and he like finology, or one of the other, he used a number of different terms over the years.
So there became … Dick and I in some ways were going in different directions. And I wanted to deepen with the work that I was doing, largely coming out of my second book which was on evoke and on methodology for going from meeting to meeting, and the methodology that explicitly delivered freedom for clients. And he was interested, fascinated, loved it, but at the same time he didn’t Like the term life planning particularly. And he wanted to continue the very open organization. So I basically stopped going to Nazrudin and formed a community that was vibrant in the evoke methodology of life planning.
And when I think of the second phase I think of all these different organizations spreading out and beginning to deepen their knowledge, writing books. And still Nazrudin continued, but it was the seed anymore of all the different movements that came out. So I know in that second phase much more what we did, and we did a lot that still hearkened back to the whole life planning movement, and one of the things is that we now have financial planners I think in 30 countries who have studied either Seven Stages or Evoke, almost all of them have studied Evoke in one way or another. And life planning, know the term life planning, use the term life planning. So I was very interested in internationalizing the life planning movement and deepening a methodology for delivering freedoms.
Hannah: So what’s a context of … we talk about this first phase started out with you and Dick doing these presentations together, what year was that?
George: It was around 1993.
Hannah: And so ’93, you said 13 years.
George: 13 years.
Hannah: So that puts us what, 2006?
George: 2006, 2007, somewhere around there yeah.
Hannah: So this is recent history, this isn’t-
George: Oh yeah. Yeah, there was nothing … I mean some people will talk about how they were talking about the human side, but nothing developed. It became a movement when Dick and I came together, that was what really launched it I think.
Hannah: Yeah. So the second phase is really you going deep into the registered life planner and the Kinder Institute, Susan, all the people kind of doing theirs. What are your thoughts on the different angles people are taking on life planning?
George: Well I have two minds. It’s really interesting because on the one side I love it, I think it’s fantastic. I think the more that people are thinking about, and engaging with, and wrestling with this notion of the human side of money, the more freedom comes for the clients and the more the advisors begin to wake up and look at that’s what they really want to deliver. And they want to be emotionally intelligent rather than selling products. So I think it’s fantastic on the one side.
And then on the other side I have a methodology that I’ve designed and delivered and developed that I love. And I see the results of it almost daily as I work with trainers and advisors, now almost 3000 people I think have taken these programs and they’re all over the world. And to see what they’re doing in all these different cultures is phenomenal to me, and to hear the stories of freedom coming out from how it is that they’re doing it. So I’m working with that community, and we’re starting to talk about how do we get this work into the masses? One of the things I’ve been passionate about but I’ve not had time for, but I think after … in the third phase this will begin to happen.
I think that there should be a movement that delivers life planning in hour long life plans to anyone who wants one. It means to people who are indigent, to people of working class, to middle market, whatever you call it, hour long life plans. And I’m working with people right now talking about how we can do it, pairing with this simultaneous movement. Have you heard of basic income? There’s this experiment that’s happening in many countries where they’re giving a basic income, often it’s at poverty level or a little bit above, sometimes a little bit less. And what I’m trying to do is find a partner in the basic income community, there are communities that are receiving basic income as an experiment, and just say look let’s give a life plan, an hour long life plan, to everyone who’s receiving that basic income at the beginning of their receiving it, and look at the difference of what happens. Because I think what you’ll find is tremendous economic growth and an explosion of entrepreneurial energy coming out of that community.
Hannah: So is that phase three, kind of where you see?
George: I think phase three is even broader than that. Part of phase three is taking it into all the communities we’ve missed. And the primary community we’ve missed, largely because of profit motives, is the community of the underserved. But I think there’s much larger communities that life planning is gonna go to. I mentioned that it stimulates entrepreneurial energy. When we think of entrepreneurial spirit we primarily think of the kind of energy that comes, that’s fostered and paid for by venture capital and private equity. So it’s squirreled away into business schools and the elite. And life planning delivers entrepreneurial spirit, it democratizes it, it gives it to everybody.
So I think part of what happens in the third phase is looking at life planning as something that shifts society. So right at this moment in society, we talked about how there was nothing before life planning practically, it was just sales or legalities. And we’re in a cultural that has become largely institutional. Institutions or the very wealthy own our media, they buy our democracy, they certainly own financial services by and large, so we find an attitude that is not so humane. One of my dreams is actually to get democrats and republicans to take an Evoke five day workshop and have them pair up with each other. Every democrat gets a republican, every republican gets a democrat, and they life plan each other.
And what they learn is to love someone that they wouldn’t normally and to love their dream of freedom, and then see how to deliver that dream of freedom to them. So it humanizes their relationship to freedom. So I think that life planning actually will have a lot … there’s a lot broader audience potentially for life planning, having to do with its delivery of freedom.
Hannah: You’ve taught this idea of life planning, and I heard you even saying it in the definition of life planning, is tying it to freedom. How did you say that again?
George: Life planning really is delivering freedom into a person’s life. It’s delivering their dream of freedom.
Hannah: What does that mean? Can you dive into that a little bit deeper?
George: Well the most common technique, the technique that’s used by more life planners than probably any other technique, is the technique that I taught and teach, it’s in all my books, called The Three Questions. And in the Three Questions you’re asked, if you had all the money that you needed what would you do with your life? And then the second question is, if you only had five to ten years left to live what would you do with your life? And then the third one is a little bit different. The doctor tells you that you’ve got an ailment, you’ve got a disease and you’re done, it’s curtains, it’s time to go, you’ve got 24 hours left to live. And the question’s not, what would you do with your life, but what did you miss in reflecting on your life, thinking about all the things that you’d wished you’d been able to do, all your dreams. And so the question is, what did you miss? Who did you not get to be?
And in life planning, what we do is we take that question more than the other two. And in an exercise we call Heart’s Core, we take the Heart’s Core column more than the ought to or the fun to column. And we make sure that when we do life planning we deliver everything in the Heart’s Core column and everything in question number three to the client, everything. Often those questions … I mean, obviously those are questions that are not the kind of questions that the early forefathers of financial planning were wrestling with. They were wrestling with questions of insurance, and estate planning, retirement planning, and all the rest. But they’re the right questions because they’re the questions about what is it to be human, and who is it we’re meant to be in this world. And if we’re to be fiduciaries, you have to know those things. You can not do it just with money, you have to know who the person is and dedicate yourself to who they want to be.
So when we come to those questions, those are the places that touch a person’s heart. They’re life and death questions for a person. And we basically deliver them. And there are all questions, how can you deliver something about a relationship with a kid and all that? Or a spiritual life, or healing a relationship that’s already gone? Well we have methods for doing that, we train people on how to hold those moments. But most of the stuff is pretty simple, it’s having a good family, that’s one of the major ones, or a great relationship. It’s our values, sometimes it’s our spiritual life. It’s our creative life, being wildly creative, it could be in a business, it could be in the arts. It’s community and it’s the environment, it’s living where we want to live and really celebrating the life around us.
And those are pretty much … they’re common for everybody. So we deliver exactly how a person wants to be in all of those arenas in life planning. And the client experiences that first in the life planning engagement, there’s a moment we call Lighting the Torch. That was my second book, which was for advisors. And there’s a moment where it’s like the top of their head goes off, they explode with excite or collapse with tears, and they’re tears of joy mostly, unbelievability. Can I really have that? Can I really live that way? We deliver that. So we deliver a moment of freedom, and then we get busy with our spreadsheets and our financial plans on solving all the obstacles and delivering what they really want, and in relatively short order. People usually make dramatic changes within a matter of weeks with a great life planning engagement.
Hannah: So it’s really freedom to do what’s at your heart’s core, is that what it is?
George: Freedom to do, freedom to be. Freedom to be who you want to be. A lot of times you’re working a job and you feel like you can’t be completely who you are, you can’t be completely truthful, you feel like you’re compromising yourself in a variety of ways. So it’s freedom to be, freedom to do, and also freedom to have.
Hannah: So you talked about these three different phases, where are we now? Where it’s 2018, what phase are we in? We’re not in phase one.
George: I think we’re moving toward phase three, and it’s what I’ll be talking about here on retreat. And the topic that I’m talking about it … I’m adding two topics to life planning. I’m talking about mindfulness life planning and a golden civilization. If you think about someone who’s been life planned and has received that jolt of freedom and really begins to live their life in that way, that’s a golden civilization. That’s creating a civilization where people are authentic, they feel passionate about what they’re doing, they’re alive. So I think we’re right at that place. We’ve got a series of methodologies that different people are doing, and it’s time now to spread that work out into the broader society, to take it even further globally than I’ve been able to take it, and to take it deep into society.
Part of that is actually deepening our skills, and that’s the reason I have mindfulness in there. When we started our conversation today you asked me what life planning was, and I said it’s listening. And listening in such a way that delivers freedom, but it’s listening. Mindfulness is the most subtle training in listening that you can do, because it’s listening inside yourself ad it’s listening to moments. It’s trying to capture every single moment as it wanders through you, but that’s a very subtle kind of listening. And if you can master that kind of listening, you’re really mastering the present moment. So it’s much subtler, it’s a much subtler training than a sales technique or even the Three Questions.
But if you can really have a mastery around that, then when you’re listening to a client you’re actually accessing that subtly of listening inside yourself to everything, to your fears, to your excitement, to their fear, their excitement. And it means that you’re a tuning fork for what is authenticity for them. It’s extraordinary.
Hannah: There’s such a richness to life planning and what you’re saying. One of the things I have a response to, I’m assuming you would too, is people who take your Three Questions as, I’ve got it figured out. I got the cheat sheet, I got life planning down. What is your thoughts or response to that, they think that they can just bring those questions into a client meeting?
George: Right, well first of all I’ve got these two minds, one of my minds just loves it. All right, go for it, wonderful. Let’s see what you can do. And at least you’re gonna do much better than you used to do because you’re asking profound questions and you’re willing to engage in that conversation. It means that you’re gonna be challenging yourself constantly to be able to go deeper with a client, great. So that’s my first response.
And then my second response is, well how good a listener are you? And what are you gonna do with those three questions? Are you gonna appreciate their profundity? One of the mistakes that people make with the Three Questions is they take them into business planning for instance, or retirement planning, or estate planning. So they’ll go, let’s do the Three Questions around your estate plan, and it doesn’t work very well. I mean, it works better maybe than anything else they would do, but the three questions are meant to be life and death. And they should be guiding the estate plan all by themselves, not designed to be worked within an estate planning process.
So what happens if they’re designed to be worked with an estate planning process, is that their depth and urgency gets rocked. It no longer becomes life and death, it’s like and death around your estate plan. The estate plan is the advisor’s agenda, not the client’s agenda. So it’s taking away from our fiduciary responsibility, which is to the client.
Hannah: And cheapens it, yeah.
George: And cheap … exactly, and cheapens it, which is a sad thing. So two minds, one is great go for it, and the other is good to get some training too and learn to listen.
Hannah: Sounds so simple, but not easy.
George: What’s that?
Hannah: It sounds so simple, just listen, but it’s certainly not easy.
Hannah: So we talked about the three phases of life planning, the origins of it, the phase two how it’s been branching out and deepening the body of research, and then the third is this aspirational how do we get this to everybody, is what I’m hearing.
George: Yeah. How does this … I think life planning really is meant to be the basis of civilization. If you think about democracy and economics, which are the two poles that we’re constantly thinking about, relating to, as we read the news or as we wrestle with our jobs, in a way the highest ideal for each of us in both of them is freedom. And yet there’s no methodology, there’s not a real focus on it. Which is why I said, let’s get the republican politicians and the democratic politicians together and have them actually learn what freedom means, and then learn to deliver it.
So I see it as a basis for economics. We talk a lot right now about the fiduciary movement, that’s huge for us. And at the same time, there isn’t a widespread recognition that you can’t be a fiduciary without being a life planner. I think that that’s one of the destinies of life planning, is that we are the fiduciaries in the world of finance. But there’s a larger issue. Just the other day there was a major drug company that bought this huge physician’s practice, many physicians in it. So it’s like product companies acting as advisors. And what’s really important is the fiduciary nature of what we’re discovering, fiduciary nature brings value to the consumer and the client and our customer.
And that fiduciary nature should be widespread, not merely in financial planning. We can be the leaders of it, but throughout certainly through medicine, I think probably through all of society, the larger an institution gets … I mean, all you have to do is look at Facebook, and the issues of surveillance and all of that. The larger an institution gets, in a way the more it owes to all of us a fiduciary responsibility. That includes government as well as corporations.
Hannah: So Dick Wagner also has something … was thinking along the lines, looking at his Financial Planning 3.0. How would you compare or contrast your vision of this with what Dick was working on at the end of his life?
George: I think the main thing that I would like right at this moment is to be able to sit right across from Dick and talk with him. I think for me to play with the ideas without him being present feels sad and unfair, I’m not prepared to do it at this point. I’d love to sit with him and spend a day just talking about these two sets of ideas and where we go next.
Hannah: One of the things that’s just so … history you can see patterns, and that’s one of the beautiful things about history is you can see you guys started together and then you’re really … your vision for what it becomes is far more aligned than different, I would say.
George: Yeah, absolutely. Well we were aligned from the get go, and it was really a couple of technicalities, and I think needing our own domains for a bit of time. For him to really develop his thesis he needed some freedom from the potency of my ideas. And I think I needed some freedom from him. So it was a wonderful period. And we communicated on a number of occasions over the last few years with real heartfelt connection each time. So it would be wonderful, but it’s not to be.
Hannah: Financial planning came out of this idea that we could bridge these interdisciplinary areas, insurance and estate planning and law and sales, into really one profession. And so what’s really interesting to me as you’re talking about this phase three, is we’re taking these personal finance … what financial planning is, and integrating it even broader across disciplines. Can you talk for a minute about that?
George: Yeah. It’s incredible, isn’t it? How is it that this idea to begin with has come up in the middle of the world of money, right at the heart of what we think is the most dark or the most materialistic of topics and of energies in the world? So in a way that gives it all the more power, because if we an tame the world of money, and not merely tame it but brings it’s power out for the good, for authenticity, for human beings, how powerful then we have the opportunity to bring it everywhere. So I think it’s natural that it goes into those other areas. We have kind of touched the mother lode, the mother lode is not about money, it’s about the human relationship with money.
And the human relationship with money is not just in financial planning, it’s in computers, it’s in business in general, it’s in home economics, it’s in the machinery of democracy, the powers of government. It’s in all of those areas, and the question of humanizing all of those areas but with really fine skill, is I think what we’re … where we’re destined to go with the essence of life planning, of financial planning done right.
Hannah: So who else do you see playing in this phase three?
George: The truth is that I think it goes across many disciplines. So I think that there are spiritual figures. I look a lot to spiritual figures in all the different traditions. I look to people who care about listening and compassion, and are active in that way. There’s a whole new group that is rethinking economics, in fact that’s the name of a group and they give major conferences. Larry Summers has gone to speak there. So I think economists could be involved. I think if you look at a golden civilization there’s no war in it, no war at all. So I think that getting both the antiwar movements and the military involved strategically, because the military are probably our greatest tacticians and strategic thinkers, and to get them involved thinking about how can we put an end to this would be a great thing.
So I really see it being quite broad who is involved. And as I’m working on the end of this book, we’re actually working on a Mapp Marketing campaign where we’re identifying many of those people. I don’t know them at this point, but we’re gonna reach out to them and see can we do this. There’s certainly some politicians, but probably very few really at this point, because most of them are making deals and most of them have taken money from big companies or corporations or wealthy individuals, and aren’t so concerned anymore about simple freedom for the constituents. But we’ll be talking with them as well.
Hannah: You’ve gone into multiple countries and cultures, does life planning this idea of freedom translate to all cultures?
George: Yeah, it does. Right at this moment I’m working with a woman from Kenya who is … she’s actually a princess. She’s basically the daughter of one of the top … of a tribal leader. There are 40 tribes in Kenya. And her husband is an ROP, she’s taken the five day training, and she is passionate about bringing communities out of extreme poverty. And she and I have engaged in a conversation about teaming up with basic income people, it’s happening in Kenya, and how we might do it and bring her work with communities and what she knows together with the life planning that we do and basic income. And she couldn’t be more excited about it.
In India last year, Louis Volbrecht who’s the top trainer that we have at Kinder Institute in Europe, and I went. Mary Zimmerman had gone the year before, for a couple of years I think in fact. And what we found was nothing but passion for these ideas. And I think in fact they can relate to it in some way more quickly than we can because of the mindfulness basis of their society, that they’ve been meditators for thousands of years. So they understand that quality of listening.
And the other way to think of it is that every human being on the planet has an aspiration for freedom. Everybody does. And most of us feel inadequately supported in that aspiration. So to actually bring someone who says, yes you deserve that and let’s make it happen, and yeah I know money has to do with it, that’s my skillset I can help you with that, what a wonderful thing. So to have that happening in every culture makes sense. It just makes sense. There are differences, the Brits do have a stiff upper lip. But gosh, in America we’ve got this split, this huge split as we know, culturally, politically, country versus city, huge split. Life planning works in both cultures. People want to be free.
Hannah: There’s no doubt you’re one of the pioneers of life planning, I would say to larger financial planning as well. What is your hope for new planners as they continue on this work?
George: Really to go for it. I mean, they’ve got so much energy. Here I am many decades past my youth and there’s so much energy, and I love to see it, vitality. And my encouragement would be for them to start with it, not to hold back, to really go to the deepest trainings they can get as soon as they can. Because otherwise there’s a shortchanging of their clients and a shortchanging of themselves. Training yourself to listen really well, challenging yourself around the Three Questions, makes you a deeper and richer person and means that all of your life unfolds in a much more authentic way. So my hope for them would be to live their life plans right from the beginning and to deal with subtle levels of listening inside themselves and with their partners, their spouses, as well as with their clients.
Hannah: How are you spending your time these days? What are you spending your time on? Where is George Kinder’s energy going towards right now?
George: Well finishing up this book, which is really exciting for me. It is Golden Civilization and it’s asking this question, I don’t know if I mentioned this to you, but it’s taking us out a thousand years, or a thousand generations even, and imagining that we’ve arrived at a golden civilization looking back to right now and going, what are the things that are going wrong and what’s going right? Because we know a lots going wrong, otherwise we wouldn’t have this politically dilemma that we’ve had, we wouldn’t have had the banking crisis that we had. So we’re looking back and going, all right whatever wouldn’t lead us to a golden civilization, let’s just throw it out and see what happens if we just put the things that would lead us to a golden civilization into the basic, fundamental, the foundation of society.
And so I’m suggesting that we can actually start a golden civilization pretty much right away. And so I’m looking at leadership, and democracy, and economics, and all of these areas, and I’m designing ways that we could actually shift to make authenticity and freedom be the bedrock. One of the things I think is that we need to end distrust and cynicism in civilization, they lead no where and they basically say something’s wrong. So let’s fix it. And so it’s basically using life planning techniques on civilization. So that’s where one piece of my energy is.
And then I’m really looking forward to my next set of books. I’ve got a series of books coming out that are gonna be four books of poetry and photography and four books of plays. And they’re already well along, each of them has … the poetry and photography are nearly completed, it’s just fine tuning each of them. And the plays will come back to some money themes. So I’m excited about being wildly creative and doing a lot of mindfulness practice. That’s where I get my energy, and my 14 year old daughters.
Hannah: You talk about being wildly creative. Does everybody have it in them?
George: Well, I think everybody’s got something pretty special in them, whether we call it wildly creative or we call it … I mean, my wife says what she is is loving, that’s what she believes in, compassion and love. Wow, how beautiful that can be. I think when we’re given permission to be who we want to be there’s an energy that comes out that becomes pretty creative around how we can do it. And that’s one of the things, that a life planner makes a great partner and mentor to make that happen.
Hannah: What did we miss?
George: I miss Dick, I miss Dick. I’m sorry we didn’t have a chance to spend a day together in the last couple years and really spend some time. Other than that it’s wonderful what FPA is doing, what the retreat has stood for all these years. And I’m excited for retreat, for where it goes. This seems like it’s the biggest and boldest of all the retreats that they’ve had, and it’s a thrill for me to be part of.
Hannah: Well it’s exciting.
Hannah: I’m excited to see what the next several decades hold.
George: Thank you.
Hannah: Excellent. Well thank you so much for doing this.
George: Thanks, Hannah.
Hannah: We really appreciate it.
George: Thank you.