082: Recovering from Bankruptcy and Creating a Legacy of Love with Ken Wimberly
Ken Wimberly hasn’t just gone bankrupt – he’s lived to tell the tale. After having success in the real estate industry, overspending and the Great Recession forced Wimberly to shrink his financial life and pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
As he rebuilt his financial life, Ken also founded Legacy of Love: a digital parent-to-child or grandparent-to-child journaling platform. It’s a place to capture moments, save memories, leave lessons, document photos, or videos, voice notes, voicemails, and capture little moments of life that might otherwise pass with time.
Today, Ken joins the podcast to share the story of his financial mistakes and comeback, the power of digital scrapbooking, and the importance of passing along knowledge – financial and otherwise – to future generations.
Please note: For this special giveaway of Job Optional*, we do not currently offer international shipping. Residents outside of the U.S. may obtain a copy of Job Optional* via eBook format upon request to email@example.com.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- Why so many pre-retirees fear they’re going to need to declare bankruptcy, why you may want to, and what alternatives you have.
- What percentage of debt is viable in real estate investing – and when you need to worry about being overleveraged.
- How Ken keeps his assets organized and tracks his many streams of passive and active income.
- The ripple effect of having purpose – and the power of mentorship, even in retirement.
- How Ken set off on a powerful personal fitness journey – and what you can do to push your body to new levels of achievement, regardless of how old you are or if you don’t have access to any fancy equipment.
- “You may think you’ve got it all figured out or you may have no clue what you’re going to do, and guess what, it doesn’t matter, because you’re going to get through so many different parts of your life that are going to be vastly different than what you ever thought they would be.” – Ken Wimberly
- “My best advice to anyone that finds themselves in that (debt) situation to get out of it is to get into a career, which they can be compensated for the value they create, rather than trading dollars for hours.” – Ken Wimberly
- Legacy of Love – use the code RetireWithPurpose to get 20% off any integrated plan
- Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet
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Casey Weade Hey, Ken. Welcome to the podcast.
Ken Wimberly: Casey, thanks for having me here. Appreciate it.
Casey Weade I’m so excited to have you here. I get to know you a little one-on-one out at the Front Row Dads Retreat this year and we got a great guy here that’s got all types of different ways that we could have an amazing conversation and so much to offer. And you offered so much to the group while we were out there as well that I just couldn’t wait to have you share your message and all these different ideas that you have with our audience. So, thank you so much for joining us.
Ken Wimberly: Well, thank you. Happy to be here. I’ve been looking forward to this and yeah, honored to be a part of a group like Front Row Dads and happy that that was able to connect us together.
Casey Weade Oh, yeah. And I met so many cool people through that and a lot of the individuals as part of that group. They’ve just had so much depth in their life experiences and you are no exception. And going through your bio, I don’t need to go through your entire bio here, so I’ll go through a lot of that bio stuff when we go back and put an intro on the episode, but the bio is wide-ranging. You’ve had a lot of different experiences, a lot of ups and downs. You’ve had you might say some drastic changes, some drastic life stages that you’ve went through, you might say traumatic at times. But when we talk about life stages, I think it’s interesting to see how different people view different life stages. So, how would you view the different life stages that you’ve went through up into this point or how do you view the life cycle?
Ken Wimberly: Oh, my goodness. Jimmy Buffett has a great line, “Some of its magic, some of its tragic, but I’ve had a good life all the way.” The life cycles, it’s all part of our journey in who we are and in who we become. So, for the tough times I’ve had, I’m thankful. For the great times I’ve had, I’m grateful. And sometimes I try to teach my children is that you may think you got it all figured out or you may have no clue what you’re going to do, and guess what, it doesn’t matter, because you’re going to get through so many different parts of your life that are going to be vastly different than what you ever thought they would be. And it’s cool because we evolve, and things happen in our lives. It’s rare that someone is just super consistent throughout their entire life with what they’re doing or what they’re involved in. Yeah, we’re an evolutionary creature and it’s a beautiful thing.
Casey Weade And today, you’re in a very different spot than you were just a few years ago. Quite a dramatic change. I think that our audience can learn something from that. Can you tell us what the last decade has looked like for you and where you’re at today?
Ken Wimberly: Yeah. So, I’ll start back just a little over a decade. Prior to I’m in the real estate business today is my primary business. We’ve got a few others. We talked about that too. But prior to the real estate business, I had started my entrepreneurial journey and opened up a pizza restaurant. This is my first deal. I had been in the Navy prior and my good buddy of mine from the Navy and I decided that we were going to, in essence, franchise this pizza concept although it was a small family-owned chain, so they didn’t have a full franchise. We licensed the name and the recipes to go open up our own version of it and we thought our plan was to go open up five of these locations to be successful, open up five, and then to really systematize the business and create a franchise model and help the family to go franchise the entire model. The best-laid plans don’t always work. We thought because the existing location – there were three existing locations and they were run really poorly, really. I mean, we had observed so many ways that it was being run that we thought we were going to come in and just dramatically change everything and then we made a really, really crucial mistake.
It’s interesting, since I’ve been in the real estate business for almost 20 years now that that big mistake was a real estate mistake, and we ended up falling in love with the location. The landlord wouldn’t subdivide the location and we end up taking leasing double, more than double the amount of space that we needed. And that single decision caused not only higher rent, higher electricity, higher all utilities, more furniture than we needed, more employees, more equipment, more everything. And so, everything was doubled or tripled of what it should have been as far as an expense burn rate goes and 18 months after we opened that business, we end up having to shut it down. And that was a hard decision for us. We had employees that were relying on us and with the employees, it becomes like family for us, really. I actually had family members working for me at the time and then the other employees were like family to us. And we had a big burden on our shoulders that we had so much debt that we had amassed during that time even though our sales picked up month over month over month.
I mean, if you looked at a trend line of sales, like these guys are doing great, but our expenses it started so much higher than that. Initially, we just didn’t see a way out, and so we end up shutting down that business 18 months later and file business and personal bankruptcy protection. And that was a miserable, low point in our lives. My partner and I felt like we let each other down, we let our employees down, we let our families down. And it was…
Casey Weade And that was just 2012, right?
Ken Wimberly: No, no, no, no. This was this was 2001. So, this is a little earlier than that. This is 2001. Then I got into real estate business in 2002 and then started to kind of to build my real estate career up, and it was a journey in the real estate business. It took me almost an entire year to make $1 in the business, and I was in the commercial real estate world so it’s a longer life cycle. It’s a longer learning cycle to figure things out. And I went to work for a guy who was very transparent with me. He said, “It’ll probably take you a year to make any money. We don’t have a formal training program. We don’t have a draw. We don’t have a salary. So, you’re not going to make any money. You’re going to kind of come in and do the work and eventually, you’ll make some money.” And he’s like, “But, we won’t pigeonhole you into any particular asset class. You kind of do what you want to do. We can learn from us and you can make a great career if you kind of do it right.” And somehow that sounded good to me. And I said, “Okay, sign me up,” and it was pretty true to what he said. It was 11 months later when I made my first check. It was $1,837 is what I made my first check 11 months later.
And so, luckily, we had socked away a little bit of money to live on that year and my wife was working. So, that was helpful. We kind of scrunched by and make 837 at month 11. At month 12, I made my first $20,000 commission check. So, when you look at the first-year combined, we made around or I made about as much as a substitute teacher for that first year in real estate business but the next year I’d made six figures and the next year we did better and it started to grow from there. So, it started my real estate career from there in the early 2000s right there. That went great until late 2008, if you recall that, in probably July of 2008 the commercial real estate markets froze. Residential markets had started tanking the year before. Commercial markets, the lending markets froze in about July of 2008, and everything I had working just dried up overnight. And that was a tough thing because prior to that, those couple years prior, making great money. My wife at the time was making great money. We were living high on the hog. We built this big house and we really overextended ourselves and almost found myself back in that bankruptcy situation again, and we didn’t.
We ended up short selling our house, ended up getting divorced. It was another real low point in my life at that point in that 2008, 2009 is another start over making good money at the time but, man, we just let our expenses get so out of control. It was not at all the place that I wanted to be and so we kind of did a reset, restart in ’09 and then just started kind of slowly rebuilding the commercial real estate kind of business where you’re kind of I think referring to in 2012. So, in late 2009 I joined KW, Keller Williams. I affiliated my real estate business with KW and in 2010 I heard Gary Keller up on stage talking about this concept of have a Big Why. And the Big Why concept he’s referring to is purpose, having a purpose in your life. And oddly enough, that was the first time I had ever heard about this concept of living life with a purpose. I have just been kind of bouncing through life, chasing whatever thoughts or dreams I had at the moment that nothing kind of grounding me and no real purpose right there. And it hit me hard when I heard that because I heard it loud and clear. And I looked inside. I said, “What is your purpose?”
I had two kids, two beautiful, wonderful children. I kind of knew they had something to do with my purpose, but I didn’t know what that purpose was. And I really soul-searched for about two years and it was 2012 when I kind of realized what my purpose was and kind of define that. When that finally happened, my life just got measurably better as far as when I realized my purpose and it came to me what I meant to do, what I’m meant to be, everything started changing in my life. So, for me, that purpose gets to be the best possible example I can for my wife, for my children, and for others who may look to me for inspiration. I’ve realized that there’s a lot of people looking at us in this world and sometimes you never know who’s watching. And I want to be the best possible example I can for all of those people in all areas of my life, whether it’s loving relationships, spirituality, business, personal finance, health, fitness, adventure. All of those aspects, I want to be the best version of me that I can be so that anyone else looking and observing my life can maybe use me being my best version has an inspiration for their own life.
And when I figured that out, everything started to slowly change. And I’ll tell you this, it was aspirational at first. I was not living that best version of myself and I define that, but it became my compass. It became my true north. That’s where I was going and since that time in 2012, so much is changing, so much to find out. Only at that time, I weighed in at some of the heaviest I’ve ever weighed in my life at I was on over 200 pounds. I was almost 210 pounds at that time, was in debt again. I hadn’t gotten out of debt since that downturn right there so I was still in debt. I had a lot of business debt and I was just in a place where I needed to get my life in order and get my life much better. And I went on a journey, and I went on a two-year journey. I committed to get in shape, lose that weight, get out of debt, and build my business to the point that it could provide a great financial future for me. In two years’ time, we paid off $352,000 of debt in exactly 24 months to the day. I went to the Dave Ramsey kind of plan, followed his plan, paid up $250,000 in debt. I dropped 50 pounds of weight in that two years. And we scaled our business. We’re doing about a little under 20 million in annual sales volume. We scaled it over 70 million in sales volume, which is what helped pay off that $350,000 in debt in 24 months. That’s a short timeframe in people’s lives.
Casey Weade A heck of a debt snowball right there.
Ken Wimberly: It’s a heck of a debt. And here’s the crazy thing, like we followed this plan to the tee. We listed our debts out. I put them on a spreadsheet. I printed it out. I put it on a refrigerator. All the world could see if you came into our home, these are our debts. We crossed off each one. We paid it off and it was an absolutely phenomenal experience to pay off that last debt and to become debt-free and our children lived with us through that whole example. It was really, really cool that they were to go through it and to experience it and to understand where our sacrifices were coming from and to sacrifice with us. So, great learning experience for the kids.
Casey Weade Boy, there’s so much to unpack right there, that I don’t even know exactly where to go but I think I want to provide people some context because I think sometimes we get this idea of individuals have filed for bankruptcy. Well, they’re just idiots. We’re not talking to someone that is not capable or not intelligent. I think you went to a pretty prestigious military academy, graduated at 16, valedictorian. I mean, we’ve got someone that’s pretty sharp. However, you still went down that bankruptcy road and almost went down that road twice. And do you think that it could have been avoided? And what would have been the keys to avoiding that experience of bankruptcy? What would you say to somebody else who may be going through it?
Ken Wimberly: Yeah. Well, as I’ve looked back and dissected and reevaluate my life at different points, back then there’s a lot of hubris in my life. I thought I knew a lot more than I really knew like today I feel like I know nothing. I feel like I’m…
Casey Weade Who knew being valedictorian was a dangerous thing?
Ken Wimberly: Well, I think there is some danger to that and danger to feeling you’re an intelligent or again today, I feel like I know nothing. There’s so much that I don’t know in this world. I recognize that. Back then, I thought I had so much figured out. I thought we could run the business much better than the people that had done it successfully for years. We thought, “We didn’t need your advice on this. We didn’t need your advice on this.” And so, my advice to someone would be seek the advice and mentorship of people that have succeeded before you and really ask and really dig in and listen to what they say. I’ve had a lot of advice in the past where I’ve heard it, I didn’t listen to it, and I didn’t follow it. And I think had I listened to wiser people who had gone before me in the past, I could have made a lot fewer mistakes in my life.
Casey Weade Maybe you didn’t recognize it sounds like the level of risk you’re actually taking at the time but having a good mentor maybe could have put that into a context or a way that you could understand.
Ken Wimberly: Could have helped a lot, right. A mentor or someone that was there for me and that I trusted, and that I took their advice. Because as a mentor to people these days, I helped mentor quite a few people. And some folks do great at taking advice, and heeding advice, and others where I was years ago and say, “Hey, thanks for that advice. I’ll talk to you later.” Maybe it works out for them. Maybe it does.
Casey Weade Yeah, I’ve met people that are at this point where they go, “Should I file for bankruptcy? Shouldn’t I file for bankruptcy? I hear that’s the worst thing I could possibly due for my financial life. I just need to stick it out and figure it out on my own.” How did you know it was time to file bankruptcy? Would you do it again? How would someone recognize if they should do it or not?
Ken Wimberly: That’s a great question. And I think the answer today I would try to avoid at all cost if it was me. It’s interesting, I heard of a podcast of Susie, I can’t think of her last name but she created potpourri. She had filed bankruptcy three times in her life, three times, and someone asked her a similar question is like what would your advice be for someone, she’s like, “Don’t do it.” She’s like, “There are ways out of it.”
Casey Weade But then you look at these people that have done it and you go, “Boy, it worked out so well for them. Now, they’re worth multi-millions.”
Ken Wimberly: Sometimes but the beauty and the reason bankruptcy was created, right, so the beauty of it is it truly eliminates your debts right there and it does kill your credit. So, you’re looking at a 7 to 10-year time period where you’re looked upon as a leper in the financial community and it does kill your credit and I lived in an apartment for years after I’d kind of gone down financial ruin. I’d really shrunk down my life there. So, it hurts your credit. It hurts your, I mean, it hurt my self-image. I think a lot right there. At the same time, I’ve recovered from it. I’ve recovered well from it. I’ve learned a lot through for the experience right there so if someone has to do it and kind of question on how would you know when, I mean, I felt buried. We had several hundred thousand dollars in debt and very different when I paid up $352,000 in debt, I had a method to go. I was in a sales business and I knew that I could increase my sales, increase my revenue, and yeah, that’s why I love the sale business. I could go pay off that debt and I did it in two years.
Casey Weade So, you had a plan the second time around. When you got close the second time around, you sat down, you said, “I’ve got a plan to get out of this situation.” And prior, you didn’t have a plan and there maybe wasn’t a way out.
Ken Wimberly: I didn’t see a way out. Let’s say that. I had my business that was failing. I had no other business, no other revenue, no other skills that I felt like I could go create money with. Today, I have a lot of different skill sets where I feel like we will create money. Back then I didn’t, and I didn’t have a confidence in myself until I felt lost. I felt there was no other way out. So, it was a hard decision for us to make.
Casey Weade And sometimes I’ll meet people that are pre-retired. They’re 10 years out from retirement and they’re going, “I think I’m going to have to file for bankruptcy.” You made such a quick recovery. I mean, it appears that way from say 2000, really it sounds like you made that recovery in 10 years roughly.
Ken Wimberly: Yes. Sure. By 2010, we’re doing quite well.
Casey Weade What would you say to someone that say 10 years out from retirement? Can they still make it? And what steps should they take to make sure that once they file for bankruptcy, they’re still going to get out of life?
Ken Wimberly: Yeah. Let me give you some advice on what not to do. I got some really great advice from some people before you file bankruptcy, like, “Hey, if you’re going to file bankruptcy, just going to charge a bunch of stuff. You may as well get stuff before.” I kid you not. And at that stage of my life I was like, “Oh, that makes sense.” And guess what, there’s a look back period where they can recognize that you’re doing stuff like that. It doesn’t get eliminated. So, don’t make any dumb mistakes like that, first of all, right? If you’re going to eliminate your debt, eliminate it, and then have a plan to get out. And like I mentioned, there are lots of things we can do in this world. If we can create value in this world for other people, things will happen in our lives. We will create value in our lives by creating value in others. I love the sales business. I love the ability to go help others in the real estate business because the more people we help, the more income we make. And we can use that income to build any life for ourselves. And so, I guess my best advice to anyone that find themselves in that situation to get out of it is to get into a career, which they can be compensated for the value they create, rather than trading dollars for hours.
Casey Weade And I think I had this question a while back. You are one of the few real estate investors I think I’ve ever met that’s debt-free and then real estate investing and debt-free don’t really go hand-in-hand. And for most, I know I had a question here recently from one of our fans, and they said, “Is debt always bad? Can debt be a good thing?” You probably wouldn’t be where you’re at today if you didn’t have that debt in order to create the real estate empire that you might say you have today with 21 different streams of income, 16 of those being passive income streams. What is your view of that? Can we utilize that and benefit from it?
Ken Wimberly: Oh, sure. Now, for consumer debt, I can’t stand it. So, credit card debt, auto loans, that I can’t stand it. For real estate debt, that’s where Dave Ramsey and I disagree and a lot of folks that disagree with him on that standpoint. He tells you to buy everything in cash. It’s really that’s a super conservative plan. I love that but it’s a super slow plan and for real estate debt, if it’s positive cash flow and you got good tenancy in your easily re-tenantable buildings, I think real estate debt is a very positive thing, but I wouldn’t overleverage yourself. Don’t go try to put 90% or 95% leverage on something right there. But if you’re doing 70%, 75% loan to value on something that you’re not overpaying for or you got good tenancy in the tenants, in our business, the commercial side, the tenants are overpaying in rent. So, if they go dark, you’re not going to be able to replace that rent. Now, if you’ve done your financial analysis on this, I think there’s very much a place for debt in the real estate investment world that you wouldn’t have much of the real estate investment that you have today, if it weren’t for the debt that goes into the mix.
Casey Weade So, you’re not necessarily completely debt-free. You’ve eliminated all your consumer debt, but you still carry debt on a lot of the real estate properties that you have out there. And if we’re going to go down that road, and I don’t want to get off on too big of a tangent because there are some really cool things we have to get into, especially with the Legacy of Love app but when you start talking about creating real estate investments, I mean, people are stepping into retirement and like well 16 passive streams of income. I’d love to have that. It sounds like the perfect retirement strategy. How much debt is the appropriate amount of debt? Do you have a formula that you use or anything like that?
Ken Wimberly: It’s going to depend on the property. Honestly, it will depend on the property, the tenancy. Like when I have 16 streams of income, they’re not all mine. I’m not the sponsor or the lead on all of the streams of income. I’m an investor in other people’s projects that they’re the ones taking on the debt risk. They’re the ones taking on the management, taking on the whole building or something. If I trust in other people in what they’re doing, help put our money into other people’s assets, and so many of those streams are other people’s assets that we put money into that provide cash flow for us.
Casey Weade Okay. And so, if a retiree says, “Boy, I don’t want to create some of these passive income streams. Is this something that you would carry into retirement I suppose? And do you think you can continue to do what you’re doing with all these different income streams throughout retirement or you hear a lot of retirees going, “Ah, it’s just a headache dealing with this investor. I loaned this guy money. I got to collect from him, and I got to manage all these different properties and all the headaches that go along with it.” What are your thoughts when people say that?
Ken Wimberly: I heard a great quote from a lady years ago, and because a friend had made a similar, she and her husband owned like 100 different rental properties and residential rental properties and in the end commercial properties and whatnot. And so, they made it almost the same kind of just sounds like a lot of headache and a lot of management, a lot of issues. Her kind of comment back was, “I think going into retirement and not having any of that and being stuck on a fixed income is the headache.” That for me is the problem. Sure. This provides limitless opportunity for me to be able to have these assets that we control. That, yes, we have to manage them. Yes, we have to lease them. We got to do this until we control it and it provides financial leverage in our life that allows us to go out and live the life of our dreams. I think sure. It takes work on some things, and it’s worth it.
Casey Weade But how many different properties do you have that you’re managing right now?
Ken Wimberly: Personally, maybe six.
Casey Weade Six different rental properties. And these are commercial properties, correct?
Ken Wimberly: Yeah. Properties and office buildings.
Casey Weade Okay. And so, you’ve got a lot of different tenants in there, I would imagine. So, what type of workload do you experience yourself from that?
Ken Wimberly: Well, I mean, we’re in the commercial real estate business but if I wasn’t doing leasing or that kind of stuff on my own, we would hire a leasing agent. We have property managers that manage our properties. So, that’s not a big part of how my time is spent is in managing or leasing our properties. It’s actually a very small part of how my time is spent.
Casey Weade So, is that what you’d recommend to somebody if they want a little bit more control than maybe they’re getting on the stock market. They want to be able to maybe utilize a property for their own enjoyment from time to time. They like the higher yield they’re getting out of this real estate. Would you recommend they hire a leasing agent or hire a property manager? I know for myself right now we just got ourselves our first vacation rental. And it’s something we’re going to use as a family a couple of weeks out of a year but we’re ending up going in that annually, maybe 7% to 10% after expenses, even with the property management company taking over and managing it. And then you saw the appreciation of the property itself. I mean, it’s been hands-off for the most part and once we get it up and running, there’s little to no work that we actually have to do on an ongoing basis. And I think maybe we kind of have it twisted from other people have said, “Well, property managers don’t work and real estate’s a headache, and I don’t want to manage a property in retirement.” I don’t know where those things come from, because it hasn’t really been my experience.
Ken Wimberly: I think for any person that’s saying that, I can give you three that will say the opposite, right? They will give you three that will and that’s the world I’m in that will show you how it provides five different levels of benefit and how it’s providing financial freedom for them and how they’re getting appreciation as you mentioned, and I think part of it comes in when you underwrite the deal initially before you purchase it, make sure that you’re building into your underwriting a property management fee, a leasing fee, and you’re building those things in so that that’s part of your, you know, when you go in and say, “Hey, my max dollar that I’m going to pay to buy this is X.” Those numbers are baked into that so that you know. I think it’s a really important factor.
Casey Weade Yeah. Our property manager is just fantastic. He’d already managed 150 properties of his own. I mean, he could do these really good projections to give us a good idea of what we’re getting. I just think that that’s what a lot of us miss out on. We see a property. We like it. We think we can get a good rent. We just dive in and then we figure it all out later and that figuring out part that’s the headache that you’ve created for yourself.
Ken Wimberly: Another two properties I own were two residential rentals. And I did the same thing. I was managing myself and it’s a big headache way back then and now we are property managers hire leasing folks, everyone else takes care of it. It’s great. We weren’t just looking for deals and putting the deal structure together making it happen.
Casey Weade Now, you’ve got somewhat of a complex financial life, I might say. There’s a lot of different real estate properties. You’ve got a lot of different businesses, entities, all these different income streams, different investments. How do you keep all of that organized? Because I see a lot of individuals that will come in, say in those positions, but they’ve got a stack of papers. They’ve got a briefcase full of stuff. They’ve got a couple of spreadsheets that they’re trying to manage. And for the most part, they’re relatively confused on what they actually have and how they’re going to be able to utilize it and retirement and even more concerning many times as they progress through life is what are my kids going to do when they get all this stuff?
Ken Wimberly: So, I have a detailed spreadsheet that lists every single item I have on and how much we put into the property, how much we make on an annual basis on it. If there’s debt on the property, what that is. I’ve got one spreadsheet that listed all, what our active income is and what our passive income is. Line items, every single item in one master spreadsheet that shows it then I have I keep a pretty detailed file structure. Every property we have or every investment that we’ve made has its own file structure and we’ve got all of the related documents in there. So, as far as what are my kids going to do with those things, I love having real estate and kids around real estate all the time. My kids are…
Casey Weade So, they’re integrated.
Ken Wimberly: My son’s 15 and then my other son is three. For years I thought it was going in one ear and out the other and then they’d make comments as we’re driving around, like, “Hey, Dad, I think I might want to own a couple of these kind of properties when I go to college,” and I’m like, “Tell me more,” and we’d start talking about it. Their financial literacy is huge. But we talked about it all the time. My wife and I are both in the real estate business. And we’re very transparent about how we let them know that this is family matters. I did not go share our finances or details with other people but we’re very transparent about what we own, what we struggle with, what’s working, what’s not. They hear the conversations nonstop and like once a month, we’ll sit down with a family and we’ll look at all the assets because I want them now at this age to see, “Hey, here’s what we own and here’s how much we own,” and then I’ll shut up and listen. And what are they going to say? What are their questions? What are they thinking about? And it is a wonderful opportunity for my wife and I to teach financial literacy to the kids.
Casey Weade Could grandparents do that? I mean, that’s why I always encourage them, bring your kids with you, bring your grandkids to visit. Actually, have them come in and sit down and sit in the review with us as we’re reviewing your strategies and then go back and talk to them about it, have these conversations.
Ken Wimberly: 100%. Grandparents could and should do that because it’s one of the best experience that they can do for their grandkids. I take my kids on appointments with me. They’ll go on appointments and meet with clients and it’s a great experience for them. And our mutual Front Row Dad friend, John Ruhlin, he took his daughter I think on his tour, on his speaking tour with him and he was talking about how much she would learn on that tour with him and the questions that she would ask. It’s a beautiful thing, just expose your children to the world we’re in of work, finances, investments and how the world works outside of the very small microcosm they’re learning in school.
Casey Weade Yeah. Staying integrated. And that’s what I think we need to do. We complain about that, “Well, they don’t teach these things in high school.” Well, then teach them. Now, why don’t you actually get up and teach your grandkids these things, teach your children these things? And make sure when they actually get that financial legacy that you’re leaving behind that they know what to do with it. They know how to manage it responsibly because you’ve been there coaching them through it. They’ve been actually a part of maybe even building it along the way. I think that’s awesome. And I want to go back, we need to get back to purpose, something you said earlier really struck me and that was when you talked about purpose and when you found your own purpose. When I talked to different people about these things, but I know my wife’s had this conversation with me, my mom’s had this conversation with me, where they feel that they don’t have a big enough purpose. They don’t have this. They’re not trying to change the world. They’re not trying to create a worldwide company or a national company or they’re not trying to write a book or create something that seems big enough to them and I liked the way your purpose. It’s just so easy.
And I think, to me, it’s kind of eye-opening and really helpful. I mean for me, I’m always trying to re-identify and identify my purpose. I don’t feel like it’s ever just concrete and solidified. It’s always evolving and for you, you’ve created one that can be very permanent. It’s just set a great example in all facets of life. That’s pretty cool.
Ken Wimberly: Well, thank you. And awfully that the definition of the words I wrote, it’s a little bit of an – it is. It’s a living document if you will because I have added like adventure is the most recent word added to it so it’s being that great example in health, fitness, and adventure. It’s like, well, I want to show the example of putting myself out of the comfort zone and going and doing things that scare me and are adventurous and so I’ve added that into mine but your comment on someone filling out their purpose is not big enough and…
Casey Weade Well, people will say, “Get it.” They’ll come in and we’re talking about what your purpose is for retirement. I don’t know. I never thought about it before. I mean, I just want to be retired. And then they start thinking about it and I’m like, “Well, now, I feel kind of empty. Now, I don’t have a purpose.” And it doesn’t have to be huge. It just has to be meaningful.
Ken Wimberly: It does. And Simon Sinek and Angela Duckworth, a lot of folks have written about purpose and why and they’ll tell you that usually, a purpose is something other than yourself, right? It’s not about you. It’s about improving life or doing something for the benefit of another and that can be one other. It can be millions of others as some people have their purpose there. But in this man’s opinion, if you can use your life to positively impact one other person then that’s a beautiful thing. If you can go be a shining example and a positive impact on one other person, and you never know what kind of ripple effect that will have out there in the world.
Casey Weade Yeah. And retirees come in a unique place where they’ve got a lot of experience. They’ve got a lot of knowledge. They’ve got a lot to share. And they have the ability to be a retire mentor, if you will. And that can be, that can be such a clear and easy purpose. I can see someone implementing it and writing it down right now. But remember, it’s in the show notes as you’re listening so you don’t have to write it down right now.
Ken Wimberly: A lot of folks that do that, and that’s a beautiful thing, right? That retirees will mentor others to previous executives or people that just lived and done something at a high level that others haven’t done and that could really use that help and that guidance.
Casey Weade Well, you said it took you a couple – you mentioned this two-year soul search after you had went to that conference and sort of thinking about your purpose. Did you have a process that you went through that someone else might be able to apply that two-year soul search? Maybe they’re two years before retirement or they’re just starting retirement that go, “Okay. I don’t need to have this figured out and written down right now. I’ve got some time and this is what I’m going to do to get from point A to point B.”
Ken Wimberly: Yeah. I mean, the big part of the process was just slowing down and allocating time to thinking because we’re so busy in our lives, usually, we don’t give ourselves thinking time. And so, I would take some dedicated time to just think about what’s really important in my life. What is it that gives me energy and fuels me? It makes me feel good. And what would make me feel good for the rest of my life? And so, I just slow down and kind of think to that, go on walks, and some deep thought time. It wouldn’t be all the time, so I took two years. It wouldn’t be all of that. But eventually, it started kind of coming to me and coming together, and I started kind of crafting what that statement would look like. And again, when I finally came up with it, it was a little aspirational because I was going to look at myself in the mirror back then, I’m like, “You are not that guy that’s the best example of this or that.” But as the years have gone on, I started to live more and more and more up to that statement of purpose.
Casey Weade That’s got to continue to evolve over time. And what you said there brings me back to something that was said at the last Front Row Dads Retreat by Sachin. Sachin Patel had mentioned that we’re really human doings for the most of our life. I mean, look at retirees. They’ve been a human doing for the last 30 years, but they’re really, we’re meant to be human beings. And it sounds like you just spent some time being a human being for a couple of years and just being, just being present and just thinking through these things. And maybe that’s what really was that helped you solidify your purpose and take you into this next stage of life.
Ken Wimberly: It did and now it’s a beautiful place to be at now that I have that. Again, it’s my compass. It’s my true north.
Casey Weade Well, and a big part of that, I mean, I know you just love your kids. You’ve been working on this legacy thing for a really long time. I mean, now you’ve got the Legacy of Love app and it’s just growing bigger and bigger. It’s taking on a life of its own. But before we get into the app, I just wonder what legacy means to you. As we talked to the families we work with about this, many times they’re thinking about it as a financial legacy. They’re thinking about what they can give them today that can help them. They’re thinking about what they can leave them behind tomorrow that can help them. To you, what does the word legacy mean?
Ken Wimberly: It’s the impact we leave behind and that can be a financial impact. It can be how we’ve taught our children to treat others in the world. It can be the emotional intelligence that we’ve left behind as our legacy. We have a lot of beautiful things. It can be a lot of ugly things. It’s in people I leave behind a very negative legacy. But for me, legacy is all about leaving a positive impact in other’s lives.
Casey Weade And what do you think the legacy is that you’re going to leave behind for your children?
Ken Wimberly: Honestly, the biggest thing and it’s kind of the reason we chose the name for the app, it’s love. It’s one word. It’s love. I have children that my daughter is in Africa right now. She’s 16 years old. She volunteered to go to Africa, found the group that she was going to go with, raised the money to go and went over there to build a school for an orphanage because she cares. She has so much love in her heart. And so, that’s what I want my legacy be for my children. My family is love that they see that I was filled with love that I left them with love and that they knew every day that they were loved. So, that’s important for me.
Casey Weade And then that’s been a big focus here is the development of the app, the Legacy of Love app. Can you just tell us how the app works and maybe how you arrived at this place today with the launch of the app here very recently?
Ken Wimberly: Sure. So, what Legacy of Love is, is a parent-to-child or grandparent-to-child journaling platform. It’s cross-platform. You can do it on website, phone, tablet, Android or iOS, anything right there and it’s a place to capture moments, save memories, leave lessons, document photos, or videos, voice notes, voicemails, a way to just basically capture those little moments of life that might otherwise pass with the fleeting time. And think of it like a modern-day digital scrapbook is in essence, what it is. It came about as a result of my own journaling to my kids. I’ve been journaling to my children for almost 16 years now. And I’ve done it for many, many years and people had encouraged me over the years to do something with that and build a program so we spent about the last 18 months coming up with this and it is very much alive and real and out there right now. We have hundreds of people using it right now and getting many more downloads by the day. It’s pretty exciting and it’s really cool.
Casey Weade Yeah. There’s nothing else out there like it. I’ve gotten into it myself. I’m enjoying it. There are a couple of things that I’m in mind with the app and one is what do you think the impact is on in people’s lives while they’re here versus while they’re gone?
Ken Wimberly: So, let me tell you, personally, okay, I’m the creator and developer of this app and I’m still right now adding entries that I’ve made from years past to my children. I’ve made them in a Word doc and then in Evernote, and I’m basically putting those entries now into Legacy of Love and it is such a magical thing for me to be able to read over the entries that I made when my now 16-year-old daughter was one-year-old and three years old and what I had written about her life and our lives and what was going on there is such a cool thing. It’s so powerful. And so, the impact on your life as you’re living is incredible to go back and relive the moments that were important enough for you to write down and go relive those moments is super impactful. Now, my intent for this for my children is that I’m going to give these journals to them when they graduate high school. They’ve never seen them. They know about them now because I’ve released the program, but they’ve never seen any of these and it was going to be my gift to them. In high school graduation, he’ll be 18 years of your life through my eyes. And my hope is that, that…
Casey Weade They haven’t seen any of it up to this point?
Ken Wimberly: They’ve never seen one.
Casey Weade They know you’re doing it. They just haven’t seen it.
Ken Wimberly: They now know I’m doing it because they’re a part. We hope to impact millions of people with this program. So, they’re very much aware of that and helping in social media and some stuff on there but they’ve never seen one entry that I’ve written. And so, my hope is that when they receive those, that it will be one of the most meaningful things that they’ve ever received, and that as they grow older, and they have their own children, that it’ll be kind of like a playbook that they go back to. And they look at, “Well, what were we doing when we’re growing up and what was dad doing?” And be able to look through that and say, “Oh, yeah, my baby’s one. She’s not walking or talking or whatever they do that.” I always have to look back at the ages. I don’t remember how old they were, but they can go back and look through these and see where they were at those stages in their own lives and how I was reacting in those stages of their lives.
Casey Weade That’s what I was telling my wife one of the things I was most excited about was the timeline feature, right? I mean, you’re able to go back and see what’s happening at specific times and your child’s life or your grand child’s life and I think, I mean, if I had that for myself, or if I had that for my parents, that’d be so cool to just kind of put them side by side and say, okay, they’re exactly 18 months old or this is their second birthday. Did they eat the cake or they scream the whole time?
Ken Wimberly: Yeah. So, that’s the cool thing. We created that timeline feature to kind of be like the modern-day growth chart because like when we’re growing up, our parents kind of marked our height on the closet wall right there. And they’d write the age and how tall we were and this is the equivalent of that, because now you can choose whatever event is a milestone. And so, my three-year-old right now, it’s so cool. His first event is the sonogram six months before he was born. We got a sonogram in there and the next event is the day he was born. And then he rolled over and then starts crawling, and we got this beautiful visual timeline and it tells me how old he was at each of those stages in his life because the system automatically calculates that based on the date of birth.
Casey Weade Well, I really liked how you integrated it with the whole family too. Now, you can upgrade to get the family package where I’m telling my wife this and she’s going to tell her how excited I am. This is going to be so much fun because right now we’ve got grandma and grandpa on both sides. They’re shooting their video, they’re taking notes, and it’s a lot of stuff. You could get totally lost if they’re not putting it all in one place, or it’s just going to be a mess to aggregate and get organized. And now we can give them all access to the same place. So, every time they’re shooting video or writing something down, it’s all going to the same timeline.
Ken Wimberly: Yes, I love that and you’re exactly right and things can and do get lost. I give you an example of my 15-year-old son when he was like three or four years old. He left me some of the sweetest voicemails, and they’re just this little angelic four-year-old voice and, “Oh, Daddy, I love you and I can’t wait to do this and that,” and I saved them forever until they were gone and I don’t know where they went or how they were gone between phone upgrades or whatever, they were gone. So, now we have a place where that can all be saved and not become just noise out there and not get lost.
Casey Weade Well, and one of the things my wife said, she goes, “Well that sounds like a lot of work. It’s like, “Well, we’ve got to take video. We take phone. We take voice notes.” And again, all these different things that we can do, but it’s like you don’t necessarily have to do it but I think to most it is going to seem like quite a time commitment to do all this document.
Ken Wimberly: So, I’ll tell you when I first started doing this almost 16 years ago, it kind of when I started thinking about it. I was like that sounded like a lot of work and what made me feel like, you know what, I can live with that was I made a commitment to just write once per month. Write an entry per month per child. It’s like, “You know what, I can write an entry per month. It could me take me 15, 20 minutes.” I can commit to 15 or 20 minutes to slow down and write down some of those memories that had occurred in once a month. And so, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve averaged once per month over the last 16 years and that adds up to a whole lot. Now, I’m writing more frequently. Just a good time. So, I’m waiting, my kids are older. I don’t want to capture all these memories, but I know that they’re going to be gone soon. And so, just think once a month over 18 years, that’s a lot that you’ve documented during that time frame and it becomes a really beautiful effort and beautiful result that you end up capturing.
Casey Weade Well, one of my concerns with this, we were so attached with smartphones today and I see parents all the time that are on their phone taking video the entire time during say the first birthday or the second birthday. They’re not necessarily experiencing it themselves. How do you think, how do you ensure that the documentation that we’re doing doesn’t take away from the experience that we’re having with our children while we’re actually here?
Ken Wimberly: Well, it should never supplant that thing. The experience is what life is about. It’s the connection and the connectivity and the experience. And so, yeah, it should never take over that and how I’ve done it is I’ll usually go back a day or two or a week or two later, knowing that, “I want to remember it.” Sometimes I’ll write down and I need to journal about this thing, right? Because something happened, it was super funny or a picture we took and I’ll write a little note journal about this. And I’ll go back a week or two later and then I’ll just recall those experiences and it’s really cool because when I’m sitting there to just a quiet time for me and go back and relive those memories and then take the time to write down those memories and then what it meant to me. And that’s the super special thing that I feel like as I’m writing down the impact that it had on me as their dad, the experience that I had with them.
Casey Weade Well, I can’t imagine. I mean, we’ve interviewed people about gratitude. This is my theme for this year for doing this. This was gratitude. And we had Israel on previously talking about gratitude and writing thank you cards and I’ve got to imagine if you’re sitting down and you are reliving that experience, you’re jotting down what it was like, there’s got to be a high-level gratitude that’s being created and it’s got to be life-changing for you as you go through this process. I know you had mentioned that your grandmother had kind of jumped started this from I think it was your grandmother, your mother.
Ken Wimberly: My stepmother.
Casey Weade Your stepmother and kind of jumpstarted this for you and it could have been a grandmother for that matter that left this gift behind it. Tell us about the impact that it had on you and what she did.
Ken Wimberly: Sure. I think it was my 30th birthday that my stepmother for my birthday gift gave me a scrapbook of 30 years of my life and I have it to this day. It’s a beautiful leather-bound scrapbook. Opened it up, the first picture is my baby picture on it and then it’s just a summary of my life where she had pictures from she probably entered in my life. I was three or four years old when my stepmom had entered into my life but there are some pictures from family vacations we had taken and camping trips and she had like handwritten notes in the margins telling the stories of what she remembered and what was important to her about that and recalling the jokes that we told, the flat tire that we got or the time she hooked me in the arm with a fishing hook. But it was all those little stories. It was such a beautiful recollection of my life. And it was, “Oh, she even had like news articles from when I was in the paper for different stuff and she had saved all those things and then wrote about what it meant to her and how proud she was. It was hands down the most wonderful gift I’ve ever received.
We lost her to cancer a number of years later, and she’s no longer with us. And this is a living testament to her love and her you taking the time to do that and it was a beautiful thing. I’m so thankful that she gave that to me.
Casey Weade Yeah. Well, she was here to deliver it to you. And maybe nobody knew that she was doing this all along. We only know what could have happened if she never had the opportunity to hand that to you. And now you’ve got this stuff being recorded in an app. But what if you’re also doing that in secret? I mean, how do you ensure that the work that you’ve been putting in all along, how do you ensure that that actually gets delivered if something happens to you before you’re able to deliver it yourself?
Ken Wimberly: Sure. Well, number one, you can tell someone about it, your spouse or someone that you’re doing that, that’s one thing. This has got to be designed. We have to figure out exactly how to make it work. But what is in our roadmap is that if someone has in their account settings that if they haven’t logged in or eventually they haven’t logged in in so many days, weeks, months, or a year that it would trigger a series of emails that would go out certainly first to the person that that the account holder right there, the account holder did not respond and you could enter in often the email addresses that the emails would go to, to notify them of the fact that you had this account at Legacy of Love and to give access to the account to some of your loved ones there.
Casey Weade Now, I love that idea. I’ve got a friend that has what he calls a dead man switch set up. So basically, he gets an email every day if he doesn’t confirm the email then they send an e-blast out to all the different recipients with letters that he had written for him including myself.
Ken Wimberly: Wow. So, years ago as I was at a GoAbundance Men’s Meeting and we recorded like death videos. Ten minutes in a dark room with a camera and lights just by yourself to say whatever you wanted to, to your family in the event of your death. And I’ve got this like USB stick in a drawer of mine, so that if I’m ever dead and my family’s digging through it says, “Open in the event of my death.”
Casey Weade Well, I think it’s a pretty neat idea because a lot of these things get lost along the way and a lot of it has just evolved out of technological advances, which some can find intimidating. What if you find yourself and you go, “Well, I’m just not that technologically advanced. I just figured out how to use a whole podcast thing. Now, you want me to get this Legacy of Love app and figure out how to use it.” What would you say to that?
Ken Wimberly: Well, everyone today has one of these, right? So, everyone’s using their little smartphones or tablets, and it’s a pretty simple, a pretty intuitive app to use. And most of us are using apps for whether it’s Google Maps or whatever, all these different apps in our lives. So, I would encourage someone to check us out and try it and use it. If it seems too confusing or too overwhelming, then figure out what that legacy that you’re going to leave whether it’s writing letters, go old school, right? Write a letter, write a letter a month to your kids, your grandkids, and just start saving them and start saving those and save them and have them in a place where they can be found in the event of your death.
Casey Weade My wife has been a little bit better at this than I am. She’s used Facebook as that recorder for her to type messages out to the kids and hopefully they’re recorded forever but I really love this idea and so thanks so much for sharing. I know we’re out of time, but I just want to wrap it up with something that I know about you that is pretty amazing. And that is where you’ve come from, from a fitness perspective.
Ken Wimberly: Yeah.
Casey Weade And, I know now, I mean, we did this whole competition, this fitness competition together as part of Front Row Dads, and I get to watch you work out every single day and you shared what you’re doing and it was just mind-boggling the things you were doing every single day. And I don’t know exactly how old you are today, but…
Ken Wimberly: I’ll be 48 here in a couple of weeks.
Casey Weade So, 48 years old, and you’re hitting fitness pretty darn hard, but it hasn’t always been that way. Tell us where you came from, from a fitness perspective and where you’re at today.
Ken Wimberly: Well, so back in 2012 was probably when as a young man and in the Navy, I was always in pretty good shape. And as I got married and had kids, let myself just get out of shape and living on autopilot. 2012 had this epiphany and looked in the mirror and who are you? It’s not who you’re meant to be. And so, I started getting myself into shape and so I went from I’ll probably say dropped over 50 pounds of weight in a matter of I brought the first 30 pounds within about six months. And the next 20 pounds came off in the next year as I really integrated kind of nutrition into it, and just stayed on a continuous fitness journey. And then in December of this year, I listened to the audible of Living with a SEAL by Jesse Itzler. If you haven’t listened to that, get it. It is one of the most incredible audible books. It’s probably the best audible book I’ve ever listened to. And the story is amazing. Jesse was a great storyteller. He narrates himself. And I listened to that, and I was like, “Whoa, as much as I’m doing and as much as I think I’m doing, I’m playing too small. I need to step it up, especially with my fitness.”
And so, I started a journey this year, and I call it the 365 Fitness Plan and I committed to work out every single day of the year in 2019 and I was going to do just isometric bodyweight exercises so that I can do it anywhere, anytime, no matter what, no excuse about not having a gym or anything and my commitment was to do a certain number of reps per day. And those reps could be push-ups, abs, pull-ups, jumping jacks, squats, lunges, tips, and burpees, right? So, it’s any combination of those and start doing 400 a day back in January. February is up to 500, 600 in March. Now in June, I’m at 900 reps a day. By December, I’ll be at 1,500 reps per day. So, it’s a pretty and I’m doing that plus running 10 miles a week. So, I’ll get at least 500, 600 miles in by the end of this year. And that’s been my journey as well.
Casey Weade Well, you didn’t start by running 10 miles a week doing 400 reps a day and especially I think sometimes we hear that and I go, “I give up,” and I think for you, you didn’t need to listen to the Seal or that that audiobook right away. You needed to start somewhere.
Ken Wimberly: So, it’s funny you say that because I look back in an old blog post I had written in 2012 when I started this fitness kind of journey, and at that time, I was doing sets of 20 push-ups like I was doing great to get five sets of 20 push-ups in right. I was like, “Okay. I got five sets now. I do sets of 15 but back then I was like if I could get 20 push-ups in and get five done in a day, that was a huge thing for me right there. So, now I started like everyone slowly and I started back when before I started moving push-ups into it. I just started with elliptical. I just got on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes a day. And that made a huge impact in my life just moving on the elliptical 30 minutes a day but that started getting me into shape and it got me active. After that, I’m going to start doing some push-ups and some sit-ups. I’ll start with there and then start doing a little bit more it’s an evolution.
Casey Weade Yeah. Well, as you step into retirement, you find yourself with typically a little bit more time for things that can help improve with it whatever aspect it is that maybe you’d like to improve and maybe that’s fitness and it can just start. I just love that it can start so small. I know, for me, I don’t have time to go get an hour workout in the gym, but hey, I can get up and run a half a mile in 10 minutes. So, I’ll just hop up and run a half-mile and the next day it’s three quarters then it’s a full mile then it’s a two-mile run and a five-mile run. It just needs to be progressive, I think.
Ken Wimberly: Yes, it does and consistent. Progressive and I think the consistency is the big thing because so many people will start up and they’ll get out of the gates and I’m so charged up and go so hard and then it’s like they’re all burned out and my gosh, who’s that? Start slow, be consistent, and that’s how I kind of just deal with 400 reps a day, going up to 1,500 reps a day. It’s a small, incremental monthly improvement right there. And the consistency makes all the difference.
Casey Weade Well, Ken, thank you so much for your time today. I know that this app means so much to you, that you had an offer for our fans so that they could get started on it. I mean, I would love it if my parents and my wife’s parents or the grandparents in our lives, if they jump on board and they start using the app along with us. I just think it can just have a huge impact and it’ll be so much fun along the way.
Ken Wimberly: Imagine the ripple effect as tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people start to use this and pass this on for future generations, how much love is passed on and how much knowledge and family history is passed on. So, it’s a beautiful thing. So, it’s a free download, a free app. Anyone can use it forever for free. We have upgraded versions that people can use it or feature laid and then gives you more features that people can use. For anyone that wants any of our upgraded versions, 20% off of any of the deals we have, for using the code, RetireWithPurpose, all together, RetireWithPurpose. You said we’ll put in the show notes here. That’ll give them 20% off or any of our integrated paid plans there.
Casey Weade Awesome.
Ken Wimberly: You know where to find it, LegacyofLove.app.
Casey Weade Well, I’m going to have to get back and call a Family Board Meeting and force them to listen to this first, then we’re going to have a board meeting and then we’re going to go ahead and get that app on everybody’s phone. And we’re going to put together a plan to start using that thing. I’m so excited to do it, and I’m so excited to see where this takes you in the future. Thanks for joining us, Ken.
Ken Wimberly: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.