Josh Null with Gulf Coast Financial Advisors

Josh Null with Gulf Coast Financial Advisors

This week, Marcus sits down with Josh Null. Josh is the owner of Gulf Coast Financial Advisors, a local consultancy firm that provides assistance and advice for financial matters. Listen to this week's episode and hear Josh's story of breaking out of corporate life and finding himself in leadership.

Produced by Blue Fish in Mobile, Alabama

Transcript:

Josh Null: My name is Josh Null. I am the owner of Gulf Coast Financial Advisors.

Marcus Neto: Well, welcome to the podcast, Josh.

Josh Null: Thank you for having me, Marcus.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, absolutely. So, we, I guess we've been Facebook friends for a while, but you know, we've kind of been circling each other quite a bit lately, and so I'm happy to finally get a chance to sit down with you and hear your story. So, to that effect, why don't you tell us the story of Josh: Where are you from? Where'd you go to high school? Did you go to college? Are you married? You know, give us some of your backstory.

Josh Null: I do have a few checklists there, so. I am originally from the foothills of the Ozarks in southeast Missouri, so it's probably going to be a little different than, maybe, some of the other guests you've had on here. I grew up in a county that had a total of 4,000 people in the entire county. So we were pretty rural. I wouldn't say hillbilly, but definitely hill people. And I grew up between a lake, a river, and a swamp around the edge of the Ozarks. And got to live growing up kind of like Mark Twain. Went to school, the area I grew up in was pretty heavily Indian influence, so I lived in Wappapello. I went to school in a town called Puxico, which would have been the Puikai Indian tribe. And basically went there, you know, high school, had a couple of hundred kids in the whole high school, small school.

Josh Null: Probably around 15 or 16 years old was a real major turning point for me. I had made some friends with some young guys that had moved in from Texas and up until that point I had never really looked at life past Wappapello, or Puxico, or anything like that, I just kind of assumed I'd always be there. And I'll never forget, we were on our bikes one day and they said, they said, so what are you going to do? You know, where are you going to college? And where are you going to live after that? And no one had ever asked me that, I was like, "What do you mean?" They said "Well you're not gonna live here." I said, "Yeah!" Josh, you'll be gone, and so will we. And so that was a real, kind of a little, you look back at time, you didn't realize at the time it was a little turning point that from there, I started looking at colleges further and further out. I ended up going to a college about four hours away, it was still in Missouri, but went there, got a scholarship, was able to go to a four year university, I made it a five year university. Met my wife, which you have met.

Josh Null: My first senior year is what I like to call it. And once I figured out a valid excuse to stay another year, so I can be near her, I graduated with an economics degree and a business degree. Took that and moved to the big city, Kansas City. Had not been out of the Ozarks long enough to be totally, you know, fully domesticated, but... So my first job out in Kansas City, I was terrible. I was really, really country. I was really, really still naïve to city ways and I didn't do really well. And to make a long story short about my mid-twenties, I decided that I could either strike out on my own and be a decent entrepreneur, or continue being a terrible employee. And I struck it out on my own.

Marcus Neto: That's a great one, and continue being a horrible employee.

Josh Null: Yeah, I was pretty bad.

Marcus Neto: That is too funny.

Josh Null: Had great bosses, I was just a terrible employee.

Josh Null: I tried. Parking lot, that whole thing, it just lets, I was big on let's make the decision now, and in corporate America that's tough.

Josh Null: You know? You know we-

Marcus Neto: There's all kinds of justifications that have to happen. A vote by committee and all that other stuff-

Josh Null: I think you and I are wired similar where you can imagine I've butted heads a lot. And I thought, "If I'm going to be butting heads, might as well be for my own thing."

Marcus Neto: Yeah, corporate life didn't... I always tell people I'm an agent of change and if I go into a corporate environment, it just doesn't suit me because they're all about keeping homeostasis. They just want a even keel, they may see a slight uptick in growth or something like that, but they're not necessarily poise for explosive growth. And not that BlueFish has seen explosive growth, but I mean, when you're making decisions and changes and stuff like that, that's usually what happens.

Marcus Neto: Okay, so, go back to your high school, college days. Were you a good student, though?

Josh Null: I actually, believe it or not, I was and at the time I thought it was because I was so smart. As you get older, you realize I just had a really nice ability to remember things that I read. I had really good information retention. Not that I'm a dummy, but I thought that at the time that I really had the ability to figure anything out at any time. Throw me in the middle of a situation and I was smart enough to figure way out. And that worked beautifully until 2008. And I had gotten into real estate, I told you, in my mid-twenties I went out on my own.

Josh Null: Well, I went out on my own as a home builder, developer, and a remodeler and this would've been about 2001-ish, so I caught kind of the real estate wave and... By the time 2004, -05, or -06 had rolled along, I had a multi-million dollar company. It had really grown into a monster. And all this did, as you can imagine, this feedback loop just reinforced the fact that I had done well in school, I had gotten a full ride to college, I had done well in college. I had graduated with super cum laude or something like that and it just kind of reinforced that feedback loop. And so what happened in 2008 was, I was truly, truly, truly humbled for the first time in my life. My brains and my work ethic couldn't save me and what I figured out what I lacked was real-world experience and scars. And that's where my life changed for the rest of my life, at that point.

Marcus Neto: Okay, so you just said something and it struck me, so you said "real-world experience and scars," and so when I think of scars, I think of something that necessarily, there's an experience that is probably a failure of some sort that has caused us to learn lessons that we wouldn't learn in other ways.

Marcus Neto: I mean, that's just incredible. I've had a number of these conversations, we're 150 episodes in or something like that, and that has been a theme. Most people don't just start one business and then see rapid success. They start a business and it fails, they learn something from that, and they start another business. And my own story has that in it as well, but it's interesting that you said that, because I've not heard that before. Now, go back, your first job, and I mean like your crap job, like McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, just to give them all a equal... Taco Bell, to give them all a equal playing field. What was your first job and are there any lessons that you still remember from it?

Josh Null: All right, so, one thing to remember is there wasn't a McDonald's within 30 miles of me.

Marcus Neto: Golly, you were out in the sticks.

Josh Null: You go to the middle of nowhere and go another 20 miles west, you would've hit me. You weren't going to find a normal grocery bagging type of job where I grew up. So I was fortunate enough, at the time I didn't realize it, but I was fortunate enough that I had a family that was very small-business entrepreneurially oriented. They were in construction. My dad was an excavating contractor, owned a lumber yard with my uncle. Other uncle built houses. My Aunt built houses. So, I came up in the construction world. So, to answer your first question, my first job was basically laborer for a excavating company and a lumber yard. That's what I started out doing. And it was one of those things where I wish I could go back in time and give that experience to my kids... Because at the time, we didn't really think... How can I say this Marcus? We worked really, really hard, but everybody else did, so it wasn't like we were outliers-

Marcus Neto: It didn't stand out.

Josh Null: Not at all, no. In fact, we felt-

Marcus Neto: It was the expectations.

Josh Null: Honestly, we felt a little lazy. It was kind of sad, because compared to my dad and uncles there was no keeping up. I mean, they were machines. And we were, by the time... I learned how to drive a bucket-loader skid steer before I learned how to drive a car. I was driving a dump truck before I had a license. I was driving backhoes and dozers and things like that and really, I looked like a little kid on those things. But, I learned how... My dad always said, he said, "I don't want you to do this for a living, it's too hard." And I think that's true when you look at the whole scheme of things, but he said "If you learn how to do these things, you'll never starve." And so, as we talked before, I did well in school, so I took that, went on to college... Went to college to get 100% away from that.

Josh Null: I took my dad's words to heart and I did not want to be working like we did. We worked long, long hours: Pouring concrete, digging ditches, you can imagine, right? In the middle of nowhere. And what a lot of people down here in Alabama don't realize is, southeast Missouri and parts up there get just as hot as it does down here, it just doesn't last as long. But you go southeast Missouri in August and you're in a ditch out in the middle of nowhere digging something man, you're hot! Right, so... The point being is: went through all that, started the real estate company, 2008 collapse, all that happened. Guess where I find myself out in 2009? On a excavator, working for a living. Making 20 bucks an hour, trying to save my skin, back with my dad. And I'll never forget, I was down in a ditch with a shovel in my hand, so now I would've been in my mid-thirties at this point, mid- to early-thirties, and I asked my dad, Harold, I said, "What has changed in the last 20 years?" He said, "You know what son, this time I'll tell you if you're doing a good job or not."

Marcus Neto: That's great.

Josh Null: So, that was how that all evolved. You asked for my first job. My first job, Marcus, was really doing anything and everything I possibly could to impress my father, that I actually could do something and could actually hold my own as a man. And it has been, and will always be the rest of my life, the most important job I've ever had in my life.

Marcus Neto: Damn. That's really good. So you talk about owning the construction business-

Josh Null: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Marcus Neto: And learning some lesson through that, and how did you get into financial services, because it's a far cry from digging ditches and-

Josh Null: So, my dad always wanted me to go to college, to get into either retirement planning or insurance or financial services, because he had seen some of his friends in the big city of Poplar Bluff when times had gone tough in the '80s, they had done fine; whereas, the rest of the industry and workers in that area had struggled. Those guys had always done fine. So, in my dad's eyes, and he kind of had a point, he's like "Listen, for whatever reason, it appears to be recession proof. Why don't you give that a try and see if you can't build something with it?" Right?

Marcus Neto: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Josh Null: And so, I went to college. I got an economics degree. That was kind of the idea to get into that and, as I told you earlier, I came out and realized real quick- There's nothing wrong with corporate America. I don't want to paint too broad a brush, there is something to be said for people that are super productive in that environment. I was not. And one thing led to another with me getting back into the real estate and basically drawing on the experience I had and doing those things. All that was fine until it became not fine. And so in 2008, 2009, when I'm basically working in an asphalt crew during the day, running a little bit of excavator, cleaning up and working nights and weekends at Home Depot just to survive, and I've got friends in the insurance industry that are not only doing okay, they kind of seem to be doing fine. Right?

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Josh Null: And I had a friend that had a job, and I went to all my friends... You have a network of people that have known you, maybe through working out. My network was basketball, so I went to my network of basketball guys, and they all knew me as a builder, right? So when I opened up to them and said, "Guys, I'm in bad shape, I need help," it really took a lot of them by surprise. But I end up, I've told this story before, Marcus, I ended up... I did that over a course of a week, I got six job offers... and one of the job offers... And that was just a testament to the relationship I had with those folks.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, I know, it's really cool.

Josh Null: Well, not that it was special, it was just, we had a good relationship.

Josh Null: One of those offers was insurance. Now, it was insurance selling out in the country. A lot of door-to-door, working small towns in Missouri, Arkansas, and a little bit of Tennessee and it was brutal.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's new. Population density is everything when it comes to a job like that because the more people the higher likelihood it is that you're going to actually hit somebody that has a need, right?

Josh Null: Well, it was perfect for me because I got to get back to my roots. I got to talk to people that I talked the same language... Not that I didn't fit in Kansas City. I loved Kansas City, but when you're a country boy you will always be a country boy. There's just certain things you're never going to change. And so the job was perfect at the time because it was extremely fast pace, it paid well, and it allowed me to basically utilize my skills of, I'm a country boy with a little bit of brains, and I can sell a few things, right? And I ended up being, I don't know if the exact term is what they called me this, but I became a Regional Director for that company. And that lasted five years.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. And then made the decision to move to Mobile?

Josh Null: So, I was Regional Director for the company... I was their southern guy. They were an Iowa-based company, so if you were a northern Iowa company, when you got a guy from southeast Missouri-

Marcus Neto: He's your southern guy.

Josh Null: He might as well be from Mississippi for all they know. They lumped us all together south of St. Louis. So I was their southern guy. They tasked me with opening up the southern territory. We were supposed to start with Nashville and kind of work our way down. Long story short, new CEO came in, they had a little bit different vision.

Josh Null: Jen and I had already started the transition of transitioning our family down this way. She said, "Listen, if we're going to go south, let's go south to where we really want to live and let's live somewhere warm near a beach. I told her, "I want to be within driving distance of our families. I don't want to be in certain parts of the United States," no offense, but I didn't want to be on the East or West coast. I said "If you can find something that works between Pensacola and Gulf Port that we can raise a family in, I'm all for it."

Marcus Neto: And hence, Fairhope.

Josh Null: How fast do you think Fairhope-

Marcus Neto: Yeah, exactly.

Josh Null: I mean, it jumped off the page.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, exactly.

Josh Null: Right.

Marcus Neto: You know, that's really cool. And you are now the owner...

Josh Null: I am the full owner. I am 100% independent.

Marcus Neto: And so, how did you end up there.

Josh Null: How did that happen?

Marcus Neto: How did you start the business, yeah?

Josh Null: And to be honest with you Marcus, that was always my dream to begin with. When I started... First time I ever knocked a door selling insurance, I knew that I had an opportunity to rebuild my life, but I knew that that's not what I wanted to do long run. I've always wanted to build my own business.

Josh Null: And I wanted to build something where, for better or worse, I was the boss and for better or worse, I made the decisions in people's best interest. So when I came down to Mobile, I was finishing up the contract, it was a five year contract, at a previous company. I needed to find a job that offered me the ability to do some retirement planning but also allowed me to do some insurance. I went in and interviewed with several life insurance companies that you're familiar with, mutuals. I ended up working with one here locally and it was fine, they trot me a good job with the insurance side, but I never felt like they really-

Marcus Neto: The financial services-

Josh Null: Financial services was not their thing. And in insurance companies that's just not their thing. So, it became pretty obvious about two years ago, for two reasons. One, if I'm going to do financial services, retirement planning, advisory services, I need to do it in a structure where there is zero sales quota. Where I don't get paid any different no matter what the product I put in front of the person. It all is the same, right?

Marcus Neto: Yep.

Josh Null: And two, what led me to you was the old style of marketing for those companies, every year became less and less and less effective. So not only did I want to... When we went independent, not only did we rebrand, not only did we go independent, not only did I go completely on my own, I also completely restructured my marketing presence to where, instead of, no offense to anybody listening, instead of doing postcards, no I'm going to do videos, right?

Marcus Neto: Right.

Josh Null: You know, instead of spending my money on a magazine article, I'm going to spend my money on-

Marcus Neto: Facebook.

Josh Null: YouTube, Google, Facebook, social media. I'm going to put my money where the people are looking.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, absolutely.

Josh Null: And, sounds simple, but you know my business well enough to know that I became an oddball real quick.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, it's not, you know, that industry is... And partly just because of the regulations that surround what you can say and what you can't say about certain products. And so, full disclosure, I worked at New York Life for eight or nine months when I first moved down here and quickly found out that it was just not something for me. But, that industry is just... When you have to put everything through the S-E-C and they're kind of watching over your shoulder, it makes it very difficult. I would argue that there is a way for people that are in that industry to market themselves on social media and not get into hot water. They just have to talk about themselves and about their impact on the community and how they're involved, and the charitable organizations that they're plugged into and stuff like that and they can talk about financial services in a general term without getting into very specifics. But most people don't want to even do that-

Josh Null: Because it's hard.

Marcus Neto: They're just so stuck in old thinking.

Josh Null: Well, to be fair, the law that governs our advertising was written in 1933.

Marcus Neto: Oh God.

Josh Null: Okay, so to be fair, right? That's when it was written, I kid you not, all right; however, and you and I have had this discussion, what I really focused on in the beginning, there was two things that I knew going in and one of them I really agreed with. One is problem with advisors, financial advisors, people in the industry, is they want to get on there and they want to give you a specific recommendation for everybody because they got just the perfect financial product that will solve all your problems, right?

Marcus Neto: Right.

Josh Null: And I don't believe in that and neither does the rules governing out advertising. So, we were in harmony there. I didn't want to be a product pusher salesy guy, right?

Marcus Neto: Right.

Josh Null: The second thing was, and I think I've learned this a little bit from you, is the less I made my marketing about me, the more effective it has been, right?

Marcus Neto: Yep.

Josh Null: And it's really kind of again, these are... You know you get older, you get into your forties, and you start... self-awareness is a beautiful thing. Is it not?

Marcus Neto: Isn't this great?

Josh Null: Right. Especially when you're self aware enough to realize, "Hey, I'm learning self-awareness, here we go."

Marcus Neto: It's a cycle there that-

Josh Null: It is!

Marcus Neto: You can sometimes get stuck in, but yeah, no-

Josh Null: You ever think about conversation you'd have with your 25 year old self?

Marcus Neto: Oh my god. Please!

Josh Null: Would you even be talking the same language?

Marcus Neto: No!

Josh Null: No!

Marcus Neto: There's just... No way, it's like a completely... Anyway... You digress.

Josh Null: Are you the same person? Yes. I've been married 20 some odd years and I have to tell Jen, sometimes, "Baby, I'm not 26 anymore. Yes, my name's the same and I kind of look the same. I'm a different person now." So, the point being on the marketing is one of the ways that we've got around it, or navigated it if you will, and I think we've been somewhat successful, is the fact that we've gone in there, we haven't done specific recommendations, we haven't pushed products, and we've also let our marketing be about other things than just the things we do.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, you've done it the right way. That's the way you should do it anyways, regardless of whether its financial services or anything. Now, if you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?

Josh Null: The one bit of wisdom is this: It depends on how... I think a lot of it... I'm going to give you a multi-part answer quickly as I can-

Marcus Neto: Sure.

Josh Null: I think a lot of-

Marcus Neto: You've got time man, so yeah.

Josh Null: We're doing okay?

Marcus Neto: Yeah, we're good.

Josh Null: All right, so I think a lot of part of the answer is going to depend on what is that person... what have they seen growing up? Because I'm assuming you're talking... If you're saying someone's getting into it they're relatively young, or younger than us maybe, right?

Marcus Neto: Sure.

Josh Null: So-

Marcus Neto: Dammit, I'm still young, don't say that!

Josh Null: Right, well, in the whole scheme of things.

Marcus Neto: Golly.

Josh Null: Are we technically middle-aged yet? I don't really know.

Marcus Neto: Oh God, please people save me.

Josh Null: Well I plan on living for a long time, so I don't... I have clients coming in, you've seen this, our generation comes in and I have to tell the younger guys when they're talking to somebody in their forties, I'm like, "When you talk to them about hanging it up in 15 years, you've lost them immediately, because you need to find out, I don't plan on stopping for a long time." Right? And I don't want some young punk kid telling me I'm a has been at 60 years old.

Marcus Neto: I'm in better shape now than I was when I was in my twenties.

Josh Null: Well, because we do less harmful things to ourselves.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, exactly. Not destroy my body every weekend.

Josh Null: Yeah, right.

Marcus Neto: Anyway, wisdom.

Josh Null: So, wisdom-

Marcus Neto: Come back to wisdom.

Josh Null: If you have been brought up in, at least as blessed as I was, and we're not talking big business, but I was brought up where everybody was their own boss. So for me, it was a really natural progression, and my wife as well. Jen as well. Her parents owned a business. So the advice for us was just "Pick something smart," right? Pick something smart. Pick something that you have a reasonable expectation of knowing, that you've got true ownership of, and that kind of suits your personality, and that is at least profitable. Right? Everybody wants to do these things complete altruistic, a great way to go broke in style is to be 100% altruistic when you first start a business. You've got to have some margin in there, right?

Marcus Neto: Right.

Josh Null: The second would be then, if you've come in the opposite, where your parents did maybe work at a corporate job, or they had steady incomes, now you're talking a whole change. I call it washing the W-2 out of you. And you have got to understand that your buddy that you've been friends with, or maybe you've known him for a few years, and maybe he's 30 or 40 or 50 and he's got a successful business, and you're a little bit jealous of the fact that he's able to do whatever he wants or seems like he can do what he wants when he wants to, and buy the things he wants to and he pays for dinner, things like that.

Josh Null: Man, almost any entrepreneurial story that started out, especially if they started out without family money behind them, there was struggle in the beginning. And the struggle in the beginning is usually what weeds out people that are trying to go out on their own. So, I think that the one piece of advice is that you've got to understand that, unless you are just truly blessed, you're really talented, if you're like the rest of us, it's going to be a rollercoaster in the beginning, and you've got to be mentally prepared for that.

Marcus Neto: I was always told in financial services that the first three years make or break you. If you can make it past three years, then your renewals start to the get to the point where you're actually building a fairly decent base income and then you've got a network of people who are also referring business to you and stuff like that. But, I would even go beyond that and say that in just about any business, like the first three years are very pivotal-

Josh Null: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Marcus Neto: In many different ways. You're figuring out how to position yourself in a market. You're figuring out who your clients are, what the user personas are, as we call them in our industry. You're figuring out what your shortcomings as a leader, and as a entrepreneur are, and how to address those. And you just made a comment about wanting to be altruistic, but at the same time, leaving some margin. Well, the truth is, if a business isn't making money then it's not a business.

Josh Null: Right, it's a hobby. It's a charity.

Marcus Neto: At some level within the first three years you need to figure out, how do I actually do this and make money. And so, it's a difficult road, but you either figure it out or you go back to a corporate job, so... But, anything you're currently working on that you can talk about?

Josh Null: As long as I don't get into anything specific, we're working on a ton of stuff. Hopefully we get some things going that we have conversations about, but we have basically a multi-pronged attack... When I first went out on my own, I had a business plan, I had a marketing plan, and we've kind of seen... It's funny, when I first put that together, Marcus, I thought that plan was going to carry me for two or three years. I realized that plan was really, about a six to nine month plan, and then I would, almost like a caterpillar shedding its skin and turning into a butterfly, I would be forced to move to the next level. So, what we're really trying to do now is create an ecosystem of our beliefs. And what I mean by that is, people here, in my business, you have so many outside forces pushing against what guys and gals like me do. One is, you turn on the TV, you got one guy saying "Well this is the only way to invest your money and this guy over here's stupid," and then 30 seconds later this guy comes on and says "Well if you do what that guy told you, you're stupid. Do my way." So we have that going on. Two, you got distrust-

Marcus Neto: It's clouded in a lot of mystery too, much like our industry is. People don't quite understand it and they don't know who to listen to and so, yeah, they, yeah...

Josh Null: So what we're trying to do is, open that veil. Because that's where it's all going anyway. You know, how is a sausage made? And not do it where it's a mind numbing experience, but there are certain parts of my industry, and the old guard is fighting against us, just like they're fighting against it with marketing. There are certain parts of my industry that are becoming a commodity, they just are. You tell a 25 year old that he literally has no choice but to buy Class A mutual funds through you, he's going to laugh in your face and he's going to go straight to the internet and he's going to buy what he wants, right?

Marcus Neto: I know. Yeah, exactly.

Josh Null: So, what people in my industry have to understand is once we may have been sentinels to this exclusive club, there are no more doors. Not only are the doors open-

Marcus Neto: The internet is the great arbitrer of-

Josh Null: The doors are gone.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, very much so.

Josh Null: So we have intentionally positioned ourselves... I view it... I know you're really heavy into fitness, I position it as more of, we are more like a personal trainer than anything. And what I mean by that is, everybody you meet knows at least some fundamental on how to work out and get into shape and eat right, right?

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Josh Null: But how many people actually do it?

Marcus Neto: Almost none.

Josh Null: All right, and it's the same with money. Everybody knows that if they'll just listen to what their grandma told them about money, they'll probably be fine, but so few people do it. But, what difference does it make when you have somebody that comes in that can maybe show you how to do some exercises, that won't hurt you, maybe show you how to do some exercises that will make you better, maybe help you with your diet, and if nothing else... The biggest thing is accountability and encouragement. And that's what we try to do. It's just accountability and encouragement, and it's being there for the days that you don't want to go to the gym. Hey man, we need to make this decision about your Roth, we need to make this decision about your life insurance-

Marcus Neto: It's actually a great analogy because even with grandma's wisdom, spend less than you make, right?

Josh Null: Yes.

Marcus Neto: And with working out, it's take in less calories than what you actually expend. So, yeah, those analogies are really... That's excellent. So, if you were to look to the business world, and... I got to come up with a better way of asking this question, but who is one person that motivates you from the business world? You see their face on a magazine and you're thinking "That guy has got it going on," I wanna study the way that they do their business, I want to understand their process, I want to understand their way of thinking. Who is that person for you?

Josh Null: Man, that is excellent.

Marcus Neto: All of these questions are just the best questions that you've ever been asked.

Josh Null: Well, as you and I talked, shameless plug here, but I have a radio show over in Fairhope, and I'm usually the one asking the questions-

Marcus Neto: Yeah, so you're in the hot seat today, he's squirming a little bit, folks.

Josh Null: Yeah, you get-

Marcus Neto: Yeah, I think I see a little brow sweat going.

Josh Null: So, from a business standpoint, I would say that, and oh gosh, I want to be careful with this one. I want to be real careful with this one.

Marcus Neto: Why?

Josh Null: You know, in our industry, everybody, whether they want to admit it or not, everybody is chasing Dave Ramsey. Whether they want to admit it or not. And anybody tells you different, if you could have the authority to give people a system and have them 100% buy in and follow whatever you say and that also is profitable for you, everyone-

Marcus Neto: Just like business model that he's put together-

Josh Null: To a certain extent.

Marcus Neto: Communicating information and... Not necessarily his principles.

Josh Null: Right.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, no, I agree with that.

Josh Null: A couple digressions from Dave, I don't mix religion and my business. If you look historically at my line of work, the greatest frauds happen in church. I'm not saying Dave has anything to do with that. I'm just saying... Usually when someone, a lot of times when a group gets snookered it's because someone presented them a product in a church where there was a high degree of trust. So we don't mix that side of it. The other side of it too is I like to have, maybe... I think that with the world changing and the financial business changing as fast as it is, you need to have a lot of humility, because what was true five years ago is not true now. Ten years ago, mutual funds were the thing. I don't know if you realize this or not, but the inflow of mutual funds compared to exchanged trader funds has completely flip flopped over the last five years. It's a sea-change in our industry no one talks about because everything is so entrenched with the things that we do.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, everybody wants to sell what everybody knows because its easy money.

Josh Null: Well, it's hard to learn new things.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Josh Null: It's hard. It's why you see, in our line of work, you see guys marketing them in one segment, and they'll do so by, a lot of times they'll blast the other side of the industry. Like Suzie Warner's a Mormon and annuities, right? Does she really think that all annuities are the devil? I don't know.

Marcus Neto: No, she doesn't.

Josh Null: But it's an easy way to position herself.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Josh Null: On the flip side, you have guys that do the exact opposite. It's hard to learn all facets of the business.

Marcus Neto: Well, and nuance is confusing to people, and they're trying to convince an audience to listen to them, and they know that the audience isn't going to really follow through with doing their own research anyway, so they just speak in absolutes.

Josh Null: Well and that's why I think it's taken me almost ten years and seven different licenses to feel like I actually have a good grasp of all the different... Like when I went independent, I made sure I had a full toolbox of all the financial tools I could possibly get my hands on, right?

Marcus Neto: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Josh Null: Then it became a matter of, when someone has something that needs repaired, do I have the tool for the job? And I don't know if you can necessarily do that when you're limited to one piece of the industry.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Are there any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward?

Josh Null: Well, yours. I hope you don't-

Marcus Neto: Scene. So many lessons for other guests to learn by that answer. So that's it, thank you very much for coming on the podcast today, Josh. It's been great talking with you. No, go ahead.

Josh Null: So plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, is what a wise person once said, so-

Marcus Neto: Yeah, there's some truth in that.

Josh Null: Yeah, so, I say that locally what is kind of neat in the Mobile and Baldwin County area, that is a little bit unique to the area, if you're not originally from here, it may help you see that a little better than actually maybe being from here, is that there is an encouragement in this area to do unique and creative things. That doesn't necessarily exist everywhere else. So when I was looking at going independent and revamping my marketing, I started paying attention to the people locally that were doing things that were always in my feed and they always interested me, whether they were in my line of work or not. And as you and I talked, there was basically about, let's say six to ten names that popped out. And you know them. You and I could sit here and list them, and you were one of them, right?

Marcus Neto: Yeah, absolutely.

Josh Null: So, from a broad sense... I used Dave Ramsey earlier as an example. Dave would just be a big figure in our business. You know, how do you establish a system to where it's just a machine that feeds itself. That's really what he brings to the table. But locally, people like you are really what provided the soup and nuts of how do you actually build a practice in Baldwin County. And then books, Marcus, I have read so many books that we could do a two day podcast on the books that I've read. But, probably the one that had the most impact to me that I read recently was Building Your Storybrand. I can't even remember the author's name.

Marcus Neto: Donald Miller.

Josh Null: Yeah, that was probably the one that... I grew up, you've already heard my story where I was kind of the hero of my story and when I got into the business, I kind of brought that with me and I succeeded simply from just working my butt of and a little bit of talent. Once you get into the relationship side of our industry, if you are coming in and you're the hero, you're the one saving them every time, it doesn't work. Not in the long run. You've got to be a guide. I think it comes back to what we analogized with the financial fitness.

Marcus Neto: By the way man, here's that 20 I owe you for that.

Josh Null: It's authentic.

Marcus Neto: What's the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?

Josh Null: That without family and faith in something, you're screwed.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Because at some point in time it may all be gone, and you need something-

Josh Null: If you're an entrepreneur that pushes any... You know, some people call... I don't mean this any offense... Some people call themselves entrepreneurs, and they have little to no skin in the game. I have people all the time calling me to say, "I got the greatest investment you're ever going to see." I say, "Okay, I got two questions," right? "One, how much of your money's tied up in this investment and two, if it's so great why do you need my money?" I have this conversation all the time, and they always fumble around with it, because you know BlueFish. I know Gulf Coast Financial Advisors. Every last dime I had... And I guarantee you're the same way, went into it.

Marcus Neto: Yep.

Josh Null: Everything.

Marcus Neto: For years and years. A decade or greater.

Josh Null: Right.

Marcus Neto: And it was always kind of interesting to me because... And I don't get it much anymore, and I don't know why this is kind of interesting, actually stop and think about it, but I used to get regular calls from people saying, "Hey, I've got this great idea," And they would want me to execute on the idea for them. They wanted me to be the technical side and buy into it and I don't think there was a single one where I thought "no" or that I felt overly compelled to be a part of because most of the time it was the same exact thought of, "Well, if it's so great then why aren't you mortgaging everything that you have in order to be all in?" Because, quite honestly there have been where I've thought, "It'd be really helpful to have a partner in BlueFish." Somebody that was as invested as I was so that I could bounce ideas off of and stuff like that, but the truth is, after you've invested so much in it, there's just no way-

Josh Null: It's your baby.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, I couldn't do that, so-

Josh Null: It's your baby. You know how it is when you think about your kids and you think about "I could tell my kids, I got one main job: keep y'all alive and safe." Right? "And if anything ever touch that you're gonna see me come out and protect you." Not that you have that level of feeling to your business, but-

Marcus Neto: No, but it's very similar.

Josh Null: It's similar. It's a protection. It's a baby. You want to get it from baby, to toddler, to running. So, the point being is, if you are an entrepreneur that is really putting it out there, there is going to come a time you will guarantee, unless you are just one of the truly talented people... And even they have setbacks that you just don't hear about, but something's going to go sideways. And brother, if you don't have family and some kind of faith... And I don't even necessarily mean faith in God, I mean faith that things are going to work out. If you don't faith in that, and you don't have family that's going to stand behind you... I mean I wouldn't be here, I could list out my in-laws, my dad, my mom, my wife.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, people that circled around you when that crash happened.

Josh Null: Oh, if I ever... I've told you this, if I ever win an award, It's gonna be thank yous. Right? Because I would not be here, I would not have this opportunity to build my dream without the sacrifices of those people. It would not have happened.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. No, that's really good. Now, how do you like to unwind?

Josh Null: Do we unwind?

Marcus Neto: Come on now. I asked the question because yes, you do. When I go to the gym, I'm unwinding.

Josh Null: Yes.

Marcus Neto: When I'm having dinner with friends, I'm unwinding. When I go to the beach, and I sit and stick my feet in the sand, and I've got a cold drink in my cup holder in my, whatever, Chaise Lounge, or whatever it is, I'm unwinding. So, yes, we do unwind.

Josh Null: So, my big unwind was basketball.

Marcus Neto: Until you-

Josh Null: Until I-

Marcus Neto: Tore your-

Josh Null: Exploded my knee.

Marcus Neto: Knee off of-

Josh Null: Yeah, my knee almost fell off my leg. So, basketball is gone. So, what has been, from a family perspective-

Marcus Neto: Which, by the way, just for people's perspective, how tall are you? About 5'9" maybe?

Josh Null: In Jen's heels. All right.

Marcus Neto: In Jen's heels! That's great!

Josh Null: All right, so the people listening to this that know me back from the day, you got to let Marcus know that I could hoop a little bit. They used to call me Ghost, Marcus, back in the day.

Marcus Neto: Okay, Ghost.

Josh Null: I was Ghost.

Marcus Neto: Oh my gosh. So basketball is no longer. So what's-

Josh Null: Basketball is it.

Marcus Neto: Going to replace basketball?

Josh Null: I have played my last competitive basketball. So, no. All jokes aside, basketball absolutely was my release, but really we are outdoor people. To pinpoint it, getting on the boat with my wife and the kids, heading down just on Intracoastal, maybe going to the island, maybe going to Pirates Cove, just getting out in the sun. Man, when I can exhale, that's that moment.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. No, that's really cool. Tell people where they can find you.

Josh Null: Okay. So, you can find me just about everywhere, but probably the easiest is the website is gulfcoastfa.com. F-A stands for financial advisor, gulfcoastfa.com. You can find me all over social media: Gulf Coast Financial Advisors on Facebook, you can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram. We do have, kind of, a YouTube presence; although, with our rules I've got to be real careful with how that all gets out there. Obviously Google, there's things out there with that. Email: josh.null... My last name is N-U-L-L, just like null and void, @gulfcoastfa.com. And y'all can always call the office: 251-327-2124. And I have another announcement on that.

Marcus Neto: Okay, go ahead.

Josh Null: Sorry. We are opening... I can finally say this.

Marcus Neto: See this is why I teed it up for you and you missed it earlier, but go ahead.

Josh Null: Yeah, we are opening up a Pensacola branch.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, very good.

Josh Null: Yes, which is a big deal. It's going to start small. I'm working with another advisor over there that's awesome. He's going to mentor me, and help me get into Pensacola, but we will have a Pensacola branch officially open within a week or two and you'll have contact info there. I think the office number-

Marcus Neto: By the time this goes out, because it'll be... This will go out in the future.

Josh Null: You're listened to in Florida, obviously. So, 850-296-0717-

Marcus Neto: Awesome.

Josh Null: Will be that office line.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Josh Null: Well, One, I want to thank you for the inspiration from afar. I'm not trying to totally stroke you here, but a lot of times... A guy told me this, and maybe you told me this, I've noticed that with the marketing, putting things out there that I feel like I'm putting them out in a conscientious and non-snarky professional, without being glossy way, that I've got a consistent message going out and people, at least to a certain degree, are watching. And what I didn't realize, until I started getting into it is... A lot of them are watching and I don't even know it. Just like with you, I paid attention to you for a year before-

Marcus Neto: I had no idea until you reached out, yeah.

Josh Null: Until I got comfortable reaching out. And so, I guess in closing, one of the things with a lot of things we do this is, there's somebody somewhere, hopefully paying attention, and we're trying to get out a message of "We're regular guys, we got a dream, we're trying to build a business, we're trying to do things in a different way. "I think we have a somewhat different approach as we try to keep more of your money in your pocket than mine and that makes me a little... kind of weird. But that was a practice we wanted to build. Man, we wanted something where, like you and I said, we're going to work for a long, long time, because I want to. And I want my clients that are 20, 30, 40 years from now like, "Man, you set that up."

Marcus Neto: You made the right decisions.

Josh Null: We made the right decisions.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, because it is... You're talking about impacting people's lives in a very intimate way with... You know, I mean... It's money, right?

Josh Null: It's money man! And everybody gets old, and money changes.

Marcus Neto: I'm not going to get old. I don't know what you're talking about.

Josh Null: No, but I mean, when the clients come into my office and they're older and someone has made a decision that has harmed them financially-

Marcus Neto: There's no catching up.

Josh Null: There's no catching up. It's devastating. So the big part of our practice is to get ahead of that.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's awesome.

Marcus Neto: Well Josh, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you.

Josh Null: Thank you Marcus, that was great.

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