Podcast

A Candid Conversation with a Unique Wealth Manager Who Focuses on Impact, Meaning and Purpose

2Q21

An experienced wealth manager joins us to discuss portfolio building, inflation, real estate, but more importantly, his inspiration for helping other professionals achieve financial and family success.

Read The Transcript

Rob Cook is a certified financial planner and wealth manager who also runs the podcast Contenders Wanted. We speak with him about his early career and the experiences that led him to start his unique, inspirational show. Rob helps high-achieving young professionals live up to their full potential and reach financial success, especially for those balancing a family while doing so. Rob is a firm believer that building a strong portfolio and establishing financial success does not necessitate the sacrifice of one’s values, especially faith, family, and health.

We also have an in-depth discussion on real estate’s place in building one’s portfolio, including the benefits offered, and why even larger institutions continually seek opportunities in commercial real estate. We also discuss the phenomenon of asset price inflation, tracing back to when it began, and how investors can protect themselves as the trend shows signs of accelerating. For those looking to build a strong performing, diversified portfolio to support their family and/or lifestyle, Rob offers many valuable insights that will help them achieve those financial goals.

Key Insights

  • Understanding how and why Real Estate is a key component of wealth management, and an important part of building a strong, diversified portfolio
  • How market dynamics affect the behavior of larger institutions, and ultimately drives demand for other alternative investments, including (and especially) real estate
  • How recent asset inflation impacts/should impact investors’ mindset and investment decisions
  • The importance of mindset & habit formation to building a foundation for success
  • The key non-analytical, non-linear component to navigating uncertainty

Guest Bio:

Rob Cook is a CPA and CFP whose mission in life is to help families build real, meaningful legacies. By day he does this by serving clients as their wealth advisor, with specialties in tax planning and wholistic investment management, and by night he is a podcast host for the Contenders Wanted podcast, a show that advocates that you can have incredible success without sacrificing what is most important in life.

Resources:

https://www.contenderswanted.com/

Real Wealth Real Health

Alpha Investing

[email protected]

Podcast Transcript

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Real Wealth, Real Health, the show that empowers you with insights, information, and inspiration to achieve your version of financial wellness. Learn how to balance living a full life today, with planning for the future. This podcast is brought to you by Alpha Investing, a real estate-centric private capital network that provides exclusive investment opportunities to its members. And now, here are your hosts, AdaPia d’Errico and Daniel Cocca.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Real Wealth, Real Health. Our guest today is Rob Cook. Rob is a CPA and CFP whose mission in life is to help families build real meaningful legacies. By day, he does this by serving clients as their wealth advisor with specialties in tax planning and holistic investment management. And by night, he is a podcast host for the Contenders Wanted podcast, a show that advocates that you can have incredible success without sacrificing what is most important in life.

AdaPia d’Errico:

We speak with Rob about his early career and the experiences that led him to start his unique, inspirational show. Rob helps high-achieving young professionals live up to their full potential and reach financial success, especially for those balancing a family while doing so. Rob is a firm believer that building a strong portfolio and establishing financial success does not necessitate the sacrifice of one’s values, especially faith, family, and health.

AdaPia d’Errico:

We also have an in-depth discussion on real estate’s place in building one’s portfolio, including the benefits offered and why larger institutions continually seek opportunities in commercial real estate. We also discuss the phenomenon of asset price inflation tracing back to when it began and how investors can protect themselves as the trends show signs of accelerating. For those looking to build a strong performing diversified portfolio to support their family and/or lifestyle, Rob offers many valuable insights that will help them achieve those financial goals.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Hi, Rob. Welcome to the podcast.

Rob Cook:

Well, thanks, AdaPia. I appreciate it. I appreciate the invitation.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Yeah, it’s so great to have you on. I’m really excited to have this conversation with your background being in financial planning specifically, but really, you’re one of the people I admire so much for the way that you take this that you do with the wealth and the wealth building and the financial foundation, and you live, you role model the application of that to living in your purpose, so I’m really excited. Yeah.

Rob Cook:

Thank you so much.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Yeah, yeah. So, I mean, let’s start with the business stuff. Before we hit record, we were talking about you have such a great vision into the wealth management space. Maybe you could just touch on that really quickly, what you do and how you do it. And then we can talk a little bit about the shifting environment and why the passive income streams are important, why alts are important, and then how you’re using all of this to live your purpose in your everyday life.

Rob Cook:

Yeah, yeah. Happy to. And so for listeners of your show, hi, my name is Rob Cook. I am a CPA and a certified financial planner. I started my career off at one of the largest accounting firms in the world, Ernst & Young, for those who may be familiar with it. And had a great experience there in terms of learning and really getting my hands in everything business and finance related.

Rob Cook:

I was actually one of those that got to do a little bit of audit and a little bit of tax. And I like to tell people, I did everything from your local small business owners up to international athletes and world-class CEOs. It was a great learning experience, but ultimately at the end of the day, I felt like I was always looking backwards. And I wanted to look forwards and be able to help people plan their futures instead of just reporting on what had already happened.

Rob Cook:

And so I made a transition out of public accounting into wealth management. That’s when I got my certified financial planner designation. I also actually got the first level, the CFA, which is a chartered financial analyst, which is the gold standard for asset managers and that traditional wealth management world, just trying to really show that “Hey, I’m really serious about this. I do want to get out of this public accounting and get into it.”

Rob Cook:

And so that’s what I do now. I work in wealth management and then I have a podcast on the side called Contenders Wanted, where I as you put it AdaPia, try and live my higher purpose of my life and apply a lot of the things that I talk about with my clients into my own life. So is there anything in a particular direction we wanted to go to start off this conversation, I guess?

AdaPia d’Errico:

Yeah. I mean, let’s start with the wealth management piece. Let’s start with where you’ve really grounded your purpose through work, which is something that I know is really important to me and what we do at Alpha too, when we talk about we’re investing, we’re bringing great returns to our investors. At the same time, we’re working with great operators and as real estate investors, we have an opportunity to change or affect the way that people live.

AdaPia d’Errico:

So we don’t invest in slumlords is the most basic way to say it, or in senior living. I mean, it’s so important and I don’t think people always see it that way. So you have this perspective into wealth management. And so, let’s start there. Why did you get into it, and why do you think it’s so important?

Rob Cook:

Yeah, great questions. I got into wealth management for really two reasons. Number one, it’s because I want to help people. At the end of the day, finances is one of the most painful stressors in most relationships, in most marriages, in most of our lives to some extent. I mean money, whether or not you’re managing it because you have quite a bit of excess, or you’re just trying to create wealth. Anywhere along that spectrum, it’s a thought, it’s a worry, it’s something that’s always in the back of our minds.

Rob Cook:

And I grew up as a kid always being good with numbers and so I thought, “Hey, this could be a great place for me to be.” Then I wound up loving it. And I love the fact that I can every day go into work and do something where I’m trying to help make someone’s life easier or make someone’s life better in some way. I honestly believe that our families are the most important things in our lives. And if I can do something to make someone’s family relationship easier, maybe I just lighten that load from maybe managing some money for them, or I answer some questions for them to take that worry off their minds, do some research and figure some things out for them or help them get connected with an operator or someone in the space, say they want to invest in real estate. Well, then I’ve made their life better.

Rob Cook:

And I feel like I’ve had a successful day. And so that’s why I really got into this business. Since I got into the business, I’ve been able to sit down and look around. Because of my background as a CPA, and also then growing up in my own family, my grandfather was an entrepreneur and a real estate investor, my family invested heavily in real estate all growing up, I looked around and I said, “Why are you guys only doing stocks and bonds? There’s there’s other stuff out there.”

Rob Cook:

And so it created this natural tension. For me as a younger advisor, trying to grow my book of business and look around and try and help people, I started wanting to talk about these other things and I had to learn to navigate. Like you said, I have this unique perspective within the world of wealth management. I personally feel like to call myself a financial advisor, me personally, I don’t feel like I could say that honestly if I didn’t understand real estate.

Rob Cook:

34% of the wealth in the United States is held in real estate and it might even be higher with the crazy returns that we’ve been seeing in real estate over the course of the last decade. But last I checked, that’s what it was. And I think it is up to me to understand all facets of wealth so that I can serve the families that I try and serve every single day the best way that I can, even if that means that they’re not having me manage money for them. Even if it’s pointing them in the direction of somewhere else, I feel it’s my duty to know those things so that I can help them and help them make the best decisions for their families.

Daniel Cocca:

Yeah. One of the things I think is interesting too is that within that 34% of wealth being held in real estate, the significant majority of that is held by the top 1%. As you look outside of your primary residence, I think below that, it basically rounds to zero as a percent of your portfolio. And the logical conclusion I always draw from that is that there’s limited access to alternatives for most investors, even those who have financial advisors, are not getting access to real estate, to energy, to venture, to private equity, what have you.

Daniel Cocca:

So what are your thoughts? What’s happening as someone who’s on the inside of this space, what’s happening there? How do we explain that?

Rob Cook:

You know, that’s a really good question and I can’t speak for every single firm, but I can speak for myself and what I’m seeing. So what I would say is we are in a world where interest rates have been pushed artificially low for over a decade at this point. Ever since 2008 when the Fed pushed the button saying, “Hey, let’s drop interest rates, make it as cheap as possible. We got to help our economy recover,” they’ve really never been able to come up since then.

Rob Cook:

I think the Fed Funds Rate went up to close to 1% a little bit before COVID, and then it’s dropped ever since then. And it’s been flattened for the next couple of years and they’re anticipating it staying there. But what that has done is it’s created a world in which traditional investments like bonds, let’s say, for example, bonds used to in the 1980s yield you double-digit returns, which for most modern investors, that seems ridiculous. Because we haven’t seen anything close to double-digit returns in close to 20 years.

Rob Cook:

But what that has done is that it has pushed investors to look for yield in other places. It’s made other asset classes more attractive. So for example, one way in which you can see this is back in the early 20 teens. So say 2012 to 2015, I’m from Sacramento, California here. And here in Sacramento, Blackstone came in and bought up 3000 homes in the Sacramento area. For the purposes of packaging them together and creating effectively a private equity offering through single family homes.

Rob Cook:

That asset class traditionally wouldn’t have been considered very lucrative or very promising for a large institution, because the costs are much higher, because they have to manage all the individual homes and the individual contracts. It’s not as easy as a large, commercial piece of property. Well, it became more lucrative because the yields were so low in other places, it became an attractive offering.

Rob Cook:

And you see that across the space here in our investment world. We’re all starved for yield. I can’t tell you how many different conversations I’ve had with other investors here in the area and other places because I have clients in eight separate states now, where they go to buy a piece of real estate and I’m all for real estate as long as it produces a good return, that’s worth your time. And I can’t tell you how many investors I’ve spoken to who go to buy a single-family home, and when we actually run the numbers together, they’re not really getting any return. But all of the sudden they think, “Oh, I’ve got to have something else. I’ve got to find real estate. It gets me good returns. I’m going to go after real estate.”

Rob Cook:

That’s good. Real estate is a good asset class if it’s purchased properly. It’s an interesting time in which we live, that’s for sure. It’s one of those things where unless you are thinking outside of the box in terms of stocks and bonds, you’re not going to see those opportunities out there. There are some options for the traditional investor in terms of these alternative asset classes, because basically anything outside of stocks and bonds is considered alternative in the traditional wealth management space.

Rob Cook:

So there are REITs, real estate investment trusts, which are a way in which you can buy into real estate from a very, very high level, even higher than say, like a syndication model. But it removes you from some of the tax benefits. There’s plus and minuses to everything. You can get access to some energy-type things. But once again, it’s an ETF. It’s a mutual fund. It’s not actual direct investment into those spaces. And most of your traditional wealth advisors, if they’re a very small shop, are likely not going to have access to anything beyond just what’s in that mutual fund or those ETF options.

Rob Cook:

Just because in our industry, we are a highly-regulated industry because of the fact that there have been bad players in the past. And so there’s a lot of rules about due diligence that we need to do to ensure that we’re providing good advice to our clients. And what that does is it makes it cumbersome for us, or sometimes even impossible for us to even recommend outside, alternative options like a syndication or a direct investment into a piece of real estate property. In fact, there’s rules against it. It’s called selling away. We cannot do that unless we have a certain level of due diligence that we’re able to execute on. And a lot of times, it’s just not economically feasible for us to do that.

Daniel Cocca:

Got it. That all makes sense. And so, I’d like to chat a little bit about the current environment and how you advise clients or how you think about building a portfolio. Because everyone is talking about inflation is coming, inflation is coming. When you look at the numbers, inflation has really been here starting in 2009. Quantitative easing, all the capital being pushed into the economy. But we’ve seen at an asset level as opposed to consumer prices. Consumer prices since 2009 have increased sub 2%.

Rob Cook:

Yeah. That’s why the Fed is saying their long-term target now is 2% instead of an annual target.

Daniel Cocca:

Exactly. And so we’re in this environment where we’re seeing record amounts of government spending, and everyone will have their opinions on whether it’s being allocated to the right groups of people. But the reality is, a lot of capital is in the system and is being used to acquire assets. And when you don’t have consumer prices increasing, meaning my spending power doesn’t really change if I take my capital and put it into assets, it just continues that system.

Daniel Cocca:

What’s the thinking there? How do investors think about what’s happened over the last 10 years? What’s likely going to happen over the following 10 years, and how do I think about investing in that environment?

Rob Cook:

That’s a great question. And honestly, I wish I could tell you exactly what to do. Sorry, my crystal ball’s been broken for a long time. I will say when I talk generally with people, inflation is one of those things that for anyone who is in cash or on the bank side of a loan, it’s not a good environment. You want to be invested in real assets.

Rob Cook:

And that’s been the case the last 10 years, to your point. We’ve seen asset inflation through the roof. There’s a reason why the US has outpaced most of the foreign markets over the course of the last decade, just because money has flown to the assets here in the United States over and over and over and over again. Effectively, no matter what amount of money we’re printing from quantitative easing, or literally helicopter money, like we’ve seen most recently here in the pandemic, it’s all gone to asset prices.

Rob Cook:

And so because of that, it’s created this environment where you need to invest in real assets. And there’s really no other way to put it. I talk with retirees a lot of times who are that 68+ range. And the traditional way of thinking was, “Well, you need to have 100 minus your age, and that’s the percentage in which you should have in stocks. No more, everything else should be in bonds.” But the problem with being a bond holder is that if you’re a bond holder, you’re effectively in the position of the bank. You have lent your money.

Rob Cook:

And so in an inflationary environment, you’re on the wrong side of the table. And so we’ve had to have so many different conversations with clients where we talk about this idea that yes, bonds or their equivalents, in whatever form they might come, are necessary in any portfolio for diversification purposes and things like that.

Rob Cook:

However, when it comes to inflation, assets, real assets, whether that’s real estate, stocks, commodities, those are where it’s at. Because when inflation goes up, those prices will go up, period. Whereas bonds might frankly be the exact opposite. If inflation goes up, interest rates are going to go up and bonds are funky in the fact that they’re like an airplane. The two wings of an airplane. One wing is the interest rate, and the other wing is the price.

Rob Cook:

If the interest rates goes up, the price goes down, and vice versa. The interest rates go down, prices go up. That’s why for the last 40 years, bonds have been a pretty safe hedge because interest rates have been slowly dropping. But that wouldn’t be the case if we all of the sudden start to get this consumer price inflation, not just asset price inflation.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Yeah, it sounds like clearly, there’s so much to think about. For those who might not have a financial advisor, I know with my husband, he’s always like, “I don’t get it. I don’t get the point.” Because we invest so much in real estate, but it’s just so… I don’t know the right word to say, but it’s just wonderful that you exist. And you specifically, and you’re able to talk about this and you’re talking about it in terms that people can understand.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Because like we talked about in the beginning, most financial advisors or planners, they won’t touch real estate. And yet, that’s where all the wealth and all the prices have been going and now, there’s this crazy housing market, and there’s a lot to consider. And going back to what you said about why you’re in this space, you’re in this space to help people.

AdaPia d’Errico:

And unless you’re like us, that do this all day, every day, trying to have financial conversations with your significant other, trying to plan for your children’s future, all of this, it’s a requirement to work with professionals. There’s only so much that we can do on our own. So that’s just a long way of saying thank you for doing what you do.

Rob Cook:

Well, thank you for recognizing it. I sometimes feel like when I get in conversations with real estate investors, I’m like a black sheep. They’re looking at me like, “Hey, we don’t like financial advisors.”

AdaPia d’Errico:

Right.

Rob Cook:

And my argument always is, “Okay. Yes. I understand why you don’t, but there is value that we can provide.” Like for example, tax conversations. There’s more to tax than just, “Do I get to take accelerated depreciation this year on my property?” There’s a lot more that goes into it. I like to view it as I try to be my client’s financial quarterback. I want to be their go-to person. I don’t want you to have to know all the rest of the stuff, because you are a real estate investor. You’re really, really good at that, and focus in on that and you’ll get even better at it.

Rob Cook:

Let me make sure that I know everything else that needs to potentially be applicable to you as it pertains to finances and I’ll be your go-to resource and your guide to help you make sure that you don’t step on any potholes inadvertently along the way.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Yeah, that’s amazing. And that’s a great way to think about it as a financial quarterback, because a lot of times, even as real estate investors, we get really focused on our thing. And this is the only thing that I want to invest in.

Rob Cook:

Which you should!

AdaPia d’Errico:

We should.

Rob Cook:

Because you’re really good at it, and it makes you a lot of money.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Yeah, this is true. Yeah, this is true. Exactly. This is true. And I would really love to shift a little bit now and talk about how you apply this model of doing what you do with the wealth, and opening up the concept of wealth, which is really what we talk about here so much, is what wealth means to you. But before we get into that for you personally, I would love to hear about your podcast, why you started it.

AdaPia d’Errico:

And when people go on your LinkedIn profile and we’ll put that in the show notes, you talk about how we feel this responsibility as human beings to become our best. And it always feels like we’re reaching for something and we’re never going to get there. And it feels like a sacrifice, and it feels really confusing to be quite honest. And sometimes, we don’t realize the importance that the financial piece, it brings to our mental wellbeing. I’ll say wealth is a form of self-care, but you say it’s easier than we think. So can you talk about that?

Rob Cook:

Yeah. So I guess I’ll answer some of your initial questions here first. So why did I create Contenders Wanted? So Contenders Wanted is my podcast. And on the show, our tagline is effectively incredible success without sacrificing what’s most important. And for me, that means my faith and my family. I looked around back in 2020, when COVID hit, I was trying to do business development. And suddenly, there was no options. It was we’re all sitting at home. I was working at home on my computer and I couldn’t go out and meet more people.

Rob Cook:

And so part of me started, “Okay, I got to jump into this whole digital marketing space and figure it out.” And so I started doing LinkedIn, which is how we got connected. And as part of that, I also decided to create a podcast. I’d always wanted to, but COVID effectively became the impetus to really kick me in the butt and make it happen. But the reason why I created it around this theme was because I looked around at all the successful people in my life, and all the people out there on the internet who were touting themselves as very, very successful.

Rob Cook:

And I noticed that there were effectively two camps here. There were those people who were… Some people might call them say, the hustle and grind culture, just like work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work all day long, hustle, hustle, hustle. This is all you need, go for your goals to become a billionaire. It’s like, “Okay, that’s great.” And for some people, maybe that’s their route. But then I noticed another group who was a lot quieter, who looked around and recognized, “Hey, finances is a big part of your life and it can impact your happiness, that’s for sure, but it’s not your life. It is a tool to be used in your life.”

Rob Cook:

So learn to use the tool well, and how to get more of those tools, but it’s not the purpose. And I specifically tuned into this when I was a kid. My grandfather, like I mentioned earlier, was a very successful entrepreneur. But for him, all the success that he experienced, and he was very, very successful, very, very young. It was never about the business. It was never about the money. It was never about the real estate.

Rob Cook:

It was about our family. It was about serving other people. And as a kid, he was one of the biggest heroes in my mind because of all of these little things that he did to bless so many other people that no one ever saw except for some of us in the family every once in a while. And so when I created Contenders Wanted, I looked around at guys like say, Grant Cardone. Love the guy in terms of what he preaches, in terms of cashflow and real estate, and helping people be successful from a real estate or a sales perspective. But the guy didn’t get married or have a family until he was in his late 40s.

Rob Cook:

And he didn’t have any kids until he was in his early 50s. And I’m a younger dad with entrepreneurial dreams and desires to provide a wonderful life for my family. I have a four-year-old little girl and I’m early 30s. He can’t relate to me at all. We were just in complete different stages. So I created Contenders Wanted as a means to help those families, those parents who have great desires, who feel this responsibility to create something wonderful for their families.

Rob Cook:

And I wanted to give them the tools to be able to be successful, whether that was through posting content, the podcast, and I’m creating some Masterminds through it. The point is, I want to empower them to be successful because at the end of the day, there are some very simple principles to success. And there’s very simple principles to wealth creation. And if you consistently apply them and act on them, just ridiculous consistency, you will get there, period.

Rob Cook:

But it’s easy to get distracted when you have demands of a family or demands of a group that you’re apart of, in terms of maybe a community or a faith organization. And so you have to learn to balance those things and you have to learn to prioritize and to focus and not get distracted. And that’s easier done when you have a community around you. So that at the end of the day, is why I created Contenders Wanted, and what I try to do in avert way, is live my purpose. Serve people every day. Instead of serving people who are already wealthy like I do through my wealth management job on a day-to-day basis, I try to serve those other families who need it just as much through my podcast.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Oh, that’s amazing. Thank you for that. So inspiring. It’s so inspiring to hear, and you mentioned just here at the end, you’re working with certain clients that have a certain amount of wealth already. I mean, it’s just how it goes right now. With some of this other group that you’re working with, how much of it is financial education and confidence? I feel like the two things go hand-in-hand, the idea of knowledge as power and education breeds confidence to take… We can call it risk or just for some people, it does feel risky to invest in anything. What are you seeing with that work in people? What kind of transformation are you seeing?

Rob Cook:

That’s a great question. I’m seeing it in a few different ways. First and foremost, I designed the podcast like I said, to serve people who were that younger… think of Millennial generation, maybe. The older Millennials who have those desires and dreams, but I’ve found that it’s actually transforming the lives of people who are far outside of that demographic that I was initially aiming at.

Rob Cook:

I’ve had dozens of conversations with people who are my parents’ age, who come up to me, who’ve listened to some episodes and they’re like, “Wow, Rob, I really love XYZ episode. You talked with so-and-so about this, and this tip that they talked about, that’s so insightful. I’d never thought about that.” And that enables them, like you said, to have that confidence, a little education to maybe take that next step. I found that, like you said, knowledge is power. But action also begets power. As we gain a little knowledge, and then take that knowledge and take action, it really makes a big difference, at this point, some opportunities to interact with that specific demographic that I’m trying to serve.

Rob Cook:

Specifically, I’m thinking of one recently where he talks about how the messages that he’s been getting through Contenders Wanted have really given him that ability to take action, to provide a life for his family. He and his wife recently invested in a franchising opportunity because of some of the things that he heard about on the podcast. We don’t talk about investing almost at all. It’s predominantly mindset and specific, actionable things that you can do on a daily basis in terms of habit formation and specific habits to implement that enable you to lay that foundation for later success.

Rob Cook:

But hearing about him taking those things, applying them, and then having the confidence then to go and build a better future for his family, that to me is incredibly fulfilling.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Oh, wow. What a beautiful story. And I’m sure that that gives you… It just fills you with even more motivation to go out and do the same. I know a lot of times whenever any of us-

Rob Cook:

100%.

AdaPia d’Errico:

… we start something like a podcast or a lot of people are doing forward-facing things, or even posting something on social media, there’s maybe this doubt of, “What if nobody’s listening?”

Rob Cook:

And that’s very real, honestly.

AdaPia d’Errico:

“What if no one’s watching, what if no one cares?” And then I feel like, always what I bring it back to, as long as one person heard or it helped one person, then it was worth it.

Rob Cook:

Completely agree. I completely agree. Actually, so I’m a man of faith and I’m not going to be preachy on your podcast by any means, but it is a large part of who I am and why I do what I do. And there’s a scripture that talks about this idea that sometimes we need to have the faith to just move forward. And we talk about faith in a religious context, but faith is a principle that we all apply all the time. Faith is something that you have to have as an investor.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Totally.

Rob Cook:

You have to have faith in the operator. You have to have faith in your due diligence. You have to have faith that the outcome will come that you are anticipating. But sometimes, you have to have the faith to move forward even if nothing is going to work out. And just like putting out content, you have to have faith that even if I put this out and it changes no one’s life, at least maybe it’ll change my life.

Rob Cook:

It’ll make me better. And having the faith to say, “Hey, you know what? It could. It could help somebody.” You never know. And yeah, that’s been incredibly rewarding to see that impact.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Yeah. And I know because when I came on your podcast, we talked about the importance of bringing that sense of faith and it doesn’t have to be spiritual or religion-based-

Rob Cook:

No, no.

AdaPia d’Errico:

… but it’s so interesting what you were saying, faith and underwriting. I thought of Anne. I thought about our underwriting team and like, “Oh yeah, we put a lot…” It’s so true because you’re assessing risk and you’re taking action regardless. Doesn’t have to be real estate, but this is what it’s about. And at a certain point, in real estate we say the pro forma’s always wrong, everything is a projection. You don’t know. There’s controllable factors, non-controllable. So at a certain point, I can relate this into the sponsor, there’s a faith element that this sponsor, this group can pull it off to this minimum that that we’re saying.

AdaPia d’Errico:

And so I love that definition of faith brought into what we do. And I would add on to that and say it’s also faith when you have a sideways market or a downward market, and still being able to take action. But you got to be able to stay steady through that and go back to your why, why did I do this? Why did this make sense? All of that. And so how does that factor in for you?

Rob Cook:

Well, honestly, in my opinion, all investing, it doesn’t matter in what asset class, it doesn’t matter what form, all investment is an act of faith. And whether you’re investing in a coach to make you better, or you’re investing in the S&P 500, either way, you have no assurance of the outcome. In my space, insurance agents will get a really bad rep. I don’t do a lot of insurance, but it does have its place.

Rob Cook:

Even if you buy insurance that’s supposedly transferring all of that risk to the insurance company, you have to have faith that insurance company’s not going to go down. No matter what, there’s no way to get around it. Life is an act of faith in my opinion, whether or not you want to call it due diligence or your comfort level or whatever it might be. You referenced our podcast episode. We talked about this idea of following your gut, your intuition. To do that, you need that tool to be a good investor.

Rob Cook:

But to use that tool of intuition requires the use of faith, period. You can’t do it without it. Because by definition, intuition has no basis necessarily. It could, but most of the time has no basis. And this is a confirmed outcome for the future. It’s your gut.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Yeah. That’s a really good point. Yeah. It’s actually what you said. You have to take action though, at a certain point. And not taking action is also taking action. You’re just not maybe going somewhere with it.

Rob Cook:

That’s a choice.

AdaPia d’Errico:

It’s a choice. And that’s the most powerful mechanism that I think we have as human beings is choosing and sticking to that choice. So yeah, I really appreciate this whole piece of the conversation, because it’s really important. When we talk to investors sometimes, it’s very easy to get caught in the extremely intellectual, analytical side of things. And yet fundamentally, you can rationalize everything, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get it right 100% of the time or that all that rationalization or all those analytics are actually going to work out.

Rob Cook:

Yeah. We have a saying in our industry that if you torture data enough, it’ll tell you whatever you want it to. If you play with those numbers enough, you can eventually get it to say whatever it is that you want it to say. And at the end of the day, you got to do your best and just move forward.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Yeah. That would be like tweaking the assumptions in our model.

Rob Cook:

Exactly. Right.

AdaPia d’Errico:

You could make it say anything you want if you change those assumptions. So that’s a really good point.

Rob Cook:

And you can even debate all day long, “Well, I think this assumption is right” or “No, I think this assumption is right.” And there might be valid arguments for both. At the end of the day, you’ve got to trust your gut and move forward.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Right. Oh, I love it. I love it. All right. Well, Rob, last question. And I’m really looking forward to your perspective on this. Quite simply, what does wealth mean to you?

Rob Cook:

What does wealth mean to me? Well, the first word that popped in my mind was legacy. Legacy is generally a word that people think about at the end of their life. You think in terms of big pile of money left to some charity or to your kids or whatever. But I view legacy as the life I’m living today, so that I can leave something better later.

Rob Cook:

So legacy in my mind is what I’m doing today. And for me therefore, wealth, real wealth is created by living my life the best that I can today, by giving my family my very best. Whether that’s me being present in the moment and giving them my full attention when I’m actually with them, or working really hard to create a financial future for them where we can have more of those tools like I mentioned, to be able to have life experiences, to be able to create memories together, to be able to teach my children certain principles that they just wouldn’t be able to learn otherwise.

Rob Cook:

To me, wealth is not so much the money itself, but it’s the life that you create. It’s the memories that you leave. It is the lessons that outlive you. In my opinion, if when you die, you have billions of dollars, but no one is there next to you and no one cares what happens to you, you weren’t wealthy at all. You were just as poor as the pauper in the street who died all alone as well.

Rob Cook:

There’s no difference. But the man who might not have nearly as much… Actually, one of the greatest men that I ever knew was my wife’s grandfather. He wasn’t a man of very many means. He was a steel foreman in a steel mill for the vast majority of his entire professional life. But in my mind, he was one of the wealthiest men that I ever knew because when he passed away, literally thousands of people came to mourn the loss of this incredible man.

Rob Cook:

He had given so much to so many people, and had blessed the lives of so many people and had a large extended family that were all wonderful people. My wife being part of that family. As I sat at his funeral and his graveside service, I just couldn’t help but think that is wealth, that is legacy. That is a life worth living.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Oh, so beautiful. Oh, so beautiful. Thank you. What an amazing way to end. Such an inspiration, that story. Rob, thank you so much for being with us. And we’re going to put links in the show notes, but just right now, if you want to just tell people really quickly where they can find your podcast and how they could connect with you, if they would like to?

Rob Cook:

Yeah. No, please, come and find us. Contenders Wanted, we’re on all podcast platforms. You can find us at ContendersWanted.com. Sign up for our email newsletter, get notified about any upcoming episodes. And if you want to just get ahold of me, you can email me at [email protected] Pretty simple.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Awesome. All right, Rob. Thank you so much for being with us today. It’s been just such a phenomenal conversation. Thank you so much.

Rob Cook:

Thank you. I appreciate the invitation.

AdaPia d’Errico:

Thanks for tuning into Real Wealth, Real Health. We hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and found it both informative and insightful. We welcome all your questions and your feedback about today’s episode and especially, we welcome your questions about specific topics that you would like us to cover.

AdaPia d’Errico:

So shoot us an email at [email protected] And if you have a moment, we really appreciate ratings and reviews, as it helps us grow our online community and our interactions with you and we’ll also be linking to a number of relevant articles on topics that we might’ve touched on during our conversations. Some of them are broad. Some of them are technical, but we’re always aiming to provide information that helps you better understand the mechanics of building this healthy financial foundation, especially if you’re looking to do this with real estate.