Where do you draw strength when adversity comes your way? How do you face it? In this episode, Michael Lechter and Sharon Lechter share how they draw strength from each other and face adversities together. Sharon shares that real success isn’t the money in your bank account but what you see in front of the mirror. She also takes us back to the power equation from the book, Three Feet from Gold and how the support network helps us in achieving success. If we stand on our power and become the light in the tunnel, always remember that we are not alone. Tune in to this inspiring episode with Michael and Sharon!
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Drawing Strength From Each Other And Facing Adversity Together With Michael And Sharon Lechter
I am truly excited that I get to talk to Sharon Lechter and her husband, Michael Lechter. Sharon, Think and Grow Rich for Women, co-author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, and my memory is not all that great, and I can’t remember all the 14, 15, or 20 books that you have co-authored. Michael teaches entrepreneurship and focuses on IP. Thank you, guys, for being here. I’m really grateful.
We are delighted.
You have a huge focus on financial literacy. As someone who did not grow up with a lot of financial literacy, and as a dad of an eight-year-old who wants to be able to teach it, I want to know, how did you first become interested in even this idea of financial literacy?
I grew up in a very entrepreneurial home. I grew up understanding the importance of buying, building, and creating assets. Traditional education teaches us to be employees and rely on someone else for our money. I did not realize until I was older that I learned something that most people did not learn. When I started seeing businesses fail and people did not understand the essence of building the business appropriately, and other people having trouble with their personal finances, spending more than they earned. I realized I had a gift of knowledge that people needed to have. When our eldest son went to college, got into credit card debt in 1992, and it was when I dedicated the rest of my career to financial literacy and financial education.
What information did he not get that you had?
I taught him all the things that I learned.
He just didn’t listen?
He got to college and was greeted with his tables, free pizza, free t-shirt, and free money. He had credit cards that we didn’t even know he had.
He saw us using credit cards. He didn’t see us paying the bills.
The discharge-at-mom mentality took over.
I’ve got to make it a little personal because I noticed that’s what’s happening with me. He sees us we just use a credit card and he thinks that’s the money. My son doesn’t see the other side. How do we teach that other side as it’s happening? What can I do better as a parent?
Have him sit there while you are paying the bills.
For teenagers, I recommend getting a money-backed credit card so that in essence they have a credit card that’s got $300 on it. They learn that when the money runs out, they can’t use that anymore. They learn how to budget their money.
I love that. What’s amazing to me is that some of these ideas are so simple like having them watch you pay the bills. I have never done that. It’s so simple, but we are not taught and don’t think.
This time of year, right before the holidays, one of the biggest things I talk about is the experience that’s important as a gift, not an expense. Many times, you will buy your kids the stuff that they want like toys and it’s on your credit card. They then get excited on Christmas Day and play for it for two days, and then it gets in the corner gathering dust. You then get the bill in mid-January and they are not even playing with it anymore. It’s a real lesson and it’s something that you can share with them. Rather than that take them to the zoo or do something with them that they will remember.
I want to know the story of the two of you because you are both focused on this entrepreneurial space. You said we are trained to be employees, and often what I witness is one partner is the entrepreneur and the other one is the employee, but you guys both focus on that entrepreneurial space. I want to know, was that a part of the beginning? Were you attracted because of that? How did this evolve?
I don’t know that we knew that. I was attracted to the blue eyes.
He was a practicing attorney when we met. He was there helping other people create their entrepreneurial dreams. It’s something that we both have different spheres of expertise. They overlapped well. When we are mentoring people, we mentor them from every aspect. From the legal side, creation side, and intellectual property side, and with me from the marketing, accounting, and finance. We love working together.
Also, the communication side. We have got a deal. I get 1 word for every 37 of hers.
That sounds fair.
It works. She communicates better than I do.
That’s the gift of gab.
She is the communicator. It’s about the relationship and how it stays so powerful.
It is teamwork. Recognizing areas of strength and playing to the strength.
It isn’t all smooth sailing because I’m the one that’s an entrepreneur and innovator. I want to do things fast and get things done. He wants to make sure everything is covered.
It’s got to be right. You need the right type of foundation for any venture. One piece of that is a good legal foundation. You’ve got to have the right entities and the right agreements. Otherwise, you can get yourself in all sorts of trouble. We were talking about some of the web-based agreements that do everything but take your firstborn son. They are egregious.
In fact, there was an outfit called Mother Jones Son’s Software. This was back years ago, but they were the first ones to recognize the issues. Back then, it was box top or shrink-wrap licenses. They literally had an agreement that had people promising their first born and it was a joke but people were signing that thing or were accepting it without any pushback. It goes to show how people are ignoring the basic foundation of elements like the terms of contracts.
How, as business owners, can we better protect ourselves or as humans?
You’ve got to read the contracts and make sure you know what you are getting into.
You also want to make sure you own what you pay for. One of the biggest things that we talk to people about is nowadays’ world where we have all these outside sources and independent contractors, even taking your picture or doing something in marketing or building a website, if you don’t have a worker hire agreement with them, you don’t own what you pay for.
This is Black Letter Law. If someone who’s not a W-2 employee operating within the scope of their employment creates something for you like a work of authorship, video, photographs, or software, they own it, not you.
It’s a huge issue. When you want to go sell your company, the buyer is going to come in and they are going to want to see that you own everything that you purport to and a lot of times you don’t because you haven’t taken most of the time to do the necessary legal action for a foregoing issue.
You have been in this personal development world since long before I knew there was a personal development world. How has your philosophy changed or maybe it’s the same but what have you seen change over the years? How have you changed?
It’s more accessible now with the internet because when we first did Rich Dad Poor Dad, you had to go to a bookstore to buy the book. Amazon wasn’t on the internet.
The nature of marketing and distribution is totally different now.
We didn’t have the ability to do online courses. That has been a really dramatic change. From the standpoint of a speaker and the people of my genre, some of them weren’t with us anymore, but when we first started our careers, we had to be perfect. We were the teachers. The vulnerability was a no-go for people in a position of teaching and training. The world has changed now and the fact that you have to be authentic. You have to show vulnerability and accessibility. That change is good.
Who are some of your mentors early on?
It’s my father. He early educated me on the idea that if I wanted to do something, I could do anything I wanted to. I just had to put my mind to it. He still is with me all the time because I know that he’s watching from up there. You can have mentors that aren’t here anymore because of the body of work that they left like Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, and the greats that had incredible wisdom as is relative as it was.
I have a thought for that, but I want to hear what about you, Michael? Who were some of the mentors that were important in your life?
Most of my mentors were lawyers that I worked with. I can’t say I was all that well-read in personal development. We taught each other a lot of stuff.
What is it about Napoleon Hill’s work that makes it as relevant now as it was then?
He was a man before his time, which is why he had such difficulties at that time. He was a forward thinker. He had always these predictions. Many years ago, he predicted that we’d pay for gas at the pump, which was ludicrous at the time. There are 100 predictions we had and almost all of them came true. He was a man of vision and he didn’t always apply it for himself, but what he wrote is timeless and as valid as it was when he originally released Think and Grow Rich in 1937.
That’s interesting that you say that about having this wisdom and these visions that he didn’t apply to himself. I see that in a lot of people. They have these amazing stories but then it doesn’t reflect back onto them and what they are doing. Why do you think that is? What do you see?
That’s why he wrote the manuscript of Outwitting the Devil. “I have created Think and Grow Rich, this thesis or term paper for success, and people will read it but not do it for themselves.” That’s because they are held back by fear and lack of self-confidence but primarily fear. Fear paralyzes you. He sat down and wrote Outwitting the Devil, which was locked away for many years, but I had the honor to bring it out.
It talks about how you can turn that fear into fuel and energy to succeed, but you have to be aware of where it came from. It could have been from your early childhood, education, or your parents, and all those things. When you can identify where the fear came from, you can start fueling it away. Learning from your adversities, and your past, controlling your environment, and controlling how you spend your time. Those things that were outlined in Outwitting the Devil have made the world a whole different place for people reading that.
You have shared about your son who left us too early. How did those things change you?
You will never get over it. You are not supposed to outlive your children. We got the phone call and we were here in Vegas at the time. This is us coming back to remember. It was quite some time and you never get over it. I share with people that it threw me into what I called a world of neutrality and living in a state of numbness for a long time.
I thought about retiring and got a lot of pushback from family and friends. I think I even heard him in my ear saying, “Get over a mom. There’s more for you to do.” That’s the message I share with people now. We all have things that stop us in our tracks. It could be a death like in my situation, an illness, a divorce, a financial setback, or bankruptcy, but you have made it. You are still here for a reason. If you can share how you survived, you can help other people going through the same thing.We all have things that stop us in our tracks. But you've made it and are still here. If you can share how you survived, you can help other people going through the same thing. Click To Tweet
It really tests your relationship. You got to be ready to give each other space so that you can deal with it your own way and not expect one person to do it with the other one.
The vast majority of marriages don’t survive. We agreed very differently and we had to respect each other.
Can you share what those differences were?
She wanted to be with her friends, and I wanted to be alone.
When you got the message that you had more to do, what tools did you use to move not past it, but into being able to rededicate yourself to give more? How did you make that shift?
There was a point in time when I was speaking in Europe in front of 1,500 people. I have done my keynote and then they were coming to ask me for some Q&A sessions. They were supposed to ask me, “What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in business?” They asked me, “What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?” There’s only one answer to that. That was the first time I explained to an audience that I had lost my son. When I got off stage, they were over 200 people waiting in line to talk to me. I realized that being vulnerable and sharing that thing can impact people in a positive way.
I’m still a caveman. I’m not comfortable talking about that sort of thing.
I don’t know if it’s appropriate and you don’t have to answer it, but what stops you?
It’s just my nature. I grew up not expressing emotions. That’s something that’s very difficult to change.
This show is a combination of The Mentor Studio and Self-Love Revolution. One of the things in the Self-Love Revolution is teaching people how their worthiness, which you teach, how to connect to emotions, and things like that. Especially, given your background and history, one of the missions of it is that no one ever takes their life. If you look at my mission statement, there are a couple of other things there too, but that’s one of them. You have been in this personal development world for so long, how do we begin to teach people their own self-worth so that they can show up?
I’m going to take you back to the personal success equation that I write about in the book, Three Feet from Gold. It’s the first book I did with the Napoleon Hill Foundation and it’s around the understanding we start with our passion and talent, and most of us stop there because we think we have to do everything on our own. True success comes with the times. A, power of association or surrounding yourself with the right people and the right support network, and then times A, taking action, and then plus F having faith in yourself. F in most cases is fear because people don’t have that confidence.
When we work with people, we always go through this formally because you can all find out where the missing link is. For people that don’t have self-confidence don’t have the right people around them. When you have the right people around you, they won’t let you stay down. They pull you back up. It’s making sure not to try and travel the world alone. What happens is, when we are sad and depressed, we go insular. We put blinders on and look down. We want to turn off the lights. That makes it worse because you spiral. Allowing yourself to have people around you to keep the lights on and keep the communication going helps you through the process.
Who are some of those people in your life?
I have a group of women that we have been in the women’s press organization together for over many years. The day they found out that we got the call that we’d lost our son, I literally had someone with me every single day for weeks.
Do you have a group yourself as well?
I have got friends. It’s not a group like hers.
When you think about what success means, how do you define it?
I have a very definite answer for that because I’m all about money. I teach people a financial education, but true success is not the money in your bank account. It’s how you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror.
When you look in the mirror, what do you think?
A faithful servant.
That’s so beautiful. What do you look in the mirror, Michael, what do you think?
You don’t want to know.
You don’t have to share, but I do want to know. I don’t force people to answer anything.
He sees the cowboy though he wishes that he was 30 years younger.
That’s for sure.
All our grades are earned. What about self-love? What do those words mean to you?
Self-love is something that most people, particularly an A-type driven individual, tend to drive to their own detriment because they don’t take the time to recharge and energize. Many people make a lot of money, billionaires or millionaires, and then they get to the point where their health is so compromised, they can’t enjoy it.
It didn’t do them any good.
Do you have a daily routine or something that keeps you grounded on a daily basis so that you can have the energy and continue to teach this? When you wake up, what happens?
Unlike most people, I do check my email first thing in the morning because he helps tell me if I have any crisis during the day and that helps me focus the rest of my day. I do a lot of reading. He does a regular workout routine, which we were doing together for a while, but I have been a little remiss. I would like to say that I work out every day, but that’s a desire, not actuality.
Are you got to get her back?
I’m going to get her back. That’s the goal.
I travel so much. I don’t believe in making excuses, but it’s something to work with.
The traveling has gotten in the way of getting the routine going again.
How do you maintain energy when you travel?
It’s a gift from God. You make yourself open to, “What am I supposed to do?” Then the energy shows up.
For someone who is going through some difficult time, but they know that there’s more for them to do and to show up in the world, but they don’t know how to turn it around. What’s one thing you would say, “Start here?”
Don’t stay alone. Find somebody who has experienced something similar. They can help you see that there’s more and become that light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t wait for someone else to bring you the light. Stand in your own power and become your own beacon of light, and know that you don’t have to do it alone.Be the light at the end of the tunnel. Don't wait for someone else to bring you the light. Stand in your power. Become your beacon of light, and know that you don't have to do it alone. Click To Tweet
That’s her answer. What’s yours, Michael?
It’s the introspection. You have got to calm the grips.
How do you do it? Do you have a meditation practice? Is it sitting with yourself? What is it?
It’s a combination of meditation and distraction.
Our ranch is a perfect place for people to have that happen because when you go there, it’s so beautiful. It’s in the middle of the Tonto National Forest and you realize that you are a spec. Your problems are tiny compared to the beauty of God’s world. It does help you reflect.
In all the work that you have done and in all the books that both of you have written, what are you most proud of?
That’s like asking who your favorite child is.
I was going to say I was most proud of my kids.
It’s my grandkids.
Different books are perfect for different people. The younger generation, it’s Outwitting the Devil. For women in business, Think and Grow Rich for Women. For people who are going through a transition and are trying to find that next step or who can’t quite get to success, Three Feet from Gold. That’s why there are so many of them because different people need different messages.
With Think and Grow Rich for Women, why is that for women part important as opposed to Think and Grow Rich that we all can use?
The first line of the book says, “Why is the book for women?” I started it that way because most of my career, I resisted writing anything for women because I felt the steps to success were the same for men and women, which I still believe, but we approached them very differently. Our mindsets are backgrounds. The original book, Think and Grow Rich was released in 1937 after several years in production. There were no women in business. There are no female references in the book. The fact is the pathway is the same. I used the same outline, but I looked at each of those steps through the eyes of successful women for each of them. When you read it, if you are a woman, you can say, “I don’t relate to that person at all,” but the next person says, “If she can do it, so can I.” It’s empowering.
That’s powerful. Thank you, guys.
You are very welcome.
I’m truly grateful.
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