Alts Expo May 2023 Keynote Address

Shawn Meaike opened Alts Expo on May 4 with a keynote address touching on his unique background, and his journey from being an active earner to a passive investor.

Keynote Presenters

Keynote Highlights

  • What “wealthy” means for Shawn.
  • Shawn’s transition from “active” to “passive” investor.
  • Hard lessons learned in the waste management business about being “the biggest bear.”
  • The importance of continuing to generate income actively.
  • Psychological advice for aspiring passive investors.
  • Live Q&A with webinar attendees.

Connect With Family First Life

Keynote Transcript

Jimmy: It’s my honor now to introduce our keynote speaker, Shawn Meaike. Shawn is founder and president of Family First Life, and today he’s here to share his inspirational story and his thoughts on how you can grow your passive income. Shawn Meaike, how you doing? Good to see you.

Shawn: I’m doing good, Jimmy. How are you?

Jimmy: Very good.

Shawn: Good, man.

Jimmy: Well, Shawn, the floor is yours for the next 15 minutes or so, and we’ll try to see if we can get to some live questions with the audience at its conclusion. But I’ll turn it over to you now, Shawn. Thank you so much.

Shawn: Thank you, Jimmy. Thanks for having me, buddy. I appreciate it. Well, first of all, everybody thanks, I appreciate your time as always. I take a step back and I think about the journey I’ve been on, and I think business for me, it’s all been about finding the right mentors. I didn’t have Jimmy, the WealthChannel. I didn’t have something like this.

I’m 50 years old, and a long time ago when I was probably in my 20s, I met an individual who said to me, “You either have to be the smartest or you have to be one of the first to a business opportunity.” And that made sense to me. That made sense to me as far as the strategy behind how do I become wealthy. Now, be clear, wealthy to me was about being able to enjoy my life, enjoy my family, while my money went to work for me. Rich is fine. That’s cool. I’ve made plenty of money. I got into real estate in my 20s. My journey was I wanted to become a passive. I wanted all this passive income. And after about seven, eight years in real estate, I realized I was very good at creating active income. I worked really, really hard to generate money but never wealth. And if I didn’t go to work, my money didn’t go to work for me. So, I transitioned from real estate into life insurance. And I’ve been in life insurance better part of 14 years, and I got into the private equity world about 4 years ago. You know, so when you run a company and you get to a certain scale and size, a lot of times the problem becomes just you need to bring on capital and then you need to find the right partner. I had never sat, Jimmy, with anybody in the private equity world.

I also understood that a lot of us, like I went to a school you’ve never heard of, Eastern Connecticut State University. I went there only to play baseball, and I majored in social work because everybody on my team was a social work major. I was not a business major. A lot of those folks that went that route took a different path than me. Well, in the life insurance business, I started making pretty good money. And then I thought to myself, “All right. If we’re gonna scale this company, we need to bring on a partner.” And I sat in my very first meeting with a private equity company in Boston, Massachusetts four-plus years ago. Beautiful office, phenomenal conference room. And the guy looked at me and said, “What’s the EBITDA of your company?” And I looked him in the eye… Everything that happens today, if you have a question, make sure you get it answered by a professional. Meaning I never pretended to know anything. That’s how you get hurt. I knew there were men and women that were really good at taking people’s money and helping them earn a phenomenal passive income. I just didn’t know any of them but I knew that happened. I saw too many people get wealthy. And I looked this guy in the eye and I said, “What is EBITDA?” And he smiled and he went, “Earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortization.” And I was like, “Well, my business I really don’t have the depreciation amortizati-… It’s, like, my net income.” And we started laughing and he looked at me and he said, “Thank you for asking.” I said, “Why would I ever sit here and pretend to know something I don’t? Wouldn’t that harm me financially? Wouldn’t that harm my family financially?” So, I never even knew what EBITDA was.

And I met with tons of private equity companies and learned that, you know, I could bring on a partner strategically. But I ended up taking about 9, 10 months to find the right partner and to be able to do something with my business, where I brought on capital, but also where I was able to take some chips off the table for me and my family and truly develop a passive income. But at that time, I realized, wait a minute. I need to find people like y’all are gonna hear from today that are professionals at this. The struggle for most people that I meet is we tend to not… You need to ingratiate yourself to mentors from the mentoree, right? People don’t walk down the street and say, “Hey, Tom, let me teach you how to get wealthy.” Now, obviously, this is a business, so we all understand that, but a lot of us truly never achieve wealth because we don’t understand it. As Jimmy alluded to, it seems complicated.

By the way, some of the things that you’ll hear today, they are complicated. But if Jimmy…and I don’t know Jimmy’s athletic background, if Jimmy said to me, “My son’s a really good baseball player,” and I took his son and taught him how to do certain things, Jimmy may not know those things. And I might need to break them down for Jimmy because I might know the game at a different level than Jimmy does. I have a master’s degree in psychology. I understand human behavior, so I can understand certain things that maybe Jimmy already understands or maybe he doesn’t.

You have to take a step back, take a breath. And the reason most people never create wealth is A, they don’t understand it. So, what do we do when something’s different we don’t understand it? We run. We run. And then we tend to run to people that know less than us. And everybody always says, well, you know, like when Jimmy says, “These things are closing.” I’ve gotten into some stuff recently that was closed out. I’m thankful I did. And it wasn’t a sales pitch on there. It was that truly it was closing and I had a period of time, a window to get in. When I started to meet good people in the industry, which y’all are gonna meet people today, I was happy that, like, you don’t have to pay. You’re here and you get all this information, you get to be educated.

But what you have to ask yourself is, “Are you willing to get uncomfortable?” Because the problem for most of us, capitalism works by the way, and the majority of people work really hard for a very small group of people that have created passive income. Like, if you actually are able to create it, you’ll be in the minority. Like, in the vast minority. Most people are not in that place, right? So, at the end of the day, you have to understand who you are and where you are and where you’re going. But most people don’t do it because they’ve never had the education and they’re scared. I, for years, Jimmy, would make 80 grand, 100. I’d put money away and I’d accumulate 300 grand or 400, and I didn’t know what to do with it. And all I ever thought I could do was go ahead and get into other business opportunities where I would generate more wealth. I got in the waste management business. If any of you ever been in the waste management business, congratulations if you killed it. Me, I got in the business and after having this phenomenal business plan and all these dumpsters and all these trucks and I was gonna take over New England, I realized that a few people had complete control of where I could dump everything I picked up. And I learned real quick I wasn’t the biggest bear, right?

In business, that’s an equalizer because it’s hard to compete with really big entities. You know, I’ve just got a life insurance company that does 700, 800 million in paid business a year. We ain’t the biggest bear, but passive income-wise, if you are listening today, you don’t have to be the biggest bear. You can have a certain amount of money, find somebody today or a group of people or multiple people that you trust, right? That the strategy makes some sense to you.

The details, guys, if you’re waiting to understand everything everybody does, you wouldn’t do anything in your daily life because the things that we do are really hard to communicate. I don’t know what makes my car run. I don’t even know how all this technology works here. A lot of the funds I invest in, the guys I work with, the women I work with, the things they advise me to do, I trust their performance. I’m honest about what my strategy is. So, when I sold the insurance company, I was very honest with the people I started working with, what I wanted to accomplish, where I wanted to be, how much I needed to receive on a monthly basis passively. And I also understand that there were some timeframes for me that maybe it wasn’t utopian. Maybe it was like, if I get in here today, I may see money over here. But it was passive income to me. I went from being a guy that didn’t know what EBITDA was, to somebody that’s generated more passive income monthly than I ever thought I’d have passively in a decade, to be honest with you.

And the power of money…and I’m not the guy to explain it to you. The men and women that are gonna come after me, they’ll explain it to you. They’ll do an unbelievable job. I promise you that. But I can tell you that what you have to do is be open-minded because what crushes most of us is why capitalism does work. Somebody’s got to be scared of everything to go ahead and generate income. Somebody’s got to be, let’s say, terrified but concerned. And then when you’re done today, now if you don’t have the money to invest, it doesn’t matter. I’m just being open. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter. Get your information today. Whatever you’re doing actively to generate income, don’t stop. See, as I started generating enough income to try to build my passive, I kept generating income. Me, I was a good income generator for me. And I’ve gotten to a point where passively I don’t need to generate it. I enjoy generating other forms of income but I get to do that on my time.

See, the greatest wealth is being able to say, “I have my phone and wherever I am, I can go ahead and make sure I’m making money.” The greatest wealth is being able to do the things you need to do with your family because you put the time in. Now, a lot of people wanna shortcut it. In the insurance business, there are folks who get their insurance license and in two years they wanna be wealthy. Three, four, five. I’ve been at it 14, 15, I’ve done really, really well. My sweat equity is what created my money to then build a passive income. A lot of people talk about generational income. They have all these phenomenal ideas and grandiose goals.

Start with creating just passive income for you for today. What do you need to do today when you listen to everybody speak today? And I’m gonna listen, so I don’t know the…but I will find people that resonate with me. I will. Whether it’s the way they speak, their personality. You might go, “I love listening to Shawn. He connects with me.” “I don’t like listening to Shawn. He doesn’t connect with me.” That’s fine. I would be weird if everybody liked me or everybody disliked me. I’d be pretty bad if I didn’t have any middle ground, right? But the problem is most folks won’t pursue because of inherent risk. And I’m not remotely qualified to advise you financially. So, I don’t really need a disclaimer to go ahead and say this is… I’m not, not in any way, shape or form, I’ve given you investment advice. But I’m going to give you advice for you psychologically, that when you get all this phenomenal information, you can’t turn to people that know a hell of a lot less than you. Because different scares people. It does. And you hear things like, “If it was that easy, everybody would do it.” Well, what’s the worst possible thing that can happen? Oh, my God, do you really try… I mean, at the end of the day, we need more people to research how to become wealthy passively. Unless people watching TV shows on some guy that did something terrible to a group of people at some point in time.

I do the best I can daily, just as you should, but what’s beautiful about what you’re gonna hear about, and I’ve learned a lot of this lately, is how unbelievably… Like, I told one of the guys that works with the PE company, I was like…that I work with, I should say is closing something. I’m like, “Man, this is like a very highly regulated deal.” And he said, “Don’t you want it to be?” And I was like, “Yeah, I guess I do. It is my money. I work really hard for it.”

So, I’ll leave you with this, I want people to understand that we all have the ability, and I mean every one of us, if you’re willing to do the work, to develop a true passive income for us and our families. And I think what hit me most is I was working 80, 90, 100 hours a week and I had a guy about 30 years my senior, and he said to me, “If you died tomorrow, what income would you be leaving for your kids?” Now, I have life insurance, obviously. I’m involved in life insurance. It’d be weird if I didn’t. But decided, I said, “What comes in, Shawn, every day, every week, every month? What do you have passively so those children and any dependents you have, charities you give back to, or does it all just end like that?” And I never wanted my tombstone or headstone to say, “Good bill payer.” You know, I wanted to generate wealth for me and other people and some other people that didn’t have the ability to do it for themselves. I like to give back. I love to give to places where people genuinely are not in the position we’re in. They have multitudes of things that happen in their lives.

So, I think, you know, you’re in for a phenomenal day. I did a lot of research for the WealthChannel, Jimmy, the folks, they’re great and I just genuinely like them. I mean, I’ll be honest with you, we did a meet few weeks back and I’m like, “I just like these people.” Like, I want to be involved in it. And I think empowering people to understand what they can achieve but don’t let the unknown terrify you. And paralysis by analysis is a real thing. I make intelligent decisions but I don’t find a way to talk myself out of doing anything. I weigh everything. I ask good questions. There’s no stupid question. I have no concern that most of you listening today, watching today, know more about a lot of things than I do. But I will ask questions about everything. And a lot of us are afraid of how we’re going to be perceived as Jimmy so eloquently alluded to when we started.

It’s not as complicated as you make it. I don’t think I need to understand every algorithm or every actuarial scientific piece to life insurance. I need to understand how we make money just like you need to understand how you can develop passive income watching today, connecting with folks. But I’m gonna turn it back over to you, Jimmy. I just appreciate time to share. This is a passion of mine because my life has changed dramatically. And if I’d left this world yesterday, my kids would be set, the place I give back to would be set. And also it’s changed my quality of life immensely but I find a lot of folks like y’all who are educated and professional and could help me.

Jimmy: Well, Shawn, that was tremendous. Thanks so much for joining us today. That’s what wealth is all about at the end of the day is, making sure you take care of your family, you have time to spend with your family, living life on your own terms, right? So, passive income plays a huge role in that. And a lot of the presentations you see today will be focused on that topic of passive income, generating passive income for you and your family.

We got a couple more minutes before our next presentation. Shawn, we do have a question in here from Jason. Jason asks, “Did you set small financial goals and move the goalposts as you achieved them when you started? Or did you swing for the fences and just chase that from the get-go?”

Shawn: Man, it’s a great question, Jason. I definitely set small financial goals. I was always swinging for the fences but I always want… My commitment was I was never gonna go backwards. So, all I was gonna do is every single day I was gonna get myself into a better place. But yeah. I went from wanting to make 100 grand a year, 250, have X amount put away, have X amount set aside passively. But now, I think once I got rolling, Jason, I realized that a lot of the folks that were competing with me, because that’s what you’ll realize. A lot of them aren’t smarter than us. If we can outwork them, we can have a better result. But once you start crushing it, what my thing I see with people psychologically every day is they start doing better than they think they would’ve ever done and they just stop. They just literally stop.

And I got a good buddy of mine who’s done very well and he said, “You’re trying to create a pile of money. To then to try to create passive income, you don’t have to touch your pile anymore.” And a lot of people outspend that passive income because they’re undisciplined. And I think you still have to stay disciplined and most of us live probably better than we need to anyway. So, like, let’s just find a way to have more time.

But I set the smaller goals but when I started hitting the ball to the park, I expect to hit the ball to the park 10 times a day, 100 times a day. And I didn’t think the wealthy people, just because I was raised by a single mom, we had no money. She worked three jobs. Nobody taught me about any of this stuff. I still thought I could sit at those tables and enjoy those things those men and women couldn’t enjoy for their families.

Jimmy: Fantastic. Shawn, we’ve run out of time for you today. We need to get you on here for a longer segment next time. This was great. Very inspirational and great to hear from you and get some of your insights on building passive wealth for your family. Really appreciate your time, Shawn. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Shawn: Thank you. I appreciate y’all.

Jimmy Atkinson
Jimmy Atkinson

Jimmy is co-founder and co-CEO at WealthChannel.