You might be wondering why exactly we, at BeSababa, thought it would be a good idea to bring a finance professional onto our health and wellness site to talk about self-care. Any finance movie ever (*cough* The Wolf of Wall Street) shows the problem with that concept.
But, just like albino alligators exist, so do financial advisors with fresh perspectives on a mindful lifestyle. We found the most wellness oriented financial advisor to (possibly) ever exist – and we were lucky enough to score an interview with him.
Seth Streeter was not always the self care guru he is today. He went through a range of struggles on his journey to the person he has become, and he is not shy about letting people know what it takes.
Yes, starting a firm that manages over $3 billion dollars in assets, employs over 50 people, and is about more than just money is kind of cool. But, Seth has also traveled the world, started a sustainable non-profit organization, and continues to drive positive change in revolutionary ways.
We had a chance to talk to Seth Streeter and ask him some questions we know college students could use some answers to. Enjoy!
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Tell us a little bit about yourself. Your story.
Sure, I was raised in Fort Collins, Colorado in a farming community. My family ethic was all about working hard. I was a focused student, athlete and a member of student government.
I came to UCSB and got a taste for the beach and palm trees and thought: ‘man what was I doing in that cold country all that time’.
After graduating from UCSB, I started working in LA in financial services. I found that industry serendipitously, I didn’t know that’s what I wanted to do, but I was always an entrepreneur and I found that the way to make my parents happy was having a real job, but to make myself happy I wanted to be my own boss.
After ~7 years in LA, I moved back to Santa Barbara and a few years later I started my company Mission Wealth with a cofounder. I got married, had kids, got the house and was “living the dream” working really hard. And from there I went through a divorce, had health challenges, had normal hurdles that happen to a lot of people and that’s when I kind of woke up to really thinking about what is “purpose”? What is “success”? What is “wealth”?
It was in those personal reflections that I really started to gain more focus and realize that I really wanted to live a well-rounded life. And I really wanted to help other people live a more balanced and meaningful life. That’s kind of my trajectory to where I am now. It’s been a fun journey.
You talk a lot about what it means to redefine wealth as opposed to traditional approaches to wealth management. You talk about 11 dimensions of wealth in your TEDTalk and it’s a deeply defined topic for you. Can you talk a little bit about that? How do you define wealth in your life?
For me, I think that the path to success for a lot of us is a scripted one. We’re taught that if you do well in school, you get into a good college, you’ll get into a good graduate school, you get your education under you, you’re gonna get a good job, if you work harder than the guy/gal next to you then you’ll work your way up the ranks to get a promotion, you’ll become a manager to get the benefits and buy a house.
You know, it’s really a scripted path forward that a lot of us are ingrained with. And I’ll take an extreme example, I was working with someone who was 40 years old, worth hundreds of millions, and from a traditional sense he was truly successful and wealthy.
He had amazing homes, car collections, you name it; yet, he was overweight and couldn’t climb a couple flights of stairs without getting winded, he had to take sleeping pills because he was so stressed and anxious he couldn’t sleep without them. He had grown estranged from his kids because was always working and traveling. He didn’t even have much time for fun.
Yet, he’s worth hundreds of millions. Is he wealthy? He doesn’t have great health, or relationships, he’s anxious and doesn’t sleep well. That extreme example contrasted with some people I’ve met on service trips in places where we’re working with families that have almost nothing from a “wealth” perspective. No home, no 401K, barely have the clothes on their back; yet, a lot of them actually seem content, kind, and wanting to offer what they have.
That kind of contrasting observation made me wake up and say: well wealth isn’t just more money. If I’m in this business only helping people get more money, then I’m not really doing as much of a service to the world as I’d like to. So, that’s when I more broadly started thinking about wealth and the 11 dimensions.
I thought about what the qualities are: family connection, social capital (friendships and community), physical health (how does your body feel and function), what impact are they having (do they have a sense of purpose and contribution with what they do), are they staying curious.
I just wanted to wake up myself to be an example of what I define to be true wealth and I want to be a positive catalyst for others to do the same.
Do you feel like you can act as that “wealth” catalyst by following a career that you’ve developed for yourself over these years?
Yes, I’d say yes; but, I’d say that so many different professionals have the same opportunities. So, most professionals have learned to define themselves by that role of “ok I’m an accountant, I do taxes”, “I’m a financial advisor, I manage assets”.
But, any professional that has exposure to clients for coming to them during these pivotal times in their lives. Any professional has the opportunity to stamp their impact on a client beyond that defined role of “I am what I do”.
Instead, I like to think about it as being a trojan horse, sort of. So, the trojan horse for me as a financial planner is that I can connect with clients, they share openly about their family dynamic, their fears and dreams and I can then use a financial planning conversation as a catalyst to open up into deeper subjects. In my TedTalk, I talk about a lawyer who was miserable as a partner attorney and became much happier as a high school history teacher.
We can all pivot when we can look at our goals more broadly.
How would you talk to somebody in college about redefining wealth in their own lives?
I’d say to try and expose yourself, I didn’t have that. But, I think your generation is really fortunate because you’re gonna be exposed to the ability to do things differently. I would encourage someone to take time to tap into what fuels you.
What life do you love? Where is your highest inspiration? And is that with people, is that doing art, is that writing, is it volunteering? Where do you feel your most lit up and then that space is where you can typically find your highest contribution. The more we give, the more we get.
An exercise that I use is to take four circles overlapping with each other and the top circle is your natural gifts (what you’ve been always good at), the top right circle are your skills (skills that you’ve learned or gained through experience), the bottom left circle is your greatest passion (what would you do if you had all the time and money), the bottom right circle is what the world needs most (a huge trend or need in the world). Where those circles overlap is your inspired life purpose.
If I were younger, I’d be thinking about that intersection and how I can apply that in an internship, with mentors, or anything else.
I’d use informational interviews, too. To just call and talk to companies in a space that interests you to understand how they work. What their impact is, what they do, how they do it, etc. There’s a lot of companies that want to help the next generation and would be open to just sharing to help you guys learn.
If you took a snapshot of your life and looked at the timeline, how has what drives you changed?
I can tell you that broadly, my early motivations were really not to fail. I’m not proud to say that it was my operating system.
It then shifted when I started to have more success. I got into a kind of momentum wave or flywheel that turns. I started to think about more and more accomplishments. It was motivation based, which is external. The accomplishments were external.
Now, rather than those external motivations, I’m focused on internal inspiration. So, I’m wanting to say “what’s coming through me? And how do I express that and share it with the world?”. It’s about internal expression. Another way to think about it is instead of operating for love, I’m operating from love. I want to give myself in whatever way I can to help others.
I’m not afraid to fail anymore because I realized it’s just a path to growth.
When you feel cornered and under pressure, and you need to make a change, what do you do?
Well, each lifequake as they’re called, has a different approach. The first thing I did was learn to say “this is happening for a reason”, just really accepting what happened. I definitely wasn’t happy about my divorce, or the financial crisis, or anything else like that. So, instead of saying “I can’t believe this is happening. Why me?”, I learned to accept and then find the lesson in it.
“What is the growth opportunity through this crisis?”
Trying to grow forward has been my way through adversity. I’m definitely not trying to invite more life quakes into my life, but they will happen.
How do you kind of stay away from letting that mindset turn negative? There might be a danger in that where somebody might say “well it’s gonna happen anyways, so why waste time”.
For starters, nobody is immune to having down times in their lives. My daughter just went to college and I cried a lot in the last few weeks because I’m missing her. It’s been sad seeing her bedroom empty and so I just want to say that feeling down is normal.
It’s what we do with it when we have it that matters. So, if I’m really frustrated at something, I’ll tell myself “ok I’m gonna be pissed off for the rest of this afternoon, because that thing really warrants it”. But then I tell myself “after 5pm I’m done being pissed off and it’s a matter of what’s next”.
Whatever the issue is, it’s understanding that you can put a boundary around your negative response to it. You give yourself that permission to put a boundary on it.
Another way is to say “the downside is where a lot of our best ideas come from”. So, when I’m really down because of something external, I try to just give myself permission to be down and then go outside and be in nature. For me, that’s very therapeutic and soothing. Hiking, walking on the beach, or something to just move my body in nature. I like to listen to positive podcasts or upbeat music.
Just changing your state, instead of staying in my room being miserable and feeling bad for myself can really help you look at what just happened from a different perspective and then start to build your path forward.
Calling a friend, you have go-to friends that are your commiserators and other friends who are your go-to honest friends. Just calling on them to get help is great for me.
How did you find your gifts and how do you think college students can find their own personal gifts?
This is a great place to pull a friend. Ask your closest five friends and say “I don’t know what I’m best at or what I’m supposed to do. How do you see me and how have I shown up for you?”.
Your friends and family can oftentimes see you far better than you can see yourself, so I think a great exercise is to just ask. Let yourself be seen and it may sound corny but your friends may know what you don’t.
I think being able to expose yourself to a lot, because you don’t know if you’ll be great at something unless you give it a try. You don’t know if you’ll be a great climber, or podcast host, or artist unless you try those things.
Take the time in college to try a bunch of things and check out some new things.
Follow the breadcrumbs of curiosity. Show up, expose, stay curious, and that will be your guide.
You talk about conscious financial planning. What does that mean for the younger generation and the future workforce in our society?
Well, our relationships with money in the last 10-15 years has evolved tremendously. Before, money was just about making more of it and success in a job was earning more financial capital. Shoppers were trying to buy the cheapest goods. Investors wanted the highest return without thinking about impact.
So, what’s happened is that all these paradigms have shifted. People now care about how their products are sourced. They want to know about what they’re buying and where it came from. Consumers are actually wanting to know they are buying caring and humane products.
When it comes to investment, people are investing in socially responsible ways. They’re screening out companies that are selling tobacco products, or making nuclear weapons, and they’re screening in companies that are doing good in the world. So investing has changed.
If you even think about jobs, your generation knows how you want to live and work. If you want to travel, or be near a beach, or live in a van, you’ll make it happen. People are working and living the way that they want to live based on more holistic factors. They’re shopping, investing, and saving in ways that are just more evolved than before.
These are all parts of conscious wealth.
Have you seen numerical changes in the returns between social conscious financial investing and investing that is just focused on returns?
Yeah investors used to think that they’d have to sacrifice returns to put on environmental social or governmental screens in investing.
What’s been really incredible is that in recent reviews the social responsibility investing screens have outperformed the traditional investing strategies. A lot of these companies that are doing good in this world are doing well in returns. Just look at what’s evolving out there. It’s not old auto makers that are evolving, it’s the Teslas.
What’s really cool too is that a lot of these public companies are being pressured by their shareholders to adopt more climate friendly practices.
As a founder and employer running a business, what values and principles do you see as crucial for any younger people who’ll be entering the workforce in the next few years?
Some values that were always tried and true, today, are just kind of entry points that are taken for granted.
Integrity should go without saying, we want to assume that you care about integrity.
So, I guess for us we want people who are passionate and really want to serve others and make a difference. Passion and impact focused, resilience and adaptability are also huge because the world is changing so quickly. When someone talks about their personal stories of resilience or adaptability, that’s huge.
I’d also say tech-forward. People want your generation to be tech-forward. Like, I know software applications, I’m a quick learner, I have some experience with coding or the latest social media and tech offerings – that’s gonna be really attractive.
You can teach a lot of skills on the job but you can’t teach passion, their life-long learning appetite. If someone feels like they already have the answers, then they’re not gonna be a good fit.
So, passion, resilience, adaptability, tech-forward and impact-focused.
Those things are gonna help separate you from the herd.
With that in mind, what key piece of advice would you give to your 20-year old self?
I would say, “you’re enough and there’s nothing you have to do to prove it”. Just go into it knowing that you can shine brightly and bravely, express who you are, and dare to be different.
The world doesn’t need more people like everyone else. The world needs people who are willing to show up in new ways and to have fun doing it.
I was always so serious, “I gotta get all A’s, I need to get this job, and whatever” but you can be playful and still be productive. Keep some of that childlike wonder while still going out there to kick ass.
Any parting words?
Yeah, energy really matters. It’s not what you say, it’s how you make people feel. I want to encourage young people to think about the energy that they put off in any situation.
What purpose is worthy of your life? Don’t just do work to do work, don’t just make money to make money, find out what lights you up and go get it.