I can still feel my brother’s cold hands around my neck, “I am gonna beat you!” and just as I was about to go unconscious, my family ran over and peeled him off. 

That was Christmas day, and just moments after my brother had opened his brand new Accurate fishing reel, which he spent the better half of a year pleading for.

Our father took up deep sea fishing a few years back, and in the beginning we mostly rented equipment, but at one point he purchased a few rigs of his own. I was happy with the rentals, but my brother would die, or kill, for a rig like his.

Few years down the road, and there we are, gathered together on Christmas day, some of us draped down the staircase, others on the couch, brother and me on the floor. 

It was time for the main event, and everyone would have their turn, my brother was up next. He reached over and grabbed a small square box, ripped back the wrapping paper, caught a glimpse of the contents, and before he finished, began to raise it into the air and over his head in excitement!

He finally had a reel of his own, he could tune it the way he wanted, spool it with his line of choice, practice his cast to perfection.

But my brother’s heart wasn’t the only one filled with exhilaration…I too was excited for his gift…and in a few short moments, his dreams would transform into a horrible reality.

Growing up, I was curious about how things work, a huge disadvantage for my parents as most of their electronics became the victim of my curiosity, some made it back in one piece, most periled.

I spent many late nights as a child disassembling radios, TVs, computers, anything with more than one part, I had to know how it worked.

For obvious reasons, my favorite toys were legos, kinnex, things requiring assembly. Later on the interest found itself to small hobbies…racing RC cars was my favorite, because parts often broke, so it was more about repairs and assembly than racing the car.

That curiosity found its way into my grandparents business…around the age of 12, I was asked to help with administrative tasks on the weekends, and even sometimes during the school week. 

It took a few years before I was genuinely interested…It seems the things our parents want and know best for us, we resist the most.

About the age 16 I started to ask questions, some were answered, many were not. So one night I decided to stay late. I worked through the entire 1040 and 540, starting with the simple returns, ending with the most complex. 

I was enamored by the details, everything made sense, it was one big equation, and the goal was to reduce income with deductions so less was subject to the progressive tax tables, which produced the amount of tax one owed.

There’s obviously much more to it, which is why I took my grandparent’s offer to aid them in servicing their 50-year old book of business, I was 18 at the time. 

Taxes were so deeply rooted in finance that I progressed beyond it, but the peak of my interest, and what ultimately moved me into financial advisory, were IRAs, which I discovered while working in above-the-line deductions.

IRAs carried me into personal investments and asset accumulation…I realized I could help clients accumulate assets instead of reducing their liabilities. 

In 2012, I ended up applying and nailing a job with a world renown life insurance company, who shifted gears to retirement planning in the late 1990s when the 401k hit the market. 

The company had a bullpen seating arrangement, the ones you see in the movies. Over hearing the confidence in the voices around me was nerve racking. I remember having to step outside to make my first few calls…but before long, I was a pro. 

Having a knack for the phone and setting appointments, I was approached by several rookies looking for what it takes to find early success. One of those guys was Albert Lee.

Albert was young and astute, complexity came natural to him, and he picked things up quickly. We worked well together, and shared the desire to question and challenge everything.

The peak of our success came from digging deeper into the retirement planning process. Most advisors did their planning with pen and pad…it was antiquated, and those who used software, did so sparingly, and typically just enough to sell.

So we researched and implemented the best retirement planning software we could afford at the time – and it changed everything. We spent hours, literally hundreds, building and assembling plans, each averaged about half a day.

We were not paid by the hour to do this work, but it didn’t matter. We were finding more success reversing the order of how things were done, and we knew it would all come together, if we could provide enough value, people would be willing to pay for it – and they did.

Our success and synergy ignited further conversations around the office, lifting our credibility, and led to several serious discussions with some of the more tenured advisors, one of which was Tim Healy.

Tim was younger than me, and slightly older than Albert, but had more experience than both of us, and several accolades too boot. He started his pursuit 3 years earlier. Tim reinforced team efforts, and helped us understand the importance of culture.

No different than Albert and myself, Tim had a desire for deeper understanding…and he was especially interested in our vision to redefine the order of how things were, and take the steps it would take to move towards it.

I started working on the next biggest issue, our dependencies on deprecating marketing methods, by building an online lead generation system. 

The hardest part about the system is that we knew it would not be approved by the company we worked for…they simply would not have enough oversight, but it really didn’t matter, because we were creating a subculture of people and systems that would change the industry, and we knew we could build and take it elsewhere.

In the third week of January 2016, we approached management with our official letters of resignations, and with unplanned support from Albert, we opened Sunpath Financial in Newport Beach, Ca.

We started the company out of my apartment, spending the first few months filing the articles of incorporation and stitching together the nuances of the business. The first phase of our dream was becoming a reality.

Sunpath has not wavered from its course to question everything, build, grow, and share what we learn. With millions under management, authorship of a retirement book, several well known publications, thousands of online recognitions and followers, hundreds of educational articles and videos, we continue to raise the bar for what it means to be profound at what we pursue.

You might be wondering what became of my brother’s fishing reel…let’s just say it’s not easy for me to admit that I was saved by the grace of a sporting goods company’s late hours and stellar return policy.

The moral of the story is how a young man driven by curiosity, finds success in questioning everything, including the operations of a world renown company and industry, and sets out on his dream to make a difference. 

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