How to Close Your Wealth Gap with Rob Luna
By Yuresh Shayzer
December 22, 2023
Welcome to the Aww Shift podcast! I'm your host, Anthony Trucks. Our guest today is Rob Luna, the founder of the Wealth Academy. With a remarkable background and a passion for helping individuals turn a modest sum, like 100 bucks, into substantial wealth or create a thriving business, Rob has achieved this for himself and numerous clients. We delved into the genuine approach to building wealth, recognizing money as a facilitator for impact and joy in life. As men of faith, our hearts align to focus on meaningful endeavors. Rob shares actionable insights to set you on the right path. Let's dive into the episode with Rob Luna.
[2:15] Why should I listen to you?
You know, I believe I'm like most people—just an average person out there. Not everyone starts with a silver spoon in their mouth. We're all working towards a point where we can take care of our families. I feel like I come from a position that many people can relate to. I've been fortunate enough to meet some very successful individuals and was thrown into a path early in life where I learned valuable lessons ahead of the curve, putting myself in a position to achieve that at an early age. I think that's information I can share. So, if you're not someone who wants to say, "I wish I knew then what I know now," I can help expedite some of those tough lessons for you.
[3:28] What were some of the initial lessons you learned that steered you toward the current path you're on?
Coming from a modest background where sports led me to college, I landed my first internship at a wealth management firm when I was 20. That's when I started learning from very wealthy individuals about how they built their fortunes. Over 24 years, I noticed a few key things. Firstly, many of them were successful professional athletes. Secondly, they were individuals who reached high levels in corporate America, often in the C-suite. And thirdly, the majority were entrepreneurs. So, I learned early on that to achieve the kind of wealth most people aspire to, you need to find a place in one of those categories.
[4:40] In the context of Dark Work, which serves athletes, executives, and entrepreneurs, what differences do you notice among these groups from your perspective and interactions with them?
I find it interesting because we seem to cater to the same demographic of athletes, entrepreneurs, and C-suite executives, and they all share similar traits. It's about having strict discipline, immense drive, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to reach that next level. Whether you're an athlete, an entrepreneur, or a senior-level executive, that's the kind of commitment it requires. Now, considering the statistics, it's undeniably tough to become a professional athlete, but it's almost equally challenging to climb the ranks to the C-suite or establish a successful entrepreneurial venture. So, while there are some differences, they all seem to have more in common than not. I mentioned earlier that in wealth management, I've worked extensively with both professional athletes and entrepreneurs. Interestingly, every athlete I worked with eventually transitioned into entrepreneurship. They didn't want to leave the NFL or MLB only to work for someone else; they wanted to build something themselves and have control over it.
[7:45] When faced with a setback, like getting hit unexpectedly, what key lesson did you quickly apply to move forward and overcome that challenge?
It boiled down to risk management, understanding the potential outcomes, and identifying possible pitfalls before diving into anything. Going all-in on a single venture can be tempting, and if it works out, it's fantastic. However, the reason many people end up with a bad taste in their mouths in areas like real estate or stock investing is that they often neglect playing defense. The key is to avoid going all-in without considering the risks, getting over-leveraged, or lacking a backup plan. Early on, I learned the importance of having a contingency plan. This involves things like maintaining an emergency fund and taking care of the less glamorous aspects of entrepreneurship. It's about ensuring you have a safety net before venturing out, rather than being a cowboy in business without any safeguards.
[9:15] For someone just starting with a month-to-month business, what type of mentorship should they seek, and how can they build towards the principles you've been discussing?
In the early stages of my career, I found myself in a similar spot, playing the risky game of cold-calling wealthy individuals. However, reality struck when I realized I didn't know anyone in those circles. Starting from scratch and accumulating wealth can feel daunting, and there's a moment when taking risks becomes crucial. But before going all-in, there's a fundamental investment that's often overlooked – investing in oneself. As tempting as it may be to go all out, maxing out credit cards with blind faith, it won't yield success without a prior investment in understanding your value proposition. Knowing your client, and delivering a service or message that truly impacts lives requires a solid foundation. I've experienced success because I invested time and effort in myself, honing my skills and understanding my worth. So, my advice to those starting is to go to school, seek mentors, read books, watch YouTube – and educate yourself. There's no excuse for not being informed in today's world. Don't fall into the trap of thinking a single Instagram story makes you a professional.
[11:35] For those starting a business without much experience, what advice do you offer when they feel stuck and believe they've exhausted all options? How do you guide them through this situation?
Well, as you mentioned, he didn't have much business acumen initially, but he developed it over time. Earlier, we talked about mentorship and education. We're all trying to solve the 'if I only knew then what I know now' challenge. I try to use my educational experience to do a SWOT analysis—looking at operational, financial, and value proposition issues. The great thing about YouTube is you can find almost anything, so there's no excuse not to be educated. Spending time studying profitable businesses, and different structures, and identifying gaps in my game has been crucial. Do I have a complete 365 perspective on how to succeed? There are likely areas I'm still improving today, but the good news is there are many resources, like books, YouTube videos, and podcasts, that people can use to fill the gaps in their knowledge.
[13:40] How do you get people into motion?
The problem is that many attend events and read books but don't take action. I've spoken at five events recently, and it's a common issue. People need to find a way for immediate action. For instance, my undergrad didn't teach me much, but in grad school at 38, having run a business for 10 years, I applied information. Combining info with action is a powerful force. In my book, I suggest starting small—a side hustle. It might not take off, but it can lay the groundwork for future success. My first business failed, but through that, I learned. Even my first wealth management firm faced trials before success. Learning, combined with action, provides immediate feedback. You don't need to start big; begin part-time on weekends or evenings. Just get out there and do something."
[15:50] What specific actions, habits, or nuances contribute to the success that people notice you consistently achieving?
I'm a strong believer in frameworks, Anthony. If I'm doing something, I ensure there's a disciplined framework. Time is precious, especially as success comes. Managing time effectively is crucial. Each day, I start with a note card outlining what I aim to accomplish on my desk. While I may not achieve everything, I check off what I've done. If something is off-course from my purpose, I cut it out of my life. For instance, I don't check my email. Through constant evaluation, daily check-ins, and weekly reviews, I stay accountable. Success, in my view, hinges on four factors: focus, clarity, execution, and accountability. You must know what you want to do—not being a barber selling real estate on the side. Get clear on your focus, whether it's specializing in certain areas or home values. Once you have that clarity, execute with a defined path. Finally, accountability is key. Even as a former Division One athlete, I know that without someone pushing me, I won't do all I need to do. Start with self-accountability, then bring in mentors and a board to hold you accountable. These are the four things that consistently help me level up.
[19:05] What are some of the most close to your heart passionate things that you do daily?
My Wealth Academy, launched after selling my wealth management firm, teaches people to manage their wealth and build businesses. Over 20 years, many sought quick stock tips, but starting from scratch, real estate or the stock market alone won't guarantee wealth. For me, it was building businesses, generating unique cash flow, and creating value for eventual sales. Most people with basic abilities can achieve similar success if given access to the right information. Through my academy and book at an affordable price, I aim to empower people on their financial journey. Seeing entrepreneurs in my academy achieve milestones, like buying their first home, is truly gratifying. While not purely altruistic, witnessing others succeed now excites me more than my wins. Being accountable to myself and seeing others triumph is what energizes me at this stage in my life.
[26:40] When I began, the pre-game pressure pushed me to excel. Where in life do you find that balance of comfort and challenge, motivating you to elevate to the next level?
As I've gained more wealth, I've noticed a shift in what motivates and brings happiness. The best definition I've come across is the correlation between personal growth and happiness. It's crucial for us to keep growing, and areas where we get comfortable often become resistant to change. After selling my firm's managing clients an average of $20 million in investable assets, the initial excitement of big wins faded over time. Reflecting on this, I realized it was time for a change. Selling the firm allowed someone else to step in, and now I've shifted to working with individuals who might not even have $500 to invest. It's a more significant challenge, and that's what excites me. While growing someone from $25 million to $40-50 million is achievable for many, helping someone start from nothing and build a business worth three, five, or 10 million in the next five to 10 years is a more challenging task. This challenge is what motivates me today, and building a team to assist individuals at that level is my current driving force.
[29:13] Stepping away from business, how does your family and life purpose connect to the legacy you want to leave behind when you decide to call it a day?
At the end of the day, my primary identity is as a Christian. It's my mission, whether in church, on this podcast, or working with others. Beyond that, I'm a husband and a father, and I believe my greatest legacy will be the impact I've had on people, starting with my family. As a Christian, I strive daily to become the best version of myself, acknowledging growth opportunities in various aspects of life. Prioritizing spirituality, health, and quality time with my family—being present without distractions—is crucial. With a 16-year-old daughter, I've learned the importance of mental presence, making me a better father today. That's my focus now: being a better Christian, father, and husband, trusting that the rest will fall into place.
[39:17] What promise did God make to the world when he created you?
The promise he made is that he will do everything within his power if you're willing to put in the work to help change your life.
[34:11-34:15] If you don't talk about something, you can't learn about it; and if you don't learn about it, you can't get great at it.
[35:19-35:25] If you're giving something of value, even if it's your time to help somebody, there's a potential for reciprocation in a financial manner. Just give the best of you to the world, and then the rewards will come.
How to connect with Rob Luna