Joe Lucey is a Certified Financial Planner and tax expert with almost 30 years of experience advising clients on their current and future finances. For the past 10 years, he’s also been the host of his radio show, Secured Retirement Radio, in Minneapolis. He learned early in his career that virtually no one was offering long-term tax planning advice for everyday individuals, and there are countless Americans in need of actionable advice on how to best reduce taxes while increasing retirement income. Lucey’s mission is to teach people the importance of investing with an active eye on reducing future tax exposure to ensure they can live comfortably and maintain a secure retirement, regardless of income level.
Where did the idea for Secured Retirement Radio come from?
I grew up wanting to go into the financial advisory industry, so I became a CFP®. I started off working for a brokerage firm in 1994. After working in the field for about ten years, I could see a need to bridge the gap between traditional financial planning (which focuses on investments) and more comprehensive, proactive planning/advising for every type of American household. So, in 2005, I decided to try to fill this void by starting my own financial advising firm that specializes in end-to-end, long-term planning, which is how Secured Retirements came to be.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I split my weeks up between “buffer days” and “focus days” (which are Tuesdays and Thursdays) for the business. I’ll meet with existing clients or join other advisers to meet with clients. Friday is also a focus day, but instead of focusing solely on Secured Retirements, I also spend time on my radio show and marketing. Then, I have my buffer days. Mondays I spend a lot of time strategizing the management of the business. Wednesdays I often work on non-client business relationships and logistics, such as vendors and general business overhead.
I make this schedule productive by prioritizing time management coaching. I’ve been following Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach program for many years (which is what introduced me to “focus days” and “buffer days”). Sullivan also teaches about the importance of “free days,” which are the days you reserve for much-needed time off. My company also has a management team that keeps us productive in terms of leadership and departmental meetings to go over structures for the company.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have the worst ADD, so even the smallest idea can take a lot of time to process. I start many projects but cannot finish everything I start. In a sense, this has been a blessing, because it has shown me the importance of relying on my team, who help me accomplish everything I do. This delegation and collaboration is critical and highly-effective as you grow your business, especially in the service sector. With my team, I can bring any idea I have to life!
What’s one trend that excites you?
I get energized when I’m working with others. Because of this, the last twelve months of work, with everything taking place virtually, has been difficult for me to deal with. I miss seeing my clients and coworkers in person. Working in a remote setting just doesn’t excite or invigorate me, so I’m hoping we get to return to some level of normalcy soon.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
For me, with my ADD, my ability to delegate work to my team makes me far more productive. This was especially difficult for me when I first started my business, but has become my go-to practice. I also keep track of everything. I meticulously maintain a day planner, in which I write down three things that I must accomplish in a day – and I actually get them done early in the day. Doing so provides a definite sense of accomplishment, regardless of how busy a day becomes.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to start a good relationship with a trusted banker and build my credit early on, even if it seems like I don’t need those things. That way, when you eventually do need those things, your credit is established and you’re set! I also didn’t realize how much of a challenge it would be to go from working on my own to sharing an office space. When we expanded, we went in without a strong banking relationship and ended up in a lot of debt. However, if I had gone in with a banking relationship established, a lot of this could and would have been avoided.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
While most people agree with me that taxes will continue to rise, I often say that the situation is controllable and can be prepared for – which many people disagree with me on. They say there’s nothing to be done about it. To prove my point and assist my clients, I illustrate the measures that can be taken to protect finances against rising taxes in the future. By proactively paying taxes while those taxes are lower today, a lot of this stress can be avoided in the long term.\
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Take risks and always look for ways to improve. Not only is it okay to fail, but you shouldn’t be afraid to fail. If you aren’t falling down, you aren’t trying hard enough.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Understand that there’s only so much that one person can do. I like to empower other advisers to work, so that they feel confident helping our clients. I’ve been gradually shifting more toward regularly working in groups, rather than working one-on-one, which has helped me manage my time and get more done each day.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I started to expand my office, I didn’t take into account how expensive it would be to move from a shared space. The expansion left me in a lot of debt. I hadn’t first created a solid banking relationship with good credit (see my response above), and this was my first mistake. My business started growing slowly, and I had to take on extra expenses to make up for it. This was how I learned the importance of having banking relationships and financial goals in place prior to entering these situations. We ended up funding our office expansion with credit cards, and we had to focus on paying off that debt rather than boosting our marketing budget. It took time, but over several years, I was able to get out of that situation and make the money back. I learned.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Staff your company with people who are masterful at what they do and complement your personal skill set. If you only hire people who are lower in skill than you, or who have the same exact skill set as you, you’ll always be the hardest worker on staff. For me, it’s always been easy to see new ideas and start new projects, but I’m not great at following through on these projects. So to complement my skills, I hire people who can carry out these projects with ease, which also takes a lot of pressure off of myself. I’m able to concentrate on more big picture ideas, and I can trust the team I’ve built to carry out these ideas.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I was recently on a business trip in Nashville with my wife. There was a band playing at the restaurant (Bar) we went to, and I knew that if they’d played my wife’s favorite song, it’d put a huge smile on her face. So, I went up to them, tipped the band $100 and requested that they play her favorite song. Seeing the smile on my wife’s face made it all worth it.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve shifted from desktop PCs to laptops, and I’ve seen how lifesaving some services (like Microsoft Sharepoint and OneDrive) really are. Before COVID-19 hit, we had a lot of data stored on a server in our office. Then, when people started working from home, we needed other resources and invested in Sharepoint and OneDrive. We were put in a position where we needed to make a lot of changes to our IT, and while this wasn’t natural for me, it’s made work this past year more productive for my whole team.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One of my favorite books is Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. He talks about the importance of company and customer culture. His business model and advice are what I used for Secured Retirements. He emphasizes the importance of taking it one day at a time and of doing one thing every day that makes your life (and everyone else’s lives) a little better. It’s a very encouraging book that’ll make you rethink how you’re running your business and living everyday life. I’d recommend it to everyone!
What is your favorite quote?
“When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.” I love this, because it shows how, sometimes, what you’re doing (or how) isn’t helping you get closer to where you want to be. While this can be difficult to see, and even more difficult to change, it’s important to be able to recognize when the path you’re on isn’t working for you anymore.
- Working as a team will help you accomplish more than you ever will on your own.
- Take risks, because if you don’t, you won’t grow your business – or grow as a person.
- Create strong banking relationships early on, so they are there to help you when you need them most.