Kevin DeMeritt is a leading expert on topics of market fluctuation, diverse, hard-asset investments, and financial cycles’ responses to geopolitical events. He has honed this experience working in a variety of industries driving large-scale impact at the organizational and client levels. DeMeritt has a knack for turning these experiential insights into the strategic direction that drives value for his clients and companies.
DeMeritt has worked in several financial management capacities. He started his career in international banking at the WFI Corporation. Building upon this experience, in 1997 he founded Lear Capital. Since its founding, Lear Capital has grown to be one of the nation’s largest precious metals companies. Seeking to expand his impact on the wealth management space, in 2008 DeMeritt co-founded Wilshire Finance Partners, a real estate investment fund. This expansion further represents his commitment to creating value for clients wherever they are in their journey to build wealth.
A graduate of the University of Montana, Kevin published the book The Bulls, the Bears and the Bust in 1997 which predicted the 2000 dot-com crash and the rise of commodities. He is now working on updating the book to look at the next 10 years of market evolution and is often asked to speak about topics like international business and the impact of geopolitical events on financial markets.
He is supported in his career by his wife Amanda and his greatest joy in life is his children. Following his daughter’s diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at 18 months old, DeMeritt became a passionate supporter of the Arthritis Foundation and has raised awareness and over $100,000 to fight the disease.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I was working at an international banking company where we would establish and capitalize new banks in different jurisdictions around the world. One of the challenges with banks outside the U.S. is that you are working with different currencies that fluctuate against the U.S. dollar. We would have to account and hedge for those fluctuations. Gold was considered an alternative to the different currencies because it was easier to hedge and because the fluctuations were usually smaller than a particular country’s currency. While researching the gold option, I became very intrigued by the history, stability and potential gold and other precious metals could have for portfolio diversification.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day is a quick 10-minute rundown of the projects we are focused on with the heads of Sales and Marketing. That helps us identify if we are on time with our objectives and lets us know where we may be getting stuck. I believe making this a required part of the day helps everyone communicate where they are, what issues are holding them back and reevaluate timing on projects. And it helps keep the focus on the issues that matter most.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Usually, we as a team or an individual will have an idea they would like to implement. After they have written the idea down, a group will listen and ask questions regarding the viability of the project. If we decided to move forward with the project, we assign people to the project that are accountable for a particular aspect of the project and then follow up with short daily and weekly meetings to make sure the project stays on track and on budget.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The ability to communicate with others around the country and around the world. Communication is critical to moving projects and ideas forward. With new technology, we are able to communicate with a larger group of people or teams who can all share their information with each other in real-time and receive valuable, actionable feedback.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Daily check-ins with the team. I believe proper communication moves the needle on productivity more than any tool. You will know quickly when issues arise and you can praise outstanding performance which lifts and inspires the entire team.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn how to delegate and communicate much more effectively. Whatever you do, learn how to ask for help and not only talk to your peers but listen carefully. Communication is a two-way street. You need to be able to give advice, instructions and constructive criticism, and be able to take it as well.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The same answer that I gave to the advice to my younger self. A lot of people think that a meeting every day is a complete waste of time, even if it’s only 10 minutes long. I would agree with that if meetings don’t have structure and a reason for having them. But if the communication has structure and a reason, then it will really help the entire team keep on the right path and they will feel more a part of the company, not just someone who is receiving a paycheck. If the communication is transparent, then it really builds trust as well. If you communicate often, you can tell people bad news as it happens, and your people will rally around fixing the issue. When people are left in the dark, they make up their own conclusions about what is happening that may not be based on what’s really happening. I was horrible at communication in the beginning and I’m still learning to be better at it every day but I have seen that with constant communication, you get better at it and people appreciate the information and time given to them.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Journaling. I use Panda Planner Venture. With this journal, every quarter you re-write your company vision, core purpose, values, who you serve and what’s important for that quarter. Weekly, you break that down into smaller pieces. Daily you start with writing down the two or three important priorities, any tasks and your schedule. It really helps you think about your business, plan and understand it better. The other aspect I love is that at the start of each day the journal asks to list three things you are grateful for and three things you are excited about. At the end of the day it asks you to write down the day’s wins and how you could improve. It’s amazing how many times you forget what you are truly grateful for or what went right that day. It keeps you focused on the important things that really matter each quarter. When you look back 6-9 months, you can see how much you have accomplished and some of the things that you can change to get better at serving people.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Making sure we hire the right people for our culture and values. I believe people are the biggest asset in business. When you hire the wrong person for a position or the culture, you can really set back the entire company. It’s impossible to hire the right person every time, but we spend a lot of time outlining a detailed description of our jobs and the kinds of skills needed so we are clear about those requirements for us and the prospective hire. Then there’s the culture aspect. We want to know what they think about the core values of our company and how they fit into their own values. If issues arise that could put our company values at risk, we want to know how they would respond. People make a business so I believe you need to have a strategy to hire the best people you can. By spending the time to hire the right people, you can feel confident that your business strategies and goals will be implemented correctly without having to micromanage or worry about the decisions they will make.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I had a partner at my first gold firm, and when I went away on my first vacation in seven years he took all the money out of the account. I had to start my entire business, which I had spent seven years creating, all over again. What got me through that time was concentrating on the positives. I could be my own boss and make all the final decisions. I appreciated the time learning and growing over the previous seven years and tried to concentrate on how to use those skills to grow a stronger business. Ups and downs are going to happen but the way you react to them is more important than what the issues are most of the time.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Artificial intelligence. I would start a consulting company to help businesses understand and implement different forms of artificial intelligence in their businesses. Most business owners don’t understand AI at all. There are so many different aspects to AI, from marketing, customer service, data and chat bots, that can help businesses grow, cut costs and be more efficient, but it is all very confusing and black box. If there were consultants who could look at a business and help owners understand the benefits, costs, time to implement and rewards, I think someone could do very well with a consulting business in this area.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I purchased three physical copies of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss and gave them to my three children. We read them together and they loved it. It’s a great book about all of life’s ups and downs. A few days later some of their friends were reading it and laughing about how it was written, but they all got the point. With so many digital books, it was great to see them flipping actual pages to see what was next in the book.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Basecamp. We use it for project management. It’s very easy to create a project, assign tasks to different people and keep track of progress. I like it because of how simple it is for everyone to understand and use.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish. It teaches you how to scale your business. From the financial aspects of scaling to hiring people, this book is an incredible asset when it comes to growing your business while controlling the quality and your culture. I recommend this book to everyone. It helped me grow a financial business to over $150 million a year in sales.
What is your favorite quote?
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it’s the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill
- Communication is critical to the success of your team and your success as a leader.
- Building a reliable team is key to scaling a business. You can’t do it all yourself.
- Regular check-ins, even a 10-minute daily meeting, ensure that everyone is aligned when it comes to company goals.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.