Zachary Threadgill is from Cleburne, Texas. After graduating high school, he put himself through college while working for the local electric utility service. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where he studied accounting and finance and graduated cum laude. Next was law school at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The entrepreneurial-minded Zachary joined with a friend who bought and sold real estate investments during his time in law school. After passing the bar, Threadgill went to work for New York Life Insurance where he consulted on estate and tax planning issues for wealthy clients and while at NYL he became a Certified Financial Planner™. Zachary then switched paths from estate planning to financial planning and went to work for a financial advisor in Dallas. There, he led the efforts to expand the business by opening a new office in Houston. That office was a success. In 2015 Zachary started Threadgill Financial in Spring, Texas, with his brother Adam.
Where did the idea for Threadgill Financial come from?
After brainstorming and weighing a lot of options, we came up with Threadgill Financial. Most of the good names were taken so, we decided to keep it simple.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Most days involve a mixture of reading, looking for investment ideas, updating assumptions about potential investments, dealing with administrative tasks like answering emails and phone calls, and visiting with existing and prospective clients. My favorite parts of the day are learning new things about potential investments and getting to visit with our clients. Clients tend to remain with us for years, so we get to know each other reasonably well. It’s fun to hear about their hobbies, trips, and children and grandchildren.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have failed forward. Try, fail, try, fail… When it is time to do something, we just start doing it and learn as we go.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The internet has moved a lot of people to big investment companies where the client/advisor relationship may not be face-to-face, and the advisor role is often like a rotating door. This dynamic has left an opening for people like us who directly serve our clients and know them on a first name basis. In a way, the internet and technology has left a niche for us to fill.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Waking up early. I am convinced I get more done than most because there is less going on and it is easier to read uninterrupted in the early hours of the day. I also don’t get as many emails at 5am.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Look for people succeeding at what you want to do, learn how they do it, and copy them. I think that simple concept is the most valuable thing I’ve ever learned when applied correctly. That concept is worth more than a college degree, more than a law degree, and it is free.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Growing up without too much financially is an advantage. I think I am more motivated than most because of how I felt about financial stability. We didn’t have it as kids, and I did not want to live like that as an adult. With my step-kids, I think they are at a disadvantage compared to me because they did not have the same experience. They were too well provided for. If I had it to do over again, I would have lived in a poorer area and given them less.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Copy others. For whatever you’re trying to do, ask yourself: Who is really good at this? How are they doing it?
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Direct mail. I get too many emails. You probably do, too. I don’t get as much mail, though. While I still look at the mail over the trash can, I at least glance at it. We have been writing and mailing a monthly newsletter to clients and prospective clients since we began in 2015. We write most of the content ourselves and are able to inject our personality into it. Some people read it and over time get to know us. We have clients who did not come see us in person until after they read the newsletter for several years.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Marketing is expensive in this business. There is a lot of competition. We try a few new marketing methods each year. Most fail. We’ve succeeded through determination and focus.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Look into Medicare Supplement sales. I’ve met some very successful people in that space and if I didn’t do what I do, I would look there.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I read a book in 2014 and I liked it. I sent the author an email telling him I liked his book and then we connected on LinkedIn. I never met him in person. He put me on an email distribution list and then out of the blue about a month ago, my wife got a package in the mail from Switzerland. That’s where this guy is from, and it was a chocolate bar. Just out of the blue he mailed all of his contacts chocolate bars. I immediately thought, “Well, I already liked you, but I like you a lot more now!”
I decided we would do that for our clients. Initially, Adam was leery. He thought it might give the wrong impression. But it gave me the warm and fuzzies, and I thought it would do the same thing for our clients. For $8 per client, it generated a lot of goodwill.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Twitter. I use it for entertainment and news in my industry. You can find a group of people in pretty much any space who talk about things you are interested in and see what smart peers think about and find. To be fair, a few years ago I didn’t understand its purpose. I have maybe 100 people in the financial and health/fitness space that I follow and get good information from that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Education of a Value Investor by Guy Spier. It is an honest self-reflection on one’s failures and learnings on the way to being a better investor and human.
What is your favorite quote?
“Carry on Mr. Bowditch.” It’s the title of a novel about continuing to try, learn, and grow in the face of adversity.
• Find someone achieving success at what you want to do. Learn how they do it and copy.
• Fail forward. Most successes come with many failures along the way. Accept failing as learning and growing.
• A personal touch is a great way to separate yourself in an impersonal financial services industry.
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.