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Leveraging Your Financial Intelligence

At the Intersection of Money, Health, and Happiness



Doug Lennick, Roy Geer, and Ryan Goulart









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By Doug Lennick

It was nearly 43 years ago when I first met co-author Roy Geer. Roy passed away on March 8th, 2017, shortly before we had completed writing this book. You can imagine how sad this turn of events was. Roy would have been 90 years of age on his next birthday.

I was 22 when I first met Roy, and he was 47. Roy first became my mentor, and ultimately a friend and colleague. We shared a lot over the years, and one of the most important things we shared was a passion for making a difference. Our first book, How to Get What You Want and Remain True to Yourself, published in 1989, grew out of that passion. Several years ago, we decided it was time to work together on another book. Last year we realized our new book would be stronger if we added the perspective of a younger author, and that's when Ryan Goulart, a Millennial, joined the team as a co-author. Ryan, who had already been helping us with research, is now 29 years old. Among his many skills is a deep understanding of the Millennial generation's values, which in turn drive positive life choices; but even more important, Ryan shares our passion for making a difference. In addition, Ryan has deeply researched, and understands from personal experience, how Millennials experience the intersection of money, health, and happiness. As you'll see throughout this book, different generations—Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers—have both similar and unique ways of optimizing happiness by leveraging financial intelligence to promote positive health and happiness practices.

Roy Geer was an inspiration for many, including Ryan and me. As Roy got older, he also got wiser. Roy knew how to age well, and that had a lot to do with knowing how to behave young. He remained an interested and active learner throughout his life. In fact, at the time of his death Roy was not only working on this book, but he was also in the process of completing the requirements for his PhD. For decades I had thought Roy had a PhD in industrial psychology, and he didn't correct my assumption quickly. About 10 years ago, feeling guilty, Roy admitted to me that he didn't have a PhD, but that he was inspired—in part by my mistaken belief—to pursue his doctorate. Though Roy didn't complete his PhD before he left us, I believe that his PhD studies greatly enhanced his happiness, longevity, and purpose. Richard Leider, bestselling author of The Power of Purpose and Repacking Your Bags (co-authored with David A. Shapiro), notes that “aging is changing” and that “purpose matters more.” Leider speaks about “the language of living, not the language of aging.” Words like discovery, learning, opportunity, meaning, and others represent the “language of living.” Roy was all about that, and so is this book.

Our subtitle, At the Intersection of Money, Health, and Happiness, sets the stage for what you are about to experience. Research and the individual experiences of the authors and the many people we have coached or interviewed led us to conclude that indeed there is a clear connection between one's financial well-being, one's physical well-being, and one's happiness. As is true with the chicken and the egg, it is hard to know which comes first, but happiness expert Dan Buettner of Blue Zone fame states, “When it comes to health and wealth and happiness, it's hard to be happy if you don't have good health.” We certainly agree with that, though there are many heartening examples of people facing extraordinary health challenges who, despite their circumstances, demonstrate remarkable emotional resilience, find joy in life, and spread positive energy to those around them. We also know that it's harder to be healthy if one is under financial stress, which countless studies and surveys indicate that up to 90 percent of Americans experience. Hence the significance of the title Leveraging Your Financial Intelligence: At the Intersection of Money, Health, and Happiness. Happiness may be one's ultimate goal, but we believe the fastest way to achieve happiness is to begin reducing financial stress by using the strategies presented in this book.

My book, Financial Intelligence: Making Smart, Values-Based Decisions with Your Money and Your Life, written several years ago with the support of my long-time, incredible collaborative writer, Kathy Jordan, was designed to help people understand and develop financial intelligence. Financial intelligence is “the ability to make smart, responsible, values-based decisions with and about money in the face of competing and difficult to deal with emotions.” Leveraging Your Financial Intelligence: Making Smart, Values-Based Decisions with Your Money and Your Life is exactly what it says. When you leverage your financial intelligence, you create your own intersection of money, health, and happiness. We've had the privilege of knowing many people who have leveraged their financial intelligence to support financial, physical, and emotional well-being.

For example, consider Moses (Moe) Smith, a chiropractor and business owner who is financially intelligent:

I knew I wanted a job that gave me the opportunity to make unlimited income. I learned both how to be a chiropractor and how to be a businesswoman. I want to know what's going on. I can tell you within $10 at any point in time what's in my checking, savings, and investment accounts. There are only two options: You're either stressed out about money or you aren't. I know too many people who are smart and end up broke.

Moe is both smart and not broke. She is also generally not stressed out about money, which has contributed both to her physical health and her happiness. As Moe puts it, “When I get stressed financially or otherwise, I stop exercising. I have to combat that all of the time.” That's why Moe decided to become financially intelligent, and that's why she is able to leverage her financial intelligence and create her own intersection of money, health, and happiness.

Marjorie and John Wynn are also financially intelligent. Their circumstances are different from Smith's, yet they are financially intelligent nonetheless. Marjorie and John are successful executives and exceptional parents. Marjorie is a marketing executive, and John is a technology executive. Although Marjorie and John make joint financial decisions with the help of their financial advisor, they decided Marjorie should handle all the day-to-day financial responsibilities. John is proud and grateful that “Marjorie takes on the vast majority of the financial issues.”

Marjorie and John live in a beautiful home and neighborhood in Woodbury, Minnesota, a suburb on the east side of St. Paul, Minnesota. When Marjorie and John moved into their home years ago, it was a financial stretch. But as Marjorie put it, “I thought we should invest more for the home and the neighborhood where we would raise our family and where our children would have access to excellent public schools.” This decision to invest in a high-end area was a values-based decision. It was inspired by their belief that where they lived would have a long-lasting impact on their children's success because of the educational, community, and cultural opportunities it would offer them. Meanwhile, Marjorie and John have saved and invested over the years so that they could ensure that their kids would have access to great college education options. This was another values-based decision. And those decisions have paid off: Their oldest daughter graduated from college and now has a job she loves located in the Twin Cities area. Their middle daughter now attends college at the University of Wisconsin. Their youngest is in high school and soon will be making her own college selection.

Another terrific example of financial intelligence comes from Tom and Michelle Young. As head of field distribution for Thrivent Financial, Young constantly works on enhancing his own, his employees', and Thrivent clients' financial intelligence. Michelle, who has been recognized as one of the nation's best financial advisors, and who currently works with Ameriprise Financial, does the same for herself and her clients. When it comes to their family's personal financial security, Tom said,

Michelle and I are at a point where we need to reevaluate our life plans. I'm soon to be 41 and Michelle is almost 40, and we're raising three great kids. In the last number of years, we've been successful in setting goals for money, health, and happiness, and we are grateful that we've achieved our goals. The challenge we face now is that as we grow older and our family's needs evolve, we need to redefine goals for our next phase of life, based on our values and priorities.

Once Tom and Michelle identify their life goals going forward, that is where their intersection between money, health, and happiness will be.

What all of these individuals illustrate is that there are a number of different ways to express and leverage your financial intelligence. Our aim, and the intent of this book, is to help you do so in a way that works for you and, using the strategies presented in this book, will allow you to leverage your financial intelligence to create your own intersection of money, health, and happiness.


We begin with our families. If Roy Geer were still here to say it, he would lovingly express gratitude for the inspiration provided by his children, Rhonda, Rhea, and Russell; his grandchildren and great grandchildren; and his sons-in-law. Roy loved his family immensely and spoke of them often and proudly.

Ryan thanks his wife, Joanie, for supporting him through the countless extra hours it took to write this book. There were early hours and late hours and weekend hours, and Joanie was behind him no matter what. Ryan also appreciates the love, support, and guidance he has received all his life from his parents, Dorothy and Rick, and for the lessons learned growing up with his younger siblings, Jonathan and Audrey.

Doug knows his own life and career would not be where they are without the unfailing love and support of his wife, Beth Ann, who is a remarkable role model for healthy living and loving parenting. Doug is also grateful to his parents, who taught him the most important lessons we share in this book, and whose stories we hope will inspire readers to make smart decisions about finances, health, and happiness. In addition, Doug is thankful to be blessed with three wonderful children and their life partners, who have all chosen difference-making careers: Alan and his wife, Sari, Mary and her partner, LaCresia, and Joanie, who is married to co-author Ryan Goulart. Doug also finds regular inspiration from spending time with his grandson and best pal, Dylan.

The authors would like to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution of our collaborative writer, Kathy Jordan, PhD. Leveraging Your Financial Intelligence: At the Intersection of Money, Health, and Happiness is the fourth book Kathy has supported with co-author Doug, and the first book she has collaborated on with co-authors Ryan Goulart and Roy Geer. Kathy has a knack for capturing our voices, and the iterative process of working with her is engaging and results in the best book possible.

The authors would also like to acknowledge the research and literature review done by Alyssa Wynn and her sister, Samantha Wynn. Co-author Ryan coordinated their efforts, and we ended up with binders full of material that were extremely well organized and very well summarized, and that accelerated our progress in developing this book.

Of course, we appreciate greatly the many people we interviewed, from thought leaders and subject matter experts to people from all walks of life willing to share their stories with us and allow us to share their stories with all of you. The real-life stories of real people from their twenties to their seventies make the case for our message that indeed there is an intersection of money, health, and happiness.

Finally, we'd like to thank our colleagues. Roy worked throughout his life, and in later years conducted his consulting and coaching business as an independent practitioner. Before going solo he collaborated with his long-time partner, Bob Roberts. Ryan and Doug work together at think2perform with an incredibly talented group of people geographically spread throughout the country. They encourage you to visit and acquaint yourself with the think2perform team. Special thanks to office manager and company co-founder Kay May, who has worked with Doug since 1979, for arranging all the book interviews and writing time to get us to the finish line.

Oh, and one more very important acknowledgment. We thank and acknowledge you, the reader. What would a book be without our readers? Thank you!