EP81 Part II – Co Creating a Dream Life with Michael and Liz Hartke
Part II of catching up with two dear friends Michael and Liz Hartke. Most of what we talk about revolves around how they are adjusting and creating their ideal life in the midst of all the blessings that are coming their way.
[0:00:12.9] KC: Welcome to the Business of Life Podcast. My name is Keith Callahan, your host and today, we have part two of our two part series with my good friends, Michael and Elizabeth Hartke. So let’s go ahead, let’s jump right in and get Michael and Liz back on.
[00:00:34.2] EH: For me, the hard part wasn’t as much letting go of the responsibilities as it is sharing that we’re doing this with people in our lives, not so much you because you understand the business and quality of life and all those things but sometimes there are generational gaps and I’m Italian. I come from a big conservative Catholic family and my grandmother was like washing floors on her knees after having seven kids until she was 80 with a toothbrush.
So the thought of her knowing that I just had someone else cut my vegetables makes me ill because I’m like, “She must think I’m crazy,” and I can do these things but at this season in our life, we’ve made a decision to design our lives this way. It’s not for everybody and I have to get to a place where I accept that not everybody will understand it or even respect it but for us, we know it’s the right thing for our family right now.
It’s not to say that we’re always going to — like we don’t feel privileged. We don’t feel like, “Oh someone else should be doing our laundry,” or, “Someone else should be cooking food,” but we’re in a season in our life right now where we’re growing a very big business and we are two business owners who are running this thing on our own, trying to get it in a place where it’s going to change not only our lives but the generations to come after us.
In order to do that without sacrificing our time with our family and our faith and the people we love, this is what we’ve chosen to do to make it possible to build that business that we dream of while also not sacrificing our priorities and it’s freaking awesome. Our house is put together and there’s food that’s ready to be eaten and I still like to cook and I will cook but if I don’t get around to it tonight, there’s something that we can have as a family and sit down at the table and have a hot meal. It’s just the right thing for us and it feels really good.
[00:02:48.2] KC: Yeah, it’s interesting listening to you guys and I think that we have the same stuff set up. We just have different words for it.
[00:02:59.4] MH: What do you call it?
[00:03:00.8] KC: But I like house manager.
[00:03:02.1] MH: What do you call it? What do you call those people?
[00:03:04.5] KC: Sarah. It’s Sarah and we have two women that come to the house. So we’re in a little bit of a different spot, they do the laundry — we have three women who come, actually. We have Norma, Sarah and Claire. They do the laundry — one of the things that we won’t delegate is the kids but it’s weird now because our kids are getting older and I’m a firm believer in my kids are not growing up with servants.
They used to do a lot of the food prep, they used to do the cleaning of the table and stuff but now, where in a spot where energy is going into teaching the kids how to do the food prep, teaching the kids how to clear the table, teaching the kids how to empty the dishwasher like all of that stuff so yeah, we have the similar stuff.
I’m cool with my kid’s laundry getting done for them forever because I don’t like laundry and then there’s also just like you mentioned Liz, there’s for me, there is certain physical things around the house and for me, it’s two things. It’s cooking, I like to cook one or two nights a week like really cook because it’s meditative for me.
Again, I can spend time with the kids doing that same exact thing that you said and then the lawns. We were going to outsource that. That’s probably the easiest and cheapest thing for the amount of time it takes but sitting in front of the computer all day and mow the lawn, I love mowing the lawn. So I get to go outside.
My leaf blower that’s way more powerful than I need for my little yard, my lawn mower that’s way bigger than it needs to be so yeah, I get all of that and I also think that you’re right. I think that’s it’s very, very, very different. It’s very different than blue collar or even white collar like upper middle class white collar. It’s very different living life that way.
[00:05:27.1] MH: I love how you said too that you don’t outsource the stuff with your kids and that’s because you’ve thought about that and you’ve designed your life like that and we do the same thing. We talk about, “What do we want our life to look like, how do we want to be spending our time?” And we hire people like the house manager to help us. So that we can spend more time with our kids and so that we can go out in the middle of the day and go to the park with them or there’s lots of things like that.
[00:06:05.6] KC: I want to reverse a little bit because I think that I have strong opinions on this and I’d like to hear it from you guys. Do you think when you’re in the throes of building a business, the beginning of it, you’re in the beginning of it and especially network marketing, a lot of our listeners are in that network marketing. Do you think that you can really take a big picture look like this and look at it calmly and collectively or do you think that you just have to put your head down and work your ass off?
[00:06:47.5] EH: I don’t think you can build a successful network marketing business like I’m talking successful where it’s like really transforming your life and your family’s life, in five years or less without having some period of time where your nose is to the grindstone. I do believe strongly in work-life balance but I definitely had an imbalance in the beginning and I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it was such a short period of time.
It’s like Michael with his exams, his actuarial exams and obviously he can speak to this better than I can but there were these chunks of time where we’re like, “Okay, I’m going to be a little less present. I have to stay at work a little later. I’m going to be mentally drained. You need to make sure that these things are taking care off so that I can study. But it’s going to be worth it because once this exam is past, it’s behind us and we’ll be creating a little bit better of a life for ourselves.”
So it’s the same thing, it’s such a temporary wish. I’ve heard some people say like, “Oh I locked the door to the office and I could hear my kids clawing on the doors and I’m like nope, mommy is building a business.” No, I don’t promote that. You have to have some balance as far as that goes but yeah, I think it’s worth the hustle. I think it’s worth sacrificing sleep, giving up TV, doing whatever you have to do to believe that the effort you’re putting in now is going to pay off later and not that much later.
What’s two or three years in the grand scheme of things? People work 50 years in a business they hate hardly moving up at all. If someone said, “You could pay up all your debt, earn six or seven figures and live the exact life you want to live four years from now,” wouldn’t you do whatever it takes to make that happen.
[00:08:39.5] MH: I would also say it needs a little bit of both but definitely more of the busting your butt. I think it takes the big picture thinking in the beginning to dream and to find that why or find what you really want. But once you have that, it’s without a question you have to have that time where you’re busting your butt and just working your tail off because nothing in life comes easy and if something did, if you could get this life, the life of your dreams without working hard, then everyone would do it and everyone would have it but if you have that big picture and that awesome dream, then busting your butt for a couple of years isn’t going to be anything. It’s so worth it.
[00:09:31.7] KC: Yeah and I think that just to really share with the people who are listening too, as we were sitting here talking, I’m reminded of an interview. So I listened to a podcast interview the other day. This guy, Derek Sivers, so if you want to read a really cool book, I forgot the name of it just Google Derek Sivers, it’s 40 something things.
It’s a book you can read in an hour but he was very non-traditional entrepreneur and he created the company CD Baby and then sold it a while back but somebody said to him, he has very similar personality and temperament to what we have and somebody said to him like, “How can I get to the point that I’m as calm as you are in your day to day life?”
He looked at the woman and he said, “Get to the point where you don’t have to worry about money and you have millions of dollars in the bank” and he said, “Nobody wants to talk about that and everybody in certain circles say that money doesn’t buy you happiness,” but once you don’t have to worry money, legit. Not like you’re making good money and you’re covering your bills once it’s past that, once you get an excess amount of money that comes in, you’re able to look at life from a creation standpoint. You are able to make a decision that I’m going to spend the rest of my life creating my life how I want to do it, right?
I think that everything sounds so calm and sounds so clear right now but I know what I was like six or seven years ago. I remember when you guys were building the business. It wasn’t that way. It was a, “I’m going to do whatever the F it takes to make this thing work,” and that’s how you got to that point. Then you get to the point where it’s like, “Okay, now I’ve got to clean this mess up,” right? “Now we’ve got to let it land and then clean it all up.” Do you think that’s a fair assessment?
[00:11:41.1] EH: Yeah, for sure. Everything is within reason but yes. Like I said earlier, there are seasons and there has to be a season of hustle to get to where you really want to go if you don’t want it to take as long as it would have taken you in the job that you didn’t like anyway, you know?
[00:12:01.5] KC: So Michael I have some questions and you’re like the perfect dude to answer these. So you are probably the most disciplined, solid, hardworking, unflappable — I think that’s probably a really good word to describe you — person and your dream in life and correct me or one of your dreams in life was to get a really good corporate job that allows you to support your family, provide for your family and you had this vision of yourself doing that.
You chose to become an actuary for three reason, from the way I understand the first being that you really enjoyed and loved that work. The second being that it pays well and then the third being that it pays well without having to do the lawyer-partner route, right? Like you actually have free time.
[00:13:08.1] MH: Yeah.
[00:13:08.7] KC: I’m proud of myself, I just recap that all really well.
[00:13:11.6] MH: It was amazing. Great description.
[00:13:14.8] KC: So you have all that, you have your life set up, you find the woman of your dreams, you guys get married and everything’s hunky-dory except for one thing. All of a sudden you guys started making all these money and it’s still hunky-dory but now it’s like, “Wow, so everything that I planed is a little different now,” right? That’s the situation that you’re in right now, and I guess I am opening up like that, how’s that transition been for you?
[00:13:51.2] MH: You’re absolutely right. I’ve always felt like a purpose or responsibility to provide for my family even my future family before I met Liz and I would do anything for them. I would work any job for any length of time if it meant that we could live the life that we wanted to live but that gets turned on its head when you have a business that makes residual income that grows and grows and grows which we’re beginning to be in that situation now.
That’s been tough because going from seeing your life almost like a martyr to be able to do anything for your family just so you guys are happy and being totally fine with that, I was happy doing that to having that taken out from under you. It’s tough but doing that and making that sacrifice isn’t what my life is about.
My life is to have an amazing family and to live a life of purpose and to be happy together. So if that presents itself in a different way, if I have to do something differently, I’m happy to do whatever it takes to kind of live a good life.
[00:15:18.5] KC: Yeah. So I have to share this one little story about you and then I have another comment. When I was talking about how disciplined Michael is, this whole story’s going to sound crazy. But Michael, another one of our friends, Austin and I did this course called the Wim Hof Method where it’s basically cold water therapy and breath work.
So anyways, Michael was like — Austin and I got to the point that we’re holding our breath for two minutes which everyone is like, “Oh my God, two minutes,” right? If you’re listening, you’re probably thinking that you are holding it for almost five minutes though, right?
[00:15:58.3] MH: Yeah, I got up around four minutes, it was crazy. I like challenging myself. I like things that are difficult and it helped so much to be able to do what you guys too.
[00:16:11.7] KC: Yeah, that was fun.
[00:16:13.6] EH: Keith, we were visiting Michael’s family in Wisconsin once while you guys were doing that Wim Hof training and Michael is like, “Oh I have to go upstairs and do my breathing,” and Michael’s grandfather comes…
[00:16:25.4] MH: So I’m lying on the ground right?
[00:16:26.5] EH: So he’s lying on the ground.
[00:16:26.9] MH: I’m lying on my back, lying on the ground, getting into meditation like relaxed.
[00:16:32.8] EH: Then he’s holding his breath and his grandfather comes out, walks by him, comes downstairs, taps me on the shoulder and says, “I’m not completely sure but I think Michael might be dead.” I was like, “No, he’s probably just doing his breathing.”
[00:16:52.8] KC: The fact that you could do it with your grandfather walking by and stuff like that, I would be doing it and the kids would walk in the room and I’d be like, “Oh, oh man, what are you doing? You’re distracting.”
[00:17:04.3] MH: Yeah, you just get in the zone I guess.
[00:17:07.5] KC: Oh man, good stuff. You’ve actually come across my mind a little bit and I don’t know if this is somewhere way down the road. I’ve always had this dream of building a business like filling some type of need in the market place and building something up and then selling it, like building a — and I don’t even know what it would be but there’s always ideas that pop in.
And I feel like once you have — so that goes back to the piece I was talking about with the FU money or whatever people want to call it. It could be something like Uber, right? Like somebody was in a situation where they didn’t have a need to go out and get a paycheck and they could build something like that and that’s the type of stuff that, I don’t know, I just see you doing something like that down the road in the future. Who knows what industry it’s going to be in? Yeah, it’s just so many fun things.
[00:18:17.9] MH: Yeah, it’s funny you say that because as our business becomes more and more successful and that previous purpose that I talked about of providing security for my family isn’t needed as much, I’ve actually been working with a life coach on the side and trying to figure out what my purpose is and what I would really want to do in life.
Yeah, it really does involve another business and we’re still trying to figure out what that would look like but it’s a business that would involve my passions and currently it’s looking like it’s going to be something in building world. Literally building like houses and things like that.
[00:19:03.5] KC: Or skyscrapers.
[00:19:04.9] MH: I like houses. I already was in architecture and not at all interested in big buildings and commercial stuff. Houses are cool.
[00:19:17.3] KC: I like that. So on that line, again, sticking with the industry that we’re in, I feel like it’s very easy to get caught up in stuff, for a lack of a better words and if we look at regular — how do I word this correctly? What most people do when they’re buying a home is they buy a home based off of what they can get approved for with the mortgage right?
Like, “The bank tells me this is what I can afford for a home,” and it’s something that you guys haven’t done and I was wondering if you could share a little bit about that, the choice to live below your means and the reasons for doing that and you guys haven’t bought — have you bought a new car yet?
[00:20:10.9] EH: No.
[00:20:11.1] KC: You guys can get a new car, come on, like at least you’d have a new car.
[00:20:15.0] EH: I know, right?
[00:20:15.8] MH: Yeah so I’ll paint a picture of what we live like for everyone listening here. We drive a 2008 Honda CRV, which is awesome and we live in a house that’s about 2500 square feet. It was just built a couple of years ago and we’re just a married couple with an almost one year old. That’s it for our family and so I guess right now, it’s really more than what we need. That’s not like we could afford more than that, but I think it’s how we were raised and how we were brought up, it’s to not live at your means or beyond your means but try to just live on what you need.
[00:21:06.7] EH: And spend your money on people and experiences. We travel a lot and Michael’s family doesn’t live here, so to us, we would rather be able to fly out to Wisconsin at a drop of a hat every month if we want to or fly his family out to us every month if we want to without thinking twice about it.
If we lived in this huge home and had all these cars, maybe we couldn’t do that right now and we love Dave Ramsey. He says something along the lines of like, you know he does all the money work with people like helping them with their finances and helping them grow richer and be smart with their money.
The thing he says, like the whole purpose of it all is, “The best thing that you can do with your money is to give it away to deserving people,” and that is such a gift to earn an income that allows you to give freely to your church, give freely to that person that you don’t expect to bump into who’s gone through a rough time and you can just help them and their family.
You don’t have to give loans, you don’t have to expect anything in return. You can give it and walk away and just feel good about the fact that you just hopefully helped somebody. So for us, if we continue to live beneath our means that will allow us to do that more. That’s what we love.
[00:22:38.4] MH: I don’t want to be a hypocrite either because a second car for us is coming for us, it’s on the way. It’s within the next year.
[00:22:46.9] EH: We’re not minimalist or anything.
[00:22:48.4] KC: Are you going to buy something new?
[00:22:50.4] EH: Just like a Ferrari, no just kidding.
[00:22:54.1] MH: I don’t know if we would get something brand new like right off the lot but I think either that or close to new like I was saying.
[00:23:04.2] KC: I just recently learned about new vehicles so we bought for the first time a new car and the reason I did it was it was a late model. They were coming out with the new model so the car was discounted and there was also a tax incentive to do it, which now that I really understand it, all it was was deferring something. We weren’t saving any money.
We bought a vehicle that was over 5,000 pounds and you could depreciate $25,000 or no, you could depreciate the whole entire thing the first year. So it was a $25,000 of tax savings if that makes sense? Or $20,000. But you would have depreciated it over the next five years versus one year.
But anyways, in Massachusetts the thing that I wasn’t anticipating is the amount of money you pay in excise tax on a brand new vehicle. So when you buy a brand new vehicle, you pay — whatever the rate is, you pay like 90% of the value of the car than if it’s a two year old car, it’s 70% but all the way down to five years, you’ll only pay 5% of the value of the car.
[00:24:26.9] EH: Wow.
[00:24:27.5] MH: That sucks.
[00:24:30.0] KC: It’s crazy but I had no idea it was like that. I was like, “This excise bill is insane!” And then I talked to one of my buddies who’s always been smart with money and he always bought cars that are at least five years old, nice cars but they were never newer than five years old and it was literally like you would pay $200 for excise tax if it was five years old or $2,000 if it was brand new. It was that much of a difference. So yeah, that’s my new car…
[00:25:01.9] MH: That’s interesting. We were just taking about this because it is in our radar and that’s something that we haven’t thought of yet, but what we were thinking was we haven’t really done anything big or celebrated in any way like that since the business has been really taking off and so I think it would be really awesome to be able to — and on top of that, Liz has never had a new car. I think all of that together, I think it would be such an awesome reward to get her a new car or like slightly new, you know?
[00:25:38.9] KC: You know what she’s always wanted?
[00:25:41.2] EH: Don’t say a minivan.
[00:25:46.1] KC: No, if you’re going to look at a nice car, we love the Yukon Denali.
[00:25:52.2] EH: That’s the kind of car that we were thinking. Like Yukon or a Tahoe or something like that.
[00:26:00.7] KC: Look at the Denali package.
[00:26:02.7] EH: Okay.
[00:26:03.1] KC: It’s like there’s someone in there massaging you, that’s how nice it is.
[00:26:10.2] EH: I’m sold.
[00:26:10.9] MH: You’re truck’s not that, right? It’s a Toyota.
[00:26:14.4] KC: It’s a Tundra, yeah.
[00:26:15.8] EH: Yeah.
[00:26:17.2] KC: Cool, well yeah it’s been awesome catching up with you guys and it was so good to get you guys on because I feel like for everybody listening you guys just have — and for me, I just love talking to you guys because you have so much value, so much insight and just really grounded in who you are and the vision and how you’re moving forward in life.
One other thing that I just really wanted to add quickly, we were talking about the finances and stuff like that and I just wanted to give you guys credit because I feel like the bigger picture, like the bigger moving thing is that your sense of self-worth isn’t attached to things. If all your stuff went away, if the business went away, you guys are still going to be fine.
I just really want to credit you guys for that and recognize that because I believe that it’s a very comforting way to live when your sense of God is God and it’s not possessions and things like that and image and all that stuff so I wanted to share that.
[00:27:35.6] EH: Thanks Keith.
[00:27:37.1] MH: Yeah, thank you very much. You’re so good at picking up on that and articulating that. We haven’t talked about it much, but that is so like to the core who we are. Life isn’t about money or things, it’s about each other and our faith and so we try to keep that at the center of all things and hopefully not let us go too off track.
[00:28:04.4] EH: Yeah and you and Amy are a great example of that for us too. We respect you guys so much.
[00:28:10.0] KC: Awesome. Well when this thing is launching, we’ll probably be — you guys are planning on coming up here and I’ve got to check with Amy and me if it still works.
[00:28:19.2] EH: Yes please.
[00:28:19.8] MH: Launch party.
[00:28:20.8] EH: Yeah.
[00:28:21.5] KC: All right guys, well thank you so much for spending time with us and for everybody listening, hope that you enjoyed this episode and hope you enjoyed the time with Liz and Michael as much as I did and we’ll see you on the next episode.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:28:37.8] KC: Hey, Keith here, and today I have a free gift for you. Listen this free gift is a list of the 12 most influential books that I’ve ever read. These are the books that have helped me to create the mindset, learn the philosophies, learn the skills to really create this big, beautiful, life that we’re living now.
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[0:30:41] KC: Today’s episode is brought to you by our sister podcast, All About Beachbody Coaching. So All About Beachbody Coaching really allows us to do this podcast without having all those annoying commercials in the beginning for you. So All About Beachbody Coaching, the Beachbody business that Amy and I run, actually funds this podcast.
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Alright, much love guys. Again, that is the All About Beachbody Coaching Podcast, our sister podcast.
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