Jason and Emilia tell the story of how his book, Sound Retirement Planning came to be. Jason also shares a personal testimony.
Below is the full transcript:
Announcer: Welcome back, America, to Sound Retirement Radio, where we bring you concepts, ideas, and strategies designed to help you achieve clarity, confidence, and freedom as you prepare for and transition through retirement. Now, here is your host, Jason Parker.
Jason: America, welcome back to another round of Sound Retirement Radio. You are listening to Episode 164, Live Your Legacy. It’s my good fortune to have Emilia Bernal in the studio with me this morning. Emilia-
Jason: … welcome back.
Emilia: Thank you.
Jason: How are you doing?
Emilia: I’m doing well. It’s good to be back.
Jason: All right. We like to get the morning started two ways. Kind of the first is to renew our mind, and I’ve got a verse here for us. This comes to us from 1 Samuel 17:34 and 35. “But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair and struck it and killed it.'” Kind of intense, but going to be an important one for our show today.
Emilia: Yeah, and I’m excited about our show today, is a little different, as you mentioned. Our topic today is Live Your Legacy, so why are we doing a show called Live Your Legacy?
Jason: A lot of times, as I’m doing planning for people, one of the things will come up is leaving something to the kids or the grandkids, and oftentimes people think of that in terms of money, in terms of the wealth that they’ll leave behind, and I really believe that it’s our relationships, it’s our time, it’s our story that is really the most valuable piece to leaving a legacy, and so I thought I’d share a little bit of my story here today.
Emilia: That’s nice, yeah. It’s going to be different. I’m really excited about this. What inspired you to start thinking about this in general?
Jason: I had the good fortune to have a mentor, a man named Dean Schennum, and Dean was just a great guy. I got to work with him for over 10 years. He hired me, and without him, I don’t think my life would have turned out the way that it has, which is, I feel very blessed and very fortunate, but I had the opportunity to talk to his daughter recently, and she told me, she said that she went back and she listened to some of those older podcasts where I had Dean on the program with me, and she said sometimes she just likes to hear Dad’s voice. I thought, “Wow, how cool is that?” I thought, as we approach this topic or subject of Live Your Legacy, I started thinking about my own kids. I know my time is finite, and just wanting to share a little bit of the story about how I’ve got to this place that I’m at right now and how some of these events came to be.
Emilia: That’s great. You want to share a testimony and the story of your book. Tell us about that.
Jason: Yeah, so I’ve shared a little bit of this in the past when the book came out. I did an interview, but I didn’t go into complete detail, so I thought I would tell a little bit more, because it’s such a, for me, such a powerful time in my life. My book, most people know we’ve talked about it before. It’s the name of the Sound Retirement Planning and Sound Retirement Radio.
Everything is sound retirement, but it didn’t start out that way, but before we talk about the title, when I was first writing the book, on one of the first pages I was kind of sharing some of the wisdom that I’ve learned from the people that we’ve served over time, and one of the hardest sentence, the hardest thing for me to write in the entire book was this one sentence. It said, “Make Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life, and put God first.” I wrote that in the book, and then I took it out, and then I put it back in, and then I took it out, and then I put it back in, and I took it out.
I just thought to myself, “If I put that in there, it’s going to turn off a lot of people, and people may not finish reading the rest of the book and understand the planning, and they just may discount everything that comes after that because of that line,” so I was really reluctant. I really didn’t want to put that line in there, but a part of me was, I just felt like I was reminded as a kid at the church that I attended, there was a guy named Dave [Brubaker 00:04:18], who was the worship leader. He wrote a song called “Secret Service Christians,” and I just remember as a kid, my Dad had the cassette tape, and we used to drive around singing (singing). It is all about just being bold enough to share what you believe, not being afraid of what other people think about you, even if they disagree with you, but just kind of sharing what your beliefs are.
Right as we got to the point of needing to publish the book, I decided to put that line back in there. That kind of started off this series of events, because what happened next really kind of threw me for a loop. What happened was, the book had been out for about a year, and on the cover of the book was a picture of me with my great big ears looking kind of goofy, and the book never, hardly sold any copies.
I mean, it was really a big flop in the world of book publishing, but I’ll never forget. It was a Friday afternoon. I was getting ready to leave the office to go home for the weekend, and I got a letter from an attorney’s office with all these attorneys’ names written across the top of this letter. I opened it up, and it was a cease and desist. What they were explaining was that I had violated their trademark, that the title of my book, my old book, my first book, was, they owned the trademark. They owned those words, and so I was totally scared and worried. I went home that night just feeling like somebody had punched me in the stomach. I was like, “Oh, my goodness. What have I done? How could I have made such a mistake?”
Part of this experience was, I was mad. I thought to myself, “God, why would You let this happen? I’m trying to honor You by putting this one sentence in there. I didn’t want to put it there in the first place, and now,” as if that had something to do with the title. Right?
Jason: But I just was looking to blame, and I was angry, and I was really worried that I was going to lose everything. I thought to myself, “This is one of the biggest financial institutions in the world that happens to own the trademark. They’re going to sue me, and they’re going to take everything.” That’s what I thought was going to happen. It’s interesting to me. It takes me a little bit of time, or at least back then, I’m getting better at this, but it took me a little bit of time before I picked up my Bible and started reading through the Bible. That kind of gets us to the next piece-
Jason: … here, Emilia, but-
Emilia: … so there were a couple of verses you read that weekend after all this happened, right?
Jason: Yeah, so-
Jason: … Friday, I get this letter Friday. Friday night, I can’t sleep. I feel like I’m going to be sick all day. Finally, Saturday I pick up the Bible, and there were actually three different verses that I wanted to share with our listeners.
Emilia: Great. Looking forward to hearing those. What were those verses?
Jason: The verses were 1 Samuel, the one that I shared when we first got started, 1 Samuel 17:34 and 35 where it talks about David and Goliath. I was feeling a bit like David and Goliath. Here I am, relatively small in the financial world, up against, again, one of the largest financial institutions in the country saying that I had violated this trademark. That was very scary to me, but it’s interesting how when you read the Bible at different times in your life, you can have a different perspective, gives you a different meaning.
I have read the story of David and Goliath so many times, but I never really saw this verse before where David had to fight a bear and a sheep when he was guarding, or a bear and a lion when he was guarding the sheep. I had never read that, and this light bulb kind of came on in my mind, and I thought to myself, “Here’s David, the youngest of the brothers. He’s got the crummiest job. He’s out in the field. His brothers used to have this job. They never had to deal with a lion and a sheep when, or a lion and a bear when protecting a sheep.” I could just see him out there at that moment in his life saying, “Why me? Why do I have to deal with this lion and this bear?”
Looking back, the perspective is always easy, your vision always 20/20 when you’re looking back on the situation, but the aha moment that I had when I read that was, “Well, of course there had to be a lion and a bear, because God was getting David ready for something bigger, which was going to be this battle with Goliath. If David never had the hardship, never had the setback of the lion and the bear, he never would have been ready to fight the giant.” It was just that moment, again, I read it for the first time with eyes that I had never read before, but it meant something to me because I was going through this struggle.
That was the first aha, first big moment. The second one was, I read the verse Matthew 5:25, and Matthew 5:25 says, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.”
Emilia: I can see how this really relates to what’s going on in your-
Emilia: … life at that time. Yeah.
Jason: I get this letter from these attorneys, and I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, I need to hire intellectual property attorneys, and I’ve been using this … ” Because I had been using that title on the radio show for like years, so I was like, “I’ve been using it for a long time,” but I read this, and it just was this, again, this aha moment. It’s like, “No. Jason, you messed up. These people, technically they own the trademark. They own these words that you used, and so you just need to call them up and apologize.”
This influenced me. It just, this said, “This is your clear path forward.” I’m still, at that point, though, I’m pretty devastated. I’m like, “I am never writing another book ever.” I mean, I was just … I just wanted to, because part of what they were asking me to do is unpublished the book and stop using the title, and so I was just like, “I’m just going to take it down. I’m done. I’m never writing another book in my life. This isn’t worth the stress.”
Then the next day, so Sunday, I just, every once in a while I just like to kind of randomly open up the Bible and see where it lands. This was one of those times I opened up the Bible and I landed on Philippians 4:11 through 13. That verse reads, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
It was when I read that, again, I had this light bulb moment, so I’m having this really intense weekend, as you can imagine. It’s just, but I thought to myself, “I can do this. We can republish this book, and we can make it better,” and so that was the path that we ended up going down, but that Sunday, I was sitting in my room reading my Bible, and I picked up my guitar when I read this verse, and I just started writing this really simple song called, “I can do all things.”
I am not a musician, but I brought my kids in, and I said, “Hey, guys, I just wrote this song. Let’s, will you sing the chorus with me,” in their sweet little voices. Of course, they were all on board, because they were really little, and so they said, “Yeah,” so we wrote and recorded the song together that afternoon.
Monday morning, I go into the office. I call the attorneys up, and I apologize. I say, “I’m sorry. I’ll unpublish the book. I’ll give you the domain name. Let’s just be done with this thing,” and they were totally gracious, very, very nice to work with, and there was no lawsuit. Nobody’s suing me or anything. They just asked that I follow the instructions they had laid out, so I did. It turned out to be not as bad as I thought it was going to be, not as bad as I had made it out to be in my mind, but I ended up adding about 40% new content to the book. I reordered the book so that it more closely followed the planning process that we take people through, and then I republished it.
Emilia: That sounds amazing. That’s a great story, and I just want to go back to that, so are we going to get a chance to hear that song today? Do you think-
Emilia: … you can share that with-
Jason: … so-
Emilia: … us?
Jason: I am going to share it, and I just warn our listeners, I’m not a musician, but it is part of this legacy, this idea that I have of someday, maybe my kids will want to go back and hear their Dad’s voice, kind of like my friend Dean’s daughter, and so I will share that. I am going to share it here at the very end of our time together.
Emilia: I want to get a little more into just asking, what is it you mean when you say, “Live your legacy”?
Jason: Yeah, so again, it’s not our money. Money is not what life is all about. Of course, we want to have enough that we cannot have to worry, but what I found is that there’s really no amount of money that gets you to a place of not worrying. I mean, some of the people that I know that worry the most are the people that have the most amount of money, and so that’s why I’m always trying to say, “Look, if you really want clarity, confidence, and freedom,” which is the tagline of the book, and that’s why I said, “Make Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life and put God first,” was because I believe that that’s where people get that confidence from. That’s where they get the clarity. That’s where they experience freedom, not from their money, but living your legacy is all about, in my opinion, it’s about telling your story. It’s like, “How did we get to this place?”
I just, I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to share the perspective that the Bible gives you when you’re going through struggles and times that don’t make any sense. That’s one of the things I think the Bible did for me in this particular situation. What happened was, it took a little bit more time. I mean, writing a book is a lot of work, but we added 40% new content. We reordered the book so that it more closely matched the planning process that we take people through, and then we hit “Publish.” While the first book had been a total flop, almost nobody really read it or bought it, when we republished Sound Retirement Planning, the title of the new book, it made it all the way to the number one bestseller on Amazon-
Jason: … under personal finance, and it held that position for a couple of weeks. I’ve got this really cool screenshot now with my book as the number one spot, Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, his book was number two, and then Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University was number three. That was just, I mean, my dad gave me Rich Dad, Poor Dad, when I was probably 17, and Financial Peace University, I like Dave Ramsey’s work, and so it was just a real honor for me to see something that had been a total flop with a goofy guy with big ears on the cover to when we redid the book, we sent a email out to all of our community and just said, “Hey, which cover do you like the best,” and everybody voted on their favorite cover, and …
It was just a, again, looking back, it’s easy to see, it’s easy to understand now that there were some intentional hardships and struggles that were put before me to get me ready to help me be ready for the next thing, because I never would have rewritten the book or republished it had it not been for that attorney’s letter. What I thought was one of my biggest setbacks actually ended up being one of my biggest setups for some incredible success as a result, so it’s just a … It is a wonderful story, and it really kind of captures my heart as I think about it.
Emilia: Well, I want to give a big thank you to you for sharing this story, because talking about your legacy and sharing these kinds of things with people, it’s amazing how stories can evolve and, like you said, you go from all these difficult times to these great times in your life, and I really, again, I want to see that we can share that song that you made with your kids, if we have some time for that.
Jason: I’ll tell you, I’m really nervous about that, because I, again, I’m not a musician. I just happen to have this guitar-
Jason: … and-
Emilia: … it’s part of your legacy, I think.
Jason: It’s part of the legacy, and it’s part of this idea that someday, like my friend Dean, his daughter, she goes back and listens to this podcast every once in a while to see, hear her Dad’s voice. I think there’s an opportunity for our listeners to do something similar to this. There’s a website out there called StoryCorps. At StoryCorps, these are national archives, so these are people that go out and actually share their story, and there’s these amazing stories on there. It’s usually a family member interviewing a family member, just kind of telling what happened, and so I want to encourage our listeners. You don’t have to write a book in order to leave a legacy. It could just be something as simple as sitting down and having a family member interview you about your life and something significant that happened, and how it turned out, and what the struggles were that you had, and how you overcame those struggles.
I think that’s the opportunity here is, I’ll be a little bit vulnerable here sharing my story so that, hopefully, people have the courage to share their own story, because I do believe that’s the greater legacy. It’s the wisdom. It’s the life. It’s what we believe in is most important in our life that we, I think we really … That’s where future generations benefit the most, not necessarily the money that we leave. I mean, that’s a nice perk, but it’s not, can’t be the number one thing.
Emilia: Well, I definitely feel inspired now. I think I want to go chat with my grandmother or some of my elders and just kind of get these things down, because when you lose a family member, you also want to remember things, and you can’t remember everything, so that’s great.
Jason: You only get one chance, and once they’re gone, the stories are gone, and so if we don’t capture them, then that’s where we miss out, and so … Anyways, yeah, so this song that I wrote with my kids, you get to hear their beautiful little squeaky little voices, but do you think we should go ahead and share this?
Emilia: Yes. I’m excited. Yes.
Jason: Okay. All right, so we’ll get, we’ll cue this up and have our listeners enjoy this song, maybe not enjoy it so much, but at least we’ll share it with them. Here it goes. (singing).
Speaker 4: Can we hear it?
Emilia: That was so good. That was great. I don’t know. I just, I think this is part of their legacy now. They’re going to remember this forever.
Jason: Along those lines, at the time that the book made it to number one, I thought that was the legacy, but the reality is, the book ends up just being another book in the archives that someday nobody will ever, probably, pay any attention to, but the song, for my kids and my family, what I realized, that that was the real gift that came out of all this, not the success.
I’m reminded that probably the greatest lesson I learned from my friend Dean, and Dean was a great teacher, and he was great at asking questions, one of his best attributes, but as I was driving to his funeral, it was about two years ago, actually. Almost … In a couple of weeks it’ll be two years, but as I was driving to his funeral, I knew that I wanted to have an opportunity to speak, and so the two questions that I realized that are most important, I used to think it was, “What have you contributed and how will you be remembered,” but nobody really cares about your contributions or your money. They will remember how you made them feel. I think that’s important, but after having the opportunity to be mentored by Dean, the two most important questions I came away with from our time together was, “Who did you love, and how did they know they were loved?”
I think if we start the retirement planning process, being able to answer those two questions, it’s going to help create a lot more clarity about how you spend your time, which ultimately is your greatest asset. Then, like I say, for me, if you want to have more confidence in life in general, it’s not found in your money. It’s found in the Word. It’s found in a relationship with Jesus, and so that’s all I have.
Emilia: Great. No, that was great. Thanks again for sharing, Jason.
Jason: All right. Until next week.
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