Ryan Dontoh is a local financial advisor focused on helping families earn more income, become properly protected, debt-free, and financially independent.
If you’ve done any amount of networking in the east valley you’ve probably met Ryan. He truly believes that in order to build your business you need to build relationships. So in addition being a Financial Advisor, he also is the co-founder of ONE Networking which is a free networking group in East Mesa. Please enjoy.
Krysta: Hi and welcome to the East Valley entrepreneurs podcast. We’re your hosts. This is Krysta.
Maggie: This is Maggie.
John: This is John and we’re Zenith Marketing and Sales.
Maggie: Today, we are interviewing Ryan Dontoh with Primerica. If you’ve done any amount of networking in the East Valley, you’ve probably met Ryan. He truly believes that in order to build your business, you need to build relationships. So in addition to being a financial advisor, he also is the co-founder of one networking, which is a free networking group in East Mesa, please enjoy.
John: So we’re sitting down with Ryan Dontoh today. He’s in financial advisor and we’d love to just ask him some questions about him and his business kind of a little backstory. So thanks for being with us today.
Ryan: Of course. It’s a pleasure.
John: So tell us a little bit about your story. I mean, how did you get involved in what you’re doing now? And where you going? Tell us a little bit about you?
Ryan: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s funny. I’m young but I feel like I have a lot of mileage for some reason. I originally got started in this world because I had a lot of money problems and I went to school in New York for a advanced automotive repair and collision repair diagnostics, engine performance and all that good stuff. And when I graduated after working for three years there and taking all my money to pay off loans while I was in school at $40,000 worth of school loan debt, and it’s not a lot. I mean compared to what most as people have but you know, you’re 21 22 years old starting life 40 grand in the hole kind of hurts a little bit. And so I was super diligent. I just really want to get out of debt is the only thing that I had over me. So I moved out Arizona, always paid on time, never missed a payment, always adding extra money on and multiple times a month and was doing everything I can to I could to get out of debt and after about three years, I pulled up a couple statements and I paid that $40,000 all Down with $37,000 and that was really what kind of hit me like a brick is just stepping back and feel like I was never going to get out of debt and it’s nuts because 40 Grand is very much and other there’s definitely a lot worse going on since we’re why we undereducated when it comes to finances, but I was introduced, you know to the financial world by real good friend of mine of Canada. And you know, she introduced me to an office out here and essentially put me on a financial plan that said, If I simply follow the plans simply utilized and internalize this basic basic financial information that I’ll be completely out of debt in two and a half years and you know, I kind of step back and I was like what like I’m paying this for three. Like Yeah you need to leave right? Like what is this crap right two and a half years come on, and so I stuck to it. Did everything that’s said it said I should definitely was a lot more conscious about where my money was going and ended up paying off that remaining 37 thousand dollars and thirteen months. And you know, it was kind of at that point where I realized. Yeah, that’s incredible that I was able to do that but if I can do that means anybody can do it. And so I you know kind of went on a mission is telling as many people as I could, you know, this is how you organize your Finances. This is basic information. Anybody can make a significant amount of money anybody can become wealthy anybody can really get a control on their finances. It’s really really simple. We just don’t learn it anywhere and so, you know after seeing that and kind of look The state of the country of the financially anyway, you know, I just made a decision that everybody needs to know as much as they possibly can on a basic level of financing. I just really wanted to expose how corrupt the financial services industry was and the nice thing about it is that there’s so many problems out there. I don’t need to create problems. All I do is provide Solutions. Also, it’s definitely fulfilling thing to do for sure. So that’s kind of how I got started in the financial world.
John: So how long ago was that?
Ryan: Coming up on for years. Four years ago, it seems like 20 but also feels like it’s gone by extremely quick, you know and see the definitely a rollercoaster of a ride. But yeah built for years now and like I said, definitely a lot of miles in the last four years what I’ve learned a lot and a lot of great people definitely want to have it any other way.
John: So what was your biggest mistake you made in business?
Ryan: Yeah my biggest mistake in business and I think this kind of kind of pays an homage to the Dunning-Kruger effect. I thought I knew it all I thought I could do it on my own. You know, I had some and I still do have some incredible mentors, you know, incredible people in my life that I’ve done this for decades and for whatever reason, you know me coming out of school and paid off. A little bit that that I was running the world and also say my biggest mistake was not following coaching and mentorship as closely as I should have the beginning and it’s funny because the more you learn and the more experience you become longer in Industry the more you rely on those mentors and I think you should write your link arms and you’ll be always become closer with those people the more you learn and so I did that backwards. But yeah, it was definitely not not taking the coaching I should have early on.
John: So my next question, I think you kind of answered. But what did you really learn that you could apply that to your business from making that? Move in the business where you thought you knew more than what you really?
Ryan: Yeah, I think that’s one of the most humbling things than one of the most important things many people can do is realizing that you don’t know everything and you actually as a matter of fact, you don’t know anywhere close to everything but I think that not only are relationships are important, but it’s important to listen to those relationships and kind of you the world as you only know so much and there’s a lot of gaps in your knowledge and every time Speak to somebody or listen to somebody you have opportunity to have them fill those gaps in so always listen to somebody as if they know something that you don’t because they do, you know, and so just being very open understanding that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason right and you know just really approaching every situation as if you don’t know anything about it, but still maintain that confidence as well as obviously that’s extremely important as well. So yeah, I’ll I would definitely say humbling yourself as to what you know in business because there’s always somebody out there knows more.
John: Okay. So you mentioned that you went through a lot of things to get to the point you’re at now right? You’re an old soul at a young age. So how do people get to know you so that they can overlook the age factor right? For those of you can’t see Ryan right now right as a very young-looking guy in a very seasoned industry so how do you come across to help people understand that it’s more what I know and have learned that can help you instead of just my age?
Ryan: Yeah. I think the first thing is educating the people that we speak to. This is an industry like you said is it’s very seasoned industry. I believe the average financial advisor is 55 years old and even that is couple years old. So probably 56 or 57 at this point and so an industry that has that much time behind it that much age behind it. It’s it’s more important than ever to have younger people in this industry, you know, you give it 5 maybe 10 years is going to be there already is a huge shortfall for financial advisors and it’s only going to get exponentially worse in the next few years. And I think that there’s a couple reasons why. One, I think it’s a scary industry, you know, I think that when you think of finances and stock markets and trends and economy and stuff like that a lot of people just goes completely over the head because it makes no sense. And I think that’s where a lot of us go wrong because actually, very very simple. We just don’t learn this stuff in school, you know, we didn’t take business 101 in high school, you know, you learn more about mitochondria being the PowerHouse of the cell than we did about how to balance a checkbook, how credit cards work, and I’ve never once used the fact that the knowledge of the mitochondria being the PowerHouse of the cell except right now right. But I’m always talk about taxes, credit cards, and checkbooks and you know, we use that every day. And so I think it’s wildly important to understand that even though this is it seems like an old complicated industry. It’s not it’s a very new industry as a lot of new technology in it that’s simplifying everything and it’s a very very simple concept. You just simply need to save more money than you spend. You know, it’s not it’s not what you make its what you save. I think that’s a crucial crucial piece of advice to everybody needs to be here to you know, I believe the average American right now spending about $1.30 for every dollar that they make and that doesn’t allow you to retire that does not allow you to become financially independent. You need to save more money, and it’s it’s really that simple there’s not a lot to it.
John: So when you’re dealing with people, right, how do you break the barrier? Right? How do you educate them to overcome the problems? Do you foresee or the problems that they’re facing? There are certain techniques that you use or the things that you do to help them understand where they’re at now.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. And I think a powerful aspect of that is just telling my story. You know and I love my story because it’s not a complicated one, but I think there’s a lot of people that can relate to it. And you know that gaining that trust is a huge one as well. I think that you primarily need to build a relationship. I mean you guys know, you know from the from the networking group that you know, we’ve talked a lot about relationships you talked a lot about what happiness comes from a true happiness, not like an artificial happiness, but true happiness comes from relationships and I think that’s one of the reasons why I absolutely love this field and love this industry is because I can simply just focus on relationships and everything else will fall into place. You know, like our products and services speak for themselves. Numbers don’t lie. Right? And so the byproduct of the product is that it kind of takes care of itself. All I need to do is work on the relationship. And so once you have that relationship built you’ve kind of already won because the worst case scenario is you have a new friend, right? And so after that relationship is built, it’s a very simple conversation about basic Financial Concepts. And The Big Three Financial Concepts, you know across the board is saving money, you know, making sure that you have a plan to save money, getting out of debt because it’s extremely difficult to save money if you’re spending it on debt, and then making sure that your entire plan is properly protected and I think that when you can educate somebody really simply on those three things it empowers them to never be taken advantage of financially ever again because now they know, you know, it’s an industry where Financial companies profit off of ignorance. And so we allow our clients and our families and friends to arm themselves with the education that allows them to not be taken advantage of.
John: So with relationships being so important, you kind of brought us together because of your desire to build relationships with businesses. Not just you trying to sell businesses, but with ONE Networking and the started two and a half years ago two years ago?
Ryan: Yeah coming up on on two years. It must be has it been that long two years. Yes, it’s our second Christmas.
John: So what was your concept there? I mean this is some background here. ONE Networking is a free networking group. Highly professional people that attend it and it’s not your normal free networking group that most people think about so what would your concept of moving forward with one?
Ryan: Yeah, it’s funny because ONE it’s one of those groups that from the inside of it explaining it to somebody else. You can’t explain, you know from the inside looking out. You can’t really explain it in from the outside looking at you don’t really understand it. You know, I it’s always very cool to have people show up for the first time that this was an incredible group and say yeah and it’s free, you know, but when we originally started networking, you know. Kylee and I, we went to a ton of different networking groups. We’re checking out Chambers were attacked and checking out, you know, meetup groups were out a ton, that’s how we met Maggie and that was a blessing so I guess there was some good in there, right? But we want to a ton of different groups and there was just always something you know, I was under the impression that a networking group is there so that you can Network and build relationships. So why am I spending six seven eight hundred dollars a year to build a relationship. I can do that for free? Why am I required to be there? Why am I required to pass x amount of referrals? Why are these all these requirements when you go into business by yourself or for yourself for Freedom, right? It was completely contradictory which at least made sense to me at the time. And so Kylee and I made decisions. Like hey, let’s just start our own group. You know?. Let’s just go for it. Right like the can’t be that difficult. And so we spent about six weeks inviting tons of people. We must have invited two or three hundred people over the course of six weeks definitely made way more phone calls than that, but we put together one networking and we want to remove all requirements. We didn’t want to have a fee. We didn’t want to have a weekly monthly annual due. We didn’t want attendance requirements. We didn’t want X amount of referrals, you had to do this. All you had to do was show up with a good attitude a smile and business cards and really not even business cards, you know, but definitely a smile and you know, we did not expect it to flourish into what it has. You know, we have made sure that we opened it up to multiple different people in the same industry, and I don’t know if you remember but early on we had I believe three or four real estate agents of three or four like loan officers in the group and they passed the most business to each other, you know, because one focused on you know, bringing renters and turn them into buyers one focused on you know, out-of-state first-time homebuyers, one focus on no veterans and 55 plus, one work with like reverse mortgages. And so like opening it up like that not only allowed them to collaborate on a great scale, but you also knew that if you were going to a networking group and somebody else was there in the same category you were showing up professional you are not going to be late. You’re going to take care of yourself and take care of others. You’ve got to be professional and so that you know, the concept of the free networking group, the values truly comes from its members. The value comes from the people that are in it, the value comes from the environment and the atmosphere. And it truly has grown into something that we didn’t expect when we started but we were so thankful. And so blessed for every single person that has ever come to the group. Even if you only been given wants, you know every member in the group, Has been nothing short of a huge asset. And so that’s how ONE kind of came together and now we’re coming up on two years.
John: So what advice do you give to the entrepreneur? I mean, you’ve at a young age started very successful business look and help other people. So what advice you give to the person that’s just started out?
Ryan: You know, there’s I think that’s a question that is asked a lot and answered a lot. There’s a lot of different things that go into it, but I think it’s important to understand a lot of people simply don’t work. A lot of people don’t put in the work, you know, our founder always said that 90% of winning is simply being excited, you know, 5% is showing up in the last five percent is a dogfight, right, but you don’t have to worry about that last five percent less you do the first 95 and so, you know, as long as you have a strong belief in what you have and you’re passionate about you know, you need to be excited if you’re not excited you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot. You need to wake up every single morning ecstatic need to go to bed every single night excited to wake up in the morning. And you know that that excitement is really truly what keeps things going, but you can’t stop. I think people, too often people quit before they reach that point of you know, explosiveness. Or I love that analogy of you know, like rocket boosters leaving Earth’s atmosphere, right? Like they are 100% full throttle wide open until they break through the atmosphere and then you can shut up to a loft. Do 15,000 miles an hour without using the drop of fuel, you know, but you need to get past that point. It’s a lot of work. It’s a ton of work but it is so worth it. And I don’t think people stick it out long enough. I don’t think people stay excited long enough. It’s very easy to stay excited for a day, you know, if you say excited for a couple of years, but it’s the champions in the winters that stay excited for decades and over a lifetime. Those are really the ones that do big things.
John: Okay, so Mr. Positive here. All right, you talked about so what do you do Ryank, on one of those days when you wake up and just say I don’t want to do this today. What do you tell yourself?
Ryan: Yeah, you know, there’s a lot of people that don’t want to do things every day. There’s a lot of people they don’t have that choice, and I know that it’s on me to take care of those people. I know it’s on me to make sure that I’m living a life I want to, that Kylee’s able live life that she wants to, that our family and generations are able to live that life that we want to and so really holding on to that why and understanding why we’re doing this, it makes any daily heartache or daily disaster completely minor in the grand scheme of things. You know, there’s always a balance between logic and emotion and sometimes it logically makes no sense to keep pushing for but that’s where you need to allow your emotion to come in and your emotions take over to win. And sometimes you’re completely emotionally drained and you don’t want to do anything and it’s a bit was a late night and early morning, but that’s what logic comes in you need to have that logical conversation with yourself as to why you need to keep pushing on right? So I think you we all need that reminder and we need to put that reminder on the Forefront of our mind on a daily basis or else it is very easy to stop. It is very easy to quit, you know, that that value needs to be there and you meet you need to find out what that why is and that why can’t be a you know that the Diplomatic why. That I want to retire mom or want to retire my parents. That don’t get me wrong, I think that’s incredible. We should do that, but everybody says that. What truly gets you going right? What makes you tear up? What what gets you fired up? What causes you to be emotional? What makes your face turn red when you think about it, right? Like what what truly is your why is it because somebody made fun of you when you’re a kid and you are proven wrong because I think that’s completely valid run with it. That’s what motivates you right. Is it because you got a, you know, a jacked-up family you want to fix things for your family, whatever it may be you truly need to mean it and I don’t think that you’re that why is an easy thing to find. I think it’s it’s far too artificial, you know 2019 unfortunately, but truly having that reason to keep going and remembering it. It’s you know, you don’t get upset over little things anymore. You truly don’t I think that when your schedule is packed don’t have time to get upset over little things. So stay busy. Keep the action going for sure.
John: So this leads to a question you can answer you don’t want to answer. It’s too personal. What is your why? What has put you where you’re at now? What keeps you going?
Ryan: No, my wife is right there. It’s my mom. And you know, we know I say that a lot like I think if you say your mom is your wife’s a stupid why but I always say that when its surface level because it’s a very easy thing to do, but I mean that lady has done so much for me. You know, she is, you know, she would single mother, you know went through a lot of different things. We were in, you know in Canada and you know to the US and stuff like that and you know, I every time I you know, I wake up in the morning and don’t want to do something. I know that she woke up for years and probably didn’t want to do things but she had an obligation or at least a moral obligation to make sure that you know, I was taken care of and that I was doing things properly and for me to take the life that she has blessed me with and waste it? It’s an absolute mess. You know, that’s not a good thing and you know, you don’t truly know what the future holds. And I have this quote over here. It says I didn’t know they were going to need me. You know, I’m what scares the absolute hell out of me. I think I can say that absolutely, you know scares the absolute hell out of me is ten years from now wishing that I work harder because somebody’s on their deathbed and I can’t go see them or wishing that I worked hard because there’s some, you know a great friend of mine and can’t afford something and you know, for those of you that don’t have a why I think that’s fine. But know that you will one day and you don’t want to regret not working harder. You know, I sometimes like man, I don’t know why I work so hard, but I do know that I don’t want to regret not working hard because it sucks a lot more to not work hard and wish that you had and work too hard wish that you had and I don’t think anybody’s ever looked back Like, man I wish I didn’t build it. So wishing I didn’t help that many people right. So I think the fear of the unknown is one thing. Not knowing who’s going to need me but for sure that that woman right there. Without a doubt.
John: So if you could talk to your mom today, what would you tell her?
Ryan: I talk to her every day. Talk to her every day. I tell her she’s crazy. I don’t know why she put up with me for so long. I’ll definitely tell her that I love her. She’s just an absolutely incredible woman. You know that amount of support that she’s given me throughout the years, through everything. Because I’ve made some bad decisions. I’ve made some really bad decisions in the past, but she was always there to, you know, encourage me to be better encourage me to move forward and you know, I look back at why I am the person I am it’s always because of things that she has said, you know. I was talking to George earlier today and it’s funny because we do have these traumatic times and we have these crazy things that happen in our life, but it seems to be the small things that make the biggest difference, you know. And she always encouraged me to leave places better than you found them. You know, or at least not worse, you know. She always shows, you know, she was a really big one on always telling the truth, you know, like she just despised the liars and so I kind of adopted that as well and it took awhile you know. But you know the things that she had, you know implemented in me. I can truly never repay it I simply can’t. But what I can do is I can take that and really try to expand it to give everybody else the same opportunity and the same amount of knowledge to really really grow, you know, but I can’t pay her back. That’s what this is. This was a poem that I wrote for her. You know, I think that was really the best thing I can put into words, but you know, it’s really just about the relationship between a mother and a son man and I know that she’s extremely proud of me, but the truth is like I’m way more proud of her, you know, and so I think that would really… I hope she knows that I hope she knows how much I love and appreciate her.
John: So to wrap this up, right. I think everybody’s got a window to your soul here. Where do you see yourself in five years? What did you tell yourself right.
Ryan: So this is something that I think a lot of my mentors hate me for. For not planning out the next five or ten years. And you know, I simply never have and the reason why is so much can happen in five years. If you were asked me if I’d be sitting here five years ago. I think you’d be at you got the wrong person. You know, like that is not me. I’m going to own a hot rod shop in New York. Whare are you talking about in Arizona? You know, it’s like even in like the last year like a while. I thought I’d be where I was so things change so often but I do know that I will be exactly where I want to be because I like to break things down on a daily basis. I love to look I like to look at what can I do today? Don’t worry about tomorrow. It’s not here yet. There’s enough things to worry about today. Don’t worry about yesterday. It’s already there and you need to take that for what it’s worth, but I’m a strong believer in living every single day the best that you can and not closing doors, right? Keep all your options open, you know. Keep your head on a swivel always look for opportunity and then, you know five years from now if you spent the last five years doing things properly and taking advantage of opportunities and doing everything you can to build relationships and do what’s right, you’ll be a lot further than you are. I feel that if you set a goal because a goal can be limited, you know, then you’re just focused on one thing, but I think your focus should just be personal growth on a daily basis and I’ll take you to heights that you never would have expected, you know, and I 100% know that people disagree with me on that. I hear it all the time, but, you know, hey, it’s worked and it makes things extremely fun. We really just living on the edge.
John: So thank you so much for spending this time with us to help people get to know you a little bit better and that so thanks again Ryan and there’s anything we can do. Sit down talk to you right?
Ryan: Likewise likewise. You guys are both of you guys played a huge role in our lives, and you know, we got a lot of love for you guys as well. So I love what you got going on, you know, you got my full support to help out with absolutely anything. Definitely appreciate the opportunity.
John: Thank you.
Maggie: We hope you enjoyed today’s episode. You can find a copy of this podcast as well as Ryan’s contact information at ZenithAZ.com/podcast. Thank you for tuning in. I hope your day is as awesome as you are.