Tony Rose is a founding partner of Rose, Snyder & Jacobs. His client responsibilities include tax and management consulting advice to closely-held corporations, family-owned businesses, partnerships and the high net worth individuals who own them. Tony has spent considerable time resolving the complexities faced by these entrepreneurs. In addition to helping entrepreneurs and high-net-worth families with tax-minimization strategies for asset growth and protection, Tony also helps his clients more effectively grow their financial capital by first enriching their human, intellectual, social and structural capitals.
Through counseling and leading multidisciplinary teams of professionals, he has provided valuable guidance at the point where life intersects wealth.
Mindie: All right, my friends. Welcome to another episode of The Lucrative Society. Sean and I are delighted to bring you our guest today because he truly is one of our favorite people.
Sean: Well, first of all, let me say, you’re delighted.
Mindie: Okay, fine.
Sean: I’m along for the ride.
Mindie: [Laughing] Sean is just along for the ride. Today with us. We have our friend and, full disclosure, our CPA accountant, Mr. Tony Rose. Tony, welcome to the program.
Tony Rose: Hello to both of you.
Mindie: We are so excited you’re here.
Sean: Tony, do you have like a fun prefix that we could put to your name like Sir Tony Rose or is there anything that we can give you that makes it sound special?
Tony Rose: No.
Sean: No, okay.
Tony Rose: The answer’s actually no.
Sean: I’m going to knight you then.
Tony Rose: I’m just like you, just trying to get along.
Sean: Okay, got you.
Mindie: Hey, we’ll take it. So on this program, we’re talking a lot with various people about the entrepreneurial journey. We’re talking about things like wealth, which I’m really interested in your perspective on, and also happiness. So we’re going to get into all of that stuff, but to begin and just so our listeners can get to know you a little bit better, could you bring us up to speed on how you arrived at where you are today, doing what you do today?
Tony Rose: I’d like to say that I had a purpose in mind when I started this journey, but the reality is I sort of got here by mistake. I was going to be a history professor.
Mindie: I didn’t know that.
Tony Rose: And I took an accounting class as an elective because my counselor said, well, at least you can learn how to balance your checkbook. And I took my first accounting class and I had a professor who was absolutely on fire, totally committed, totally passionate about public accounting. And he lit me on fire and I switched my major and became an accountant. I was a really actually a crappy auditor because there’s really a lot of ways you can be an accountant. The way most college accounting students end up thinking of themselves is as an auditor. And I was a really lousy auditor and got fired from my first job. I called a professor of mine who recommended me to a man who had an accounting firm and their accounting firm pretty much only did taxes.
And so I went to this accounting firm and they said, you’re now a tax guy. And I said, Oh, that’s kinda cool. I was thinking about the Beatles’ song “Taxman” and stuff like that. And so I started doing this and it turned out that I had an affinity for it. And that was when I was 23 years old. About three years later, I went into business with the person that was training me. Her name was Mary Snyder. And we opened up our accounting firm. It was Rose and Snyder. And then in the early 90s, we added Jacobs who actually was an auditor. And so now we do auditing. But my end of the business has always been doing taxes, but also more than just helping people with their taxes, I actually believe that it’s an accountant’s job to help people be happy because what’s the reason why you have money? You want to be safe and you want to be happy. If you’re not feeling safe, you’re almost never happy. So in the end, it’s all about happy and so that’s how we denominate value for our clients.
Mindie: How did you get to be… I would say a lot of CPAs or accountants that I know or that I’ve come across are not as maybe entrepreneurially minded as you tend to be you. You like to think outside the box. You’re not afraid of the IRS, you know there’s a lot of things that you, I just feel like are very different in the way that you help people with their taxes and their accounting needs. Where did that come from?
Tony Rose: Well, I think part of it is my natural instinct. We did an analysis… I don’t know if you’ve talked about in your prior podcasts or are going to talk about Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle which is a very, very famous Ted Talk that he did. I don’t know how many hits he’s had. You start with the why, his famous book is Start With Why, and my why as it turns out and has been analyzed is to make sense of things. So my internal engine says I’m here to help people make sense of, in my case, taxes and finances and their accounting work. The second strong suit I have about my why is I want to master things. I want to learn new stuff. One of the reasons, and in full disclosure, I’m a big consumer of what Lucra does. One of the reasons why I sought out being with you two is because I believe you have a mastery of things that I did not have. And I still don’t have the mastery, but I know more now because I know you than I did before. And so my natural instincts are anything but actually doing it right. Although doing it right also helps keep you from going to jail. And my whole intention of my making sense and my wanting to master new technologies is so that I can make an impact on people’s lives. Which is my third why. Everything I do and everything we do at our place is focused on making that impact on people’s lives, to be truly a trusted advisor. Any entrepreneur ends up doing their passion. In fact, entrepreneurs are not entrepreneurs if they’re not doing their passion. They’re just business owners. And they may succeed and they may fail. More often than not, they fail. Now there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that also fail, but they’re failing doing their passion so they passionately fail instead of hanging on by their fingernails. So, that’s a long answer to a short question.
“Entrepreneurs are not entrepreneurs if they’re not doing their passion. They’re just business owners.” [Click to Tweet]
Sean: Tony, there’s something that we do in every episode that I think you’re going to enjoy. It’s a four part question. I’ll walk you through each of them one at a time, and it helps the listener kind of get an idea of these four components that we believe are necessary for people to have the wealth and the happiness. And the acronym is HERB. I’m going to ask you for each of the steps and so the first one is the habits. What are some of your habits that helped to grow your wealth and your happiness? What are some of the rituals, the habits that you do in your life?
Tony Rose: You’re talking about rituals?
Sean: Well, the things that you do each day, correct. The rituals.
Tony Rose: Each day I get up and I plan my day. Ben Hardy and Cal Newport have been very, very instrumental, in at least my readings, have been very instrumental in that. I’m very mindful about what I want my day to be and when I get to the office every morning, the days that I sit down and do what I call a mindfulness spreadsheet, where I actually block out my day by the hour about what I think I’m going to do. Now, I never actually do it in that order, but what it does is embed it in my mind. And so I unconsciously during the day end up getting 80% of what I have on that list done. And when I do that, I am extraordinarily effective and efficient. When I don’t start my day being mindful about what I want my day to look like, I’m very aimless. It just never fails to happen that way. So that’s one of the habits I have. I also like to take a shower. That’s also a very good thing to do so that you don’t turn people off.
Mindie: [Laughing] That is a good thing.
Sean: What are some positive habits that you created around generating wealth and making sure that you’re responsible with your money?
Tony Rose: That’s a question that I’ve been wrestling with for 50 years. I don’t know that I’m responsible with my money. I think people would look at me and say I’m responsible, but I haven’t been. I have a funny view of things. And as I’m an older guy now I’m facing the choices that I’ve made squarely in the face. I’ve made a lot of money. And when you’re looking at percentiles of accountants, the amount of money I make on an annual basis probably puts me certainly in the 80th percentile, certainly of local firm accountants, maybe in the 90th percentile or 95th percentile. I made a lot off a lot of money and I have for a very long time. I’ve certainly made choices of how to spend my money. I spend my money to make myself happy.
It’s not the spending of money that makes myself happy. It’s the application of resources that permits me to continue my mastery of new technologies, my enjoyment of the things that I enjoy and my ability to be with people that I care about. So I made those choices over the years. To do that, I spent an awful lot of money. So I could have millions and millions and millions of dollars put away and I don’t. I’m going to be comfortable and if I retire, I would be the envy of 90% of the people in the United States. But I’m not going to be as comfortable as I would have been if I had been a little more disciplined. There are other people that are naturally disciplined with their money. They naturally save. For me it’s not a natural discipline. I am the son of my father who died rather penniless. So I’ve really gotten way ahead of him. But in relative terms, I haven’t been that wise with my money. Now having said that, I understand the choices I made and people make choices about their wealth. It’s the people that blame other people, other conditions, that have given control of their lives to things and others, when in truth, they’ve made their own choices, which I’m sure you talk about a lot.
Mindie: Preach it, Tony!
Tony Rose: I know you talk a lot about it, cause you’ve talked a lot about it to me.
Sean: So moving on to the next component, E is for environment. How do you like to set up your environment, both at your office, your home, your vehicle, and the people you surround yourself with. How do you set your environment up to make sure that you have a flow of wealth and happiness?
Tony Rose: Let’s continue with the theme of choice. We choose to live in the conditions that we choose to live in. Now there are circumstances where conditions are not maximal and your choice is to change the way you view the conditions. If you’re absolutely pinned, like if you’re in a pit that’s 500 feet deep and there’s no way to climb out, you can change the way you look at those conditions or you can choose to change the condition if you’re capable of climbing out. I am very fortunate. I opened my business when I was 26 years old. This is the place that we created. There are 55 people here. People that are not civil, people that are not courteous, people that are not trustworthy, people that are not team players are not invited to stay very long. Sometimes they do, but most of the time they either naturally select out, which is really good because then I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. But every once in a while I have to invite people to find another opportunity.
Mindie: That’s a great way to put it: Invite people to find another opportunity. I love that.
Tony Rose: Well, our friend Michael Bernoff talks about people not being screwed up. They just cease to be acceptable to us. So, there’s one half of me that looks at someone and says, you’re really screwed up. But the other half of me says, it’s my choice to accept them in my life. And if I accept them in my life, then they’re screwed up in my life. But my screwed up life is not because they’re screwed up. And that’s been really, really impactful and helpful for me. But my environment is what I create. And I’ve been fortunate enough and other people are not. But I’ve been fortunate enough to just do it the way I wanted to do it. Everybody had to wrap around me. So I whistle around the office. Every once in a while, I’m profane and people pretty much put up with me.
Sean: So moving from habits to environment to the R. R stands for resources. What are some of the books, courses, programs that you have attended that you feel like have really shaped who you are as a man, as a leader, as a father? What are some of the resources that you would recommend others based on what you’ve consumed?
Tony Rose: Well, there’s nothing like reading. I have this five-page-a-day theory that anyone can read any book, five pages a day. So you don’t have to commit to read a book. All you have to do is commit to read five pages. So I’m a pretty busy guy, but I pretty much finish a book a month, at the very least, by committing to reading five pages of something that day. Early on, the formative book for me was the E-Myth by Gerber. That talks about running your business and years ago we understood you cannot do what you do and be successful without a mentor and without a coach. You can’t do it alone. If you think you can do it alone, you’re creating a bridge that’s built on thread and not on any kind of solid ground.
I am lifted by the people that have supported me. At the very first was Mary Snyder, who was my original partner. And what you end up often doing is growing out of a coach. You get from them as much as you get and then you need to leave that coach. I have had a coach of some kind since 1978. The first major business coach I had was a man by the name of Brad Spencer who is a behaviorist and a doctor of psychology and has a very successful behavioral psychology firm that counseled with businesses. But I went on to other coaches as well, including joining the Strategic Coach, of which I’ve been a client for 18 years. I’m joining with you and where I met you, Sean, at Genius Network, Joe Polish’s group. I do a lot of work with Michael Bernoff who is very, very interesting and about communication technology and books and books and books and books and books and books and books.
I was thinking of… What’s the Arbinger Institute book? On self-deception, about being in the box, about being in your own box and only seeing from your perspective and not looking out from other’s perspective. That’s a wonderful book. I certainly like Deep Work as a book. I like the mindset book by Cal Newport. I like Ben Hardy’s book, for a young guy, is so wise about willpower not working, that you have to surround yourself with smart people. I’ve always wanted people smarter than me around me. I wanted to be the dumbest guy in the room. I didn’t need to be the smartest guy in the room.
Sean: Well, Tony, I have good news for you. You’ve achieved that.
Mindie: Oh, stop.
Tony Rose: Thank you very much, Sean.
Sean: From resources, we’re going to finish out this acronym with B stands for beliefs. What are some of the beliefs that you hold about life, that you hold about wealth, that you hold about human interaction? What are some of the beliefs that made you into the man that you are?
Tony Rose: My father-in-law, whose name was Robert Schultz, was one of the most spiritual men I’ve ever met. He scared the hell out of me when I was young. I married my high school sweetheart, so I knew Bob Schultz since I was 17 years old and, and he passed away, I don’t know, five, six years ago. And he ended his life living with us, although he was in a home at the time that he died. He started out by teaching me about the power of positive thinking. So writers like the writer that wrote The Science of Getting Rich.
Sean: Wallace Wattles.
Tony Rose: Right, which I think was the precursor to Think and Grow Rich. How to Win Friends and Influence People. This law of attraction, I really believe so much. And that the actual declaration of what you want and visualization of what you want has a strong attraction element into getting what you want.
It’s sort of like doing my mindfulness spreadsheet every morning, when I visualize in my mind what it is I want to get accomplished during the day, then I don’t actually have to look at that sheet a lot again during the day. Because I am attracting the accomplishment that I wanted to have. So I believe that about wealth, happiness, love, people. Now people are really important things. We talk about batteries included and batteries not included. There are certain people in your life that are energy sucks. They can’t help it, that’s the way they are. But you don’t have to choose to spend a lot of time with those people or have them in your life at all if they’re not relatives. And even if their relatives, to some extent, you can choose not to be with them as well. Anyone that drags you down is not someone you need to be with.
You want people that elevate your game, that challenge you to be a better you. Love you for you, not love you for what you could be, but love you for what you are and let you elevate yourself. Because in the end, you’re in control of whether you elevate, not somebody else. And so I believe you’ve gotta be in the right environment. You’ve got to make good choices about your resources. And good choices have to do with are they choices that make you happy? And you have to create good habits. So I really believe that that’s the case. I don’t believe everyone is going to be of equal success. I don’t believe everyone that starts a business is going to have a successful business. But the one thing that separates great business owners is the concept of persistence. Kathy Kolbe has also been a very formative person in my life. I’m a Kolbe certified consultant and I believe her technology about our instincts is unbelievable. And she talks about hierarchy of effort. That rather than attempting to do something, when you commit to do something, you attract the result. And that persistence is really important because everything’s not always going to work out. But great business owners know that they will work something out. It may not look the way that you expect it to, but it will oftentimes be bigger than you ever expected it to if you’re persistent. Employees don’t have to be persistent. Good employees are, but employees never have to be persistent. Great business owners, great entrepreneurs always have to be persistent. God, this is long and drawn out.
Mindie: [Laughing] It’s good stuff. You know what word I would use for that instead of persistent? Cause that, to me, doesn’t have as much oomph. I love the word tenacity.
Tony Rose: I like that word too.
Mindie: To me, it’s very much the same thing, but it’s just a little more oomph. Tenacious.
Tony Rose: That’s fierce.
Mindie: Yeah, that too. Exactly! So Tony, I have a question for you. And in the answering of it, I’m wondering if you can speak from some of your personal experiences. You’ve had some tragedies in your life, some wild events that a lot of people have not had to go through. You have gone through these things and not only survived these things, but thrived. My question is, how do you know when you are happy, maybe especially in the context of some of the stuff that you’ve gone through in your life?
Tony Rose: That’s a really interesting question and my answer might be considered a cop out. But I’m going to answer it. I have a niece who feels that she has under-maximized her talent and her potential. And lives, oftentimes, in a state of lack. The state of lack. I live in the state of California. You live in the state of Arizona. She lives in the state of lack. And that’s a really sad thing to watch. It’s very hard to watch. Because indeed, she’s accomplished a great deal. She does what she does very well. It may not be what she is wanting, what she had in her mind’s eye when she started out, but she does it really well. But she lives in this state of lack. So she mourns for what could have been and she doesn’t appreciate what is. That’s what Dan Sullivan calls being “in the gap.” So the phrase, I don’t know the longer quote, but if you want to be happy, be happy. What’s that quote, Mindie? You know what I mean? Well there’s some quote about some people live in a state of total befuddled-ness, but in the end, if you want to be happy, be happy. Find the things that are working. Don’t look for the things that aren’t. Now, don’t ignore the things that aren’t. And you can fix things that aren’t by either changing your environment, getting new resources, creating new habits, changing your belief system slightly. That 1 or 2% change in attitude often sends you… You know, you shoot a gun and you’re 1 or 2% off your aim, you end up being in a different county with that bullet. But if you want to be happy, be happy. Are you happy, guys?
Sean: Some days.
Mindie & Sean: [Laughing]
Mindie: I would say we’re generally happy for the most part. Talk to me specifically about how to maintain that, cause that is very simplistic. Like if you want to be happy, just be happy. And while there is truth to that, I think that a lot of people listening to this might be like “It’s not that easy, Tony. What happens when I just lost my job or what happens when this is my current health condition or whatever?” And they’re finding it difficult to be happy. How do you bring it back to that simplistic idea of it’s just a choice?
Tony Rose: Can I talk about Jonny?
Mindie: I would love it.
Tony Rose: Okay. Sean and Mindie lived much of this with me, so they already know the story and they’ve lived it with my daughter Katie. My son went to sleep one night and never woke up. And he was on the edge of his 28th birthday. That was in 2015. He was also a guy that candidly lived in a state of lack and he had accomplished so much. So a parent never wants to lose their child. They always want to die before their children.
“My son went to sleep one night and never woke up.”
But that happens to a lot of people, and since my son died, I’ve come to know that there’s many, many, many, many parents that have lost their children. My daughter has found there’s many, many, many siblings that have lost their siblings. And that starts you on a journey. Now, they’re never not dead. Someone asked me how old Johnny would be a few weeks ago. I said, well, he’s on the verge of his 28th birthday. He stopped. He’s never not going to be dead, but I didn’t die. You lost a job. You’re never going to have that job again, but it doesn’t mean you’re always going to be out of work. I’m not telling people to ignore the tragedy in their lives or the things that aren’t working or the situations that are difficult. Difficult is difficult. It’s the persis… It’s the tenacity to understand that difficult circumstances adjust and change if you don’t live in the state of lack. If you don’t live in the state of grief, it doesn’t mean you cannot grieve. It doesn’t mean you can’t be unhappy. It doesn’t mean you can’t be pissed, but understand that if you’re pissed forever, you’re living in this state of lack. No one has to live in the state of lack forever. That’s their choice.
Mindie: I love that it’s always coming back to choice because that’s what you teach. That’s what we teach. And it’s the ultimate responsibility. Out of that specific incident with your son, you and Katie, your daughter, had created something awesome. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Tony Rose: Yes, I’m happy to. Thank you. We were talking about our mutual experiences and people came to us and said, boy, you’re taking it very well. You’re really getting over it. The reality is you’re never over it. You’re never over the grief. You’re never over the incident. It could be a rape. It could be a robbery. It could be a terrible accident. It could be something in your life that’s terrible. You never get over it. The thing is, where do you put it in your life? Is it front and center all the time or is it in a different place? And Katie and I started writing about that and I have a ghost-writer that helped me write two other books. They were basically business books. And we started talking to Jocelyn about it and she said, wouldn’t it be interesting to write about your experiences from two different vantage points? One vantage point is parent, the other vantage point as a sibling. And we went off to write that book. It took us 15 months to write it, I think.
But I think it turned out really well. It’s called Beautiful Grief. It’s available on Amazon for download. Five bucks for Kindle. How could you go wrong? And the proceeds go to a very worthy cause: reimbursing me for the cost of writing a book. And we’ve had some really, really wonderful reactions from people about it changing their perspective. And really, that’s the intention of the book. We’re not telling someone that they need to live the same grief experience we’ve had, but we are encouraging them to look at it from different angles and look at it a little differently. And we think that for many, many people, this book, I think we’ve sold a little over 700 or 800 books, that it has had that effect. It’s also a very tough and a very raw read. Many people have said, certainly everyone that knew our family and knew us, cried when they read it. But other people just stayed up until they finished the book. It’s not a very long book because it’s really rough, raw. And people have said it’s a compelling read.
Sean: Tony, as we wrap this up, I want to know where can people learn more about you, both your accounting services and you guys and your message on Beautiful Grief. How can people stay in touch with you?
Tony Rose: With regard to Beautiful Grief, it’s BeautifulGrief.com and we really would like a community of people sharing their grief experiences. So that would be a really good place. Going to RSJcpa.com is where my firm website is and I do have a blog there and on Tony Rose at Facebook.
Sean: Awesome. Well, Tony, you know, as much as I tease you, we both love you very much and I think it’s amazing that you shared a little bit of your life with our listener and we are so grateful for your time. So thanks so much for being on the program.
Tony Rose: Thanks.
Mindie: Thank you, Tony. We adore you and we will talk to you soon.