Ode to Frosty

by | July 23, 2020 | General | 0 comments

"A dream is the bearer of a new possibility, the enlarged horizon, the great hope."

— Howard Washington Thurman

"Happy Birthday!"

— Frosty the Snowman

Just over a year ago, Painted Porch was born. Prior to founding Painted Porch, I ran a small independent advisory firm based in Santa Barbara for over 10 years. I’m honored to have had that opportunity and I am very proud of what that firm became, the work we did, the work they still do each day. But I wanted more. While I always knew that money had meaning, I got to see firsthand the dramatic impact we had for so many people — by giving them the opportunity to understand their finances, align them with their own values, and create a path to freedom and happiness. I got to see the empowerment that comes from a clear sense of how to practically implement a plan that integrated with their lives. So many firms talk about these things, we actually did them — and it had a huge effect on so many of the people and families we served. It also impacted all of us, on a deeply personal level.

We built a team of people committed to serving others first, and putting our own personal and business success second. The effect of that on me, the team, and our clients was indescribable. I got to see what amazing things can happen when you focus on building a team dedicated to caring for each other and believing in a shared mission. I got to see the power of truly believing in your team’s potential — and how unleashing that potential and caring for their happiness benefits everyone involved: the team, the company, and the community.

I also got to see how limiting beliefs and upper limit thinking holds so many firms back from going further, from helping more people, and from revolutionizing our industry. Painted Porch was founded to go further.

Be Present. Cultivate Gratitude. Celebrate the Wins.

From the beginning, Painted Porch has been centered around exploring and integrating the things that make our lives rewarding and fulfilling; and the things that make our work impactful and sustainable. We don’t want to just guess at it. We take a methodical approach, incorporate research, and experiment with practical implications instead of simply relying on concepts. This quest has led us to mindfulness, gratitude and a community mentality, among many other themes that form the pillars of our practice. Each of these concepts, on their own, are simple but not easy. It is our belief that, in combination and compounding over time, these practices create an environment and produce results that are almost unimaginable. So, it only makes sense that we take a moment to pause and be present. To be grateful for what we have. To celebrate what we’ve accomplished in our brief history.

The Beginning

Starting anything is hard. I’m grateful for the simple act of starting the work. I am also proud of our willingness, all of us as a team, to look at our work with fresh eyes…with a beginner’s mind. It hasn’t always been graceful. We started from scratch, with only our founding principles. We wanted to reimagine everything. We had fits and starts as any new company would. We are blessed with a team that brings deep experience in their fields, but also comes with deep, lasting relationships with each other. The power of that connection can’t be overstated.

Infrastructure

Starting over also meant rebuilding everything we’d become accustomed to. It was slow going to start. Today, we have a robust software and operations platform that would be leading edge even for a company with decades more life under its belt. Our tools, process and systems have benefitted from our collective experience, having been reimagined without the constraints of the industry-as-usual. We were built with the ability to be mobile, highly responsive and location-agnostic.

We leveraged industry-leading financial planning software, but customized it to provide the accessibility and empowerment our planning process is designed to deliver. We have robust reporting and analytical tools for our advisor teams and investment committee. We have communications capabilities that allow us to run seamless virtual meetings, while partnering to provide a local office experience for our national client base.

Doing the work

Tools and infrastructure are worth nothing if you don’t use them to impact the people you work with. One of the most rewarding things as we sit here today is the quality, breadth and sophistication of the work we are doing for our clients and so many others as part of our Help First approach. As we rebuilt, we took the opportunity to rethink how we communicated and presented the work to the people we wanted to help. In addition, we’ve already created a number of new analyses and tools that have positively impacted the lives of those we do planning work for.

We’re also working on several white papers, not only for our clients and potential clients, but for our community and the professionals we work closely with. Finally, we took the important first steps to build out our alternative investment platform. One of our goals as a firm is to democratize direct investments in areas like commercial real estate, private equity, venture capital and others, making them more accessible and cost-effective to a broader set of clients. In March we made our first investment in Private Equity and are currently in the process of launching our first commercial real estate fund.

Our Community

We decided early on that our approach would be to work alongside, and for the primary benefit of, a wider community — rather than as a provider only serving its paying clients. This might be the thing I am personally proudest of, and I think it will have a significant and long-term impact. We define our community as those individuals that are either seeking, or open to, the same journey we ourselves are on — aligning their lives with enduring happiness, fulfillment and self-actualization in a very intentional and thoughtful way.

Everything we do focuses on impacting the broadest range of people — rather than solely our clients, team members or shareholders. It’s a simple concept, but one with profound effects on how we operate. Most of what we publish about our work is broadcast via our blog or media channels. There are occasionally things that are reserved only for clients or team members, for reasons of confidentiality or compliance.

But in general, we think in terms of offering whatever we have that might be helpful, to anyone in our community that might benefit from it. We firmly believe that humanity rising raises us all. As a financial firm, we have an opportunity to help people reach financial goals and arrange their financial lives in a way that makes it more likely they can pursue their true passions and offer their full potential to the world. Viewed through that lens, we don’t see why we would hold back from helping everyone we can.

There’s much more of this ahead for us. COVID and quarantine have delayed, appropriately, a number of things we’re excited about doing as soon as the world opens up. But, we’re incredibly proud of the way this community approach has already impacted the way we think, act and communicate. We’re grateful for this small choice.

Being nimble

We’ve all had plenty to adapt to this year. I am so grateful for our team and their willingness and ability to navigate such a dynamic, dramatic, changing environment. We were able to adapt to the COVID outbreak with remote work and virtual meetings, without a hitch to our operations or quality of work. We’ve engaged deeply on the business and social issues that have arisen. We’ve pivoted on strategy. We’ve rethought our teams. We’ve responded to market upheaval and made tough decisions in our investment portfolios.

Not every decision turns out to be a homerun. Our gratitude and pride comes from the process — our willingness to wrestle with issues and to make tough choices. The willingness to learn, change our minds, and pursue a different tack. In just one year we’ve seen this ring true for our firm, and for each of the incredible members of our team.

Our Team. Our Greatest Asset.

We love why we’re here. We love what we’re doing. I have seven amazing teammates and I think their most important qualification is their character. Every one of our team I consider to be an amazing human being. That is the essential. It only enhances the depth of talent, experience, and passion each has for our mission. We are blessed with a senior team that brings significant executive level experience in all areas of our operations.

While we are a new firm, our 8 team members average over 12 years’ experience and our relationships with each other go back many years, decades in some cases. If you’re interested in learning more about our team, feel free to check them out here. Alternatively, here’s a little humble bragging I can’t resist about each one:

Dana Weymouth

Director of Team Development & Operations

I’ve known Dana for over 10 years. While we met through soccer, we discovered a shared love of developing culture and building teams and shared many an evening visualizing a company that put culture and its people first. Now we get to build it. Dana’s experience and skills are matched by his innate enthusiasm, drive and positive attitude toward solving problems and getting amazing results for his team, clients and community.

Megan van den Bergh

Advisor
Director of Financial Planning & Research
Director of Advisory Services

I met Megan shortly after she graduated from UCSB 10 years ago. It was obvious from a very early stage that Meg had a passionate sense of what was right and the drive to pursue it. In all things. She is also a voracious lifelong learning machine. When she decided to become an advisor, after working her way to the top of the operations and compliance functions of our prior firm, her only concern was whether or not she would be able to deeply connect with her clients…a concern only someone with her humility would seriously consider. I’m honored she joined the team. I couldn’t imagine a better partner in executing, and evolving, the work we do each day for our clients and community.

Allison Prictor

Client Concierge
Director of Compliance

Allison was my office-mate for several years before I started Painted Porch. I don’t think you’ll find someone with more care, empathy and commitment to her teammates. Allison is one of the most thoughtful, kind, fair and loyal people we could hope to work with. She’s always there for her team and takes the same commitment and care for our clients. One hint with Alli, if you really want to show her you appreciate her, sing her a little song!

Kurt Schliemann

Managing Partner & Head of Community Engagement

Kurt has been a close friend for over 20 years. In addition to his impressive experience leading teams and creating real engagement in a business context, Kurt brings a level of humility, passion and genuine interest in people that I believe makes him invaluable as we build this new firm and focus on changing an industry. I can’t imagine a better fit to help shape the way we engage with our team, clients, professional relationships and broader community. Kurt just joined us in May and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s ahead!

James Castanino

Managing Partner
Chief Financial Officer
Head of Strategic & Corporate Development

I met James through Kurt and they have known each other since their days growing up in the Boston area together. My first exposure to James was being grilled by him as he searched for a potential advisor for his parents. The first time I met him in person I walked out and told my colleague that he would be a dream to have on the team in the CFO and strategic development seat. That was almost 5 years before Painted Porch was founded. James is the kind of person where you can just feel the integrity and quality of his character the first time you meet him. Incredible experience, intelligence, integrity, humility and a deep commitment to his teammates make James the ideal addition to our executive group. Like Kurt, James has just newly joined the team. We are honored to have him.

Olivia Jones

Client Concierge

Olivia joined us last fall as our first intern. She was finishing up her undergraduate degree at UC Davis and quickly became an invaluable addition supporting Allison and Dana and pitching in on a number of projects in support of the whole team as we were still in our earliest days as a new firm. It’s not often you get the opportunity to say your interns have had a long relationship with the partners, but in this case both Dana and I have known Olivia for over 10 years. I originally met Olivia on a soccer field when she was 8 years old and got to watch her personify what it means to be a good teammate and leader in that environment over many years. She joined us full time this past month. Olivia brings incredible optimism, intelligence and positivity to everything she does. We’re very excited about her future with the firm.

Craig Schmitt

Analyst

Craig joined us in April and we couldn’t be more excited about him as part of our team. Being the only member of the team we haven’t known for years, there was a lot of pressure! Just kidding, we all came to love Craig through the interview process and he was so gracious as we navigated the COVID delays and what that meant for our hiring plans, etc. Craig is incredibly thoughtful, conscientious, intelligent and has already exhibited all the shared values we hold so dear at Painted Porch. He’s quickly becoming a star on our advisor team and we’ve got high expectations for his future.

Tomorrow is Day 1.

A year has flown by, we have grown so much — helping people, being helped by others — we are finding our own path in ways that are fascinating. In the midst of it all, I can’t wait to see what’s next. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans. That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred."

— William H. Murray

Providence has moved in our favor in so many ways already. I am deeply grateful, so proud of everything we’ve accomplished in this short time.

We have a very big vision and mission. We are passionate about what we’re doing. Beginning is hard, but while we pause now to celebrate a year where we’ve accomplished much and worked very hard to bring this new venture into life, we also do so knowing that as we look ahead, we will start tomorrow with the same sense of beginning. We do not seek stasis or comfort or a smooth trajectory.

We want to grow, push the boundaries of our industry and challenge the assumptions around what work and a team can be. We do all of this with a clear focus on how we impact the lives of everyone who encounters Painted Porch. We want to leave this place better than we found it, and tomorrow is always just the beginning of that journey!

Bird

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