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December 28, 2016

The Untold Stories of a Business Celebrating its 10th Birthday

On this day, 10 years ago, we started LotusGroup Advisors.

Every year since 2006, I’ve used this week as a time of reflection, a time of creation, and a time to honor.

For me, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is auspicious: a time where new things are meant to begin.

And this year… well, you know I’m not breaking tradition.

I going to share with you as clients, teammates, and friends, some of the untold stories over the past 10 years, of a little company called LotusGroup.

Naming the Business

Like any startup, naming the business is half the fun. We came up with all sorts of wacky names and it came down to the final two.

Raph and I got one entry a piece:

      1. Raph’s Entry: Walking Stick Advisors
      2. My Entry: LotusGroup Advisors

Now I know in hindsight, it’s easy to say how ridiculous Walking Stick would have been. But that’s confirmation bias. The truth is that we gave them both serious consideration.

A walking stick being the support for people as they retire. But it conjured up images of a brand that I simply couldn’t get down with.

The Birth of Lotus

My wedding invitations were out of this world. Custom-designed by my cousin; every detail was immaculate. And, she designed a symbol that would sit alone on the front of the invitation.

That symbol is what you now see as the logo for LotusGroup Advisors.

In eastern philosophies, the lotus symbol represents purity because it is the only flower born of swamp water.

Money can be murky like swamp water, so I felt it was a symbol that represented our mission well.

Turning A Side-Hustle into a Business

All of 2007, I was traveling back and forth between the businesses I built in LA and India, burning the candle at both ends, all while growing LotusGroup.

I started with $0. Let that settle in for a second. I had $0 to manage, didn’t come from a financial firm where I brought clients with me, and didn’t have family money to bring to the table — staples for those who go on their own.

I did it all in silence. I was worried that if my partners at ICGC found out, they would have an issue with it. This is all pre “Four Hour Work Week” so carving time for myself to build a business could be perceived as a conflict.

That meant, I couldn’t sell LotusGroup’s services to a single person I worked with or knew through that business.

The Great Recession

As I built new business, I was sitting pretty with cash because I had a dual-income from ICGC and LotusGroup.

And then I took the leap — there was enough income and trajectory to leave ICGC — cashed in my equity, and went full-time into LotusGroup.

In the process, I got married to my beautiful wife Natasha, who left her entire country, family, and life behind in India to join me.

And then the economy tanked.

My income was cut in half within months and my assets too. A double whammy. In order to stay afloat, Natasha and I had to take drastic measures.

We said goodbye to Denver.

Hustling For Reals

We packed up our stuff, put almost everything in storage, and took our pup and what we needed, and moved to a small apartment in Philadelphia.

My former company’s HQ was in Philly and I felt that proximity would breed new business. But that was a risk so I also needed to drive up income.

Fortunately, two former executives from ICGC were doing a turnaround of a meat manufacturing plant in Cincinnati and so I reached out to help.

They hired me to negotiate millions of dollars to drive savings. It was a win-win: they got me for a good rate and I pocketed straight cash, homie.

Over the next 3 months, Natasha and I dropped our costs by over 50% and increased our income by over 100% (bless her heart for enduring all this).

And the move out east proved to be worth it, LotusGroup doubled in size.

The net result: LotusGroup stayed in business and we moved back.

Full of Appreciation

Over the years, we would see the company expand to carry a meaningful role in our community, provide growth opportunities for our team, help clients at deeper levels than just money, and provide for our families.

I’ve got nothing but love for those years and all that it provided for so many.

Yet, the time came for me to move along and this auspicious week last year, I inked the deal to sell 40% of my equity, kept 10% as a symbolic gesture, and transitioned out of the business.

The Other Side

I miss nothing more than the depth of relationships I had as your Advisor.

The conversations we would have, the frequency of those conversations, and the level of intimacy are all baked into that role.

I’ve learned that meaningful relationships happen because we open up our souls and hope that those who care enough, respond in kind.

It has been the honor of my life to serve you as your Financial Advisor, and I hope that I will hear from you again soon.

Happy 10th birthday to the little company that emerged from swamp water… and bloomed.

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