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The first stop on "The Military Guide" lecture tour
Old 10-09-2011, 08:22 PM   #1
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The first stop on "The Military Guide" lecture tour

I'll write a blog post on this topic, but let me start it here first.

Some of us ERs talk about "giving back" or "paying it forward" by teaching financial planning and ER skills to the next generation-- whether that's at a high school, a college, or an adult-education program.

I think we military have done a pretty fair job of that with "The Military Guide". The contributors handed me their advice (a few even wrote big parts of the chapters) and I organized the curriculum. It's pretty straightforward and I'm told it's highly readable. However "giving back" and "paying it forward" happens every day in the military-- we just call it training. It's done in a variety of ways, but mostly in small groups with a speaker who teaches, demonstrates, and then leads the group in their own hands-on performance. Nuggets of knowledge are dispensed in 50-minute doses. I personally did it almost daily at two training commands for nearly eight years, and also several times a week on two submarines for over five years. I'm good at it.

So far the book's marketing has been in print or online, and it's spread largely by search engine or social networking. I've handed out lots of review copies to personal-finance bloggers, journalists, and "influential posters" on discussion boards, but there's no personal contact during the sales decision. (Although a few of you readers have taken the initiative to pass out the pocket guide at your commands.) The sales decision is totally in the reader's hands, and I have no idea who that is unless they e-mail me or post a comment.

But now I have a chance to do some of that paying-it-forward in front of a crowd. In the next month or two I'll actually talk about ER face-to-face with my first group of military. It'll probably be 10-20 servicemembers, veterans, and spouses at one of Oahu's local libraries. I plan to talk for 10-20 minutes and then take questions.

I have part-time support from the library's publicist. I have plenty of time to market this through military websites, base newspapers, flyers at military exchanges, and maybe even a radio PSA. In the entrepreneurial world it's known as an elevator pitch-- a random customer with whom you only have 30 seconds to set your hook and invite to a longer presentation.

Some of the advertising is straightforward:
- "ALL royalties support the troops through Wounded Warrior Project and Fisher House, the first two charities chosen by the book's contributors."
- "FREE copies of the book for the first five military servicemembers, veterans, or family members who sign up. $15 value."
- "FREE copies of the 4"x5" 64-page pocket guide for the next 10 people. Not in stores, these are only available from Impact Publications at $2.95/copy +S&H."
- "25 copies of the book will be on sale for $10 cash. $5 of each sale will be donated to Wounded Warrior Project and Fisher House."

If I hop up in front of the crowd with a PowerPoint presentation or a flip chart, they'll shoot me. We get enough of that in the military. (I'm referring to the PPTs and flip charts.) Instead I'm just going to hand out a page of bullet points. These are discussion topics, and the audience could take notes. Or they could flip through the book while I'm flapping my jaws and make their decision that way.

Here's the curriculum:
- The military's biggest drawdown in two decades is about to begin. Get ready by making yourself financially independent.

- Think about what you want to do after the military: bridge career, part-time work, or full-time retirement. Would you like to be financially independent when you leave the service? It typically takes 10-20 years but can happen as quickly as five years.

- The top three worries of all retirees are inflation, healthcare, and "But what will I DO all day?!?" The military retirement system takes care of the first two. You'll have no problem figuring out the third. Even if you don't retire from the military, you still have benefits.

- Track your spending for a few months.

- Develop your budget from what you've learned.

- Decide what's valuable to you, and allocate your spending accordingly. Save as much as possible. Max out the TSP and IRA(s) and put the rest in taxable accounts.

- Develop your retirement budget. What would you like to do all day?

- Calculate your savings goal, your savings rate, your asset allocation, and your financial independence date. The book shows you how.

- Frugality vs deprivation

- The fog of work

I'm going to dress for success: aloha shirt (untucked, of course), a nice pair of shorts, and slippers. Hey, I have an image to maintain.

The fun part of this will be selling the lifestyle while people think that I'm trying to sell them a book. Ha! I'm just there to pay it forward and talk story for a while. I enjoy that whether I sell books or not.

Maybe we should have ClifP plant himself in the audience to heckle ask the "tough questions".

If you had 10-20 minutes in front of an ER-curious crowd, what points would you like to make?
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Old 10-09-2011, 08:39 PM   #2
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If you had 10-20 minutes in front of an ER-curious crowd, what points would you like to make?
TSP, TSP, TSP. Put your money in the TSP. No, put more than you think you can into the TSP. If your TSP balance ends up too big (yeah, like THAT would ever happen!) then you can spend it later. Eat, sleep, dream TSP.

That is what I would say. It kills me when I hear about anyone in the service not taking as much advantage of the TSP as they could.
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Old 10-09-2011, 08:40 PM   #3
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Will this be on FB?

And kudos to Fisher House.
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Old 10-09-2011, 09:07 PM   #4
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A photo or slide of yourself passed out after the Dutch Harbor? medevac run, for contrast to the laid back current dress code.

The point? If you don't save this what the future career could look like.
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Old 10-09-2011, 09:21 PM   #5
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a radio PSA
I didn't realize you could do them this way.
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Old 10-09-2011, 09:49 PM   #6
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Here's the curriculum:
- The military's biggest drawdown in two decades is about to begin. Get ready by making yourself financially independent.

- Think about what you want to do after the military: bridge career, part-time work, or full-time retirement. Would you like to be financially independent when you leave the service? It typically takes 10-20 years but can happen as quickly as five years.

- The top three worries of all retirees are inflation, healthcare, and "But what will I DO all day?!?" The military retirement system takes care of the first two. You'll have no problem figuring out the third. Even if you don't retire from the military, you still have benefits.

- Track your spending for a few months.

- Develop your budget from what you've learned.

- Decide what's valuable to you, and allocate your spending accordingly. Save as much as possible. Max out the TSP and IRA(s) and put the rest in taxable accounts.

- Develop your retirement budget. What would you like to do all day?

- Calculate your savings goal, your savings rate, your asset allocation, and your financial independence date. The book shows you how.

- Frugality vs deprivation

- The fog of work
An alternative suggestion:

To those of us who have lived this stuff for years, the above seems to be a good list of topics. But to a room full of newbies - at least to those who are paying attention - trying to absorb all this information will probably feel a lot like drinking from a fire hydrant.

In 20 minutes you can't do more than skim the surface of all the topics on your handout. I realize you want to give them a taste of what they can glean from reading the book, but I'd consider reducing the list of what you want to discuss to only two or three topics so you can go into a bit more detail. Leave the other items on the handout as teasers of what they can find in the book.

Making your presentation narrower but deeper should help your audience understand there is a lot to be gained by purchasing your book and doing some serious reading.
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Old 10-10-2011, 08:46 AM   #7
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Nords,

I agree with REW regarding the topics to cover. I would emphasize maxing their TSP contributions as well as athe importance of asset allocation.
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Old 10-10-2011, 09:13 AM   #8
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It'll probably be 10-20 servicemembers, veterans, and spouses at one of Oahu's local libraries. I plan to talk for 10-20 minutes and then take questions.
If I were in that group to hear you, something about your journey would be meaningful. When you first started thinking about FIRE, when that thinking went from a crazy idea to a real goal. How it became a shared goal with your spouse. How it affected raising a child, including cost of higher education. What kind of feedback you received from family and friends. Why was this important to you.

My motivation to be there would be to see if you are "for real" - as in, do we have anything in common besides the military. You clearly are, and once that is established, the specific advice in the book becomes more relevant and something that might help me.
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Old 10-10-2011, 11:04 AM   #9
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These are good. Thanks. Keep 'em coming-- I want to be able to tell the audience that this advice isn't just me talking.
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TSP, TSP, TSP. Put your money in the TSP. No, put more than you think you can into the TSP. If your TSP balance ends up too big (yeah, like THAT would ever happen!) then you can spend it later. Eat, sleep, dream TSP.
That is what I would say. It kills me when I hear about anyone in the service not taking as much advantage of the TSP as they could.
I'm sensing some ambivalence here. Don't be so cryptic-- don't hold back-- do you think I should talk about the TSP?

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Originally Posted by Khan View Post
Will this be on FB?
Yep, as an invitation and an announcement. Both from my FB page and the library's. And of course I'll blog about it.

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Originally Posted by ls99 View Post
A photo or slide of yourself passed out after the Dutch Harbor? medevac run, for contrast to the laid back current dress code.
The point? If you don't save this what the future career could look like.
Well, it was technically Adak, which was much much closer to the place we were coming from, if you get my drift. And the soldiers in the room would laugh at my claim that my submarine life was tough.

Maybe I should use scenes from "The Office". Or point to the desk of the Reference Librarian...

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An alternative suggestion:

To those of us who have lived this stuff for years, the above seems to be a good list of topics. But to a room full of newbies - at least to those who are paying attention - trying to absorb all this information will probably feel a lot like drinking from a fire hydrant.
In 20 minutes you can't do more than skim the surface of all the topics on your handout. I realize you want to give them a taste of what they can glean from reading the book, but I'd consider reducing the list of what you want to discuss to only two or three topics so you can go into a bit more detail. Leave the other items on the handout as teasers of what they can find in the book.
Making your presentation narrower but deeper should help your audience understand there is a lot to be gained by purchasing your book and doing some serious reading.
Very good point. I like "top three" and leaving the rest for later.

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If I were in that group to hear you, something about your journey would be meaningful. When you first started thinking about FIRE, when that thinking went from a crazy idea to a real goal. How it became a shared goal with your spouse. How it affected raising a child, including cost of higher education. What kind of feedback you received from family and friends. Why was this important to you.
My motivation to be there would be to see if you are "for real" - as in, do we have anything in common besides the military. You clearly are, and once that is established, the specific advice in the book becomes more relevant and something that might help me.
I hear this a lot, and I'm beginning to believe you guys when you talk about people wanting to put a face on the message, but I still waver on using me as the messenger.

FIREUp2020 and others can back me up on this, but I'm concerned that telling "my story" will lead to "Oh, sure, any ol' highly nuclear-trained overpaid obsessive-compulsive submarine officer can do this, no problem!" So it has to be couched in terms that are common to everyone in the audience-- work/life balance, dual careers, family, investing mistakes we've made, the dawning realization that this portfolio could grow big enough to support a lifestyle. Less "Look at me and how I did it" and more "Look at our common issues and how it can be done".

If I come across as one o' them there know-it-all officers, then I'm done...
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Old 10-10-2011, 11:39 AM   #10
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I want to tell you a few of the things you WON'T hear or read about elsewhere, and WHY these can be useful to YOU.
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Old 10-10-2011, 11:48 AM   #11
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I hear this a lot, and I'm beginning to believe you guys when you talk about people wanting to put a face on the message, but I still waver on using me as the messenger.
Who wrote the book?

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FIREUp2020 and others can back me up on this, but I'm concerned that telling "my story" will lead to "Oh, sure, any ol' highly nuclear-trained overpaid obsessive-compulsive submarine officer can do this, no problem!" So it has to be couched in terms that are common to everyone in the audience-- work/life balance, dual careers, family, investing mistakes we've made, the dawning realization that this portfolio could grow big enough to support a lifestyle. Less "Look at me and how I did it" and more "Look at our common issues and how it can be done".

If I come across as one o' them there know-it-all officers, then I'm done...
Why attend the lecture? Not to get a closer view of the book – they can do that in a bookstore looking at the index and reading a few pages. There is a question in their mind and they are going to see if you or your book will provide an answer or point the way. Telling your story is important because it establishes something in common with the individual in the audience and gives you credibility.

The know-it-all officer has all the answers. You are there to talk about your questions, doubts, challenges, mistakes made, and to show that the objective is within reach.
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Old 10-10-2011, 12:11 PM   #12
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Why did you write the book? Tell them that in clear terms and you will be convincing.
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Old 10-10-2011, 01:56 PM   #13
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I would suggest that you do not over-script yourself and be ready to depart from whatever your prepared points are. The worst presentations/lectures are the ones where the presenter stays on the narrow track they have set for themselves even when it is clear the audience is not with them.
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:44 PM   #14
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Give them the Hook. Tell them your story. Then one or two main messages. That's all you can do in 20 minutes. Get them excited about learning more (and buying the book).

I see a new career for Nords as a motivational speaker.......
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Old 10-10-2011, 03:33 PM   #15
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I like the hook idea. I also like the Fog of Work as they all can relate and probably have never thought about it. Any of your ideas are good and I am sure you could talk for 20 min on each topic. Another option is to brief intro and then do a quick poll of what they want you to discuss and spend a few minutes on each.

The drawdown is front and center on their minds and many are scared. At least that is what I am running into.

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Old 10-10-2011, 11:26 PM   #16
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...a new career for Nords...
And here I thought the point of this website was to NOT have one!

Top Gun isn't all about flying. It's also about giving a presentation, and the "top 3" rule that they teach is a good one. Keep these points short, and then encourage questions, allowing your answers to then guide the discussion and keep it on task.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:07 PM   #17
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Hey hey hey, no motivational-speaker careers needed! It's fulfilling enough to have those chats in the surf break while I'm setting up a newbie to catch the next wave...

No problems on flexibility. I do seminars, not lectures. Talk story.

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Who wrote the book?
The know-it-all officer has all the answers. You are there to talk about your questions, doubts, challenges, mistakes made, and to show that the objective is within reach.
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Why did you write the book? Tell them that in clear terms and you will be convincing.
Good points. I'm coming around. But I'd still much prefer to give the talk (and make my point) by dressing as the GEICO caveman...
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:59 PM   #18
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But I'd still much prefer to give the talk (and make my point) by dressing as the GEICO caveman...
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I'm going to dress for success: aloha shirt (untucked, of course), a nice pair of shorts, and slippers. Hey, I have an image to maintain.
Is GEICO Caveman all that different from Surfer Dude?
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Old 10-11-2011, 03:12 PM   #19
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Is GEICO Caveman all that different from Surfer Dude?
Depends on how many days it's been since my last shave...

I wonder if Spicoli was an ER?
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Old 10-11-2011, 04:58 PM   #20
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Nords, I've been hearing a lot of good advice for you to sift through. I think the good news is that your first seminar will be your "worst". If it's "okay", then it's all down hill after that. You'll learn from any mistakes and make each following seminar better.

I'm sure your passion will come through and folks pick up on that. They will all be saying "I want what that guy has/is."
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