In Ep. 69, Tim talks with Tyrone Ross Jr. They introduce the topic of cryptocurrency to the podcast in words that everybody can understand. They also talk about removing the layer of exclusivity Wall Street seems to have, and increase financial inclusion to everybody! They continue a prior discussion Tyrone had about diversity in the financial services industry and much more!
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Tyrone Ross Jr. – Cryptocurrency 101 & Financial Inclusion – Transcript
Tim Mullooly: Welcome back to Living With Money. This is Tim Mullooly. On today’s episode I am joined by Tyrone Ross Jr. Tyrone is a managing partner at Noble Bridge Wealth. Tyrone, thanks so much for coming on the podcast.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Thank you so much for having me. As I always say, whenever I get these opportunities, I appreciate you sharing your platform with me. I’m grateful for feeling like whatever comes out of my mouth is worthy of you and your listeners’ time.
Now, with that out of the way, my mother won’t yell at me, and we get right into it. But thank you, this is an awesome opportunity, I appreciate it.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah, of course, I’m looking forward to diving into it. Let’s get started with just a quick background about yourself. Tell the listeners a little about you. When did you first become interested in money and finance, and what was your journey like in life up until where you are today?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Great question. I’m born and raised in New Jersey. Didn’t really have a permanent address growing up, so people always ask me, where are you from. It’s hard to say, we were … Again, unfortunately as a child, it’s not what you want to experience. But I didn’t really have a permanent address growing up. I usually tell people Edison. We were there for some of the childhood that I remember. I went to Metuchen High School where I ran track, and because I ran track I found a talent, and I was able to go to college. I was the first one in my family to finish high school, first one to go to college, and promptly get kicked out of college.
But I got a full ride to go to Georgia Tech . I went down to Georgia Tech and had never really been away from home. I graduated at 17 years old, and I walk onto Georgia Tech as a biomedical engineer major. Bad idea. And, yeah, just struggled mightily. I had no experience with college, I had no experience with any of that. My option was just not to go. I’m like, I’m just not going to go. I got kicked out, had to reapply. They’re like, get it together, and I got kicked out again. ultimately finishing up at Seton Hall here in New Jersey. Went on there to graduate school where … That’s where I actually was introduced to Wall Street.
So I’ve never taken a business class. I’ve never taken a finance class or anything like that. One of the things that people know about me, and I don’t have any shame in saying now, is I didn’t know the stock market existed until I was 26 years old. I literally did not know. When I was in college, I had a friend of mine who was always watching this TV channel with numbers going across the bottom of the screen. What is this? Can we go chase girls?
Tim Mullooly: Right, yeah, yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: But he was watching the stocks, and he was following tickers, and it was CNBC. I had no idea. There’s a reason why he ended up being the treasurer of Disney. That type of background, I just didn’t have. I didn’t grow up learning about money. I wasn’t taught about money. All I knew about money was we didn’t have any, and we struggled mightily as a family, and my parents struggled mightily.
My first recollections of money is scarcity, which is one of the reasons why one of the first things I ask clients when I sit down with them … Not even one of the first, the first … is what is your relationship with money? That’s going to tell me a lot about you, because a lot of those things that I experienced as a child has a lot to do with how I operate with money these days, and actually how I got my clients. My clients will tell you that I’m very, very much of that sheltering. I just want to make sure their basics are taken care of, right?
Tim Mullooly: Yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: I have a different perspective, and I also had to break my own set of money first before I was able to give advice. Luckily for me, I didn’t start out right away working with retail clients. I was in an investor relations firm writing press releases, learning about the buy side and the sell side, and I was around wealthy people and they taught me about money. They taught me about saving, they taught me about stocks and bonds and all those other stuff I had no idea about. I was able to formulate, oh okay, right. Break that mindset of years and years of scarcity and lack of financial literacy around money once I actually did start working with individuals and working with them.
The people that do work with me realize that they’re getting someone who’s made every mistake with money possible, that understands the basics of it all.
Tim Mullooly: To an extent, though, do you think that has helped you with your clients? You can relate to them-
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Yeah.
Tim Mullooly: Having that scarcity mindset, I think, would bode well, in terms of pointing people in the right direction. Do you think that has helped you in your career?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: I think it has. I think it absolutely has. I think it didn’t … It probably should’ve helped me earlier, but it didn’t, because I didn’t know how to address it. I wasn’t comfortable. You’re not taught to be comfortable with being marginalized and just called … what is poor working on Wall Street. You’re just not taught to be comfortable with that. Everything is about opulence and affluence and assumptions, surroundings, and everything else. I wasn’t comfortable.
But after leaving a wirehouse … I was in Merrill Lynch. After leaving Merrill Lynch and going independent the last two years, I started to embrace my story, and a lot of about what makes me who I am. So, yeah. I think the people that work with me understand that. They understand it, they understand that what I’ve come from and how hard I’ve worked just to be in the industry, period, and that the advice I give is what I really say … I don’t manage for you, I manage money with you, I mean that, because family is very important to me, and it’s very … Listen. Do all of the other things that you want to do, and all the things … The financial advisors and everyone talks about on FinTwit and all of that.
But at the end of the day, are your needs met? Are your kids taken care of? If something happened, would you be able to feed yourself? And all these things, and people look at you, and they’re like, well, I make $500,000 a year. What are you talking about, feed myself? But when you’ve been in a situation where you’re not sure if you’re going to eat tomorrow, that never leaves you.
They look at me with this look. But I am able to frame it in a way where I’m not being condescending to them, but I’m just letting them know, I’m concerned about the basics, not only of their life, but also of their financial plan and everything else.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. I think that that’s a good way to go about it, because like you said, even the people who are making $500,000, we’ve seen people spend equally the same amount of money, and they might be bringing in a lot of money, but they’re not using it properly. So having someone who is actually taking care, looking out for those basic needs and making sure that they’re on track and that their goals are being met definitely is a strength.
With that, let’s say someone walks into your office and is looking for some financial planning help. You mentioned the very first thing you ask is about, what is your relationship with money? What do you think are the other first few areas that a person needs to address when getting started a financial plan?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: That’s one, right? Your relationship with money. One of the things that I also do is a budget. Again, keep it very basic. You hit somebody over the head and you knock them out and you wake them up a year later and you ask them what all of their debts are, their phone bill, their rent, their mortgage, their car, and they don’t know. But you ask them, what did you spend last month? What do you spend every three months? They can’t tell you.
What I try and get people to do is, whether you’ve got $10,000 or $10 million, budget. How much do you spend every month? Because once you know that, now we can start to get into some other things. Mindset, budget, then you get into the goals based piece of it. You want to start investing. What are some of your goals? My clients are younger, they’re in the accumulation phase of their life as opposed to the decumulation phase. So they’re accumulating a lot of things. Family members, debt, bonuses, positions.
What I try and do is make sure that the conversations evolve, and it’s more about, what are you doing now that you feel is lacking that you need my help?
So we’ll go into that conversation. Okay, well, I don’t feel like I understand my 401(k), or I don’t feel like I understand my stock options, or things like that, or I want someone to help me achieve these particular goals. I feel like a financial advisor could do that. That’s one piece.
Then the other thing is letting them understand all the things that a financial advisors does, that a lot of people don’t even know what we do and how we do it. Clients, they don’t know the full extent of what we do. So I go through that, and then a lot of times what I’ve found is, I’ll also ask people, are you working with an accountant, or I’ll say, are you up to date on your taxes?
There’s so many things I try and get them to do before we even start to talk about investments. Investments or anything, that is literally the last thing we discuss. There’s so many things before we get to that. Mindset, budget, taxes are … If they have a family or a home, will, power of attorney, advance directive, things like that. All of that in place. Life insurance. We try and make sure all of those basics are taken care of. The life insurance piece, I don’t sell life insurance, I don’t have my life and health license anymore, I gave those up. But I just want to make sure that … Do you need term or do you need whole life? What do you have in place, especially for younger people? Disability. Disability being important.
Those are literally the beginning of the conversation for me, and I say once … The piece we strip out of that is the goals piece, where we actually start to do planning, and say, all right. There’s some gaps here, so maybe one of the first goals is to get you in line with a CPA that’s going to help you in your particular situation. Are you a startup founder, are you an executive, whatever? Try and find a CPA that deals specifically with your situation, and then tie that into some of the financial goals.
The next one and the biggest one is saving. Again, saving based on whether they’re single, whether they have a family. Again, it’s super, super, super basic with me upfront, and then depending on … Also, the investment savvy of the individual. Is this your first investment, your first time working with an advisor? I see a lot of that. We’ll get to this with folks who own crypto. Investment experience is going to play a really big part of that, and you’d be surprised. Well, you actually wouldn’t be surprised, but a lot of those who are under 30, or even 35 and younger, they’re stepping into financial abundance for the first time, and they’re looking for advice. So a lot of it is really, really new, so I try to keep it really, really basic.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. Do you think that sometimes investments become too much of a focal point, or is there one element of the financial plan that you see people tend to overlook when they come in, or one part of the financial plan that’s very important that people would prefer to skip or just talk about something else?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Yeah, 100%. I do think it’s too investment focused. Is it 60/40, is it X percentage in gold, or this much international? I get that part. But I think one is having a plan, one that you know that the client’s going to stick to. That’s very important. But I think the piece that’s really important, really, really important, and I think is left out, and Daniel Crosby would be proud of me, is the behavioral piece, right?
Tim Mullooly: Yeah, absolutely.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Will you stick to this when the market is down 60-70%? Will you still stick to the plan?
Tim Mullooly: That’s the most important thing, the most important thing.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Exactly. That’s literally it. And don’t tell me something now, because it’s all sweet or whatever, and you’re not going to stick to it when the chips are down.
You’ve got to continue to do what got you here, and if you continue on that trajectory, it matters. My mentor always said this. When you work with people who are willing to do planning, the stock market can go up, down, sideways, front, center. They won’t care, because they know … They’ll call to say, can I still retire? Can I still buy a house? Can I still put $100 a month into Bitcoin? Whatever it is, as long as you can say yes to that, they’re all right.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. I feel like that lends back to what you were saying about just looking out for the basics. If you have that financial plan in place, if the market’s taking you for a rollercoaster ride, you can always revert back to the plan and say, all right. I still have the basics covered, I’m still on track, I’m still going to be able to retire.
On one of your free jewelry minutes on Twitter, I heard you talk about the term financial inclusion, and you mentioned earlier that you didn’t even know the stock market existed until you were 26 years old. For the listeners out there, can you define that term financial inclusion, and what people in the industry can do to improve on that?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Financial inclusion, to me, is simply giving people the ability to opt in. I think a lot of people are just not given that ability, and it’s hard for some people to believe, when you get proximate to people who are poor, or unbanked, or underbanked, which is I think they say 25% of people in this country, you start to understand that they can’t go down the street to a Bank of America, they don’t have access to financial advisors, because they feel like financial advisors are for millionaires.
I think one of the things that needs to happen is … It’s the perception of our business, people feel like it’s elusive and it’s exclusive. Why I love financial technology and fintech is because it’s making it more inclusive. This podcast is making it more inclusive. Anyone with a phone can listen to this podcast and they can be me at 26 listening to this and go, oh, okay. I can invest in the stock market, I can go to Robin Hood, I can do …
So financial inclusion to me is just simply giving people the tools and sometimes … I said this. There’s two things. One where someone is telling you, turn around. Look behind you, turn around, look. And you’re screaming that you’re thirsty and there’s an ocean behind you, and they’re telling you, turn around, turn around, and you won’t do it.
Finally the time comes where somebody says, hey. They explain to you in a way, and they say, hey, look behind you. There’s water there, and it’s not a directive. They’re actually walking you through it. They’re not talking at you. They’re talking to you. They’re saying, hey, if you turn around …
So I think that’s what happens when you want to be more inclusive of people. You say, hey, there’s this thing called the stock market, and this is how you … For me, it’s just making sure that everyone at least has the opportunity and the knowledge to do so.
One of the things that I impress upon is, yes, I can go down the street right now and go to Wegmans and buy stock, literally in a grocery store. You can go buy stock for free now. People say, oh, well, it’s expensive. Ask anyone who has been the first over the wall, or been exposed to anything. Exposure is expensive. You pay with experience. I was the first one to go to college. I paid with experience. I got kicked out. I had no study habits. I had never been there before. You pay with experience.
So exposure is expensive. Saying all that to say, I think one of the things for me that’s important is that people understand that now, the inclusivity and the ability to just go into the inner cities, to go into rural communities and say, hey. Here is an opportunity for you to change your life. We’ll give you these tools, we’ll educate you. Whether people do it or not is a whole other story, but everyone deserves access, and access hasn’t been available before to people like you and me. Literally, people don’t feel like they can go to a financial advisor. That’s a problem.
There’s a marketing problem. When I drive down the highway and I see retire richly or whatever, and it’s a middle-aged white couple with a dog and a house, and I turn on CNBC and it’s a whole bunch of men, and it’s white men … It’s a marketing thing. Then you start to see Wall Street, and it’s the suits and the slicked back hair and the $1,000 shoes. It’s been a marketing thing for a long time, which now is starting to be broken down, which I think is really cool, and I think again, what you’re doing with this podcast, what we’re able to do with Twitter and LinkedIn and all these different tools now, is get financial education in the hands of people that need it most, because you would agree with me, I think, that what we are really doing is we’re helping successful people remain successful when we have very wealthy clients.
They’re basically saying, I’ve gotten wealthy. Help me stay wealthy, and in some cases, get wealthier. Rare is the case where we deal with people, the have nots, and turn them into haves. I think that’s what we need a little bit more of.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. I have to agree, and I think that reminds me of what our friend Justin Castelli’s doing. He has business models in place where he can work with people that don’t necessarily have these hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’ve adopted something here at Mullooly assets that’s similar. I’m 26 years old, I hear my friends all the time saying, oh, when I get money, or when I get rich, I’ll come invest with you guys.
And it’s like, no, we can help you get there. So I totally agree that continuing to spread the word and let people know that it’s out there is huge.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Oh, to be 26 again. God bless.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. You mentioned fintech, and the technology that is helping this financial inclusion. For you, personally, what are some of the most useful pieces of technology individuals can use on an everyday basis?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Great question. Financial services was disrupted forever in 2007 with the invention of the iPhone. If you get the iPhone, one of the apps that is already pre-downloaded on it is the stock app. There’s a reason for that, going back to what we were saying before. I think that’s one of the things where people start to learn about the stock market.
Now, again, we can get into … People get ridiculous, incessantly checking the stock market and things like that. That’s one, just to be able to understand the green and the yellow, the tickers. What is the ticker for Nike, what is the ticker for Verizon, whatever, just to start to understand it on a basic … I think that’s the first one.
I think another one, I think, for people that are starting to just really want to get into investing and learning the basics of not only investing, but also managing their personal finances, personal capital, they probably have the best app of any app anywhere in the solar system. It’s amazing, and they can let you go in there, and you can use their basic tool for free, and it gives you a good idea of your net worth and how to budget and things like that. So that’s a good tool. Budgeting tools Mint and Digit and things like that. Acorns, I love. There’s so many. Robin Hood, I think, is a really good one.
Also what I try and tell people is what I try to do as a financial advisor … ’cause again, my clients are young, they usually are using outside tools, which I love … I try to ask them, where do you bank? Get familiar with that banking app. Either get frustrated with it or love it. Just understand what it is, and then we can layer on top of it other options that you can use to manage your financial life.
Again, those are great. I think Robin Hood is great for people who want to start investing. Another one that I think is really good for people where you can learn a lot … You can right on Twitter to learn, but StockTwits is a really good app that you can go on.
You can get real time feedback of people’s thoughts and what they’re sharing and really good data there. Yeah. There’s so many, I could go on and on. Cash App is probably … Cash App is one of my favorites. We could get into that.
But one of the things I want to make very clear is just no matter what people are doing, if you’re using Uber, if you’re using Apple Pay, if you’re using … What apps are doing now are trying to keep you embedded in your ecosystem. They want to make sure you don’t go out, so everyone is adding banking services, everyone is adding investment management. Investment management is becoming a commodity, and what is going to happen with advisors is, we’re going to morph more into consultants and get paid for our advice and the quality of our advice, because people are going to be able to do …
Well, my clients are already. They’re doing everything from their phones. They’re just calling me to say, am I doing this right? Am I saving enough, things like that.
If your book of business is 50-75 year olds, they’re not going to be using Notion or some type of crazy app. They’re not going to be using that.
Tim Mullooly: That’s a good point.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Right. You want to make it very clear who your practice is … It depends on how much you should lead with technology. I have to fully lead with technology, because it’s what my clients expect, and then the advice is layered on top of that. Depending on where you are in that pendulum, in terms of the age, the book, and the expectations of the people, sometimes you just may be … Again, if I have retirees, I’m only using technology to make their lives easier.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah, you don’t want to confuse them or complicate it.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Exactly. Yeah. You just want to make the mundane a little bit easier, and let’s keep it honest. A lot of times, you just make it easier for yourself, whether it’s paperwork, getting documents back, whatever. Working at Merrill in 2016 was … It had to be very similar to being at Merrill in 1986. It was terrible. Fax machines. We’re writing out trade tickets. I’m like, where am I?
It was ridiculous, the things that you … They’re so stuck in the past. Again, if you’re working with retirees or people that are pre-retirees or retirees, totally different, how you use technology, than myself, where I’m competing against Amazon, Google, Netflix.
They’re getting super duper experience from all of these outside apps, then they go into their Schwab app, and they’re like, what? This is like Blockbuster. What is this?
Tim Mullooly: Yeah, exactly.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: So you do want to lead with technology, depending, again … How much you lead with it has a lot to do with who you work with. Now, one small piece of that is if you are working with pre-retirees or retirees, they have children. So you better be prepared when that money goes downhill … I would say roughly … I don’t know, the numbers change every day. $30-40 trillion of assets that’s going to funnel downhill the next three decades … They’re going to look. They’re completely experienced in this digital age. They don’t want the analog experience.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. They’re going to have different expectations there.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: 100%, 100%. They don’t want Mommy and Daddy’s advisor.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah, totally agree with that. Another potentially confusing topic for people that you might want to make simple, and people have heard about a couple of years ago … We’ve actually never talked about it on the podcast before, so I wanted to have you on to introduce to everyone, is cryptocurrency.
There’s so much that we could talk about, about cryptocurrency, but I wanted to just focus on the basics for the people out there, for the everyday person walking around the street who might not know too much about crypto. First, as basic as you can, and I know it’s an in-depth topic … But can you just explain the basic concept behind crypto?
What is it, how is it supposed to be used, and what are the main points that everyday people should know?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: You put me on the spot here. This is going to test my expertise, and it’s very important for me to get this right, because I want people to understand … It’s very important that those of us who do get it now realize very early, it’s techy, and it’s clunky, and it’s all of these wizardry words that people are going to get … So I do want to keep it very basic.
Cryptocurrency is just simply internet money. Let’s not get into other coins, let’s just stick to bitcoin. What bitcoin allows me to do is to send Tyrone, to send money to Tim, without a bank. That’s it. It allowed me to send money to you with no third party.
When crypto was developed, it was developed by people with really big brains. They use cryptography, computer science, economics, everything, to build this out and say, okay. How do we get a system of being able to transact with one another in a trustless capacity with no one verifying the transaction except trust on both sides of the transaction? That’s it.
I can trust that you sent money to me. I got it, you know I got it, and that’s where the blockchain comes in. The blockchain is simple, for anyone out there, it’s simply a ledger. You send money to someone through Zelle, from their bank account at JP Morgan Chase to TD Bank. That just goes on a ledger. They debit this, that, whatever.
What happens on the blockchain now, it records those transactions, that I sent money to you, you received it, how much it was, record it. It’s public. That’s another thing. It’s public. So if I sent you $100 for horse manure, it’s public. Everyone can see that. They’re like, why is Tyrone buying horse manure?
Again, there’s no verifiable party. When you get into who verifies it, that’s when you start to get clunky, and I don’t want to get into that. It starts to get really techy. But there’s people who are running these things called nodes that secure the network and the transactions come up, and all of the computers have to agree that the transaction that Tyrone sent to Tim was valid. If one disagrees, it doesn’t go through.
It’s fascinating technology. I encourage everyone to at least give it a shot, to read the bitcoin whitepaper, just to simply understand that. I don’t want to get into any other coins. I think bitcoin of itself … Another thing for people to understand, which is very important, is bitcoin, lowercase B-I-T-C-O-I-N, is the actual coin. Bitcoin, capital B, is the blockchain. Two totally different things.
Yeah. So when you’re reading about it or whatever … In most cases … And there’s a lot of people who claim they know crypto upside down and sideways and don’t know that basic thing when you’re reading about it. That’s what’s really important. Just to tie it up, all it is is internet money. What they created this to do was … Again, truly peer to peer. I can send money to you. We don’t need a bank.
The other piece, which is probably the most important, and I want people to understand this is, when we say internet money, we have so many things built over the internet.
We’re able to do what we’re doing now because of the internet. Cell phones the whole deal. But there hasn’t been a native currency for the internet. Literally, to transact digitally through the internet. It didn’t exist. There were some attempts at it, but bitcoin was that first attempt. Now you’re starting to see … The news was released last night that Facebook is going to have their own cryptocurrency for people to send money, transact, get paid. So you’re starting to see it evolve.
But I think for the basics for people to understand, it’s just simply money for the internet. It’s the ability for me to send money to someone else without needing a bank, and then once you go beyond that, then you start to get into the whole … the nuances of it all where people get a little confused. But I think if you start there and then simply start to, again, read the whitepaper or start to ask questions around how and why certain things are, that’s a whole other podcast.
Tim Mullooly: Right, yeah, yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: I think one of the things that’s important here for this conversation … What people are describing bitcoin as is digital gold. It’s basically a form of digital gold now, which is why you have people talking about it as an investment or a cryptoasset, as it’s being called, because it has similar properties to gold. Scarcity, limited supply, things like that.
Tim Mullooly: That was going to be my next question, actually, was that … It’s a type of internet currency, but you’ve been hearing people talking about it like an asset class or like an investment. To what extent should people be investing in the different types of crypto, and what kind of place at this point, as of today, recording, May 3, 2019, do you think … What place does this crypto, bitcoin, have in people’s portfolios?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: If I’m being honest, I think most people shouldn’t be doing anything right now. I think they should be educating themselves and they should be working with an advisor or someone who knows, if they want to invest in it, that has a really good feel in the space. Most people should just be educating themselves right now. The ones who do have the tech savviness … Because here’s the other issue, really quickly. You have a client that now owns bitcoin. That client is 30, 40, 50 years old. 60, 70, whatever. Now that client may be digitally savvy, they may not be. Now you run into estate planning issues, because if I pass away and I have this digital currency with all these private keys, and it’s worth $10 million, how are my heirs supposed to access it?
Tim Mullooly: Yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: You get into all these different issues, and again, that’s another podcast. I think what people need to understand is all of the nuance that comes along with owning these assets. Yes, I think they’re assets. They are going to be around. They do have a place in a portfolio. For most people, they don’t. For some, they do.
My issue was, my clients, they owned it, they already had it, and they were, you better figure it out. You better figure out how to help us, because we’re going to keep buying more. They see it as their way of generating wealth, and I had to build my practice around that. But I think for most people right now, learn, pay attention to bitcoin and bitcoin only. The reason why anyone would, if we just want to keep it really basic, is if you have an interest in gold, there are some similarities there. When you get into talking about standard deviation portfolio and being low correlated to other assets, bitcoin can provide some of those same properties inside of a portfolio that gold can. But again, we’re still very early. Bitcoin just turned 10 years old. You can’t do deep discovery over a 20-30 year rolling time period. As William Bernstein would say, you can’t do that.
So it is a risk right now. It is very early, which is why most people should continue to learn, because even if you learn a little bit and you get over that part of … Oh, I want to buy some. Then it’s, where? Then you’re dealing with more risk, depending on where.
Then once you own, you deal with even more risk. How do you store it? Do you leave it on the exchange? Do I self-custody? Which is an important thing to understand is this, this is what makes it interesting. If a client owns Apple, Apple is always going to be on the stock exchange. It’s never going to come off. If a client owns bitcoin, they can take their bitcoin off the exchange and hold it themselves. They can literally own and self-custody that asset.
So we’re dealing with a lot of things, as financial planners and financial advisors, that we’ve never had. You’ve never been able to take your Johnson & Johnson and put it in your pocket. You can do that with bitcoin. So there are a lot of things that make the space very interesting, but again, if there’s nothing else people get from me, learn.
Read as much as you can, come with a lot of questions. That’s one of the first things I do with anyone who comes to me and say they want to do this, whatever. I give them a whole … enough stuff to choke a horse to read, and then come back with questions, and then education happens, and then at that point, okay. How much do you want to invest, where do you want to do it, things like that.
It doesn’t make sense for most people right now. That’s just the truth. But I think you saw that in the run up of 2017, so many people got hurt, they’re never coming back.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. It was a crazy ride a couple years ago. But people just skipped that education step that you were talking about, and just dove right in. For someone who’s interested in learning more about crypto and bitcoin and the space in general, do you have any resources, or are there any good blogs or podcasts or websites that outline what’s going on in the crypto world?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: You left out following me on Twitter.
Tim Mullooly: Well, that’s a given, yeah. That comes along with the podcast.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: No, I do think if you want to be front and center of what’s going on in real time in crypto, you have to be on Twitter. I think that the most savvy, smartest people in the space are there, and they’ll tell you that same thing. Andreas Antonopoulos … I always tear his last name up. Forgive me, Andreas, if you’re listening.
Tim Mullooly: That’s a tough one.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: He has videos on YouTube that you can look up. He does a phenomenal job of explaining crypto very, very, very basic, and he’s super brilliant, and he does a lot of really good videos. Look him up. Andreas Antonopoulos is his name. If you put him into YouTube, there’s good videos there.
Patrick O’Shaughnessy did a really good series. I think it’s the Hash Power series, it’s called. I don’t want to put people onto too many crypto podcasts, because for one, they’re very techy. They’re boring. They’re long. And I don’t want to do that to people. But Patrick does a really good job of explaining it. That series is really important.
So, Twitter, Andreas, Patrick’s podcast. Go back and look up some of those episodes … I think are really helpful, ’cause what I try and get people to do when they’re learning, I try and send them to places … I’m not going to send people who are learning to Pomp’s podcast, Anthony Pompliano, ’cause they’ll be like, what is this?
Tim Mullooly: Yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: You want to send them to places … And I think that this is not only about crypto. This is about anything in life. When you’re sending someone to learn something for the first time, you want to send them to places where they’re not going to be spoken at. They’re going to be spoken to and address the bare basics of everything, whether it’s a stock, whether it’s crypto, whether it’s health advice or whatever. Don’t tell me about intermittent fasting and macros and all this other stuff. How do I stop eating McDonald’s every day? Let’s start there.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. You can’t skip step one.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Yeah. I’m not going to look like The Rock tomorrow when I walk into the gym. I get it. It sells and that’s what people do. But it’s wrong. My mother would kill me. So I think it’s really important to send people to places where they learn the basics, and I think those are probably one of the places … There are few other places you could go to to get really basic information, have it explained, and then be able to walk away saying, okay, well, it’s not totally clear. But I have some questions.
Now, the other thing is, I just would encourage people, go into Google, and Google bitcoin whitepaper, and read as much as you can about it. Here’s what I’m certain of.
You could be … I hate technology, I hate bitcoin, it’s tulips, it’s shark fins, whatever. It’s fake, it’s not going to … whatever. Or you could be, that’s the greatest thing ever, let me learn about it. It is literally impossible, because Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett has done it. It is impossible to read the bitcoin whitepaper and be like, oh, this is trash. This is a waste of time, there’s nothing here. I don’t care who you are, and I’m not smart, never will be. But I can read up until a point where I was like, okay, this is … There’s something here. I get it.
There’s something in the bitcoin whitepaper that I think people will understand, depending on where they are, and then, again, you may say, no, this is really still hooey.
Or you may say, hey, I want to learn more. That’s okay. But I just think it’s important for people to understand that it’s there, it’s something they should learn about, and if you dismiss it, that’s great. But dismiss it after getting an education or giving it a shot, not just by saying, oh, it’s the south sea … All right, come on. You didn’t even read it.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah, definitely. We’ll link in the show notes for this episode to all the different resources that we outlined, and to Tyrone’s Twitter account as well. Again, be sure to follow him. Got to jack up that follower count.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Yeah, thank you very much. I appreciate you for that.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah, yeah. Okay. I have plenty more questions about crypto and bitcoin, but we’ll cap it off at that for this episode. Maybe we’ll have you back on on a future episode to continue the conversation.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Yeah, absolutely. If you get some demand there, or people send questions, I’m more than willing to go down the proverbial rabbit hole.
Tim Mullooly: Of course. Moving on from crypto, I wanted to talk about a video that you did with our friend. I mentioned him before, Justin Castelli, down at Inside ETFs. It was about diversity in the industry. First off, I’ll link to the video in the show notes. It got a lot of views, it was a great conversation, I loved it.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Thank you.
Tim Mullooly: What was the response for you to that video? Did you get a lot of good feedback from people? And how can we continue, now that that video is out there … How can we continue to build on the initial conversation that you guys had?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: A few things. The feedback was positive. Obviously you were going to have people who were really angered by the conversation. There was a comment made by a young lady who said that she was offended at my continued use of the word female, which was interesting, but a learning process. She was like, why aren’t you saying women? Again, that was the whole point of the video. Don’t get angry.
Tim Mullooly: It’s a learning experience.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Yeah, exactly. I think in a larger frame here is this. I think we have to be honest and just have some open conversations, where people have to understand, white men are the most powerful group of people on Earth. That is okay. That’s okay.
But you all have to be empowered to move forward on this without being attacked, because look at Jaime Dimon, look at Donald Trump, look at all … You name them.
The most powerful men in the world who have all the scope are more than likely white men. If they’re not comfortable in addressing this issue, nothing will happen, and that’s just the truth.
I’ve had so many white men reach out to me and say, I tried to add my two cents about gender diversity. I tried to add my two cents about diversity, and I got my head chewed off because I said female instead of saying woman, or I said black as opposed to African American. That can’t happen. We have to give people the openness to say, I wasn’t raised to be comfortable around gay men. Okay. Or I wasn’t comfortable to be around … And have them not be attacked. People should be able to … ‘Cause a lot of times, people just aren’t proximate, and I think that’s one of the big things that have to get addressed here. People have to get proximate.
If you aren’t around people of color, you don’t know what their concerns are. If you aren’t around middle America, if we are on the coast, we have no idea what middle America is going through. We’re not proximate. We don’t understand what farmers are going through if you’re working at an S&P 500 company in Manhattan.
So I think diversity and inclusion has a lot to do … It’s bigger than black and white, male, female. It’s diversity of experience. It’s diversity of education. Everybody shouldn’t have to go to the Ivy League to work on Wall Street or work in Silicon Valley, right?
Tim Mullooly: Right.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: It’s diversity of religion. It’s diversity of culture. You can be … I have the experience of being Caribbean black. My dad is from Guyana. My mother is black black. She’s born here in the US. So I have that experience of a Caribbean … That’s different. Anyone who grew up in a full Caribbean household has different … than someone who grew up in a household where both parents were born in New Jersey or Detroit or whatever. It’s totally different. That’s what we wanted to convey in the video. Most of the … And I told Justin beforehand, I said, as a white male, you’re going to get a lot of blow back from this, and you’re going to take a lot of heat. I said I will deflect most of it for you, because as a black male, you’re used to it, right?
Tim Mullooly: Right.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: And as I said right away, one of the things you do need to realize is that we have certain privileges in our lives. If you are a male in financial services, you have an inherent privilege. I understand that. But I also know that my color is a huge disadvantage.
Tim Mullooly: Right, yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: So you have to address that, and especially … Now, imagine being a black woman in this business, or being a woman, period. What we wanted to do was just open up the conversation. I just want people to feel comfortable, and I’m being completely honest. If I’m having a conversation with someone in Alabama or Mississippi, and all they know is to refer to black people as the N word, ’cause they heard their grandfather say it and their father say it, I’m not immediately going to do some dental work and knock his front teeth out. I have to understand the context of how you look at my people. Right, wrong, or different, as long as we can have a conversation and not get confrontational and everyone is able to say what they need to say, then we have some type of agreement.
I think a lot of people don’t want to talk about diversity and inclusion. I think that has to change as well. Just, that term, it makes people weirded out. I think we just need to get people in the room, and just be able to talk about our differences, and people being able to to talk about being gay or being black or being a woman or being poor on Wall Street, or coming from a poor background on Wall Street, or not being the traditional Wall Street pedigree, and be able to talk about that and feel comfortable, and not have someone else on the other side of the table go … Come on. Relax. You have no idea what it’s like to be me.
Tim Mullooly: Absolutely. And that’s … If someone speaks up and has openness to want to start these conversations and then says something, and gets jumped down their throat, they’re not going to want to continue that conversation.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: At all.
Tim Mullooly: Some things, just because of proximity, like you’re saying, or lack thereof, you just … These things just don’t register for some people. Just opening up that conversation, education, I think it’s the only thing. It’s the only way we’re going to make any progress.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Any. We’ve got to get proximate. It’s so funny. People are like, oh, well, if you wanted your children to experience … send them to Africa, send them to … No. Send them to the south side of Chicago.
Tim Mullooly: Right.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Send them to Compton. Send them to south Florida. Parts of south Florida. Irvington, Newark. You can get that experience. There are people who are really poor who are struggling, who are going through it, but we don’t get proximate to these people, and a lot of people don’t. I realize that a lot of my white friends, that I’m their only black friend. It forces you to look around. How many black friends do I have?
And you’re like, well, Tyrone. Okay.
But if you talk to black folk, we’ll have more white friends than you guys will have black friends, simply because there’s more of you than there are of us. So when we get in these environments, as I start to … In high school, I went to a high school in Metuchen.
It’s a fairly affluent town, majority white. I went to college, I saw even more white people, and I went to graduate school, and I see even more white people. Then you work on Wall Street, and you don’t see any black people.
So it’s like, again, imagine being a woman, imagine being … Again, no matter who you are, and I think we all have different views, and I think the most beautiful thing in the world is having diversity of mindset. We all have different experiences, and I think that’s what’s most important to get it, because I went to college with black kids who were rich.
Tim Mullooly: Right.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: I had never experienced that before in my life. I’m like, there’s rich black people? When I was 17 years old, honestly, that didn’t exist to me. I’m like, wait a second. There’s rich black people in Atlanta? I had no idea. I didn’t see no rich black people growing up. And I’m not talking about rich as in, oh, they’ve got a Mercedes. I’m talking about rich, like rich, rich, rich. Again, I’m like, wow. They look like me, they talk … You can have two black folk in the room that have two totally different experiences. You can have two women in a room, two black women, two Asian women, totally different.
And you want to talk about income inequality in this country, and it’s a whole big topic now … The greatest disparity in income inequality in this country is with Asians. They just overtook black people in terms of the greatest disparity in terms of the top and the bottom in this country. I guarantee you most people don’t know that.
But there’s so many layers to this conversation, and I think people need to be comfortable. If you slip and say queer or gay or if you say, again, God forbid someone does say the N word, or you use the wrong term for … or you say Jew, whatever.
People need to be able to … First of all, I just find it hilarious. But everyone doesn’t have that sense of humor and openness.
But I think if you do get people to just be more open about it, and what I’ve found is when you do that, people take that … They’re like, man, I can … Tyrone, listen, I love you. But I never want my daughter to date a black guy. That’s cool. I get it. I completely understand it. It doesn’t make you racist. But you don’t want to deal … You don’t want your daughter to deal with walking around with a 6′ 2″ black dude and then something happens, and then you figure, okay, well, he’s probably Baptist. We’re Jewish, or we’re Catholics. How are they going to raise my grandson? I completely get that. That doesn’t make you racist. It just makes you aware of … Again, you’re looking out for your family and what can happen.
Again, I understand context, and I think a lot of people aren’t there. But I just think, again, it doesn’t make people racist if they don’t do these things or whatever. But I just think what then happens, though, is if you don’t even open up your circle and get proximate, you start to double down on some of your beliefs that are probably wrong.
And it gets really fun. It gets really cool when you can have the argument about pumpkin pie versus sweet potato pie. That’s a really good thing that white and black people should argue about. Sweet potato pie is way better than pumpkin pie. But white people will tell you that it’s not.
You talk to people who are mixed, and they’re kind of confused. They have a slice of each at Thanksgiving. So I think we could have some fun with it. But I just think we have to get over the … It’s like, okay. I always joke about the difference between white and black barbershops. I go to the barbershop. It’s two hours, minimum. That right there is inequality to me. Why do y’all go to a barbershop and it’s a half hour? That’s not fair, right?
Tim Mullooly: Yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: It’s just certain things that people, we can have some levity about. But I think at first, we just have to be open, and again, kudos to you for bringing it up, to Justin and some of the things that I brought up there. Your brother, we had a really good conversation, and it’s just really … Again, I want to make this very, very, very clear, and it’s okay to address it. Again, we need allies and white men. You guys have to feel comfortable addressing this, because if you are not, nothing will move. That is just the truth. All the marches, all the whatever. If Trump went on TV, I don’t care how you feel about him. If he went on TV today and he did a whole kumbaya inclusive da da da, that’s a very powerful image.
Now, whether any people believe him or not is a whole other story, but if we get really powerful white men to understand the importance of their place, and I will end on this note and I will say this. One of the things that I don’t like is making people feel bad about their privilege. Oh, well, you’re white. I didn’t choose to be this, so don’t … I’m not going to apologize for being white, and you shouldn’t. Everyone should apologize for being ignorant and ungrateful. But you shouldn’t apologize for being white. I’m not going to apologize for being black, because it made me fast, and I went to college for free. I’m not going to apologize for that.
Whatever it is, being tall, whatever you equate with being black, you shouldn’t … No one should have to apologize for that. When you start to abuse your privilege, then you start to have bigger issues. Again, I think that’s another thing, why white men feel attacked. Well, you shouldn’t feel attacked. Enjoy your privilege. We all have certain privileges, enjoy it. But at the same time, you also, because of that, you all are comfortable enough to just say whatever you want to say and help situations.
I think that’s the real thing that no one talks about when it comes to making diversity and inclusion. We just have to get more powerful white men to embrace it, and if not, it’s not happening. It just won’t. Sorry.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. I totally agree, and that’s why I wanted to bring it up. Just keep people open to having these conversations, educating themselves, and putting themselves in situations to surround themselves with people that they might not be familiar with. That’s the only way you’re going to learn.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: And we’re all better for it in the end.
Tim Mullooly: Absolutely. You talk as long as about gratitude and being appreciative of other people and giving back to others. Where did that mindset come from?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: My mom and my dad, and a lot of people have been asking me this, and the gratitude virus is spreading, which I love. But what I tell people is when all you have is gratitude and all you have left is to be grateful, then it’s very easy to do. When we were moving from pillar to post, or we had no lights or we had no gas, or we didn’t know if we were going to eat, or my mother had to run down to get a scratch off to see if we were going to be able to cover the rent or whatever, she would always say, we’ve got something to be grateful for.
When I would go out with friends, or sometimes we would go to school, we would say thank you, because someone’s either help you pay for you to go to the movies, or pay for your lunch or whatever. Say thank you, because that’s all they armed me with, was to be grateful, and I think you learn when you grow up without much, you struggle mightily, and you see your parents struggle.
Again, you don’t live at this place anymore, and you see cars get repossessed, and you see all of these things. You start to …I want to be very clear. My mother always stayed on that, and it was tough when you’re younger. Now as I got older, I started to realize that gratitude is so important, because we don’t get to where we are without so many people who were advocates for us, who are doing things to open doors for us. It’s very important to always be grateful, what I always tell people every single day, no matter what they do. Bagging my groceries, pumping gas, checking my ticket at the airport or whatever, I appreciate you. It’s very important for me to say that and verbalize it so that people understand how important it is.
When it hit home to me, I was in New York City, and I was walking … I always get emotional when I tell this story. I’m walking this late night, it’s freezing cold. There’s a homeless man, and I’m walking, and I didn’t have much on me, and I handed him the money, and I grabbed his hand and I stopped and I looked at him, and I said, I appreciate you. He started to cry, and he said, people walk by me and hand me money all the time, but nobody stopped to tell me they appreciate me.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: And that is … right there, so powerful.
Tim Mullooly: Powerful, yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Here’s the thing. Whether you are poor, whether you are rich, whatever, we all want to be appreciated. We all want somebody to stop. Like, man, thank you so much. I appreciate you. That’s where it comes from, and that’s why I lead with it, that’s what I talk about. It get so many inboxes now, messages from people saying they’re starting to do it, they’re being more present, they’re grateful for what they have. But again, I just had the cheat code. When you don’t grow up with much, then there’s just being … instilled in you that you still have something to be grateful for. We’re living, we’re able to split a meal. We don’t have lights, but we’ve got candles. We don’t have heat, but we can get some … We can burn some water and we can create some steam.
My mother used to do it always, it was amazing. There’s always a way, there’s always a reason to be grateful. If you can’t find one, you’re not looking hard enough. That’s where it comes from. Mama Ross.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. I love that, and that’s why I wanted to bring it up, and that story is extremely powerful, and it just speaks to … despite anyone’s situation, whether you’re rich or poor, going back to what we were just talking about, we’re all human, and we all need that connection, and we want to feel like we’re appreciated and part of something. I think that’s great, and for the listeners out there, hopefully you will start catching that gratitude virus as well.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Absolutely.
Tim Mullooly: You talked earlier about getting a full ride to run track. Are there any important lessons, or maybe one that sticks out in particular, that you learned while running track that has actually carried over to your career today?
Tyrone Ross Jr.: So many. Obviously, discipline and commitment and goal setting, and being able to deal with no. I think as an athlete, what a lot of people don’t realize with athletes, you spend most of your time training for something that you’re going to do … As a runner, you train for hours to run for 10 seconds.
Tim Mullooly: A couple seconds. Right, yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: In my case, I was a 400 meter runner, so I was training all these hours to run for 45 seconds. When I was training for the Olympics, you’re training every day. Your dream is four years away, so you have to keep yourself in the moment every day for four years. I challenge anybody to do something harder. I don’t mean physically.
I mean mentally to wake up every day for four years and say, this is my Olympics, this is my Olympics, this is my Olympics. And eat right and all those things.
The direct intent, the ability to deal with failure, and just having structure really, really pays dividends, and I’ve said this before. I think that athletes have an inherent advantage in our business, simply because it is a lot of no. You do have to have an endurance to keep going past failure and past setbacks that I think athletes, that just comes natural to athletes, because being an athlete sucks. That’s just the truth.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: For most. There’s that 1% that get all the glory and riches and whatever, but look at some of them, they’re still miserable as hell with all that money and everything, and the spotlight and fame. It all leveled. I think most people will tell you that being an athlete is tough, and as someone who, again, was an Olympic trials qualifier, and that was my dream, to be an Olympian … Most people who stopped running, and I have friends in all the major sports … When they walk away from the sport, they’re gassed, and they look back on it. It’s like, man, I gave up my life trying to do something that was just exhausting. So the majority of time being an athlete is miserable.
Yeah. Those are really the core things. For me, I look at this. I didn’t plan on being a financial advisor. This wasn’t even in my … I didn’t even know it was a thing that you could do. I dared to dream at 16 years old to be an Olympian, and the life past that I’ve taken the last … I’m 39 now, so that I’ve taken the last 23 years, has been circuitous.
But it led me here, and I’m grateful for all of the moments and the low points and things that were wrong, because without them, I’m not here. For me, this is icing on the cake. The cream of the crop. I’m not even supposed to be here. I almost gave up my life seven years ago because my dream didn’t come true. Literally, I woke up one morning and was like, I’m going to commit suicide. I want to die.
So, seven years later, here I am on a podcast with you, and able to talk about those experiences, whatever. I realize that I was spared for a reason. So all of this to me is gravy, and it goes back, again, to before. That’s why it makes it easy to be grateful. I don’t care about anybody’s accolades or any of that. I don’t do it for that. I do it because I’m passionate about this, I love helping people, I’m familiar with my background, and I know, again, I’m not supposed to be here.
Everything now to me is about my legacy and not my resume. When you live for your resume, life is hard, and it gets really … Life is hard as it is. When you live for your resume, it gets really, really hard. But when you live to leave a legacy, whereas if I die tomorrow, I do know that somebody’s going to be able to walk into my funeral and say, my life is better bought Tyrone breathed air. If one person can say that, I’m good, and I’m almost certain that’s the truth. But that’s what’s more important to me now, and not about, oh, Tyrone is … I don’t care about any of that, because the one thing I wanted most in life, I’ll never be. And that’s to be an Olympian. My dream is never going to come true.
So everything underneath that is like, oh, that’s neat, thank you. But it’s more about leaving a legacy.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. I think that that statement’s very powerful, not living for the resume and living for a legacy. I really like that a lot. I think on that note, we’ll wrap up with one last question here. We might have touched on it already, something your mom said, maybe something a coach said along the way. But I like to ask everybody, what’s the one best piece of advice that you have ever received throughout your life? It’s a big question.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: I thought about this … Yeah, I thought about this beforehand. It definitely would come from my mother, and it was, again, besides saying, telling me to remain grateful … 2004. 2008. 2012, when I was trying to qualify for the trials. Every time I failed, my mother would always look at me and say, you’re more than a runner.
And I hated it, because I was like, you’re reducing me to something less than an Olympian. She would never know what to say, because my parents are very simple people, and she would always say, son, you’re more than a runner. You’re more than a runner. I hated it.
Now, to look at all of the things that I am, and that I’ve become, she was right. You’re more than a runner is probably … I don’t know if that’s advice, and if I had to say, it would probably be again just to remain grateful. But my mother reminding me that I was bigger than what I was pursuing, I think, is so powerful for people to understand, is don’t reduce yourself to being … Oh, I’m this one thing.
You have so much inside of you, and that’s probably the best thing that she reminded me of, because that reminder or advice, however you want to label it, now has allowed me to dig deep into myself and mentor and be an advisor and still compete and speak and do all of these things that I didn’t even know I had, simply because I thought I was just put here to be a runner, and that’s it.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah. That’s a really great reminder, because it’s easy for everyone to get wrapped up in a goal or project, and think, this is what I’m about. This is me. Then if it doesn’t happen, like you’re saying, it can be devastating. But just reminding yourself that there’s so much more out there, I think, is a really great reminder, and a really good piece of advice to wrap up on. Tyrone, that was all the questions I had for you. Thanks so much for talking about all these different topics with me. I really appreciate it.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: No, thank you for having me. Again, I don’t know what is going on in the Mullooly household, but you guys are some of the most kindest, humblest, sweetest people. I truly mean that. I’m grateful for you sharing your platform with me. I know you have really smart people on, so to make time for the little people, I appreciate, and I hope I added some value, and again, kudos to you and your whole family. Just amazing, man. Really, really sweet, hard working, humble folks. I think we need more of that, and again, it was an honor. Thank you for the time, and I look forward to the feedback.
Tim Mullooly: Yeah, well, thank you for the kind words. I’ll pass the message along to Mom and Dad Mullooly that Tyrone gives the seal of approval.
Tyrone Ross Jr.: Absolutely.
Tim Mullooly: For the listeners out there, I’m going to link to everything that we talked about in this episode in the show notes, so you can check that out at livingwithmoney.com after the episode.
Thanks for tuning into this episode, and we will see you on the next one.
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