Don’t underestimate how long it can take for an investment to start paying dividends

February 13, 2024

Over the weekend, I did something new: I had fun creating content in a very interesting way. Many of you know that I love aviation. It’s my happy place and what I love doing more than anything. It’s a passion and hobby that truly feeds my soul. When I set out on the path to earn my pilot’s license in 2019, I always had the vision of creating an intersection of a vocation and a vacation with my businesses and passions. While I’ve used general aviation to make the logistics of attending state optometry association meetings much easier than flying commercial, today I created another iteration of that intersection: I recorded a podcast episode while in flight.

I flew Dr. Michael Neal, an OD and founder of Build My Team whom I’ve gotten to know quite well over the last year or so, to Chicago Executive Airport so that he could catch a flight home to PA from ORD. As I’m now flying home solo, enjoying the view on a Friday afternoon (while “George” my autopilot does the heavy lifting), I found myself reflecting on how this opportunity presented itself. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share the journey, in reverse order. This is a story that’s a variation on the thesis of six degrees of separation, a concept that posits that no two people are more than 6 people apart.

I met Mike while attending Vision Expo, walking around the Expo with Nathan Hayes of IDOC. Nathan was kind enough to introduce me.

I got connected with Nathan at the first Vision Expo I ever presented at, which was Vision Expo West in Las Vegas. I was out there because I was doing a live spot with Drs. Matt Geller and Antonio Cherumbillo from Eyes on Eyecare (formerly known as This was before I was presenting COPE-accredited courses…

I got connected with Matt & Antonio as they were the very first interview I did on the 20/20 Money podcast I launched in 2018. To be honest, I can’t remember how I got connected with Matt & Antonio. It might have been a cold outreach through a Google search…Matt & Antonio, if you remember…feel free to fill in the gaps.

Doing interviews on 20/20 felt great, and I knew I wanted to do more of them. Rewind back about 15 years ago (~2008) and I was very active in the Indianapolis north side in-person networking scene. (For all you young whippersnapper advisors, this is how we grew our network before social media became prevalent. MySpace was still the most popular social networking site, with Facebook right on its heels. We all know how that worked out…)

One of the individuals I met during networking was Dr. Jeremy Ciano, a very successful OD to this day who also was pounding the networking circles, building relationships all over the city. I think he would agree it’s a big part of what he would attribute to his success.

So, back to the connections. I called Jeremy as it had been some time since we had chatted and shared the idea of an interview for the podcast. He was gracious with his time and came on the show, which still to this day gets downloads every month.

After recording, in the generous and servant mindset that Jeremy has, he gave me the names of several ODs that I could also ask to be on the show. One of them was Dr. Jennifer Stewart. Jen’s been on the show several times and has become a good friend, introducing me to other ODs around the country and I’ve tried to reciprocate as well, helping her with introductions where I can.

Jen is also involved in IDOC and as our friendship grew, the communication between her, I, and IDOC (specifically Nathan) continued to grow. My friendship with Nathan has grown over the years and I love having him on the show to talk about numbers and the business of optometry.

As our friendship grew, it led us to hang out a bit more together at optometry events, including wandering around the Expo hall at VEE, which is where I met Mike.

Turns out Mike is in the same mastermind group as Jeremy along with a couple of other guests that I’ve had on the show over the years. Optometry truly is a “big small sandbox.”

When talking with Mike on a recent podcast recording, he let me know that he was going to be in Indy as they were all getting together for their meetup. The convo led to how he was getting home, and I volunteered to give him a ride up to Chicago instead of a 3.5-hour drive up to O’Hare from Indy.

I figured “Heck, might as well grab a GoPro and recorder and capture some content.” Which is where “Flights and Insights” was born. I’m looking forward to doing more of these mini-episodes as I share my passion of general aviation with more ODs. Todd Cohan, you’re next. 🙂

My self-observed lessons:

  1. Don’t underestimate the importance of relationships. It’s everything in life. It’s about relationships. It’s why How to Win Friends and Influence People continues to be on the perennial must-read list of books.
  2. You never know when an investment you’ve made in time and energy is going to come to fruition. Without me pounding the networking scene in Indy during the first couple of years in this business, grinding it out, who’s to say whether any of these relationships would have started? Needless to say, certainly, it wouldn’t have happened the way that it has…
  3. Stay committed to the process. When I look at the download hx of the podcast, you’d think it was just me, my parents, and maybe a couple of other people listening. We’re now creeping up on almost 350,000 lifetime downloads of 20/20 Money. Crazy.

In short: it’s simple, but very seldom is it quick and easy. (Kind of like investing).

(If you’ve never listened to 20/20 Money and are interested in hearing my convo with Dr. Mike Neal and some of his takeaways from his mastermind group meeting, you can check out the show and select your favorite podcast listening platform. The episode will be coming out very shortly, so be sure to subscribe.😎)

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