RED BANK, NJ: There are givers and takers in this world. Givers focus on other people's needs. Takers take more than they give, focusing on their own needs.
In the world of finance, many think that the Wall Street types are all takers. Not so.
TAPinto Red Bank presented a series of questions to Clem and Tania Lisitski who are a husband and wife team with the Red Bank financial firm Primerica, located at 135 Monmouth Street. Clem responded with input from Tania.
Their story is important to read. Not only because of the way they knitted together the importance of economic security, but of their personal struggles and spiritual outlook they believe are essential in building a well-grounded and financially healthy life.
TAP: Tell us about yourself; where you grew up, how you met and how long you’ve been in business
I grew up in Ocean City NJ, and Tania was born in Quito, Ecuador. She came to the USA when she was 7 and ended up in North Bergen, NJ. We met in 1990 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Rutherford, NJ in our Management Information Systems class. I noticed where Tania sat in the class, so one day I decided to sit in her seat. That week, Tania misplaced her book and saw me in the hall studying for the test and asked me to help her pass the test. Well, she passed the test and two weeks later, we were engaged to be married!
I had been working as a restaurant manager and Tania was working for the NASDAQ stock market. In 1999, we bought our first home and were focused on starting a family. Both of us had over an hour-long commute every single day. I couldn’t handle the commute anymore. I also wanted to be close to home and work in my own business where I wouldn’t be under the control of a corporation, an owner, or a boss.
I began looking for businesses that I could run to replace my job and get me out of the rat race. I also posted my resume to see if a career change might help. Primerica contacted me after viewing my resume and asked me to consider running my own part-time business in financial services. I could do it in addition to my restaurant career and with no capital outlay. They explained that I could build it at my pace, with totally flexible hours. The company would teach me, pay for my licenses, and provide all training, offices, technology that I would need to run my business. It seemed too good to be true, but I was willing to give it a shot since I didn’t have to jeopardize my full-time job. The opportunity turned out to be both good and true.
After only working three months, I earned more income from my part-time, new business than I did from my 65-hour a week restaurant job. And although I had just received a $26,000 bonus, a $26,000 raise and was earning a six-figure income after 10 years working for that restaurant, I still felt there was no more room for growth.
The bottom line was I didn’t trust the longevity of my restaurant job. And I wanted to eliminate the risk of having a job all together. I found out that my Primerica business is a pure meritocracy – there’s always room for growth. There’s no politicking, no discrimination, and no pre-requisites for advancement. That’s when my dream started. A fire was lit in me to leave restaurant management and run my own financial services business full-time. It felt as if I had one foot on one boat, the other foot on another boat and the two boats were moving apart. I had to jump to one before I fell in the water. So that’s exactly what I did.
On Labor Day 2000, I left my restaurant management job of 10 years and began full time in my financial business which was already profitable. That was 20 years ago. Then on Labor Day 2008, Tania left her job on the NASDAQ stock market to join me full time.
TAP: You’re a husband and wife team with the financial firm Primerica. How do you split the duties?
We are opposites and opposites attract so that has always worked for us. It took us some time to figure out who does what better, but once we did and split the duties, it became a pleasure to spend almost 100% of our time together. We wouldn’t trade it for anything! There are 168 hours in a week. If you’re like most couples, you work for 50 hours, commute for 10, sleep for 50, eat for 15, spend 7 more at the gym or on hobbies, plus spend another 20 with children and their activities. That leaves you with 16 hours and hopefully you’re spending some of that time with your spouse. Unfortunately, you might not even have any energy left for your spouse.
Tania & I have found that being together 24/7 has made us better at being with each other, which is why we got married in the first place. I am happy to say we are totally supported by our business and by Primerica itself, with their Partnership Empowerment Program that recognizes couples working together in business at the corporate level!
TAP: What’s your approach and advice in counseling a new client who’s just entering the stock market?
We meet with couples either in our office on Monmouth Street in downtown Red Bank, or we schedule in-home meetings to accommodate families with children. We ask a lot of questions to make sure we know what’s important to them. We implement strategies and ideas to help families lower their financial pressure and increase their income. We then encourage them to stick their toe in the water and start small, maybe by attending our How Money Works or Family Financial Workshops. They can also read personal finance books like Personal Finance for Dummies, and Rich Dad Poor Dad. We also work one-on-one with those who are entrepreneurial-minded.
By working weekly with a licensed financial professional to pursue a part-time financial services business of their own, they will be among the top 1% of all individuals in the USA when it comes to Financial Literacy. Financial Literacy is one of the top four most important things in life: 1) Spiritual 2) Physical Health 3) Family 4) Financial Health. All four are needed for success, so don’t leave the Financial Health portion out.
I often tell Tania’s story to clients. Five years ago, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer. She was feeling down and I said, “Look Tania, you’re definitely going to die, only not now -- in 30 years from now, from old age!” She somehow felt better after that conversation. (And it’s a great illustration of how we all need to get right with God. If you want to hear more about our faith please reach out to us, we would love to talk.)
Meanwhile, it’s important to point out that by creating a financial legacy for future generations, you outlive yourself and go on well beyond your lifespan. The same can be said for Primerica business that can be sold or willed to your spouse or children because of the Primerica ownership program! And with approximately 3% of the market there’s a lot of room for expansion, so we are focused on finding other couples or individuals like ourselves who want the same opportunity we have for themselves. This is the most exciting aspect of our business.
TAP: You’re both quite active with Red Bank Business Alliance and charitable activities, tell us about them
We are big fans of business ownership because it’s done so much for our lives and given us so much freedom. Owning our own business has enabled us to be fully in charge of our lives, our time and who we’re spending it with. We love to be around like-minded people. The Red Bank Business Alliance is loaded with awesome, successful, generous people and we learn so much from each one of them by the example they give in their business and personal lifestyles. It’s so exciting to put our time into something that blesses the community locally by elevating the already Hallmark-like downtown Red Bank community! They support local Monmouth county organizations like Lunch Break, HABcore and Mary’s Place by the Sea. Mary’s Place is a respite home for women who are receiving treatment for cancer. It is an incredible organization and something that hits home because of Tania’s experience in overcoming her cancer over the past five years and her natural coaching of friends, clients and family experiencing cancer.
This led to Tania and friends starting Second Chance, a cancer support group right here in Red Bank. And the Red Bank Business Alliance has also gotten behind this effort with volunteerism, which just blows us away.
TAP: What’s the best part about your job?
My wife and I help people that want to become entrepreneurs to grow their own financial business without leaving their current jobs, and transform it into a passive business income that will free up their time. The service we provide is a 60-minute personal financial boot camp that takes families current monthly financial expenses and lowers them so that they are free from financial pressure and have clarity.
Our company has created an amazing tool that is like a GPS for finance. Americans’ #1 challenge is their personal finance because no matter how good you’re doing, you can always do better. We act as guides for entrepreneurs and clients who want to break out of the rat race either part-time or full-time, build a business of their own, and fix their finances permanently. We first started by getting financially literate ourselves. After experiencing the rewards of this ourselves and then seeing the results for our family and friends, we were motivated by the transformation on a personal level.
We love working with people and were so excited to share this information with everyone we cared about. Helping clients and associates achieve that transformation is the most satisfying career possible for us. It’s incredibly rewarding to be the financial or business coach for a person pursuing an entrepreneurial business in addition to their full-time job.
It’s liberating to them and their family, as well as interesting, intellectually satisfying, and creates a win-win for both the client and the associate who’s building their business. The friendships we’ve built are just like family. They are lifetime friendships built by two people locking arms to work towards a mutually beneficial goal that is worthwhile, ethically sound and built to last!
TAP: Most Challenging?
You can’t help people who don’t think they have a problem. The most challenging by far is when someone dies, retires, or gets downsized and is not prepared. I personally think there are three big problems looming out there for everyone: dying too soon, living too long, and income insecurity.
The first one, dying too soon, is taken care of by life insurance, one of the financial services we offer. The second one, living too long, is taken care of with systematic monthly contributions to an investment plan, made over your lifetime so you end up financially independent as a result of your wealth accumulation plan.
But income insecurity is really the biggest problem because without income, the other two priorities are not possible. Income insecurity means that you’re deriving 100% of your income from a job where your position could be eliminated, downsized or rightsized, forcing you into a situation where you have a reduced or zero income position. The only way to lessen income insecurity is to have multiple sources of income and not have too high a percentage of your income derived from a job.
We believe that owning your own business and specifically in financial services make up the very best multiple sources of income because every single living, breathing person needs these services.
Tania and I specialize in developing entrepreneurial-minded people so that they can build their own full-time or part-time business. The need for personal financial guidance is staggering! Eliminating unnecessary, high cost, low value financial instruments, and replacing them with efficient low-cost high value financial services that improve your overall financial position is a very exciting concept and something that everyone wants. At the very least, everyone wants to help their children attend college, eliminate their mortgage and become financially independent. If they can do so by dedicating eight hours a week to their own part-time business to generate extra income over the time they are with us, it makes a lot of sense.
Even though it’s a challenging environment, due to the hamster wheel that most find themselves on, we know there are a lot of entrepreneurs out there, stuck in jobs, who are just like us. They’re looking for the right opportunity, one they can be excited about, and that can make big changes to their personal finances. In fact, even after 20 years of doing this business ourselves, we see that there are so many people, who are hungry for change, that we can easily be developing entrepreneurial people to be doing this business for the rest of our lives.
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