Interviews

MOV Interview: SEV MENESHIAN

VISIT http://www.publicretirementplanners.com/

Sev Meneshian is a very successful financial planner in Chicago, “I’m a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and an investment adviser. My area of focus includes helping clients (who are mainly from the public sector), with comprehensive financial planning.  This means I help clients plan for their retirement, reduce their tax burden, cut their exposure to long-term care costs, and leaving a legacy for the kids, grandchildren, or favorite charities.”

Helping people fulfill their dreams in an organized and sensible way is more important in today’s chaotic world than perhaps ever before: “Do they have their estate-planning documents lined up? If something happens to them, will their wife, or husband, or family member be able to make medical decisions and financial decisions for them? Are their investments lined up in such a way that they’ll be able to meet their retirement dreams and goals? We offer help in all kinds of ways because financial security and lifestyle decisions are very closely related and interconnected.”

Sev MeneshianMeneshian defines freedom as being able to pursue their one’s dreams in the best way possible, but he emphasizes that this pursuit should reflect important values. “Number one for me is being direct with people, being open and honest. I have to spend a good deal of time with the family to really understand how to best help them. I value internal strength which to me means having a deep faith in God and things that they feel strongly about which has to include not harming anyone else. I take a very bottom-line approach to things, and especially my life. In most cases, just from observation 99% of the time, we are what we are because of choices that we made yesterday, last year, 10 years ago, and 20 years ago, and possibly even beyond. I really try to be open and honest, especially with my wife. The nice thing is I don’t have to watch what I’m saying, or I should say I don’t have to think before I speak in the sense that I don’t hold any secrets from her. And I think that honesty also means you need to speak up when it’s appropriate. A lot of people condone implied lying or lying by omission where, for example you don’t discuss something in front of certain family members or people because someone doen’t want them to know or want them to know that you know. I think that’s a form of dishonesty.”

As anyone who works in the modern business world knows, that kind of honesty can cost you money, but Sev Meneshian sees it as an essential part of his vocation.   “I am licensed as an investment adviser, which means I’m a fiduciary, so I have a duty of loyalty and care that’s owed to my clients and then legally I’m bound to put my client’s interests ahead of mine. An investment adviser is different than a financial advisor.  If I was just a registered representative and I was commission-based, I may be tempted to convince a client to move their money into something that would pay me a bigger commission, as long as that investment was suitable for them.  But, I don’t operate under the suitability standard; I operate under the fiduciary standard.  There’s no personal advantage or gain for me to advise them one way or another so I can really be objective.”

As a man who follows a true system of values, Meneshian earns his money over the long term with most clients. “If a client is with me for five, ten, or fifteen years, I would eventually earn more income than I would if I was just selling them stock as a broker, but the thing is I’m giving consistent service whereas the salesman who is just selling a commissioned product is looking more at the upfront money. The good ones, once in awhile, they’ll advise, but the ones that don’t have the values that we’re talking about, they could disappear and a lot of them do. That’s a big thing with clients is that they come over, because they get neglected once the sale is made.”

Meneshian draws inspiration from many sources but books and quotes from people he admires are the leading sources. “Just this past weekend we were at a friend’s cabin and I just happened to crack open a book that he had up there, and it had some great quotes concerning dealing with success and overcoming obstacles that I actually took pictures of so I could remember them, nut great advice is great advice and it can come from anywhere, One of my favorite all-time movies is The Godfather. I’m actually listening to the audio version of that book right now. As awful of a person as Vito Corleone was as a mob boss, there was a lot of things he said in the movie that were admirable. Things like saying, “A real man spends time with his family.” He’s teaching and coaching his sons. . Although he’s guiding his son to take over the reign of a criminal organization, he’s still giving him life lessons.

Like many people, Sev Meneshian is concerned about the future of America. “Being a money manager, what worries me is this huge, huge national debt we’ve created; twenty trillion dollars, and that’s not to mention the unfunded liabilities like Medicare and Social Security. Whether you are looking at the debt of a household or the debt of nation, these are issues that that have to be repaid, one way or another. I think building up this kind of debt is another consequence of the moral decay that been growing in our nation for many years. You can even see it in pop culture. Look at the movies for the last thirty years and I’m only forty years of age. Art is a reflection of life, and the movies have gotten increasingly violent, which is an issue because movies have the most impact on younger people or perhaps even more impact on people maybe who have psychological or mental issues. I can watch violent movie all day, and I don’t think I will become a violent person, but somebody who is maybe in that direction may carry out those the things that they watch.”

Sev Meneshian photo

 

Another issue that Meneshain identifies as contributing to the decline of America is excess. “We are obsessed with accumulating things. It’s too easy to get credit and the real wealth is being concentrated relatively the hands of a few. If it’s earned the right way, then that’s perfectly fine. I know that there are cycles to everything, but we’re not the egalitarian society that we were sixty years ago, where you had one parent working, typically the father while the mother stayed home with the kids and made sure they were taken care of, and from what I can gather, people were happier back then. The Great Depression was a terrible time for a lot of families, but families were a lot closer then because they had to rely on each other a lot more. You didn’t have the wealth, but you had the closeness in the family. Now you have the wealth, but with a lot of families, you don’t have the closeness.”

“For example, I’m a capitalist to my bones,” Meneshain continues, but there has to be reasonable limits to what a person or a company can do to make money. You can’t dump toxic chemicals into the local waters and start poisoning the water and the land. There has to be a limit. Who imposes those limits ultimately in our country? It’s the government, but you can have corruption in government as well”

The conflict, of course, comes in the area of maximizing profits. “The job of a corporation is to make money for its investors,” Meneshian added. “But the limits a company will got to depends on their moral compass and that comes from the top, the people who run the company. We tend to only hear about the ones who violates people’s rights in the name of making money, but there are a lot of corporations that have a strong moral compass as well. If the person at the top has very strong moral compass he or she will try to do things the right way. A lot of businesses, however, operate in a kind of gray area of morality just to survive. That’s also part of it. If they do things in a humane way, it might force them to close and then everyone is going to be out of a job. The ideal is to never do anything that violates the rights of others so you don’t become dependent on operating that way. I used to have this discussion with my father back in the steroid era of baseball. I’d say, ‘Hey, look, if someone had the talent to be in Triple A and on the verge of making it to the majors, but just needed a little more kick to get that big payday, it would be very difficult to resist that temptation.’  If that means making three million bucks next year instead of just being a regular Triple A guy, that’s obviously something a lot of guys think about.”

Part of what Meneshian is saying is that often corporations or individuals will turn to dishonor-able practices out of a survival instinct. “That survival instinct kicks in and it’s a powerful force. I think that if you’re on the verge of getting fired or even think you might get fired, you tend to do what you have to do to keep your job. You think, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t pay the house, so where am I going to live? I cannot afford food. I’m not going to be able to do this or that.” Those are real survival instincts that kick in, and once you get over that initial feeling, then some kind of sanity is reached, then you’ll understand that it’s not the end of the world. We’re just hardwired to survive.”

It all comes down to where we draw the line. Does our survival instinct kick in when we fear we might lose our house or does it kick in when we fear we won’t be able to but the latest i-phone or this year’s Porsche. We set the limits. Sev Meneshian is a person who recognizes the value of honesty and ethical behavior. That is one of the reasons he is a Man of Value.

 

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The Author

James Riordan

James Riordan

Rare is it that any author will have one of his books described as the definitive work on a particular subject, but such a distinction has been bestowed by critics on no less than four books written by James Riordan. The New York Times Bestseller Break on Through, Riordan’s biography of Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, has not only been called “the most objective, thorough and professional Morrison biography” by the Times Book Review but also named as one of the Ten All Time Best Rock Biographies by Amazon.com. Riordan’s The Platinum Rainbow (written with Bob Monaco) was called “One of the best how-to books ever written” by the Los Angeles Daily News and “The ultimate career book on the music industry” by Recording, Engineer & Producer. Critics described Riordan’s The Bishop of Rwanda as “one of the most important books you’ll ever read.” and The Coming of the Walrus, Riordan’s novel about the 60s as “the definitive book on the era” and “a hilarious tale of a harrowing search for the greatest truth of all”. With the release of A Well Thought Out Scream and Madman in the Gate, Riordan pushed the boundaries again with poetry/song lyric books that contain hundreds of stunning, beautiful and poignant images from artists and photographers from all over the world. In the summer of 2013 a new edition of The Coming of the Walrus was released to rave reviews followed by The Kill Switch. The author of thirty-three books, James Riordan’s career began in the music industry where as a songwriter, manager, producer and concert promoter he worked with several well known artists. In 1976 he began writing a newspaper column, Rock-Pop, which he later syndicated. Riordan soon became one of America’s premier rock journalists with articles reaching millions of readers including those of Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, Circus, Musician, and newspapers like The Chicago Daily News and The Kansas City Star. His reputation for relating on a one-to-one level soon led to interviews with George Harri-son, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Zappa, The Doobie Brothers, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Mandrell, Crosby, Stills & Nash and countless others. His first book, The Platinum Rainbow (written with Bob Monaco in 1980) became the largest selling book ever written about the music business. The guide to “succeeding in the music business without selling your soul” was praised by Variety ,The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Las Vegas Sun, The Minneapolis Tribune, Billboard, Record World and many more. The Platinum Rainbow became an industry-wide phenomenon and interviews with James Riordan were aired on over 1200 radio stations and numerous television talk shows. Next Riordan collaborated with Pulitzer Prize winner Jason Miller on a mini-series for network television (The Irish) and a movie of the week for CBS (Bless Me Father). In June 1991, William Morrow & Co. published Break On Through to outstanding sales and reviews. Riordan worked as a consultant on Oliver Stone’s film of Morrison’s life, The Doors, which led to his writing Stone’s biography. Published by Hyperion /Disney in December 1995, Entertainment Weekly called STONE “an unflinching biography... enough spectacle to fill a month of daytime-TV talk shows.” The New York Post said reading the book was like “the sensory overload of watching all of Oliver Stone’s movies back to back.” Riordan was interviewed by Inside Edition, People Magazine, The Tom Snyder Show, and many others. From 1997-2000, Riordan created and co-starred in a local television program, Kankakee Valley Prime Time, which won six Crystal Communicators, three Tellys, and earned Riordan a Chicago/ Midwest Emmy Nomination for Writing the program. In the summer of 1999, James Riordan wrote, directed and starred in Maddance, an hour long dramatic project which won Crystal Communicators for Drama, Writing, Acting and Directing. On April 9, 2000, James’ 16 year old son, Jeremiah, was killed as a passenger in an accident that involved three drunk drivers. Shortly after this, James founded Make it Stick which works to warn teens of the dangers of substance abuse and publishes a magazine distributed to high school students. In 2001, he founded Jeremiah’s – A Place to be Yourself to give teens a place to hang out away from the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Force to close by its incredible growth rate, Jeremiah’s was recognized as one of the fastest growing and most successful teen centers in the United States. In 2004, Toastmasters International named Riordan Communicator of the Year for Central Illinois, the YMCA gave him their Service to Youth Award and the United Way named him the Outstanding Volunteer of Kankakee County. Returning to writing, Riordan went to Africa to write The Bishop of Rwanda, (with an intro by Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren). In November of 2006, Harper Collins released a new edition of Break On Through followed by The Coming of the Walrus (Image Workshop) in December and The Bishop of Rwanda (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) to rave reviews (“Powerful …plumbs the depths of God’s forgiveness and finds no bottom – Publisher’s Weekly). In 2011, he won the Pledge For Life Harold Award for his work with area youth. In the summer of 2012, Lee and Shane Stanley (Gridiron Gang) optioned Maddance as a feature film followed by Apothecary Films optioning The Kill Switch in 2013 and Omni Films optioning Final Service to film in May. Riordan joined the staff of the Mancow Syndicated Television and Radio show in January of 2014 and is now seen and heard across America on a weekly basis. His biography is included in Who’s Who in Entertainment , Who’s Who in Poetry and Contemporary Authors of America. James Riordan – Works Books The Kill Switch, novel with Andrew Dahlmaine, Stonegate Ink, 2013 The Coming of the Walrus, Trade Paperback Editn, Image Workshop 2012 Springboard To Heaven ( Jojo Sayson Adventure), Image Workshop, 2012 The Elijah Collection, novel collection with Bill Myers, Zondervan, 2011 The Well Thought Out Scream (Poetry/Art), Image Workshop Press, 2009 Madman in the Gate (Poetry/Art), Image Workshop Press, 2009 The Deadly Loyalty Collection, Forbidden Doors, Zondervan, 2009 The Ancient Forces Collection, Forbidden Doors, Zondervan, 2009 The Enemy Strikes with Bill Myers (Elijah Project series. Zondervan, 2009 Deception with Bill Myers (Book 2 Elijah Project series. Zondervan, 2009 The Bishop of Rwanda (Finding Forgiveness) Thomas Nelson, March 2007 Paperback Edition May, 2012 The Coming of the Walrus (What Really Happened in the '60s) IW, 2006 Break on Through (The Life & Death of Jim Morrison), Morrow, 1991. (New York Times Bestseller, Published in 5 languages, Hardcover, 5 Paperback Editions, Harper Trade Paperback November, 2006) Stone (The Controversies, Excesses & Exploits of a Radical Filmmaker), Disney/Hyperion,1995. (Published in 3 languages, Hardcover, Paperback Edition). Making It in the New Music Business, Writers Digest Books, 1987, (Second Edition, Revised and Updated 1991, Two Hardcover Editions) The Platinum Rainbow (How to Succeed in the Music Business Without Selling Your Soul) 250,000 copies with Bob Monaco, Swordsman Press, 1980, Twenty-Three Editions, Revised 1988) 25 Year Anniversary Edition, 2005 Capture the Wind (Microphones) w.Tom Lubin, Literary Mouse Press,1989 Private Biography of Russ Kalvin, founder of Kalvin Corp., 1990 Private Biography of Steve Stefano, founder of Joico Hair Products, 1993. Mystery of the Invisible Knight (Book 2 in the BloodHounds Series) with Bill Myers, Bethany House,1997. Matters of the Heart (The Life & Times of Edgar Cullman), Culbro, 1997. The Curse (Book 7 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1997. The Undead (Book 8 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1996. The Scream (Book 9 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1998 The Ancients (Book 10 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1999. The Cards (Book 11 Forbidden Doors Series) with Bill Myers, Tyndale,2000 Films Final Service, co-written with Gary Moore and based on his book, Omni Productions, to be filmed in May, 2014. Maddance, Writer/Director/Lead Actor, Search Engine Films, Simmcomm, 1999. (Winner of 4 Crystal Communicators including Best Drama, Screenplay, Director, Male Actor – Austin, TX.1999) Performance (The Life of Ingrid Bergman), Screenplay, Lancit Productions 1998. Returned to Author when film division closed)Rewritten2009 Shadowdancers, Story & Screenplay, Story with Bill Myers, 1997 Dr. Babylon, Story 1996. Air Guitar, Story & Screenplay, 1994 The Platinum Rainbow, Story & Screenplay, 1993 Television/Video Kankakee Valley Prime Time, Writer, Director, Producer, 1997-2000. (Nominated for Midwest/Chicago Emmy for Writing, 1998, 3 Telly Awards, 4 Crystal Communicators 1998-2000). Angels Among Us (The Amtrak City of New Orleans Train Disaster, Co- Producer, (Telly Award, 2000). River Valley Sports Authority, Producer, 1999-2003. I Hate The World (Hypnoises Music Video), Writer/Director/Producer, Crystal Communicator for Best Music Video Concept, 1998). The United Way (Video) Crystal Communicator for Best Video for a Charitable Organization, 1998.

If it isn't money and it isn't fame and it isn't sex... then what... God?

— James Riordan, 2000

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