Gary Scheer is the founder and CEO of Gary Scheer, LLC. He is a Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) and a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) in Morristown, New Jersey, who is renowned as a tax planning expert. He assists high net worth and affluent business owners, executives, and professionals in substantially reducing their taxes. He also helps individuals to prepare for a secure and prosperous retirement.
- Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers want to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I started my career as a wealth manager for middle management executives in New Jersey and New York in 1982. A personal event in 2000 led me to shift my focus from my first entrepreneurial venture, Financial Management Group, to starting a holistic retirement planning firm that focuses on helping people strategize for a better retirement.
My wife’s grandmother worked for over 50 years to build an estate worth nearly $500,000 from her knitting and crocheting store. When she passed away in 2000, the family was shocked to find that her entire estate was virtually bankrupt. This made me wonder if she had an effective retirement plan in place, she could have done better to safeguard her hard-earned money. Unfortunately a few years before her death, my wife’s granny broke her hip and underwent hip replacement surgery. After that, she spent her last 6 years in a rehab/nursing home facility that cost her $6000/month. It’s an enormous amount of money spent only because no one consulted a professional to look for cheaper alternatives to nursing homes.
All this stirred in me a passion for helping others create plans for their retirement. I founded Gary Scheer LLC., to guide people to do what is helpful for them to protect their hard-earned estate and pass it on to their children and causes they care about deeply.
- Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I have met many interesting people in my life and one client I will never forget. He was a standing comedian and he always carried a refreshing smile on his face even when he was about to go bankrupt and came to me for advice and help. I studied his financial situation, drafted a strategy to plan his retirement with whatever estate he was left with, and called him to see me. When he entered my office, I was already feeling bad for him. A cheerful person like him didn’t deserve to face this kind of financial hardship. I was looking for nice words to communicate to him less painfully about his current financial crisis and not so hopeful future. I started off like “You see, the pessimist sees the glass half empty and the optimist sees it half full.” And before I could complete my sentence he added “and a standing comedian just adds whiskey and enjoys his life.” I had never seen a more interesting and full-of-life person in my life.
- Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
During the initial stages of my career as a financial consultant, I had a client who was a renowned heart surgeon and I was working with him for a couple of years. It was the time when we were having our first baby and my wife and I was overly sentimental. I was feeling overwhelmed with emotions and workload. My surgeon client was changing his job and I had a meeting scheduled with him the day my wife went into labor in an emergency. During the meeting, I kept mistaking the name of his new workplace (hospital) for the one my wife was admitted in. I felt really embarrassed and unprofessional but my client was so kind he understood my feelings. To my surprise, I received a bouquet with warm wishes for my newborn the next day from the same client and he wrote, “Thanks for mentioning the hospital name during the meeting otherwise I would never have been able to send blessings to the little one.” It was a beautiful feeling to receive greetings from a client but this incident made me learn a lesson for life. I made sure to strike a balance between work and life and never overburdened myself with work, especially during important family times.
- None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I strongly agree with Mark Twain, “Behind every successful man there is a strong woman”, and in my case, it’s my beloved wife. She supported me throughout my life, especially during my struggling times. Once I had to travel for almost 2 months for work and she almost handled everything single-handedly, the house, work, and kids. I truly adore her for her unconditional love and support.
- The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality, and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
Diversity is the key to success. Diversity to me means having a culture and mentality in the company to accept those who are different and willing to promote their voices. The executive team is required to have skills like proficient communication, critical thinking, decision-making power, and problem-solving ability. Not all these skills are learned in management courses, some of them come naturally with diversity. Diversity allows viewing management decisions through a distinct lens and helps the company immensely.
- Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers—in fact, most people—think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
Yes, I believe that an executive has different responsibilities than the other leaders. An executive is responsible for building an effective team that consists of strong, competent, and A+ players from the industry. He should be able to strike a solid balance between internal and external factors and work-life balance.
- What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive? Can you explain what you mean?
Many headhunters believe that to be a perfect candidate for the position of a CEO one should have a larger-than-life and extrovert personality. But I personally think it’s a myth since the appealing personality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I have observed a lot of introverts outperforming extroverts when it comes to meetings. The main thing that helps you prove your worth as an executive is your management, decision-making, and risk-taking skills.
- Do you think everyone is cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive, and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
No, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In my opinion, to be a successful executive, you should be patient, a clear communicator, with an open-minded approach towards new business ideas and methods, and should have a growth mindset to help your company excel. If you are not open to others’ opinions and ideas and not willing to take risks, you can never succeed in an executive role. After a couple of years, your company’s growth will stop if you are too reluctant to implement new innovative ideas.
- What advice would you give to other business leaders to help create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?
I would like to share my personal experience as an example here. At Gary Scheer LLC, I set clear departmental goals at the start of every year and keep in mind the overall organization’s goals. When you promote diversity and inclusivity in your company, you see a stark improvement in the company’s growth across the board. To create a fantastic work culture I always encourage a little humor without compromising on respect to keep the employees happy and engaged in work with full enthusiasm. It really adds to productivity. Creating an employee recognition program is also a must to encourage employees to work even better.
- How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
In order to make the world a better place, I regularly contribute to charities, including the Morristown Rotary Club, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, Special Olympics, and Gottesman RTW Academy, to name a few.
- Fantastic. Here is the primary question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
I am glad that you asked this. Now that I have more than 4 decades of experience helping people with their financial matters, I find myself in a position to advise newcomers to know what I wish someone had told me before I started. If I say I have learned a lot through experience and observations over this long period of time it won’t be wrong. So here are 5 top things that everyone must learn today to smooth out their journey to success.
Learn how to say no! It is hard to turn down opportunities to grow. Still, you must learn to evaluate the weight of each opportunity coming your way and calculate whether these are something really worthwhile or merely a distraction from your main mission. When I started my career as a CEO, I often looked for new ideas, and I was tempted to say yes to everyone. But gradually I learned to pick the most valuable one and say no to the rest!
The opportunities don’t come knocking all the time; sometimes, you need to make a case for your company to outsiders, so learning how to pitch is vital. I invested hours in being really good at it. I wasn’t the hype guy but once I missed a really big opportunity because of my inability to make a pitch and I started to work on developing this skill.
Being at the top isn’t easy. You are the main target for people’s criticism. Learn to take criticism without taking things personally. Take it as an opportunity to fix your shortcomings and grow. I wish someone told me this before I started and I could have taken the high road when I was treated unfairly.
Financial advisory is a career based on relationships and advice tailored to each client’s unique situation, needs, and objectives. You must have a genuine curiosity about and affinity for people to excel in this field. I am genuinely thankful to my wife who helped me learn and practice caring about people’s stories. It helped me build trusted, long-term relationships with my clients.
Last but not the least, always be success-driven. You should genuinely want to help people and serve as a trusted counselor. When I started, I was passionate about crunching numbers but not very clear in my soul purpose of becoming a financial advisor. But as I worked, I realized that being success-driven is the only way to professional growth and personal satisfaction.
- Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Robert Kiyosaki once said, “It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” My entire business mission is based on this quote. I help people by protecting their hard-earned money and passing it on to their generations.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.