In episode 73 of the NewRetirement Podcast, Steve Chen is joined by guest Gary Danoff. Gary is a Global Alliances Leader at Google and an executive coach, advisor, and podcaster who discusses work, purpose, and financial planning & literacy across generations.
Steve and Gary dive into his background, the importance of financial literacy, and how AI may impact society, especially the well being of younger people.
Transcript of Podcast with Gary Danoff
Steve Chen: Welcome to New Retirement Podcast. Today, we’re going to be talking with Gary Danoff, a Global Alliances Leader at Google and an Executive Coach, Advisor, and Podcaster about work, purpose, and financial planning and literacy across generations. Gary runs his own podcast, What’s Next Now, which is about improving human connection across work, community, and purpose.
We’re going to discuss Gary’s story and the personal connection that brought him to new retirement. Thanks to his son, Jake, and we’re going to dive into the importance of financial literacy, AI, and how it may impact society, especially the well being of younger people. I just want to give a quick backstory on how this came together and then dive into a little bit about Gary’s story, but basically what happened here is Gary pinged me on LinkedIn.
He was a user of our platform which I thought was great. I always love hearing foreign users, and he told me that he found out about it through his son, Jake, who’s a doctor at Kaiser. And it just turns out that we were also and are talking to Kaiser a bit about whether our platform can be valuable to their audience and their community of doctors.
So quick shout out to Jake for facilitating this connection and bringing us together.
Gary Danoff: Yay Jake.
Steve Chen: Yeah. Yay Jake. Gary, we’d love to just kind of get your summary of like your journey to today, which obviously could be a, could be a lot and your view on what you like about what we’re doing here and also what you like about the work that you’re doing today.
Gary Danoff: Okay. My journey that got me to where we are today. Well, how many hours is the show? No, no, we’re not, we’re not going to torture people with that. Yeah. It’s a great question. First of all, Hey, thanks for having me, Steve. It’s great to be with you today. And I do love your product, by the way, I’m an unsolicited non paid fan.
So I can say that. I want to tell a little story about an earlier chapter of my life. Actually, when I was a teenager, for those listening, we can all remember what those days were like, right? And I had the benefit of having a very influential uncle in my life, whose name was Uncle Hy, H Y, short for Hyman.
And Uncle Hy really got into the yoga, the, the Eastern way of spirituality coming to America that it did around when the Beatles came in and all the rock bands back then. And Uncle Hy introduced me to an Indian guru whose name was Sankashivadas. I can still remember that, and trust me, it was decades ago at least.
Sankashivadas came over from India to help Uncle Hy on his spiritual journey. And Uncle Hy introduced me to Sankashiva Das, who, in a meeting, looked at me, and looked in my eyes deeply. And we sat together, and we breathed, and we meditated, and when we came out of it, Sankashiva Das says, Gary, your Sanskrit Indian name is Devadas.
And I said, well, what does that mean? And he means, he says it means servant of the shining one. So I’ve kind of, I’m going to connect that to where I am now and who I am and what I’m doing in that, where I see my kind of mission and purpose in life, Steve is I’m here to bring out the light in other people.
You know, I’m, I’m serving the light within you and within me and within others and I do that in the business world and I’ll, I’ll talk about that more later, but that’s my on the spot answer to your question, which I can go more into with different branches off that tree. But. But that’s the fun part of how I got to where I am.
Steve Chen: That’s awesome. It’s awesome to hear that kind of story. How old were you when that happened? When you first
Gary Danoff: That was when I was like 15 or 16 years old, it was impressive in that it impressed upon me spirituality, yoga, a little bit about Buddhism at a very, at a pretty early age.
Steve Chen: And you’ve carried that with you, that moment and vision for yourself.
For your whole life then.
Gary Danoff: Yeah, I really have. I really have. I try and live my life that way. I see the light in other people. I, I, I see light in myself. I would much prefer to see light than darkness because one can train their vision on either. They are both there. They’re both there. But I choose the light as often as I can.
And I make my living on that. I’m an undercover light worker.
Steve Chen: That’s awesome. I, I really like that vision for yourself. I, I was actually explaining to one of my kids. My oldest is a recent graduate and starting his career and he started a company and you know, it’s never easy. And so I’ve done this for a long, my whole career and sharing some insights about not just the mechanics of like starting companies, but like the emotional and internal part of this thing.
But part of it was this vision. Why I do what I do. And like, I remember telling him, well, when I was young, I had this vision of making a lot of money and giving it away, like becoming a philanthropist, which has sort of been in the back of my mind. I I’ve done very poorly on the giving it away and to be determined on how we do on the building up a lot of wealth, but I just think it’s interesting.
For people to have this kind of internal vision as a guide for their lives and what they’re doing so that it’s cool to hear yours. Can you give me give a couple examples of like how that has surfaced over the course of your career because you’ve had a pretty wide ranging career and lots of Western, you know, making money and I was looking you have a sales background and kind of partnership background.
Gary Danoff: Yeah, happy to talk about that. Happy to talk about how I came to blend the two together. So classically, I came out of college and at that time, my mother was a recruiter in the high technology industry. I was so excited that I had interviewed for and been given an offer to go to work for. Corning Glassworks out of Corning, New York, which makes Corningware, which I’m not even sure is around anymore, but one used to buy Corningware at something called a department store, which sold many things used in your home.
They also had fiber optics so they also make Corning fiber optics because it was after all a glass company and all the uses of glass, but then Almost at the the 12th hour I had the opportunity to interview at an upstart upcoming technology company called digital equipment corporation or DEC out of major, Massachusetts Long story short, I interviewed and was fortunate enough to have earned the role.
And so from that time on, I’ve been in the technology industry in sales, leadership, and business development partner roles. That’s how I’ve made my living. I’ve been very blessed by it and I really enjoy what I do. About 15 years ago is when the advising and coaching comes into play because I was either at NetApp or Microsoft.
I’m not sure which, but I kind of realized a lot of people are coming to me with questions and seeking advice. It’s kind of above and beyond a couple of friends asking your opinion on something. It’s kind of above and beyond casual advice. People were coming to me with kind of beefy, hearty life issues.
I’m having to do with either their career or relationships or transitions that they were making at different stages and that coincided with the birth of the coaching as a profession and as an industry. So I was like, well. I think this is where the light in me is, is wanting to shine. And so I became certified through the International Coaching Federation as a, I’m now a professional certified coach at PCC.
And so I began to blend the two together using coaching more in my full time work. Then I took it a step further and started GaryDanoff.com, which is my advising and consulting business, which I also do.
Steve Chen: Why do you think people first started coming to you? Like, how did they know to approach you with these kinds of questions?
Gary Danoff: I think it’s because I was born naturally passionate to be curious, to explore new options, and importantly, to teach and to guide. The only thing I can say, Stephen, is that people picked that up out of me, like they felt that. I create trust, I create an envelope, an environment of trust very easily and very authentically.
It’s one of the things that I’m blessed with, and so I think that’s why people started doing that.
Steve Chen: And I see that you obviously do the coaching through GaryDanoff.com, you run your podcast. You’ve also done this at Google. Any big takeaways when you’re working at a place like Google? Is it different? Is the practice different there or is it the same thing?
Gary Danoff: I used to hate it when people would answer a question like this, you ask them a question like you just asked me and they say, well, yes and no, I can say to myself, what are you talking about? It can’t be black and white. It’s yes or no. Well, wait a minute. Maybe it’s gray. So the answer is yes and no. And here’s what I mean by that.
And in this instance, it’s similar in that the constructs of coaching, which are. Deep questioning, deep listening, active listening, and guiding happen in both garydanoff. com clients, where I serve founders and CEOs who are starting an enterprise, as well as young professionals or people making a transition.
And then in Google, I do the same thing for people who are software managers, people who are divisional leaders, VPs. It’s in a different . It’s of course, in a multinational, highly successful, highly driven technology enterprise. And so there’s some peculiarities to that, like there are, if I were doing that same type of work with, you know, Aetna Healthcare or Disney or GM.
So yes and no.
Steve Chen: Are you seeing on the coaching front, have you seen a. Any big changes over the last 15 years. The reason I ask this is that our business has been expanding. We’re hiring a more diverse population of people. And it feels like some of the folks we’re hiring that are millennials are frankly pretty incredible, like in terms of they’ve never been paying and they’re like, you know, not digital natives, but like they’ve been paying attention and, Learning a tremendous amount quickly, and some of them show up with very sophisticated questions and thoughts about their work, their career, their motivations, and I’m just curious if you see that, like, it does feel very different than it was even five years ago, but definitely like 10 or 15 years ago.
Gary Danoff: Absolutely. I mean, you nailed it. The millennials, the digital natives, the Gen Z, they are so astute, they are so tuned in, they have so many channels for information and learning consumption, and they’re very hungry to learn and grow. And so some of the stereotypes about them being demotivated and not interested and don’t want to work hard.
I don’t see a lot of that, I do see that they don’t have the same comparative, climb the ladder slowly that boomers have, like I have had, to appreciate and understand that. They’re more willing to say, you know what, in two or three years I’m not going to get what I need here, so I’m out, and I’m going to switch over to another, another place where I get it.
But to answer your question specifically, change in coaching has been around the flexibility that, like, for example, I offer people, you don’t have to sign up for six months, you can have as much or as little as you want, because that fits the way people want to consume it, and then I let them self direct, you know, I really need more time with you, or I don’t need more time with you.
So that’s one thing, and then we can talk about, you know, Artificial intelligence in the world of coaching as well. You know, we could get into that. So I don’t know if that answers your question, Steve.
Steve Chen: No, no, it does. Yeah, it’s really interesting. Just get your perspective on what you’re seeing. And also I hear you on the I don’t say transactional, but.
There’s a lot more I think self awareness and considering the value exchange when you’re, you know, Hey, I’m going to work with you and I’m gonna work hard, but also hopefully learn a lot. And then if it’s not, if I’m not seeing the opportunities for growth here, then I’m more likely to move. I’d be interested in looking at, I don’t know if you’ve looked at this, but the data around job switching across generations, you know, I would imagine, right.
Older generations are more loyal and they, they move less. Probably than some of the other.
Gary Danoff: for example, the first job that I took, the one I referenced earlier at digital equipment, I stayed there for eight years and I did that because I wanted to climb the proverbial ladder and then I left to go start a video production company.
So I jumped way out of that boat into a much smaller boat on a much volatile ocean, et cetera, et cetera. That’s another story. People today entering the workforce or in the workforce for their second or third or fourth job are going to stay. About two years, unless they are, as you referenced, embraced with opportunities for learning advancement and growth, and I wouldn’t necessarily always put them in that order.
Like to some people, the straight up advancement may not be as important as what they learn and sometimes moving to the side to then move up. But it’s organizations that offer that, that are going to attract the best talent.
Steve Chen: I think also culture is. Huge in these companies. Now, I know we’ve started really thinking about this a lot and also listening closely to.
The members of the team about what they want to see and how it should evolve. I think it really used to throw out the word culture or whatever. It’s like, Hey, foosball tables and like free massages and stuff like that. Now it’s really about like the values, communication, norms, expectations, and all this stuff.
And, and it definitely needs to be shaped and built together.
Gary Danoff: Yeah. Culture, what I’ve experienced culture to be is that thing that you feel. It’s not on a whiteboard and it’s not in a policy document, but when you walk into a room with a group of people in a sub team or division or a large meeting, culture is what you feel in the room.
Culture is what you feel and how people treat each other, what the norms are around what they expect from the Aristotle project, which is some research Google did about how to make people more productive. There was this phrase that’s been coined called psychological safety which has five elements to them and to it and one of the key ones is what’s called conversational turn taking where everybody knows that they’re going to have a chance to be heard and people don’t get stepped on or disrespected because of their religious or ethnic or sexual orientation background, so culture, I’m thrilled to hear that you’re paying great attention to that as your company is going to grow and scale because I’m finding at Google and with my clients outside of Google that it really matters a lot.
Steve Chen: Yeah, I think I feel like it’s a living thing that you have to pay attention to and nurture and. And both ways, not just nurture, but prune back and manage. I mean, there’s definitely evolutions to this thing that we’re learning just real quick, as we exit the coaching part of it, like I do want to talk more, a little bit more about AI, but do you see AI impacting the work you do as a coach, but also your clients that you work with and how it changing their lives.
Is that surfacing?
Gary Danoff: Sure. Yeah. Yeah. So the answer is yes to both of those. Look today, if you are 22, 42, 52 or 62, and you want to get. some sense of recognition and acknowledgment, and you’re not particular about receiving that from a human being who has blood coursing through their veins and breath coming in and out of their body, you can actually get that, and increasingly you’ll be able to get that through what really are from AI based models that represent Emotions or responses to inputs that you provide to them.
So I see that happening. I have a particular point of view where I, I think it will be a while, if ever, where that is the same give and take gives and gets and responsiveness. And nuance response is when, if you and I are having a coaching session, you know, and because of the accumulated knowledge that I have from our prior sessions, I’m able to listen and guide in a way that is particular and unique to what you show up with today.
And, you know, I don’t have a crystal ball, Stephen, that it may come to that, you know, I mean, I’m trying to think of a virtual Gary Danoff, and I’d like to make a lot of money off of that if it does happen, but I don’t know if I see it. And you could just Google, you know, AI in the coaching industry and all kinds of articles will come up.
Lots of people. I think there are supplements to the human side of coaching that you can have with AI. There are what we call nudge mechanisms, which can remind you. Hey, Gary, you promised when we had our session last week that you were going to do. five reach outs and two callbacks. And you were going to write a half pager about your new service by Wednesday.
How’s that going? So that could be an AI articulated agent that is working with me as the coach to check in with you about something that, that you had agreed to. Yeah.
Steve Chen: The accountability part. Yeah. It’s interesting. I will say that having worked in technology my whole life and seeing various Points of disruption, right?
So the web or the internet, the web, mobile cloud, this definitely feels like a seismic change. And for the first time, I’m like, okay, this does not feel quite so predictable. I mean, probably we’re in the middle of a hype cycle and it’s going to not be as great as we think. But like, sometimes I’m like, okay, I’m recording.
Like we were talking about in the preamble, like hundreds of hours of videos with just. You know, just because of using tools like grain and that stuff is stored. Could this emulate people and also could it be trained to read emotions? I mean, this is what it doesn’t do well right now, but if it like it could actually detect how someone’s getting a little bit elevated or whatever.
And then a lot of this is also like storytelling, like humans are great at communicating through storytelling. Could this thing is these things start to tell stories? But are they fake stories? I know. Are they meaningful stories? I don’t know. But like, I could see it could do some incredible stuff. But will it be the uncanny valley?
Not quite there? Or will it be like, No, actually, this thing is starting to be like people.
Gary Danoff: I agree with you that we’re early. And I do think, you know, if you look at the bell curve, we’re at the early, you know, disbelievers of venture triers, those those cavalier frontier people at the beginning who embrace it, I think we’re at the early part of it.
And I do agree with you that it is a. Potentially a sea change technology, but bringing it down to the current day where I see it having an impact and not just speak for myself, like using do it. AI in Google workspace. I can say, please write me a draft email to Stephen summarizing. The things from new retirement that are best for people in my age category, like that could be a real prompt that I could put into a Google doc using do it AI or barred the consumer version barred.
google. com. And it would go and do that and it would, it would then give that back to me. And what I find so amazing about that is in the creative process, it’s often just getting started. That’s the hardest thing to do. And so it just helped me get started and it’s there 24 seven. Yep. And so I appreciate that quite a bit.
And there’s lots. You can do that with images. You can do that in spreadsheets. You can do that with, with sound. There’s a lot of plugins available now. So I think what will take it from the hype stage to, and I forgot the four phases of crossing the chasm, but you know, to the adopted stage, to the laggard stage, to the doubters when it gets mass acceptance is when people, or at least businesses find.
Oh, wait a minute. This is actually buying minutes back in productivity of my team or my employees. There’s value here. There’s measurable financial value. And I think that’s the part that we’re getting to be able to make kind of business cases on pretty quickly.
Steve Chen: Yeah, it’s pretty interesting. I just signed up to I put our request in for us to use duet for our business.
So we’re on Google Workspace user, you know, I’ve got, I don’t know. 35, 000 emails in Gmail right now, something like, I don’t know what it is. It’s a lot and all these Google docs. And then you have video and you’re kind of like, okay, I mean, you know, a calendar, I mean, on the one hand, you’re like do we want Google knowing everything about me by their hand?
It’s like, well, Google could see that. Oh, someone’s emailed me. They look like a prospect. This is the kind of thing Steve usually sends to them, including like. Here’s what we do. And here’s my Calendly link and automates a lot of this stuff. I could see it like pre populating, like, okay, I, we drafted this for so and so.
You’d be like a good send or no, I want to edit this or whatnot. And it would learn increasingly quickly what I would do. And that would save a tremendous amount of time. So I could see how these tools could be, if they’re well executed, totally game changing.
Gary Danoff: That was just a beautiful paragraph you spoke there, Steve, and even the example you gave about all your emails, wanting to draft something, having it determined whether or not what it drafted is what you want to send to that person.
That whole loop times probably 15 to 30 that you need to do a week. Imagine the time savings of that. And people say, Will it one day take my job? I’m like, no, it’s not going to take your job, but it is going to free you up to do more creative thinking, more planning, more producing so that you don’t have to be involved in the tactical production of getting stuff to and from people.
Steve Chen: One of our investors, he went to like the singularity university or whatever it was, you know, there was something at Stanford and they talked about the abundant future. And I remember him sharing this deck like. Five years ago and and talk about, Hey, you know, if we get unlimited energy through renewables like solar or fusion, but say solar, right, which we’re approaching, at least replacing a lot of fossil fuels, it’s accelerating right now.
It’s pretty interesting. Then you can start to do things like, Oh, well, we can, turn salt water into freshwater, you know, it starts solving other massive problems in society. Like now there’s fresh water for people and then we get AI cooking and we get really energy efficient. I just saw the Google, like for instance, they have an algorithm update that reduces traffic by 30%.
I was like. What a great application of technology, just kind of plug it in and it like reduces traffic by 30%. I’m like, great. You know?
Gary Danoff: Yeah.
Steve Chen: So it’s amazing. Kind of some of the stuff that’s surfacing out there.
Gary Danoff: I like your vision. You know, there’s a lot of light in you for what is the good side of technology.
And I appreciate that you’re focused on
Steve Chen: try to be, you gotta be optimistic, right? Yeah. That’s not humans. Our nature is not always to be optimistic. I’m not always. There’s a strong side of me also that can be. Too much of a critical thinker and like, or what’s not right. So I try to, but yeah, I appreciate that.
All right. We’d love to chat a little bit about your podcast and what you’ve learned from that. Like I was checking it out and I saw that you’ve done some interesting stuff. So who are some of your favorite guests? Like I saw you at Carlos Santana. So it looks like you have a pretty wide ranging set of guests that have come on.
Gary Danoff: Yeah. The funny thing about that is. So I did have a man named Carlos Santana. He’s my most recent guest. I think it’s episode number 39 and it’s called Managing Your Uncertainty, but it’s not Carlos Santana, the musician. Oh, okay. I know. I know. I have had musicians on the show before, which I love doing.
And I’ll talk about a couple of them. But Carlos Santana is a data analytics person at the Disney company. And he’s also a former. Veteran, an army captain who came out of West Point and during Veterans Week, I have a habit of interviewing a veteran and learning about their journey and having them share kind of life lessons with the audience about the pivots they’ve had to make in their career.
And Carlos talks about staying flexible and learning a lot, taking advantage of learning opportunities, talks about how he overcame fear. So a lot of great stuff came from, from that conversation. So he’s, he’s a memorable guest. I’ve also had people like Dahlia Feldheim, who wrote a book called Dare to Lead Like a Girl.
Steve Chen: Mm hmm.
Gary Danoff: Amazing story. Gay Hendricks psychologist out of Stanford and author of over 40 books. A couple of my favorites are The Big Leap and Conscious Luck. I learned so much from Gay. And then Jodi Ramsamee, who’s was my boss at Google before he left in January and started Vivid Presents in Seattle, which is an entertainment experience company designed to give people a musical experience on site or remotely and also build community, come together in the human form again.
Also, when I get to do a solo podcast, I love that, Stephen, when I can talk about a topic, which I’m deeply Passionate about and I can, I can name a couple of those for you, but yeah, that’s a little bit off the top there.
Steve Chen: Interesting. Yeah. I’ll definitely have to, I’ll check out some of your solo podcasts.
I’ve never done that. I’ve always had a kind of a guest format. Really interesting. I saw you covered the idea of layoffs and we’ve kind of gone from like, Hey, there’s this great potentially abundant future, but also AI, there’s also this like, Oh, is it going to take work really quickly? Either way, layoffs are like a.
Something that is happening today, right? As we’ve probably mostly driven by the fact that we’ve gone from Zerp, right? Zero interest rates, lots of money flowing around to 5 percent long term interest rate and environment and that mortgages are more expensive. Car loans are more expensive. People are just going to be spending less money.
Returns of everything have to be better. Now, are you seeing that surface in your coaching community? And what was your big take when you were doing the podcast on it?
Gary Danoff: Okay, let me unpack that because there’s a couple different questions there. So, yes, I’m seeing it surface in my coaching community in that there’s more people who need coaching specifically around becoming more inventive about their career, stating their value more clearly and succinctly.
Being more expansive and creative about whom they shop that and, and publicize that to and, and how they do that. Just, those are a few of the topics that people come to me with when that’s the piece of work we’re going to do together. On the podcast in January, when Google had its layoff I think it was 6%.
Or 17, 000 people, several people who I work with, including the man who was my manager, I referenced him earlier, Judy Ransomy, were laid off. And I have had the good fortune and also the scars to be working in the technology industry for really the lion’s share of my professional life. And the reason I say the scars is this is a harsh industry.
This can be a harsh industry. The boards and the shareholders and the executives don’t flinch or hesitate to cut costs quickly, and I’m not necessarily condoning this because there’s other ways or approaches that could be taken, but this is what is done. And so they lay people off to get an immediate return and to show Wall Street.
Signal that they’re, they’re serious about cutting costs. And so with that, for the rank and file, you can never be sure when it could be your number, it could be your turn. And it’s happened more than once to me. So I speak from experience with this and I know a lot about recovering from this and building resilience for this to possibly happen again, and having a callous.
about it is just a fact in this particular industry and really many others. Now I will say before I tell you a little bit about that particular show, Steven, that the recent slate of layoffs, even in comparison to the last 20 years by numbers and ratios is not as drastic as we’ve had at other points in time.
It always hurts and it always. Stinks, but it actually has been worse
Steve Chen: for sure. Yeah. One thing I’ve seen is we talk about, Oh, Google laid off 17, 000 people. Yeah. But then they don’t mention it. But in the year before they hired 30, 000 people or something like that, like they’ve been like, we’ve been hiring like crazy, but I definitely hear you.
I’ve worked in technology and financial services and both are being impacted strongly right now, or at least by these layoffs, you’re right. I mean, it definitely is a little fact of life. And I, and I do think. As we live longer and have longer careers, people do have to take more agency about their Managing their human capital, which is a huge part of their lives and, and having backup plans, you know, to, if something happens over here, I can go over here or whatever.
Gary Danoff: Well, if I could just riff with you on that for a second. So, you know, I love that you say manage their agency that is so spot on what the nub of the matter is. And a lot of people get this wake up call when they get laid off because they’ve never had to manage their agency, manage their human capital, manage their brand.
So, the podcast episode I did called Pack Your Parachute, it goes something like this. Imagine you’re on an airplane. You’re coming back from a business meeting in Hawaii. People are watching movies, listening to podcasts, they’re taking off, everything is good. They’re serving the first flight of drinks, food, and then all of a sudden, without any notice, the emergency exit opens, somebody’s got sucked out of the airplane.
Oh my God! People are panicking, they’re freaking out, they should be. Nobody saw this coming. Who’s going to live? Who’s going to die? Fast forward, 30 minutes later, the emergency was averted. The captain said, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got it under control. You land, you get off the plane and you’re in shock.
And so the reason you have your parachute packed is because you might be the one who gets sucked out of that emergency row exit with no notice. Yeah. And if you’re not the one, you still have to have your, your parachute on because now you have to survive in a wholly different environment. And so in that episode, I talk about building your brand, always be networking, ABN, and you know, just be ready because it could happen.
Steve Chen: Yeah, a hundred percent. It’s the world is not always a safe place. And ultimately we have to, you know, have our own. I remember one of my favorite terms is a few money, right? So I learned that really early on in my career money and it’s like a few money. I love this idea. So yeah, I just gave up like six months or a year of money and then it’s like, okay, whatever I can deal with it.
Like I can quit or I can be fired, but I have a lot of control. And unfortunately for many Americans, they have like four weeks of like runway, you know, it’s really unfortunate, but for people that have like a year, it’s like, okay, they can sleep all at night. I’ll be fine.
Gary Danoff: You know, that’s one of the things I have to say that I love about new retirement.
And you know, this is just me coming off spontaneous here. I’m not like you scripted me to say this, but I’m kind of a. I don’t want to say a geek, but I’m really interested in things like new retirement because it lets me as a DIYer really get down nitty gritty about what I have, what buckets they’re in, what’s going to be the impact if A, B, or C events happen.
And not that I can control all of those events, but I at least can get a visual of the outcome possibilities. You know, what would I do? So to your point about people having four weeks or four months of savings when they have to pack their parachute I found that I can like quantify that and then plan for it a little bit better with with a new retirement product
Steve Chen: I mean, this is a lot about how we run our business Like so we’re a venture backed business and we talk about burn rate and runway
Gary Danoff: Right.
Steve Chen: I think people should think about that in their own lives. It’s like I think about runway and visibility and you know back to psychological safety like If you feel confident and secure that you have whatever X amount of time in front of you and you understand the lovers, right? For many of it’s like it’s work, but it’s also expenses and where you live.
And as you go to retire, these things have become the spectrum of opportunities increases. It’s like how we live. Well, at least I live in California. It’s really expensive, but like I grew up in Rochester, New York. If I was like, you know what? I know I can go to Rochester and I could be. Financially independent right now, stuff like that.
But for people to understand what those mechanisms are, I think is, is, is hugely important.
Gary Danoff: Yeah, I totally agree with that. And you know, that’s how Jake. When Jake turned me on to New Retirement, he did so because he knows that I like this stuff, and fortunately, I’ve been vocal in my household, and perhaps some of the other listeners today are also like this, letting your children understand and not be afraid or intimidated about finances, managing their finances, and how credit works, how banks work, how loans work, what interest rates are, what are bonds, do you need them, why don’t you need them.
What is insurance? There’s just topic after topic. Because of that, you know, Jake has developed a curiosity for these things. And so the student became the teacher, brought it back to me.
Steve Chen: Mostly our audience is kind of 50 plus, so I thought it was great that your younger son was like recommending the app, the platform for you, which is awesome.
Gary Danoff: So cool. So cool.
Steve Chen: That’s great. I’d love to get your take to financial literacy planning and how it. In the age of, like, longevity and also AI and these kind of generational changes we talked about, I mean, are you seeing that folks in your community are more aware of needing to take control here?
Gary Danoff: To the extent that I, you know, I can do a rough poll in my head of conversations of people, it’s going to follow what you would think it would that younger people, younger, you know, let’s say somebody starting off in their career, ideally in their early 20s in their first or second job.
Up even up into their early thirties, they don’t have typically a level of awareness that for my standard student, I think is. Needed I’m not seeing that but it’s a very small sample relative to the United States, you know I’m always bringing that up I’m subtly bringing up Topics around finances and money because one of the reasons they come to me is because they want to make more money or they need Money.
Steve Chen: Yeah,
Gary Danoff: I’m working with a 54 year old who’s transitioning in his own career now And has a dual objective to both make more money, retain or regain his agency, and also kind of shift things in the power in this couple with his wife. Now they have a lot of understanding there about money as you would expect.
But that’s not surprising to me.
Steve Chen: Yep. So I think it’s interesting how the psychology, I remember when, you know, when I was younger, I was like, Oh, I’m indestructible. And like, basically, like, I think when you’re a young man, you’re, you’re full of confidence, partly because of hormones and risk to appetite is massive.
And I think also there’s very often people will feel like they’ll figure it out. I remember in our first company, the CEO was like, Oh, we’re running out of money. I’m just going to liquidate my entire 401k. And use it to like subsidize our situation or relax. And I was like, ah, dude, that doesn’t sound like, even though I was like, I think it’s not like a good idea.
Now we know how terrible an idea that is. Unfortunately, a lot of people do that kind of stuff. And they’re like, I’ll figure it out later. Do you think that you said in your younger years, they’re just a little bit less aware of some of the future risks they might face?
Gary Danoff: Well, yeah, for, and really for the reasons that you said, I think that they’ve got a lot of wind in their sails, figuratively, emotionally, and from an energy perspective.
And, you know, if you think back on your younger self and I think back on my younger self, when I left digital equipment corporation to start communication arts video, and then Danoff productions, I sold a lot of my stock to fund myself, you know, and Had I kept that money, oh my gosh, what it would be worth now, but I don’t regret a minute of it because the lessons that I got from doing that and the business that I ran, I could never replace that.
So I do think that people in a younger age cohort, you know, by and large, but don’t have a financial. Understanding of the impact of their choices and without any value judgment on the choices like, okay, I’m going to choose to save 15 to 25 percent of my pre tax or my after tax income. That’s fine.
Somebody else says, I’m going to choose to save 5%. That’s fine. Help me understand. How did you reach that decision? And have you considered kind of the pluses and the minuses of that? So. That sort of conversation and just that, that sort of thinking is something that I would hope happens more.
Steve Chen: Yeah, for sure.
I mean, we’re definitely big proponents of, we should be teaching financial literacy in every high school. There is a movement that is helping to have this start to happen, but it, it still is ridiculous that so many things like the student loan debt crisis, credit cards, maybe some of the crypto losses could have been averted if we had a more financially literate.
Population and it seems insane that we don’t the fact that we’ll teach like auto repair or motor repair or whatever, you know, in a high school to a lot of kids and teach less kids about financial literacy. It doesn’t make any sense, but I think it is getting fixed gradually. What do you think on your side?
Do you see any big ways from like your perspective inside of one of the largest tech companies out there? Like are there big things that you think we could do as a society like improve literacy, improve people’s ability to plan and think about their future or their own lives?
Gary Danoff: I want you to hear and sense my pause.
I want you to know that I’m thinking and I’m breathing. And I’m going to go with the first thing that comes to me, and the thing that I think is needed right now, and I don’t think this is a Google or a not Google thing, I think it’s a humanity thing. Certainly Google and other social media can play a part in it, but I think we need to learn the skills of compassion, empathy, and organizing.
You know, the CEO in the world today, at the time this podcast is being recorded, I think that there’s just a grotesque lack of those types of skills. And instead there is a lunging, a lusting and a lurking toward anger and separation. So those are the things that I think we need to, I think Google espouses those things.
It’s one of the reasons why I love working at Google because it is a company who, you know, we’re a for profit company. We make products that we sell because we’re, we intend to make a return for our shareholders. At the same time, we have a very strong ethos toward producing things that are valuable to people and literally to organize the world’s information in ways that are useful, accessible, and repeatable.
That’s what I see and I have. I, I came up with my own program called the CEO cycle. That’s part of what I use with individuals and companies that helps to teach some of those things kind of in a business setting.
Steve Chen: I love that acronym, compassion, empathy, and organizing.
Gary Danoff: Yeah.
Steve Chen: And so we should teach financial literacy and we should teach emotional intelligence.
Gary Danoff: Oh my gosh, listen, let’s put something together that does that, you know, you could do it as a. It could be part of your current enterprise. It could be a nonprofit that you could influence policy at the state and the federal level. You could apply for grants. There might be listeners out there right now who are passionate as you and I are who, who want to do that.
It’s really needed. It’s very much needed. And I think the future productivity of our country depends in part on people understanding finances.
Steve Chen: I mean, this is one of the areas where I do have a. You know, as someone who works in technology and thinks a lot about how do we engage people? How do we keep them coming back?
Right. Though there’s a whole, this whole industry is about capturing people’s attention and monetizing that. Even before this podcast, I was like grabbing a quick bite to eat. I’m in the kitchen and I’m like sitting there on my phone, reading the news. And I was like, God, I just put my phone down and I looked out the window at the Trees and the sky.
Gary Danoff: I love that you did that. I love that you did that. Yeah. That’s so important to just drop our technology every once in a while during the day, many times during the day, actually,
Steve Chen: you know, I was just noticing. I was like, Oh, I didn’t feel that I put it down. Cause I was like, this doesn’t feel good. But like.
I think in the moment, it’s so hard sometimes to like recognize that this is not good for us and that to recognize the balance you need, like we need to be outside, we need to be in the sun, we need to be moving our bodies. But on the flip side, you know, you’ve got a trillion dollar industries like really designing incredible experiences that are so accessible on these mobile devices.
And I definitely see it. We’re not going to have time to cover this. Maybe we’ll have another podcast about, but the impact on mental health, especially for young people. I mean, I see it in my kids and I see it in other people’s children. Like it’s just a generational thing, like from growing up where.
I had plenty of time to be bored, you know, I tried to explain to my children, I was like, I had nothing to do. And like, I had to go wander to my friend’s house and be like, can you go play football? And these guys can grab a device or jump on a video game and be instantly entertained all the time. They have this concept of being bored is like torture to them.
Even though it’s important for the creative process and just your, how your brain is, I think,
Gary Danoff: well, I mean, Steven, I’m just so on, on your side on this one. You know, we should do another podcast on, it’d be interesting to see what your listeners say if they write in or comment that they’d like to hear more of that.
But I’m frightened for the generation of digital natives and even Gen Z. And here’s why I’m frightened. So I was at a restaurant lobby or someplace the other day and I saw a man sitting there with what I guess to be his three or four year old, you know, not, not in a stroller, but kind of a older than a toddler.
The guy was on his phone like. Buried in his phone and his kid was buried in in its phone Yeah, and then the kid had some sort of question about a game It was playing or whatever and was tugging on the dad and the dad was ignoring the kid. I just it just broke my heart It’s like this is just you’re just draining away Your humanity that as much as AI or more than AI scares me about, you know technology that people It just needs some discipline around this.
Steve Chen: Well, it’s tough. I mean, this is the challenge that I do feel like, you know, I’m competing. I mean, we’re all competing, not just as a parent, but like as individuals with the pull of technology when we interact with one another and this technology, even with AI, it’s getting much more customized for you, the speed of your, of what you see.
Entertainment or news or whatever. It’s bespoke to you and that you find compelling. And the more you do that, it’s like tick tocks. Like, I feel like the ultimate incarnation of this where it’s like, I don’t know. I I’ve done that actually. And I don’t use tech talk, but I was like on Instagram watching reels or short videos and I was like, right.
Or once spending half an hour, I was like, Holy smokes. That this stuff is so compelling, but I also feel like how unhealthy it is. And I’m like, I’m not going back there because you could. I talked to some folks that are peers and they’re like, Oh yeah, I spend two hours on tick tock. I’m like, Holy, I mean, that’s like crazy to me.
Gary Danoff: One of the things that I work with myself on and with my clients on because a couple of the key operative words I have in, in my life are accountability and discipline. I set limits, you know, this is not new. I’m not the only one who does it, but you know, I set goals around how much I read out of a book.
Per day, not on my phone or, you know, actually pick up a, now I like that. I like the tactile touch of a book. I like reading it. I like highlighting things. On the other side of that, I limit how much time I’m going to be in all the YouTube topics that I’m so interested in. Yeah. You know, whether it’s cars or bowl turning or what sports, it’s just, I think you have to do it.
I think you have to protect yourself that way.
Steve Chen: A hundred percent. Gary, I really appreciate you being on the podcast. Clearly, we could go on. This is why we’re talking about how long we could go. We could roll for three hours and we could go right into the next topic. I think we should do another one, especially around AI and generational stuff.
And I actually, we should probably invite a Gen Z and millennial on and maybe do a three way podcast or something.
Gary Danoff: Let’s do it.
Steve Chen: But any closing thoughts on your side before we wrap it up?
Gary Danoff: First, thank you so much for inviting me to what has been, in my feeling, a really engaging conversation with you, Steve, and it’s good to get to know you more, like, through this conversation.
So thank you for that. I would say that I’m, I’m out here looking at the light for the light and cultivating the light. And I do that in the business world, you know, helping people achieve goals that they figure out and set for themselves, whether it’s starting and growing a business or. growing their career.
I’m privileged to do that and I’m grateful for it. And also it is very cool working at Google. It is a constant learning environment and I love it. So I feel blessed and I’m so glad to have discovered the business that you started and I’m damn glad you did it.
Steve Chen: Thanks for being part of our community.
Yeah, no, it’s pretty cool. I mean, it does feel like. Some ways we’re getting smarter, where there’s so much good information, good ways to grow out there that we are evolving pretty quickly and hopefully in good ways. Gary, I love hearing your story about searching for and helping people cultivate the light inside of them.
I think that’s great. So thanks for being on our show. Yeah. For people listening, thanks for participating in this and or listening to this. And, you know, our goal at New Retirement is to help anyone plan and manage their money, their finances, so they can make the most of their money and their time.
And if you made it this far, definitely check us out at our site, NewRetirement.com or our Facebook group. And then finally, any reviews for this podcast, the NewRetirement podcast or Gary’s podcast are definitely welcome. And we’ll put the links in the show notes. So with that, thank you very much and have a good day.