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Episode 62 - REAL Life Planning - Lt. General (ret) PK Carlton

When we talk about life planning here at Zebra Smash, we don't mess around. LIFE planning. Is your office prepared for a medical emergency on the premises? What is the moral case for preparing for a medical emergency, and what options are available to us so we can be ready? We spoke with PK Carlton about what we can and should do. If you interact with other human beings in your business or in your life, this episode is worth listening to.


Episode 61 - The Metasode

If our calculations are correct, this is episode 61, which puts us one episode away from being able to claim Social Security early. Of course, we know not to claim Social Security until episode 70, but surely you'll agree we're at an important milestone nonetheless. The big announcement in this episode is our newly revamped website. At last, we've combined all of our various websites into one. Find episodes there along with CFP CE credit quizzes. And maybe leave a tip...


Episode 60 - From Intern to VP & Philanthropy as a Niche - Jessica Hovis Smith

We continue living vicariously through friends who make the Investment News 40 Under 40 list by interviewing Jessica Hovis Smith of Longview Financial Advisors. Jessica was part of the 2018 class, and in this episode she shares with us her career path of starting as an intern to now being in line to assume the presidency of her firm, the work she and the firm founder did using a business coach, and how her firm developed it's niche in helping clients achieve their philanthropic...


Episode 59 - Special Needs Planning Part 2 - Melissa Donovan [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

We originally planned to talk with Melissa Donovan for about an hour, but it became evident pretty quickly that we would need way more time than that. This episode is the second half of our conversation with her. While we spent a good amount of time on Medicaid and special needs trusts in the first part, we cover a lot of good stuff on ABLE accounts in this episode, along with other options like pooled trusts. Melissa knows her stuff. We didn't come close to stumping her on any of our...


Episode 58 - Special Needs Planning Part 1 - Melissa Donovan [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

It might be a client, it might be a friend, or it might even be you. But someone you know has a special needs child, and their family is faced with some unique planning challenges as a result. Our guest today, Melissa Donovan, an attorney at the Wiewel Law Firm in Austin Texas, takes us through the topic in amazing detail. She knows her stuff. In fact, there was so much to cover that we quickly realized that this would need to be a 2 Part series. This episode is eligible for CFP CE...


Episode 57 - Your Digital Estate with Shirley Diefenbach

Does your estate plan handle your digital assets? Unless you've had your documents drawn up by a forward-thinking attorney in the last few years, the answer is probably no. Your online assets are more than just your mobile banking accounts. We're talking email, social media, blogs, podcasts, frequent flyer miles...It's a complicated area, and it's only getting more complicated as more and more of our lives move online. Pictures of your kids? Your Facebook profile? That Pokemon Go...


Episode 56 - Public Policy Update with Dave O'Brien

Dave O'Brien - financial advisor, NAPFA board member, public policy junkie, and all around good guy - joins us for his second ZebraSmash appearance to provide an update on DOL, SEC and state-level approaches to fiduciary rules. The high level summary: 1. The DOL fiduciary law is still the law. It's just not being enforced, like bedtime during the summer. 2. The SEC is taking a crack at the fiduciary concept with three proposed rules, all of which are in the public comment period....


Episode 55 - 2018 AICPA Conference - John Bohnsack and Matt McKay

The AICPA planning conference is a solid event every year, but this year we had tax law changes, making it a must-attend event. Or if you couldn't attend, it's at least a listen-to-a-podcast-about-it-afterwards event. Roger's colleagues John Bohnsack and Matt McKay were there, and have returned to Texas to give us a download of what they found. Following are some links to the things we talked about: Adam Grant’s website: Adam Grant’s podcast:...


Episode 54 - CFP Capstone Course - Nathan Harness, Karis Jochen

The CFP® Capstone requirement. If you're really old, normal old, or just a little bit old, you didn't go through it when you got your CFP®. We sure didn't go through it, so we think that makes us just a little bit old. In any case, the capstone course is now required for all CFP® candidates. What is it? How hard is it, really? And does it really leave candidates better prepared for jobs in the industry? In this episode we talk with Dr. Nathan Harness, who co-authored the capstone case...


Episode 53 - 2018 NAPFA Spring Conference Recap - Will Kaplan

What's this? A NAPFA conference with no representation from Zebra Smash? That's a first. Fortunately for us, Will Kaplan was there to give us a full report of how everything went.


Episode 52 - William Playfair, The Musical: A Sneak Peak

In our research for our PowerPoint presentation episode, we learned about William Playfair, and the world hasn't been the same since. Loyal listeners will recall that, among other things, Playfair invented (yes, INVENTED) the bar chart, the line chart and the pie chart. For most people, that "among other things" would be pretty insignificant. But not for William Playfair. Not only did he birth data visualization into the world, William claimed to have introduced the semaphore telegraph to...


Episode 51 - 2018 FPA Retreat with Holly Donaldson

Through the magic of podcasting, we find ourselves whisked away to sunny Phoenix for the 2018 FPA Retreat. Our guide on this mystical journey is our friend Holly Donaldson, who attended in person and took copious notes. Here's Holly's post-conference reading list. Like we said, she took copious notes... Richard Wagner, Financial Planning 3.0 George Kinder, A Golden Civilization (not published yet) Martin Seligman, Well-Being Theory George Leonard, The Master’s Journey Cindy...


Episode 50 - Metasode 4

Our 50th episode and our 4th metasode! What is a metasodo? Well it's a meta-episode, in which we provide an update on everything going on behind the scenes here at Zebra Smash. Are our finances still terrible? (Answer: yes) Are we still having fun? (Answer: yes) Are people downloading the show? (Answer: We're not sure) We cover these questions and more.


Episode 49 - Safe Savings Rates with Dr. Wade Pfau [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

We chatted with Dr. Wade Pfau about his 2011 paper, Safe Savings Rates: A New Approach to Retirement Planning over the Lifecycle. It's really the accumulator phase version of Bill Bengen's famous 4% rule for retirees. For CFP CE credit, be sure to go to to take a 10 question quiz. Here are the papers discussed in the episode: Safe Savings Rates: A New Approach to Retirement Planning over the Lifecycle - Journal of Financial Planning Getting on Track for a...


Episode 48 - The Definitive (and Only) Radio Guide to PowerPoint

Yes, a podcast episode about PowerPoint. There's a decent chance you dislike PowerPoint and everything it represents, but the truth is that PowerPoint is here to stay. We'd might as well study how to use it effectively. This is an episode we've wanted to do for quite a while now, so we're excited about it. Be sure to listen to the bonus section at the end, in which Roger describes his first memory of a PowerPoint slide. The story involves the Nobel prize, an unexpected pregnancy, and the...


Episode 47 - Ben Birken - The Man, The Slightly-Older Legend

We return to our not-very-popular series in which Ben and Roger interview themselves on or near their birthdays. In Part 1, Ben interviewed Roger on his journey to becoming an financial planner. In this second part, Roger interviews Ben. We get to hear about how he overcame being a Californian, how he found himself doing stand up comedy, and how he found his calling as a financial planner. And since we've been joking about it for 14 months, we also found a way to talk about his studies in...


Episode 46 - Announcing the Zebra Smash Conference Adventure Game on Your Amazon Alexa Device!

Tired of using your Alexa device just to check the weather and store your grocery list? We have a solution: the brand new Zebra Smash Alexa Skill. Our Alexa skill isn't another lame podcast app. Nope. Instead we built a turn by turn adventure game. Collect items and encounter mythical creatures as you attempt to "win" a financial planning conference. How do you enable the skill and then play the game? Two steps: Step 1: Say "Alexa, enable Zebra Smash" Step 2: Say "Alexa, open Zebra...


Episode 45 - Philanthropy Planning with Patrick Briaud from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors - [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

We visited with Patrick Briaud from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. His firm works with mega donors from corporate entities, foundations, and ultra high net worth families, but it was clear from the conversation that the tools and frameworks they use can apply to clients of all sizes. Have a listen as we go through the steps to build a solid philanthropy plan that reflects the clients true goals and values. In this episode, we went through Rockefeller's excellent workbook: Your...


Episode 44 - 2018 NAPFA South Region Symposium Recap

Two conference recaps in a row? Do Ben and Roger ever do any actual work in their offices? Probably not, but that's for another episode. In the meantime, they're back with all of their findings and opinions on the NAPFA South symposium, which took place on Monday, February 12, 2018.


Episode 43 - 2018 TD Ameritrade Conference Recap

We recorded this one fresh off the back of the TD Ameritrade conference. Ben, who attended, took a break from his overstuffed post-conference inbox to record a recap.