Client Highlight: Nolan Kim’s Four Principles
Posted by Financial Strategies Group in Blog Posts, Consortium Retreat, Continuing Education, Dimensional Funds Advisors, Economic Update, Family, Financial Planning, Giving More, Newsletters 22 Jul 2021
One of the best parts of our job is being a part of our client’s life journeys.
Even better is when they allow us to share their story with you all. A special client of ours took it even further by asking us if he could share his story with you all from his own perspective and voice.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Nolan Kim has had some amazing life experiences. Experiences that have shaped his views of the world today. We have very much enjoyed learning from everything Nolan has humbly shared with us, and we hope you will too.
I guess it started in the fourth grade where my attention to schooling started to slip. Frankly speaking, I had no interest in school or knowledge in general. I was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean; the sun shined every day, While my parents always stressed getting good grades and the value of education, I didn’t see the value. My parents valued the idea of having a “high achieving bright son,” and instead, they had a child who simply wanted to play until the sun went down.
At ten years old, I discovered my first passion, money. The trade of work for cash. My long journey of self-discovery began there. I started to cut grass and deliver newspapers. I quit the grass business because it paid so poorly, and I couldn’t see any benefit at the time. I thought grass grows every day, leaves fall. I never really stepped back to see how good a neat lawn looks. To put it mildly, the bigger picture was lost on me.
God blessed me with the ability to be able to deliver newspapers from the age of ten to fifteen. Today we often forget that newspapers used to be delivered every single day. Here is where I started to grow my love for all things mechanical. In order to do my job, I had to keep my bike working. I even learned how to improve it to make my life and job more manageable. If my bike stopped working, well, then I had to resort to my skateboard, which was no easy feat with a bag of over 100 newspapers and “folding as I was going.” My love for anything mechanical was born out of need.
Five years of that netted me $1,200 in the bank. Because I did not pay rent, food, insurance, or buy my own clothes, I was able to save up quite a bit of money. In turn, I provided my parents with a free daily newspaper. At the time, it felt like a good trade. I thought to myself, “I’ve made it to the big time.” This was probably my first taste of how good it felt to have my own money. I was focused and hooked.
Now we cut back to my family. My Dad ran a parking garage in downtown Honolulu. It was attached to the biggest bank in the state, and his biggest customer was the Bank of Hawaii. The bank contracted my Dad to help keep their executive and branch manager’s cars clean.
My Dad, however, could not keep an employee in the position of car washer. That summer, at age 15, I received an executive promotion to car washer without pay.
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I worked at my Dad’s parking garage. Oh, how I hated Mondays; I ended up washing eleven cars by the end of the day. The highlight of my days were when a roach coach would visit, and you could purchase lunch to be taken out of your paycheck. That first week I ordered the equivalent of two diners and four cokes, which left me with a take-home pay of $1.43 net after tax and social security. That was a life lesson for sure because the next week, I asked my mom to make me lunch. As that summer came to a close, it was time to get back to school, and I was able to secure a job scraping gaskets and busting knuckles. At $2.25 an hour, I thought, “I’ve made it in life,” Now my life is complete.”
Looking back on how focused I was on the money and getting to the next best thing, I realize I spent most of high school and college living on a cloud. Never truly appreciating school or the privilege of education as much as I should have. Once again, I kept looking at the bottom line; if it wasn’t providing me with direct wealth, I wasn’t interested. I was tired of being a poor college student and only just making ends meet. I didn’t realize at the time that these are all necessary steps to getting and, in turn, truly appreciating what you want. Getting an engineering degree with a minor in business accounting was slightly different from everyone else who had math or science minors. I had a chance to get into a “new program” just starting out in colleges called a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). It was 1972, and I thought, “who needs that?”. I can work on any aircraft line instead of being stuck in an office. This sounded much more exciting to me.
So college quickly went by, and as you might have guessed… I now had a job with an airline. Now, I thought, “I’ve really made it.” I was making a wage I could live on but realized I was slowly going broke by my spending. I thought I had no money when I was in college, but boy, was I wrong. Now not only did I have a job with a salary I was excited about, but I had debts. I was responsible for my student loans, had to purchase a car for my job and a house. You see, now I had discovered what most 20 something’s discovered sooner or later, you might think you’re broke in college, but you don’t realize what broke truly is until you have debt. Now I’m single and working for an airline. Thinking this would be my chance to see the world.That’s when reality hits.
My aviation jobs have been a blessing. It’s what got me out of my fog and required me to see the world as it truly is. In aviation, things change fast and often while still waiting for other things in the industry to catch up. It makes you give everything a chance and look for something you can learn in any situation. It makes you study failures and learn more about them than the successes. The keyword here being “study”, something you’ll remember I had no patience for before.
This brings us to today. Where my passions have evolved through the lessons that got me here. Today, I’ve found enjoyment in reworking beautiful old cars and getting them to run again like new. Quite different from aviation, but a new venue in which I can apply my skill set.
Of course, I learned the hard way in this new passion of mine as I did with the old ones. I have since given up on cars where you have to hunt for parts. Time, energy, money, and sanity are wasted for not. My current project, 1966 SS Chevy II\Nova, is considered a “restomod.”
It’s an old car with new modern guts, the opposite of myself. Old cars are great but not fun or safe to drive.
After these “missteps,” failed experiences and rewarding experiences. I have learned to grow from them all. Through the bad, the good, and the confusing, I have developed the principles I now live my life by. I like to think of life as a table with legs. You need to have more than four legs. In case one breaks; the top will still stand. On the alternate side, you can’t have too many, or no one’s feet will fit under it. Put simply, live by your own learned principles and no one else’s. Give yourself guidance and support without giving yourself too many restrictions. Have enough passion for trying new things but enough focus to drive your biggest passion through to the end.
My principles are as follows:
Time only goes one way. The clocks don’t work backward. Please don’t waste it, don’t sweat the small stuff.
Take care of your body. We all hopefully have someone who loves us and will take care of us forever, but most of this is under our control.
Watch your money and spending—same thinking as above.
We all have people we love, people we don’t know yet, and people we’d rather not be around. See #1. Make sure to spend time getting to know all of these people. They are all important.
Love the people you love today and tell them you love them. If you get upset with them, end it this minute, this second, right now. Don’t wait. See #1