Why You Need To Know For Yourself With Todd Langford

TWS 12 part 4 | Know For Yourself


If you shut down your mind and let others decide for you, it’ll ultimately lead to the blame game. But at the end of the day, you are responsible for your results, which is why you need to know for yourself. What does that mean? In this part four of the Todd Langford series, Todd and Patrick Donohoe discuss how having experts can be helpful, but you need to know the facts, processes, and perspectives for yourself. When you do, you start to lead the course of your life, and you become invincible. Take the lead, begin with this episode. Not a second waste, dive in! 


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 Why You Need To Know For Yourself With Todd Langford

Entrepreneurs inspire me. I love meeting leaders of successful ventures who discover an idea, formulate the business, and then execute. Youd assume that they know how to structure their personal finances. I believed that too, but I was wrong. Entrepreneurs are never taught to effectively manage their wealth to work alongside their business and lifestyle. All of that work effort, toil and time wasted. Entrepreneur 101 is an online course that teaches you a financial strategy that works, so that success is not a flash in the pan but lasting. The spirit of the entrepreneur doesnt have to be compromised. Register for the Entrepreneur 101 course for free at 

In my experience, people seem to make decisions and think within frameworks. Most peoples frameworks are incidental and over the course of their life created haphazardly, not by design. There are others who intentionally create or develop proven frameworks in which they think and make decisionsElon Musk is a name that most of you will recognize. I noticed that in many of his interviews, he references something that he credits to a large part of his success. Itthe way in which he looks at things, thinks and solves problems. He calls it first principles. 

First principles are fundamentally breaking something down to its foundational building blocks that something could be a problem, an objective and then from that foundation, reasoning upward. Musk also contrasts first principles in these interviews saying that most people think by analogy. Thinking by analogy is doing what everyone else is doing, but trying to improve it slightly, improve it by variation, instead of asking the question“Why does that exist in the first place? 

We’ll be the ones responsible for what the results are. You have to make an effort, take the time, and keep your mind turned on. Click To Tweet

Let me give you an example. I did an exercise with my team that was interesting. I had each of them complete a simple maze as quick as they could. The quickest time was around fifteen seconds or soI then asked them if they thought they could do it three seconds faster than their original time if they had the opportunity to do it again. All of them raised their hand. I asked the question, “Could you do it in less than a second? None of them raised their hand. 

I then showed them a red line that went around the maze. It started at the same starting place, ended at the same finish line, but didnt go through the maze. It went around the maze. I showed them a line that went right through the maze because I never said that the maze wasnt threedimensional. This is first principles thinking. Trying to go through the maze quicker is thinking by analogy, understanding the foundational objective, which is starting and finishing, leads you to find even better waysMusk is an iconic figure but this is a thinking model that has been used for hundreds of years. 

What does this have to do with wealthpersonal finance and investments? Only to consider the possibility that you are approaching your finances by analogy. That at least has been my experience working with thousands of clients and me experiencing it personally. What are you trying to do? Are you trying to improve a little here, a little there, improve the rate of return, the riskreward ratio, potentially get into something with fewer taxes? Were trying to improve on what already exists. 

Take a moment and ask yourself whyWhy am I planning? Why am I strategizing? Why am I investing? What is the ultimate goal? What are you trying to achieve? Most people will say retirement. That is a very abstract idea because its different for anyone. There was a couple that I interviewed a few years ago that run InternationalLiving.comThey hosted twelve beautiful locations around the world that you could live on like a king or queen on less than $30,000 per year. Some of you may say, “Financial independence. Financial freedom. I ask the same question, What is that to you? 

Let me give you an example specific to those ideas. I was speaking to a clientvery successful and entrepreneurial physician. He wanted to meet because he felt he should be diversifying out of the market and into real estateI asked why. His initial response was, I want passive incomeI kept going down this track. Ultimately, he said he wanted to be financially freeI asked him the same question as I asked you generally like, “What does that mean?” I gave him the exampleI said, “Right now, there’s a handful of locations throughout the world that you can live on for the rest of your life, your kids life and their kids life. We started to break down what financial freedom meant, what it means to him. It was a realization that he had never come to before. 

TWS 12 part 4 | Know For Yourself

Know For Yourself: If things don’t map out exactly like your mentor said they would, it’s going to be on you to make the decision and make the adjustment.


The majority of the financial world is thinking by analogy. They’re trying to improve on what already exists with slight variation. That’s under the assumption that everyone knows what they want. That collective advice has conditioned you and me to some extent but I want you to step back now and think about your life from a first principle’s perspective. Start asking yourself new questions. What do you want financially? Whats the result youre after? What will that give you that you dont have right now? What are the underlying assumptions of what it will take to have that? From there, I have ainfographic that I found and you can follow that infographic to reason new assumptions and new possibilities. Now to a segment of my interview with Todd Langford. Enjoy. 


It’s the very reason we cant shut our mind down in whatever it is were doing. Im not saying dont bring in the experts to guide you, but there’s a responsibility on your part to take that a little bit further and say, If this happens, how do I react to that? If things dont map out exactly like this professional who said its going to go, its going to be on me to make the decision and make the adjustment.” I’ve got to keep my mind open and Ive got to be able to understand at some level what it is Im being told and not just take it hook, line and sinker. 

Unfortunately, like I said, were going to be the ones that are responsible for what the results are. If we shut our mind down, the only thing we can do, which is where the society has gotten at some level, it’s the blame gameIt’s not my fault. Its because somebody else told me this. Its because I read thisIts because I did that.” If iwas somebody elses information, you are ultimately responsible for it. You have to take the efforttime and keep your mind turned on. 

When you experience fear, it ultimately comes from the nature of risk or theres an unknown. In large part, the future is whats unknown. There’s a part of us that thrives to establish certainty or safety. It’s one of those natural instincts and invariably what happens is when you place the control or influence of the future on somebody else, it creates aamplified amount of risk and subsequently more fear. It’s not you that has come to a conclusion. It is somebody else that has come to a conclusion. You are ultimately leveraging them because you dont have responsibility or skin in the game to the discovery of the assumption by which youre acting on. The fear is not going to go away. Its going to go up. 

The thing about control that weve talked about in the past, we want to push in that direction. I liked your wording of influence. That’s probably a better word well get into maybe a little later on. We’re never completely in control. The idea is the level of control that we can secure is probably indirectly proportional to the amount of anxiety we have. That’s what the issue is. As soon as we start to give that control up willingly to somebody else, it’s got to raise our level of anxiety because were now in a period of hope. Hope comes out instead of being able to direct the course. 

That’s going back to the simple example of an airline pilotThey dont know what the environment is going to be like but they have the instruments and training so that as the environment changes, they know what to doTechnology responds to it just as much, if not more than the pilot. This is the ability to influence. You cant control the environment. Environment’s going to be the environment. People are going to treat you a certain way. Youre going to wake up with energy one day, with not much energy one day. You’re going to wake up and something happens to government, laws, your employerto the clients you have if youre self-employed. There are all things that are going to happen that are outside of your control. 

One of the biggest tools you have is your brain, and that’s one of the easiest things to shut down and let somebody else fill the void.  Click To Tweet

That’s where you establish a degree of certainty around influence so that when that environment changes, that is when you are able to respondTheres a preparedness there. That’s what mitigates anxiety and fear. When it comes to the financial Math side of things, people these days are concerned about money and their future. Whats the environment that theyre making conclusions about what could go wrong in the futurebased onHow would you describe that environment? 

Part of it is the unknown. That’s where a lot of that fear comes from and then you hear people rattling stuff around about, “What happens ifthe dollar disappears? What happens if this or that?” Bad news, unfortunately is exciting for a lot of people. People want to be the first one to tell whatever different news it is in some form and add their bias to that about how they think its going to happen to drive emotion. The bottom line is we all make decisions based on emotion. We make decisions based on our beliefs, not necessarily on the truthThat becomes a discipline or a conscious effort that we have to separate our beliefs, hype and our natural tendency to go to the fear to step back and be able to say, “What is the truth? What is it that I have influence over? What can I change in this scenario to fix that? 

It goes back to what you were saying about the pilots. It’s to have those tools in place and the knowledge. Thats one of the biggest tools we have is using our brain and thats one of the things thats easiest to shut down and let somebody else fill that void of that difference is just turning your brain over to somebody else because theyre a professional, and then when you get into a crunch, what do you do? Because youve given up your best tool. That’s your brain to be able to think through whats going onI think knowing that you have that tool is a key piece. 

TWS 12 part 4 | Know For Yourself

Know For Yourself: The bottom line is we all make decisions based on emotion. We make decisions based on our beliefs, not necessarily on the truth.


The guy that I was listening to is Sean McDowell, Josh McDowell’s son. One of the things he talks about when he was teaching kids was the idea of knowing something versus knowing you know something. There’s a key, huge difference in those two. What he talked about was this. He had students that knew the answers, but they might fail a test and then hhad students that gave a little bit more effort to the point that they knew the answer. The difference is in knowing the answer and writing the wrong thing down because you can talk yourself out of it versus knowing you know the answer. In life, thats a big piece. When we know what we knowwere invincible because we can rely on our knowledge to get us through an anxious time instead of reverting to the fear and talking ourselves out of what the real answer might be. 

The environment now is interesting because theres so much information, perspective and opinion out there. The degree of understanding when it comes to Math and Science is, in large parts instituted by a system that people just don’t like. How many kids do you know that love going to school? If you dont have an enjoyment or curiosity associated with learningyoure going to be checking boxes and learning in order to pass a test as opposed to learning to have knowledge which is more of the practical side of things. You have ainteresting environment where life is pretty easy when you compare the way in which even someone in a less fortunate circumstance in the United States has likely access to healthcare, shelter, entertainment that kings of old didnt have anything close to. 

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About Todd Langford

TWS 12 Part 3 | Mathematical TruthsTodd Langford is the Founder & CEO of Truth Concepts, Partners 4 Prosperity, and Prosperity Economics Advisors.




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Mathematical Truths: On The Constants In A Non-Constant World With Todd Langford

TWS 12 Part 3 | Mathematical Truths


We have reached an age where we reward people for their deep specialization of knowledge. Now, we have experts who have become multi-millionaires from leveraging what they know best. The downside is how, by being someone whose opinions and insights are held at a pedestal, it can be so easy to lose other people’s trust when you admit you’re wrong. Patrick Donohoe explores this topic by bringing back his conversation with Todd Langford, the CEO of Numbers Analytic, Inc. Here, they unpack the idea of the role of mathematical truths and what it informs us of the constants in a non-constant world. Dive deep into this brief but insightful conversation on individual specialization and how the uncertainties of the future impact what we do. 

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Mathematical Truths: On The Constants In A Non-Constant World With Todd Langford 

Humanity and life are messy. Every morning, we wake up to this individual awareness of what’s going on that no one else has. Our self-awareness recognizes our vast imperfections, our past and present mistakes and shortcomings, and our taxing insecurities if we’re being honest. We then venture out into a world of billions of other people who are in the same situation, and then hypocritically judge and discriminate against those who manifest imperfections or differences. Likewise, we envy and scorn those who live up to society’s lofty expectations or at least hide them well. As I said, humanity and life are messy. 

We’re fortunate to live in a world where we don’t have to think that much anymore. It’s a world that no longer rewards generalized knowledge such as the breadwinner of a family knowing how to till the land, break a horse, hunt, skin animals for food, defend against predators, build a house, patch a roof or build furniture. Nowadays, the demand and the rewards go to those with deep specialization of knowledge. Specialization has led to multi-millionaire status by learning how to entertain viewers by opening toys or gifts on YouTube and maybe winning professional video game competitions. Deep specialized knowledge spreads across a wide range of subjects way too numerous to list here but I hope you get my point. 

The math is absolute, but the assumptions that are applied to the formula are not.  Click To Tweet

My purpose here is to identify that with increased individual specialization comes even more trust in the specialization of others. The paradox is that trusted sources might do more to protect pre-existing trust than to deepen their knowledge. More often than not, deepening knowledge requires admitting or at least being willing to admit that you may be at fault. You may be wrong. When you admit you’re wrong, you lose trust. I hope you enjoy this episode’s The Truth About Money segment with Todd Langford. 

That’s when the development of knowledge is in red. It’s in the experience of testing and proving in the real world. That’s where we’ll go next which is this balance between math, factual truths of the equations and how they apply to a non-constant world that’s ever-evolving. Adding a layer to that is as human beings, we all have these limitations. We have to have sleep, eat food and drink water. We can’t just operate at full levelten awareness and capacity for very long. We’re constantly seeking ways to conserve energy. 

When you accept the truth, it’s almost as if you’re now able to conserve future energy because you don’t have to figure something out anymore. This puts things in a dangerous place. Especially the professional context not only has this belief established, but it also puts this layer or force field around it where that force field is built on, “If I’m wrong, I’m no longer a professional.” You look at the different truths that have been subscribed to. You have some of those simple ones whether it’s lightning, thunder, storm, fire or drought. It’s the wrath of God. That was the original explanation of how things operate. Science and math then came along and you’re able to disprove those things. 

It didn’t go well for the Copernicus of the world. The other discoverers of these mathematical factual truths, many of them went to jail or were killed. You don’t necessarily have those consequences now. At the same time, you have people that are stuck in the adoption of belief systems passed on by someone who is a professional or their culture or some other way. It wasn’t necessarily the experience of the factual mathematical truths behind it. Maybe unpack that idea of what’s the role of mathematical truths and constants in a non-constant world. 

You talked about people being jailed for the truth. Maybe it’s not as drastic but in a lot of ways, it’s probably as devastating to them when they shut their mind out because they hear the word professional. They turn their mind over to this other person without ever checking anything that’s been said, without even passing that through common logic to say, “This fits or this doesn’t fit.” There are some real dangers there but the math behind it is absolute. This idea of relative math, that’s not true. There are relative events in nature. There are changes in the components of the mathematics that might be wrong but the math itself is correct. Two plus two is always going to be four. That’s just the way it is. It may be that it shouldn’t be two plus two, maybe it should be one plus three. Maybe it should be some other number in the assumptions that are put in the wrong. 

Think about Christopher Columbus. What happened in his timeframe was four ships went out and none of them came back. Mathematically, zero minus four means we lost four ships. The analysis at the time was they fell off the side of the earth because the earth is flat. The math was right but the analysis of what happened to the four ships was incorrect. You’ve got Christopher Columbus that does some math work, looking at the skies, looking at different things and figuring out, “The Earth is round.” I believe in those pieces but the only way he could find out was by proving it. 

Even though the math was right, it might not come out that way. He had to send ships out to go find out if it was true. Prior to that, the fact that four ships didn’t come back could mean a lot of things. They went down in a storm or it could even be that they found a place that was a lot nicer than where they were and they didn’t want to go tell anybody else because they were afraid their place wouldn’t be as nice anymore. Who knows what happened to those four ships? We know now that they didn’t fall off the side of the earth. Something else clearly happened. 

Over time, that happens. When we learn mathematics in grade school, everything is one-dimensional or maybe two-dimensional from the standpoint of two plus two is going to be four. Everything is considered constant. One of the differences we get into is when we get into more advanced math. Even financial math is more advanced math because it adds a dimension and it’s the dimension of time. That’s a big one that gets left out often. When we add that dimension of time, it changes the formula. It doesn’t mean the math is right or wrong. Pure mathematics is still the same. It’s just that now, we have different components in there. 

One of the unfortunate things that skew the math when we add the element of time is we have to add other assumptions that are not constant or not guaranteed to be in a certain area. For instance, we’re going to look out 30 years into the future. If 30 years is our time frame, that is absolute, but what happens over the 30 years? Interest rates, taxes and inflation fluctuate. We have all these assumptions now that we have to guess on and that makes the end result flexible. It makes it move around. It makes it not absolute. The math is absolute but the assumptions that are applied to the formula are not. 

There’s no way around that outside of using past experience. That’s a dangerous thing to some degree. If we use past experience for what’s going to happen in the future, it can be one of those traps that put us back to, “This is the way it’s always been done. This is the way the environment has always occurred in the past. Therefore, it’s going to occur that way into the future.” Some things act like that but with technology, we have no idea what the future looks like and that’s one of the big unknowns. 

Thirty ago, who would have thought that everybody walking around would have a cell phone in their pocket at all times? That they could not get more than 10 feet away from without being anxious and bothered? What kind of stuff is going to continue to the future along that same line? We have no idea what’s even going to be invented that we’re not going to be able to live without. The impacts of that both on inflation and on opportunity can’t be weighed. We can only guess. 

TWS 12 Part 3 | Mathematical Truths

Mathematical Truths: One of the unfortunate things that skew the math when we add time is that we have to add other assumptions that are not constant or not guaranteed to be in a certain area.


You also have preferences. There are many different forces that will impact life and the purpose behind what you do financially. You’re right. You are basing your future on the assumptions now. It’s similar to how we look back on what people did 200 years ago with a completely different moral code, set of circumstances, concerns and environments. We assume that they should have every bit of knowledge, experience, and wherewithal that we have today. It’s not fair. It’s the same thing looking into the future. It is changing at a rapid pace, and yet there are some widely held constants that are used that are essentially hurting whatever the future experience is because they’re based on today. 

It’s similar to all planes have to create a flight plan. What’s the constant in the flight plan? It’s the starting place and the destination. What happens between the starting place and the destination? You have altitude changes, speed changes and pitch changes. There are all sorts of things happening. That’s why even though a pilot may fly the same route a million times, every single time he flies it, it’s a different environment. The idea is that there must be constant open-mindedness and an open door to what’s happening at the moment. Are the assumptions the same? Have they changed? If they’ve changed, what do I do about it? The requirement almost to stay in the course is to constantly be asking questions that challenge the previous assumptions. 

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About Todd Langford

TWS 12 Part 3 | Mathematical TruthsTodd Langford is the Founder & CEO of Truth Concepts, Partners 4 Prosperity, and Prosperity Economics Advisors.



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