Join us today for the Saturday Night Special with Jack Allweil author of Make Better Bets...

In this episode Jack Allweil and I talk about his journey towards becoming a personal finance author after being an actuary...

In tonight’s Saturday Night Special I interview Jack Allweil.  I ask Jack about his transition from actuary to passionate personal finance author.  I also ask Jack about his journey to Auschwitz and how it affected his life.  I also ask Jack to share why he wrote a book about on betting. 

Join in on the Chat below.

SNS 144: Saturday Night Special – Interview with Jack Allweil author of Make Better Bets

[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: Welcome to tonight's Saturday night, special episode 144.

[00:00:06] Jack Allweil: I'm, Jack Allweil I challenge you to invest in yourself, invest in others, develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent and your treasures to live out your calling. Having the ability to set goals and consistently work towards them is key.

[00:00:22] And one way to be inspired to do this is to listen to this. Be inspired stewardship podcast with my friend, Scott.

[00:00:29] th they have a lot more time at home to reflect on their lives, how they're progressing are they happy? And I felt my kind of moment, like that was back in 2016 when I lost my job. And it's hard to really look at yourself in the mirror and say, okay, I, I think I need to improve in this part of my life, or I need to get my priorities straight again.

[00:00:51] Scott Maderer: Welcome and thank you for joining us on the inspired stewardship podcast. If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you [00:01:00] to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent and your treasures for your true calling in the inspired stewardship podcast. We'll learn to invest in yourself, invest in others and develop your.

[00:01:14] So that you can impact the world

[00:01:17] and tonight's Saturday night special. I interviewed Jack Orwell. I asked Jack about his transition from actuary to passionate personal finance. Arthur. I also asked Jack about his journey to us switch and how it affected his life. And I asked Jack to share why he wrote a book on. Now, one area that a lot of folks need some help with is around the area of productivity.

[00:01:45] Getting not just more things done, but actually getting the right things done can be really. I've got a course called productivity for your passion. That's designed to help you do this [00:02:00] and then to hold you accountable and walk with you so that you can tailor productivity, not just to be getting more done, but actually getting the right things done.

[00:02:11] What's more, we take the approach of looking at your personality and how you actually look at things in the world and tailor the productivity system to your personnel. Because the truth is a lot of the systems that are out there are written really well for somebody with a particular personality type.

[00:02:29] But if you have a different approach to things, they just don't work, but there's tools and techniques and approaches that you can take that will work for anyone. And we help you do that in productivity for your passion. Check it out over@inspiredstewardship.com slash law. Jack Allwell is an avid reader, mathlete and soccer fan he's on a journey to find the intersection of his actuarial background, love of sports and personal finance.

[00:02:58] He's the author of the book [00:03:00] make better bets. And he's also traveled through Europe and met his wife there when visiting, where some of his grandparents had grown up. Welcome to the show.

[00:03:09] Jack Allweil: Thanks for having me.

[00:03:11] Scott Maderer: Absolutely. It's great to have you here. We've tried a couple of times to hook up and it's good to finally have a chat with you and have a chance to share it with the listeners.

[00:03:21] So we talked a little bit in the intro about that you came from this background of being an actuary. And then you had some things that went a little differently than maybe you had originally thought and now you've transitioned and you have this passion for goal setting and for personal finance and these sorts of things.

[00:03:43] First off, explain to people what an actuary is because not everyone knows that word. And then talk a little bit about your journey to coming to where you are. Sure.

[00:03:51] Jack Allweil: So actuaries basically help assessing different risks. Oftentimes in business it [00:04:00] often involves forecasting or projecting cash flows into the future.

[00:04:05] And then also using some methods to properly discount them. Those cash flows back to the present. A lot of times they're employing. By insurance companies in reserve setting. So making sure that there's enough money in reserves to pay out the future claims it could be for death benefits or annuity payments that have guarantees.

[00:04:26] So I will say the extra actuarial exams are incredibly tough and are probably the hardest thing. Outside of probably dealing with lingering physical pain from sports that I've gone through. I think I had a warped view of the ease of the exams early on. The first five I kind of cruise through.

[00:04:47] And then the sixth one is where I really started having problems. And it was around the same time I moved from Michigan to North Carolina. So this was 2015 and [00:05:00] I was having. Trouble. I would say balancing my social life and work and studying. And I had actually failed the six exam twice. And at that time I felt like my work product was dropping and I just was feeling a little depressed.

[00:05:18] And unfortunately that's when I felt like I was losing balance in my life and I actually lost my job. And. When that happened, I ended up taking what I call my roots trip where I went to Europe to see where my grandparents grew up. And I will probably talk about that a little more later but when I lost my job, I vowed to myself.

[00:05:41] I would not be put in this position again. And so basically I started reading a lot and. The, so the six exam took me four attempts to pass and then the seventh one after a third fail again I've really started [00:06:00] changing my habits and I started journaling a lot and I thought putting it down on paper really helped make progress.

[00:06:08] And it was all garbled in with my personal finances, because when I had lost my job. Luckily I had cheap rent, but I wanted to think of ways to possibly lower my rent or my housing expense. And that's when I thought, as soon as I get a job, I'm going to house hack or buy a house and rent out the rooms to make my life a little more robust than it had been.

[00:06:36] Scott Maderer: So talk a little bit about losing your job in the midst of that. And yet you kept working on the exams and things. How did that lead to this kind of journey of thinking about self development, thinking about what are you going to do different to make that never happen again?

[00:06:57] Jack Allweil: [00:07:00] It's tough to. Look and see faults in yourself, and I was I think a lot of people are going through that now with COVID that they have a lot more time at home to reflect on their lives. How they're progressing. Are they happy? And I felt my kind of moment, like that was back in 2016 when I lost my job.

[00:07:22] And it's hard to re really look at yourself in the mirror and say, okay I think I need to improve in this part of my life, or I need to get my priorities straight again or yeah, reprioritize.

[00:07:33] Scott Maderer: So let's talk a little bit about the roots trip. I know the punchline already but share with the listener where you went and how that led to this reflection

[00:07:45] Jack Allweil: period.

[00:07:45] My grandparents grew up a lot Poland, Hungary, and I ended up going to Prague in the Czech Republic. And I also went to Vienna where I, oddly enough [00:08:00] met my now wife. So it was a very monumental trip for me. But really I think the. The place that changed. My outlook on that trip was in Krakow.

[00:08:12] My grandfather grew up in Krakow. He was Jewish. He always, I, he unfortunately died before I was born, but the stories are that he felt a lot of the antisemitism before and that's why they left. And they went to Michigan. And walking around there was just very eerie to me and it just spurred a lot of questions.

[00:08:37] Studying like the Holocaust and world war two, a lot of the videos are in black and white, but just being there and walking around and you see a lot of the empty synagogues. And I, and Poland had the most Jews, I think there was 3.5 million Jews in Poland. So an incredible amount and three of 3 million of them were killed.

[00:08:59] So I [00:09:00] had a lot of. Questions after going to Krakow. And I just remember getting a book at one of the synagogue bookstores there, and that's when I started reading a lot. And then that was another thing that came from that trip. I hadn't really been a reader before then. And maybe it's because I was just too caught up in studying and working and just, I just needed a, to take a step back, and you also went to on that trip? I

[00:09:31] did. So I was fits is about a 30 minute car ride from Krakow. And it's hard to describe the vastness of this area. And I was there in December and we were walking across the barracks and I think I went on a three hour tour, but there are like five and all day tours, if you want to go on them and.

[00:09:55] It is just hard to fathom anyone really [00:10:00] surviving. A lot of these barracks didn't even have laws. They're basically just like tapestry almost. And it is it's, it was actually snowing on my tour, which made it even more real and brought to light the fact that if it, how important it was, if you could get a job working in doors while you were at this concentration camp that you really needed to have a good chance of surviving but just very life-changing to see it in person.

[00:10:32] Scott Maderer: And have that connection too. If your grandparents had not gone to Michigan, when they did. Then the reality is they may have been there. Yeah. I think that would make it very real. And all of that's tied in together with losing your job and yet also the happy news of meeting somebody that became your your future wife.

[00:10:54] So it had to have made it a challenging period. One of the other things [00:11:00] that we talked a little bit about in and I'll ask you to go a little our share a little bit on is. Yeah. You mentioned that one of the things you've done as well to get to know yourself a little better was working as a volunteer.

[00:11:13] Can you talk a little bit about first off? I don't think that's most something that most people would think of as a way of self, not larger self development. So what brought you to that? And what did you learn from that? I spent some time, I don't, it was almost a part-time job, but we did a lot of volunteering through it, but it was a, an organization called Moisha house.

[00:11:35] Jack Allweil: So I lived in a, yeah, a Moisha house in Charlotte. It was a way to help network also and make some friends. But we did a lot of work in the community throwing events, and it was geared towards the young Jewish adults, but we would do all sorts of volunteering things in. And similar to walking through [00:12:00] outfits.

[00:12:00] It kinda just puts things into perspective. A lot of times when we were volunteering, At places where people are often going through a rough time and by doing this, I got to see other people's struggles. And for me, it was a reminder of what could possibly happen. Nobody's really immune necessarily from all these bad things happening.

[00:12:21] And it, it definitely put some caution into my mind and I think. Made me plan for a rainy day when it was sunny, so it's anticipating how things could turn bad when it's actually nice outside and yeah, just how to make my life more robust. I think it keeps coming back.

[00:12:42] Scott Maderer: And yeah, so you, you said plan for a rainy day when it was sunny and it my growing up the expression that I always heard was make hay while the sun is shining which is basically the expression is do the work when it's good, not whenever it's bad.

[00:12:58] Cause that's when [00:13:00] you, that's when you harvest the hay is when it's, when it sucks. And. Cut hay and picked up bales of hay for summer job to pay for college. I can tell you that's not a job. Anyone should a tough job. Anyway. So you know, what are some of the things you did while you were volunteering with them?

[00:13:18] What are some of the events that y'all put on?

[00:13:20] Jack Allweil: Some, sometimes it would just be collecting like simple, like collecting trash from public area. But other times it was like volunteering by making breakfast at maybe a home that helped like single mothers with children. Who were a lot this organization, I think you had to be working at least 25 hours a week so that there were people that were trying, but having a tough time.

[00:13:46] And they provided some computers and some job searching material to help them get back on their feet. We, we did some stuff there. We did. There was some like a [00:14:00] woman's shelter, a woman going through abuse. So yeah, but th those are the bread and butter places for us to volunteer it.

[00:14:09] Scott Maderer: Awesome. So I want to talk a little bit about the book too. Out of all of this you ended up writing a book, as we mentioned in the intro called make better bets. How did all of this journey and all of this lead to writing a book on. Bedding. And why did you want to write that book in the first place?

[00:14:33] Jack Allweil: Yeah. So I think one of the things that being fired gives you is a lot of time. And I had a lot of time and I started reading a ton and although it started out as world war II books, it morphed into a lot of economics books and I'm also very into soccer. So I was reading a lot of soccer books and a lot of them involved the economics of soccer, money and soccer.

[00:14:58] There is [00:15:00] a book actually called Soccernomics. And it was re written by two guys. One was professor Semanski who worked at the university of Michigan, oddly enough, where I went and he still works in the kinesiology department. And. I was just, I was interested in this, so I saw it as like a little passion project and they did a study that kind of analyzed what countries use their resources, the best.

[00:15:27] So they were looking at things like GDP per capita, population size. And the number of international appearances that country had played in. So I got very down the rabbit hole on all of this, and they were trying to predict gold differential by those three variables. And basically the countries that outperformed that predicted gold differential, they deemed as a country that was using the resource as well.

[00:15:51] And I thought if you just took it one step further and said, okay, If this team is predicted to let's say win [00:16:00] by a half a goal, what does that translate in terms of a probability and. And so I actually called professor Symansky and he gave me a lot of his material and the more I looked into it, I landed on using the FIFA rankings and home field advantage is an indicator.

[00:16:20] And I use that framework for trying to predict gold differential and then mapping that into probabilities for win loss and draw. And my first actuarial job, I learned a lot of it's called visual basic. It's like the programming language inside Excel to automate, I would say mundane tasks typically.

[00:16:41] And so I was fairly competent in that and I, I just saw it as a project to helped me have fun and see what I came up with as probabilities for certain teams to get. Out of their groups in the world cup and things like that. And I ended up making this [00:17:00] model and using it to bet and quite selfishly at the end I, we, I actually lost a little bit of money, but we had bet France to win it.

[00:17:10] And I kinda thought I must have misallocated somewhere. And I had a lot of these questions while I was doing it, because one thing. The soccer Nomics books show is that how player salaries are so predictive. And I basically did not have access to, to get all that for the world cup. I couldn't assemble it all in time.

[00:17:31] And it was actually hard to get certain countries, player, salary data. So I'm working on that for the next round, but it was basically an exercise for me to go back and see maybe. Maybe I got lucky on certain bets that I made in one, but I also maybe got unlucky on certain bets that I'd made and it was written why

[00:17:54] Scott Maderer: they call it gambling.

[00:17:55] Jack Allweil: And but I wrote it in a tone and. I [00:18:00] showed the mechanics of the model in a way that I wish I could have read when I was like maybe 10 years younger. So I was writing it to my younger self and hopefully other people can look at it and build upon it. And so that's how it came to be.

[00:18:18] It was a post analysis and just a passion project. And

[00:18:21] Scott Maderer: so with that kind of project what was. What's your ultimate outcome or what do you, what are you hoping to get out of the book?

[00:18:29] Jack Allweil: I had fun talking to people that have reached out and possibly linking up with someone that has a similar interest to maybe share resources and maybe make a better model.

[00:18:45] And get better. And and the book actually was just helping me. I've been trying to get better at communicating and I thought it was helpful to write down my thoughts and the logic on paper. So [00:19:00] I can improve on it in the future.

[00:19:01] Scott Maderer: So before I ask a few questions that I like to ask all of the guests, is there anything else that you'd like to share with the Lister about your journey or about the.

[00:19:10] Jack Allweil: As far as the book goes, it's it's probably like 50%, very quantitative. And then the other 50%, I try to sprinkle in fun stories, oftentimes like flashbacks to my trip to Europe and explaining what, what led to all this. And but I would just try to reiterate. Pursue passion projects, just for the sake of it.

[00:19:35] Just try to do stuff that you think is fun. And oftentimes you'll learn a lot more than. Like work projects, yeah, but at the same time, some of the skills you had as an actuary is what came to bear to be able to do the project.

[00:19:51] Absolutely. Absolutely. There's no doubt that those actuarial skills came in handy and there's a lot of similarities between what a bookie is and an actuary.[00:20:00]

[00:20:00] There's really not a lot of predictive modeling. It was I think those actuarial skills helped in this. And I think the ma the what I went through on the modeling has made me a better actuary. So there was good synergies there. Yeah, it's

[00:20:14] Scott Maderer: that, that's the part that I think is interesting too, or part of what I think is interesting about it is in a way you set yourself up to do it.

[00:20:23] Somebody who has a different set of skills and also a passion for soccer may have come up with a completely. Project the fact that you had some skills in that area led you to do this particular project. So one of the questions I like to ask, all of my guests is about stewardship. My brand is inspired stewardship.

[00:20:42] I talk a lot about stewardship and. That's one of those words, like leadership and a lot of other words financial financial security that we use words, and yet we don't define them. So for you, what does the word stewardship mean? And what do you think its impact has been on you and your life?[00:21:00]

[00:21:01] Jack Allweil: So I would say it's being responsible for something taking ownership of something. And I think a couple of years ago, I would've said just focusing and taking responsibility for my own life and kind of turning that into something I was proud of. And now I kind of view stewardship as controlling maybe or taking responsibility of the success of my now like family with my wife.

[00:21:30] And so I think. It'll be facilitating, hopefully the success of our marriage and hopefully our future kids to me. Absolutely.

[00:21:42] Scott Maderer: Okay. So this is my favorite question of the shows. If I invented this magic machine and I could pluck you out of the chair where you set today. Take you into the future, maybe a hundred to 150 years and magically with that machine, you were able to look back on your [00:22:00] entire life and see all of the ripples and all of the impacts that you've left behind.

[00:22:05] What impact do you hope you've left behind on the world?

[00:22:07] Jack Allweil: Nothing too crazy. I would say. I really just want to be known as a person that operated with character and integrity. And hopefully a lot of people look back and think that I helped them. I try to help people get their finances in order to possibly do like a house act like what I did.

[00:22:28] I really think it helped me a lot. So a lot of stuff with house hacking, I guess in real estate, hopefully, and PR personal finance, it's just getting everything in order to help one operate in their best way in. No, not really let the money whip you around, but more you being in control of your money.

[00:22:47] And and as a consequence in control of your life.

[00:22:51] Scott Maderer: So what's coming next for you as you continue on this journey.

[00:22:56] Jack Allweil: So about a year ago, I. Pass [00:23:00] my last actuarial exam and yes. Yay. It's 12, 12 years in the making. Yeah, actuarial exams, med school passing the bar. Those are yeah, there.

[00:23:11] Scott Maderer: Yeah. I'm not sure which of those is harder, but they're all pretty hard.

[00:23:15] Jack Allweil: But but like a little bit after that, my brother and I started a podcast called the brothers on books podcast and we've continued reading. Trying to read a book every other week and discuss it. And we just go with whatever we're interested in, runs the gamut between finance and we write a book on that the Mount Everest disaster all sorts of different types of books and just trying to learn and hopefully down the road, a lot of these crazy garbled ideas will turn into something good.

[00:23:50] Scott Maderer: You can find Jack on Facebook and LinkedIn as Jack all while or find out more about him and his services on his website fired to [00:24:00] fire.com. Of course I'll have links to all of this over in the show notes as well. Jack, anything else you'd like to share with the.

[00:24:06] Jack Allweil: I would just like to say that I hope all of you got some value of this, and I hope may have inspired you to pursue another, or maybe your first passion project.

[00:24:18] Scott Maderer: Thanks so much for listening to the inspired stewardship podcast as a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively. But act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoyed this episode please do us a favor. Go over to inspired stewardship.com/itunes rate.

[00:24:46] All one word. ITunes rate, it'll take you through how to leave a rating and review and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes [00:25:00] out in your feed until next time, invest your time, your talent and your treasures. Develop your influence and impact the world.


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It’s hard to really look at yourself in the mirror and think I really need to improve in this part of my life or I need to get my priorities right again. – Jack Allweil

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