Ep434: Dan Solomon – The Time to Start Investing Is Now

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Quick take

BIO: Dan Solomon is on a mission to help international students and young professionals, especially those in Germany and the Netherlands, gain the right skills to succeed in the job market.

STORY: When Dan was studying in Russia, he would receive $500 every month from his scholarship. Dan never invested a single cent of this money for the five years he was in Russia, which regrettably would have grown to a substantial amount had he invested it.

LEARNING: Start investing now to gain from compounding interest. Don’t spend your dividends or interest; reinvest it.


“Invest, and don’t take out your gains.”

Dan Solomon


Guest profile

Dan Solomon has a diverse background in engineering, business, and finance with experience across several industries, including banking, consulting, and chemical. He is on a mission to help international students and young professionals, especially those in Germany and the Netherlands, gain the right skills they need to succeed in the job market. He is a strong believer in taking little steps towards making the world a better place.

Worst investment ever

Dan spent five years studying in Russia on a scholarship. For those five years, he would receive $500 per month. Dan was a bit flamboyant and spent all that money on things that didn’t really mean anything. He bought stuff he didn’t have to buy. Dan regrets never investing any of this money.

Lessons learned

  • Start investing now. You don’t need to wait until you have x amount of money in your bank account; it’s never going to come. Start now and build that discipline.
  • You need to understand what kind of investment you’re getting into. Why should you invest in an index fund or an ETF, or individual stocks? Most importantly, understand the concept of compound interest.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Build your knowledge base because you will suffer from a lack of knowledge.
  • You will not witness an exponential rise in your investment until about year 20. It is, therefore, essential to start investing now.
  • Don’t take out any money you get from your investment to pay bills, instead reinvest it so that you benefit from compounding interest.

Actionable advice

Start now.

No. 1 goal for the next 12 months

Dan’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to build the Bliss Career platform to a level where it is self-sustaining to help as many people as possible. He also wants to build the discipline to keep pushing his investment plans and make sure that he stays consistent.

Parting words


“Try your best to make sure that every month you take a bit of your money and put it in your investment portfolio.”

Dan Solomon


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever, stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community. We know that to win an investing, you must take risk but to win big, you've got to reduce it. To join our community go to my worst investment ever.com and receive the following five free benefits. First, you get the risk reduction checklist I created from the lessons I've learned from all my guests. Second, you get my weekly email to help you increase your investment return. Third, you get a 25% discount on all aced Arts Academy courses. And fourth, you get access to our Facebook community to get to know guests and fellow listeners. And finally you get my current curated list of the Top 10 episodes of this podcast fellow risk takers. This is your worst podcast hosts Andrew Stotz, from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guests, Dan Solomon. Dan, are you ready to rock? Definitely Bring it on. Let's do it. So Dan Solomon has a diverse background in engineering, business, and finance with experience across several industries including banking, consulting, and chemicals. He is on a mission to help international students and young professionals, especially those in Germany and the Netherlands, to gain the right skills they need to succeed in the job market. He is a strong believer of taking little steps towards making the world a better place. You can check them out at the bliss career podcast, just type it in all one word. B Li SS career bliss career podcast, Dan, take a minute and fly further tidbits about your life.

Dan Solomon 01:54
Okay, um, thanks, Andrew, for having me on the show. I'm really looking forward to this. So my name is Dan Solomon. And I originally come from Nigeria. So I grew up in Nigeria when I was at and and from there I left to Russia, I think those those for me that transformational period in my life. So after 18 years, I was like, okay, Dan, you got a scholarship, go to Russia. And for me, I was like, wait, Russia, I had no idea about the place. I couldn't speak the language temperature was a

Andrew Stotz 02:27
little different. I bet.

Dan Solomon 02:29
Exactly. Exactly. I left Nigeria when it was about I think around 25, around 25 to 30 degrees. I arrived most coal miners 20. So

that was the first outcome.

Dan Solomon 02:48
Exactly. So so. But that was a huge transitional moment in my life. I moved there. And I spent five years there. So spent five years in Russia. Doing my first degrees did my bachelor's, they're studying your oil and gas mechanical engineering, kind of in that framework. And after Russia? Yeah, I was like, Okay, what next? Right, so I'm always looking for things to do. And then I moved to Germany, came to Germany in 2013. And so that I did my masters in business. And I've been in Germany since then, have moved a bit of course, right. I spent some time in the Netherlands spent some time in the US. But somehow Germany kept on calling me back. So I came back to Germany. And I'm currently in Germany now working for a chemical company in Germany. And yeah, quite, quite interesting. So I would say that is, we are in brief about my life. Of course, I love to not stop outside of work. Last year, I started a platform called bliss, Korea. And you mentioned that in the beginning, the reason why why I started please Korea is after spending some time in Germany, I realized that it's actually not easy for international students like to find to find jobs in Germany, due to many other reasons. And, and, and haven't gone through that process. haven't gone through that. That's outside that pipeline, right of really struggling to get my job here. I was like, Okay, why don't I come up with a system and come up with a platform that could help other people out there. And this was the main reason why I started this career. So I do that on the side, just to help help help people out there. And I know that my little contribution, right could help someone out there who might be struggling to get something. And yeah, let's see how it goes.

Andrew Stotz 04:42
That's great. I mean, it's one of the things that they always say to do is teach the thing that you did. There's other people that want to follow it. And so I'm sure you've got really relevant advice. I wonder when you first went back to Nigeria I mean, how many years were you like in Russia before you went back to Nigeria for your first trip back?

Dan Solomon 05:08
Wow. Okay. It's interesting you asking me this question, right? Because I was in Russia for three years before going back. So after leaving, I didn't go back on two or three years. So I went back at 20 2012. I think I went back to Nigeria. And there were a lot of reasons why I didn't go back immediately. And one of them was I wanted to explore all the things. So I use the only hard time the summer or the winter summer to go back. And instead of going back home, I just said, Okay, why don't I explore all the stuff because I love exploring things. So I used that time, and I went to the US. So I went to the US twice. And I worked as a camp counselor. I don't know if you know that. So so were in the US. I was upstate New York, close to Syracuse.

Andrew Stotz 05:57
What was the name of the place?

Dan Solomon 06:00
Long, long, long, long point camp. So it's a camp where they just send students every have kids every summer. And the normally needs somebody an adult to take care of this case, right. So I had like kids aged from 10 to around 217 years. And my job was to keep them busy. So that was a good experience. Really good experience for me, and I use that time to explore the US page.

Andrew Stotz 06:27
I'm looking at it on the Google Maps right now. That's a salvation army camp. Exactly this weekend. Interesting. Yeah. Well, we had that in common because I was a camp counselor when I was 18. Okay, my godfather owns the largest daycare camp in Los Angeles and his son Okay, runs a camp on Catalina Island. And then there's a camp. I think it's in I'm not sure in outside of Boston, or in Maine called I think it's called Pinehurst, something like that. I can't remember the name. Okay. But it's run by a family friend of ours. So love camps. You know, it's just such a great time, you know, and kids are just like, away from home. And just, you know, like, there's just so much positive, you know, stuff with that. So I totally get that.

Dan Solomon 07:13
Yeah, that was really nice. I really enjoyed those times. Yeah.

Andrew Stotz 07:16
So when you went back to now, for me, I didn't go back to America for the first two and a half years that I was in Thailand, because really, I didn't have money in the beginning to do such a travel, you know. But then after I started to get it and started to, you know, be able to do it, I went back. And I'm just curious, like, what was it like going back to your village, like, after you've already now seen kind of the big world out there. And your family hasn't necessarily the people in the village, and then you come back? And you're like, wow,

Dan Solomon 07:46
yeah, yeah. Let's see, it was, it was a shock, right? So the two different things if you don't leave, and you don't see something else, it's fine. Right. But once you leave, and they you see how things are outside. Coming back home, it's like, Wait, I will still here. And and so sometimes you isolate developing country, right. And we still have we still lagging behind. So a lot of stuff that still needs to improve. And when I got back home, I was like, wait, it seems like nothing changed. Since three years, right. So the roads were still not very good. The electricity power supply wasn't wasn't constant. And it took a while to readjust. Right? Because I'd been in Russia for three years where things really worked. And going back home was like, okay, we still have a long way to go. But, but I till today, I always enjoyed going back home. I love it. I love going back home because for me, it's always a reality check. For me is a reality check in a way that so now I'm in Germany. And sometimes I feel like I get complacent. Right? So in Germany, everything works like the boss. The if you if attempted says the boss is going to come at 10am The boss is going to be there today. Right? Of course we have some times where there are gonna be some delays. But everything works. And then I get complacent. I'm like, yeah, everything's fine, right? But back home where I come from, it's not the case. Right? And, and anytime I go back home is always a reality check for me that hey, dang, you need to do something. Of course, I can stay in Germany and do whatever I want. And the life is good. I have my job. I have the good salary. Everything's fine, right? But that is not a case where I come from. Yep. case, exactly, Dan, you need to do something. And this is why I always like going back home.

Andrew Stotz 10:06
And I was telling you before we got on to the recording was that I most many people don't know. But I have a Nigerian Army. I have an army of about roughly, let's say 1000 women who have won scholarships, not only in Nigeria, but also throughout the world. But there's a huge volume in Nigeria because I partnered with CFA Society of Nigeria to offer a scholarship to women to learn about valuation, and it's called Women in valuation. And I have a Facebook group with the women in there and they've been pursuing different levels of the course depending on their desires and their needs. But I'm about to have my first graduate of the valuation masterclass coming from Nigeria, and I'm really excited for and you know, I've really been impressed. I mean, the passion, the gentleness, the kindness, the way that they all that we've all interacted in the group really enjoyed it. So it was really my first experience and I would say a very positive experience. And that's my little Nigerian Army.

Dan Solomon 11:09
College Nigerian Army, but it's quite impressive right to be to have gotten several 100 out, but I'm not surprised because Nigerians? Yeah. Passionate about learning. Exactly. about learning. There's one thing about them so not not really surprised that you got up to several 100 of them.

Andrew Stotz 11:26
So I'm looking forward to when the you know, when flights resume and things go back to normal. I'm going to try to teach the valuation masterclass live in Nigeria, and that's one of my okay. Okay, hopefully, we'll be able to hit that hit that result coming so well, it's really great to get to know you. But now it's time to get serious. It's now time to share your worst investment ever. And since no one goes into their worst investment thing he will be tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to it and then tell us your story.

Dan Solomon 12:01
Okay, okay. So when I saw this your worst investment, I was like, Well, I haven't really lost millions. So I because I don't have millions to lose. But if I go back to my time in Russia, and I think I think that was a good lead into this. So I spent five years in Russia. And I was on a scholarship. So that was how I could get them. And in that scholarship, I was being paid $500 per month. So $500 per month, for me was a lot of money. Right? So

Andrew Stotz 12:37
they're giving you housing also.

Dan Solomon 12:40
The housing was minimal. Right? So let's see, housing was $20. Okay. Right. So so because it the housing was subsidized for for people that had the scholarship,

Andrew Stotz 12:51
so 500 significant.

Dan Solomon 12:54
Exactly. So you could see the 500 was okay, just for feeding, which was also minimal, at that point. And the rest was just yeah, extra money that you could do whatever you wanted to do with it. So for me, the first thing I encountered was, wow, I went from not having given up to $100 a month to 500. I was like, wait, what do I do with such amount of money? Right. And I didn't have any education, or any financial education. So I come from I said, I come from a village and then from there just went to Russia. I didn't have any education. I didn't know that, hey, then you can start investing part of that money, right? I didn't know that. And, I also didn't know anything about the compound interest phenomenon, right. So and so what I did is, whenever I look back today, I'm like, hey, Dan, why did you do this? Right? So if you ask me, then what do you do with that money? I don't know. Right? I know that I was a bit flamboyant. I was a bit I spent the money on things that didn't really mean anything if I'm, if I'm allowed to say that, right. So bought stuff I didn't have to buy. And, and sometimes I even struggled to get to the end of the month because at some point I was I already spent the money, right? So financial, financial, financial education lacking and, and for me, this is the worst investment I've ever done because I'd never invested any money right. So till today. The good thing about myself today is from that time to now I've really built a good knowledge base on that right. So uh, now I'm a bit more knowledgeable compared to what I was before. But I'm still struggling to keep up right despite the fact that I know this So if you ask me, hey, Dan, what's the worst financial investment was said the fact that I had this sum of money right? Back then if I calculate, okay, $500 per month, even if I was investing $100 per month from that, right? At the end of five years, that would be what about $6,000? From the 100, right? And if you now bring in compound interest in here, that's would be a substantial amount of money down the line? Well, I've

Andrew Stotz 15:29
done the calculation, well, 12 months a year, let's say you save 200 of that 500. And let's say you invested it, and I'm going to use it, let's say you invested over 20 years, so you just keep growing it. And let's say you can grow to 8%, that 200 per month. And this is just one year would be worth about $11,000 in 20 years. So Wow.

Dan Solomon 15:53
What does one year? Yep. Wow. So you, you, you, you make it even worse for me now.

Andrew Stotz 16:01
It is your worst investment ever. Right? That's the show. So I got to make it worse. Right? And I am the worst podcast. Oh, so yeah, you don't make you worse for me, not what I did in my life. So I'm living down to my reputation.

Dan Solomon 16:15
Exactly. Sounds like, for me, that is my worst investment. So why didn't I invest? Right? So first of all, I didn't have that knowledge. I didn't know that I needed to do this, or I could do this. Right. And you just said that down the line. 20 years, there'll be 11,000. Just for one year. Now do that math for five years, right? And you'd see the multiplication effect of this. Yeah. And, and that is my worst investment. And since then, I decided to actively right. build up my knowledge, and myself to know, hey, Dan. And the thing about this is, a lot of times I've also had interactions with people. And a lot of times people think, Okay, I need to make X amount of money before I started investing, right? But then I realize, hey, even if I have just $100 a month, I can put it somewhere, right? And it doesn't really matter. Because, hey, put in $100 a month is better than not putting anything and you just doesn't matter, you see what that impact could be down the line. And the earlier you start, which is what I realized that the better. So that's my worst investment. And I have been trying since then to make sure that I improve on this. And to also let other people know or teach other people the implications of this. And hopefully they get better, and also start as early as they can.

Andrew Stotz 17:47
So how would you summarize what you learn?

Dan Solomon 17:51
So what I learned is, start now, right? Start now, you don't need to wait till when you have x y Zed amount of money in your bank account, it's never going to come. Right? Start now and build that discipline. So if that is what I learned, start now build that discipline. It doesn't matter how much it is, as long as you're starting today. That is one. And then the second point is try to build a knowledge base, try to like, you need to understand what you're getting into, right? Why should we invest in an index fund? Or why should we invest in an ETF? Why should we invest in individual stocks, right? Rather than just make sure that you build a knowledge base, understand this. And the best that you can understand, all you should understand is just even if you don't do anything, try to understand the concept of compound interest. And once you get that, then you know why you need to start today. Perfect.

Andrew Stotz 19:01
Or maybe I'll summarize a few things I took away from your story. First of all, there's a book out there that I would highly recommend is a book that someone can use to start today. It's called How to start building your wealth investing in the stock market, written by Dr. Andrew Stotz, by myself, I wrote it for my five nieces, and it's all about getting started. And what you've said is so, so true. And in addition, for those people listening, come to my worst investment ever.com join the community and you get a 25% discount on the online course for that. But what I would say about you know, the things that I wrote down, the first thing is knowledge. You know, I think you're highlighting something that's really important. It doesn't matter whether it's money, whether it's nutrition, health, the world will punish you. If you don't know. The world doesn't care that you don't know you will suffer from a lack of knowledge. If you walk into a car, and you don't know that a seatbelt is a major risk reducer, and then you speed along the road and crash, I'm sorry, the world doesn't give a shit. So I really, really want to take the lesson from you, and tell everybody, no matter what it is, what aspect of your life, you need to gain some knowledge. I brought my mother when she was 78, to live with me here in Thailand when my father passed away. And that meant I had to learn a lot about nutrition, particularly if I wanted to get better and better, healthier outcomes. And no choice I had to learn. And so I think that's an important thing. The second thing I want I wrote down is, you know, one of the things that people miss about compounding everybody, many people now understand the concept of compounding, and they see a chart where there's an exponential rise to the amount of money in later years. But there's some misconceptions. The first misconception is that exponential rise doesn't really come until about year 20. So most people never ever actually experienced it. And that's why your advice to start now is so, so critical. The second misconception and this one's a little bit more complicated, I think, many people don't know this. One is that if you had an investment, and you put money into a stock or Fund and the fund did really well, and you got some dividends, you got some capital gains, you decide I'm going to take that out, and enjoy or pay a bill, or do whatever with that. The minute you remove any of the money that's in that account in any of the income that you've received, that exponential line turns linear. It is only by reinvesting the exponential line is calculated in such a way that we assume the money, any income from that has been reinvested. So it's a very critical point, you've got to start now you've got to start growing that over time, and let it go. And that's why in that online course that I created, I created for my nieces, I just told him, this is what you buy, and you never sell. So those are some of the things I take away, one of the things that we have in common, besides the fact that we ran away from our homes and went to some strange countries is that I also got a scholarship to study in this case in my PhD, which I got a scholarship from the Chinese government and a Chinese University, where I did my PhD. And I really appreciated that, of course from the the government of China and I do have a lot of respect for what I saw about China is that people that that are intelligent, and have potential are not going to miss out because they don't have money, they do make a place for people that really have the potential. So I appreciated that. So those are three things. I would say anything you would add to that.

Dan Solomon 23:01
I think I think you rightfully summarized it's just what I want to pick out to stress that is is the fact that when you said invest, and don't take it out, and and and the importance of reinvest in whatever interest to get rights, for I think that is very important. And just want to stress that again. And also let it for me right and to say, hey, Dan, once you have that in there, let it in. Because you actually see the impact 20 years down the line. And thanks for stressing that. And it's also led in for me going out of this, this podcast to reinforce my beliefs. And I'm really happy that now I know. And I hope that other people also get to know because as you said, right, the world will punish you. If you don't know.

Andrew Stotz 23:55
Yeah, it's not a kind place. Yeah. And it just doesn't care. You know, your mom and dad will forgive you, your friends will forgive you Oh, it'll be okay. You didn't pass this and that. But there are certain general things that happen in this world that you will be punished for. So based upon what you learn from this story and what you continue to learn what what action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate?

Dan Solomon 24:21
One option, I mentioned that already, action is stuck now.

Andrew Stotz 24:26
Oh, that's it, ladies and gentlemen. It's not as difficult right? Yeah, start now. All right, last question. What's your number one goal for the next 12 months.

Dan Solomon 24:40
Um, my number one goal for the next 12 months is to build some building the platform, the blisko platform is to build it to a level where it is self sustaining. So to help us More people as much people as I can. And the plan is to use this 12 months to make sure that I have all the bits and pieces in place to make that happen. I know you said one number one goal. So that's my main goal. But the other one that relates to what we're just talking about today is to try and to have that. What do you call it, the Forgotten word. To make sure I keep on doing what I'm doing. Sometimes it's the discipline, that was what I was looking for half the discipline to keep on doing what I'm doing in terms of my investment plans. And just making sure that I stay consistent. Sometimes it's not easy. And I know a lot of people also find difficult out there. But the main aim is, no matter how difficult it is, just try your best to see that at least you stay disciplined to Yeah, to further whatever plan you have for your investments going forward. And that's what I want to do for the next 12 months. Got it.

Andrew Stotz 26:10
All right listeners, there you have it another story of loss to keep you winning. My number one goal for the next 12 months is outdo my listener, reduce risk and increase return in your life to achieve this. I've created our community and my worst investment ever.com. And I look forward to seeing you there. As we conclude, Dan, I want to thank you again for coming on the show. And on behalf of a Stotz Academy, I hereby award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Dan Solomon 26:45
Um, yeah, my parting word would be also repeating that. I know that a lot of people are in a situation where they find it difficult to invest, even though they know the importance of this down the line. A lot of people either Yeah, how would I say a lot of that a lot of family, stuff that come that you say, Okay, I don't have the money because I need to do this, I need to do that I need to do this. And I know that a lot of people in those situations, but my parting word is try your best that you say despite this really difficult situation that I find myself. I want to make sure that at least every month, something of that money is not just going out as an expense. Right? Not everything should go as an expense, just get a bit out of that and start putting that in your investment portfolio. And, and just to echo what Andrew said, you see the benefit of compound interest, 20 years down the line. So start now so that you can at least benefit from this before anything happens. So that is my parting word. Start now no matter how difficult it is, and hopefully things get better down the road. Fantastic.

Andrew Stotz 28:11
Well, that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our well fellow risk takers. This is your worst podcast hos Andrew Stotz saying. I'll see you on the upside.


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About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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