Ep472: Joseph Frankie – Some Things Are Just Out of Your Control

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Quick take

BIO: Joseph Frankie (Joe) is a West Point graduate who had a full multifunctional military career as a warfighter and logistician.

STORY: Joe got into a deal in China that was quite lucrative. However, the financial crisis of 2008 hit and saw him lose everything he’d invested in the deal.

LEARNING: Walk away from a cul-de-sac and get onto something else fast. Failure is not always your fault but how you react to it is your full responsibility.


“Learn when to walk away and do it fast. The sooner you get on to something else, the better you’ll be.”

Joseph Frankie


Guest profile

Joseph Frankie (Joe) is a West Point graduate who had a full multifunctional military career as a warfighter and logistician. Today, he helps leaders build a bridge from where they are now, to where they want to go. Most often, he helps 40+-year-olds figure out what is next. He assists leaders internationally, online.

Worst investment ever

Joe’s worst investment ever was working on a deal in China. At the time, the Chinese government was trying to get their wastewater treatment infrastructure together. Chinese companies had to bid on this project, and those that made it to the final three had to put up a letter of credit for 33.3 percent. This meant that if any of the three got picked, they executed that letter of credit and were all in.

The Chinese companies’ challenge was that they didn’t have the working capital necessary to run multiple projects. Even though they had the bandwidth and the capability, they ended up having to finish one project, get the return, and then get into another one. Whereas they really could be doing as many as five to 10 projects. This is where Joe came in. Through a cooperative joint venture with two companies, Joe provided the Chinese companies the capital necessary to do multiple ventures.

Then the Lehman Brothers debacle following the financial crisis of 2008 happened. All of the rules on moving money internationally changed overnight. Funds were frozen, decisions took forever to be made, and Joe found himself in a cul-de-sac. He had no option but to walk away and count his losses.

Lessons learned

  • When you realize it’s a cul-de-sac, just back out of it fast and get on to something else that’s productive, rather than spend any more time on it.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Randomness will always come, and you don’t have any control over that.
  • There are factors in your life that just happen, and it’s not your fault. But the way you react to it is your responsibility.
  • Sometimes you just have to walk away from something that’s not working because putting in more effort isn’t going to make any difference.

Actionable advice

You have to be attuned to the environment. You’re going to deal with volatility, uncertainty, and all of that kind of stuff. The sooner you recognize that you’re in that situation and make your quick assessments and determine what you want to do, the better off you’ll be.

No. 1 goal for the next 12 months

Joe’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to continue promoting his book LinkedIn: The 5-Minute Drill for Executive Networking Success.

Parting words


“Your LinkedIn profile is your billboard to the world. Don’t sell yourself short.”

Joseph Frankie


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 in investing you must take risks but to win big you've got to reduce it join our community to claim your podcast listener discount on my valuation masterclass boot camp. This is where students learn how to value companies like a pro and advance their career. Go to my worst investment ever.com to join our community for free and claim that discount fellow risk takers this is your worst podcast hose Andrew Stotz, from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with Joseph, Frankie. Joe, are you ready to rock?

Joseph Frankie 00:47
I'm ready to rock.

Andrew Stotz 00:48
Let's do it. I'm going to introduce you to the audience. Joe Frankie is a West Point grad who had a full multifunctional career as a war fighter. And logistician. Did I say that right? You got it? Nailed it. I'm working on it today. He helps leaders build a bridge from where they are now to where they want to go. Most often, he helps 40 plus year olds, figure out what is next. He assists leaders internationally. On line. Joe, take a minute and filling further tidbits about yourself. Okay.

Joseph Frankie 01:30
tidbits about myself, as I graduated from high school a month later, I was at West Point, then 34 years later, I was outside of West Point into the private sector, and had a great army career and then, you know, worked on deals. And one of the things we're going to talk about, you know, my worst deal ever?

Andrew Stotz 01:56
Yeah. So tell me, you know, I like what you say is that you help 40 plus year olds, mainly, obviously, you can help someone younger. But 40 plus year olds, you know, we need it. And we're looking for and we're looking, you know, I think in my case, as I've gotten older, I realized, like, okay, there's a horizon coming. I remember my father saying for the first time in my life, I see a shrinking horizon rather than an expanding horizon. And that was pretty scary. And I think that, as I've worked my butt off to make money and make my name and make myself successful, I kind of didn't, I didn't even think about legacy. I don't think you think about that when you're young. But as you get 40 plus, and you think about okay, what am I doing? And am I enjoying what I'm doing and all that maybe you could just tell us about the typical type of, you know, what you bring to the typical person that you work with? Who is facing some of those questions and challenges?

Joseph Frankie 02:53
Well, the reason I, and I had some help with some people saying, Joe, what we really do is help 40 plus your roles, because at that point, you know, the executive recruiters are not calling Yeah, you know, if you need to do something else, a, you're going to have to do the heavy lifting, you know, all the people that used to call you and get you to move to the next opportunity that's few and far between, because you have less than a 15 year bandwidth if you're in the corporate world. And so that shrinking bandwidth, just limits your opportunities. And so you really have to be world class at merchandising yourself. So that you can be found by those searching out there. And the way to do that currently, is with a rock the world LinkedIn profile, because the type of jobs that you need as a 40 plus year old, they're the type of jobs that are not published. They're given her in house recruiters, corporate recruiters, contract recruiters and so the hunt is on, you know, you just can't see that you're being hunted. So your best chance is, Hey, make sure that the bait you have out there is the best that it can possibly be. And I can't tell you how many people I've worked with that really just don't know how to merchandise themselves. And I learned that from being an executive recruiter for over seven years and watch you know people and and kind of deal with them helping them to better sell themselves for lack of better term.

Andrew Stotz 04:34
So I'm looking at your LinkedIn profile right now and I see you know, you got a banner that says build a bridge from where you are now to where you want to go. That's great. You know, there's great advice right there for the listeners is build a banner that really helps you. The other thing I'm looking at is I'm looking at you know, kind of your title and why it's called a headline nowadays. So it says CEO board member at LinkedIn calm Speaker and consultant, and co author of LinkedIn the five minute drill that's interesting. And you know, a lot of other stuff that you've gone in there. Is that part of what you're talking about, about helping people to, to make sure that they make a footprint out there?

Joseph Frankie 05:15
Yeah, so you're basically you're in a content war with your peers. And so first of all, more content is better. And then above that compelling content, it Trump's more content. compelling content means everything matches up, you know how to measure your production, you got all the stuff that anybody would need to know about you so that you can somebody used to seven or eight years ago, we, when we found somebody and now I think I think Andrew probably did this, let me give him a call. Today, you don't call anybody, you just go to the next guy or gal.

Andrew Stotz 05:54
Good point in one last thing I would say about this is if I pull up my profile, I basically changed one thing on my profile that really made a big difference. And that is, I started calling myself the worst. And I say the worst podcast host of my worst investment ever podcast. And that is a form of branding. And what I can say is that when I did that, I started getting inbound messages. And people started writing me and I think that, you know, the common question is, why do you call yourself the worst? And my answer is always the same. Because you wrote me.

Joseph Frankie 06:44
There you go. So, in fact, one of the reasons you know the last words in that headline, or a I'm a guest for radio, TV, podcasts, all that kind of stuff. And I used to chase it now, you know, I get calls and determine which ones I'm going to do.

Andrew Stotz 07:03
That's good. That's good advice. So I'm looking at that, that's interesting. Well, I just think it's good to talk about this so that the listeners out there know, you know, what you do, and the value that you bring in, we'll have all the show notes, all the links in the show notes, you can just go on LinkedIn, ladies and gentlemen, go to Joe Frankie, the third, and you can find him otherwise, you can go to the show notes and click on those, and it'll take you to him. So now it's time to share your worst investment ever. And since no one ever goes into their worst investment thinking it will be tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to it and tell us your story.

Joseph Frankie 07:41
Well, my worst investment was working on a deal in China. And it's not that there was anything wrong with China, there was not that there was anything wrong with the people I was the team I was working with, there was nothing wrong with a cooperative venture, there wasn't anything wrong with the Chinese partners. In fact. So this was my first real outing, you know, coming out of the military. So, you know, I understand project management, I understand big projects. And so what this was gonna be, was about a three to $5 billion effort, cooperative joint venture to build water and wastewater infrastructure in China. And it was banded in a certain niche, you know, because the real big deals, you know, went to GE and bail, and all of that kind of stuff. So this was, you know, the smaller deals, and we were working with, you know, our cooperative venture with our Chinese partners, and they had a network, or let's just say, a couple engineering companies and the challenge at that particular time, because, you know, China is evolving, you know, by the second, but at that particular time, they were really trying to, you know, instill our get their water wastewater treatment infrastructure together. And so, the challenge that the Chinese companies had was, it was build operate transfer. So the government was getting out of, you know, being the, you know, water plant operators, you know, and that kind of stuff and go into a more commercial model. And so, consequently, when you needed to bid on these things, and you, you bet and if you make it to the final three, and say it was say it was a $10 million project for the sake of numbers. When you went to the final three, you had to put up a letter of credit for 33 and a third percent, which meant that, you know, if you got picked, they executed that letter of credit, and you were all in. So, but the challenge that the Chinese companies had was okay, they didn't have the working capital necessary to be in multiple projects, even though they had the bandwidth and the capability, they ended up having to kind of finish one project, you know, get the return, and then that allowed them to get into another one. Whereas they really could be doing as many as, you know, five to 10 of these, you know, and that's just kind of a guess, on my part, the only thing that was holding them back was the funding. So the cooperative joint venture was there to provide them the capital necessary to do multiple ventures, and like, I'd say, these were in the smaller range where you weren't, you know, competing against these countrywide things. And secondly, the provinces were getting kind of an attaboy for finding a way to get any kind of outside money into their province. So this metal, a lot of different things, and the structure was put together so that each project was independent, you know, and the Chinese partners liked it, because there was a funding structure by which the money would was outside of China, you know, and all of that was, you know, above board, you know, on the on the front end. And so, we're working away at this, and naturally, you know, this is not a one month deal. This is, you know, a couple of years effort, you know, going into that, and so, make a long story short, so we're there with term sheets with two companies that you would immediately recognize, and so we're in the throes of getting those together. One of them was, you know, big financial investment concern out of the Pacific, and the other one was, you know, in, in the US. And so what happens is, you have the Lehman Brothers debacle. And so then what happens is, all this money that was going to come out of retirement funds, and all this kind of stuff, because they liked the idea that this was public infrastructure, you know, and force majeure was handled, you know, in effect, it wouldn't come right out and say it by the government, but the water district would would handle it, which is really the government. And so that was all of these other authorities, like the long term, guaranteed return of that. And so what happened overnight is all of the rules, you know, kind of on moving money, you know, internationally were at least taking, you know, you couldn't get an answer, because nobody would, you know, would make a decision and sagas froze up. Yeah. In other words, so you almost have a force majeure type thing in the financial system, you know, and naturally, these are all things waiting for bid. And, you know, you did the best you can to try to resurrect that. But that just turned out to be a disaster at least in time. And, you know, yes, my wife about that. She said, Well, you know, his worst thing ever happened to me, he says, No, it's not I said, I got a PhD on how to put a deal together in China, I just don't have any money to show. But that's the light. That's life. I mean, you know, and so what I'd say to other people, is you can, you can be involved in just about anything, and you're going to have something that puts you in a cul de sac, you know, and there's no way out of that call to sack, you know, after you try to penetrate to the left into the right, other than to back out of that cul de sac. And you know, and so I the only thing I looked back on is I wouldn't have tried the trade the experience for anything I just, you know, wrote checks for three years. And you know, there wasn't any return because there wasn't a closing right. term sheets never came to closing.

Andrew Stotz 14:49
So let's, let's, let's review or summarize the lessons that you learned. And I think, you know, one of the ones that I'm hearing you say is, I like what you said about a call to sack you know, like, there's just a dead end, there's some situations in our life where it literally is a dead end. Sorry. Sorry, you're there. But, you know, so yeah, how would you describe the lessons that you learned?

Joseph Frankie 15:12
So the lesson I learned as a military person, you know, I'm just used to, hey, somebody gave you a mission. Okay. And, you know, either come back on your shield or with your shield, you know, that's the way you operate. So there's failures going on, not an option. And what I learned in the private sector is where you really don't like failure, but you need to recognize that you don't have a way out, it's a cul de sac, you just kind of need to back out of it. And the sooner that you get on to something else, you know, that you evaluate, that's productive, rather than spend any more time, you know, I wasn't going to fix the financial situation. You know, if there was something wrong with our deal, or partners, or you know, a person involved, there's there's things you there's methodologies to do the workarounds. Right. But not when, you know, it's kind of like, okay, City Hall says, you know, you can you can spend your life fighting City Hall, but yeah, not gonna happen.

Andrew Stotz 16:23
So maybe I'll summarize, something I took away from your story, I think, recently, I wrote a video that kind of goes against, and I produced a little video that goes against what I've always felt, which is that you're in control, you control your destiny. But the older I get the real, I realize, first of all, there's randomness, just randomness in life. And that randomness can come in, and you don't have any control over that, number one. Number two is that there are factors in your life that just happen. And I My point was in the video that I did, which was to young people, this is not your fault. Now, that's not something I used to say when I was young. But basically, and it's part of my prediction is that it's going to in the next couple of years, I think we're going to get a youth versus older people revolt. Because so many of the decisions of what older folks have done in politics and other things, and in health in all of these things, are just putting so much pressure on young people. And think about the number of young people that are listening to this, who are just despondent, about opportunities, and even maybe even have lost their will to work or their desire, or they haven't, you know, there's just so much damage that's going on. And my point is, it's not your fault. But the way you react to it, of course, is your responsibility. Absolutely. That's your attitude. And so I think that it is also another important lesson in life that there's just, sometimes you just got to walk away, and you cannot you're putting in more effort into it isn't going to make any difference.

Joseph Frankie 18:18
That's correct.

Andrew Stotz 18:19
What was the song you got to know when to hold them know when to fold? Know when to walk away? Learn when to run?

Joseph Frankie 18:31
Well, good advice and those 444 Little statements. Yeah,

Andrew Stotz 18:35
what a great song. So based upon what you learned from this story, what you continue to learn in your life, because that was a while ago, you've learned a lot and you face another kind of somewhat uncontrollable situation. What one action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate?

Joseph Frankie 18:54
Well, I think you have to be attuned to the environment. Okay. You know, this one was, it was easier, I would say, because all of a sudden, I mean, the whole financial sector just kind of Hiccup and then everybody's, oh, what are we gonna do? Now? So all kinds of normal operating rules, either were on pause, or they were going to be re revamped. And I liken that to, you know, back when I was chief of staff in the Army and Air Force Exchange Service headquarters, and in Dallas, Texas, he had 911 happen, we're getting ready to have a 20 year anniversary. Well, you know, I spent the next two years redoing all the business processes so that the company could operate in a post 911 environment. In other words, okay, now you needed all your truck drivers needed twit cards, you needed background checks. There's certain kinds of bills of lading, that, you know, had to be changed. And it was just two years of reengineering everything. And so I don't know what it is going to be for the next generation, but you're going to deal with volatility, uncertainty, and all of that kind of stuff. And so, the sooner that you recognize that you're in that situation, the sooner I think, and the better off you'll, you'll be, you know, making your quick assessments and determining what you want to do.

Andrew Stotz 20:36
Yep. Great advice. All right. Last question. What's your number one goal for the next 12 months?

Joseph Frankie 20:44
My number one goal is to continue to promote the book, our book is out there. It's called LinkedIn, the five minute drill for executive networking success. Now it says executive and we put the executive because executives will read it. And but it's a one hour read. And so I've got many high school seniors that are using it in a business class. And so I'm getting calls and questions from high school seniors. So don't think that it's a complicated book. And I think the hardest thing I've ever done in my life is run up. Right with Laurie rough, a one hour book, but I knew that people wouldn't read it, you know, if you didn't make it, you know, simple and get to the bottom line up front.

Andrew Stotz 21:35
And we'll have a link to that on the show notes. And is there any other way can they go? Let's say, go into Amazon, or because I've got your link. And we'll put that in the in the show notes

Joseph Frankie 21:49
were in every major. So the book was published by Morgan James Publishing, which is a world renowned publisher. And so it's in all the markets were even untargeted online. We're not physically in the stores, but it's an available in ebook, and print. And both are under 10 bucks.

Andrew Stotz 22:11
Just out of curiosity, I've heard this name before Morgan, James Publishing for myself. And for the other people out there that are thinking about publishing a book. Why did you use this particular firm?

Joseph Frankie 22:23
Morgan, James Publishing earns their ability every day. So we have our complete copyright. So I can walk up and publish the book with another publisher tomorrow. And the way he says, We're not going to, you know, impinge your copyright. We're going to earn your business every day that you're with us. So I can go take it somewhere else. But there's no need to because I've been treated, right. And I like the way they do business. And they try to do I think about look at about 400 books a year and publish about 40 That tells you that we at least made the sale.

Andrew Stotz 23:08
And, and what's different about the way that they promote that book, I know a lot of people have or help you or help you think about that. A lot of people have disappointing times with publishers. I mean, I've done all mine, self publishing, because I just didn't want to deal with the whole publisher thing. But what I found about these guys,

Joseph Frankie 23:28
these guys put you through the hoops, you know, in other words, break it all down, you work through it. And, you know, it was the first book we'd ever written. So I've been down that, at least Laurie, my co author, had a couple of books under her belt. And so she was very helpful. And at doing that, what I would say to you is probably plan on if you go with at least Morgan James, once they you get it, it's not like hey, we got it, you're, you're done all that kind of stuff, it takes a little longer than you would expect. But what they did was getting get into all the buying cycles, right? Of the various book system. And so we got feedback from Amazon buyers, Barnes and Noble books, a million buyers, I mean, on the book itself, I mean, they actually read the book, and we made adjustments to the book. You know, what do we know about selling books? So you know, anybody that gave us advice that gonna make it a little bit better for us? I'm listening and I'm, I'm saying Yes, sir. You know, if it makes sense, you know, it doesn't change the book. But,

Andrew Stotz 24:47
and I'm looking at the book. I'm just on Amazon right now. And I see that you have 40 ratings and 4.9 out of five so fantastic. That's exciting.

Joseph Frankie 25:01
It is. Most women tell me they read it in 45 minutes. And if you ever told me that I'd have to pay a company to certify the reading time, which is on the back cover. It's a 69 minute certified read. I said, What the hell do I have to do this for? And they said, well, people buy books for other people. So they want to know how long it takes me. And I, that made perfect sense to me. And we really pushed during the season for like grandparents and parents to get it for college students.

Andrew Stotz 25:37
Right. So ladies and gentlemen, just as we're talking right now, I just bought my copy, and it is going to be arriving in my Kindle. So I challenge everyone else out there to get it and see how you can improve on your LinkedIn. Also, you can reach out to Joe at any time through LinkedIn, but also through the links on the show notes. So let me ask you last question, what's your number one goal for the next 12 months?

Joseph Frankie 26:03
Well, I continue to market the book because what we missed was all the book shows and you know, the, you know, go do the book things through the bookstores, and you know, all this COVID stuff, you know, the book came out, right? Dead Center in the middle of all this stuff. So we really had to, you know, vector off into, hey, we got to get this thing merchandised online and that kind of stuff. And then the second thing is, I want to continue in, I coach one on one, people I've done 600 And no 767 as of two days ago, and that's International. So I've coached people in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, England.

Andrew Stotz 26:58
So what does that just just briefly what does that look like? So if someone listening, they say, okay, I'd like some of that. What does that look like?

Joseph Frankie 27:07
What's it look like is, hey, we start out at the very beginning, where Yeah, where you want to go. And if we can define those two points, then there's a way that I can help architect a LinkedIn bridge for you to get from where you are now to where you want to go. Now, some of that might even be Hey, you got to go get this certification, hey, you need education in this, you know, this is your goal. And so the important thing is to get it merchandised on LinkedIn, because like I said, most people just have either a fear or reluctance to properly merchandise themselves. And as Dizzy Dean, you know, once said, It ain't bragging if you've done it. proofs in the pudding?

Andrew Stotz 27:57
Yep, that's great. So yeah, and I have a course called valuation masterclass boot camp, and it's a six week boot camp. And but one of the things I do is I start them working on their profiles, you know, and their profiles are all full. And I teach them just some basic stuff, you know, tell the story come up with what your uniqueness is, and then then you know, it's amazing like they say, hey, people are starting to contact me and it happens during the six weeks like one guy got a job because he changed some things around he got it more attractive and then he got a job offer so you know, this is this is real stuff ladies and gentlemen. So all right, yeah, well,

Joseph Frankie 28:39
it's all about it's all about the bait. If you want to catch a certain kind of fish. You need the right kind of bait

Andrew Stotz 28:47
yeah, there's a lot of people fishing with a hook with no bait on it. Yeah, exactly. I'm sitting there I'm doing my time I got it in there I got my hook in there but without the bait Yang get nothing. All right. Well, listeners there you have it another story of laws to keep you winning. My number one goal for the next 12 months is to help you my listeners to reduce risks and increase return in your life. To achieve this I've created our community at my worst investment ever.com And when you join remember, you get that special discount on the valuation masterclass boot camp. As we conclude, Joe, 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?

Joseph Frankie 29:40
Yeah, I would say your LinkedIn profile is your billboard to the world. Don't sell yourself short.

Andrew Stotz 29:50
Beautiful. 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 hose Andrews Start 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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