#145 Giving Mindset Inspired by 9/11 With Bob DePasquale

9/11 audiobook giving inspired mindset motivation Sep 11, 2023

Bob DePasquale joins us today to share how he helps families plan financial goals that incorporate great giving strategies. Bob’s strategy is not just about buying that yacht, but it's also about doing good in the world.

Bob, shares what led him to want to do business that will initiate impact, and the tools and tricks, and tips he gives clients to help them both plan for their financial wealth and be good in the world.


Episode Highlights:

  • The personal journey that led Bob to see the importance of doing good.
  • Instilling generosity and translating your passion in your own story to supporting families.
  • The importance of having core values. 


Bob DePasquale Bio:

Bob’s generosity journey started at age 18 when he was diagnosed with cancer and experienced the tragic events of 9/11 in just a few short days.  He wouldn’t be around to speak about if it weren’t for some amazing acts of generosity.

Bob realized the powerful force that the giving mindset is after experiencing his life-threatening illness and the terrorist attacks.  He spent 15 years learning how to apply giving principles in his own business and it is now his mission to help others do the same.  Organizations that have a generous culture are bound to attract better employees and better customers.




If you enjoyed this episode, listen to these as well:


Crack the Code: Sybil’s Successful Guide to Philanthropy

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Sybil offers resources that include special free short video mini-courses, templates, and key checklists, and words of advice summarized in easy-to-view PDFs.    


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Bob, I'm so happy you're on my podcast today. I have been looking forward to this conversation, so I had the pleasure of being on your podcast we talked about the things I'm working on, and when I heard about what you were working on, I thought that my audience would value the things that you do and that you focus on your life and the business you're doing to initiate impact. 

So, the reason I have you on here today is that you are with families to help them plan financial goals that incorporate great giving strategies. It's like a whole kind of strategy that's not just about buying that yacht; you can buy a yacht if you want, but it's also about really doing good in the world and everything else there. 

So, Bob, without further ado, let's talk about what leads you to want to do business that will initiate impact. What's the final journey? And then I want to talk about the tools and the tricks and tips you give your clients to help them both plan for their financial wealth and be good in the world and do good in the world. 

I love it! Thank you for having me on, and let me make it clear here; so, if you do buy a yacht, you're required to invite me to it. That's one of the rules we have at our firm at initiative. Yeah, I'm just kidding.

I appreciate your question because I think everyone in business has a story. The people with the most compelling purposeful stories behind what they do are the most intentionally attentional about the work that they do. For me, I'm in this industry or this version of what we do in the financial world because I've seen generosity make amazing changes in people's lives myself. 

First, when I was very young, we could talk more about that, but also about lots of other people and organizations that I've worked with over the years; I've spent the past 13 years working with families, and so I've seen some amazing transitions. And you know what's interesting as well.

I was watching a TED talk recently. A woman named Wendy Steel talks about how important oxytocin is as a hormone when it comes to giving and she talks about how it's obvious that it feels good when you give something to someone. The person - the receiver - feels good. 

Oh wow, I got a gift or something that will help me.  Most of us can understand that the next level would be the giver; they say giving is receiving, and you may have noticed if you're a generous person, it feels good to support other people.  I think the human brain is wired for that. 

And oxytocin serves way more purposes for ladies in childbirth. They say that you experience that after you have a baby, and then it forms a bond between you and your child. So bonding is a very important part of giving, and then the other thing that Wendy pointed out in her Ted talk was that the onlooker the person the viewer gets a shot or a hit, if you will, of oxytocin just by viewing or experiencing a generous act that they had nothing to do with so, I have power in my life, which is why I do what I do. 

That's so well said, let's talk about your journey in giving first. 

Yeah, let's do so I grew up in a three-person family. I was spoiled rotten: my parents and I, now always joke, I don't know if my parents just didn't want to have another kid, or they said, “You know what? We've had one. That's enough.” 

Yeah, maybe, who knows, maybe. With you was just a lot. 

So, you know my dad always kind of jokes about that. I think it's partially true. Anytime someone makes a joke, right? It's true to some extent.

So, I grew up in a home where my parents were incredibly generous to me. Being an only child, I didn't have to compete with anyone, so I got all the attention right, but they were also generous to other people, and I noticed it was mostly with their actions. They weren't super-wealthy people. I mean, we always had food on the table.  I lived a good life. But most of their generosity was around their time and how they treated people. My dad was the person at his job. He was never the manager. He was never in charge of everything, but he had enough experience in his career where he wasn't the rookie on the job, and he mainly worked in supermarkets—always been in supermarkets his whole life. And the way he treated the people he worked for and the people who worked for him was evident in my life. And I heard multiple people talk to me whether it was at a company function, or we had a birthday party for my dad once when he turned 50, and they all came up to me and said, you know what Bobby, your dad is the most generous person I've ever met.

From a young age, I knew that generosity was important, but I didn't realize it. It was one of those things that you just kind of grow up with, It's natural. My parents did such a good job of instilling those values that I didn't even think about it.

I don't want to call it the turning point, by the full of this balance beam of my life, happened when I was 18, and this is a long story. I don't know how much time we have here, although I'll try to give you the all-important details in a short amount of time, I don’t know about you. But when I was 18, I thought I was invincible, and I thought I was one of these people. I could, you know, I wasn't afraid of anything. I could justify anything you put in front of me; I would do it. 

And we thought we were so old, didn't we? 

Yeah, right, you’re 18, and you're like man, look at those. 12-year-olds, yeah?

So, I thought I was invincible, and I went off to college. I grew up and spent most of my life in South Florida. I was born in New York, but my parents moved to Florida when I was three.  And I went back to college, and this is 15 years later. Now I'm 18. I go back to New York for college at Hofstra University, not too far from New York City, and during my freshman year, I was up there to play football. 

so I had to go a couple of weeks early for training camp before school started and throughout a series of what I thought were injuries, I thought I had pulled a groin muscle -Another thing that you don't know much about when you're younger, if you've ever pulled a muscle in that area of your body, your hips, and you're growing that area, you don't realize how much you use those muscles, and it was pretty painful - and I couldn't practice, and I used to do these exercises where you would shimmy like you. 

I'm on a three-wheeled stool, and you could picture me sliding across this training room, which is way bigger than a high school training room, right? So now there are 100 people in there in the morning. It's a 30 foot by 30 foot or if not bigger - It was a huge room - It's 6:00 a.m. There are all kinds of trainers and doctors, and this little old freshman Bobby is over here doing this stupid exercise. Everyone is laughing at him, you know, like get back out on the field.

The head trainer was a small guy. He would stand up on a box and make announcements in the middle of this training room - and remember it's loud, there were at least 100 people in this room - and he screamed at the top of his lungs.

Now somehow, everyone just got silent this morning, and he's like, Bobby, what are you doing? You must get back on the field like you can't be injured for your whole career like you just pulled, you tweaked a little muscle, and I said Rick, no, there's something wrong man like this is not working outright. 

So anyway, we had a more serious meeting, and I went through many tests. I ended up having all kinds of different exams and things. My parents were coming up for my first game on a Thursday. The game was on a Saturday; they were coming up on a Thursday afternoon. I have an appointment that day now. I'm 18 years old, so I'm an adult, but I'm a kid still, right? 

So, I'm driving to these doctor’s appointments, getting ultrasounds, CAT scans, etc. By speaking to doctors who are using medical terms that you know, I have no clue what's going on. My mom called me the moment after I got out of his appointment with my doctor, and in that appointment, my doctor looked me in the eye and said, Bobby, you have cancer, oh. My gosh, and I'm 18 now I’m like blown away. I don't know how to react to this. 

My mom calls me immediately now, not even knowing, they just landed. It was the timing perfect. She calls me and says, hey, how did the appointment go? And I'm like, I mean, I had to tell her what the doctor said. I said Mom, you know, he said that I'm cancerous and I, you know could just feel her emotion on the other side of the phone, and I heard my dad in the background. My mom’s name is Susan. He's like, Susan, what's going on? Like he could tell two something was wrong, so we all met.

My parents were from up there at my uncle’s house, who still lived in New York. We looked at each other like what was going on; we shed a few tears as we went. What the…?  So, a couple of days later my uncle’s best friend comes over to his house, and he gives his keys to my parents. We've never met the guy, we don't live in Florida, he's my uncle’s best ride, and the guy wouldn't know him from a man in the street. He says here, Susan and Bob take my keys. I can only imagine. What you're going through with your son.

And that was it. And he pretty much left, and we're like. Wow, talk about generosity; this guy was willing to give us his car, and he didn't even expect it back. We would have given it back, but he's like as long as you need. 

That is, that's amazing. 

So, my parents were like, well, thank you. Thank you, Tim. His name is Tim, so thank you so much that was uh, that was on Saturday. Ironically, it was the day that my team was playing. 

My oncologist, I had already spoken with him. He said we don't know the course of treatment, but you can't just drop out of all your classes. You're going to stay up here in New York. You're not going to go back to Florida. And you've got to keep your mind active, so I continued. I was going to go to class, so my second-ever college class was Tuesday morning. I went to this class. I got out of the class and went to the cafeteria; now we're on Zoom and using its awesome technology to record this interview. Back then, we didn't have this sort of stuff entertainment. It was like a tiny tube television hanging from the corner of the ceiling in the cafeteria. On these brackets. Do you remember like? 

I remember that. 

One of those. So, I'm watching the. I have to be honest with you; I'm not interested in New York news. At 18 years old, I probably hoped they put on - I don't know -probably cartoons or something. 

I'm watching it, and suddenly, a plane hits the Twin Towers, and I'm like, what is going on here? 

So, I called my dad, and I was like, hey dad, did you see this? We're talking for like a minute, bam. The other plane hits the Twin Towers, and we're like, what is going on in the world right now? So, he's like, you better get back to your uncle's house. I don't know what's going on here, but this is no longer an accent. 

And so now I'm on Long Island, so in the very, very, very distance is the Twin Towers. Right? So, I got in the car. It took me 9 hours. I couldn't believe all this was happening to take what was typically a 15-minute trip to get back to my uncle's house, watching the towers burning in the distance. I listened to it. I listened to the whole thing on AM radio and have a master’s degree in broadcast.

 I will never listen to nine straight hours of radio again in my life, but I listened to the whole thing.  I ran out of gas in my uncle’s neighborhood. Thankfully I made it that far. We pushed the car into his driveway, and we've all looked at each other, and we're like, OK, this is what we can't even explain other. You can't write this, but this is not even a book or a movie? What's going on? 

My aunt was hysterical because she couldn't get a hold of her husband, my uncle, and he was on business the night before in Denver, and we're like, was he on one of these planes? What's going on? It was later at night, maybe 8:00, I want to guess in the evening, we got a phone call, and he was OK, and we were like, oh thank God sat around the table again still thinking, what are we going to do? Send some prayers has shed some more tears What? 

And we found out, though. My uncle said that Tim, the guy who gave us his best friend the car was in the tower. He perished that day.

Oh my gosh. I mean. It is so intense on so many levels, I mean. 

Yeah, it was. 

And Tim like gave you his car and then he…

Yep, and then he was in the towers and the firm he worked for, Cantor Fitzgerald. You can look it up and. 

Yes, Cantor Fitzgerald. 

If you're familiar with them, do you know any listeners who want to see the story of some of the people who worked there? They would donate office space. 

So, Tim was generous and could afford journalists around famous because they donated all the office space for my Uncle’s Foundation, which is for cystic fibrosis, a disease or respiratory and immune disorder that his son, my cousin, suffers from, and so they were super, super generous people and unfortunately, they all died because they would get into the office super early.

And we learned some shocking lessons that day and over the next few months. And it took me months to recover from the cancer treatments. I had very intense treatments, and they spread up into my abdomen. It was intense, but I was healed, I was 100% healed. Uh, or at least cancer-free by December. 

And you know that was September, or August when it all happened, so it was highly intense. I mean the treatment protocol that I was on was very, very aggressive because of how the doctor described the form of cancer; he said it's very durable but also very aggressive, and I tell you that because I healed in a matter of months from that. But the emotional toll that that whole situation took on me. 

Yeah, yeah. 

It lasted for several years, and I didn't even realize all the forces in my life at that time other than Tim. We knew Tim was generous. But there were lots of other people, including my doctors, my family, and my cousin. Other forces in my life were extremely generous, but I didn't realize it at the time, and honestly, I almost feel bad that I didn't tell them to thank you at the time, but I've spent more time doing so since then in my life,

I mentioned it was an important part of my life because it was the catalyst for me. Realizing the importance of really realizing, like feeling the importance of generosity, was instilled in me at a young age, but it wasn't proven. I don't know if that's the right word. But prove it until I went through that. 

Yeah, yeah. 

So that's most of the story of why I do what I do, and it's been quite a road. 

You are so healthy and doing so many good things in the world now; it feels like not only did you do that, but the experience helped you learn about the importance of giving back, and it feels like you healed. Then you use that adversity to give back, that’s amazing. I don't even know where to go from here with that story because it's such an amazing one. 

Can you talk to me now about how you're able to instill generosity and translate your passion in your own story to supporting families who have wealth or businesses that have wealth to think about their wealth in a way that like maybe Tim did?

 And how do you respond to all these amazing people on the ground helping you? 

What I find is that generosity is not an event. It's an experience.

I love that! So well said. 

It's more than just something you can take a picture of or isolate. It's a feeling; it's something that you must experience to understand it truly. 

So as much as I mentioned, my parents were generous growing up. Specifically, my father with the people he worked with. It wasn't until I felt it myself that I got it. 

So, the way we instill these, I don't want to instill these values because I don't think it's ours. It's not our role to instill them, but we promote them. We believe in the power of generosity. We believe that it's important. We believe that it's natural, and I think some of the world's forces tell us otherwise, and some of them are very noble causes. But I think generosity takes a backseat, so you know why it's important to me. 

And the work that we do initiates impact. 

My business partner Stacy, is also an extremely generous person, but now, in our work, especially in the past year we've tried to make it more intentional around our conversations and bring out some of those experiences. 

And when we're working with families, we want to know your experience with generosity. How have you felt it in your life? Where have you seen it? What are the emotions that it brings about? Because I think you probably already know there are two cities that you know generosity. I mentioned it's an experience. It's an experience that encompasses multiple emotions. Sometimes the generosity is extremely joyful. Sometimes it brings some emotional, some sad memories.

In some cases, like in my scenario, you must make it clear that not one experience with generosity or pain or joy really should be measured against anyone else’s. It's not that generosity is not a competition either, and so you must consider how it makes you feel and then incorporate that into the actions. 

Right, yeah, and you have six core values and six extended values you talk about. I'd love to get into that a little bit more. When I say you talk about this on your website, we'll have the link to your website in the show notes. If anyone is interested in digging more deeply. 

You talk about how core values link into what you're talking about, here are things that drive us to be great at what we do, which makes a positive impact on the world. Our core values and extended values must be respected in all our professional relationships to show commitment to our mission. 

You have these wonderful words underneath core and extend, As I'm looking at them, I want to work on this and think about what are my core things related to. The desire, courage, initiative, modernity, and stewardship partnership. 

So definitely, folks, if they're interested in getting on your website and checking these core and extended values out, you maybe pull out a few of these and talk to me more about what this would look like when you're talking to a family that's interested in making sure their core and extended values integrate into their financial, for their finance platform, not just their giving. 

That's a great way to put it on the platform. It's hard to pick out any one or two things I can touch on them. 

Yeah, talk about one or all of them. 

They are very important. 

So, you see the core values, and it's kind of hard toward this. It doesn't mean they're necessarily more important than the extended values, but I think the cord. The core values or things like you mentioned, you read it right off their website there. The things that drive us to be great and so desire. Right, so when you're talking about generosity and making a positive impact, it's key that you desire to do that, right? And so, when we're working with families, we find often they have a great desire for something. You know we're not. Ultimately determining what the desire is for what but the fact that they have a desire. It usually means that it tries. Well, with us another thing about generosity and your financial platform. It's not. It's not always easy.

In fact. Fact generosity I talked about at the Ted talk from Wendy Steel earlier. There's a gentleman named Sasha Dichter, and he talks about the risk of generosity.

Sometimes generosity isn't seen as something that you should do. Some other people like, wow! Why are you being so nice? Why you are so generous? Courage is one of our core values. We want to be courageous and the things that we care about. The initiative is the third one we must take the initiative to do. 

If we don't take the initiative, our impact will never be initiated, and so the name of our company, Modernity is also essential because we believe that we must be modern. We must act and take advantage of all the technological tools today. 

So doing a podcast is an expression of modernity because it's a way to communicate in today's world. Stewardship is important because we believe that the resources, we have entrusted to us need to be managed well. And so, if we have a desire and courage to do something, a great part of doing that is managing those resources. Whether it's time, talent, or money like we talked about, money is a great tool in our world, so we must be good stewards of it. 

And then finally, partnership. We can't go it alone; you can look just to the left for those core values if you're on our website. You'll see the three hands there together we're in partnership together, we talk about the people that the families that we work with as partners because we want to make sure that our missions align and that we can help each other accomplish those missions.

So, our core values would not be able to be good at what we do and make a positive impact if we didn't concentrate on those six things; that's the core value. 

I find this interesting because they don't start here when I talk with financial planners. They start with just all about me or not just about me, but you know about whoever they're talking to. So, I like, and they say, OK, well, do you want to have some filters in the kind of investments you make or that kind of thing? That's where they go directly here, you're starting the big picture with the core values that your business is approaching. 

The person who wants to create a financial plan. You're approaching them with that rather than just like, OK. How much money do you want to save for your kid’s college? How much money do you want to give in donations every year?

You're approaching it uniquely and interestingly, I think. So, I just want to say that out loud. So now, yeah. You can go to extended. 

I wanted to highlight that because I just don't think this is the norm in the way, people approach finances. 

I appreciate that!

We believe in that foundation. They are important for building something great, so these are the foundation. All the things you mentioned are also important, but if the foundation isn't sturdy, then it's hard to make the most effective decisions in all those other areas, and so that's why we start here.

I appreciate you mentioning that and the extended values you talked about. You mentioned once again that these are the things that we must respect in all our relationships. We have these listed as extended because we know that all these things are extremely important to developing strong relationships. Whether it's with the partners that we serve or just with people and centers of influence in the Community and other people we work with or other organizations we do business with. 

The first one is faith. When we say faith, we don't specify; we don't mean a specific religious faith that anyone has. We respect everyone's beliefs, so we want to believe what other people need to have. Faith in what it is that we're doing.  If there's not a good match there, we will do our best to help people find the right people. Where there's that belief right; you must believe that the people that you're doing business with they're working with can be successful at what they're doing now, that they will be perfect, or that they will not make mistakes, but that you have the belief in what they're doing you. Value their efforts, so faith is one of our extended values. 

Also, inclusion. I found that it's vitally important to be inclusive of all different perspectives in the world. Whatever field you're working in. I used to work in broadcasting for a short period before I came into the financial space and I learned this lesson there that when you're sharing a message and communicating, you must believe that there are other ways of doing that, so it's vitally important to be inclusive of different ways of communicating and understanding things. 

That's another thing if we're not accountable for what we're promising for people, then we're not going to be effective. And if we don't believe that the people, we're working with will be accountable; then, it will not be good. The transparency, we're not perfect at initiating impact.

 I'm certainly not a perfect person. I've done some good things in my life. I've done some really bad things and made mistakes, but we need to be transparent about the things that we're good at and the things that we fall short of really, important for us. Stacey and I have a transparency agreement between the two of us as business partners, and we want to share that same mindset with the people that we do business with integrity, I'd like to think that integrity goes without saying for just any organization, although that's not always the case in our world. But integrity is important to us. We're going to what we say these values, the things that we promise we're going to deliver, we're going to prod whatever we promise. 

We're going to come through. We're going to do it. And then finally time is a very, very valuable resource, you know. I learned at 18 that I almost didn't have any more time, so for me, we want to be as timely as possible and respect people’s timeframes for what they need to be done. 

Then ultimately, we'll be transparent to use one of the other extended values if we feel at that time frame, you know, just inappropriate. Or not, not applicable to our situation, so faith, inclusion, accountability, transparency, integrity, and time are all important things for us to respect in those relationships we have. To accomplish our mission. 

Thanks for that, Bob.  

This is all a wonderful conversation. And before you leave, I wish we didn't have to end the conversation every time I have a podcast interview. I've had so much fun with these. I think you have a book coming out soon, so tell us about that and anything else you want my listeners to know how they can reach you. And again, we will have your website in the show notes. As well. 

OK, awesome, so it initially impacts the website for the business. You can also go to bobdepasquale.com where you can connect with me, on any social platforms and information, you can learn more about the podcast and everything on my website. 

One of the missions that I've had since my business partner, and I transitioned into our new role here about a year and a half ago at an initiative impact is that. I wanted to write a book. Oh, get out some thoughts that I felt like people needed to hear about technology and personal financial situations in the world. And I felt that people are very, very stressed by technology and their finances. 

Those are two topics that we need to have better relationships with. So, the book I wrote is entitled “Personal Finance in a Public World” It's about how social media ads and digital technology affect our money decisions. 

And yes, by around the time this podcast comes out, the hardcopy version will be out. You can check that out on my website. There, there's also an eBook and a softcover audiobook. So, however, if you like to take in books and get information, there should be a platform for you. So personal finance in the public world. It was a cool project. It's a lot of work to write a book, but it was fun. 

Well, congratulations on that. That's great news, so just thanks for the conversation. Thanks for letting my audience know that there are people like you who are trying to help folks who have wealth give with purpose and meaning, and I think that's just such an important aspect of things, so just. Keep up the good work there, Bob, and we'll talk to you. 

Thank you. 

Talk again. Soon, I hope. 

All right, Sybil, have a good one.