Joe Saul-Sehy from “Stacking Benjamins” was a recipient of a 2018 Plutus Award, as well as a winner of Plutus Awards in years past. Now, a year later, we catch up with him about his new collaborations, the inspiring stories he’s covered, and what books inspire him, and his amazing kids.
1. Can you tell us about your podcast and what Plutus Award you won?
Stacking Benjamins’ mission is to be your gateway to the world of personal finance. The show is based on the science of play, meaning that we try to introduce you to four to five concepts per show, while structuring it so that you “aren’t learning anything.” Our fans joke that if you learn anything, you should keep it to yourself because you’ll ruin our reputation. We’ve won multiple Plutus Awards for the podcast: Best Podcast and Best Multiple Host Podcast are two of them.
2. How did you feel when you won the award, knowing it was from your peers?
I felt incredibly grateful when we won, that people liked our work. We all work alone to some degree, and knowing that people working alongside us respected our work was humbling. So many people in this community have creative, fantastic projects, so to even be nominated was a real honor.
3. What have you been up to in the past year; are you still doing the same podcast? Have you decided to focus on anything in particular this past year or have you changed course in any way?
Not only is Stacking Benjamins going strong, but we’re increasing our footprint. I’m thrilled that Bobbi Rebell agreed to work with me on a cool new project called Money With Friends. We invite guests on who help us break down two recent financial headlines. That’s been fun and has found a nice audience. On the SB side, we’ve been working on solidifying our team, putting more professional systems in place, and varying the guest lineup even more than usual so that we surprise our fans more often.
4. Have there been any topics you’ve covered/are planning to cover that people have really responded to? Why do you think that is?
I think our listeners love that we tackle finance from many non-traditional angles. We’ve talked to the guy who wrote a biography about PT Barnum (lots of lessons about hustle, picking yourself up after bankruptcy, and more), a woman who help people de-clutter their house (selling what you don’t need), and Robert Mann, the founding member of the Julliard String Quartet (living a life about love vs. money). I also love these stories. Money is a tool, and these people talk about focusing on the real issues I find to be really inspiring.
5. Is there anything that you’re reading or listening to right now that you’ve found really inspiring? Why?
I’m currently reading a book recommended by Talaat McNeely, another Plutus winner. He said I should read “Lebron, Inc.” I did. It’s a great book about a sports star who was amazing, messed up some stuff, but kept moving forward. If you’re building a business or a career, it’s a great case study on the good, bad, and ugly.
6. What do you do to push through any creative blockers? Do you have any fun ways to get the creative juices flowing again?
I need to be inspired by inspiring people, so watching other people who are creators fires me up. Show me the documentary 8 Days (South Park), The September Issue (Vogue magazine) or anything about old-time radio (Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, etc.), and I’m a creative machine again.
7. How do you find new, fresh ways to approach the topics you cover?
When I’m burnt out I get out of “the space” and look to widen my lens. What aren’t we covering? What is nobody talking about? We did this cool piece about an ultramarathon which was 3,100 miles around ONE New York City block. What a cool lesson about planning and partitioning, while still firing me up about how many angles we can approach our topic from.
8. Do you make stepping away every now and then a priority? What do you do to recharge?
I get away after two or three weeks. That’s a gift I didn’t have when I was younger. You have to get away from the topic to keep it fresh. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
9. What advice would you give someone looking to start their own podcast?
Do it. Especially in finance. Stacking Benjamins has one of the bigger audiences in personal finance and our stats show us that our audience is about 150K people in total. There are over 300M people in the USA. We aren’t reaching anyone when you look at the total population. Please start a podcast. Bring your perspective. We all bring a different voice to the game. There is TONS of room for us all to grow. Bring your unique voice. Get more people talking about money. I think we need LOTS more names. Please make a podcast. Let’s get the world talking about money.
10. Do you have anything exciting in the works that you can share with us?
I’m super excited about our Money With Friends brand. Bobbi Rebell brings so much energy to the Stacking Benjamins family and the focus on headlines in the news is so underserved. So many people are lost in the “what should I think about this” game of clickbait media — I love what we’re doing in that arena.
11. What do you consider your greatest achievement outside of Stacking Benjamins?
My kids are financially responsible AND community-minded. My daughter is headed to Japan to teach English as a second language. My son rode over 4,000 miles from Austin to Anchorage to raise nearly $1M for cancer research. If you’re a parent, you never know how well you “parented” until later. My kids continue to make me proud. They’re responsible, giving humans.
12. If you hadn’t ended up doing Stacking Benjamins, where do you think you’d be right now?
I’d be a high school teacher, teaching young people about life and money. I love teaching. I love guiding. I also love the magic of teaching people to learn when they mistake what we’re doing as playing around. That’s the most fun.