Hank McLarty: Finding Significance by Embracing Gratitude and Humility #60

Warwick Fairfax

March 16, 2021

He was, in his own words, an “intense goal-setter” from the third grade. And Hank McLarty achieved most of what he set his mind to: a football scholarship to Auburn, a financial services career at prestigious firms, recognition and wealth as one of the youngest and best in his industry. But when he started to “drink the Hank Kool-Aid” and believe he was as fabulous as the press coverage he earned said he was, his world collapsed. Living in a hotel with his two boys for two years, needing its free breakfasts to make ends meet, he slowly began to recast his vision — away from success and toward significance. Today, he says he’s blessed to have found both through Gratus Capital, the firm he founded on the principles of gratitude and humility.
To learn more about Hank McLarty and Gratus Capital, visit https://gratuscapital.com/

Highlights

  • Becoming an “intense goal-setter” in grade school (2:58)
  • Hatching the dream to earn a college football scholarship — even though he didn’t start on his high school team (3:43)
  • How the challenges of his home life motivated him to set and achieve goals
  • How his dad helped him to not abandon his dream to play Auburn football (9:03)
  • His first major crucible — in college (15:49)
  • Bouncing back to graduate and hatch a new dream (18:32)
  • Deciding to pursue a career in finance (23:17)
  • His first breakthrough in his finance career (25:38)
  • Setting a new lofty goal in the world of finance … and achieving great success (36:46)
  • The professional crucible that upended his life (41:16)
  • What he learned about himself during his darkest days (48:31)
  • How he rebuilt his career by starting his own company — with a heavy dose of humility (52:40)
  • How his Gratus Capital work differs from his prior experience (55:49)
  • Nothing he’s achieved today would have been possible without his crucible moments (1:01:58)
  • His oldest son’s speech at his 50th birthday party (1:05:11)
  • Top episode takeaways (1:10:42)

Transcript

Warwick F:
Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

Hank M:
I had a thriving business, a stellar reputation, but what I thought was a good marriage. Two amazing boys, a brand new house I had just built, like I had all these things and literally with the flip of a switch, I lost everything in a very, very quick amount of time. And so, I think I was in a state of shock. I was embarrassed, I was ashamed, I couldn’t talk to anybody about it because I didn’t want anybody to know. And I was petrified because for the first time in my life, I didn’t know what to do. And I had these two little boys looking up at me every day with a big smile on their face. Like, “Daddy’s our hero. He’s going to…” They didn’t know what was going on, except that they were now living in a hotel with me, and I just didn’t know what to do, and it was definitely the scariest time of my life.

Gary S:
Have you ever felt like that? Knocked down so hard by your crucible that you aren’t sure which end is up, let alone how to get up. You just heard today’s guest Hank McLarty, discuss the fallout from his fall from grace. Life in the fast lane to life at the Residence Inn. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show and the Communications Director for Crucible Leadership.

Gary S:
In this far ranging interview with Warwick, Hank opens up about how a lack of humility and gratitude led to him losing the lavish life he had built in the financial services industry and how his low point became his turning point. When he found the grit, his word, to rebuild his career and his reputation, he did it by forming his own company, Gratus Capital, where his goal is to grow his team and his character as he grows the portfolios of his clients. He’s recaptured success, yes, but far more important he says, is that he’s found true significance.

Warwick F:
Well, Hank, thanks so much for being here, really looking forward to the conversation. You’ve done a lot from your football career to finance and wealth management and non-profits. I’d love to just maybe start just, just to get a feel of your background, family, growing up, siblings, so tell us a bit about Hank McLarty and kind of how you grew up in that environment?

Hank M:
Well, growing up my childhood was pretty unspectacular. A normal kid playing sports, I have one younger brother, mom and dad, the four of us. So I will say one thing that was a little different about my growing up was, at a very young age, I started setting goals and that was something that I don’t know why it wasn’t something that went on in my family, but it was just something that I felt it gave me comfort to set goals and work towards things.

Hank M:
And so, as early, as third and fourth grade, I started setting goals for doing physical things like pushups and sit-ups, and would ask my dad to test me on Sunday. So as a normal childhood, other than when I talk about my childhood now, people look at me a little cross-eyed, like, “You were doing what?” And I’m not really sure what the motivating factor was, but I was a fairly intense goal-setter at an early age.

Hank M:
And so, by the time I got to high school, I started playing football and junior high, and that seemed to play into the whole goal setting and physical workouts and all of that. And for some reason, when I was in the 10th grade, I decided I wanted to earn a college scholarship for football, which is not that uncommon. It’s very uncommon for somebody that’s not starting for their JV year, their varsity team. And so, I wasn’t even good enough to start in high school, so setting that goal was a little bit unusual to say the least, but I liked what it did for me because it gave me kind of a North Star to focus on all through high school, and so, I worked extremely hard. It kept me out of trouble because my answer to everything was I’ve got to work out or I’ve got to run, what have you.

Hank M:
And so, by the end of my junior year, I still wasn’t starting for my high school team, which is not a good sign when you’re hoping to get a college scholarship. So, usually players by their junior year are known throughout the state, they’re on the newspapers all the time and there’s colleges recruiting them. So I asked my dad, I said, “Dad, I need some help from you. This goal is getting very far off in the distance, I need to do something drastic. I need to move away for the summer to get ready for my senior year.”

Hank M:
So he helped me to get a job on a horse farm in Kentucky, and I lived in a cabin by myself that summer. And so, I worked on the horse farm mid day, I ran in the morning and I worked out every afternoon at Wildcat’s Gym in Lexington, Kentucky, and I worked hard and it was a lonely summer because I didn’t know anybody there, but I came back for my senior year and I was in phenomenal shape. And that set me up to have some success. So third game of my senior year, there was a lot of college scouts at that game to see players from the other team that were already getting a lot of notoriety, and I had the game of my life. And the next day I got a full offer, a full scholarship offer from Auburn to go play linebacker there.

Hank M:
I got other offers from Tennessee and Georgia and Kentucky and so forth and ultimately decided to go to Auburn, so that’s kind of in a nutshell, my childhood, and getting out of high school and kind of that, I guess the genesis of all the goal setting and kind of intensity that I’ve had throughout my life and setting goals.

Warwick F:
I mean, that’s fascinating obviously from the earliest age and not everybody’s driven. A lot of people are laid back and it’s not right or wrong, it’s different, but you’re obviously driven from an early age, did you see any of that in either of your parents or grandparents? I mean, where did that drivenness come from? I mean, do you have any role models in your family that kind of, you emulated a bit?

Hank M:
No. Which is a strange answer, but no. I think for me, my home life, I was never hit or abused or anything like that, but my parents had a very tough time. It was very unsettled at my house, a lot of drama and things of that nature. And I think setting goals kind of gave me something to focus on other than things that I wasn’t happy about. And so, it had nothing to do with any role model, it just something I fell into and it made me feel good, it made me feel good to accomplish something and check a goal off and to go do something that was hard to do and do it well and look back on it. That’s really the only reason I can say that I was doing it.

Warwick F:
So it’s not like your dad, for instance, was like ex military or one of these very driven people that you often hear stories about dads driving their sons like, “Hey son, you had a good game, but I know you can do better.” They’re always pushing, pushing.

Hank M:
No.

Warwick F:
It wasn’t that kind of upbringing, it sounds like.

Hank M:
No. In fact, I think my dad was confused and bewildered as to why I was doing all the things I was doing, making sense with him.

Warwick F:
Well, sometimes it actually can work out better when somebody is not pushing you and you’re doing it for you not to make anybody else happy. I mean, that’s to me almost the ideal. It’s too many pushy parents, I’m sure you probably in high school and in college, you probably ran across your fair share of your buddies, who had the pushy parents and scholarship stars in their eyes and they’re going “Come on son, you can do better,” and I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of that in your time?

Hank M:
Oh yeah. Certainly children living out their parents’ dreams and through that. So I guess in that sense when you put it that way, I’m probably lucky because the only reason I ever pushed myself was because I was pushing myself, nobody ever pushed me.

Gary S:
Hank, I want to jump in just for a second based, because I know from a conversation we had as we were preparing for the interview, there is the one story, right? About your dad when you sort of had it with football and you were going to quit and you talk to him and he did, even though he didn’t push you, even though he wasn’t trying to live his dream through you, he did help you, right? Stay focused on your dream and stay with your goal?

Hank M:
That’s a great point, Gary. Yeah. So, when I got to Auburn I had worked so hard. I mean, I had worked myself really hard in high school, maybe even to an unhealthy level to try to achieve, attain this goal. And so, once I got the goal, it was kind of like, “Okay, what do I do now?” So all these athletes at Auburn, most of them didn’t have to work that hard to get there. They’re just naturally gifted. They’re much faster, much bigger, much stronger, so I remember driving over to Auburn my first day, driving over to move into the dorm and start a summer practice, being very intimidated and insecure about my abilities. Can I hang with these amazing athletes? Because I had to work probably 10 times harder than them just to get here.

Hank M:
And so, I went over there with that attitude, “Am I worthy of being here.” Which is not a great place to start, but it’s where I started. So in my sophomore year, and so, I struggled a little bit, my freshman year. My sophomore year, a coach came up behind me in practice to motivate me and he didn’t mean to do it, but he kicked me, kicked me in the behind, and said, “Hey, come McLarty, let’s go,” and when he did, he just happened to hit my tailbone right on the end, and it was kind of like a funny bone, right?

Hank M:
It’s like a cattle prod on my butt or something. So I jumped up and I lost my temper and I spun around and I grabbed the coach and which obviously that’s not a good thing to do. And so our head coach at the time, my whole time there Pat Dye a known disciplinarian to do things the right way, he was up in the tower and he saw it happen.

Hank M:
And so, a lot of things happened, but one of them was, they ran me off the field, I thought they were going to kick me off the team, but they didn’t kick me off the team, they just ran me until I won. They just ran me every day, and it’s kind of like, to see what he’s made of, does he really want to be here, and so they were testing me.

Hank M:
And I wasn’t passing the test very well, I wanted out of there. I was whining to myself how unfair it was, and I called my dad who was living in Las Vegas at the time and told him I had this elaborate plan to leave Auburn and get a job at university of Georgia at the time, financially, my scholarship was paying for everything and we didn’t have the money. So I figured out this grandiose plan to get out of all these mean coaches and go to University of Georgia and get a job, and I was going to pay my own way.

Hank M:
So within about 10 hours, my dad was at the athletic dorm, he flew immediately from Las Vegas to Atlanta and drove down and I’ll never forget. He said, “Son, I’m going to tell you from personal experience. This is your scholarship, you’ve earned it, if you want to quit, I’m not going to tell you, you can’t. But from personal experience, I’m going to tell you that if you quit now, when things are difficult, it’s going to make it easier and easier in the future, when things get difficult for you to quit and walk away from something. And I don’t think you’re a quitter.”

Warwick F:
Wow. I mean, that’s… As you look back I mean, that is some profound advice that your dad gave you. I mean, that was a gift that don’t you think that he gave you back then?

Hank M:
Yeah. And that’s not what I wanted to hear. At the time I was probably 260 pounds and just a big muscle up baby sitting in his car, talking about how unfair the world was to me, and so, I wanted him to say, “Yeah, get out of here. This is unfair.” I mean, and he didn’t, he just said, “I don’t think you’re a quitter.” And there was no way I could respond any other way than to stay, unless I was just spineless. I mean, he challenged me in a unchallenging way and I got out of the car so mad at him, because I knew I couldn’t leave now, especially I had just met him. But he challenged me as a man and I stayed and I worked through it.

Hank M:
And it definitely is a foundation that of all the other times that we’re going to talk about today, that I could have quit. I didn’t, and that one instance was the foundation of me learning to never, ever stop when things are tough because you need to make a decision work through it and then make a decision when you’re not feeling negative about it, it’s a horrible time, took me a long-term decision.

Warwick F:
Yeah. I mean, that’s a lesson that I think the audience needs to hear, is you don’t want to quit for the wrong reasons, you want to quit because, oh, it’s hard, and life is unfair, well, life is unfair. Everybody alive knows that. So to quit for that reason, you always inevitability will regret it. You don’t want to make a decision that you know you’ll regret. There’s a time to quit for the right reason and a time not to quit.

Warwick F:
And so I want to jump to the really first crucible, but kind of one of the things I’m thinking of is sometimes, and we don’t need to get into all the detail, but sometimes when there’s a bit of drama and uncertainty at home, by setting goals, it’s like, “Well, I can’t control the drama, but I can control who I am.” I can set my own goals, I can set my own path, and so sometimes we live our lives in reaction to things. And so, I don’t know, maybe there was… maybe you’re wired that way anyway, but when there’s things that you can’t control. “Okay, what can I control? Well, I’m going to set some goals, and I’m going to chart my course.” Does that kind of make sense? Maybe there was a correlation way back when…

Warwick F:
Yeah. So this is an amazing story because anybody that follows sports, there’s some people who were so gifted and sometimes they work out really well, and there are a number of folks that are really gifted that never live up to their potential, because it was all too easy. I mean, I grew up in Australia, so Australians follow tennis, I can think of without naming them. I can think of one or two tennis players that can’t miss. Going to win multiple Wimbledon’s majors that didn’t… I’m sure there’s football players, baseball, there’s a number of them, but the ones that have to really work hard and don’t have as much physical ability and natural ability, they’re often the ones that go further.

Warwick F:
Sometimes the ones that coaches want, right? Coaches want folks who have a good attitude and a work ethic that watch film.

Hank M:
There’s a kind of word that describes that grit. They have grit, that means that they have the intensity and the wherewithal to push through things when they’re not going well, and ultimately we all know that’s what’s necessary to succeed in life. I mean, life doesn’t always go well, so yeah, absolutely I agree.

Warwick F:
Yeah. Do you have the grit to get through it? So the first kind of major crucible you went through I understand was when you’re in college and you’re diagnosed with a blood disorder. So just talk about that whole… How that all happened and what happened and yeah, that story?

Hank M:
Yeah. So, after I went through that whole quitting exercise with my dad, things got much better and my attitude was great. I started feeling finally, like I was worthy of being there. I worked really hard and got myself in a position that I was really going to be contributing to the team and getting a lot of playing time. And so, I went into summer camp in August, in Auburn, it’s a little hot. It’s a very hot place, so in August, it’s a hundred degrees, very high humidity, and we’re doing… At the time we were doing four practices a day. And my coach he liked to push us a little harder than most coaches, so four practices a day and I had no idea I had this blood disorder.

Hank M:
And so, during this time of high stress on the body and so forth I had been losing weight over the previous week. I had lost about 15 pounds and it’s normal to lose some weight in those practices, but I had lost more than was acceptable and couldn’t figure out why, and I hit a guy in practice in a drill that normally I would dominate. And when I hit him, I passed out. And the next thing I knew, I woke up, they had me packed in bags of ice on the field, trying to get my temperature down. Apparently, my temperature was over 105, and so those field, the big bags of ice, you see at sports scene, so they had me literally laying down with bags of ice all over my body. And when they finally got my temperature down, they took me to the hospital and then did all kinds of tests, and I had a blood disorder that my immune system was kind of fighting me.

Hank M:
And so, next thing I know I’m in the head coaches office two days later when I got out of the hospital and they’re telling me that I couldn’t play anymore. So I had dedicated at that point, most of my life to the dream of being a starter at Auburn and being a contributor to the football program, and I was told I couldn’t play anymore. So that was kind of a redefining of me, because my whole identity up to that point had been… I’m a high school football player, now I’m an Auburn football player. I really didn’t have a whole lot going on in my life, other than that. And my grades were just, okay, so I had to… Well, first I had to get over the depression because I stayed in bed for about two weeks, I didn’t go to any classes.

Hank M:
My roommates were worried about me and I just didn’t want to get up. And that’s the first time I had ever been through anything like that. And then I finally got up and had to go beg some professors to let me make up some work, so I didn’t fail classes, and I worked through that. And then generally I got focused on my grades, I graduated, I think I had about four more semesters out of school, five more semesters, after that I made a 4.0 in all of those and got my GPA up to a respectable level and moved on after college.

Warwick F:
So were you a junior when this happened? Or what year were you? So you’d spent your whole life focusing on goals, football was sort of the medium, if you will, that you were going to… The playing field that you were going to aim for and you weren’t a starter for most of your high school, you’re able to get a college scholarship, I mean, some things maybe stars were aligned, you played hard, you were thinking of quitting, your dad gave you that talk and there you were, and then it feels like this is unfairly taken away from you sort of the coach kicking you on the backside, and you’re getting blamed for it, it seemed a bit unfair, but this is the ultimate unfair.

Warwick F:
It’s like, “How do you solve a blood disorder?” What’s the goal? What’s the program? What’s the plan? Okay, do I go back to Kentucky and work out harder? But it sounds like there was no plan that could overcome this, right? This was one goal you couldn’t achieve no matter what you did, it sounded like no fault of yours, obviously. So I know this is probably blindingly obvious, but you’ve told us a bit about how you felt that your whole sense of self was wrapped up in football on this goal, so those first few weeks, first few months, that must have been excruciatingly tough to have to deal with the new reality.

Hank M:
I think the best word is just lost. As I said earlier, kind of like, no matter what was going on, whether it was being invited to a party or dealing with girls or class, pretty much any decision I had to make my whole life from high school on, the North Star was always football. I always had an… like, I could just think about, “Should I do this or shouldn’t I?” How’s it going to affect this goal that I’ve set?” That was what I valued everything off of. And then I just felt lost without it, and I wasn’t really sure how to make decisions anymore.

Warwick F:
Well, inevitably for most of us and as listeners would know it’s a very different parallel, I suppose, but I grew up in a large 150 year old family media business, and when that ended on my watch, largely because it was my fault, I had this massive loss of identity. Well, who was Warwick Fairfax, if he’s not part of this Fairfax family media empire. I mean, I’ve no identity, it was just kind of crippling. So yeah, talk a bit about that few, because I imagine there have to… Would have to be in a hit to your identity, who is Hank McLarty without football? I mean, was that part of the sense of loss? It’s like, “That’s who I am. Who am I now?” Is that part of your internal discussion?

Hank M:
Of course, because I didn’t even know what it meant to just be a student. Without this thing I was passionate about outside of that. It was just a huge void there, that joining a fraternity or going to some local gym or something, none of that was going to fill it. And I had to start really… Because I’m a goal oriented person I had to start thinking about, “Okay, what’s the next phase of my life, I’ve got to get these semesters of school finished and go start a career.” And so then I started focusing on my career and that started filling the void.

Hank M:
Then when I started making good grades, which I wasn’t used to, you know I’m making great grades. I wasn’t used to that, that started filling the void and before I knew it, I was out of college and looking for a job, and then that became my identity. So I-

Warwick F:
It sounded like you sort of shifted. I mean, we’re all different. I’m a reflective person which has its good and bad sides, but it sounds like you’re a driven person that you don’t sit still for long. I mean, we’re all human, you might wallow for a few weeks or month or so, but you’re not going to sit there. It’s like, “Okay, this is over, it sucks, it’s awful, move on.” What’s the next goal? What’s the next one? It sounds like… Which can be…

Warwick F:
Reflection is good. It’s one of our guests said, there’s a difference between ruminating and reflecting. Ruminating is, “I’m a terrible person, oh my gosh, what happened?” Reflecting is like, “Okay. This sucked, this was awful, what can I learn from it, let’s move on.” Radical difference between… So you’re more on that healthier spectrum. So you shifted from understand to saying, “Okay, football’s over. What’s the next goal?” And so why did you pick finance? Why did you shift to that to be the next goal?

Hank M:
I’d like to say it was a dream, I had the dreaming of high school and college and I had this big plan, surely because I majored in finance really for no reason. And when I got out of school, I was like, “Okay, what does finance mean a bank or a brokerage firm?” So I’ll go interview at brokage firms. That was the very simplified basis for doing it. And I will say I interviewed probably 20 different banks and financial advisory slash brokerage firms, and every single one of them turned me down because I had no experience, I guess, to them I was a cocky former football player that probably was too big… in four months, who knows? I don’t know, I probably wouldn’t have hired me.

Hank M:
So I was certainly no glamorous high grades depth of experience with a passion for the markets, that was not me. I just wanted a job. And I think people saw through that and nobody wanted to hire me.

Warwick F:
So yeah. Because often, especially in this day and age of three kids in their twenties, I kind of know it’s like people build their resumes now it’s crazy, you know high school, summer jobs, I mean, just by the time you’re a college graduate, there’s all the stuff that they’ve done. President of the Auburn Finance Society they’re already invested on different batches of stocks and it’s all this stuff… I mean, how do people do all this? But they do. I mean, you hire people in your current firm, you’ve seen it, it’s just crazy what people at a given age have done.

Warwick F:
So I hear the challenges, so how did you get that first job? I mean, given people were… Well, you say seeing through you. I mean, at least rightly or wrongly they had a perspective of you, which maybe didn’t feel that flattering at the time, but you’d have…

Hank M:
Probably it was.

Warwick F:
I mean, you’re a smart person, you could probably tell what they were thinking, right?

Hank M:
Sure.

Warwick F:
I mean, how did you break through that barrier if you will?

Hank M:
So I wouldn’t say I broke through it. I found an angle. I went to an Auburn alumni supporter, a very wealthy man that lived in Atlanta that I’d become friends with. I had lunch with him and I told him I couldn’t get a job. And he said, “Well, I have all my money at Merrill Lynch, let me call the manager over there at Merrill Lynch.” I said, “Okay, I’ll take any help I can get.”

Hank M:
So I went to meet with the manager and he was so unimpressed, even after that guy called, he said, “Yeah, you’ve no experience, we’re just not hiring right now.” And so, I was at the time, I was living with my grandfather, I had a one bedroom apartment in Atlanta and I was living on his pullout couch, and I was pretty desperate. So the only person that I had had a conversation with that I had a reference point was the manager from Merrill Lynch.

Hank M:
So I went back to the Merrill Lynch office the next day, waited on him to come in from the parking deck, approached him again and said obviously I didn’t make a very good impression first time. I’d really love the opportunity, he blew me off, the next morning I went back, and the next morning I think he was a little frustrated and annoyed, but also somewhat impressed, I guess, that I was back there again.

Hank M:
And he said, “Here’s I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll let you take the Series 7, if you fail it you’re fired, if you pass it, I’ll give you a shot. But you won’t become an advisor, you’ll have to work for somebody as an apprentice. And in the meantime, while you’re studying, you wear jeans and a t-shirt to work, you go pick up lunches, move furniture, basically be a gopher for me and I’ll pay you $18,000 a year.” I was like, “Okay, done.” So, that’s how I got the job. It was very unglamorous.

Warwick F:
Again, another good lesson is even when people say no, just that level of persistence, I mean, I don’t know many people that would wait for the guy to go in, in the parking garage, like three days in a row or what have you, I mean, that’s not normal. But that shows persistence does pay. I mean, if somebody… Not to say everybody should try that, turn the tables and do that to you, but if proverbially, if somebody has that level of get up and go, I don’t know if you’ll say yes, but you’ll pay attention, right?

Warwick F:
It’s like, “Okay, this guy’s persistence is impressing me.” Okay. So you got your start at Merrill Lynch, and from what I understand, when you join a brokerage firm, it’s kind of like dialing for dollars. It’s like you just pick up the phone book. I don’t know if we’re pre or post internet then, but it’s a tough road those first year or two building the client base.

Hank M:
Yeah. For sure. And I didn’t like it at all. At least on the football field, I could see who was hitting me, right? I mean, right in this situation, it was just calling people that hated the idea you were calling them and throwing some cheesy line at them about, “Hey, I’m so-and-so from Merrill Lynch, how can I earn your business? Or some silly line like that.” And there’s nothing about it that’s good or fun or whatever, and frankly, I was failing miserably at it. I was in a group of people that they had hired and I guess, a class of people and we all trying to hit goals, so we didn’t get fired and you know hopefully move on to be an advisor, and I was way behind on all those goals and just kind of miserable just wasn’t clicking for me, and I started really questioning, “I don’t think this is for me, I need to find something else.”

Hank M:
And so about the time I was ready to, here we go again, quit I cold called this man in Atlanta and I threw the same cheesy line at him that I did to everybody else, and he cussed me out worse than any football coach had ever cussed me out. He said, “I’ve never even heard of that before.”

Gary S:
But he didn’t kick you.

Hank M:
No, he didn’t kick me. He didn’t grab me by the face mask, but if he could have, he would have, I promise you. He yelled and screamed to the point that I literally… I finally, when he slammed the phone down on me, I hung up and I thought nobody’s ever talked to me this way, I got to go get in this guy’s face. So I was like, “I’m good, anyway, who cares?” So I drove out to his office… I mean, I remember it like it was yesterday, I drove out to his office, I knocked on the door and here came this guy probably 60 to 65 years old.

Hank M:
He came and answered the door, like, “Yeah, yeah, what can I do to help you?” I’m like, “I’m the guy, you just said, this, this, this, this to, and I’m not… on your show. And I wanted to see what I could do to earn your business,” and I got up kind of real close to his face when I said that.

Hank M:
And he said, “Oh, I’m so so sorry. Don’t take it personal, you guys call me all day, I’m so frustrated with it and all, come on in, let’s talk.” So anyway, I talked to him for about three hours that afternoon, about life and sports and whatever, and then he introduced me to his partner who was the CEO. And they ended up great. They got a private equity firm to invest in their company, and they brought in about $15 million, and they called me up, this is after months of me building this relationship.

Hank M:
They called me up and they said, “Hey, you’re a little green, you don’t really know exactly what you’re doing, but we like you, and we trust you get somebody with some experience in your office and partner up with them and we want you to come pick this check up.” So I went and picked that check up and brought it back. I had to raise $10 million to get off the program, and this check was… So in one cold call and one client, I broke all my goals and graduated before everybody else and went from a dog to a hero overnight.

Hank M:
And the main thing that came from that, well, there were two main things that came from that. One was, it was another example for me. I was on the verge of quitting and yet again, I learned that every time I feel like quitting something, there’s something incredible on the other side of it, if I’ll stick with it. So, that was a massive part of what we’re going to talk about in a minute.

Hank M:
And the second thing I learned was I got this job by being direct and myself and confronting things with the manager to get the job. I got this huge account by being direct and professionally confrontational, like dealing with things. I think maybe I can do this job if I quit worrying about all the things, I don’t know, focus what I do really well and use all the resources of the firm to help me with the other areas. And that’s how I started building my business.

Warwick F:
With those and profound lessons for people, be yourself. I mean, you have this direct, never say die attitude. I mean, everybody can learn from that. I mean, very few people when somebody curses them on the phone with you know you play football, so I imagine your vocabulary is pretty decent in terms of different colorful language, but when you say, “Boy, there are some words I’d never heard off.” I mean, that’s… This guy obviously has a level of creativity in that arena that’s impressive.

Warwick F:
Most people would say, “I’m not going to go confront that guy.” 99.9% of people wouldn’t be but you said, “Okay, you know what? I’m not going to just sit here, I’m going to go and…” Because he was almost embarrassed, he gave you a shot and I mean, amazing, so what was… I can’t imagine what your manager’s face was like when I got so-and-so at X firm and he’s going to bring in Y millions of dollars, I just need somebody to partner with me. I mean he did his jaw fall on the floor. I mean, what was that manager’s expression like when you told him back at Merrill Lynch?

Hank M:
You know, I don’t know what they thought of me. I certainly was not an eloquent speaker of the financial markets and I was not. I didn’t have all the terminology and the language down pat or anything like that. I don’t know what they thought of me. I don’t know if they thought I was on my way out the door or maybe they thought I had more potential than I thought. I’m not really sure. I mean, they were definitely happy when I got off the program and brought in these accounts and I don’t know if they thought, “Well, that’s a one hit wonder and he’ll be out of here, I don’t know.” I was never that close with that manager, he didn’t give me a lot of feedback.

Warwick F:
So he never said, “Hey Hank, well done, you had more in you than I thought you did.” He never really gave you any kind of feedback? You never kind of…

Hank M:
No.

Hank M:
No, I don’t remember that.

Warwick F:
Oh, that’s kind of-

Hank M:
Maybe he did, I don’t remember. I just know that my belief in myself went up, at that, more so my belief in my style of doing things and I didn’t have… There was a lot of guys and girls in my class or in that firm that were significantly smarter, better, understanding of the markets, better understanding of financial planning, all of that. And I was just constantly looking around thinking I need to be more like that person or more like that person. And the result of this was more, I need to really train myself on what I’m good at and focusing on these things that I’m good at and be a student of the market and start to really step up my game. That’s really what I’m…

Warwick F:
Yeah. And now I want to shift here a bit to the kind of next step or crucible, but certainly as an aside, I mean, I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of good people and have a tremendous financial advisor. It’s funny, you said off air, you started at Merrill Lynch and went to Morgan Stanley. I also have a financial advisor that was at Merrill Lynch and when he moved to Morgan Stanley, I went with him. Well, I’ve been with him, I don’t know if it’s 15 years, I mean, a very long time, and the question is why? He knows his stuff about finance. I mean, markets, technical stuff, he knows that, but the reason that I have used him for so long is I trust him.

Warwick F:
Yes, he’ll speak straight to me, but I trust that he’s not going to sell me a line, oh… I understand a bit about how it works, the powers that be at Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, they’re pushing something and they’re telling their brokers, “You’ve got to push X security because we’ll make more money off X security.”

Warwick F:
I knew he would never ever do that unless it was good for the client. It wouldn’t even occur to him. So I don’t need somebody to push me something just because the powers that be want to make… That’s what they’re selling this month. So trust is huge. I mean, I’d rather have somebody that I trust than somebody that was the equivalent of a rocket scientist in finance. There’s armies of people at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. I mean, it’s all these resources that if you’re smart enough, you can bring to bear, but it’s that trust, trust is everything. And obviously you’re in this business. I mean, I’m not preaching to the choir here, but whatever your style is, clearly the people that you work with, they trusted you that you will be straight with them and you are going to fight for their interests, not because of somebody in the firm told you it’s Tuesday and this is the security we’re pushing. Does that make sense?

Hank M:
Yes. For sure.

Warwick F:
So, okay. I want to shift, so you went from Merrill to Morgan Stanley, so how did that shift happen? Was there just an opportunity there at Morgan Stanley? Or…

Hank M:
Yeah, so Warwick… When I’m backing up for a second, when I closed that account, then it was kind of like, I see you don’t remember when I set my goal to be a major college scholarship football player, so now I was like, “Okay, it’s time for another one of those.” So I said, “My family’s not wealthy. I don’t come from money and so forth.” So I was like, “You know what, if I keep doing this, I bet by the time I’m 30, I can make a million dollars,” which to some people that’s not a lot of money, but to me and where I came from, that was a massive amount of money.

Warwick F:
From where you came from, and at that age, anybody was going to say, that’s a massive amount of money.

Hank M:
That’s right. And it would imply huge success starting from zero, to get to that point. So I’d set that goal by the time I was 30, I had a beautiful wife and two healthy young boys, toddlers, and I was making a million dollars or over a million dollars a year. And then Merrill Lynch made a few mistakes with a couple of our largest clients, and it almost cost me the relationships, and I decided to make a change to Morgan Stanley as a result of that, I moved my team over to Morgan Stanley and transitioned our entire… All of our clients, a hundred percent of our clients and our team over there, and I continued to grow. And I really… By this point I was pretty darn good with the markets. I was really good with client relationships. I knew very well what I was talking about. And I started to get notoriety for it.

Hank M:
I started to be on the cover of magazines and rising young star at Morgan Stanley and flying me all over the country to talk to other advisors about how I built my business, and unfortunately, all the humility that had gotten me to this point started to fade a bit, and I started kind of drinking the Hank Kool-Aid and my ego started…

Hank M:
Frankly, a lot of people in that business, right? It’s a very ego driven business, and I started falling into that trap. And so, the more magazine covers that I was on, the more I was actually… They wrote a book about the top 20 financial advisors in the entire United States. And at 34 years old, I was listed as number 12 across alll firms.

Hank M:
So I had reached a level of success at an age that was pretty unusual. I was aware of that and I believed in it and it made my ego feel really good.

Warwick F:
And that’s a tough thing. I mean, it’s a… Failure is not easy, but success, that’s pretty tough too. It’s tough to withstand when people are saying, “You know, Hank, you’re one of the rising stars here at Morgan Stanley, you’re reading this stuff and my clients love me, I am pretty good. I’m pretty hot stuff.” I mean, it’s hard… I don’t care where you come from, that is intoxicating.

Warwick F:
I mean, humility is funnily enough one of my highest values, but nobody’s impervious when I was growing up in the newspaper business unlike some people that come from wealthy backgrounds, I always worked hard and got good grades. I didn’t want to be some dilettante heir to some family fortune. So I had my dad saying, “Boy you could be one of the great Fairfax’s, because it’s five generation business and come back, I’m about to launch a 2 billion plus takeover,” and being a person of faith, I had some people say to me, some believers, older believers we’ve been praying that God would raise somebody up in the heart of the media in Australia. You’re an answer to prayer.

Warwick F:
I mean, you add all those things up. It’s like, “Gosh maybe there’s some preordained plan,” and I worked hard at Oxford, worked on Wall Street for three years, Harvard Business School. It was like, even though humility is one of my biggest values that it tends to erode that a little bit when you’re hearing some of this press and other people and you work hard, which is not a whole lot of people from wealthy backgrounds, frankly, do work hard. So it’s good. But then you can get pride over that, right?

Warwick F:
Look at me, I’m working hard. So yeah. Success is a tough thing to withstand, so you were rising high, you’re doing great, and then there was a fall. Sadly, sometimes it happens when you’re rising high, right? It just feels like the laws of nature. Right. The markets go up and down, I don’t know. It feels weird, so tell us about that fall, you were doing so well at Morgan Stanley and two boys, a wife, what happened then?

Hank M:
Well, speaking of my wife, at that point I think I was full enough of myself, she was getting pretty frustrated with me because I had developed into a ego centric person, not necessarily the humble person that she had met originally. So she was frustrated with me. I got approached by another firm to leave Morgan Stanley, it was a new firm that had some very established people running the firm. They had already brought in a couple of teams from Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley to join them in other cities, their headquarters were going to be in Atlanta. And they said all the right things that my ego needed to hear to convince me that I would be the man at this firm.

Hank M:
My team would be the anchor team of the whole company, and they were going to pay me a huge amount of money up front to come do this. And so, I introduced the CEO of this firm to a couple of my top clients, the clients… These are my two biggest clients. They loved the CEO. They thought it was a great move, but in my getting caught up with everything they were saying and the money they were going to pay me, I never checked their financials.

Hank M:
And so, I went in and resigned at Morgan Stanley, and the Morgan Stanley leadership went crazy because they had been promoting me, they said they were going to ruin me, and I didn’t care because I thought I had it all under control. And I left Morgan Stanley and got in my car to drive over to the new firm, and when I did, I called them and said, “Hey, I just resigned. I’m on my way over.” And they said the ever fateful words, “Well, we’re waiting on our next round of funding, we can’t write you your check yet, we should get it tomorrow. Come in tomorrow.”

Hank M:
And I thought that was curious, but I didn’t let it bother me, but it ended up… They never got their next round of funding, they shut down. They went under and I never walked in their office once. And so, Morgan Stanley increased my team. I had a team of nine people working with me, they increased their salaries and income and they cut my clients fees that were there and bad mouthed me to the clients, and then I ended up with nothing. I lost my entire business, and my wife and I split up. And the next thing I knew, all my assets were frozen and I had very little liquidity at the time because I’d spent most of my money on showy things.

Hank M:
And so, what little bit of liquidity I had, I had to give that to my ex-wife. And I moved into a small little motel that I lived in for 14 months with my two sons and wondered what I was going to do next, because I had no income.

Warwick F:
I mean, that must’ve been excruciating on so many levels. I mean, you’re a very smart person. I mean, the due diligence you do for your clients. How did you avoid… I mean, I spent years beating myself up because of launching the takeover I did and making some massively stupid assumptions months after graduating from Harvard Business School. I mean, I wasn’t an idiot, but sometimes there are reasons that smart people make really dumb decisions. Did you go through… I know this is obvious, forgive the obvious dumb question. Did you go through a period of self-flagellation, self-recrimination like, “How in the world could I have made that decision? How could I have not looked at the books?” I mean, come on. How did you process all of that?

Hank M:
You know Warwick, I don’t think it was so much, how did I make that decision? It was more, “How do I get back?” What, literally two days ago, or three weeks ago or whatever I had. I had a thriving business, a stellar reputation, what I thought was a good marriage, two amazing boys, a brand new house I had just built, like I had all these things and literally with the flip of a switch, I lost everything, in a very, very quick amount of time. And so, I think I was in a state of shock. I was embarrassed, I was ashamed, I couldn’t talk to anybody about it because I didn’t want anybody to know, and I was petrified because for the first time in my life, I didn’t know what to do.

Hank M:
And I had these two little boys looking up at me every day with a big smile on their face. Like, “Daddy’s our hero, he’s going…” They didn’t know what was going on, except that they were now living in a hotel with me, and I just didn’t know what to do. And it was definitely the scariest time of my life. And for a little while, I didn’t know what to do, and basically just kind of had to sit and marinate in it for a while. And just feeling like I’m going to throw up 24 hours a day.

Gary S:
And there’s a story that you told me when we first talked Hank, about the hotel you were staying at, had free breakfast, and free food. Talk about that. I mean, from being a man who covers of magazines, flashy stuff. You’re living in a hotel that has free breakfast and you were surprised that that was so important to you at that time, right?

Hank M:
Yeah. I mean, in all my spending on the credit cards, I had built up a massive amount of points on the credit cards. And fortunately those points would work at this hotel, at the Residence Inn, in Buckhead, and so it just happened they had free breakfast too. So our morning routine was to get ready and before I took the boys to school, we’d go up to the little cafe area in the guests check-in of the hotel. And of course, living there for 14 months, we got to know him pretty well. But certainly it wasn’t a place that I had ever imagined that I would be after achieving the success that I had. But that being said, a lot of tears were shed at night after I put the boys to bed, a lot of self analysis, a lot of self-awareness coming around that maybe wasn’t there before.

Hank M:
So it was definitely the scariest and most painful thing I’ve ever been through. But at the same time, what I learned about myself in that process and what I’m still working to become, but I realized I have potential to become… A hundred percent of that came from those moments of just being scared as hell, and realizing… I mean, sometimes the only motivation I had… Because there was plenty of times I felt like giving up. If I hadn’t had those boys so dependent on me, I’m not sure that I… Who knows, I don’t know, it’s hard to imagine, but certainly, it was my motivation, was to be with them as much as possible and make sure that I was a good role model for them and make sure I could provide for them. And that was really the motivation to start the new company.

Warwick F:
What is it you mentioned that you obviously can’t imagine it was devastating time given how high you were flying and how well you’re doing, what is it that you learned about yourself during those very dark days? And probably at night, the boys are asleep and you’ve got time to think, which is not always a good thing, but you had that time, you’re looking at them and I got to provide for them and give them hope, what were some of the lessons that you learned about yourself during those dark days?

Hank M:
I learned a lot about my perseverance that became… James 1:4, it’s a Bible verse that I had framed and put in… At one time it was in my hotel room and it was in my office. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. That was something that kind of became my mantra because I didn’t know how this whole thing was going to turn out. I mean, there were many days that I thought I’m going to end up on the street. I learned that I’m a lot tougher than I thought.

Hank M:
I was spiritually, mentally, and even though I kind of figured out that I could work really hard and make anything happen with the getting a scholarship to Auburn, like I really realized in this scenario that I’m capable of a lot, but the gratitude and the humility that are necessary to be the kind of leader or the kind of father or the kind of friend that I want to be, are something that I have to stay constantly focused on, versus allowing the things of the world and shiny, flashy things to become important, or affirmation from others that really shouldn’t matter that much.

Hank M:
I should be affirming myself, if I’m living up to what I believe I should be doing. So those kinds of things were a lot of self-awareness that came from it.

Warwick F:
Those are some profound lessons. I think everybody can value from, especially people who are successful. And I believe you can truly be successful without gratitude or humility. If you don’t have that, in my book, you’re not successful. And certainly, you’re not somebody that I would admire or you would admire, right? Does that make sense? You’ve got to have some gratitude. And ultimately, people get tired of working with arrogant people.

Warwick F:
Clients don’t always like… It’s not a good way for a long-term relationship. It’s rather than, “Well, of course I have your business. I’m giving you 20%, 30% return a year, why should I be grateful? I’m the one doing the work, why should I be grateful?” You can have that attitude, but clients don’t appreciate it. They want you to be humble and grateful. So not only does it make good personal sense, it kind of makes good business sense too.

Warwick F:
And I’m sure you’ve said some young high flyers that have worked for you. You’ve seen, it’s like, “Okay, you’ve been there, done that, let me see if I can help you avoid some pitfalls.” You learn some perseverance about yourself that you… But you have a lot of, you hadn’t really seen. So talk about how that led you to Gratus Capital and maybe a new vision of how to do things. Because I’m sensing what you do now. I’m sure you do well financially, but it’s more than just the financial, the way you do business and the people you work with is different.

Warwick F:
You mentioned one other thing I don’t want to lose just seeing your sense of self-sufficiency and who you are, not needing others praise, it shouldn’t be like, “For my car to run, for my Ferrari to roll, if I don’t have the adulation from others, it’ll go nowhere,” no. Your car shouldn’t need other people’s adulation to roar down the highway if you get the metaphor. So that’s another huge lesson. Be internally motivated, don’t depend on others adulation. And again, I’m sure these are all lessons you’ve imparted to your team, but talk a bit about Gratus Capital and where that vision came from and what it’s about and how who you are is such a huge part of who Gratus Capital is.

Hank M:
Well, when I started the company it was really the only choice I had. I knew wealth management. I knew how to take care of clients, and why would I go to another company when they didn’t really… I didn’t have anything of value. I didn’t have clients anymore. I had to start over. So I decided to start my own company because at least I could be in charge of all aspects of it. I decided to do it differently. I didn’t want to name the company a Wall Street name or my last name, and it’d be about me, or a name that has to do with money and typical type stuff you see. So I spent a lot of time and came up with the name Gratus Capital because it was Latin word for grateful, and from day one I said, “This company is going to represent something different in the marketplace. It’s a company that’s going to be built on gratitude for our team, for other people, the clients that we work with. It’s a company that’s going to be built on humility.”

Hank M:
And I’m not sure I would have been capable of building a company on those principles prior to having gone through this. So the vision I had originally, it was just survival. It was just, I’ve got to figure how to make this happen quick. I’ve got child support, alimony, private school tuition, and I have no income. And so, I was in a very desperate place. I didn’t have time to cold call. So I went cold walking. I mean, I knocked on people’s doors, I got escorted out of buildings by security for soliciting. But at that point I was so low, I was kind of feeling like, “What’s one more person kicking me?”

Hank M:
I had really… I was so desperate at that point that I just needed to build the company and slowly but surely, I will say when I was out, I had that book that have been written about me. It was the only thing I had that kind of certify or clarified that I was somebody that knew what I was doing, even though my company was very young and I didn’t have a track record or anything like that. I did have this book and I could say, “Oh yeah, look at chapter 12, that’s me. There is somebody I used to know, have some access to media, and I used to have people write things about me that said I knew what I was doing, so take a look at that.”

Hank M:
So it was for some credibility anyway and sure enough, I closed my first big account, had a little bit of money to hire somebody and got a little bit of money to buy some software and then build some momentum and hired some more people and closed some more accounts. And then, we really started to build momentum. But it was really through the attention and the care that I paid to clients in a very different way than I did before. Because I was just so damn grateful to having clients trusting in this new company that I had started all on my own with nothing, and it was just a very different feeling and a very different approach.

Warwick F:
So talk about, let’s say, I don’t know some club, or what have you had. Some of your biggest clients from your Merrill Lynch Morgan Stanley days, and let’s say they’re ran into some of your clients at Gratus Capital and say, “Oh, you use Hank McLarty, a great guy. So tell me about Hank, what’s your experience?” What would they say about you, sort of the folks you knew in the old days and the folks that you know now? What are the contrast of the two, Hanks, if you will?

Hank M:
So if one of my clients that I deal with now… I only deal with a handful of clients now. Because I spend all my time running the company, but there’s still a few that I spend time with. They would tell you that I will fight for them like nobody that they’ve ever worked with. That I won’t take no for an answer, I’m an advocate for them, and that I’m extremely tenacious when it comes to making sure that their situations turn out the way they should, the way that I told them they would, and that when it comes to dealing with outside people that have impact on their situation, that I fight for them.

Hank M:
The asset management, the returns on their stocks and investments and the trust, estate, and the tax strategy, all of that is a given, my team is phenomenal. They’re the best people that I could ever get on a team, but what they would say about me personally is what I told them. That I’m extremely passionate about taking care of them.

Warwick F:
I’m just trying to contrast, because I imagine the folks you knew, when you were at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley days might say, “Well, that’s the guy who we know. He fought for me back then.” What would be the difference between the Gratus Capital Hank and the Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley Hank? Are there any… What made the difference?

Hank M:
I fought for clients back then but I wouldn’t say that I would go to the lengths for clients then like I would now. I would say that the approach that I have is there’s just a whole different level of appreciation that I have for the clients that we work with. And I was never unappreciative before, I just didn’t really think about it a lot. Today, I and this team that I work with, we built this, we have a very special company, we built this. So when we have clients come and they trust us with other than their children and probably the most important thing in their life, like, I recognize that.

Hank M:
And my attitude, and my passion for taking care of them, and my team’s attitude and passion, because it all comes from the top is much more personable and much more intense than it was when I was in my prior.

Warwick F:
Do you think that there’s a level of humility and gratitude that has taken your level of perseverance, even your desire to perform for your clients to another level, in some ways if that makes some degree of sense?

Hank M:
Yeah, for sure. I also think that one thing I’ve learned, our company is close to 40 people now. And as we achieve my vision will be over 200. The greatest satisfaction I’ve ever had in my career has been building this team. I love taking care of our clients, but I’ve imparted that on my team members because they’re running the company now. So I think the greatest honor and responsibility that I have other than raising my sons is ensuring that this team can reach their potential. And it is now my North Star.

Hank M:
It is us achieving our vision as a company, me constantly working on my leadership skills, my ability to impact this team, bringing them together and getting them to believe in our vision. I mean, how many work places have a team that believes in something bigger than themselves? Like that is what motivates the hell out of me. Is looking now on Zoom calls, it used to be face-to-face. Now on Zoom calls and I’d go over our values and our vision twice a month with our team, and I see their eyes light up on the Zoom calls and I see them totally focused on what I’m saying because they buy in. There’s nothing in my career that I’ve ever done that gives me the motivation that that does. That-

Warwick F:
I want the listeners to hear that because what I’m sensing is there’s a big shift from Hank McLarty being focused on his own performance, maybe primarily in the old days to well, yes, you want your individual performance to be good, but I’m hearing you talk a whole lot less about Hank and a whole lot more about the team at Gratus Capital, and you used the word North Star. Your North star is helping your team be the best they can be for the client.

Warwick F:
Does that make sense? It’s a bit of a shift from I to we, and yes, the results are going to speak for themselves that vision and values will translate into superior performance. But do you know what I’m saying?

Hank M:
Warwick, I know exactly what you’re saying. I think that’s a great way to put it. I would not have put it that way but now that you do, I think that’s exactly the difference that maybe my clients today might say, because I take zero credibility for any success with our firm or any success with clients. Frankly, my team is all, they have more designations than me, my only designations is the rise and fall.

Hank M:
And then right again they’re all smarter than me, they’re more talented than me. The only thing I’ve been really, really good at is bringing them together into a team, because my team is amazing. And the only other thing I’ve done well is to motivate them and get them inspired to work together and get them to believe that our team is a unit, is more important than them as individuals. And I say that to them constantly. And a lot of that comes from the lessons I’ve learned the hard way that I hope none of them ever have to learn it the way I had to learn it.

Warwick F:
I know we’re getting to the point where we probably need to summarize here a bit, but again, this is probably an obvious question, but as you look at where Gratus Capital is, and yeah, just one of the things that we’ve have, it says that Gratus Capital today is ranked one of the top hundred firms in the US by Forbes. I mean, that’s a pretty amazing accolade, there’s a lot of financial firms out there and you’re obviously doing amazing. But as you look at what you’ve achieved, would that have been possible without just the crucible you went through being in that kind of Residence Inn, with two boys sitting there late at night, and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to afford everything from school and food on the table, and just those darkest time. What you’ve achieved at Gratus Capital would’ve been possible without the lessons and those hard times that you went through?

Hank M:
Maybe for some, not for me. I think for me, I needed my ass kicked, and I got it kicked.

Gary S:
Not by a football coach?

Hank M:
No, no. I got my ass kicked by life. And as a result of a hundred percent of my own doing and my own decisions. But for me to realize what my potential and my abilities were, were never going to happen where I was. And I do think I have some good leadership skills, I have a long way to go, but I’m committed to becoming every aspect of what I can as a leader, and I think the major thing that motivates me now is I’m 51. Before you know it I’ll be 70 if I make it that far or 80, and I am scared to death of looking back on my life and saying, I did not leave it all on the field.

Hank M:
And I know for me to leave it all on the field, it’s not a dollar sign, it’s how many rock stars can I bring into this company and mentoring coach for them to become better than me. If I can look back and say, maybe that’s 20, maybe it’s 200, whatever the number is, I would never have been able to do that, had I been the old me. There’s a lot of people that will impact thousands, millions of people, they’ll make hundreds of millions more than I’ll ever make. But for me, looking back knowing what I’ve been through, if I can say that I have to my fullest potential worked hard, become a leader, a great dad, and had an impact on the team that I am lucky enough to get to lead, then that does it for me.

Warwick F:
And that’s one of the things we talk about is legacy. That’s a kind of a legacy that you’d be proud of, right? When the folks that you’re mentoring now, let’s say 30, 35 years down the track, your boys in 30 years, who was Hank McLarty? These are some of the things you’re hoping they would say, “Yes, a good dad. He was there for me.” Coworkers, “He fought for me, he helped give me opportunities. He developed me. He coached me. He mentored me.” Sounds like that’s the kind of legacy that you would hope or the portrait that would be painted of you, right?

Warwick F:
That’s kind of, I don’t want to use the P word, the plan or the goal, but it’s nothing wrong with plans and goals, but that sounds like it’s shifted, right? That’s the kind of image that people in 30 years time or 40 years time, that’s what you would hope that there’ll be saying of you, right?

Hank M:
So I’ll just, unless you want to ask me another question, I’ll kind of close my comment on that with this. When I turned 50, we had, I don’t know, maybe 30 friends come to my lake house for my birthday party and my sons were there. And at the end of the dinner, they started going around the table and making some very gracious comments towards me about who I am as a person, whatever. And my oldest son stood up and hopefully I can get through telling you this real quick, because I get emotional every time I talk about it.

Hank M:
But my oldest son stood up and he raised his glass and he said… He’s 24, so he would have been 23 at the time. He raised his glass and he said, “Most of you have no idea some of the things me and my dad and my brother went through. But I want to toast my dad because no matter what we went through, there’s never been a day that my brother and I ever wondered if we were my dad’s number one priority.”

Hank M:
And for me, even my friends came up to me after he said that and he’s like, “Buddy, you won. Like you won. When one of your sons or both your sons say that about you, you win.” And so yeah, to your point.

Warwick F:
Well said.

Gary S:
That sound that you heard was not a barking dog, it was actually the captain turning on the the seatbelt sign because it’s about time to land the plane. Until we do that though, Hank, I want to ask you a couple of things. One is, you named the business Gratus Capital because gratus means what?

Hank M:
It’s the Latin word for grateful.

Gary S:
Correct. And if we could see it, if it were summertime and we were at the beach, you have tattooed on you, a couple of words that guide your life as you’re moving forward, correct?

Hank M:
Correct.

Gary S:
And those words are?

Hank M:
Gratus and humility.

Gary S:
Two key principles for how you’ve moved on to live your life. And one of the things about this conversation, and I think listeners will agree with me, in many ways, Hank, while your story is so unique, the beats of your story are almost prototypical, Crucible Leadership. The idea that you go through crucibles, you learn the lessons of the crucibles, you bounce back from those crucibles, and then you apply them to your leadership in business, in your profession, in your community. While at the same time you learn and how to lead a life of significance, focused on something larger than yourself, larger than just success.

Gary S:
You’ve got success, you’ve also got significance with your son saying what he said at that 50th birthday party. Before I wrap up with sort of what I think are three good takeaways, I’d be remiss Hank, if I didn’t give you the chance to let our listeners know how they can find out more about Gratus Capital.

Hank M:
Sure. www.gratuscapital.com. G-R-A-T-U-S.

Gary S:
Thank you for spelling that.

Hank M:
Yeah, definitely not gratus meeting free.

Gary S:
Bravo. That sound you hear is Warwick laughing and the plane landing, so Warwick did you have a final thought before I close?

Warwick F:
Just thank you so much, Hank, for being here and just your transparency, and it’s easy to talk about failure in a lot of ways and tragedy, but you’ve had your challenges, but you’ve also had success, and being able to learn how to be successful and be content, to be humble and grateful and successful, that’s very difficult to be. I doubt that you know too many people outside your orbit of Gratus Capital have all those things that are successful financially and are humble, and are grateful that is… Trust me, it’s really, really tough.

Warwick F:
And the fact that you’ve done that and the testimony from your son, and I’m sure if your coworkers had got up, they would have shared. Obviously your son is going to be the pinnacle of who you care about in terms of your kids and all. But I’m sure your coworkers would have shared some amazing things about how you fought for them, and you’re with them, and supported them, and so yeah, I think it’s just… We talk about a life well lived, it feels like you’re doing that. You’re living a generous life, focused on others and that’s an amazing journey that you’ve been on.

Warwick F:
And so I think listeners can really learn from this. It’s fine to be successful, but you’ve… I’m sure known a bunch of successful clients. And obviously I grew up in about as a wealthy, a privileged upbringing, as it’s possible to grow up in. There’s a lot of miserable folks who are very wealthy and so nothing wrong with being successful, I’m all for it. But being successful, and content, and happy and filled with joy, it requires some of the things that you’ve learned, some humility and gratitude.

Warwick F:
So that’s I think a message for folks that they don’t always hear. You can be successful, but you want to be joyful and happy, you’ve got to have some of those other things too, humility and gratitude. And so that’s a very important lesson for folks, yep.

Gary S:
I have been in the communications business long enough to know in the last word on a subject has been spoken and that was yours Warwick. I do have in summary, let’s call it an epilogue to the last word being spoken. I have a summary of some takeaways from this conversation with Hank McLarty that I think listeners you can apply to your own crucibles in your own movement beyond those crucibles.

Gary S:
Lesson number one, and Hank said it at the very outset of our conversation, you are never too young to set goals. Hank started doing it in third grade. Identify the things you’d like to achieve, to bring your vision to reality and break them down into milestones you can pursue as you walk the path to make that vision a reality. A goal set is a stone laid on the path that will lead you to the life you want. Despite the bumps along his path, Hank’s dedication to setting goals has helped him not just find success as Warwick just mentioned, but has pushed him through setbacks and failures to find significance.

Gary S:
A second takeaway point. The lesson Hank learned from his father. Don’t quit. Listen to Hank’s dad listener, don’t quit. Especially when you’re in the abyss of your crucible. When the chips are down, stick it out, stay the course, build your character, build your grit, is the word Hank used when we were talking about it. You will not only move beyond your crucible that you want to abandon, you’ll set yourself up to weather the crucibles that will certainly come down the road. And we heard it from Hank, his first crucible with football ending was not his last crucible. He’s been through others, and the grit he developed along the way has helped him through that.

Gary S:
And then finally, a third point is, don’t drink the, insert your own name here Kool-Aid. Hank’s greatest crucible as he explained, occurred out of a lack of humility and gratitude. He was on a roll and impressed with himself. His words not mine. So much so that it contributed to his crucible. It led to all that he believed to be true and important about himself to crumble. And it was in the rubble of that crumbling that he discovered a new vision. One that he’s passed along to both his children and to his employees. He took his focus off the only goal being the brass ring, and he put the focus on his offspring. It was the start of his life of significance. And that sort of shift in thinking can be the start of your life of significance as well.

Gary S:
So listeners until we’re together the next time, thank you for spending time with us in this truly moving and informational and hopeful and helpful conversation with Hank McLarty.

Gary S:
Warwick and I have a couple of favors to ask you, one, tell people about the podcast, if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard here, let people know that we’re out there, share a link with them in social media so that they can benefit from this as well. And while you’re at it, we’d really appreciate it if you would click subscribe on the podcast app that you’re listening to our show on right now.

Gary S:
So until that next time that we are together, remember this truth about your crucible experiences. Yes, they’re painful. Hank’s certainly were painful. Yes, they can knock the wind out of your sails that happened to Hank. They can change the trajectory of your life. They did that for Hank a couple of times where he felt like his identity was stripped away. But the good news is if you stick with it, if you learn the lessons of your crucibles, they’re not the end of your story.

Gary S:
In fact, as Hank’s story proves, they’re the beginning of a new story that can lead to a far better conclusion than you ever thought possible. Because the conclusion that your new story leads to is a life of significance.

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