Executive Leaders Radio – Interview with Principal Justin Harris
Justin Harris, CFP®, CMFC®, sat down with Executive Leaders Radio, a radio show featuring DC Executives, to talk with host Herb Cohen about his background and rise to success at Cassaday and Company, Inc. The radio show aired locally on Federal News Radio, and on over 40 stations nationwide.
Listen to the interview and view the transcript below.
Executive Leaders Radio Interview with Justin Harris – Transcript
Herb Cohen: You’re listening to Executive Leaders Radio; this is your host Herb Cohen. I’d like to introduce Justin Harris, who is a principal at Cassaday and Company. Justin, what is Cassaday and Company? What are you guys doing?
Justin Harris: Cassaday and Company provides comprehensive wealth management services to high-net-worth investors.
Herb Cohen: Give us an idea of how large or small or some statistics about the company.
Justin Harris: We have roughly 2,000 clients and we manage 3 billion dollars.
Herb Cohen: Where are you from originally?
Justin Harris: I am an Alexandria, VA native.
Herb Cohen: How many brothers and sisters?
Justin Harris: I have 2 brothers
Herb Cohen: Where are you in the pecking order?
Justin Harris: I am number two.
Herb Cohen: Alright and 8-14 what type of sports were you playing?
Justin Harris Primality baseball, I played a variety of sports, but my preferred sport was baseball
Herb Cohen: And what was your position on the team and why?
Justin Harris: I was left-handed, so my primary position was first base.
Herb Cohen: What kind of personality trait did you bring to that world playing first base.
Justin Harris: I think it was primarily consistency. With first base, there are a lot of infield ground balls with that age group, and each play ended at first base, so you had to have a consistent first baseman in order to have consistency.
Herb Cohen: And how young were you when you started making money and with whom and what happened?
Justin Harris: I started making money around age 10, I had a lawn business, and I had a best friend in the neighborhood who also had a lawn business. We ended up merging our lawn businesses together to try to scale it and grow it out. So that occurred at age 10 and continued for a few years.
Herb Cohen: That’s a little strange cause usually my lawn business is my lawn business, why did you guys do it together?
Justin Harris: We had lawns on different streets, and we felt like we had different contacts in the neighborhood and if we worked together we could streamline it and we also helped each other with the lawns and we felt like we could build out the clientele as well.
Herb Cohen: So, at 11 years you’re playing with business models. At 14 you got a job, what kind of job did you get then?
Justin Harris: At age 14, I worked at a skate shop and I also worked at a grocery store.
Herb Cohen: What did you do different than all the kids at the grocery store or skate shop?
Justin Harris: I think it was the diversity of my skill set. I was willing to do whatever was needed.
Herb Cohen: What do you mean? Give me an example.
Justin Harris: I bagged groceries, I stocked shelves, I did a variety of other random tasks for the managers of the various departments of the department store.
Herb Cohen: How did they respond to the fact that you were willing to do whatever they needed?
Justin Harris: I think it was helpful for me because it allowed me to garner more hours because various departments needed me for various shifts.
Herb Cohen: Didn’t you realize you were working harder than really you needed to?
Justin Harris: I wanted to try to maximize my hours so that was my goal.
Herb Cohen: So, you were willing to work hard and actually work extra hours too?
Justin Harris: I was.
Herb Cohen: You thought by working hard you would get more hours, you were right but that’s just more and more hard work. Doesn’t that bother you?
Justin Harris: No, it was the opposite for me. I was driven by trying to maximize my effort.
Herb Cohen: How long have you been with this company, Cassaday and Company?
Justin Harris: I’ve been with Cassaday and Company for about 21 years.
Herb Cohen: This was your first full-time job, wasn’t it?
Justin Harris: Yes.
Herb Cohen: What’s the parallel between you willing to work extra hard in order to get extra hours and this being your only gig, which is now your primary gig with Cassaday and Company. You’re willing to work really hard and long term to build something, aren’t you?
Justin Harris: Yes, yes, I am.
Herb Cohen: Tell us more about that?
Justin Harris: What I’ve witnessed with the wealth management industry is that it’s definitely more of a marathon than a sprint and it requires resilience.
Herb Cohen: And a lot of hard work, and that’s what your middle name is. Robert?
Robert Sprague: Herb asked you about your baseball career, I noticed you mentioned your defense, but you didn’t talk about being come run king or anything like that. What did that say about your choice of careers?
Justin Harris: I think, naturally, I enjoyed the team aspect of baseball and I enjoyed hitting but fielding was my preferred and I was drawn by the firm on that due to the team aspect.
Robert Sprague: You didn’t drop many balls, what happened when you dropped a ball. How did that feel?
Justin Harris: It didn’t feel good and I definitely reflected on it, but I felt like the other teammates were supportive of me due to my overall general consistency in the position.
Robert Sprague: Are you more like your mom or dad?
Justin Harris: I think I’m more like my mom. I was definitely a momma’s boy when I was young and I spent a fair amount of more time with her due to my father’s work hours.
Robert Sprague: What did your father do for a living?
Justin Harris My father was the director of conservation and preservation at The National Archives and then The Library of Congress.
Robert Sprague: And you think you’re more like your mom though. What did you get from your dad that you bring to work every day?
Justin Harris: I think his work ethic and consistency.
Herb Cohen: And what did you get from mom that you bring to work every day?
Justin Harris: I think her discipline, I think primarily from my mom, her discipline, and organizational skills.
Herb Cohen: Well, we have a young lady here that works with you. Michelle, what is your role in the company?
Michelle Tigani: I am the marketing and communications manager.
Herb Cohen: And how long have you been working with Mr. Justin.
Michelle Tigani: Just over two years.
Herb Cohen: What is his reputation within the firm?
Michelle Tigani: He is consistent, and his clients absolutely love him.
Herb Cohen: How do you know his clients love him?
Michelle Tigani: His client retention rate is probably 99.9%.
Herb Cohen: Do you ever talk to any of his clients.
Michelle Tigani: Oh yes. Absolutely.
Herb Cohen: What do they say about him?
Michelle Tigani: Some of them have said they don’t know what they would do without him.
Herb Cohen: Why do you think they say that?
Michelle Tigani: He goes above and beyond a typical wealth manager or what people think of as a typical wealth manager.
Herb Cohen: Sounds to me that that’s what he was doing when he was 14 years old working at that grocery store and that skate shop. Robert, what else are you thinking?
Robert: Well, I’m wondering, when people think about wealth managers, they probably think of people who are aggressive or trying to beat out everybody else, but here you are with a lawn service emerging with your friend for both of your benefit; do you still take that approach?
Justin Harris: Absolutely, the success of our firm is driven primarily by the team approach and that we definitely rely upon the various team members for their specific specialties.
Robert: So, you’re not stepping all over the other people at your firm to help your clients?
Justin Harris: I am constantly tapping into the other resources within the firm.
Herb Cohen: Earlier, Robert wanted to know that you grew up as the second of three boys. How did growing up as the second of three boys prepare you for your career?
Justin Harris: I think primarily communication skills and resiliency.
Herb Cohen: Give us an example about how you learned communication skills and resilience skills from your brothers. This will be a good story.
Justin Harris: Well, my older brother and I are three years apart, so our communication was pretty natural. My younger brother and I are six or seven years apart, so having to mentor him when he was young, so I learned how to mentor.
Herb Cohen: Wait, wait, wait- you’re supposed to beat up your younger brother.
Justin Harris: He was out in the yard with my friends and I playing baseball. I taught him how to play baseball before he could walk. He wanted to be involved in the action, so I got him into the mix.
Herb Cohen: So, opposed to beating up your bother and telling him to get lost, you took a different approach.
Justin Harris: I definitely embraced that. We gave him various tasks.
Herb Cohen: What’s that have to do with your role in the company and bringing on new team members?
Justin Harris: I think, primarily just embracing when a new team member comes on board.
Herb Cohen: Are you involved with training and orienting new team members?
Justin Harris: Certain team members, yes.
Herb Cohen: What do you mean, certain?
Justin Harris: Team members that interface with me, I’m involved with mentoring them and providing them with knowledge.
Herb Cohen: Do you enjoy doing that?
Justin Harris: Definitely.
Herb Cohen: Why? Do you get paid extra for doing that?
Justin Harris: I do not get paid for doing.
Herb Cohen: So why do you do it?
Justin Harris: I do it because it’s rewarding and it’s fun.
Herb Cohen: What do you mean it’s rewarding?
Justin Harris: I see these younger people evolve. They grow into different positions and graduate out of their introductory positions
Herb Cohen: So, like your little brothers and sisters?
Justin Harris: Definitely, definitely like my little brother, yes.
Herb Cohen: When you’re dealing with families, you’re dealing with sometimes the first or second or third generation of family wealth?
Justin Harris: On a very regular basis, yes.
Herb Cohen: So, you sit down with all two or three generations and have to talk to them?
Justin Harris: Yes, yes we do.
Herb Cohen: How does that feel?
Justin Harris: It feels natural for me because a lot of my clients are in their 70’s or 80’s, and a lot of their kids are my age, and I have three children, so a lot of their children are roughly the same age as my children as well.
Herb Cohn: What is the similarity between being a dad and being a principal at Cassaday and Company?
Justin Harris: That’s a good question, it’s actually quite similar.
Herb Cohen: We’re running out of time here, what’s the web address for Cassaday and Company.
Justin Harris: Cassaday.com.
Herb Cohen: This is Herb Cohen; we will be back in a moment right after this break.