Wes Coody with C2 Wealth Strategies

Wes Coody with C2 Wealth Strategies

This week on The Mobile Alabama Business Podcast, we sit down with Wes Coody with C2 Wealth Strategies. Listen in as we discuss his love of golf, finding love at Auburn, and how he got started in the world of financial services!

Produced by Blue Fish.


This week on The Mobile Alabama Business Podcast, we sit down with Wes Coody with C2 Wealth Strategies. Listen in as we discuss his love of golf, finding love at Auburn, and how he got started in the world of financial services!

Wes Coody: My name is Wesley Coody and I'm the founder and president of C2 Wealth Strategies.

Marcus Neto: Awesome, Wes. Well, it's good to have you on the podcast and I really appreciate in light of everything that's going on today, because for those of you that are listening in the future, Russia decided to invade Ukraine today and so Wes's phone has been blowing up. So I do appreciate you taking time to be here with us today. But to get started, why don't you tell us the story of Wes? Where are you from? Where'd you go to high school? Where'd you go to college? Are you married? Just give us some backstory about who you are.

Wes Coody:

Sure. Originally I'm from Fort Valley, Georgia. That's the old peach town, a lot of peach farms in the area. I went to Westfield High School in Perry, Georgia. And after graduating there, I made my way to Coastal Carolina University where I attempted to play golf. And from there I transferred to Auburn, spent five wonderful years. I got a degree, met a lady at the beach. Her name is Gini. And after a few years, I made my way to Mobile and we got married and we started our family here.

Marcus Neto: Very cool. And I know that whenever I talk to you're always leaving the golf course or going to the golf course or just kind of hanging out. I know that's something that you really enjoy. That was a childhood passion of yours growing up?

Wes Coody:It was. I grew up on the golf course as an only child, a little nine-hole course. And so that was really... When you're an only child, you have to entertain yourself and so that was me out there.

Marcus Neto: Just going in, hitting a bucket of balls and...

Wes Coody: I didn't have a real lesson until I was in my 20s. So it was just me and the golf ball and the golf course and it was a lot of fun.

Marcus Neto: Well, this is totally random. I've never had somebody that was as into golf as you are, but what's your favorite course in the world to play?

Wes Coody: That's pretty difficult. I love Old White at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, it's one of my favorites. And probably the other one would be Torrey Pines in San Diego.

Marcus Neto: So I haven't played the one that you mentioned in West Virginia, but there was a period of time where I did actually golf and I grew up in Virginia. And there was one out past Leesburg that was on the way to West Virginia, and that area gets so mountainous and hilly that this course we used to refer to it as circus golf because it was almost impossible to hit a decent round. There were all kinds of things that you had to stay away from, whether it be rock formations or sand or hills and stuff like that. So I can imagine how difficult that course is that you're mentioning in West Virginia.

Wes Coody: It is difficult. It's just the scenery and the history of that and the Greenbrier. It's just kind of what makes that-

Marcus Neto: I hear it's beautiful.

Wes Coody: ... one of my favorites.

Marcus Neto: Well, go back and in time for us, go back to your very first job. I'm not sure what yours was, but mine was working in a bagel bakery. So were there any lessons that you still remember from that first job?

Wes Coody: Absolutely. My first job was working for Lane packing company, carrying peaches out to customer's cars. And so from a very early age, I was learning how to interact with customers and making sure that we did everything we could to get the peaches in the truck.

Marcus Neto: No, it's cool. Now financial services, and I guess maybe we should say a little bit about what C2 is. So why don't you just kind of describe what you all handle and who you work with and stuff like that?

Wes Coody: So we're a comprehensive financial planning firm that focuses on small business owners. We create financial solutions for the busy entrepreneur who's wearing multiple hats. He might be the CEO, but he's also COO, hands in HR. He might be head of sales as well. And so we create solutions around that to make it easier for him to run his business day-to-day.

Marcus Neto: And full disclosure, you are who we use for our financial services here. And I have to admit because I did a stint at New York Life, I'm not nearly, I'm not anywhere near as versed as you are in financial services but I've used a number of folks over the years and working with your group has been just absolutely phenomenal. So I just didn't want to give you a shout-out because there are so many people in that industry. And I know for business owners, it's really hard to find someone who knows what it is that we deal with and I have felt like you all get it.

Wes Coody: It took me a long time to realize, and my Dad always told me, "Son, you're going to wake up one day and realize I was right."

Marcus Neto: Thanks Dad.

Wes Coody: And that always stuck with me. But as I've grown to... I've gotten a little older, I've looked back and I come back to realize... Looked back at my childhood and my parents owned a concrete company. It was a decent size. And every day I got off the bus, I was there at their place of business, either climbing in the sand pile or on the rocks or riding the forklift and front end loader and backhoe with the employees. And so I was able to see how my mom and my dad treated their customers, how they treated their employees and that stuck with me. And the things that we try to create at this point revolve around that. And so super fortunate, I'm a fourth-generation business owner. My Great-grandfather was in the grocery business in Atlanta. My grandfather was a farmer. He's also founded a couple of different companies, including one that was a concrete company. And then that was sold before I made my way to Mobile. So I have that in my blood. And I knew that at one point I wanted to be a small business owner, I didn't know in what capacity, and it just happens to be in financial services.

Marcus Neto: Well, and that leads into my next question. So how did you start your business?

Wes Coody: I was graduating college and running a concrete company was not in my future anymore. And so I started looking around and interviewed a bunch of different places. My best friend's father who was a New York Life agent in Georgia and so that's where I started my conversations. Gini and I were dating and she had already graduated. She was teaching here in Mobile at a place called the city program, which is program for troubled youth, the last stop before they go to juvie jail. But we met and I wanted to stay in Alabama and I had the opportunity to go to work for MassMutual in Birmingham. And then after about two years, I had an opportunity to come down here to Mobile and joined a small firm as a partner. And then we went through '08 and got into 2009, 2010 and I had the opportunity to purchase the firm at that point. So that's kind of how... That's my short story.

Marcus Neto: And I would be remiss if I did not allow you to explain what C2 means.

Wes Coody: So you're sitting around and you bought a firm and you know you want to rebrand it. You want to make it your own and couldn't really find a name. I didn't want Coody financial group, that just doesn't sound right to me. And so I wanted something that would show what matters to me, which is family. And so at the time we had a little boy and we had another little boy on the way, so we named it C2 and that's... Now we have a little girl She's getting a little older now and she's like, "Dad, it should be C3." I was like, "No, well it's C2."

Marcus Neto: I'm sure they'll always remember that. It's an amazing thing when a parent cares so much about their kids that they do something along those lines. So I think I've talked a number of times where the Blue Fish logo was first drawn by Miles, my oldest son who's now studying advertising at Alabama. And I started the business because of my boys. I wanted them to have a fun place to work if they so chose. But anyway, do you remember the first sale that you made that made you think, "Hey man, there might be something to this." The first family that you helped or New York Life, maybe it was the first life insurance policy that you had to kind of deliver to someone who had a family member pass away or whatever.

Wes Coody: I do remember my first sale that wasn't my family. I had to drive a few hours, but we worked through a bunch of things with that client and they're still a client today after 17 years. So I guess we got it right. But I had to drive from Birmingham over to West Point, Georgia and didn't really know them at that point, but we had a family connection and we figured it out and they're still clients today.

Marcus Neto: That's amazing. Because so oftentimes in the financial services industry when you get started, especially at New York Life, it's who are your friends, who's your family? You go and meet with them to kind of practice and hopefully you do make a sale because it's an important product. But the hope is that they'll share, at least in New York Life's model, that they'll share your information or they'll share who you should talk to next. And then it just kind of grows from there. So that's why he said it wasn't a family member because that first sale to an individual that doesn't know you is a huge thing in that world. So now, if you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?

Wes Coody: Have a really good CPA and a really good attorney. You're going to encounter things early on running your business you're not going to know the answer to and if you have those two partners, they can really help you, at least point you in the right direction. And the other is understanding when to take on debt and when not to take on debt, that's probably one of the biggest things that we see at this point.

Marcus Neto: Is there a hard and fast rule for when to take on debt and when to not take on debt?

Wes Coody: I don't think so.

Marcus Neto: Just depends on the situation.

Wes Coody: It's up to the individual and it depends on the business. Some businesses you can start with very little money and there is others that take a whole lot of money. So it just depends on what business you're in.

Marcus Neto: What phase you're in.

Wes Coody: Phase you're in, what the economy is like at that point. And ultimately what do you want from the business? A lot of people start businesses as a side hustle or side business, and they fully intend never to grow that into a real 8:00 to 5:00 type job. Lot of businesses started because they're passionate about something and then a lot of other businesses owners are where they are because they just don't want to work for anybody else. They want to be their own boss. So it just depends on which avenue you want to take.

Marcus Neto: We've said before Mobile is the king of that side hustle because we've got like 27,000 micro-businesses, which is just insane. So there's a lot of people out there trying to make a dollar. When you look to the business world, is there one person that motivates you?

Wes Coody: There is one that motivates me and then a few others that inspire me. But when I look to the business world, my mom is probably my biggest inspiration. She ran a concrete company in the '80s, '90s as a female, which-

Marcus Neto: I was going to say a female.

Wes Coody: ... it doesn't happen.

Marcus Neto: It's a hard industry.

Wes Coody: And I still lean on her to this day, she ran all our company financials. So that's a lot different too. And I would say my mom, there's a couple other people that have popped in my past and continue today. One is someone that you and I know fairly well is Rick Miller. He's been unbelievable to me and unbelievable to our business and he's one of our biggest cheerleaders.

Marcus Neto: Wow. So for those of you that aren't familiar, Rick Miller is a local business consultant. He's got decades of experience and Wes and I both know him because we both were, I think we were in the second class of Emerging Leaders that the Mobile chamber did. Do you remember? I think it was the second class

Wes Coody: It was the second class.

Marcus Neto: And so Rick Miller is the guy that facilitates that class and teaches. And so because of that a lot of us feel an affinity or a trust in him because really you get to know each other as part of that class. And he really does have his, I guess we were clients at that, for lack of better terms I'll just call us that, he has his clients really their best interest at heart. But he lives over in Fairhope so we do talk to him on a regular basis. But are there any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been really helpful in moving you forward?

Wes Coody: Organizations, the Mobile chamber has been very instrumental with us. We chose for a number of years not to be involved at all and I wanted to change our business. And so that was me coming out of my shell, forcing myself to be more involved. So that's probably one of the organizations. There are a good many books. You and I talked earlier about Traction, Gino Wickman, I think that's an unbelievable read for those who haven't read it. And then from a podcast standpoint, there are a couple of people that I listen to. Bradley Flowers and the Insurance Guys, he's a friend of mine so I listen to him. Our businesses are similar, but they're not the same. And so I'll really lean on him anytime we have some social media because that's how he built his business. And he and I are friends and we get to talk fairly regularly. So I'd say Bradley Flowers is probably the one I listen to the most.

Marcus Neto: It's really cool. It's funny because I knew Bradley when he was just getting started and now to see him speaking all over the place, it's just absolutely amazing. I love the success that he's gotten and he's really blazed a trail if you will, for insurance guys and how they can market themselves online and just being genuine and authentic and their true selves. So what's the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?

Wes Coody: That you need to have a P&L.

Marcus Neto: Seriously, have you run across that on a regular basis that people don't have?

Wes Coody: Yes. And when I bought our business back then there was really no P&L, it was a handshake agreement and we had no idea how we were doing. You get end of the year and...

Marcus Neto: There's some money in the account.

Wes Coody: And you got to figure out how to pay taxes and everything else. So that's one of the biggest things for us, running a business is understanding your financials, understanding your data. Data's important. I don't care what business you had. And understanding where your market's going. Not where is it currently, but where is it going? That's probably one of the biggest things that I spend my time on. We always say working on the business, not in the business. And so for me, it's trying to figure out what's next or what are the trends. If it's a trend somewhere else, let's be the first in Mobile to do that. And that's kind of where I'd say I spend a lot of my time. My team knows that, we have crazy ideas. And sometimes as a team loves it, sometimes they just shake their head and say, "That's not going to work for us." But that's how we work as a team and I'm fortunate to have all seven of those back at my office right now.

Marcus Neto: We do have kind of an advantage here in that Mobile isn't typically the first place for something to hit. It's going to hit the major markets first and then trickle down. So we've got some leeway there where if you see something happening in Atlanta or DC, or even Nashville or Birmingham or something like that, it's going to be a bit before it gets here so we can bring that here if we so choose. But I was going to... It is just funny because you mentioned P&L statements and I was going to say my favorite report in QuickBooks is P&L statements by month because you can see the trends of when you're bringing in money because most businesses go, they have kind of a rollercoaster if you will, of earnings throughout the year. Well, also comparing that to previous years can be a great thing for a business owner because if your March is way down, but your March is always way down, you will then breathe a sigh of relief versus panicking because maybe March is just not a good month for whatever it is that you deal with. So if you haven't checked that out, definitely look it up. So this is the hardest question that I'm going to ask you today and that's how do you like to unwind?

Wes Coody: I like to chase that little white golf ball typically Friday afternoons. That's me unwinding. Super busy throughout the week, three kids, 13, 11 and nine. We're always busy. It's just telling me what day it is and I'll tell you where I have to be at what time. And so Friday afternoons... Don't typically play golf on the weekends unless it's some type of tournament, but it's Friday afternoon, me, my pushcart and probably going to be at Lakewood Golf Clubs.

Marcus Neto: There you go. And I haven't asked this question in the past, but we'll try this here. How do you define success? As a business owner, there are a number of different things that we can... And I'm just going to leave that open-ended. How do you define success?

Wes Coody: So success is it can be defined in a lot of ways. Some people define success because they have a number. I don't have a number. My definition of success is for us to be able to go do what we want to go do when we want to go do it on our terms. And for me, if I can get to that point, then I feel like I've been successful. And that's the personal journey. Professionally, success is helping our clients get to that same spot or get to their number. And so as you look at it, that's what I'm trying to build is to get to that point where you can step away from the business for months at a time and when you return, you plugin like you've been there, you haven't missed any time.

Marcus Neto: I think you and I would agree. I always knew that I was going to start a business. Didn't know what it was much like you, but I went down this path for a number of reasons. One, I didn't want to work for somebody else at the time, but I too value that freedom that you're talking about. That is the most important thing to me, to be able to, whether it's just being able to leave a little bit early to go watch a soccer game for one of my boys or being able to take a long weekend and go spend some time with friends or whatever. And I'm glad to hear you say that, because that is how I think as well. Well, tell people where they can find out more information about C2.

Wes Coody: Sure. Look us up on the web c2wealth.com. We're in midtown Mobile on Dauphin Street right next to the railroad tracks. You can hit us up on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. And if you can't find us there, you might find me out the golf course on [inaudible 00:23:08]

Marcus Neto: Just drive by Lakewood and look out the window. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Wes Coody: Well, today's probably not the best day for me to share my thoughts. But no, I'm just super grateful for your friendship. You've been really good to us at C2 and looking forward to continuing to build on that relationship. And hopefully, maybe in a couple of years maybe we can do a follow-up to this.

Marcus Neto: There you go. That'd be awesome. Well, Wes, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It has been great talking with you.

Wes Coody: All right. Thank you, Marcus.

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