Photo by Jeff Hobson
Director of Business Development for Coldstream
When National Basketball Association fans think of 6-foot, 10-inch University of Washington graduate Detlef Schrempf, they probably recall his tenure with the Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, Seattle SuperSonics, and the Portland Trail Blazers. After all, the German-born, Seattle-raised athlete played professional basketball for 16 years, touting three All-Star selections and two trips to the Olympics, before retiring at the ripe old age of 38.
But Schrempf didn’t make it into our advice issue based on his basketball prowess. We didn’t ask him to explain the mechanics of the perfect jump shot — though he probably could. Instead, we were interested in what he’s done since hanging up his jersey in 2001. That’s been a lot of things, including joining Bellevue-based Coldstream Wealth Management as its director of business development, and continuing work on his nonprofit, The Detlef Schrempf Foundation. — JK
On networking and selecting new clients:
I’ve been doing this for a while, so typically when I reach out, or get introduced, or just have that first meeting with someone, there’s a reason for it. I’m at a stage in my life where I want to work with people that I think I might want to be friends with. So I do my due diligence and I figure out if this could be a good contact for us, not just as a client but someone we can relate to.
On planning for life’s ‘what ifs’:
(At Coldstream) we plan for the “what ifs” — what if something happens, what if the market takes a tumble? — because if we are well-prepared for those things, our families can usually weather the storm. I think there are a few big mistakes that you can avoid that might have a huge impact on your financial independence down the road.
Oftentimes, even the smartest people in the world, they are so focused on what they do, that they don’t pay attention to the personal details; they have no overview. They think (this period in their lives) doesn’t end, that it lasts forever, and when they think about retirement, they go, “Oh, shoot, I should have thought about this 10 years ago.”
It’s never too early. When you look at a company matching a 401(k) and compounding it over years, even if you start in your 20s, by 40 any money you put in there you are accumulating (returns). Unfortunately, most of us don’t pay attention because we don’t have that overview, that looking-ahead planning. Maybe you just don’t have those three extra lattes you have every week, and you put that money aside. It takes some discipline, and most of us don’t have it.
On donating time and money to charitable causes:
Like the song goes, (my wife and I) were “young, dumb, and broke,” and even though we weren’t broke, we were young and dumb, and we didn’t know what we wanted to do. I was fortunate enough to play basketball; I got paid to do it, and I was able to use that leverage to open doors to sign with partners and sponsorships, and support our community. But at the same time, I just played basketball. I didn’t save any lives; I’m not a doctor, I didn’t write any books; I played basketball. So I used that as a vehicle to hopefully have a positive impact here in the state and the community that we love to live in.
There are so many different ways (to give back). I think it comes down to how do you want to impact someone, how do you want to help? For a lot of people, it’s about writing a check, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
“There are so many different ways (to give back). I think it comes down to how do you want to impact someone, how do you want to help?”
For some people who don’t have that kind of money to give away but want to support, you can give your time. Volunteers are needed everywhere. You have to do a personal inventory on what you really care about and why. Is it children, is it pets, is it the environment? What is really in your heart?
Then look at charities that are out there that you can help. Is it a viable charity? Is it something from a business standpoint that you should support? How much money does it raise? Are its salaries in line with the industry? Are they making an impact? Are they donating enough money or creating enough programs to help the community? So there’s a decision process to go through.
On early retirement and second careers:
My first career, I probably maxed out. That was about as long as your body can take it. If my body could still take it, I’d still be playing today because that is an unbelievable career and a pretty great way to make a living. But you know, at the same time, I played basketball for a long time and I retired, I would say, at an early age. I retired at 38. In the business world, that is where most people are kind of in their prime earning years; when they reach a particular level of pay, they are at the top of their profession, they are making good money. For me, it was basically over. It is something a lot of pro athletes struggle with.
Transitioning to a second career takes a commitment. I was 20 years removed from college. It was like starting over. At any age it is a challenge. For me, I figured I could do it, I could learn it, and if I didn’t like it, I could walk away after a year. Apparently, I liked it because I’m still here.
I had enough name recognition that I was getting my foot in the door. But oftentimes that was because people were more interested in talking basketball than actually talking about Coldstream and how we can help them. It took a while, (people were asking), “You were a basketball player; how can you help us?” (I had to show them) I’m the guy that builds the trust, builds the relationship, and a little bit of the glue that holds us all together. So people finally figured that out, and now I don’t (hear), “Oh you’re a basketball player,” much anymore because a lot of people have aged out. I get more, “Hey, you were on Parks and Recreation?”
On time management:
I’ve gotten better with my work/life balance. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten older and can’t do as much anymore, but I used to have a hard time saying no. I’d just book myself solid. When I’m in town, I’m meeting with people — breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks, whatever — and then when I’m away, it’s emails, phone calls, things like that.
From a charitable standpoint where you can’t be at every event, to a business standpoint where people say they want you to come to an event, there’s no upside for me to go there. A lot of times people want me to go somewhere just for me to be there.
Someone sent me a note recently — three months or so ago — that said, “Happy 20,000,” and I said, “What the hell is that?” They said, “Today, you have been alive for 20,000 days, and the average lifespan is 30,000.” I’ve got 9,900-some days left, and I’m running out of days. You’ve got to make it count.
On learning from one’s mistakes:
I always tell people that we all have skeletons in our closet, and people always think that’s about relationships. But I think, no; in everything we do there’s stuff we are not proud of. From my standpoint as an athlete, you read all these stories about these guys who are broke or have been defrauded out of money by a bad agent or investment guy or something. I look at my stuff; I’ve done plenty of stuff that I wish I hadn’t.
I’ve offended people, I’ve cursed people, I’ve invested in the wrong things; I’ve got plenty of stuff in my life that I’m not proud of, but I think that has shaped me to who I am nowadays. There are probably a couple of investments I’d like to have back, but it is what it is. Those are the things that shape us as human beings. So, to say I wish I could do this one or that one over — yeah there’s lots of little things. But there isn’t one major one that I think: God I wish I had done that instead.