I was listening to this with tears in my eyes and it will happen to you too…
On the 63rd episode of my friend Michael Kitces’s podcast series, he interviews Kevin Kroskey, an Ohio-based financial advisor who somehow overcame a felony conviction for selling ecstasy 20 years ago and managed to build a $125 million financial planning practice with one of the ugliest items ever to appear on a financial professional’s license.
Kevin grew up in a home where physical and emotional abuse took a heavy toll on him and his two younger siblings, all three of whom had been forced to escape in their teens. When he got involved in the rave scene and adopted his group of friends as sort of a surrogate family, selling and taking ecstasy became a way to cope and get by. After leaving this life behind and beginning to work in the financial services industry, the law caught up with him for things he had done years prior and he ends up in a federal penitentiary. From there, it’s an everyday struggle just to survive.
A word about ecstasy in the mid to late 1990’s – if you were in your late teens and early twenties in this era as I was, “ex” was everywhere. It was the party and club scene equivalent of what marijuana was to the Boomers in the 60’s. Obviously, no drug is harmless and ecstasy was far from being natural or organic like weed – but it’s easy to understand how someone my age in that era could get caught up in a social scene and then have the whole thing blow up on him. If you were anywhere near a college campus, you saw pills – and if you were in NYC partying at Soundfactory or The Tunnel, you saw people taking them like TicTacs.
I’m incredibly impressed with what Kevin has been able to do since getting out of prison and cleaning up his life. It makes my own story of redemption from the Long Island boiler rooms seem trivial in comparison. Michael Kitces displays all the sensitivity and deftness of a professional interviewer here and Kevin seems to just barely get through the telling of his ordeal without breaking down. This is such an amazing listen for anyone with an interest in what it takes to make a career in this business, against the longest odds possible.
Congrats to Kevin Kroskey and thanks to Michael Kitces for bringing this story to our attention. It should break listener records and be heard by advisors everywhere. The next time you’re feeling like the deck is stacked against you, you’ll have this story to remind yourself that anything is possible if you stay positive and never give up. I’ve never met Mr. Kroskey but I’m rooting for him and I hope he achieves everything he’s set out to do.
Click below to listen: