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Meet Dennis Zaderaka of THE LIFE DESIGN GROUP in Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dennis Zaderaka.

Dennis, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in a blue-collar family and for a few years lived on a dairy farm. Even from ages 5 to 9 I had to help with chores. I remember driving the tractor at 5 and still can’t believe farm kids did that. My Dad got tired of not making any money so we moved back to the city. But it was on the farm that I learned about hard work. And where food comes from. I was a decent student. Played baseball as much as I could. Went to college, taught English in Japan for a year, and spent the early part of my 20’s trying to find out what I should do for work. At 28 years old I found myself divorced and unemployed. Through a friend, I got introduced to a financial planning firm. Because of my blue collar middle class background, I had a hard time imagining myself in this kind of job. I would have never believed or applied for this type of work. Now after 38 years as a financial planner I just fit me. I laugh and tell people I have been retired for 30 years. I get to work when I want, where I want and with whomever I want. Plus I can take time off when I want. This seems like freedom to run my own life.

When people ask when are you going to retire? I answer how can I retire I finally know what I am doing. I have been lucky to have a job that I would do even if I wasn’t getting paid. I get to help all kinds of people and in many different industries. Just last week one client took me on a tour of Fermi Labs in Batavia Illinois. In another case, I stayed a ranch in Texas that was over 132,000 acres. For a period of 2 years, I did financial planning for federal law enforcement people like DEA and Customs. There were lots of interesting stories from that.

Now I have escaped Illinois and chose to live in Arizona. I have always liked the desert and almost always took vacations for 20 years in desert places.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, I would tell anyone life is not a straight line. But the obstacles or even defeats are the best lessons. I fact many of my positive accomplishments came because of something going wrong. For example, a business partner refused to pay me $150,00 I had earned, even though I had a contract that said it should be paid to me. That hurt but I set me free to go a different direction. Then there are the stock market crashes 1987, 1990, 2000-2002, and 2008. After you have been through one, you work to avoid the next one because they always come. Then you know how to take advantage of it instead of getting hurt.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about THE LIFE DESIGN GROUP – what should we know?
Our business sounds like any other financial service firm until people experience how we work. Good investments are important but there is more to life than just having piles of money. I have always believed Financial planning is really life planning. Money is just a tool to create the life you want. The value of money is what you can do with it.: Education for our children, taking care of our health, creating an experience of the world, travel, personal growth, helping others.

How our firm works is matching peoples lives to their investments. The purpose of the money should determine how it is invested. I don’t like the word specialize to describe what I do. I would rephrase it as where I concentrate my time, which is retirement income planning. Preparing to build a retirement income or how to manage it when people are retired. Creating a sustainable income is the goal. People often forget the purpose of saving and investing is future spending. I want to live well now but I also want to live well in the future. When my money working equals what I earn when I am working, then I am financially self-reliant.

What I am most proud of is the number of people who thank me for getting them to a comfortable retirement. For example one of my clients at 94 years called at the beginning of 2017 and thanked me for getting them all the way through 30 years of their retirement.

What sets me apart from others is the training I received from the firm. Back in the olden days, we were trained to be portfolio managers. The investment firms spent a lot of money training us. Now there is a different emphasis on how to train the new people.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I would definately say hardwork is the key to anyones success. The other is actualy being intellectually curious but also having a healthy skepticism about what is considered conventional wisdom. Negativity is crippling but a healthy skepticism is just having courage to ask questions to learn more.

I really credit taking a few philosophy courses in college taught me how to think. The most valuable class I ever took was a logic course. It makes it easy to see logical fallacies. Although I would say if you just listen to politicians you could learn all of the fallacies in a short time.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 16427 N. Scottsdale Road #410
    Scottsdale AZ 85254
  • Website:

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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