Sean Cooper (author of the book “Burn Your Mortgage,” personal finance journalist, money coach and speaker) took part in the "How to Reach Your Potential" initiative, an interview series featuring leaders who inspire Alex Rascanu and whose insights can help you reach your potential.
Sean Cooper is the author of the new book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for Canadians. He bought his first house when he was only 27 in Toronto and paid off his mortgage in just 3 years by age 30. An in-demand personal finance journalist, money coach and speaker, his articles and blogs have been featured in publications such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Financial Post, Tangerine: Forward Thinking blog and MoneySense.
Alex: What is your life’s purpose?
Sean: To empower people with financial literacy and give them the confidence to make well-informed decisions when it comes to their money.
Alex: What are the three things you’re most passionate about?
The three things I’m most passionate about are financial literacy, travelling and helping others.
Alex: How do you stay healthy? What’s your main health-related goal?
Sean: I’m a strong believer in a healthy body and mind. Despite working 80 to 90 hours in a typical week, I still find time to exercise. I stay physically fit by cycling to work every day and going to the gym three times a week. I’m also a healthy eater. I eat a strictly vegetarian diet. I mainly get my protein from nuts, dairy and pasta.
I maintain a positive mindset in life by focusing on the good. We’ve truly won the lottery when it comes to countries. We’re so fortunate to live in such a wonderful country like Canada, where we have every opportunity to make the most of our lives.
My main health-related goal right now is to stay in the routine of regularly exercising and starting each day off right with meditation and deep breathing.
Alex: How do you build wealth? What’s your main financial goal?
Sean: The main way I build well is through the various streams of income I’ve developed. Outside my day job as a senior pension analyst, I keep busy. I’m also a landlord, personal finance journalist, money coach and speaker. The money I’ve earned through side hustle has allowed me to burn my mortgage in three years and explore my true passions, such as travelling.
I’m a strong believer in investing in yourself. Think about ways you can build your personal brand equity. For example, you probably aren’t going to get rich from writing a book, but it’s a great way to be seen as a more credible source by the media and it could lead to lucrative paid speaking gigs down the road.
I’m a big fan of goal setting. After achieving my ultimate goal of burning my mortgage, my next goal is a net worth of $1 million by age 35.
Alex: How do you balance work and family life?
Sean: I’m a firm believer in a healthy work-life balance. Work will always be there, but family won’t. Cherish your time together and make spending time together a priority. We tend to take things for granted until they’re gone. Your parents sacrifice so much in order for you have a better life. Taking time out of your busy schedule to spend some time with them is a great way to show your gratitude and that you care.
Alex: How do you enjoy spending time with family and friends?
Sean: I enjoy being active, even when I’m with family and friends. Although I enjoy the city, sometimes it’s nice to get away. I like going for walks and hiking with others and taking in the sights of nature.
I’m not someone who needs to spend a ton of money to be happy. I rarely go out for meals, unless it’s to celebrate a special occasion. I’m perfectly content doing something as simple as catching up with family and friends over tea or coffee.
Alex: What has been the most fulfilling role you’ve ever had, or the most fulfilling project you’ve been involved with so far?
Sean: The most fulfilling project I’ve ever been involved in is writing a book. It’s a great to know that I’ve been able to make a difference in the lives of so many through my writing. If I can help just one person avoid a costly home-buying mistake, it’ll have been all worth it.
A couple years ago I was involved in a clothing drive for Syrian refugees. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the people that I helped was the most rewarding gift I could ever receive.
Alex: What’s one career planning lesson that has made a significant difference in your life?
Sean: Hard work pays off. By working hard I’ve been able to achieve so much in life. I was able to graduate debt-free from university, buy a home at age 27 in Canada’s second most expensive real estate market, Toronto, and pay it off in three years, less time than it takes to graduate from university.
The lesson that I learned is although you might not always be the brightest or the most talented, hard work goes a long time and really helps set you apart from the competition.
Alex: What would you like your legacy to be?
Sean: To give hope to the younger generation that the dream of homeownership is alive and well. Through hard work and determination, it’s still possible to buy a home in a city like Toronto and Vancouver and burn your mortgage in less than 25 years.
Alex: Sean, thank you so much for taking part in this interview! Your insights are much appreciated.
Did you find one or more of Sean's thoughts helpful? Are there any ideas or resources that came to mind as you read the interview?
Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below, and consider sharing the interview with a friend via social media or email.
Also, consider checking out the How to Reach Your Potential interviews with Trina Boos, Hamza Khan, James Tjan, Vlad Rascanu, Drew Dudley, Alexandru Holicov, Andrew Mizzoni, Christa Dickenson, Louise Adongo, Sarah Chaudhery, Jake Nicolle, Andy McIlwain, Busola Akin-Olawore, Rebecca Laramée, Richard Obede, Bailey Parnell, Cerys Cook and Blake Snow. Thank you.