The Milk House at our farm where White House Financial our first business was started!
At that time I was commuting to Detroit or farther (around 60 miles one way) and was tired of that and “working for the Man!” At the same time there was an opportunity in my in-law’s structured settlement insurance business, which my father in law wanted me to get into so I resigned from Merrill Lynch and hung my shingle in the milk house with only
dial up internet and no voice mail!
We made our farm into a business as well and called it White House Stables, LLC due to our last name being White, all the buildings on the farm being White and our house having four pillars like the White House in Washington, DC. So when I was struggling to pick a fancy name for my financial advisory business my wife said, “Why don’t you just call it White House Financial Services?”, which is what we did! Our business grew rapidly and we needed to move out of the milk house to a real office in downtown Chelsea in 2003. Over the years we weathered many challenges, did many things right and also made some mistakes along the way!
I have been passionate about fitness since high school. I started jogging and weight lifting when I was a sophomore in high school because I hated the feeling of being so out of shape when sports tryouts started. I wanted to play football, study martial arts or wrestle but being an only child my parents were very over protective and wouldn’t let me, so I played basketball. I was okay at the sport, which I played like football, however, I was relatively tall (6 ft. 2 in.) and due to my growing love of fitness I was always in better shape than most of my peers so I played all four years in high school including two years at varsity. I figured that if I didn’t have better talent in the sport I could always be in better shape and out work everyone! That only took determination and work ethic, not talent! This I could always handle and control! It was just a matter of how hard I wanted to work!
My uncle who was a brick layer was into weight lifting and he used to give me his Muscle and Fitness magazines and I would read them cover to cover. Like most teenagers I ate like shit, however, because the magazines said that you needed to eat healthy to gain the most muscle I started to watch what I ate as well.
My father in law, who has influenced me greatly in many ways, was a collegiate athlete at Cornell and an accomplished racket ball player who also put a very high importance on staying in shape. Anytime we would be at a family vacation or in for the holidays we would work out together and talk business which I loved! He got me to do my first 10K, the Detroit Turkey Trot when I was in my mid 20’s. This started my passion to compete in various individual events and I ran my first marathon, the Dublin Ireland marathon when I was 35, did my first triathlon at age 40, ran the Boston Marathon at age 43 and completed my first full distance Ironman Triathlon at age 45! I also competed in several martial arts events throughout my 30’s and 40’s.
I have also always been passionate about and intrigued by the martial arts and being a warrior. I have always respected soldiers, people of discipline and those who risk their lives for others. I did a summer during college at Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virgina, which was a great learning experience, however, the biggest lesson I learned was that I have a difficult time taking orders from others! Not good in the military and probably just a lack of discipline! My wife and I began studying karate in college and I absolutely loved it! I never feel as alive as I do when I am pushing my body and mind in fitness or martial arts events and nothing makes you feel more alive than someone else trying to beat the crap out of you! We studied karate for a few years achieving rank of green belt but then stopped training when we started having children and working. When our middle daughter Sasha was 6 she expressed an interest in taking Tae Kwon Do mainly because a few of her friends were in it and that was all I needed! I signed us both up and ended up getting my black belt in the Chun Do Kwon style. All three of our daughters also studied for several years. I went on to study Ninjutsu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and am currently studying Krav Maga. I loved each one and could study them every day all day!
When I was studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the school was located at this gym (which I found out later was actually a CrossFit box where there were classes of people all working out together lifting weights, rowing, using kettle bells and doing all kinds of different exercises all to my favorite intense heavy metal music! I thought that it was some elite University of Michigan athletic training facility! Little did I know at the time that this was a CrossFit box called Hyperfit USA! When I finished my Full Ironman triathlon I was of course looking for a bigger fitness challenge and was very tired of running, biking and swimming so I went in to check out this CrossFit place and thought I would die during my first workout! BUT I LOVED IT AND WAS HOOKED! I also was surprised by the great community of people in my CrossFit classes, which I never experienced in all my years of working out! It satisfied that competitive and team aspect of sports which you grow to love as an athlete. At an even deeper level it satisfied this deep primal instinct in a positive way! The coaches started calling me an athlete, which I didn’t really think of myself since high school since I was doing all individual type sports but I LIKED IT! I started watching what I ate more and what I put into my body and mind since I viewed myself as an athlete! My CrossFit experience really also began to stir something inside me that I wanted to give people the same feeling that I got from doing CrossFit, fitness in general and the constant quest to achieve self-mastery through physical and mental toughness. I wanted to be an example and teach people how they can overcome anything they set their minds to and to simply be better all-around people! THAT IS MY CALLING!
When my daughter Regan recently had hit a very low point in her life I took her to a CrossFit workout. Regan has always hated working out and she smoked, drank, took numerous drugs to help with focus, ADHD, etc and hung out with people who were very bad influences, had no motivation, confidence or self-esteem (unless they were high). She ended up LOVING CrossFit and is now hooked and doing MUCH, MUCH better! It has also helped her with her nutrition, overall feeling and self-esteem! She now wants to open and run our own family fitness business simply for the purpose of helping others!
I also completed extreme events such as Tough Mudder races and GORUCK events which fired me up even more to do something similar in my life and business!
Some of the best people whom I have met in my life are those with a passion for fitness! These are the kinds of people I want to surround myself with and want my daughters to surround themselves with!
Thanks to my wife Leslie’s influence, I have also worked to hone my mind and people skills by reading and listening to self-improvement and motivational programs such as Og Mandino’s “The Greatest Salesman”, Brian Tracy, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Zig Zigler, etc. However, until recently, I realized that I only did this so that I could be a better businessman and make more money and not just to be a better person!
My wife has always encouraged me to work on my spirituality as well through religion, however, aside from my maternal grandmother, who was extremely religious (Ukrainian Orthodox), my parents wanted me to make my own decisions regarding religion and I only knew the pomp, circumstance and dogma of religion, which I could never relate to! It was only when I began to have personal challenges as an adult due to my hubris, ego and lack of discipline and after trying therapy which, to me took way too long and was way too expensive, that I began to really study, listen and learn what ALL the religions were trying to tell us, which was the same message that the great self-help and motivational guru’s were also trying to tell me which is simply that for US to have a good life in this life and our after lives we must:
1.) Do unto others as we would have done unto us!
2.) Take care of our team (e.g., family, co-workers, employees, neighbors, community, etc.), focus on helping others get what they want and live for a bigger purpose than yourself.
3.) Live a life of honor, truthfulness, self-discipline and compassion towards others!
4.) Love our neighbors!
5.) Realize that no matter how bad we think something is that it is all part of a grand plan that we do not have the answer to and that it is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. In addition, there is always someone who’s got it worse than you! ALWAYS!
6.) Go with the flow & live in the moment
7.) Meditate, learn how to control your Monkey mind!
8.) Give your best in all that you do
These are all messages that I have heard from various sources over and over and when I have abided by them I have had a good life and when I haven’t I have not! It wasn’t until I started to hear these messages from people whom I respect deeply like warriors that I finally got it!
Sounds like I’m a pretty squared away dude so far right? WRONG! I have always struggled with the conflict between short term self-satisfaction and long term more difficult self-discipline for the good of others. For example, I felt that because I work out hard and worked hard that I could justify “self-medicating” the increasing stresses of life with alcohol, tobacco and other short term self-satisfaction vices. I also began to withdraw more into myself and neglect my wife and family because I felt that because I gave everything I had at the gym and at the office that I didn’t need to give anything more when I got home! I thought that doing positive things like working out would trump all the negative things I did in my life. I also failed to realize how overcompensating in one area of your life like the physical and neglecting the spiritual would also lead to becoming less than a full and happy person. I failed to realize how these poor decisions built up since my teenage years would compound and keep me from achieving a happy and balanced life as well as hurting the ones who truly love me, my wife and daughters. I have incurred and paid off mountains of debt and made poor decisions which could have led to my complete self-destruction and that of my family!
However, I also believe that everything happens for a reason, and if I had not had these challenges in my life I would not be on the positive path that I am now and would have continued to neglect my spiritual self and would have never had the guts to sell my company and follow my true passions! I feel that so many forces, due to these challenges, have led me to my current path.
I started doing things which were uncomfortable and uncharacteristic to me like meditating, going to church regularly and doing yoga. Although, when I started doing these I realized how my martial arts experiences really included these practices all along!
When our oldest daughter was having problems keeping friends, school, an abusive boyfriend and alcohol I realized that the things we were trying to teach her to be a happy and confident person were all the things that I myself needed to do as well and we were so similar in many ways except she was 19 and I was 48 and should have learned all this a long time ago!
I started trying to merge my true passions with our financial services business and realized that part of my issues was that I was really tired and burnt out from this business of constantly focusing on and chasing nothing but MONEY, MONEY, MONEY and idolizing fictitious greedy characters like Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street! Therefore, I decided to sell our investment management business and devote my life to my passions of continuous self-improvement, fitness, building businesses, adventure and helping others!
When I really sat down and analyzed what makes me happy and what I would do all the time if I had no barriers it was continuously striving, learning, training and challenging myself and others to be the best we can be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually!
Therefore, March 10, 2014 I signed an agreement to sell our company White House Financial & Investment Solutions, LLC and will be starting a new business Country Spirit Fitness to help as many people as I can by leading them by my example to follow their passions and lead happy and productive lives. I will document my journey on this web site and using Social Media and hope that others will obtain some motivation and information to do the same in their lives!
HANG ON!! HERE WE GO!! HOOYAH! GGGGGOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
First, a disclaimer. My purposed in telling my story is not to toot my own horn or because I feel everyone needs to hear it, my purpose is to purely to try and help others who perhaps struggle with the same challenges I have in my life and who want to follow their passions in life no matter what point they are in their lives. What challenges have I faced you ask?
1.) The struggle with a lack of discipline for short term gratification at the expense long term more important goals
3.) Focusing too much on work and the acquisition of money at the expense of my family
4.) The struggle with knowing who I truly am and being who I truly am versus trying to be someone I'm not
5.) Addiction to things that are bad for me.
6.) Too much debt
7.) Three daughters and being a good role model for them
8.) Creating and running a business
I am Cyril Stephen White, and as of 2014 I am currently 48 years old and I am an only child. I was born in Detroit, Michigan, moved to Grosse Pointe, Michigan in the eighth grade, graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School in 1984 where I met my wife Leslie with whom I have three beautiful daughters. We live on a 26 acre farm in Chelsea, Michigan where we have been since 2001.
I graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1991 with a degree in Engineering Physics. It took me a while to get my degree since graduating from high school because I didn't know what I wanted to do and majored in everything from music (jazz guitar) to running my own valet parking business. I Worked in the computer engineering and information systems fields for about two years after graduation, however, I always had bigger dreams of being a "Captain of Industry" and ruling the world. So I got my Masters in Business Administration, from the University of Chicago in their weekend program (yes, I physically went to Chicago just about every Saturday for almost 3 years while working full time and raising a family) transitioning into the world of financial services after graduating and going to work as a Financial Adviser in the Detroit, Michigan office of Merrill Lynch & Co.
I have never liked working for others or being told what I can or can’t do (probably the only child in me as I never had to share anything) and remember always wanting to start and run my own business from a very young age. I often tell people that I learned more about business running my own valet parking business in Detroit during college than I did from my MBA from the University of Chicago! I love the creative process, the hustle and the ability to have control of your own destiny that comes with owning and running your own business.
In October of 2001, right after the September 11th attacks my wife and I bought a 26 acre horse farm just outside of Chelsea, Michigan. The farm had many buildings one of which was the old milk house from when it used to be a dairy farm (see the picture below).
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