The Art of Money: The Balance Between Finance & Philosophy | with Calvin Cooper

It’s not news to anyone that social distancing and the coronavirus are currently changing the way we live in a very meaningful way — but we all have the option to be intentional during this time and turn social distancing into an opportunity to improve our lives. 

Since we recorded this interview with Calvin Copper, he started the #AtHomeChallenge as a way to bring the global community together around a common goal: investing in ourselves and improving our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing by setting a meaningful goal and adopting a new daily habit.

That’s enough of that now — we’re sure you’re all ready for a break from that conversation! So, let us introduce you to Calvin:

Calvin Cooper is the co-founder and CEO of Rhove, a financial technology company founded on the belief that everyone has the right to invest in their home. The Rhove app provides loyalty rewards to renters that expand access and opportunity for people to own in their community.

Calvin was a very serious kid. He tried to escape his situation — his parents’ divorce and an abusive stepdad — by embracing math, music, side projects in order to make sense of a chaotic world. He would call his grandma collect and tell her his plan for how he was going to get away from everything.

His mother was very religious and his father was an atheist philosopher, so he was exposed to very different worldviews at a very young age. That cognitive dissonance gave birth to exploration. So, he spent a lot of time in college deconstructing what views were inherited and discovering what his own personal views actually were.

He studied finance in college, but he also took a lot of philosophy courses to round out his degree. He never wanted to be a philosophy professor, but he took it into his life — he views finance as art with money.

Calvin was always focused on the next thing right in front of him. He joined a frat, and at a leadership luncheon, he meets state senator Ray Miller, who ends up becoming Calvin’s first professional mentor. After Ray got off the stage, Calvin knew he had to shake his hand, so he met him outside and gave him his business card. In exchange, Ray had a job for him as a page.

Later, he dropped out of college to focus on growing a marketing and entertainment business. He moved to Atlanta to try and scale that into a music production company, but within three months he could see that things weren’t working out. Once he realized that, he knew he had to just walk away and pivot. He didn’t know what would be next, but he knew he had to move forward.

Calvin had the wind behind his sails — he was joining boards, which is rare for someone so young — and leaned deep into his craft and built up expertise. This kept opening up new doors and more actions to take. He became obsessed with smart cities, the problems we face as a society when we become more urban, and the opportunities that creates for a venture capital firm. He became the lead on the Smart City Accelerator, finding out what problems are being created by urbanization and how to solve them. Then he realized that he was living out one of the problems he saw in the market.

At 30 years old, and being very successful for his age, he still struggled to save money for a downpayment. This is a massive trend and it can lead to serious problems that emerge from that, but there are also opportunities. Calvin came up with the concept of “rent to earn,” which was an evolution of the concept “rent to own.”

This idea eventually grew into Rhove, a company dedicated to expanding access and opportunity for everyone to own in their community. Anyone can download their app and save money, get closing credits, and get money back on rent. They are creating a gradated experience between renting and owning, where the more time and capital you invest in a space, the more you will be able to get out of that space.

Calvin doesn’t believe that he is gifted. The common thread through all of his stories is a bias towards action. When he sees something in front of him that he wants, he takes action on it. And if he doesn’t know what he wants, he takes imperfect action to lead him in the right direction. You can change the world as long as your focus is on doing the next best thing.

What Brett asks:

  • [03:42] What was it like in your childhood and early life?
  • [05:48] What was it like trying to plan your way out of your situation at four years old?
  • [09:29] What was the plan?
  • [16:11] How did you balance finance and philosophy in college?
  • [19:01] Were there any other important shaping moments as a child?
  • [23:53] What was your radical worldview shift based on?
  • [32:34] Where does the courage and confidence come from to keep leaning into the authentic you come from?
  • [35:05] What was your path out of college into your early career?
  • [49:00] How do you use your influence to raise awareness around minorities?
  • [53:39] What was it like making the jump from venture capital to owning your own company?
  • [01:09:42] Can you share what Rhove does?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • Calvin saw both of his parents get divorced several times, and when things weren’t going well, the friction was obvious and divorce just needed to happen. When it did, things got better for everyone. Too often, people hold on to what’s not working and have a negative belief about the breakup. If you’re breaking up, something wasn’t right, but now you have the opportunity to go into something that is right. Be okay with breaking up, whether it’s a career, an identity, or a belief.
  • While we are staying at home, we’d all be benefitted by adopting Calvin’s powerful mindset and participating in the #AtHomeChallenge. Check out Calvin’s Tweet for more info and to join in: