Friday, February 4, 2022

Anthony C. Delauney Interview - Dash and Nikki and the Jellybean Game

Photo Content from Anthony Delauney

Anthony Delauney is a financial advisor, a franchise business owner, and the author of three financial education books in the Owning the Dash series: Applying the Mindset of a Fitness Master to the Art of Family Financial Planning (2019), The No-Regrets Retirement Roadmap (2021), and Dash and Nikki and the Jellybean Game (2021).

Anthony has worked in the financial services industry since 2003, helping families develop financial plans that comprehensively address their broad range of goals and dreams, including cash flow management, debt elimination, protection planning, new home purchases, family planning, small business planning, education and retirement planning, investment education, and estate planning. He has acquired the professional certifications of Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner, Chartered Financial Consultant®, Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM, Retirement Income Certified Professional®, and Behavioral Financial Advisor™. He has made it his professional mission to help families make sense of and manage every aspect of their financial lives.

On a personal front, Anthony has been married to his wife, Laura, since 2006, and they have two children, Abbie and Jason. The Delauneys have a deep passion for helping growing families and a strong charitable focus on children’s hospitals.

Greatest thing you learned in school.
Empathy. My journey into the person I am today started in 6th grade. I had transferred to a new all boys Jesuit school, and I fit into the awkward clumsy shy middle school boy stereotype. My inability to fit it led me and three of my fellow classmates to be inaugural members of the ‘Cool Guy’s Club’. It wasn’t a club that we created, and those who came up with it used it against us. For anyone who has seen Revenge of the Nerds, I was Lewis.

As I entered 8th grade, I became more in control of my body and discovered that I had a talent in sports. By my senior year of high school, I had earned the titles of captain of the wrestling team, varsity football starter and middle school B team lacrosse defense coach. I loved the thrill of the competitions, the cheers of the crowds, and the comradery of my teammates, but what helped me advance to the leadership levels was that I started at the bottom. I entered athletics knowing how it felt to be the kid on whom the older jocks made fun. This mindset helped me to empathize with all my teammates, those who excelled and those who struggled. It also helped me to recognize and appreciate my fellow students whose passions existed outside of sports.

Middle and high school helped me to learn how to listen, and they also taught me the importance of framing one’s mindset. We all struggle, but those struggles are all life lessons. They frame who we are and what we see. I would not have been the same person if I didn’t know the hardships I felt being part of the Cool Guys Club. ……

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
One of the most impactful events of my adult life that brought the Owning the Dash brand to life is the death of my cousin Greg Plitt in 2015. Greg was an immensely successful motivational speaker and fitness icon, but to me, he was like a tough-love older brother who helped mold me into the person that I am today. Greg’s unexpected death led me to rediscovering my cousin in a new light. The video on the homepage of the Owning the Dash website explains Greg’s impact on me, and the videos and information on the Inspiration page tell the story of how, through his guidance and motivation, the original book and brand were born.

My children Abbie and Jason inspired me to write the first children’s picture book in the Owning the Dash Kids series. Abbie loves to read, and she also loves storytelling. Since she was able to start reading on her own, we have always had a bond with creating fantasy stories, many of which were intended to help her fall asleep at night but ended up instead setting her mind off on a whirlwind of creative ideas. Abbie is a true night owl! For example, when I was writing the original drafts of Dash and Nikki, I usually would get to work late in the evening when everyone went to sleep. There were multiple times when I would be writing around 10:30 pm in my home office and I would suddenly see a figure at my office door saying, “Hello, Daddy!”

Jason, on the other hand, connects with me through challenges and games. We are always testing one another. His passion for games and Abbie’s passion for storytelling are what brought Dash and Nikki and the Jellybean Game to life.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I have worked in the financial services industry for nearly two decades, and I’ve been a parent for the past twelve years. In both my professional life and my personal life, I’ve discovered that storytelling is one of the best ways to communicate. We understand numbers, and we usually understand logic, but the thing that inspires us to truly act is passion. We need to understand the ‘Why’ behind what we are doing.

Storytelling allows us to step outside of ourselves and imagine a new life in the characters in our stories. We get to sympathize with their struggles and celebrate with their successes. We get to feel the emotions of the characters by placing ourselves in their shoes. Those emotions are what allow the lessons of the story to last. Stories remind us of how we felt at the moment. Young children can remember Pinocchio’s nose when they think of telling a lie, and older children can reflect on the white whale in Moby-Dick when they become obsessed with a certain goal.

As adults the same understanding applies. Sharing the statistics on how much someone needs to save for retirement or how much life or income protection a person may need can sometime be a pointless discussion, but if we take a moment to tell a story of the outcome, the reality of the numbers becomes much more real. If a young couple is preparing to have a child, and they do not have any life insurance in place, asking them to describe what life would be like for their spouse and child if they died creates a very real image. It creates a story, and they can then choose if that is the story they want. For those individuals thinking about retiring, asking what life they want in retirement is far more interesting and exciting than simply saying you can live off a percentage of your pre-retirement income. Storytelling is what drives us to act to turn our dreams into realities.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book?
The most impactful book in my professional career, and to an extent in my personal life, is The E-Myth Revisited. It is a book I would recommend to any small business owner, and its lessons can apply in both personal and professional settings. One of my greatest takeaways from the book is the idea that we wear three separate hats: the entrepreneur, the manager, and the technician. The following article does a wonderful job of explaining each: Three Business Personalities: Entrepreneur, Manager, Technician ( It is very easy for us to get caught up in the tasks of the technician, but in order to truly achieve our goals and advance forward, we need to discover how to transition from the technician into the entrepreneur.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Dash and Nikki and the Jellybean Game is the first children’s picture book in the Owning the Dash Kids series. In June/July 2022, I will release the next book in the series called Lilly and May Learn Why Mom and Dad Work. This new book will involve another loving family and will help teach the important lesson of why moms and dads have to go to work.

In addition, in April 2022 I will release my next book in the financial self-help category: The No-Regrets Retirement Roadmap. My original 2019 self-help book, Owning the Dash: Applying the Mindset of a Fitness Master to the Art of Family Financial Planning, focused on helping young couples and families learn the essentials of financial planning to start taking control of their financial lives. The No-Regrets Retirement Roadmap shifts the focus to older adults preparing for the critical transition into retirement.

In your newest book; DASH AND NIKKI AND THE JELLYBEAN GAME, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
I have worked in the financial planning industry for about nineteen years. My focus has always been helping families. One common concern I hear from families with children is "How do I start teaching my kids about money? I wish that I had learned about this stuff (money) when I was younger." I've realized as both an advisor and as a parent that telling our children what to do does not always yield the results we desire. Instead, children tend to learn from stories and examples. They constantly observe and then do their best to interpret how someone else is feeling and how that person might react in a given situation.

One study that I have shared with parents in the past regarding children's behavior is the Marshmallow Study. The study involved giving a child a marshmallow and then telling them not to eat it until the adult returns to the room. The adult then leaves and monitors the child's behavior. It's a great study to share with adults, but not very easy to explain to children. I wanted to come up with a way to explain the study in a way that my daughter, Abbie (age 12), and son, Jason (age 10), would both understand and enjoy. We all love playing games, so I knew that I would need to create some type of game. We also all love desserts, and jellybeans are a favorite. I knew given their ages that the game needed to be short and simple with rules that they could understand. I came up with the idea of giving them each ten jellybeans to start off the day and telling them that every hour that they could resist the ten jellybeans I would give them five more up until the end of the day (dinnertime).

Given what I knew about my children's personalities, I was confident that Jason would hoard all of his jellybeans to create a huge pile by the end of the day. Abbie, on the other hand, would potentially eat all her jellybeans within the first hour. I imagined how Abbie might feel later in the day as Jason's pile grew and her plate stayed empty, so I wanted to incorporate a way in the game that if one person decided to eat all their jellybeans, the sibling could potentially help out by giving or loaning some of their jellybeans. Jason and Abbie often tend to look out for one another, so I was confident that one would help the other if the need arose.

As the game developed more in my head, I realized that all families could use the game to help teach their children about the value of savings and delayed gratification. Abbie, Jason and I all love to write, so I came up with the idea of turning the game into a children's rhyming picture book that parents could share with their children to introduce the game and the concepts. Abbie and Jason played a major role in helping me to develop the plot of the story, and readers will quickly discover that the two main characters, Dash and Nikki, have a very strong resemblance to Jason and Abbie.

We wanted to create a book that kids of all ages would enjoy, and I wanted the book to serve as a tool to help parents start a conversation about money with their children and also help teachers start a conversation with their students. Dash and Nikki and the Jellybean Game became the first children's picture book in the Owning the Dash Kids series. More books will follow that share entertaining stories that parents and teachers will be able to use to help introduce basic financial concepts and equip children to enter adulthood.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
The book is meant for children of all ages, but it is most appropriate for children ages seven and younger.

I hope that after children read the book, when they are presented with important decisions involving a choice between a small gratification now and a larger reward later, they will reflect on Dash and Nikki’s story and take some time to consider their decision.

I hope that they learn that winning does not always have to involve beating someone else and that two or more people can win at the same game.

I hope that when a child has an abundance and sees someone else in need, they will think of how Dash helped his sister, and both ended up happy in the end.

I hope that as young parents read this story to their children, they reflect on their own long-term goals and dreams. Perhaps they will take a moment to ask themselves whether they are on track to achieve those dreams or are allowing short-term emotions and impulses to cloud their judgement.

Finally, I hope that Dash and Nikki and the Jellybean Game becomes a valuable tool that teachers use to educate students across the country on the importance of critical thinking, delayed gratification, patience, compassion and empathy.

What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
Since the characters match the personalities of my children, I had a great deal of fun coming up with the reactions of Dash and Nikki throughout the book. Both my daughter Abbie and son Jason played a very big part in coming up with the illustration layout and editing process. Their favorite spread in the book is where Nikki is tossing the beans into her mouth and Dash is standing in the background with his mouth wide open. They laugh every time that they see it!

  • 1. The book was inspired by a game that I intended to create for my kids.
  • 2. The two main characters are based off the appearances and personalities of my children.
  • 3. I wrote the first draft of Dash and Nikki after waking up at 3:00 am one morning with an intense passion to write. The story flowed from my mind. Its original version was more than double its final length and involved multiple added characters.
  • 4. I hired a coach to help me with the book since it was my first attempt at a children’s picture book. We went through three revisions. Her advice was extremely helpful, but I will confess that after I received her feedback on the second draft, there were so many recommended edits and revisions that I strongly considered scrapping the project. Instead, I went back to my original version of the story and pushed forward.
  • 5. Dash and Nikki initially was intended to be a stand-alone book. After several people in the book publishing world looked at it and provided feedback, I decided to expand my vision for the ‘purpose’ of the book and create the Owning the Dash Kids series. The next book in the series will come out mid-2022.
  • 6. There is a special surprise that will be discovered after the last children’s picture book is released. There may be a few Easter Eggs in future books to give some hints. J
  • 7. My dream would be to present the Owning the Dash Kids books at an elementary school teacher’s conference to help offer a way for teachers to start talking to their young students about bigger financial concepts and ideas in a fun manner.
  • 8. My daughter is probably my leading motivator in pursuing my artistic passions and creating Dash and Nikki. Years ago, I asked her to sing me a lullaby one evening. She grabbed her ukulele and came up with an original song on the spot. It was incredible! The title of the song was Twirling Twister of Dreams. I have begged her for years to allow me to turn the song into a lullaby children’s picture book, but she wishes to keep it as a song. Perhaps one day I will be able to convince her. Stay tuned.
  • 9. One of the happiest moments I shared with my son Jason in 2021 was when he came home from school after giving his teacher a copy of Dash and Nikki. She read it to the entire class, and she did not realize until after class ended that Jason helped write the story. His joy and excitement in knowing that he helped create something that his whole class and teacher enjoyed is something that I will never forget. As soon as he told me, he was already working on ideas for the future books.
  • 10. People have asked me what it is like to write a children’s picture book compared to an adult self-help book. The analogy that I love to use is: “Writing an adult self-help book is like trying to paint a picture and having a family room wall as your canvass. Writing a children’s picture book is like trying to paint the same picture but with a stamp as your canvass. Every word matters, and the story needs to flow. There is little room for error or laziness.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Nikki to Hermione Granger from Harry Potter for multiple reasons. First, Hermione was one of my daughter’s first favorite storybook characters, who oddly enough was later replaced by Bellatrix Lestrange. Nikki has a habit of being impulsive, while Hermione is practical and steady. Just as Hermione enjoyed many great adventures with Harry and Ron (two boys who were also a bit impulsive), I could imagine Hermione and Nikki having a lot of fun together, while driving each other crazy at the same time.

Where did you go on your first airplane ride?
I grew up in Maryland with a large extended family, where almost everyone lived within a thirty-minute driving radius. Plane travel was almost non-existent in my childhood. Family vacations were driving trips to the beach in Ocean City, MD or Bethany, DE. We did take one or two trips to Disney in Florida, but they involved the family packing into a giant blue station wagon that at the time felt like a tank with a leather interior.

The first major flight I can remember was during my college years. I applied for a working internship in Dublin, Ireland, and I was accepted. The flight itself wasn’t that memorable, but the internship with Allied Irish Bank was unknowingly one of my first steps leading to a profession as a financial planner.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
I am one of the kids who grew up in the 80s, and like many of my peers, I think it was probably the best time in history to be a kid. We got to experience all the joys of pre-computer life where our imaginations were free to run wild. Bike rides to friend’s houses were common, as were building forts in the woods, pick-up football, baseball, and lacrosse games. We also experienced the excitement of technology first entering our lives with the Nintendo console under the Christmas tree and all the thrills of the original Super Mario Brothers, Zelda and so many more… You couldn’t save your progress with many of those original games, so each time you got to play, it was like a whole new adventure. How far can you and your friends get! I feel that kids who grew up in the 80s got to experience the best of both worlds: pre-technology and post.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid.
I miss the lack of structure and the freedom to be bored. Children today have so many more opportunities than were available when I grew up, and it’s wonderful that these opportunities are available, but it has also created a society where we feel we need to utilize every free moment. Kid’s days are packed with school activities, and their evening are just as full with sports practices, piano lessons, coding classes, etc. The list keeps going. If there is a free moment, its occupied with social media updates and non-stop texting conversations.

Many parents want to reduce their kid’s activity load, but it seems nearly impossible due to the competitive nature of our society. If your child hasn’t mastered a sport or instrument by middle school, don’t get your hopes up of them being selected for the school team. Kids have so much pressure placed upon them that I think it is fair to say that many parents would not trade their childhoods for what their kids have today.

This same pressure exists in adults. We have the freedom of flexibility where many of us can work remotely and at the hours we wish, but at the same time, we are always available. The emails never stop piling up and the social media pressures don’t disappear. If we are not doing anything, for some individuals, it feels like the first sign of being unproductive and it leads to guilt. My hope is that we as a society can better recognize this growing dilemma and acknowledge it.

One very powerful documentary that I saw several years back was called Happy. One part of the documentary discussed how individuals in Japan worked so hard that they worked themselves to death. They named this scenario Karoshi, or “overwork death”. Productivity is wonderful, but it is not the purpose of why we are here. Our children are being forced to grow up too quickly, and as a result, their stress and anxiety is growing at an alarming rate.

I apologize for going deep into this question, but this topic is very important to me. One of my biggest passions is helping sick children. Sickness comes in many forms.

Where can readers find you?
A: Everywhere books are sold. Links to some of the most popular places where the books are sold can be found on

  • 1. During my senior year of high school, I was voted by my peers as “the most worrisome person” in our school.
  • 2. I went to all boy schools from 1st grade all the way to my senior year of high school.
  • 3. I am an Eagle Scout.
  • 4. I started a wrestling club in college where my girlfriend was the team manager. (She later become my wife. J)
  • 5. I worked for Allied Irish Bank through an internship during my junior year of college. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was my first experience working as a financial advisor.
  • 6. I love education and feel like you can never stop learning. As a result, I’ve acquired the designations of CFP®, ChFC®, CRPC®, RICP®, and BFATM.
  • 7. I love almost everything to do with the 80s: music, movies, hair, etc.
  • 8. In high school I was a lifeguard and swim coach for young kids. The name of the pool where I worked was Meadowbrook Swim Club. While there, I became friendly with the coach of the pool’s swim team. He had one athlete who was a great swimmer. I remember the coach saying that this athlete was going to be an Olympic Gold medalist one day. I was a young teenager, so I just rolled my eyes. Fast forward a few years… That young man was Michael Phelps and the coach was Bob Bowman.
  • 9. I am the cousin of the late fitness icon Greg Plitt, who is the inspiration behind the original Owning the Dash book and brand.
  • 10. I am likely to cry while watching movies involving dads and sons or daughters. Some titles include I Am Sam, Jersey Girl and the Pursuit for Happiness.
What is your greatest adventure?
Parenthood – Every year it is a new experience, and each child is unique, so all parents get to enjoy a different adventure. I already have so many wonderful memories involving my wife Laura and my children Abbie and Jason, but what excites me is the realization that more adventures await and that I get to be part of their journey. As I get older, I realize that the most wonderful experiences we have in our lives are the ones that we share with others.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?
The truth is that I did not read much as a child. I didn’t develop a passion for reading until early adulthood. What I did crave in high school and college was storytelling. I developed a great appreciation of fellow classmates who acted in theater, and in my sophomore year of college, I met an incredible girl who helped introduce me to the arts. (Yes. That girl is my wife Laura. J) I was also able to take my first theater course in college as part of my core curriculum studies. It didn’t take long for me to learn that the arts (music, theater, art) helped to shed light on some of the most fundamentals lessons of life in a way that I would never be able to learn in my business school classes. This appreciation for the arts led me to start reading where I discovered how storytelling is an excellent way for authors to share their life lessons and life experiences.

Welcome, kids of all ages, to The Jellybean Game! Dash and his sister, Nikki, are so glad that you came. Discover what awaits--there are surprises in store: candy, competition, and a little something more! Join in the excitement as they challenge one another, and learn a life lesson that's unlike any other.

You can purchase Dash and Nikki and the Jellybean Game at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ANTHONY C. DELAUNEY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Dash and Nikki and the Jellybean Game by Anthony C. Delauney.