Sharing Lessons Learned

By Shelby Schultheis ’14

What started as important life lessons in the form of letters to his daughter has turned into an inspirational new book for alumnus Brad Fortier ’96.

Brad Fortier ’96 (sociology) believes that there is an author in everyone.

“I think I’m of the view that everybody should write a book,” Fortier says. “It doesn’t necessarily have to get published, but I think we’ve all got something to teach the world.”

Fortier’s own book, Dear Kate: Reflections on Risk and Rewards After the Storm, is a series of letters to his daughter sharing the lessons he’s learned in life so far. Fortier says that after 15 years of doing financial planning and taking a look around the world, he felt that he had learned some things that were worth sharing.

“I think the primary motivation was I felt like I had learned some pretty important things that I didn’t think a lot of people were privy to and I wanted to get it on paper so my daughter had access to that wisdom,” Fortier says.

Some people who read Fortier’s book remark that it is a story about loss, since it takes place after Hurricane Katrina. He had lost his job, his home, and owned only two sets of clothes. While the hurricane was a climactic moment for Fortier, he says that it was also the most peaceful time of his life.

“It forces you to reflect on some things,” Fortier says. “All the things I had stressed about and had anxiety about had happened, but it wasn’t really all that bad.”

His book is about moving past the loss of material things to find something meaningful on the other side.

“It’s about a portal that loss has the potential to open up and it’s really about what you find and discover when you realize that everything you lost that you thought you held dear wasn’t real,” Fortier says. “It’s about finding something deeper or more meaningful about life through loss.”

Dear Kate has sold about 600 copies, but Fortier has given many copies to his clients. He hosted a book launch and the idea behind it was to do a little practicing of what he preaches to his clients.

“This is something I think everyone should do as a part of their estate planning, but also in doing comprehensively, holistic financial planning, people reveal very sensitive things to me that they probably don’t tell their closest friends and revealing my story was kind of my way of saying ‘I’m no different than you,’” Fortier says.

While he hasn’t noticed any new clients coming to him because of his book, Fortier states that it has strengthened and deepened his relationship with his existing clients. He makes a practice of giving away a copy of the book to potential new clients to let them see the kind of person they are doing business with.

“My business is one that requires a whole lot of trust and I think I’ve found that someone comes back to someone they feel comfortable with,” Fortier says. “They don’t come to me because of the book, but once they read the book they tend to choose me.”

Fortier’s daughter, Kate, keeps a copy of the book by her bed.

“She loves the fact that she’s got a book with her name on it,” Fortier says. “Obviously it’s way too deep for a four-year-old, but she gets that there’s talks about fishing and she’ll have me read it to her.”

Fortier’s book has garnered a lot of attention. He says that Garland Robinette featured the book on his “Think Tank” show on WWL-AM and that Robinette has started reading the book to his own daughter. Michelle Singletary of The Washington Post chose the book to feature on her financial book of the month club and wrote a review on it. Dear Kate is also being used at Delgado as part of a business ethics class.

During his time at Loyola, Fortier majored in sociology which now aids him in his career in financial and retirement planning. Fortier also credits Loyola for expanding his views.

“It exposed me to a level of depth about education and life that I don’t think you would get at too many other places,” Fortier says. “It started making me aware of things I might never have come aware of.”

Fortier says that he calls on his sociology degree more for helping people manage their investments than he does any of his analytical education.

“I’ve always been interested in how people think, individuals, as groups, and that sort of led to a natural appreciation for economics and how we make decisions,” Fortier says.

When Dear Kate went to print, Fortier and his wife found out that they were having another child, so Fortier has begun working on a new book. Fortier says that his book for his son Bennett will be along the same lines as Dear Kate.

While Fortier knows that he’s not going to get rich by being an author, he still has a passion for writing about his experiences.

“I very much enjoy writing. I feel that I can communicate better through the written word than any other, so I try to balance that with the fact that I have bills to pay,” Fortier says.

Fortier hopes that Kate will rely on the advice in his book one day.

“I’ve got visions of me being long gone from this Earth and her and her husband moving and she’s unpacking old boxes and she comes across it and decides to read it on the closet floor or something and it’ll be like I’m right there,” Fortier says.

To order a copy of Dear Kate, visit www.dearkatethebook.com


Shelby Schultheis ’14 (English) is the publications intern for the Office of Marketing and Communications during the spring 2013 semester.

View the complete spring 2013 issue of LOYNO.

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