Wendell Holland is a graduate of Penn Law, founder of furniture company Beve Unlimited, and the winner of 2018’s Survivor: Ghost Island. He is also a client of Pennsylvania Trust and recently took time out from his busy schedule to speak at an educational event our firm hosted for young investors.
Like many of my peers, my life journey has been anything but a straight line. Things certainly started off about as mainstream and corporate as you can get — graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Morehouse College, a law degree from Penn Law and a good job as a new attorney, clerking for one of Philadelphia’s most respected judges.
But through it all, I never really felt as though I was living my true self. I reflected on all my incredible life experiences; my love of competitive team sports, my passion for creativity and entrepreneurship, as well as a deep appreciation for the global community thanks to my participation in exchange programs. And I came to a simple but powerful realization — I had dreams, but I wasn’t following them.
So, when friends and family started raving about a bed I had designed and built for myself out of reclaimed wood when I was a law clerk, I saw an opportunity. I started creating custom pieces for others, made more beds which quickly sold out online, and soon formalized my business into a full-time endeavor (Beve Unlimited).
During this whole life transition, I was also continually applying to be a contestant on the Survivor series, a show I have always loved and imagined myself well-suited for, given the physical and social skills needed for success.
Life after Survivor
Fast forward to today, and here I stand with a small but successful growing business, a mountain of law school debt, and a check for a million dollars in my pocket. I was determined not to become another example of a Survivor winner doing foolish things with his/her money. Instead, I wanted to do something smart with my windfall.
Here I stand with a small but successful growing business, a mountain of law school debt, and a check for a million dollars in my pocket.
As I mentioned in my pre-show interview, everything I do in life is motivated by a desire to enhance the lives of my family members and to make my community a better and safer place to live. So, I turned to my parents and asked for their advice. My dad told me about his long-standing relationship with Pennsylvania Trust and introduced me to George McFarland. I met with a few of the amazingly knowledgeable people at the company, and we talked at length about my life, my values, my worries and my dreams. We discussed my law school debt, the taxes I would owe on my winnings, and the vision I have for my business.
They took the time not only to offer advice on how they’d allocate and invest my funds with an eye toward taxes and the long term, but also to explain to someone who’s not an “investment person” the reason why these actions would benefit my financial situation. Thanks to Pennsylvania Trust, I’m not only a television Survivor, I’m also well on the road to becoming a financial survivor.
Disclosure: This Commentary represents a review of topics of possible interest to Pennsylvania Trust’s clients and is not personalized investment advice. It contains Pennsylvania Trust’s opinions, which may change following the date of publication. Information obtained from third-party sources is assumed to be reliable but is not guaranteed. No outcome – including performance – is guaranteed, due to various uncertainties and risks. This document is not a recommendation of any particular investment. Investment decisions for clients are made on an individualized basis and may be different from what is expressed here. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.