Michael Anthony Pappas casts a broad net as an influencer that extends well beyond Williamson County, whose entrepreneurial spirit originally drew him to the area.
Pappas serves as his wife Sarah Pappas’s vice president of Pappas Family Life, a firm in the Ashton Park community of Cool Springs within the Symmetry Financial Group franchise providing life insurance as well as retirement and college solutions.
Known to followers as the personality Michael Anthony, the Franklin resident has a second life as a multimedia finance and business coach with increasing recognition among cusping entrepreneurs in Williamson County. The growing attention he’s seen locally concentrates on his dual-platform show, The Contract CFO Show, which releases both podcast and video episodes in the Apple store, Spotify and YouTube. His YouTube channel shows steady growth for its first year with 1,580 subscribers since launching on his birthday, Aug. 28, 2020, as a proof of concept for posting consistency’s effects on YouTube metrics even through daily use of YouTube Shorts — the platform’s answer to TikTok.
At first glance, Williamson County is an obvious choice for someone to hang his hat if he wants to coach other entrepreneurs, but his passion and his past tell a different story.
“I don’t come from a Williamson County,” Pappas says. “I grew up in the poorest neighborhood of Minneapolis. Where George Floyd was killed, my wife almost got mugged outside of that. That was my neighborhood. The precinct that they burned down — I have an ironing board still 20 some years later from the Target that was across the street there. That’s my hood.”
Before the age of 18, Pappas had been both stabbed and shot. His experience was one of poverty and crime that taught him first through the lack of street credit that debt was never worthwhile. Hard knocks education taught him this and other financial principles preached by Franklin radio personality and finance guru Dave Ramsey of The Dave Ramsey Show for whom he worked in Brentwood as an event coordinator at the Lampo Group and climbed the ladder to become vice president.
“Through that and just through the poverty, what I connected was: ‘Look, if I’m in debt, I have to pay money to someone, [...] and that by default limits my options.’”
He came to Ramsey already having internalized many of the concepts that Ramsey taught, yet what he learned from working in that circle was the business savvy behind the scenes, which has informed his entrepreneurial efforts since then. The financial security he had from his six-figure salary with the Lampo Group allowed his wife to launch Pappas Family Life, which became stable enough for him to comfortably leave Lampo to go into business for himself.
“We help protect people’s homes,” he says of their family business.
Pappas now offers group coaching, online training, private mentorships and live events, the latter having been significantly curtailed yet not eliminated by pandemic effects. He calls it “helping people to think like a boss.” In late August, for example, he organized and spoke at a conference of some 200 people in Las Vegas, originally scheduled for a venue in Nashville, but relocated for cheaper cost.
The Contract CFO Show is named after and based on a program he operates via website in which he guides applicants to success in their own entrepreneurial efforts. He mentors them while freelancing as the chief financial officer for their company, collaborating with their accounting personnel to provide strategy, cash flow analyses and working budgets. Speaking to Home Page, Pappas took the opportunity to announce that he will be shuttering the Contract CFO Program, however, despite the considerable profit it generated.
“I shut down the Contract CFO Program,” he says. “I off-boarded my clients because I realized, as much as it’s a gift and I can help people, it doesn’t at the end of the day seed my life, and so even though I was making decent money on it, I’m not doing this for money. I’m doing this for impact.”
Pappas says his mission statement “in life is I help entrepreneurs discover their true selves in order to create their ideal futures.” The pandemic, he believes, has been a blessing and a curse in that remote work and the loss of certain dead-end jobs has led some to question those jobs and aspire to more. This logic served as the basis for Michael Anthony starting The Kick Ass Crew, a membership-based community Pappas is developing clientele entrepreneurs aiming to build their businesses and lives to the next level.
“The gifts, if you could say, of this pandemic are that people are being woken up to the habits and just the mundane life they were living, and they’re asking themselves: ‘what else could be?’” Pappas says.
As people leave their mid-pandemic jobs for completely unrelated opportunities and even new businesses, Pappas has decided to guide them all to victory for a living.