We had the good fortune of connecting with John Lanza and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
Parents are key to ensuring that we raise the next generation to be financially literate. Schools can play a part, but parents are the linchpins. Money lessons are abstract until kids get the chance to practice what they’ve learned. Practice typically begins when their parents start an allowance program.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My wife and I wanted to raise our kids to be smart about money. With a background in entertainment, I gravitated to the idea that maybe we could make money smarts fun for children. We quickly realized this novel concept might also be valuable for other parents. I had a skeptical friend who was an expert at poking holes in business ideas. After a few days of diligently trying to debunk our concept, he gave up and said, “You have to do this.” That friend ended up helping me with the first Money Mammals video. I’ve been fortunate to have supportive friends, colleagues and family members throughout our journey. They helped me create that initial video which eventually gave way to an entire ecosystem of products — books, apps and games — for kids and parents. I started creating from an early age — drawing, painting, designing games, programming — and my parents encouraged me every step of the way. I was fortunate that they always promoted creativity.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ll imagine we’re in the pre- or post-COVID era to answer this question. We’d start with lunch at In-N-Out if my friend hadn’t yet been. You can’t come to LA and not try a double-double. For an art lover – we’d jump on the Metro Red or Purple Line and head to The Broad museum. I like The Broad because it has accessible art, it’s free and it’s not at all overwhelming. Although downtown has some great dinner spots, we’d have to venture to El Coyote for dinner and margaritas. This is our family’s spot for birthdays and almost weekly meal. I’ve been going since 1991! Other noteworthy places we’d have to hit: Milk Jar Cookies on Wilshire, Bay Cities for sandwiches in Santa Monica and Stout for beer and burgers. Their Goombah is my all-time favorite!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It has to be my wife, Eileen. In this case, the cliché answer is the right one. This business exists because my wife and I wanted our kids to grow up money-smart. We’re fortunate because we’re in sync on most key parenting issues. She’d also be upset if I didn’t mention that she is a REALTOR®. I’m a little biased, but she’s the best one in Southern California.