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Renowned Wall Street analyst Tim Kellis takes on what could be considered society’s biggest problem today: divorce. The journey that led to him tackling such a significant issue was both personal and professional. After a successful career that eventually landed him on Wall Street, Tim met what he thought was the girl of his dreams, only to see that relationship end with bitterness and anger. The journey included work with a marital therapist, and after he discovered the therapist wasn’t really helping decided to tackle the issue himself.
Ambition and a strong aptitude for math helped lead Kellis to discover how to make relationships work. His math skills led directly to an engineering degree, nine years in the telecommunications industry, an MBA in finance, and finally on to Wall Street, where he became the very first semiconductor analyst to focus on the communications market.
After publishing a 300-page initiation piece entitled Initiating Coverage of the Semiconductor Industry: Riding the Bandwidth Wave, Kellis became a leading semiconductor analyst at one of the biggest firms on Wall Street. The experience he gained as a Wall Street analyst provided an excellent backdrop for becoming an expert on relationships, and resulted in his relationship book entitled Equality: The Quest for the Happy Marriage.
We interviewed Tim to find out more about marriage, divorce and soul mates.
Thank you for this interview, Tim. Can you tell us the back story on why you wrote Equality: The Quest for the Happy Marriage?
After a successful career, and at the height of the market in 2000, I met the girl whom I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. We fell in love, got engaged, fought and tried to get help from a marital therapist. When I realized the therapist wasn’t really helping I decided to tackle the issue myself.
So I researched, reading over one hundred books over a ten month period, at 2 ½ books a week, and spent nine months writing. This is probably one of the most researched books ever written. And my job will not be finished until I get my message out to the public.
If you would like to read the result of all of this effort please visit the following link for a review of the book that was just posted last week:
You went from Wall Street analyst to author. Can you tell us what the driving force behind that decision was?
My taking on the marriage issue is a combination of both my professional and personal paths. Personally speaking, I’ve learned from the pain of what I’ve been through in past relationships, particularly the one that led to writing the book, what causes relationships to turn negative.
And I have had a very successful career. Although I grew up relatively poor, the son of a cab driver and a secretary, I put myself through engineering school, spent nine years in the communications equipment industry, got my MBA and landed on Wall Street, becoming the first semiconductor analyst to focus on the communications market.
Engineers have real difficulty dealing with illogical situations.
The funny thing about this question is I was able to solve the problem not by having a successful relationship but by having an unsuccessful relationship. Plus I have come to realize that professional martial therapists are not really that interested in solving the problem. That would be bad for their business.
Included in the one hundred books that went into the research for writing this one, were nearly two dozen relationship books. My joke on this issue is all of the books I read were non-fiction books, with the lone exception of the relationship books. My first title concept was Men Are From Earth, Women Are From Earth to demonstrate just this point. Last time I checked we were all from the same planet.
Every time I bring this issue up a critic points out that the book is just a metaphor to explain that men and women are simply different, so let me clarify before anyone asks. Yes, biologically speaking, we are different. One of the biggest objectives of my book is to refute Freud’s biology theory that we are born with our brains and, well, there is really nothing you can do about mental problems, a major stumbling block to solving our marriage problem. This is actually the first relationship book written from a mental perspective, something I find humorous considering psyche is defined as “the mental or psychological structure of a person."
But the most significant point on the metaphor with John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, is the concept of the book is supposed to promote couples to appreciate their differences. Now this may make sense intellectually but it is very challenging to apply practically.
One of the biggest lessons we learned with our racial struggles was a concept referred to as “separate but equal,” a term coined by the Supreme Court in the late 19th century to continue to justify the separation of the races. And we saw the results of that concept. If you promote in any way the notion that you can keep two separate and that this will somehow make you equal then you cannot find balance in your relationship.
Equality is only possible when you bring those differences together in harmony, through what Dr. Martin Luther King referred to as “civil disobedience." Manage conflicts by disagreeing, just be civil about it.
You say that divorce is society’s biggest problem today. How does your book help us solve that problem?
I believe that for the first time in history my book defines psychologically what causes divorce. This is so very important because if you understand psychologically what causes divorce then you will hopefully have the courage to undertake the task of resolving your own personal issues that might lead to your own divorce. Transference causes divorce.
This is one of the most profound sections of the book. If couples were to only understand what they are doing when they introduce anger and arguments into the relationship then they would hopefully have the motivation to solve their mental imbalances, their insecurities. The unfortunate reality is the only person who can overcome insecurities is the person with the insecurities, not the spouse, not the friends, and not the parents.
Transference is one of the most basic concepts in the psychology industry. This concept states that if you discuss your emotions with someone then you will transfer those emotions onto that person.
In fact, Freud is who he is today because of transference. An amazing discovery is that Freud didn’t discover therapy, a Joseph Breuer did, by getting his first patient, who became famous as Anna O, to discuss the root causes of her mental problems. Breuer discovered that when he did she was able to overcome them. Unfortunately for us today, Anna O also developed the first case of transference when she developed a “hysterical pregnancy” stemming from fantasies about him where she thought she was having Joseph Breuer’s child. When he realized this he abruptly referred her to a colleague, went on vacation with his wife, and treated Anna O no more.
Unfortunately for Breuer, he “was uncomfortable with the topic of sexuality and though at the moment of the hysterical pregnancy he had ‘had the key in his hand’ (as Freud later wrote to a friend), he dropped it…[and] in conventional horror took flight”. Freud took over and completely abandoned the influence of our past on our present with his biology theory.
Transference is used today in the relationship between the therapist and the patient. This is the most basic tenet in the therapy process, with the theory that if the patient discusses his or her emotions then he or she becomes vulnerable to the advice of the therapist.
Ideally therapists are supposed to utilize this vulnerability to help the patient understand the sources of the insecurities. This is also why the patient is vulnerable to fall in love with the therapist.
We just need to take this notion one step further. Instead of transference between the patient and the therapist we just need to understand the notion that within negative relationships the one with the insecurities is transferring the negative emotions behind those insecurities from the source onto the spouse.
In the example of the alcoholic parent, if there exists negative feelings about the alcoholic parent that remain unsolved then the continued anger at the spouse because of the association of the spouse having a drink and the parent, then those feelings are eventually transferred onto the spouse. Individual examples of anger are called projections and transference occurs when those emotions are completely transferred.
You are a renowned expert on relationships. Can you tell us what television shows you have appeared on?
I left my Wall Street career in January of 2008 to focus full time on getting my message out to help save our culture of marriage. One of the tasks I took on was to hire a PR firm to help me with public appearances. Through that firm over the last year I have had numerous local appearances down here in South Florida. Included in those appearances was The South Florida Today Show on PBS, an appearance on ABC WPBF, an appearance on South Florida Today NBC WTVJ, an appearance on South Florida Business Report CBS WPEC. I also had my first national TV appearance, appearing on Lifetime’s The Balancing Act.
I have also had a lot of work on radio. Last year I had a 13 week radio show with a co-host entitled Men On Marriage. I have had appearances on A Balanced Life with Beth Aldrich on KRWM in Seattle, and appearance on A Fresh Start with Sallie Felton, also on KRWM in Seattle, an Internet Radio interview on SoundAuthors.com. I am currently doing a 14 show appearance on Marriage 101 on KKYX in San Antonio, TX and working on a mutli-show appearance on an Internet Radio Show called LIFE (Life Insight From Experts).
On a more personal note, how did you meet your wife and did something click in that relationship which led you to write Equality: The Quest for the Happy Marriage?
The funny thing about that question is many people I talk to about marriages assume that a successful marriage led to the writing of the book, but the reality is I was able to solve the marriage problem because of an unsuccessful relationship, one that didn’t even lead to marriage. The key, and the unfortunate reality about why books written by professionals don’t really help, isn’t just describing the positive relationship, or the negative relationship, but how to change the path of the negative relationship. And I am not a professional marriage therapist, just a guy.
As I mentioned, what led to the writing of the book was a relationship that didn’t even lead to marriage. Although my career was extremely successful I never met a girl who lit up my passion, until at the height of the stock market (when I worked as a Wall Street analyst) in 2000 I met a girl I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and then we started arguing. Towards the end we went to a therapist looking for help solving our relationship troubles. When I realized he wasn’t really helping I decided to tackle the issue myself, although that relationship ended. Writing this book was my cathartic reaction to that pain.
Again on a personal note, how do you apply the principles in your own marriage to those inside your book?
The reality is that I have issues in my marriage, just like most, if not all marriages today. The subtitle to the book is The Quest for the Happy Marriage to demonstrate just that point. The word “quest” came to me from a Wall Street Journal article on happiness where the point of the article is that happiness is always around the next corner, because once you find it you move on to your next adventure.
The key is patience. The bottom line in the title of my book is equality can only occur when both get to participate in both the thinking and feeling side of the relationship. As a man, understanding the emotional perspective of my wife allows me to understand her approach to issues we deal with. Another very important lesson I have learned is neutralizing my defense mechanism whenever something comes up we both don’t agree on, something very, very difficult to learn.
Do you believe in soul mates?
Absolutely. The reality is there is something very special with that one person we meet who captures our heart and soul, like so many were not able to do before.
One of the biggest changes to our culture over the last two generations is that now we date. We used to meet our partner for life in Church, then bring them home to meet the family before we get intimate with them, sometimes even on our wedding night. I will never, ever ask my parents this question, but I will go to my deathbed believing my mom was a virgin when she married my dad.
But today things are different. We get to experiment first. We get to date, and if we get to know a person we might realize that this really isn’t the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with, so we get to break up with them. And then we move on to the next person. Maybe after a period of time we come to the same conclusion. We even have a new subculture today of professional daters who never get to that point where they want to settle down, get married and have kids.
So that day happens, the one we all dream of, and our culture of sex and money preaches to us. You finally meet that one person who overwhelms you. This is your soul mate.
There are couples in happy marriages and unhappy marriages. Do you believe that marriages are made up of two soul mates and no matter if the marriage is happy or unhappy, there are always other soul mates out there for them?
Again, my belief is for each of us in today’s culture to answer yes to the question of marriage we must have met that one person who we are meant to spend the rest of our lives with.
One caveat to this thought, though, is one of the biggest factors to a successful marriage is you have to be happy with yourself. The other caveat is internal happiness is not defined by what I refer to as the two false Gods, looks and money. If you decide to marry someone because of these two false Gods then you have not met your soul mate.
Granted, we must be physically attracted to that person, and financial concerns are a big cause of problems in marriages today so financial stability does play a very important role. But you stay married to someone because of something even more important, their character. Our character traits are nothing more than our system of beliefs, and our character traits causes our behaviors.
But the key is if you have met that one person who does capture your heart you must then develop a life together, and life is always full of challenges. I describe at length in my book about how to handle the conflicts that are a part of many, if not all relationships.
But most importantly with the question of a happy or unhappy marriage, is the reality is unhappy marriages are a result of the unhappiness in one or both of the partners, something not really caused by the problems of today, but by the problems of yesterday. What I found incredibly disturbing about all of the relationship books I read was the lack of a psychological approach, something really unbelievable considering the word psyche is defined as “the mental or psychological structure of a person.” The common theme in relationship books written by professionals is John and Jane Doe don’t get along, followed by behavior advice.
So yes, I believe, and truthfully the goal of my book, is if two come together then yes they are soul mates, and if they could only learn to work together, then even the most complex psychological imbalances can be worked through.
Finally, what can you tell someone who has given up on finding their soul mate?
I believe that each and every one of us has a soul mate in this world. The concept of the soul is a timeless entity that transcends today’s material world and lasts for eternity.
Unfortunately with today’s culture of divorce we are being taught to fear relationships and this fear makes us critical of our own relationships. As we know, the root causes of our insecurities is fear, and the only way to overcome our fears is courage, the courage to believe that there is someone out there who we are supposed to meet and spend the rest of our lives with.
My favorite quote, and one I use often, is “there is no such thing as a failure who keeps trying, coasting to the bottom is the only disgrace."
Thank you for this interview, Tim. Can you tell us where we can find out more about you?
And thank you and your viewers. I am currently in the middle of a two month blog tour. In conjunction with this tour, I have my book priced at 20% off. You can pick up your copy today by visiting the following site:
Please feel free to visit my home page at:
And I have a blog where I post frequently at:Powered by Sidelines