I delayed for years writing an about me page. But after several recent requests, I thought I’d finally breakdown and do it.
My Life Philosophy
Kindness trumps evil. Good wins. Practice Safe Debt.
I try to live my life and conduct business by a very simple mantra, “If you do good things, good things happen.” For the most part, I have lived that philosophy and have spent nearly all my adult life helping others.
If you follow this site you will find I extend that belief by also investing in financial literacy projects through DonorsChoose.org and Kiva.org to help people start small businesses all around the world. Here is my Kiva.org page.
Now the Debt Stuff
In 1990 I went bankrupt after the economy tanked and my real estate company failed. You can watch the video of that experience below.
After having lived through tough money troubles in 1994 I founded a non-profit organization to help people find a path through their financial troubles and solutions for debt problems. At that time the group was called Debt Counselors of America. We later changed the name to Myvesta. During my time there the organization grew from two employees to seventy. The larger the group got the less fun it was and not long after my cross country motorcycle tour (which you can watch here) where I interviewed people about credit and debt, I decided life was more important than working myself to death. So in early 2004, I stepped down as president of Myvesta for a year to spend time enjoying life and my family more. I remained the chairman of the board and returned a year later as president. In 2006 I closed the organization down when our big office lease expired. From the experience, I learned I loved helping people but I hated managing a big organization. It just wasn’t fun.
During my time at Myvesta, we created the first organization of its kind that had a wide range of help and support for people with money troubles. We had staff psychologists, lawyers, mediators, employment specialists, CPAs, tax experts, etc. We even opened the first inpatient treatment program for compulsive spending issues. Our work got a lot of positive press.
I had a syndicated Q&A advice column that ran in 50 papers and I guess that’s where I got the writing bug. I also wrote three books during that time. You can download them for free from this site.
I also did a lot of television and radio appearances as a consumer debt expert. I’ve been on FOX, CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and local stations. I also had my own radio show as well. I was constantly interviewed by newspapers during that time also.
I am now an investigative reporter and journalist that specializes in covering consumer debt and the debt relief world.
News Outlets I Write or Have Written For
- Huffington Post
- WRAL Television
- Gannett News Service
This site is also one of the few trusted debt advice sites recommended by Dr. Phil and listed as a Dr. Phil Recession Resource.
A top debt site named by:
I’m also the author of two of the top six personal finance books on iTunes.
I’ve also worked with some celebrities that had money troubles as their personal coach and I appeared as a money coach on the television reality show, Starting Over.
I’m also the Agencemerlang on WRAL television, where I also help consumers for free.
Some of the Other Places You’ve Seen Me
Here is a interview about me that describes my approach and philosophy.
After my Myvesta days, I then started a global social enterprise, the Agencemerlang, to help people in other parts of the world that had financial troubles. In 2006 and 2007 I lived outside Liverpool, England where I worked to create solutions to help UK residents with debt problems.
I’ve been invited to Parliament to offer advice on financial literacy and I also assisted in the creation of debt help groups in Ireland, South Africa, and the Netherlands and traveled extensively in Europe studying the different debt assistance approaches of the different countries. In 2007 I was a guest speaker at a conference in Berlin.
Here are some debt interviews I shot outside the Tower of London one day while I lived in England.
In 2008 we came back to the United States on a trip. The one really cool part was taking the helicopter from JFK to Manhattan at night.
During that trip, we spent three weeks driving from New York to San Francisco and during that trip I fell in love with America all over again and got homesick. Not long later we moved back to the United States and shortly afterward I started to spend my time helping people for free with debt problems through the GetOutOfDebt.org site.
I think testimonials speak louder than any words I could write and for me they are more important. If you’d like to read some about me, click here.
Since writing the information above I had the pleasure of attending a White House press conference as a representative for this site to cover debt relief news. Okay, it was pretty cool to do that. Here are some photos from that visit.
I was recently interviewed by Chris Roush from the Journalism Department of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can read that interview on Talking Biz News.
So Who am I?
First, let me get the non-debt stuff out of the way. My favorite thing used to be long trips on my motorcycle. My wife and I have had some big adventures on the bike and recently rode down the East Coast to Key West, FL. I also rode across the United States from Maryland to California.
I am a firefighter and Chief Pilot with a local fire department where I am responsible for drone and Unmanned Aircraft System operations for search & rescue and emergency services. I’m also a faculty member at Montgomery College and the North Carolina Public Safety Drone Academy.
I’m a dog rescue pilot and fly a large number of hours saving the lives of dogs. Most of my flights are from kill shelters down South to rescue up North who have people waiting who can adopt these dogs.
I’m also an emergency pilot for emergency management and fly as FIRE DEMON 1.
I also happen to be a private pilot and scuba diver, although I have not been diving in many years. When I was in high school I started a small company cleaning the bottom of racing sailboats in Annapolis, Maryland. I had some amazing experiences as a scuba diver, everything from being shot at, doing a crystal clear deepwater dive on a moonlit night, to one day surfacing in front of a naked lady.
My favorite aircraft I have flown were the large two engine WWII era C-47, an open cockpit Stearman biplane and one of those large full motion commercial aircraft simulators of an Airbus A-320. I did own a single-engine Piper Cherokee and flew up and down the East Coast primarily.
My other interest is photography. I studied photojournalism in college and have done freelance work for news services and Rolling Stone magazine. These days I shoot stills and video mostly for my own fun, while I do have some stock work for sale.
The broadcast quality version of this clip of mine was used in a travel show.
Below is a still shot of mine I really like from a trip to Puerto Rico.
I also happen to rescue and digitally restore WWII original 16mm gun camera films and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many fighter pilots that flew primarily Mustangs and Thunderbolts over Europe in WWII. Amazing guys.
My hobby grew into a business where I rescued and restored thousands and thousands of rare aviation flight and pilot manuals. I sell those manuals online through my aviation site to researchers and people that restore rare aircraft.
“Recently Steve Rhode came to speak to our group at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. Our members loved his restored films and strongly support his important mission of saving aviation history and making it available to everyone. For those of us who love aviation and aviation history, his is a unique site that everyone must visit.”
As far as my working life. I went through the Georgetown University Medical School ophthalmic technology program and became an expert in ophthalmic ultrasonography and photography. During my medical days, I did routine eye care and was on-call for emergency eye care for a large practice in Florida. Later in Maryland, I became an ophthalmic surgical assistant and participated in a number of surgeries. The strangest was probably the removal of a live wiggling parasite from inside the eye of a teenage girl. I also happened to be involved in the development of intraocular lenses for dogs to help restore vision and performed, I think, the first ophthalmic ultrasound to measure the proper lens need for canine surgery at Duke University.
I was the co-editor and wrote chapters in my book Ophthalmic Technology which was published by Raven Press. My ophthalmology life expanded and I traveled around the country teaching classes and spoke at national conferences. I went on to manage a medium-sized ophthalmic practice in New York. In 1989 I decided I wanted to do something different with my life so I left my successful ophthalmology life behind and move back to Washington, DC area to start a real estate development company, The Great Virginia Land Company, that specialized in developing country property.