Matthew's Mind

Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly.

Stop whining.

Stop complaining.

Stop making excuses.

Whining, complaining and excuses are surefire DNA and a guaranteed recipe to fail. Want to know who NOT to partner with? Who NOT to ask for advice? Who NOT to spend more time around? People who are negative. Because you know what? No one’s listening to them! In the end … the market doesn’t care!

Listen to someone talk about the weather, about last night, about their spouse, about their kids, about dinner or the temperature in the room. Listen to someone complain about anything else trivial* and you’ll see insight that’s not trivial itself. Negativity breeds failure and if you don’t safeguard against it, it’ll pull you in.

Instead, make sure to always take care of one person. You.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

After you take care of yourself, blessings for everyone else follow.

Are you putting yourself in a position to succeed? Are you making the necessary moves to be happy? Or are you complaining to others about why you can’t? (Reminder again… those others aren’t listening. The market as a whole doesn’t care.) Take care of yourself. I mean that.

(* Note: This is not to an attempt to downplay real issues or circumstances of serious degree. If that is you though, the same advice applies. Take time and be intentional about giving yourself proper care.)
  • When I’m outta school, I’ll land a job making at least $______.

  • By the time I’m 30, I’ll be earning $_____ a year. No question.

  • When I’m 40, things will really be cranking and I’ll be pulling down $____ a year.

  • When I’m 50, I might retire! All those years making $____ will have me set. I can do whatever I want!

  • If I keep working and making $____ every year then, it’ll just mean buying _____, setting up a ____ and doing ____, which sounds crazy!

Nothing wrong with those thoughts. We’ve all had something like that go through our heads at various times in life. No shame in it.

But as I reflect on that, it has me thinking…

Why all the talk about how much money we make? And all the things it’ll lead to? And where is the talk around HOW we make the money we make? Where’s that narrative?

How much we make? Or how we make it?

Balance those and be proud of both.

I hear it all the time. Someone will be talking about “the good ole’ days” when they were growing up, in school or a young adult and say something like:

“I’m so glad social media wasn’t around in those days.”

And I cringe. Ugh.

Don’t get me wrong, I see where they’re coming from. We all did stupid things growing up that weren’t not proud of. We’re all flawed and have different learning experiences in our past.6 icons

Because social media is not the problem. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp & LinkedIn are not causing the issue.

But you know what THEY ARE DOING? They’re exposing.

Social media isn’t causing the behavior you see today, it’s merely creating a platform of radical transparency where you (yes you & everyone else) are no longer able to hide.

  • The 1990’s allowed you to live in a private home.
  • The 2000’s tore down those walls and replaced them with glass.
  • The 2010’s (today) are shattering those glass walls and replacing them with 2 foot tall, open-air fences.

And I’m confident the future has us tearing down those last, small fences and inviting everyone to co-exist in ways we couldn’t imagine just a few years ago. The hiding game is over.

What’s that mean for the future?

Quite simply it means all our “flaws” will be placed in a different bucket. What was once taboo is now talked about. What once was shunned will now be embraced. What once was ostracized will be internalized. More easily put, we will all love and connect more. In the future (and you can begin seeing this today) all of us will stop being hypocrites. The next 100 years of radical transparency will make humankind more empathetic.

So later this afternoon…

When you scroll through your feed and see how such-and-such did this. Next story is about how that other former star did that. Then your friend texts you about how shocking it is that ____ did ____ over the weekend! Can you believe that?!? Use all of that as context to where we are today. It all makes sense.

Today we’re caught with yesterday’s mindsets on today’s platforms. Of course there’s going to be regression! Technology has moved faster than our collective values. But soon we’ll see this is simply society taking a couple small steps backwards to achieve a massive leap forward! Transparency and empathy are the future. Thank you Facebook. Thank you Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and WhatsApp and LinkedIn.

Thank you social media. I just wish I could’ve learned more of this in “the good ole’ days”.

It’s 2001 and I’m 20 years old; a sophomore in college. We’re out late (too late) and Friday night is winding down. We weren’t saints that night, but we weren’t out causing trouble either. In hindsight, I could’ve made better decisions and not been out at 1 AM with that crowd, but we’re simply doing what college kids do on Fridays…

“I’m outta here.” I said to a couple people, as I walked out the door, down the stairs and headed through the parking lot.

Then, before I ever caught a glimpse of something coming, a fist landed above my left eye. Then another to the stomach, then a third back to the eye. I stumbled back, but didn’t drop. And for sure I was dazed. Adrenaline kicked in and as I looked up, two guys I’d never seen were hollering things I won’t repeat. One of them was about my size, maybe a little smaller. But the other was bigger. Much bigger. And I was in a bad spot.

As I backed up and tried to make sense of everything, they kept yelling things about me being with one of their girlfriends. Apparently she lived close by and they thought I’d just left her building. Yes, I did come out of her building. But no, I wasn’t seeing her. I was in a different room with friends just before I’d left. I tried telling them that and you can imagine how that went. Mumbled thoughts and adrenaline flowing through everyone. But… somehow they listened. Somehow they didn’t keep throwing fists. There were a lot more choice words and threats. But between my words and the blood they saw flowing around my left eye, those guys decided to back off. I guess they’d made their point.

Fast forward to today and I’m scared for you.

I’m scared that as you’ve been gathering client’s money and allocating pieces towards equity investments (AUM), you’ve only felt prosperity. Alongside the client, you’ve both exclusively experienced the good times. I’m scared there’s too much money in the system, it’s too loose, and too many people lack perspective.

And one of these days…

Whether it’s next month – or next quarter – whether it’s next year – or three years from now…

You’re about to leave that building, walk through the parking lot and get punched in the face! I’m scared you’ll never see it coming. Then maybe a couple more punches will follow, maybe they won’t. Maybe you’ll drop to the ground, maybe you won’t. Maybe the threats will back off, maybe they won’t.

But maybe, just maybe, there’s something more you can do about it. You can see the punch coming. So when those two guys come around the corner, you’re ready. The best financial advisers in the country will be prepared. They’re initiating conversations today about perspective, proper (re)allocations, and setting everyone up mentally and strategically for whenever that market correction hits. All the success, all the prosperity, the market gains and how flush the system is with capital – all those are amazing factors to be grateful for – if they’re used right.

But don’t be lazy. Don’t be unprepared. Don’t sit back and play defense (or look the other way) today. If you do, then you have no one to blame but yourself when that fist is headed your way.

I’ve still got a scar above my left eye to remember that night.

More than anything, it’s a reminder to make good decisions about who I’m around and what the situation is. I won’t allow myself in that position again. But will it take a painful scar – for you and your most importantly your clients – before you learn your lesson? Or can you be ready, starting today?

It’s been said:

“Anyone who’s successful has a certain amount of ego”.

Would you agree?
Because I do. While I might not like that I agree, I do.

But if ego is an ingredient to success, where does that say about humility?

If an egotistical person is that way because of “their” accomplishments, success at various levels or life fulfillment, and all of that drives additional success, how is that a bad thing? I’d argue it isn’t. But only if that ego stays healthy and in check. That’s where humility enters.

Humility is defined as “a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness”. And while I’d never suggest anyone have a low view of their own importance (that’s counter productive), it’s vital they recognize how important everyone else around them is! Humility in action recognizes and appreciates the upbringing, family, staff, coworkers, mentors, friends and countless others who’ve allowed you to thrive. Humility says they are one degree more important than me.

So how do we balance humility and ego?

By one degree.

Keep your humility dial turned one degree higher than your ego dial and you’ve found the answer. Self assurance, drive, confidence and ego? Yes. But only if followed by genuine recognition of all the pieces that help you get there.

Humility vs. Ego. One degree.

I remember being 8 years old and wanting a Nintendo. Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt and the plug in gun. Remember that thing?!? nintendo

1989-Upper-Deck-Baseball-1-Ken-Griffey-JrAfter that it was a Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck rookie card. He was the best. I loved “The Kid” growing up and Upper Deck made an amazing choice with him as their #1 card in their inaugural set.

After that it was a CD player. One of those top-loading, 5 disc players that had the big speakers on each side. It even had 5 vertical bars on front to adjust the bass and treble! What were the first CDs I should buy right away?

And in each of those situations, with those material items and 8 year old desires,
my father found an opportunity to teach me.

You see, for as long as I can remember, dad worked at a credit union. Being young I didn’t really understand what he did. I just knew dad left early and came back before dinner, always in a shirt and tie. I knew he was always busy. I knew he helped people with their money and I knew that when money came up in conversation around our house, he had plenty of wisdom. So at the young age of 8, after my mother helped me get a paper route, my father taught me the basics of money management; as I opened savings and checking accounts in my own name.

Fast forward 30 years later and I still remember riding my bike to “Charlie’s Sports Cards”, walking inside and writing a check for thirty dollars (asking the owner how to spell “thirty” on the check!) for that Ken Griffey Jr. card. It’s engrained in my memory forever. But me opening that checking account with dad’s help was only the beginning.

For the last 40-plus years dad has been connecting with local people as a trusted guide for their finances. There’s not a place in town he can go for lunch without running into someone he’s impacted. From someone at the local Tony’s Pizza plant that needed a car loan when their credit might not have been great and they needed someone to believe in them, to a former employee who needed that extra time off when their child was sick. Everyone dad came in contact with left in a better place.

Dad RetiringSo a couple weeks ago, when it was time for dad to retire, it was a bit surreal. It was surreal to him I know for certain; but also to the rest of our family, all his clients and to every staff member he’d led for the last 40 years! Dad was a rock to all of us and someone you could depend on. Now that he’s walking into the next chapter of life, we’d all need to readjust in our own little ways.

I was happy for him, and proud. Of course in our line of work we needed to make sure dad (& mom) were financially secure forever. (Part of that solution came from the security provided in an index annuity with a guaranteed, lifetime income rider!) They’d done a great job planning and were set. They’d done everything within their control to make sure of that.

But when it’s your own father retiring, it’s different.

When it’s your own family, your own friends, your own connections, it means more. When you’ve watched them work their entire lives to accomplish something, it needs to be carefully executed and details need to be taken care of. Because this one felt different. While everyday I help millions of dollars from dozens of financial advisers and retirees move into safety, I don’t know them on a personal level. Everyday is volume. But this one, specific situation is gravity.

Which has me reminding myself, and reminding you, that every client you work with – for every client you serve – this is their one time. This is their “different”. They’ve worked for decades. They’ve planned. They’ve worried and striven, saved and budgeted. Now they’re looking to you… they’re looking to us… to get it right this one time.

For me, and my own father retiring,
this time it was different.

Please remind yourself often that for the person sitting across from you, and talking to you on the phone, this time it’s different for them. And let’s get it right.

Everyone has strengths. Everyone has weaknesses.

We can talk through different schools of thought around strengthening your weaknesses, or doubling down on your strengths. I’m rather opinionated on that one. But that’s for another time. My only point today is that all of us have our inherent positives and negatives.

And I have double zero desire to judge.

Leave your gavel at home. We have no idea what’s happening inside someone else’s four walls. I can guarantee there’s more to the story than we know. Most times it’s more complex than at first glance too. So I beg you to have employ more empathy.

So if we agree everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s best to not judge others, what’s that leave us with? Easy. One word.

Intent. Intent is everything.

Intent looks at the macro and gives the benefit of the doubt. Judgement looks at the micro and divides us. Shortcomings are fine and being self-aware enough to know yours and even tell us about them is praiseworthy. But please be true in your intent. If that’s not pure, we have real problems.

(On a related topic, but completely different vibe; one of the top producers at Advisors Excel has told me he only needs two things when hiring someone into his firm. He needs to know that one, they’ll work hard and two, he can trust them. That their intent is pure. We’d all be smart to steal that mindset.)

You made the jump.
You’re doing things your way, the right way, how you envision it.

But not everyone likes it, right? Maybe not your friends, parents or even your spouse. Your competition for sure doesn’t like it and status quo is screaming at you to stop! If we’re being honest, there are times you’re even questioning yourself. But only for a small minute. Because again, you’ve decidedly taken a different path (since you crave different results).

When they push back, what do you do? Let it bother you? Cave and fall in line, taking the same, worn-out route everyone else does? Or…
Can you find a way to “love the push back” because it means you’re playing offense, when they’re playing defense? Your mentality becomes your greatest weapon.

Do you regret it? Nope. Not you.

You’ve already won; because you’ve done what 99% won’t. You leapt. You’re in rarefied air because you’ve already pushed forward.

The market is the market. And long term you’ll win if you’re good enough. (That’s for a different post.) But today, that’s not the point. Because while I hope you win at this long term – I already applaud you. Stop, smile and be proud of the jump.

Leading vs. Lagging Indicator – what’s the difference? And why should you care?

The majority of my coaching time begins with clients focused on the result desired, the lagging indicator. Discussions center on what’s happening after the equals sign, not the equation pieces themselves. We talk about why that number (albeit profit, revenue, production, hours worked or a handful of other “end goals”) isn’t where someone wants it.

  • Profit is down, but doesn’t “feel” like it should be.
  • Revenue is off, but why?
  • Production is flat, but workload is up.
  • Hours worked increased, but efficiency hasn’t.

Ever felt that?
Oh, you have? You feel that right now?!?

Let me suggest it’s because you’re looking at the end result. You’re focused on the lagging indicator, which is the “scorecard” of all your work done and processes in place. And you’re focused in the wrong area.

If a ball team isn’t winning games, they need to back things up and re-evaluate what’s happening before the game. Likewise, if you’re not securing clients, revenue or achieving the work-life balance right for you, you should back things up and re-evaluate what’s happening before the point of sale.

Where you need to focus is an earlier, leading indicator. The earlier, simpler, more concrete and communicate-able (is that a word?) the better. Another fancy MBA term for this is Key Performance Indicator (KPI). But call it a leading indicator, KPI or whatever you want. If you don’t have one, and the support team around you doesn’t know it, then you’re in trouble.

The easiest example…

Before clients are acquired, you obviously need closing meetings. Before closing meetings, you need opening, first meetings. Can you back-calculate (or reverse engineer like I’ve talked about before) into how many opening, first meetings you need to bring on the number of clients, revenue and profit you want? Once that number of first meetings is known, you’re able to tailor a marketing plan to directly aim at that number of first meetings; and communicate the number of daily, weekly or pending first meetings that should be on your firm’s calendar to hit your objectives.

Leading indicator (or KPI) = 1st Meetings
Lagging Indicator = Clients/Premium/Revenue/Profit

Want to crush it in 2018? Find your single-most important leading indicator (or KPI) and focus everything on it. Marketing, sales process, appointment flow, staffing, internal communication, stated vision and goals and tracking. Then watch the lagging indicator take shape.