Matthew's Mind

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

A few weeks ago I was driving from Nashville to Kansas, returning home from a week-long family vacation. It was early too; like 7 am and I’ve been driving for 3 hours early. We were making good time, and thinking about the comforts of our home, when everyone began waking up and feeling normal.

Paducah_dinerTime to pull over (in Paducah, Kentucky) to fuel up with breakfast at a local diner.
Inside we dug into omelets, French toast, biscuits, eggs, juice and coffee – then prepped to hit the road again.

But before we left, I noticed another man in the diner eating by himself. It was obvious he was getting ready to work a blue collar job for the day and life looked good for him. Good, but from the look of his shoes, shirt and face, hard. As we
made eye contact, his warm smile lit up. We exchanged good mornings and this gentleman began to compliment my family in a sincere way, even making a couple kind comments directly to my boys. From all I could tell, he had a very warm soul and my wheels were turning about what his life was like and where his mind space resided on a morning like this.

(While leaving, we anonymously paid for his meal. My hope is the gesture would provide a kind man an even better Friday and outlook on the generosity of others. I almost didn’t add that part to this story, but decided to for the simple reason of saying – if you haven’t anonymously paid for someone else’s meal lately, do it. Soon. Karma is a real thing and you can afford it.)

Back in our SUV, we chugged down the interstate as I glanced at the GPS to see how many more hundreds of miles until home. We’d been in the car no more than 10 minutes since the diner

At that moment, I looked into my rear view and noticed a car coming up on me fast. I was moving 8-10 miles per hour over the speed limit, passing a semi truck. But the person now on my bumper wasn’t having any of it. They were in a hurry, they wanted me to know about it, and the getting out of “their lane” vibe was radiating from their eyes into mine.

21362914 - man showing middle finger from car window  evil gestureSo I passed the semi, switched lanes and watched, as this 30-something year old passed by me. Middle finger waving an all.

What was that all about?!? If that was the standard for flipping someone off, she’s going to be driving with one finger in the air all the way home. This had my wheels turning again. Where did her head space reside? On a beautiful Friday morning like this, what was happening in her life (or in her mind) to rationalize acting like that?

One town in Kentucky. Two different people, just 10 minutes apart. But regardless of proximity, the difference in mind space couldn’t be more dramatic.

Your world is where you choose to live it. Both in location… and in your mind.

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Last year I wrote a post titled “Trust the (Cake-Making) Process” and received overwhelming, gratifying feedback from it! It briefly chronicled my 2+ hour journey making a “healthy” cake, and why I did it…

So consider today an informal Part 2, where I’m asking you to “Trust the (Fort Building) Process”. Another journey, another result and a lot to be learned alongside my boys…

A couple years ago we constructed a play set (or a “fort” if you ask the boys) in our backyard. Swings, slide, climbing wall, monkey bars, lookout tower, the works. It’s awesome. They’ve played on it plenty, meaning you could start to see all the wear and tear. This baby needed some love.

Fort Before

But before I put some “love” into it (think staining), I got to thinking. I did this wrong to begin with!

When I bought the fort, it looked intimidating. Literally hundreds of pounds of lumber, bags and boxes of bolts and instructions that had me contemplating the next 15 weekends of my life and what those were going to look like. So I did what any loving father would do. I went for it.

Yes. I Google searched “Play Set Construction Lawrence, KS” and called the first legitimate looking website! And they got it done in one day. It was clean, efficient and to the point. Like I said, it worked – and my boys love playing on their fort. But I regret not having done it differently.

Because while my sons love having it, they never enjoyed building it.

And I missed an opportunity for them to appreciate the hard work … the process. So just a few weekends ago, we did the next best thing…

Noah (7), Evan (4) and I headed to Home Depot. With the entire paint section in front of them, the boys were given permission to

“Pick any paint colors you want… go crazy!”

and they did.

Paint

A rainbow spectrum of paint colors later, we were walking out of the store with a power washer, half gallon paint cans, stir sticks, brushes, rollers, drop cloths, masking tape and two boys smiling ear to ear. They thought this was going to be quick and fun. I knew we had a process in front of us. But none of us were really prepared for everything that came next.

Over the course of that weekend, and the next, and the next, and the next (about a month in total), we got to work. Power washing, sanding, taping, painting, and a lot of smiling.

Power WashPower Wash 2New Fort Painting 2paint

What started as a couple-year old redwood fort, that sadly needed to be stained again, turned into something magical. And it wasn’t stopping there. We’re ordering signs to hang, stickers to stick, spray paint to spray and flags to fly. What might look like an eyesore and monstrosity to some, is now a beacon of brotherhood in our backyard.

Fort Sign

We not only have something, we built something.

Finished Fort Pic

What do you have? What have you built? And which do you (and our loved ones) appreciate more?

Time to go build something great.

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When you hire the best talent, it’s free.

A close friend of mine in Berkeley is hiring a President inside the organization (strengthening his sole position as CEO);  and it’s going to cost real money – like $300-$400,000 a year, real money.

But he’s got the right guy.
And the “breakeven math” isn’t complicated.

How much additional business, through better processes, more efficiency and higher touch, would need to be generated to produce another $350,000+ in revenue?
How quickly can that be done?

In addition to that, how much happier will the CEO (he) be; able to outsource the items he absolutely hates doing? I’ll contend his staff will be much happier too, with the ability to get tasks accomplished much quicker internally. The byproduct of that will likely lead to happier clients, leaning deeper into his firm with potentially more assets and longer retention rates.

Or…

Should he hire someone with $75,000 a year qualifications – and see where that takes him in 12 months?!?

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Moving from 1 person at your firm to 3 – things break…
You need redefined roles and goals.

Moving from 3 people at your firm to 9 – things break…
You need upgraded systems, processes and management.

Moving from 9 people at your firm to 27 – things break…
You need scalability and leadership.

Moving from 27 people at your firm to 81 – things break…
You need thought leaders, open architecture and steadfastness is your ideals.

And so it goes…

Call it the triple-sized break.
And with it; you better be prepared for reinvention. It’s the only constant.

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Do you have a 5 year plan?

If not, your first step is to make it. Then the only other step is to ask yourself:

“Why can’t I do that in 3 years? Or 2? Or 1?”

We live in the most abundant, resource-rich time in human history. The acceleration curve of progress is no longer (5 year) linear. Run with it or be passed by it.

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There’s some messed up things in your past…

It’s ugly. Jaded. Bloody. Not something you like to think about. Yes, professional themes; but even deeper are the personal issues.

Human nature says to cover those up. Put a little make-up on everything and color it pretty. If someone asks, you can talk about it, just not too much.

Stay at surface level.

Be sure to tell them you’re “alright” or “okay” and then gloss over it. Please. Quickly. Or you might make people uncomfortable.

Or you could embrace it.

You could love your past.

You could even show those scars off.

Because the more vulnerable someone’s willing to get with me. The more emotion I feel, and rawness I sense, the closer we instantaneously bond.

 

We all have scars and the human element is invaluable. You survived. And people want to know about it.

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It’s not what you know.
It’s not how you think.
It’s not who you’re connected with.
It’s not where you live.
It’s not where you went to school.
It’s not how old you are.
It’s not what’s in your bank account.
It’s not your job title.

What’s ahead of you boils down to something else.

Consistency.

What you DO consistently, methodically, with purpose, day-after-day-after-day will determine your future.

And the empowering part? That choice is 100% up to you.

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“But it’s not just hard work, it’s smart work too. You have to work smart.”

I heard that just the other day and can’t disagree. But my viewpoint is a bit jaded. Because while everyone wants to talk about “working smarter”, that doesn’t matter if the hard work isn’t already being put in.

And I don’t think it is.

If we all bled, sweat, cried, smiled, drank more coffee, maintained and focused more; results from those hours would far exceed the small tweaks from “working smarter”.

Hard before smart work.

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Walking into the gym one morning, a workout partner had two pairs of socks on (one tall, one short). I asked him what’s up and he explained an old football-habit; something about performance and how he’s carried it on. So naturally, I tried it out, eventually stole the habit and have kept it for years, still to this day – double socks every morning. Add on top of that a double knot shoe lace habit and we’re ready to get after it.

Then about two years ago I came home from work and my feet were in pain. Throbbing. Just one of those days…

So the next morning, I pulled the double sock trick. A pair of running socks, followed by a pair of dress socks. Worked like a charm! And out of instinct (I think) with the double socks, I double knotted my dress shoes that day.

Now, this morning, when I woke up at 5 am for the gym, it was double socks, double knot. Time to get better.

Now, this morning, when it was 7 am and I’m getting dressed for the office, it was double socks, doubt knot. Time to get better.

Weird? Maybe.

But it’s about habits, mindset and getting better everywhere; two socks, two knots at a time.

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Before you meet a prospect for the first time, what communication do they get? A confirmation call? That’s great.

The best in the business have a genuine, 15 minute conversation days before. Then they UPS an impressive introduction kit – including their personal and professional bios, video spotlight disc, potentially a copy of their book and a handwritten note. After that, a warm confirmation call is made, referencing back to the personal information they shared in your first call.

You tell me – who’s ignorable and who’s not?

At the end of your first or second meeting, after a potential client becomes vulnerable and uncovers their need(s) to you, what happens next? Another confirmation call, huh? That’s great.

The best in the business send female clients home with a flower, male clients home with snacks. Then they record a personal thank you video email, speaking directly to the person about what they can expect from here and how hard their team is going to work. After that, another UPS package hits the mail including a handwritten note, personal story or powerful piece of information for the client to enjoy until you meet again. Finally another warm confirmation call is made, this time referencing personal information they’ve given you in the meetings before.

You tell me – who’s ignorable and who’s not?

When someone becomes a client, and moves a portion or all of their life savings into your care, what happens next? A “policy delivery meeting? Maybe even edible arrangements? That’s great.

The best in the business jump out of their chair with excitement! They call in their staff to welcome this person to their firm and everyone shows how thrilled they are with emails, letters and calls over the coming weeks. They’ve joined the family. In addition to that, a thoughtful welcome kit is mailed to the client, perhaps with a handpicked item from staff members and a story about why they’ve chosen that item to gift to new clients. The story hits home. Thirdly, constant communication is given to the new relationship while their money is in process, helping them be confident about their decision every step of the way. Lastly, when the policies are delivered and the plan is set, a “Client Service Agreement” is outlined, showing clients what they can expect and who to contact from here. In addition to that agreement, a list of future client events is covered with them, highlighting where they’ll receive more in-depth information on topics and when/where they can introduce other people to your firm.

You tell me – who’s ignorable and who’s not?

In all my years of coaching the most elite financial professionals in the country, I’ve never … not once … spoken with someone who’s built out their client processes like above and regretted it. Never once have I spoken with someone who’s said it’s a waste of time, bad use of capital or doesn’t produce a high return on investment, client goodwill and retention rate. But for some reason, most producers don’t think this way. Is it the hard work involved? Lack of focus? Lack of coaching or accountability? I’m not sure.

But my challenge to you is one of pride. You need to take pride in this. Your prospects and clients deserve it, your firm deserves it and everyone is better for it. Become so good at what you do that you’re Un-Ignorable. From there, results will speak for themselves.

 

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