Matthew's Mind

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

“Fees are relevant in the absence of value.”

– AE Hall of Fame Producer Trail Hogspete & jon

 

 

If you don’t have enough intentional, strategic value to offer, that’s a problem. In that case, the conversation comes back to a commoditized product and the costs/fees associated with it.

(How much are you asking for that used Toyota Camry?)

Consequently, if you don’t have confidence in the value you provide – start there. It’s really the only place to start … if you want to bust out of the commoditization trap.

Bring more value first, develop a strategic process second and be transparent throughout.

Sounds simple, but it’s not. That’s why people who commit here dominate the competition.

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Pre-kids, I had buddies who loved “Sunday Funday”. Too many drinks (starting early), pools, golf courses, fantasy football and pizza. Life was simpler, and more self-indulgent, then. Post-kids, “Sunday Funday” tends to fade away. Not enough time for all that indulgence. More to think about that just ourselves.

But does it have to? Or can it just evolve?

In our home, that evolution has taken place – which means Sunday celebrations of Faith/blessings, electronics intentionally being put aside, cooking together and whatever brings our core closer. If we’re lucky, maybe even a ball game now and then (Go Royals! #wildcardchase).

So what about your life? Are any “Sunday Fundays” (or other rituals) due for an overhaul?

Old habits die hard. But maybe that death needs to happen to fit your world today (& desired tomorrow). Intentionality is everything.

“I heard you die twice, once when they bury you in the grave,
and the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name.
So when I leave here on this earth, did I take more than I gave?
Did I look out for the people or did I do it all for fame? “

macklemore— from Macklemore’s Glorious

We all think about the first, but what about the second?

What’s your legacy going to be?
Whether it’s family members, friends, clients, colleagues, community members or other people around the country or world…

If you died tomorrow, when’s the last time somebody would mention your name?

Time to give more.

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Disclaimer
This message is being sent by Advisors Excel, LLC. It is intended exclusively for the persons and/or entities to which it is addressed. This communication, including any attachments, may contain information (including materials that are protected under the HIPAA privacy rules, or may be otherwise legally exempt from disclosure) that is proprietary, privileged, and confidential to the author. If you are not the named addressee, you are not authorized to read, print, retain, copy or disseminate this message or any part of it. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by email and immediately and fully deleting all copies of this message from your system and any server that it may be associated with. No Federal or State tax advice is contained in this email or any attachments thereto. This email and all attachments are not intended to be used, and shall not be used, for the purposes of avoiding penalties under the applicable revenue codes or for the purpose of marketing or recommending to another person and/or entity any transaction or matter contained therein. The recipient is expressly and specifically directed to seek the advice of legal counsel or a certified public accountant in regard to the tax aspects of any such transaction or matter.

Anytime a seasoned professional states “I hate _____” (really anything) I’m instantly leery.

And I could be wrong here…

Speaking into the financial world, I know there are instruments available that are just outright horrible for the client. Ponzi schemes, unregulated industries and that overseas easy-money thing your neighbor told you about come to mind. Those might be “hate-able”.

But with regulated financial vehicles that have tens or hundreds of billions of dollars placed into them – my gut says they serve a logical purpose.

So as a client, or an advising professional, we need to discuss:

  1. What’s the person making the statement’s motivation? Short or long term money? Headlines? Notoriety? Website traffic?
  2. How is the advising professional paid?
  3. How could they be right, and everyone else wrong?

Want more? All you have to do is ask me.

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“Uh huh.” (insert head nod here)

“Right. Right. I see.” (fake smile)

“Yeah, that just amazes me.” (look to immediately defer elsewhere)

“That makes total sense.” (sniffle, step back, look at the ground)

Stop it. Please.

It’s clear you don’t understand what we’re talking about. But instead of just saying so, which directly or indirectly admits your uneducated to the point(s), you fake it.

Fake it ’til you make it, right? Wrong.

Next time just ask a question. Be intellectually secure enough to admit you don’t know everything, but you’d like to learn more. Plead ignorant and wade deeply, vulnerably, into the desire to grab knowledge. I can respect that. I can respect someone willing to be open and learn.

But intellectual insecurity, and faking it. You’ll go nowhere with that.

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Disclaimer
This message is being sent by Advisors Excel, LLC. It is intended exclusively for the persons and/or entities to which it is addressed. This communication, including any attachments, may contain information (including materials that are protected under the HIPAA privacy rules, or may be otherwise legally exempt from disclosure) that is proprietary, privileged, and confidential to the author. If you are not the named addressee, you are not authorized to read, print, retain, copy or disseminate this message or any part of it. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by email and immediately and fully deleting all copies of this message from your system and any server that it may be associated with. No Federal or State tax advice is contained in this email or any attachments thereto. This email and all attachments are not intended to be used, and shall not be used, for the purposes of avoiding penalties under the applicable revenue codes or for the purpose of marketing or recommending to another person and/or entity any transaction or matter contained therein. The recipient is expressly and specifically directed to seek the advice of legal counsel or a certified public accountant in regard to the tax aspects of any such transaction or matter.

I love my Tesla; and I’m not ashamed to say it.

muskThe vehicle is a thing of beauty with how it handles, performs, updates software, drives itself and leaves a shallow footprint on Mother Earth. Elon Musk is a genius and his vision is shaping a new reality in front of us all. I’m firm in my belief that Tesla is setting the bar for every other transportation corporation in existence right now. Not only in how to create an incredible end product to the consumer. But also (for this specific thought) how to create the client experience model of the future.

Tesla gets it. Tesla bakes it in.

One night not long ago, I was out with friends and it was time to go home. Walking back to my car, the four of us noticed something strange. The driver’s side, rear door handle was stuck in an outward position. Normally it folds into the car, but for some odd reason it hadn’t. And as long as the handle was out, that door wasn’t operational, you couldn’t use it from the outside. So everyone got into the car a different way and we went
home.

The next morning I called Tesla and after (literally) one ring, and one button pushed, I was speaking with someone about the issue. When’s the last time you called a multi-billion dollar company and spoke with a live person inside 30 seconds? The Tesla associate heard me out and said to expect a call from someone at the local Kansas City Tesla store soon.

Just two hours later, I received a voicemail from Christian at Kansas City Tesla. Here it is; just listen for yourself:

Yep. You heard that right. When could they come see me and fix this?

One call-back later, it was scheduled for the following day.

At 9 am in the morning, a Tesla service tech had driven 75 miles one way, through Kansas City morning traffic, to meet me in the Advisors Excel parking lot. He was young, had a smile plastered on his face, greeted me with a firm handshake and apologized for any issues this door handle might have caused. Then he proceeded to ask for my key and eventually not only repair the door handle, but instead take the old one out and replace it with an entirely new one!

tesla service

An hour later, I was back in the parking lot, meeting with him to return my key. He was still smiling, thanked me for being a client and took back off to drive the 75 mile return to Kansas City.

That my friends, is insane.

The following day I received two emails about the experience. The first was a survey asking how my Tesla service appointment had been. (How do you think it was? Can I rate this 100 out of 5?!?) The second email was an invoice. Wow. See this one for yourself too.

Tesla_Invoice

Again, you’re seeing that right… Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

They actually stated the pay type as “Goodwill”.

Within 48 hours of my initial call into Tesla HQ, I’d visited with three very pleasant employees. One of them was a local technician who drove 150 miles round-trip, replaced my door handle entirely and did it with a smile. And what did all of that “cost me”? Nothing.

But that’s not entirely true. We all know there was a cost. It’s baked into the purchase.

What’s the real price? I don’t know. I’ll never know. And to be honest, I don’t care. I know the price was enough to support world-class phone service and repair technicians. I know I experienced three people who were genuinely happy to work for Tesla. And I know when I purchased the car, there was plenty of profit to go around.

But now I’m writing blogs about how incredible the service experience was! I’ll tell this story to as many people as I can. And the next time I go to lease another vehicle, you can guess what it’ll be.

My point is… How can you do this too?

How can you bake in enough margin on the front end to support a world class, unprecedented experience for your clients?

Bake in the experience.

It’s the way you develop raving fans. Baking in is the business equivalent of The Golden Rule. It’s the wave of the future for any firm, large (like Tesla) or small (relatively…like yours).

Embracing a baked in model is simply more fun too. You can smile about the way you conduct business and take care of people. Or you can keep cutting costs, nickel and diming customers (not clients). That might end up okay too. Might. Might not.

It’s up to you.

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Disclaimer
This message is being sent by Advisors Excel, LLC. It is intended exclusively for the persons and/or entities to which it is addressed. This communication, including any attachments, may contain information (including materials that are protected under the HIPAA privacy rules, or may be otherwise legally exempt from disclosure) that is proprietary, privileged, and confidential to the author. If you are not the named addressee, you are not authorized to read, print, retain, copy or disseminate this message or any part of it. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by email and immediately and fully deleting all copies of this message from your system and any server that it may be associated with. No Federal or State tax advice is contained in this email or any attachments thereto. This email and all attachments are not intended to be used, and shall not be used, for the purposes of avoiding penalties under the applicable revenue codes or for the purpose of marketing or recommending to another person and/or entity any transaction or matter contained therein. The recipient is expressly and specifically directed to seek the advice of legal counsel or a certified public accountant in regard to the tax aspects of any such transaction or matter.

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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Disclaimer
This message is being sent by Advisors Excel, LLC. It is intended exclusively for the persons and/or entities to which it is addressed. This communication, including any attachments, may contain information (including materials that are protected under the HIPAA privacy rules, or may be otherwise legally exempt from disclosure) that is proprietary, privileged, and confidential to the author. If you are not the named addressee, you are not authorized to read, print, retain, copy or disseminate this message or any part of it. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by email and immediately and fully deleting all copies of this message from your system and any server that it may be associated with. No Federal or State tax advice is contained in this email or any attachments thereto. This email and all attachments are not intended to be used, and shall not be used, for the purposes of avoiding penalties under the applicable revenue codes or for the purpose of marketing or recommending to another person and/or entity any transaction or matter contained therein. The recipient is expressly and specifically directed to seek the advice of legal counsel or a certified public accountant in regard to the tax aspects of any such transaction or matter.

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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