My friend and a former guest on the show Garrett Gunderson, first introduced me to today’s guest Chris Smith after he hired him to consult his firm Wealth Factory. He said Chris had to come on the show and after a 15 minute intro call with Chris it was clear Garrett was right. Chris also happens to be just about the only guest I think I’ve had on who happens to know something about a small town KS fairground tradition called team roping, so to say we instantly had some repoire is an understatement. But I digress…
Chris and his team teach businesses how to integrate their origin story into everything their company does. He’s the creator of The Campfire Effect™ , which is a methodology designed to make your team, your partners, and your clients feel a true oneness and connection. The beautiful thing is that it was literally born in our industry as it came from Chris helping his former business partners merge two long-standing financial services firms in Arizona. They used it to create a brand and client experience that attracted clients to them. He’s helped everyone from startups and small businesses all the way up to Fortune 500 companies, clarify their story. I know you all are going to LOVE this conversation!
Here are a just a handful of the things that you’ll learn:
- The Campfire Effect™ origin story—including the lessons Chris uncovered about creating powerful connections with prospects and articulating how to better serve them. [07:11]
- The step-by-step experience that Chris and his team create for every prospect that walks into their office—and why it practically guarantees new business! [29:02]
- How to create a proprietary methodology that will differentiate you from the rest of the pack—and why talking about your “how” is so much more valuable than talking about your “what”. [50:36]
- The actionable steps you can take to start cultivating your own Campfire Effect™—including the 3 Pillars Chris calls the Spark, the Fuel, and the Oxygen—to effectively sell without sounding salesy. [52:24]
- [09:27] How Chris ame into commercial real estate with no credibility or connections – and blew away his competition at the age of 24
- [12:29] Learn the little formula Chris applied to the financial services industry that made him a top producing financial advisor.
- [15:21] How to create a space that empowers team members to come up with ideas.
- [23:13] Why community service – and not asking for business – proved to be key to bringing in new clients.
- [28:42] How getting one great client opened the floodgates for Seros Financial
- [39:39] How Chris created a high-conversion mentoring and sales system that builds trust by talking like a coach – not an advisor.
- [48:47] Why so many firms fail in their marketing – and the easiest ways they could make massive improvements.
- [53:22] Why Chris never thinks about selling – while selling like few others.
- [56:00] What your story needs to do – and why we often say way too much.
- [62:21] How to hold yourself accountable to your message and put everything into alignment with your big idea.
- [1:05:38] A quick exercise you can do to get to know your team better.
- [1:17:54] How reassessing himself in a particularly dark time transformed Chris’s life forever.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Chris Smith
- The Campfire Effect
- Seros Financial
- The Go-Giver, Expanded Edition: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
- Shark Tank
- Wealth Factory
PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE
REVIEWS OF THE WEEK
Thanks for checking out the latest show! You all keep blasting me with reviews and emails on how the show is serving you, this is the fuel that keeps me cranking these episodes out, so appreciated! Also the reviews and subscribes really help the show rank and other advisors out there find us so thank you!
Here are 4 more recent reviews, the first one comes to us from Logan Smith who says:
Logan, thanks for taking a minute to review the show, and as a new guy to the industry, I wish I would have had the resources that exist today when I got started, so glad you are getting it here! Jim Sheils concept of the Family Board Meeting has been one of the best things I’ve ever done as a dad, in fact I have one with each of my sons this weekend and my daughter next, so please reach back out and let me know how it goes once you’ve run with it. Also, my daughter is only two, so never too young to start! Thanks for listening in.
The next review comes to us from user AO323 who says:
Thanks for the review AO323, I can definitely get better here on the female guests as there are a lot of superstars out there in our industry and some of Advisors Excel’s top clients happen to be women as well. So if you have some great female guests you are thinking of, please get make a personal intro out on Twitter, I’m @brad_johnson. Also, if you haven’t checked out Kristi Piehl’s episode yet, that’s a great one to give a listen to in the meantime.
Next up is Darcylj who says:
AJ, I guess I have to crank these episodes out faster to keep up with you! That’s impressive as to date we’ve put out over 2 days worth of episodes so you are putting in some serious work 😃
Already heard it once or twice? Please leave a short review here, and tell me which guests I should have on!
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TRANSCRIPTSClick here to Read the Transcript
Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast with your host, Brad Johnson. Brad’s the VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, the largest independent insurance brokerage company in the US. He’s also a regular contributor to Investment News, the Wall Street Journal, and other industry publications.
[00:00:26] Brad: Welcome to the Elite Advisor Blueprint, the podcast for world-class financial advisors. I’m Brad Johnson, VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, and it’s my goal to distil the best ideas and advice from top thought leaders and apply it to the world of independent financial advising. My friend and a former guest on the show, Garrett Gunderson, first introduced me to today’s guest, Chris Smith, after he actually hired him to consult his firm, Wealth Factory. He said, “Brad, Chris has to come on the show,” and after a 15-minute intro call with Chris, it was clear Garrett was right. Chris also happens to be just about the only guest I think I’ve had on who happens to know anything about a small-town Kansas fairground tradition called team roping. So, to say we instantly had some rapport is an understatement. But I digress.
Chris and his team teach businesses how to integrate their origin story into everything their company does. He’s the creator of The Campfire Effect, which is a methodology designed to make your team, your partners and your clients feel a true oneness and connection. The beautiful thing for you all is it was literally born in our industry as it came from Chris helping his former business partners merge two long-standing financial services firms in Arizona and most importantly, create a brand and client experience that attracted clients to them. He’s helped everyone from startups, small businesses, all the way up to Fortune 500 companies clarify their story and I know you all are going to love this conversation.
So, here’s just a little bit of what we get into. We start out with the origin story of The Campfire Effect including the lessons Chris uncovered about creating powerful connections with prospects and articulating how to better serve them. Then we cover the step-by-step experience that Chris and his team created for every prospect that walked into their office complete with what they call the hobby wall and why it practically guarantees new business. As an aside you all, just this few minutes of the conversation with Chris has literally changed how our team onboards clients. So, make sure you get the notepad ready here. This is game changing stuff.
[00:02:24] Brad: From there, we cover how to create a proprietary methodology that will differentiate you all from the rest of the pack and why talking about your how is so much more valuable than talking about your what. And we wrap with the actionable steps you can take to start cultivating your own Campfire Effect including the three pillars Chris calls the spark, the fuel, and the oxygen to effectively sell without sounding salesy.
So, before we get to the conversation, not one but two special gives today. The first is from Chris himself who made available to all of you Blueprint listeners his free download, the one question that will change your business. Even better, he took the time to customize three separate examples specifically to financial services. This one-pager can be implemented today to make an impact on your next prospect conversation so make sure to grab your copy at the top of the show notes at BradleyJohnson.com/41.
This second give is a much, much bigger give and unfortunately it won’t apply to all of you. We are running our very first live event of 2018 and prior to sitting down the record this, I just checked we currently have three seats remaining for this event. But for those who quality to attend, we will be picking up the tab to fly you to our headquarters in Topeka, Kansas. Yes, Topeka, so you know the training has to be good, right? Anyway, you will be joined by nine-time New York Times bestselling author, David Bach, Automatic Millionaire, Smart Couples, Smart Women Finish Rich fame. He will be teaching you how to create a process to scale your firm and clone your top clients and he literally helped take Ric Edelman to 16 billion or so of assets under management when he was there, so he obviously knows a thing or two in this regard.
Besides David, you’ll be joined by Bo Eason who will share the framework for how to craft your personal story to better connect with your ideal client. His training has benefited almost every single top client we serve over the last couple of years of bringing Bo in, so this is super impactful stuff here as well.
[00:04:26] Brad: And lastly, we’re flying in not one but two of our top offices who each gathered over 160 million of brand new assets organically in 2017. Yes, all through direct-to-consumer marketing. For them, this includes TV, radio, as well as live events. They will open up their entire playbook and share exactly how they did it including their proprietary planning process complete for you to R&D where as I like to call it, rip off and duplicate.
If you like to see if you qualify for us to cover your flight and hotel, do attend the event and take two days to better your business, visit BradleyJohnson.com/apply and take five minutes to fill out your application. The dates are February 21 through 23 and as I record this, like I said, three seats remain so don’t delay if you’d like to attend. As an aside, if February doesn’t happen to work, please note we are currently working on one other date and note that on your application and we’ll make sure to take that into consideration as well.
So, that’s it. As always, thanks for listening and without further delay, my conversation with Chris Smith.
[00:05:38] Brad: Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast. I am super excited. I’ve got Chris Smith here with us today. Welcome to the show, Chris.
[00:05:46] Chris: Hey. Thank you so much for having me. A pleasure to be here.
[00:05:48] Brad: So, as I was preparing for this conversation, I had this thought. I’m like we officially have the two most common names in the US together on one podcast here today. So, like people can try to google and find this conversation. They’re not going to find it. It just got lost in the depths with Chris Smith and Brad Johnson on the same thing here.
[00:06:07] Chris: Yeah. I actually get people now today, they’d be like, “No, so like what’s your real name?” I’m like, “No. It’s really Chris Smith and that’s my real name,” and they laugh in my Gmail because my Gmail is like Christopher Carter Smith because it’s the only and I couldn’t find Chris Smith. And like when I was a kid I’d go to the Blockbuster to rent videos. Whenever I forgot my card, they’d be like, “Oh, I’ll just look at from the system.” I’d be like, “Yeah. You’re not going to find it in the system.” After searching like forever with all the Chris Smiths they’re like, “Dude, just take the movie and bring it back tomorrow.”
[00:06:37] Brad: Yeah. It’s funny like I check in to a hotel. They’re like, “Oh, what’s your loyalty?” I’m like, “It’s Brad Johnson. There’s about 7 million of us in there so good luck.”
[00:06:46] Chris: Good luck.
[00:06:46] Brad: But yeah, so as we kick this off, Chris. We were introduced by our mutual friend. Garrett Gunderson connected us. He’s obviously in the financial space and what’s really cool obviously being a podcast for financial advisors, that’s the same space you grew up in and that’s how The Campfire Effect was really created. So, as we get into that because there’s going to be some people listening in that aren’t familiar with it, I’d figure rather than have you go through the framework, just it’d be awesome to hear the story about Chris as a financial advisor and the challenges you face really trying to differentiate yourself in your own marketplace and how The Campfire Effect really created this whole movement. And they started with your firm and then now it’s gotten much bigger, so I’d love for you to just open up and share there.
[00:07:29] Chris: Yeah. Thank you so much. I’d be happy to. So, the story of how I got to The Campfire Effect through financial services, I am fifth generation Arizona native. So, to give you context to that, what that means is my family is one of the first families in the State of Arizona. There is no one here like January 31, 1879 so my family kind of founded, one of my ancestors founded the State of Arizona and I grew up in this ranching rodeo family and what was always just kind of core to who I am, and I heard these stories growing up was I heard these stories of these amazing entrepreneurs that came here in the late 1800s like with nothing and they created. So, I always hear these stories of these really powerful creators and so that entrepreneurial spirit that like creative spirit is I guess blown through the veins of our family for generations. And the other thing is interesting is growing up in a ranching rodeo family I was raised around a lot of cowboy storytellers and I was really fascinated with the idea of story and influence from a young age.
In sixth grade I was voted least likely to be found in my seat after a year in the school assembly because I was always out telling stories. And in fourth grade, one of my mom’s really good teacher friends told a story that she’s been trying to share a topic with the class and the class wasn’t getting it and then been like several minutes and finally had a frustration. I just like raised my hand I was like, “Mrs. Judd, can I tell the class what you’re trying to tell them?” and she’s looking me like, “You punk kid like smart ass like fourth grade. Sure.” And I just turned around and told the class what she was trying to say, and all the class was like, “Oh okay.” So, for the rest of the year, anytime Mrs. Judd was trying to articulate something to the class and she just – so I just from a young age I don’t know what it was, Brad, but I can listen to what people were trying to say and I can just say it oftentimes more clearly and much shorter.
So, that was kind of always there for me. So, I never even knew like that sales were sales like this distinction that people have around selling and it’s hard and like I just didn’t know anything but to go out and connect with people. And so, when I graduated college and I got home from serving mission to my church, I went to commercial real estate first.
[00:09:26] Chris: And what I found was it was really interesting because I was 24. I looked like I was 12. I had no credibility. Not a whole lot of connections and it’s a pretty tough industry like financial services that kind of break into and have success with. Within a short amount of time, I was one of the top raising brokers in the office and I knew very little about the industry. And it blew these brokers away that had been there forever like, “Who is this punk kid that knows nothing about the industry and like how are you getting clients?” And the only thing I knew how to do it is go and connect with people through the power of their story, been through my story and then I would just really quickly and clearly articulate how a company could help them.
So, although there were people in the office that knew way more about commercial real estate, got way more background and experience, I could articulate it better and more powerfully. That little formula just worked for me and probably the biggest realization I’ve ever had, Brad, with story is that people actually connect with us through the power of their story, not ours. So, it doesn’t mean that our story is not important. Obviously, it’s everything I stand for at The Campfire Effect, but our stories influence people. Their stories connect them to us. And so, often we’re just not giving people an opportunity to tell us their story. We’re not really asking meaningful questions to really find out, “Hey, who are you outside of this transaction that we may do together?” And not asking it because you’re trying to get business. Not asking it because you’re trying to use it as a tactic to get them to connect with you. No, like you really want to know like you really care about who they are.
So, I just follow that little formula and then eventually I got to know more and more about commercial real estate. And the only thing I didn’t like about commercial real estate was it was just really transactional. You close the deal, you’re onto the next one. You might stay in touch with some clients. So, I had a buddy of mine who I was playing, in fact, I have an amazing life with five kids now. So, back in the good old days when I can be on a city league softball team and a city league basketball team at the same time.
[00:11:12] Brad: So, many, many years ago basically.
[00:11:14] Chris: Many, many years ago. Now, my sports are lived through with all my five kids who running around to practice and games, but I had a buddy of mine who I played city league softball and city league basketball with and he’s like, “Man, you’d be great in financial services.” He’s like, “The one thing that we are really, really good at retaining client, we’re really good at planning but we are not good at going out and getting clients. Like it’s really tough for us to create new business.” At first, my thought was like, “Man, I do not want to talk people off their money like I do not want to do financial services,” and yet the more I spoke with him and the more I realized how much they really cared about their clients and the commitment they had in planning and I saw the culture, I was like, “Man, this is something where I could really bring some life in this company.”
So, I joined, got my 65. Got my life and I love the idea that you could also, once you got a client, you could stay with him for life and maybe generation like I love that aspect of it and really being able to make a long-term difference. So, I joined this firm and the owner of the firm and I created this agreement where I would go out and generate all the business then he would do the planning.
Again, a few months into being an advisor, I was one of the top producing advisors in the office and the same thing in commercial real estate. All these advisors are like, “Dude, how are you getting business from a state attorney, getting business from CPAs like those guys don’t refer business.” And part of it too, Brad, is I’ve always I guess just been like just dumb enough and naïve enough to not know any better like I didn’t know that you shouldn’t have that kind of success early on. I didn’t know that a state attorney and CPAs would hardly refer you business but I just followed the same little formula I created in commercial real estate.
[00:12:46] Brad: So, let’s get into that, Chris. And I know one of the things that I found intriguing as we kind of were initially introduced and chatting about what sort of conversation we might have on here. Your business model is very similar to a lot of our top clients. So, you’re managing assets as a Series 65 advisor, right?
[00:13:13] Chris: Yes.
[00:13:13] Brad: And then also had an insurance arm to your firm as well, correct?
[00:13:07] Chris: Correct. So, what happened was, as I was there, I’m just doing my thing, growing this business, growing the book of business and the firm I was with at the time we had our own RIA, really focused on asset under management and did a little bit of insurance planning. However, the owner of our firm had started collaborating in a really intentional way with another firm that was completely the opposite. Really heavy focus on insurance planning, little bit of investment planning. Well, they started referring business back and forth in a really kind of I thought was cool because they were both abundant, right? Like, “Look, we’re not competitors. You guys do one thing really well, we do one thing really well,” and it was so working so well they decided to merge with the firms.
So, here I am building this book of business, bringing in relationships, building our brand and also this merge happens but I’m thinking, you know, not really think actually much about it other than I actually think it’s great. I’ll have more of a story to tell, right? I’ll have more to offer people. So, I don’t know if any of you that are listening have ever been on involved in a merge or acquisition but they moved both of us into a new office together and there were some challenges like you had a 43-year-old insurance planning firm and a 25-year-old investment planning firm who does things very differently for very long periods of time with very different types of people and now we’re all together in an office and it’s like, “Hey, let’s figure it out.”
[00:14:18] Brad: That sounds simple enough.
[00:14:20] Chris: Yeah. And I recognized early on like, man, this is a massive opportunity and there’s some challenges that if we don’t fix could be like a bit of a train wreck coming down the tracks. And I think we could be way more clear and way more intentional about how we’re bringing these two firms together and how we’re going to tell the story about. So, I approached the owner, my good friend, at this point and I said, “Hey, I’ve never done this for a company, but I’ve always been really intentional about branding myself, telling my story and really intentional about the client experience, helping a lot of people. I’d love to take a shot of helping us do that as a firm,” and he was actually like relieved. He’s like, “Oh my gosh, yeah, go for it.” As you can imagine, especially in this industry with all the paperwork, he had so much in his plate to get this merge going and profitable. So, he couldn’t fire me. That was a good thing because I was doing it for free as a volunteer. So, I just dove in, Brad, and I made mistakes. I was naïve. I tried to shove it down people’s throats which I found the best way to do it with people that have been in the industry for 15 or 20 years longer than you, you’re not to go tell them what they should be doing.
And so, I just learned a lot and read a lot of books and ultimately what I realized is we’ve got to create an environment and an atmosphere where it’s not just me giving the ideas to them. We’ve got to facilitate an environment where it’s like we create space for them to actually come up with some of these ideas. Like that there could be a better way to build our brand. There could be a better way to bring this firm together.
So, truly in the last effort, like pure desperation, I was going home every night complaining to my wife and she was telling me, “Stop being a wimp and do something about it.” So, I had this idea to start a mastermind in the firm. So, if you don’t know what the mastermind is, it’s this idea that we’re going to come together on a topic and we’re going to brainstorm and we’re going to create ideas around usually something around personal development. So, I went to them and I said, “Hey, I can start a mastermind in the firm and bring the two sides together and I’ll pick a book. I’ll send out the assignment reading schedule. People can read it and we’ll come in and we’ll set aside an hour each week.”
[00:16:17] Chris: So, at first, they were like, “That sounds like a terrible idea. We don’t have time for that,” and then it got to be one of those things, Brad, where it’s like I just wouldn’t stop talking about it. I was a squeaky wheel so finally it was one of those things like, “Okay, if we can get Chris to shut up about the mastermind, we’ll do one like one book.” So, I intentionally chose a book that I thought would really service. I chose The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and it was really intentional like, look, later down the road I told all of them I admitted like the mastermind was totally just to manipulate you guys to my way of thinking and the book was designed to manipulate you with the best of intentions, Brad, so I thought it would be good for us but the first mastermind we do, Brad, like so awkward. People read, we come in, crickets. I think I’m the only one that spoke for an hour and people are just looking at each other and they’re like, “Gosh. This is rough.” Second week, Jeremy, the owner, he starts sharing a bit. Third week, more people started sharing and what it did is like it created this space for people to have their own discovery but like they want to be more intentional about a brand. They want to be more intentional about the story and how it comes together. So, that really kicked things off.
So, to make a really long story really short, we just got really like clear on who we were serving, what we were saying, how we were saying it. We got really clear on how those two brands are going to come together, how we’re going to tell the story of that. We got really clear on the client experience that we were going to deliver. We got really clear on how each of the individual advisors can tell their personal story and how it connected to the company story, kind of like I had been doing and then we actually redesigned our office to incorporate that story. We gave a storytelling tour to every prospective client that came in the office. And I’m happy to go in more detail into those but long story short within two years we were actually bringing in as many assets under management in a month as we had been doing in a year.
[00:17:58] Brad: So, there’s a lot we can unpack there which I know we’re going to but let’s start with where you started. You have two firms, very different backgrounds to bring those together into one clear concise message that a prospect can understand and figure out quickly how you serve them. Was that a simple bite-size statement of here’s who we are, here’s what we do? What did that sound like on the front-end to the prospect and then maybe we can go through their journey as they started to engage with the firm?
[00:18:26] Chris: Yeah. Amazing question. And here’s something that I now really try to debunk with most of my clients. So, most of us get in such a rush to figure out the marketing, the sales, the branding like how are we going to say it and we skip this really, really crucial part which is, well, what are we saying in the first place? So, the thing that I would tell people is what you say and how you say it are two are fundamentally different things but if you get really, really clear on what you’re saying then the how to say it becomes so much more effective. So, then it’s like okay how do we know what to say? Well to me, it really has always seen really powerful that when what you say is driven by who you’re serving.
So, like clarity is the key to all of this in my opinion, clarity and intentionality. So, I believe, Brad, that the key to having unprecedented success in this industry as an advisor has everything to do with the clarity and intentionality around the brand and how you plan, those two things. So, we just got obsessed about our brand and we step back from everything. We started to question everything so like a blank slate. If we were a startup today, who would we serve and why would we serve them? And what was so interesting is we, like most of my clients now, we immediately went to demographics and that’s how I found that most advisors choose their client, demographics, right? Age, race, ethnicity, income range, career.
[00:19:36] Brad: Investable assets.
[00:19:37] Chris: Yeah. And it’s okay. It’s a start but to me it’s just like surface level so we started digging way beyond the surface from demographics, so we started looking in the psychographics. So, demographics is what somebody is, age, race, ethnicity, income range, investable assets, career. Psychographics is who they are, what do they believe, what do they stand for like what do they want in their life? So, we just said, “You know what, we’re not going to pick a target market anymore based on demographics. We’re going to take our target market based off psychographics like who do we want to serve? And the big shift for us, Brad, was only stopped looking at our target market from the lens of what’s the best opportunity and we started looking at our target market from the lens of who’s the most aligned with us and what you stand for and where can we make the biggest difference.
[00:20:21] Brad: So, as you went down that path, Chris, let’s start with marketing. Obviously, marketing is how they get to your front door in the first place so how did that shift affect your marketing? And then let’s go into then that client lifecycle once they came through the door.
[00:20:36] Chris: Yeah. It’s an amazing question because I believe like if you really want to create some stress and struggle and non-return on investment activities, go start with marketing first but if you get really, really clear first what you stand for and who you’re serving based off of who aligns with you, the marketing becomes so clear. So, for us, we had actually been looking at doctors and dentists and those were a lot of people that we were going after and we were trying to sponsor events where dentist would be and you trying to show up there.
And there’s nothing wrong with serving doctors and dentists but when we got really authentic, when we got really clear on what do we stand for and what are we trying to say, it’s like, man, look I come from a ranching rodeo background. I wore cowboy boots and jeans to the office every day. The owner of the firm he came from a trucking family and another guy in the firm came from a paper mill family. Another guy in the firm his dad did construction and we’re all like the types of things we go do on the weekends and the types of people that we enjoy being with like they’re like us. It’s like we’re a blue collared firm and all of a sudden, a shift came from like, “Well, those are the type of people that we want to work with.”
Now, you can be a doctor and dentist that still have that blue-collar mentality, right? So, for us, it wasn’t like, “Well, are you a doctor? Are you a dentist?” It’s like, no, “Do you meet this like are you like us? Like, do you believe the same as we believe? Do you value what we value?” Now, it just so happened though that we also found a demographic so here’s another interesting thing. When you get clear in your psychographics, you may find a demographic of people that by and large meet that. Well, it just so happened to like just one of the advisors had a high-ranking PBS, public safety officer, as a client and the more we look at public safety, police and fire, like so much of like their makeup and who they are really aligned with us and it’s an industry that was overlooked by a lot of advisors because they look at what a police officer, firefighter makes and they’re like, “They don’t have a whole lot of investable assets,” but the reality is most of them retire with really incredible retirements and with pensions which means that most of them are able to live off their pension and aren’t touching their investable assets. So, there’s money there to manage. So, we just knew that we can make a difference so here’s where everything shifts in our marketing.
[00:22:33] Chris: I said, “Okay. We got to figure out how we’re going to break into public safety though.” Because there are some advisors already in that market and there are several different routes we can go. We can do the traditional marketing route where we start really doing like direct marketing to those industries. We could go kind of like the political route and try to get them onboard and get involved like on committees. I said, “Or we can go on a side door and no one will even know we’re there until we built our brand and then it’s like too late for them to like dominos overnight.” And I said, “Public safety probably involved in community service and community involvement,” so we need to go serve in a community for at least three to six months and not ask for business. And I don’t know if you can imagine like how that was met at first by the advisors but they’re like, “Wait, what? Okay. So, let me get this straight.”
[00:23:16] Brad: High fives?
[00:23:17] Chris: Yeah. We’re going to go like serve in the community and not ask for business, not give out our business cards like…
[00:23:22] Brad: There’s no need for instant gratification in this business, Chris. What are you talking about?
[00:23:24] Chris: That’s right. But I really believe you guys like and we’re not just going to go serve to get business though like I got to make that so clear because one of the things that when into discovering of we are and what he stood for, Brad, and getting really clear, one of the things that I’m really a big believer in is that when we’re helping someone develop their story, you got to dig back in your roots. You got to dig back in your origins of like who you are, where you come from, how that started because there are things in there that are important that most advisors have honestly kind of disconnected from and forgot.
So, we dug back into the origins of both of our firms. There were all kinds of evidence and like stories of like community involvement serving onboard and really like giving back to the community that quite honestly, our firm has gotten a little bit away from. So, it kind of reignited and reconnected it back to our roots and we’re like we don’t know who we’re going to go serve but we know it’s going to be someone in the community. We even start talking about starting our own foundation. So, it’s like this perfect alignment but I had made it really clear the advisors like, guys, you got to know that if you think that we’re going to serve in the community just to get business from these guys, then you’re missing it.
[00:24:21] Brad: Yeah. I have to hop in there real quick, Chris, because this is something like at the core of Advisors Excel too and it’s cool from a marketing perspective, but I just did like 22 interviews for a couple of spots we’re filling on my team in December so it’s very fresh in my mind. So, inside of our company every quarter, everyone in the company which is 500 of us now, four hours of community service somewhere in Topeka. And it’s been team building but here’s what I found in those interviews, almost every single person from the outside of our company that interviewed they said, “One of the reasons I wanted to work at this company is I see the good that you all do in the community.” And so yes, it works great to acquire clients but it’s incredible the talent that it attracts into your firm as well. So, as an aside, as you’re hitting this it’s incredible because it blew my mind. I didn’t even realize it until I went through all those interviews that I did last month. So, I would assume you guys saw that as well. Did you see talents come to the firm from those activities?
[00:25:19] Chris: Oh my gosh. Like, again, we weren’t doing it to get business. However, we knew that was a market we wanted to serve so why not? We knew that was a market we wanted business in so why not serve in that market? Like, you can actually do both, right? You can go and serve in that market not wanting to get business but really open to the idea that you’re going to get them. So, on my business card, guess what my title is on my business card. Community outreach. And it wasn’t a tactic like, no, like literally I told guys like, “Look, I don’t care if I make left but for the next three months I’m going to serve in the community,” and I was a community outreach for Seros Financial. And we built the most amazing relationships.
We started in South Mountain, South Phoenix precinct and we just serve golf tournaments. We were there serving young junior police academies. We were given the teachers for the kids and they’re serving the inner-city. Unfortunately, when an infant drowns, the Phoenix Fire does drowning walks and create awareness. We were there. We would support family to Thanksgiving like I had just come from a rodeo competition actually on a Saturday and I have my cowboy hat on, my boots and I’m out in South Phoenix delivering Thanksgiving meals on a Friday night with my pregnant wife in a police SUV with police officers.
We’re just serving, and we’ve been doing that, and it got to a point where I could literally walk into the South Mountain precinct and almost like not even have like security. And I walked, people were like, “Chris, Seros Financial,” and now it’d be like, “Dude, we don’t even know what you guys do but you guys are awesome. You’re always here. You’re always showing up. You’re always serving.” So, what was interesting, Brad, is we built so much brand equity and so much brand awareness like everyone knew who we were. Everyone knew what they stood for before we ever asked the business and we didn’t even ask the business. We typically…
[00:26:50] Brad: Can I ask you there, Chris, how was that brand equity built? I completely get it. I’ve seen it with our company as well and it’s a long game. It’s not a short game. So, over time and its compound effect and consistently showing up but how do they know what you did? It just came up as you’re serving side-by-side or…
[00:27:06] Chris: Yeah. That’s a great…
[00:27:08] Brad: Of conversation or strategic way that you’re making sure that that came about?
[00:27:12] Chris: Well, it actually drove some of the advisors nuts on our team because we’d go in the office and we’d go down the South Mountain precinct. We’d do all the community activity and people be like, “Man, we don’t know what you guys do like we assume it’s something in financial services and we’re really grateful for you,” and I wouldn’t like take the bait. I wouldn’t be like, “Well, let me tell you what we do.” All the advisors are like, “Do you want it?” Because eventually one of them is going to ask us. One of them is going to ask us like if they can become a client.
So, and this is an unconventional way of doing it. It’s like it require some faith but like the lieutenant was very influential in the community at the launch one day to talk about a community project. And on the way back, he just looks over at me and there he go, “Are you guys set up on Schwab, the self-directed account like on a self-directed platform manage public safety money?” And we both said, “Yeah.” He’s an Irish police officer and he goes, “Why the hell haven’t you asked me for business?” And we said, “Well, our first and foremost intention is serving the community and we figured like if conversations like this come up, we’d welcome them.” And then he goes, “Well, I’ll tell you what, I haven’t heard from my advisor more than an email a year for the last three years. You guys are down here all the time. I’m going to become your first client and help you really break in public safety,” and then he just said, “Don’t F me up or I’ll kill you guys.”
It made me laugh. That was literally like literally, Brad, that was the first client and it went like wildfire overnight because we had done so much work to build our brand that the minute one guy said, “Hey, I’m working with these guys now,” people are like, “They can work with us?” and the domino effect in overnight no one had heard of Seros Financial as far as our competition and then overnight we’re just like sucking assets from people over the Seros Financial and we had people calling like, “Who are you guys?”
[00:28:41] Brad: Okay. So, let’s go into, you tease something, and we’ve got to talk about this or the people listening or the advisors listening in aren’t going to forgive me. Okay. So, you said essentially once we got them to our office, it was pretty much they were becoming a client because you were so intentional and strategic about who we serve but here’s what I love is you said you actually had an office tour strategically set up with here’s the story we tell as you went around the office. Can you unpack that and kind of go through your framework there?
[00:29:11] Chris: Yeah. And the one thing I think is really important for advisors to know, Brad, is that part of the reason we had so much success when people came to our office is because we knew that they would become clients when they came to the office. Like it was just this belief that we built in the firm. So, we operated that way like we had a way of being about us that just like only way that someone would never become a client if they made it into our office was that it wasn’t an alignment and that would happen once a month. Okay. We’re just not a fit for you. You’re not a fit for us. So, the analogy I use is like to…
[00:29:39] Brad: So, real quick there. That’s not easy. I see it a lot. I see our clients that as they scale and grow as you know as a financial advisor is pretty much on your shoulders when you start and then as you start to have some success, now you got to lead a team so that’s a culture thing. So, how long did that take to happen and really create this belief that our place is the only place to be as far as Tempe, Arizona? Can you go through that? Because I think there’s a lot of advisors that struggle creating that sort of culture internally.
[00:30:07] Chris: Yeah. It all goes back to that very first piece like before we get so focused on the marketing and how we’re going to do it and how we’re going to say it like all the activities, again it’s this piece, it’s a clarity like what do we stand for? Not only do you know it as the founder or maybe let’s say you have a few founders in your office as an advisor like does your team really know it? Like I’m amazed to how many financial advisors’ office I’m going to, Brad, and like the people working there they like working there. They think it’s a great place to work and if you ask anyone of them, they have no clue the history of the company, origin story, how it started, why it started. They don’t really know the two or three founders’ backstories. They just know it’s a great place to work and there’s nothing wrong with that. You can grow a business that way but, man, when people know, really know the words in the story, when they really know your roots like, Brad, I grew up on this cattle farm in the Midwest and like this family value like there’s just something about knowing who we are as human beings and knowing the history of a company that we can connect in a more meaningful way.
So, what we did was on two fronts. We made sure that they absolutely knew and understood the power of the Seros story and everything we stood for. In fact, we actually have them help create it like I think we also help them connect their own story to it and we knew each other. Like there wasn’t hardly anything that we didn’t know about each other and most importantly, so two things happen in most companies. The teams don’t really know the company story and the teams don’t really know each other. Even though they may have worked together 5, 10, 15 years, they know like the surface level like, “I might know Brad. I might know how many kids you have. I might know the name of his wife,” like I know some of that, but I don’t really know you.
So, in my experience when they know the company story and they know each other, it just permeates this connection in the office and here’s the telling sign for me. We had been at this like really get my team involved. In about 45 days in this being really intentional, we couldn’t do a mastermind where at the beginning we didn’t have to eventually cut people off. What I mean by that is like we start the mastermind to come talk about the book and people would want to go crazy on ideas about how to add more value to the client.
[00:32:06] Chris: Our client concierge Amanda, Jill, like everyone is like, “Yeah. I think we could do this to add more value to the client. I think we could do this to serve more in the community.” Finally, we got guys. We got a table this and that’s when it’s like coming alive and we send powered people like Amanda, she designed the whole upfront experience. She’s the one that like said, “You know what, instead of financial and the financial news on the TV when people walk in, I think we should create a PowerPoint loop but they’re one in the firm and their families and they’re showing pictures of us doing service in the community and like have clients that they’re watching that.” She’s the one that said, “You know, I really think I should get up from the desk and greet people at the door and meet and then shake their hand and actually have their name on the monitor display like welcome to the firm.” She did that. Like she’s like, “I own the upfront,” and Amanda really like saw herself as like, “I’m the most important person in this firm because I’m the first person that greet them and I’m the last person they see when they leave.” And it wasn’t like she’s like it was a mind game to her like, “I’ll tell myself.” No, she really saw herself as the most important person in the firm so did the advisors and so did the service team.
[00:33:04] Brad: There’s a lot of power there in something you did that was very simple. You brought your team together and you asked versus told, right? Like, you pulled that stuff out of them and they felt that it was a safe environment where they could go around. It sounds like that took a little time to get rolling but once you did, it sounds like it had a tough time turning it off when you wanted to.
[00:33:26] Chris: Yeah. What’s interesting about this, Brad, is I always find myself asking this question like why, like why don’t we spend more time on the things like you ask most advisors and you think getting really, really clear on what you stand for and who your target market is and they’re really intentional about it, you think that’s important? Obviously, every one of them is going to say yes. Me included, right? But then like why don’t we spend more time there? And what I found is because if I’m being completely honest, that exercise, the clarity that we take people through to really be clear and intentional and accountable, it isn’t fun. It’s way more fun to go out and talk about like marketing and branding and how we’re going to grow and be creative and like that’s fun. This might even be more meaningful, but I think there’s a reason why a lot of them to avoid that conversation because there’s discipline, there’s accountability there.
[00:34:08] Chris: And to be honest, there were times that we would like lock ourselves in the conference room and be like, “We are not leaving until we figure out who our target market is and what we stand for.” And there were times I was like, ‘Dude, I’m either going to punch Jeremy in face and Jeremy is going to punch me in the face.” Like there was some like, you know what I mean? But we had to do that like…
[00:34:24] Brad: Get intellectual debates going on.
[00:34:26] Chris: Yeah. But once we got that clarity is like everything became clear, how we’re going to market, how we’re going to sell, how we’re going to grow like you couldn’t stop us like…
[00:34:33] Brad: Okay. So, let’s start the background. I want to hear Amanda’s tour. So, if you were walking me through, so let’s just pretend like Brad is the prospect and let’s say I was serving beside you in the community so I kind of have an idea of what was going on and what your firm is all about but I come in first time into the office like if you start there and walk me through that journey and walk the listeners and viewers through that journey, what did that look like?
[00:34:58] Chris: Yeah. So, something that’s really, really important that’s key is that we would track five areas of someone’s life in our CRM. We hijack the little thing and it was like personal, hobbies, interest, family, spiritual. Okay. They’re all in now. And the goal was that before you ever came to the office, Brad, we wanted as many of those things filled in before you ever step foot in the office. So, put the onus on people like me out there, one, I had to actually get to know those things about you. Again, that whole idea like I really want to know you just as a human being. Two, that would already be in the CRM before you ever walked in the office and it would be really intentionally communicated to Amanda in the morning meetings, “Hey, Brad’s coming in today. Here’s a little bit of what I know about Brad or check the CRM,”
So, you’d walk in. So, you open the door. The very first thing you would see is, “Welcome to the firm, Mr. Johnson.” Or if I felt like you wouldn’t appreciate Mr. It might be, “Welcome to the firm, Brad.” Amanda would come around from her desk. She’d immediately say, “Hey, I’m Amanda. I’m the client concierge and the head of the relationship team. It’s a pleasure to have you at the firm today.” First, ask if she can get you some water or some coffee or anything and then whatever you did, and she’d say, “Hey, have a seat,” and then, “Chris will come and get you.” Then while sitting there, she’s like, “Oh, I heard that you grew up on the cattle farm in the Midwest. What was that like?” And you’d be like…
[00:36:17] Brad: Hard.
[00:36:19] Chris: But you’d be like, “How does she knows this, right?” Like she would actually be like we had a fire captain that we’d been wanting to get in the firm for a year-and-a-half and we finally got him into the firm and we sat down and the very first thing Amanda says is l like, “You have two boys, right? And their names and they’re in the football, right?” And he was like, just the intentionality of that and they’re showing like we really care about you like the person.
[00:36:40] Brad: Yeah. They’re not a number here.
[00:36:41] Chris: Yeah. So, then I would come out and I would get you and I’d say, “Hey, Brad. Before we start the meeting today, can I introduce you to Jeremy and Jill?” Now, here’s another thing. Even though I wasn’t going to be your advisor, I was the one on the relationship, I had told you at this point so much about Jeremy and Jill that you like felt like you knew them. You were in love with him before you ever stepped in the office. What you get is another thing that I don’t see a whole lot of advisors do is speak really powerfully about each other. Like, we call it tagging, talk about the good.
Like, so if I’m going to introduce them to Amanda, I’m going to tag Amanda in a really meaningful, powerful way which means I’ve also got to know Amanda, like I’ve got to know a little bit of her story. I want to know her like you’re going to love Jeremy and Jill and here’s why, so you are already looking forward to meeting Jeremy and Jill. In fact, a lot of our clients would come in when I would introduce them to Jeremy and Jill and hand him off to the meeting, he would say like, “Man, I already feel like I know you guys like Chris won’t shut up about you guys in how incredible you are.” So, I would come out as head of relationship team and I would say, “Do you mind if we pull you from Jeremy and Jill? I’ll give you a quick tour at the office,” And then you say, “Sure.”
I say, “So, as you can probably notice, you see all these pictures in our room here they all revolved around farming and harvesting and planting and growing which is intentional and because the name of our firm is Seros, it’s Latin for grow and plant because it’s our intention here that with all of our clients, we want to plant and nourish and cultivate lifelong relationship with our client. So, like the process we look at is like we want to work with people forever and we want to make a difference so that’s why we have all this artwork and you’ll notice that all the plants here are real live plants.”
And so, then we would go through the glass doors and we would start the official tour and we have the timeline history wall. And on the timeline history wall, we had the two origin founding firms that came together and we had the picture of their first office. We had the picture of the first founders back in 1940. We told the story of that company and the history as an insurance planning firm and what they stood for in the community and the board that’s set on the good they did. And then we told the story of Alliance Financial Group and the same thing and then we talk about why the two of them came together.
[00:38:42] Chris: And the reason that the two of them came together is that we believe that one of the biggest challenges in financial services for a client is that they end up becoming the involuntary quarterback of their financial plan and their structure in their team. They’re the ones that are responsible to go talk to the CPA and they’re the ones that are responsible to talk to their insurance guy and they’re the ones that’s responsible to talk to their advisors and they’re the ones responsible– and they’re the one quarterbacking all and probably the least qualified of anyone and they don’t want to do it. It’s like, “There’s better a way to plan like why don’t we bring financial service and financial planning and insurance planning under one roof and give away all holistic approach involving people?”
And then so we say, “So, these two firms came together to create Seros Financial,” and then there was the picture of Seros Financial. And then we say, “So, one of the things that we really believe strongly at Seros Financial is not what we do that makes us unique. It’s how we do it. Like the fact that we’re financial advisors doesn’t make us unique. Anyone can be a financial advisor. It’s how we do it through our proprietary planning methodology of Seros 360. So, we created and branded our own proprietary planning methodology. We called it a mentoring approach to retirement planning,” but then it was a seven-step process and we actually had out there on the wall like in this glass kind of like my glass flyboard behind me.
We had a graphic design for Seros 360 and the seven steps were on there. And we say, “So, these are the seven steps that we believe are really important to your ability to success to retire. And if you notice, there’s only two of the steps on there that we actually get paid to talk to you about, investment and insurance. So, one of the other things that we feel like is a real struggle in the financial service industry that most advisors will only talk to you about what they get paid to talk to you about and, in fact, we actually don’t even like to refer to ourselves as advisors. We feel like to really think of ourselves more like a retirement coach like really coaching you through this aspect.”
But what’s so dangerous about only talking to you about what we get paid to talk to you about is that there’s five other key factors here that significantly impact your ability to retire and if we don’t incorporate into the overall plan so we’re going to talk to you about things and we actually want to be your quarterback. We want to know who you’re CPA is. We want to know who your state of attorney is. We want to reach out to them on your behalf and do planning coordination and make sure that something that we’re doing on the investment side isn’t creating liability on the path side.
[00:40:45] Chris: And, Brad, people just never heard advisors talk this way to them. They’ve never heard of something like this. And then after that, we would take them and say, “One of the things we really stand for here is a lot of community involvement.” There’s police officers and firefighters. We had several awards and plaques given to us by Phoenix Police, Phoenix Fire, get pictures of me and the Chief of Police, the Chief of Fire like it was just not a bad thing for credibility and social proof if you got a police officer and firefighter, right?
And even if they weren’t police or fire, we’d show them about our community involvement. And then it was just known on the tour like it was – so, we view the tour as like where we view people come into the office like a baseball game that was already won. We just had to walk through the nine innings. So, like that’s how confident we were. Like this is one of the thing that we do with all the team members is that if you are in your office and the door is open and you’re up and about and we’re on tour, you like get up out of your office and you come out and introduce yourself and like tell them who you are and what your role is and a little bit about you. And people had always comment on that, “Man, your staff is so friendly. They’re so incredible like everyone is like tell me who they are and shaking their hand,” and if I would get to the service team, I would just be like, “Oh, hey, here’s our service team.” I’d be like I’d had them really powerfully. Like, I wanted to create a powerful experience with every single person in our firm and I would tell them a little bit of their story.
So, that was happening throughout the whole tour and then we would get to the hobby wall and the hobby wall had a picture of everyone single one of us in the firm doing our hobby. I was rodeoing, Jeremy was hunting, Jill was playing soccer, Sherry was working on his car. And the intention with that is to show people like we’re not just like stuff the advisors and sit behind the desk in a suit and tie and push the numbers around. Like, we’re real people just like you and we would leave a picture frame blank. So, if you were there, Brad, and we’d be showing this to say, “Okay, Brad, so if you were on a hobby wall, what would your picture be?” So, what’s your hobby? What do you think you would tell us, Brad?
[00:42:35] Brad: Well, growing up, it would’ve been sports, football in college. Today, gosh, my hobby is three children so I’m trying to think what that is now. Actually, it’s funny. My wife gets me a hard time about this because used to really enjoy playing video games and then you have kids and you don’t have time to anymore but now I’ve got my seven-year-old. He’s kind of into gaming so now that’s father-son time. We’ll game together so that probably be what would go in there.
[00:42:58] Chris: That’s awesome. What kind? Like Xbox, PlayStation, Wii U?
[00:43:02] Brad: PlayStation.
[00:43:05] Chris: Awesome. So, we would actually spend some time just like you and I did there with hobby wall and connect now because we’ve been spending all time about us. And that was like a real point of like, yeah, because some people are like, “Man, I totally be cycling.” “Oh, what do you know about cycling?” “Oh, my grandfather got me into cycling,” or what do you love about playing games? You had video games with your son and then I might ask like what your son’s name.
[00:43:27] Brad: Braun.
[00:43:28] Chris: Braun. So, eventually the tour went in. Went out. The meeting would be ready to start. People, they’re clients already.
[00:43:35] Brad: Yeah. How long was that tour?
[00:43:36] Chris: Ten minutes, 15 minutes.
[00:43:38] Brad: And just so I clearly understand, permanently there’s an empty frame on the hobby wall. Did it have anything in it where like a question or was it just a blank frame?
[00:43:48] Chris: No. It’s blank frame. I think eventually we put a quote in there. So, now we go into a meeting. Here’s what’s so powerful about this. Jeremy and Jill felt zero pressure to say anything about the firm. Like, most advisors are like feel this pressure, a little bit of anxious. It’s like, “I got to tell them about our firm. I got to figure out,” and we’ve done all of that in the tour. So, actually, a lot of advisors just be with them and be really present because Jeremy and Jill like Chris has already done an amazing job. The two has already done the job of telling the story of the firm. You can just answer their question if they have any but really this now this whole meeting is about them, all about them, nothing about us.
[00:44:19] Brad: You’re going to make a lot of offices that we work with create a brand-new role in their firm. They’re just going to call it the Chris role. So, I’m curious because this is interesting. You were really paid like an advisor. So, I would assume I guess I don’t want to assume here. Were you paid like an advisor and that was just your role in the seven-step process as I’m kind of the relationship guy and then the tour guy when they come in and did you maintain those relationships on the backend as well or can you walk in that model a little bit?
[00:44:48] Chris: Yeah. So, we had a relationship where I was incentivized for asset under management for any product goods sold but my role is really on the front-end business development that would be like the tactical word we would use which I don’t like but that’s what I was. I was bringing relationships in and then I would sit with them in that first meeting. I was always in the first meeting and it wasn’t like I knew nothing about financial services like I knew enough to really like speak intelligently about it and inspire confidence, my view from that first meeting, and then after that like I was not involved on the planning, but I stayed very involved on the relationship, continuing to build relationships. So, I would stay involved in the relationship side.
Now, what’s interesting is when you left that first meeting, Brad, whether you became a client or not which by the way we wouldn’t even let you become a client on the first meeting like there’s no signing the paperwork like even if you want to like, “No, don’t think about this,” and you would get a handwritten thank you card from us that wasn’t just like, “Hey, Brad, thank you for coming to the office today. It was a pleasure meeting you,” which would be more than a lot of advisors do. It would be impressive. It’s like, “Brad, thank you so much for coming to the office and thank you for telling us about you and your family.” By the way, you have to remind me because it’s been a while since I’ve been on this side, what’s the limit of the likely gift dollar amount that you can provide to like a client?
[00:45:58] Brad: Particularly, 100 in most states.
[00:46:00] Chris: Yeah. So, we would say like, “Hey, thank you so much for coming to the office. Here’s a $50 gift card at Best Buy to buy a new PlayStation game for you and Braun,” whether you became a client or not.
[00:46:09] Brad: I got you.
[00:46:10] Chris: And a homemade loaf of a Jewish coffee cake that Amanda would made and a packet of seeds that just signify like we would say like if we are to work together like here’s to like planting the seeds of what’ll be like an amazing relationship. And people would refer us like we’d have clients come in to work with us or come in to like just come meet with us. They’re like, “Yeah. I just saw the thank you card you wrote this guy and the gift box you sent him afterward.” So, anyway, that was kind of like that final piece but then I would stay involved. Now, I’m not saying you couldn’t do both like I know what advisors would do like pretty much my role and they’re good planters, but you have to ask yourself like can we be really intentional on like a role like Chris’s and on the planning? You can and just it requires some work.
But I have to give credit though massively to Jeremy at the firm because as intentional and as clear as I was on the brand and the story in the front end, he was as equally as intentional and clear on how we plan like his planning methodology of how he really took care of clients was way more than just some advisors that just ultimately got paid to talk to them about. So, that’s why I said in the beginning like I believe like my big idea in this industry is I believe that the key to having unprecedented success as an advisor lies in the intentionality and the clarity of your brand and how you plan. And if you do both really well, you’re just going to dominate your industry.
[00:47:34] Brad: Well, the good news, Chris, is you’re basically preaching what I’ve been preaching for about the last two years. It’s crazy to me that it’s crazy and it’s an amazing opportunity in our industry how many advisors still to this day they don’t have that proprietary process. And they’re great planners. Don’t get me wrong. They’re doing a great process. They just haven’t strategically and intentionally named it and trademarked it and set themselves apart in their own marketplace. And the ones that have and do thrives.
[00:48:03] Chris: So, where this hit me, so this became the core step of my – the fourth course of my five courses of storytelling was this I call it brand new proprietary process. And you don’t have to call yours that but like that’s just the idea that I’m sitting there one day, Brad, and we’re learning more and more about the industry. We’re getting really clear on what we stand for. We’re getting really clear in our brand and all of a sudden, I’m just like it’s really an acknowledgement to Jeremy and Jill and I was like, “You guys are amazing.” They’re like, “Oh, thanks.” I’m like, “No, no, no like how much you care about our clients like the fact that you meet with them on a quarterly basis when most advisors are like, ‘We’ll offer a one phone call review a year,’” like I just started seeing enough what the industry was out there and what they were doing. I was like, “You guys are so incredible, and you know what’s so unfortunate? No one knows how incredible you are because of how you talk about it. You guys are so much more amazing, and your planning methodology is so much more amazing than how you actually share with the world because you have the methodology.” And so, that’s what I find like I’m amazed too like you said, Brad, at how many people that in the industry still don’t plan really intentionally and they really dropped the ball in the service side.
I’m also amazed though on how many advisors do an amazing job of the planning and the service, but they’ll so much get no credit for it because you could put them next to an advisor who really doesn’t care about people that much and doesn’t plan that well and most of the public sees them the same because they’re saying the same things. And it’s just like the most missed. It’s like the most unfortunate. I go, “Okay. That’s going to change. We are going to start talking about what we do in a way that’s as powerful of what we actually do. Imagine that.” Imagine if we actually started talking about what we did as powerful as we actually did it and that’s Seros 360, that’s proprietary mentoring approach that was borne out of that. And what we found too is Jeremy and Jill can go through that process actually started identifying ways that they could even plan better because they’re already being intentional but it’s kind of hard to improve upon something you can’t see but once they could see the methodology and it was outlined, we’re going to make this better and we could improve this.
[00:49:52] Brad: Yeah. It’s so funny and I think every industry does this. You live it, you breathe it all day long, so you just assume everybody else knows it to the level that you do. Well, they don’t. The analogy I make on the process, imagine if the typical financial advisor walks on the Shark Tank, they’re just going to get destroyed by Mr. Wonderful, right, because they’re going to have like five different things they do. They’re trying to explain it. None of it’s actually cohesive and works together. What you just said we have the Seros 360 process. You could go pitch that on Shark Tank and they would invest in you and it’s clear, it’s concise, they understand that they get it and that I’ll get off my soapbox, so I’ll let you keep going but it’s…
[00:50:32] Chris: Well, I want to finish on this point with this because I think it’s so important. If there’s one thing that I could preach from the mountain tops like if someone said, “Chris, you can always say this method for the rest of your life like let’s say in financial services,” as it relates to like just the marketing of like and selling of what you do. So just that. Not that what you stand for and the clarity or how to say it but like just that little piece of how do you differentiate yourself. So, yeah, if I could preach one thing for the rest of my life in the mountain tops around differentiation, it’s like it is not what you do that makes you unique. It’s how you do it. You can’t differentiate what you do because every single person in your industry could argue that they’d do that same thing and yet it’s the very thing that we all emphasize the most in our marketing, in our coffee.
Look at most people’s website, 99% of them is about what they do. I can just go swap out my company name for your company and it would still work. And yet that’s not what makes you unique. What makes you unique is how you do it because no one else in the world will ever do it how you do it because no one is you. No one had your background, your experience of like what you’ve been through like no one has your methodology. So, it’s like why don’t we start emphasizing the things that actually makes us unique because now when we have Seros 360, guess how many other firms in the world have that?
[00:51:42] Brad: Zero.
[00:51:43] Chris: We could stand on like a little platform of differentiation and like I could suddenly like, “You want to know what makes us unique?” Not that we’re advisors. It’s who we are a belief system and this methodology we created that nobody else have. And the other thing that they’re seeing about that, Brad, is so that alone which is a pretty compelling argument, Brad, but then this idea of like, “And what do our clients really want to know?” Do our clients really want to know what we do? No, they want to know how we’re going to help them and that’s answered by the methodology, by the process. And like the very thing that makes us most unique and the very thing that they want to know the most, most of us don’t talk about. So, anyway, yeah. You’d better stop me because I could keep going on.
[00:52:16] Brad: There’s a lot. We’ll sum it up. There’s a lot of opportunity out there, right? Okay. So, let’s bring this back in. So, I think that gives us obviously a really good overview of what The Campfire Effect is but let’s go because I think there’s three pillars of The Campfire Effect. And our challenge here today, Chris, is we’re trying to fit what’s normally a two-and-a-half-day workshop, live workshop that you do into a 60-minute conversation, so I know we’re not going to get through it all. So, maybe we just handpick some things here that you think are some actionable things that can really drive value here the last half hour or so we have together. So, what I love is your three pillars so The Campfire Effect obviously to have a fire, you’ve got to have spark, you got to have fuel, you got to have oxygen, so I love that. Which of those three should we dive into?
[00:53:03] Chris: Let’s touch heavy in the spark then we’ll touch on the fuel and the oxygen.
[00:53:06] Brad: Okay. So, on the spark, you just take it where you want to go. You’ll obviously explain it better than me.
[00:53:12] Chris: So, what’s interesting, coming off the heels of our soapbox that Brad and I were just on throughout this process, here’s my proprietary methodology. Guess how many people in the world have The Campfire Effect? Me. I’ve trademarked it, I have the IP on it. So, it’s like I could feel, yeah, there’s lots of people in the industry that do what I do but I have this proprietary methodology and the next three pillars is the spark, the fuel, and the oxygen. And what I found, Brad, is that I don’t ever sell but when I just help people understand who I am and how I help them through the methodology, their confidence is just through the roof and like I’ve never had more sales and it’s never been easier. So, the spark…
[00:53:44] Brad: Real quick, Chris, because you’re bringing flashbacks. I just had a conversation with one of my guys on the West Coast. He’s such a good dude but he struggles a little bit and it has recently I should say because it’s this condensing his story into something where people get. And it was funny, we’re talking about this live presentation he was doing two nights ago. He’s like I don’t want to come across salesy and I said, “Here’s all you got to do. Don’t sell. Tell him how you can help him.” It’s that easy and he can. I mean, he’s got a great process and so it’s funny that you just said that because you don’t have to sell when you’re like, “Here’s my process, and when you hear this, you think you need it. I can help you.” I think that financial advisors listening and it’s just what Chris said right there, you’re not selling. It’s here’s how can I serve you and help you and just transition that. Just erase selling out of your brain. It’s going to help you so much.
[00:54:38] Chris: And what I would supplement to that, Brad, is that when you start talking a lot about what you do, you start sounding salesy but if you could stay focused on how you help people and how you do it with your methodology and like who you are and why you do it, it doesn’t sound salesy. It’s like, no, like, “Here’s who I am. Here’s why I do this. Here’s the path and the journey that got me here. Now, here’s how I help people.”
And I’m thinking of so many things because Garrett Gunderson just went through The Campfire Effect and his story and his proprietary process which is the fast track to financial economic independence and the seven stages and he managed working on the book around that so anyways, I won’t get there because that’ll take probably a whole day.
So, the spark. I want to start there, the first pillar of our methodology. The very first thing I tell people, Brad, is that your story has only two jobs. Lots of capabilities. Lots of functionality but two primary jobs. The first job of your story has is to make sense. The second job your story has is exactly what we’ve been talking about and that is to inspire a belief in them that you can help them. And if your story to that like if you could tell your story in a clear and concise way and at the end someone goes like, “Wow. That make sense. And I realize the others can help me,” you don’t have to do anything else. And the thing I submit my argument is that most of us are saying way more than we need to. And part of the reason why our stories don’t make sense for people and they don’t get how we can help them or they don’t believe that we can help them because we’re saying way too much and it’s all around what we do.
[00:56:33] Chris: And so, the majority of my conversation now at the end, first of all, my conversation looked like this. They talk about 75%, 80% of the time. I could tell my entire story, who I am, why I do this, and how I do it about five to eight minutes and when I’m done, the majority of the time they go, “Oh it makes sense.” And I believe those are some of the most powerful words in an conversation because it’s not just, “Oh, intellectually it makes sense.” No, if someone tells you, “Oh, that make sense,” they’re like, “Man, maybe there’s something here for me. Maybe I trust this like maybe this could make a difference.” And if it makes sense, there’s also some confidence there.
So, how do we get your story to make sense and how do we have it be where people see that you can help them? The other thing that I tell people it’s a really important distinction and I said this at the beginning, there’s a fundamental difference between what you say and how you say it and we often kind of blur the two. And in fact, it’s the confident focus of how to say it like you probably seen people like this or maybe you’ve experienced this personally, we’re constantly tweaking like how to position it, how to message it, how to market it. Like, if you’re really thinking about we’re always tweaking how we say it on different platforms even like this advisor in presentations, right? I’m always thinking about how to get my presentation better. So, I’m always in the how but I believe that one of the things that make the how we say it so confusing is so we don’t spend enough time being clear on what we’re saying in the first place. Like, this is the thing that drives that, right? So, what are we saying and how do we say it?
So, if you’re an advisor right now and you’re taking notes and you’re listening to this, if you want, on the left-hand side of your page write what you say. Now, on the right side of the page write how you say it. And then on the left-hand side of your page, above the what you say, I want you to write accountability. And on the right side how to say it structure. And I believe you have to have those two things to tell your story in a really powerful way. You got to be accountable to what it is you’re trying to say so that you don’t go all over the place. And you actually have a structure of how to say it.
[00:58:17] Brad: Can you give us like a little soundbite of a good example what that might sound like for a financial advisor?
[00:58:23] Chris: Yeah. So, we work with Garrett Gunderson recently and talk about him, so it’d be relevant. So, Garrett like a lot of entrepreneurs and like a lot of advisors there’s a lot of things he wants to go do. Lots of opportunities and most of us live in opportunity overwhelm if we’re being honest with ourselves as advisors and entrepreneurs. And the key is which is the best opportunity in my opinion, the key is which opportunity is most aligned. I want to help my clients pick opportunities based off of what they’re saying, not based off of which is the best opportunity, so we take them through an exercise called the big idea of impact.
So, this is how we get you really, really clear on what to say so then we can then start helping you focus on how to say it. So, the big idea of impact is let’s take this advisor you were just telling me about that, “I don’t want to sound salesy.” Where I would start with him is I would say, “Hey, let’s say, I’m going to put you on a stage tomorrow and 50 of your target market clients were in the audience.” Like maybe the best stage you’ve ever been on, dream stage, like you would have to try and mess it up. Like, if you just got up there and like didn’t mess it up, they’re all going to work with you like that type of stage. And you’ve got 60 minutes to tell you your story and give your presentation but at the end they can only remember one idea from the entire presentation and you get to decide ahead of time what it is.
So, I think they’ll remember one idea like it better be like it’d better be something that like challenges the way they currently think like a disruption the conventional thinking like it has them lying awake in bed at night and be like, “Yeah, it’s something that Brad said like. Maybe buying and holding is the stupidest thing ever,” or something like, Brad, like it really challenged them or it inspires them to a possibility and I encourage my clients to start with an “I believe.” So, when we first start this exercise they might write like ten I believes up on the whiteboard but if we can get down to a single sentence like in that single sentence it literally contains everything that you stand for. Like, it’s your entire story in one sentence. That becomes a thing we’re accountable to. We’re accountable to that statement. Everything that we say and how to say it, we always come back and kind of like pressure test it against that.
[01:00:17] Chris: So, Garrett, when we did all these, we started out here, kept coming down and Garrett is like, “Look, at the end of the day, I believe that you get one chance to create a life you love and leave a legacy that will last.” Now, to the listing they might just like, “Oh, that sounds cool,” but if you know Garrett’s story like everything he stands for from his childhood, his story, his history, his journey, everything, every progress like all of it support and aligns with that. Everything falls under that. So, I’m like, “Garrett, is that what you’re really trying to say to the world?” He’s like, “Yeah. That’s what I’m trying to say.”
So, the question that we often ask in this like what are you trying to say or what should you say? My client literally probably hear me 50 to 100 times in a private one-day or two-and-a-half-day workshop. He’ll say something like, “Okay. Brad, what are you really trying to say?” And then you’ll say, “Okay, but what are you really trying to say?” And what I find is most of us have dug enough to go do some marketing and some growth but there’s so much more depth to get to there.
[01:01:13] Brad: Well, that’s not an easy process. You’re wheedling away slowly and slowly and slowly until you get to that one sentence that’s – what’s the quote I’m missing about how it’s hard to say something in a page and harder in a paragraph and harder in a sentence? I mean basically…
[01:01:28] Chris: Right. Mark Twain is like, “If I would’ve written a shorter letter but I didn’t have enough time.” Because length is easy. I always say length is lazy. Like most people like, “Man, I could tell my story really, really powerfully if you give me like an hour.” Well, yeah, most of us go like that’s why intentionally in my two-and-half-day intensives because we give each of our clients in the room an opportunity to tell a story be it five minutes, whole day and that’s intentional but again, that’s why we avoid exercises like that, Brad, because it’s tough. Clarity’s hard work like it’s grinding. But when you get to it, I’m like, “Garrett, is that what you’re trying to say?” He’d be, “That is what I’m trying to say. That is what I want to shout in the mountaintop of the world.” Well, just now in the work that we’ve done together since then around as team, that one sentence is the thing that we used to align this whole theme of the big idea and actually it’s the sentence that’s driving his book. It’s the sentence that drove the video. You know what I mean? It’s just like so much clarity. So, when we get you clear on what you’re really trying to say down to that sentence, then it’s like okay now it gets exciting, right?
Now that we know what we’re saying, now let’s go figure out how to say it and let’s make sure that it’s aligned everywhere. So, that’s the what you say. But there’s accountability there like you got to be accountable to that like you got to be willing to come back and anytime you’re about to launch a new piece of copy or new piece of marketing and you’re about to launch a new product, you got to have the discipline to come back and look at your big idea and be like, “Man, am I forcing something here? Am I trying to justify?” because we’re the masters of justification, right? It might, “Oh, this really aligned,” And I’m not saying your big idea can’t evolve over time. I think it would.
Now, if you noticed and you go back and listen to this, I’ve stated my big idea for this particular interview about four times and that’s intentional. I believe and if you want to have unprecedented success as an advisor, it’s directly tied to the intentionality and clarity of your brand and how you plan. And everything, I haven’t said one thing in this interview that has been wasted that doesn’t align with that. Why would I talk about stuff that doesn’t support my big idea?
[01:03:20] Chris: As containing as it is and as much as we want to like ad lib and get all over the place so this big idea of impact not only do we use it as the foundation to start with your overall brand and your story but every single time I’m going to get on stage, every single time I’m going to give a webinar or interview, podcast, I ask like what’s the big idea? What am I really trying to say on this podcast? And do you want to talk about, you stepping off the stage and people being like, “Wow. That was – and I know exactly what he’s talking about.”
[01:03:43] Brad: Yeah. Chris, this is like I said two-and-a-half days we’re trying to fit in 60 minutes, so this is fun stuff. So, in our five minutes before we wrap up with some fun questions here that hopefully make you think a little, how much more of the three pillars do you want to unpack here? Do you just want to hit them high level and kind of…
[01:04:01] Chris: Yeah. I’ll hit them high level.
[01:04:02] Brad: So, we can leave them wanting more I guess if you want.
[01:04:03] Chris: Yeah. So, once we have you clearing your big idea of impact then we take you through our structure called the Five Forces of Story of How to Say It because we have the accountability of what we’re trying to say but we still need the structure of how to say it, right? So, the reason we call it the spark is that I found, and this is like the takeaway that you can do right now as advisor is like, “Man, are we really, really clear on what we’re trying to say? And then are we clear on how to say it? And is our team clear on how to say it?”
And the reason I call it the spark is because what I found, Brad, is that when you get clear on that, that clarity sparks all of this alignment for growth and ideas but not just growth and ideas for the sake of opportunity. They’re growth and ideas that are aligned that are really powerful to have some real legs under it. So, the spark is where I’ve just challenged. If I was you, I’d be challenging myself like are we really clear on what we’re saying like do we really know what we’re trying to say before we even start thinking about how to say it?
And then the fuel again like so the spark is typically like the founder or the founder and maybe a couple of key team members, but I believe that you’re a team and you guys have certainly experienced this in Advisors Excel, your team is building your fire. Like if your team isn’t connected and aligned to what it is you stand for and your story and your mission, and most importantly, in my opinion, Brad, if your team doesn’t understand how their personal story connects to the company’s story, that little spark that we got going with you and with the founders are going to flicker out. You can’t sustain it, but you also can’t stop it like your team catches fire like a team that’s caught fire that really understands the power of the company story and their connection to it, it’s almost like we experienced at Seros like I would say that it could even survive bad leadership for a long time. It might eventually go out but like so the team that I would really get on you, I’d question like do I really know my team? I mean, like more than surface level like enough put on the Christmas card like the name of their family, like do I really know my team?
[01:05:49] Brad: What’s a quick exercise out there that financial advisor offices could do to get to know their team better?
[01:05:55] Chris: Tell them your story first. Like if you really want people on your team open up and really share who they are and like where they come from and the struggles they’ve gone through in their life and what’s got them here, make sure they know that about you first like be a demonstration of that. Because I would be willing to bet that most of you listening that’s like your team doesn’t really know you much more than you know them. And then there’s the power of knowing each other.
So, the team is like, “Hey, you’re aligned with the founder and clear on your story. Now your team is connected and aligned.” Then the oxygen if you know anything about a fire in order for it to become a raging spreading wildfire, you got to have oxygen to win. So, this is where we breathe life in your brand and your story by saying, “Is everything that we put out in the world in our sales, our marketing, our branding, the design of our office, the artwork on the walls, our hiring process,” like I mean, we get pretty obsessive about it, right? Because look, if there’s anything that our story and brand touches externally, it has to be aligned. And we got to make sure that our website, our marketing ourselves, our branding, our speaking from stage, our design of our office like it should all be telling our very best story.
And I generated almost all of my business from speaking and that’s something I have a real passion for helping advisors with is not necessarily how to go out, I’ve got a really great friend that’ll teach you how to go out and find the stages and win the stages but mine is like now I get that opportunity to be on a stage like what are you going to say it? And how are you going to say it? So, when you get off, people are like, “That guy can help me or that gal can help me.” So, the oxygen is like I’ll just encourage you to start like just go look at your marketing, go look at your website, just really question it like is this really conveying like who we are and what we do and how we help people?
[01:07:26] Brad: I hear once this conversation goes live, our phone lines are going to light up, Chris. We’re going to have all types of new web designs to do for our clients. We’re going to have probably new logos, new brands, so this should be exciting.
[01:07:39] Chris: The last thing I would challenge you on your oxygen piece. If you’re currently thinking about kicking off like what the branding and the designing and writing a book, I would never say to not do that. It could be an amazing investment. I’ll say this. You’re going to have a much, much higher probability of an ROI and an impact on anything you go do externally branding, marketing design, books, websites, speaking, if you’re clear first.
[01:08:02] Brad: Which is not easy. I mean, it’s interesting because we do a lot of work on the proprietary process, helping advisors and offices define that and even giving them 85% of that framework kind of prebuilt it’s still really, really tough. It’s tough. But once you’ve got it, it just goes back to you’re the only place in town where they can get it. You’re not Walmart fighting against Target which all offering the same products. No, your shop is the only one that offers it and as soon as you’re clear on how that adds value and serves them then it’s time to crank up the marketing because then they come see you.
[01:08:36] Chris: Yeah. Because now you have marketing that’s actually aligned with everything. So, you hear me, you probably hear these three words I’ve used a lot: intentionality, clarity and alignment. It’s just like…
[01:08:44] Brad: All right. Are you ready for the tough questions I’ve saved until the end, Chris?
[01:08:48] Chris: Yeah. Hit me.
[01:08:49] Brad: All right. Cool. Let’s go ahead and go with this one. Let’s go with, if there was one thing that you would like to be considered absurd 25 years from now, what would that be?
[01:08:59] Chris: If there’s one thing that I would – these are amazing questions. The amount of selfies that are taken.
[01:09:05] Brad: Why is that?
[01:09:05] Chris: Probably because I don’t have the confidence to take selfies myself. No, there’s no judgement to that. I just think that like a lot of people are going to look back at some of the selfies they took like 25 years from now and be like, “What was I thinking?”
[01:09:17] Brad: They’re going to age like a tattoo does. Is that what you’re saying?
[01:09:20] Chris: Yeah. Selfies 25 years from now are going to be like a 25-year-old tattoo. Yeah. That’s a great…
[01:09:26] Brad: Yeah. Cool.
[01:09:26] Chris: That’s such a great question.
[01:09:27] Brad: When you hear the word successful, who’s the first person that pops in your mind and why?
[01:09:31] Chris: My wife. She’s absolutely my hero like without her I wouldn’t like sure I would not be on this interview today. I would never have the confidence and the belief in myself to do what I’ve done and successful maybe in a way that it’s like a little bit of unconventional like most people wouldn’t think. She’s a full time stay-at-home mom with our five kids and what she does is a CEO of our home and what she does is like a leader in our home and how she’s like helping our kids be powerful creators. Yeah. So, for me, it’s just watching who she is as a mom and the belief like and she’s my coach like I’ve had coaches but she’s the real coach.
[01:10:06] Brad: That’s awesome to hear, man. I love the title CEO of the home too. I’m going to steal that one.
[01:10:12] Chris: Yeah.
[01:10:13] Brad: That’s what my wife is. We only have three but it’s an undertaking, much harder than anything either of us do. That’s for sure.
[01:10:20] Chris: Probably with my wife is like, “Hey, I got a thing. You’ll be home with the kids tonight.” I’m like, “Oh, I got this.” Three hours later I’m like, “You do this everyday all day like,” and I love my kids but she’s like, yeah, it’s unbelievable.
[01:10:34] Brad: Yeah. One of these days we’ll look back and miss it for sure.
[01:10:37] Chris: Absolutely.
[01:10:38] Brad: Not having the constant chaos. What are the age ranges of your children?
[01:10:42] Chris: They all about to have birthdays. Almost 11, almost 9, almost 6, almost 3 and 1. Five’s our magic number. We’re good with five.
[01:10:52] Brad: Yeah. I hear you. We’ll see if four is in store for us. I don’t know yet.
[01:10:57] Chris: It’s awesome, man.
[01:10:58] Brad: Well, it sounds like we need to get the crews together.
[01:11:00] Chris: That would be amazing. Ride some horses and hang out.
[01:11:05] Brad: Yeah. So, let’s go there. Growing up on a farm as you look at this whole conversation really the way it’s unfolded, knowing early on the first time we chatted that you grew up riding a horse, team roping, and knowing my background I grew up on a farm middle of nowhere Kansas. My dad still has 200 head of cattle and grew up with our family horse, Rocky. I was instantly connected with you. And so, it just speaks so much as far as everything you’ve said here today and so I don’t even know where I’m going with this now. I completely lost my train of thought.
[01:11:42] Chris: Well, I want to add to that like just this idea of like human connection is at an all-time premium in the world we live in today. Like and the thing I tell my client is, you guys if you understand this, when you go out and having your own conversation once a month, you actually have an opportunity to be one of the only people in that person’s life that connects with them on a deep human level that entire week. And I’m talking about people that have families at home like we live in a world today where like if people live in a home with people and have families and spouse and kids, but the level of human connection even happens at home. People are going into their own rooms and on devices and eating meals separate like we just don’t understand the power that we have. It’s always been there but the world we live in today as the world becomes more connected through technology, we become more disconnected off as human being. And I really believe, Brad, that the industry the company especially advisors that get this are going to dominate the industry over the next 5, 15, 20 years like when you understand these are still real people and they crave human connection like they crave like it’s just hardwired into us.
But the biggest warning I have to give is like don’t do it as a tactic. Don’t do it because you know that what I just said is true like don’t have that be the reason you go connect with people. Like, find it in you to connect with people because you really want to serve them. One of the greatest piece of advice that a mentor ever gave me and my coach he said, “Chris, show up in life and know there’s no place to get.” I’m like, “What do you mean there’s no place to get? I’ve got five kids to feed.” There’s always a place to get and what he taught me was that when you show up to conversation and your intention is to get them as a client even though people couldn’t question that as a bad, like that’s not a bad intention, right? Like, you may want to get them as a client because you know how much better your job you could do for them and the current is like you might have the best of interest but still that’s limiting because the only place you’re going to listen from, the only place you’re going to hear from, the only place you’re going to have questions from is from getting with a client. But what if the only place you had to get which is to be with them as a human being and serve them?
[01:13:38] Chris: Like, so the first we got introduced, Garrett obviously had intention of us doing something and maybe a podcast but when I got on the phone is like and I just went like, “Who’s Brad Johnson?” And like, yeah, immediately just came up like you see that’s what possible when you’re not limited by some place to get. I think even that day, maybe it was that day or the next day I sent you a picture of me like rodeoing like I said, “Well, Brad will appreciate this,” but just like…
[01:14:04] Brad: It’s going on the show notes too by the way.
[01:14:07] Chris: Awesome.
[01:14:08] Brad: Sure.
[01:14:08] Chris: Yeah. But what if we just had more of that? I don’t know.
[01:14:12] Brad: You made me think of one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had in my life and it was in this business. I was maybe 27, 28 years old. Pretty new and of course I was trying to recruit great advisors out there. That’s who we work with, the best of the best and I had a very creative direct mail campaign and I sent to a guy who at the time managed about 3 billion of assets. Todays it’s closer to 10 and so, he’s like, “Hey, if you’re ever in the area, swing by. Let’s grab some time.” And looking back, I think it was like he was headhunting me because I just sent him some creative stuff, so he thought, “Eh, maybe I’ll try to hire this guy.” I don’t think I had any chance of recruiting anything in that meeting. But I’ll never forget so I go and get into the reception area. I’m greeted by the receptionist 10 minutes early. To the minute when we’re supposed to meet, so we had a one-hour meeting, to the minute, she took me back to his office, we sit down. The way it was set up he had a typical office setup like an office desk but then over the side there was a little living room area, couch, coffee table.
So, we sit down over there and it’s just like you’re having a conversation, but I’ll never forget the speaking of show up in life like there’s no place to get. He sat down for an hour, had the most present conversation, no pulling out the phone, no checking the watch, no like, “Oh, this kid’s got me for an hour. What am I getting on to next?” And there is no more powerful feeling I think as a human being than to have somebody be fully present with you and it works in reverse too. Think about grabbing that lunch with a friend. The next you know they’re on your phone. They’re completely checked out. They didn’t hear the last sentence that you said. It’s such a fine edged sword so I want to like that’s our second soapbox for the day that we’re getting on but no more powerful thing you can do as a human being than just be present because I still remember that today and all he had to do was just be there.
[01:16:03] Chris: Yeah. And like, Brad, really think about how many people in the world living today get to experience that from anyone? Like someone that really shows up that’s just like be with them like really be, really listen, no place to get and have a presence that’s like felt and experience. Like, we have an opportunity to do that every single day as an advisor.
[01:16:22] Brad: Yeah. Dude, this is a great way to end the conversation, man. So, I’ve got one final question for you, Chris. So, if you look back and it’s been really cool to hear your journey and what’s cool is it started in our industry. A lot of guest I have on there don’t have the extensive background in financial services that you do so you spoke directly to a lot of people today. If there was one piece of advice that you could give the viewers or the listeners here to day that’s led to your success up to this point, what would that be?
[01:16:48] Chris: So, most of my life up through commercial real estate even in towards the beginning of financial services, I had always been told that I as a natural leader. I was good at speaking. I was influential and actually it’s gotten to the point when I was younger it bothered me because people were saying all these things that I actually didn’t see myself so it’s like, “Man, where’s the disconnect? Like what am I missing, right?” And it got to the point where anytime someone be like, “Man, you’re such a natural,” I’m like, “Dude, just say that like I don’t want to hear it.” And what I realized was that I had actually been living someone else’s version of my story like I’ve been living a story that someone else had written for me and through some really trying times in my life, I got this place where pretty low like never felt more just like a failure as a husband, as a father, as an entrepreneur and with some really amazing people and a really amazing coach. The thing that occurred to me is like, man, I’m the author of my story and for the first time of life I actually took accountability for the fact that I had authored the story up to this point.
So, the realization that every single one of this undisputed author of our story is sobering and inspiring. It’s sobering in the fact that if you’re willing to really see that, you can recognize that everything in your life that you’re not happy about, you had something to do with it. I’m not saying you had everything to do with it, but you’ve written part of the story like you’re the author but it’s also inspiring that’s like, man, everyday from this and every second like now and now and now like new chapter and like so do I have the courage to pick up the pen? So, like eight years ago I literally and figuratively I picked up the pen and I just wrote a new story for my life and I wrote into that story like what kind of husband I was going to be, what kind of father I was going to be, I’m going to be a successful entrepreneur. I’m going to do something make a difference, and I just attempted the last eight years I strived like to live into that story.
So, the thing that I actually love the most about story, I love everything we talked about today about like the digging in and finding out what it is and like telling it, but I’m also equally inspired about this idea of like what story we’re also continuing to write like the creative power story. Like, I could actually write a story and go create it like I can live into it.
[01:18:47] Chris: And so, for me, the biggest piece of advice I would give is just, man, recognizing that you are the author of the story, to take accountability for it and then also recognize the creative power you have like you can write a new story and go live into it. But you got to have the courage to pick up the pen. So, to me that idea of picking up the pen means a lot to me. Like you’re going to pick up that pen, there’s some awareness. There’s some accountability. There’s some like action. It’s great to write it.
[01:19:14] Brad: That’s awesome, Chris. Thanks for sharing that, man.
[01:19:17] Chris: Yeah.
[01:19:18] Brad: Well, this has been a fun conversation. Time flew, man. I’m excited. I know our paths are going to cross here in the future at mastermind talks. It’ll be if not sooner and so…
[01:19:27] Chris: Yeah.
[01:19:28] Brad: Thanks for sharing your wisdom today. You changed a lot of financial advisors lives today. This is definitely a re-listen type episode. So, thanks, man. Until next time. Appreciate it.
[01:19:39] Chris: Thank you, Brad. To be honest, what you’ve created here is amazing.
[01:19:41] Brad: All right. Chris, take care.
[01:19:43] Chris: See you.
[01:19:47] Brad: Thanks for checking out the latest show. You all keep blasting me with reviews and emails on how the show is serving you. This is the fuel that keeps me cranking these episodes out so very much appreciated. Also, the reviews and subscribes really help the show rank and other advisors out there find it. So, thanks for that as well.
Here are four more recent reviews. The first one comes to us from Logan Smith who says, “Great podcast. I just discovered this podcast and I can’t get enough. As a new financial advisor, the information is super helpful. As a soon to be dad, this particular episode hit very close to home. I will definitely be using the Family Board Meeting Approach with my kids as they get older.” Logan, thanks for taking a minute to review the show. And as a new guy to the industry, I wish I would’ve had all the resources that exist today when I first got started so I’m glad you’re getting them here. Jim Sheil’s concept of the Family Board Meeting has been one of the best things I’ve ever done as a dad. In fact, I have one with each of my sons that we just did this past weekend and my daughter is next weekend so please reach back out, let me know how it goes once you’ve run with it. Also, my daughter’s only two so they’re never too young to start. Thanks for listening in.
The next review comes to us from user AO323 who says, “Excellent tips and tactics for FAs. I’m new to this industry a few months in and I have been looking for tools to get me up to speed on the language of the profession as well as delivering tips for me to grow my business. Brad and his guest consistently deliver. I hope he get some female guests on the show at some point. If he has, I missed those episodes. Great work, Brad and team.” Thanks for the review. I can definitely get better here on the female guest as there are a lot of superstars out there in our industry and some of the Advisors Excel’s top clients happen to be women as well. So, if you have some great female guests you’re thinking of, please give me a personal intro out on Twitter. I’m at @Brad_Johnson. Also, if you haven’t checked Kristi Piehl’s episode yet, that’s a great one to give a listen to in the meantime.
[01:21:46] Brad: Next up is Darcylj who says, “Awesome lessons. I really enjoy Brad’s episodes and the amazing guests he brings on. These are people that are difficult to see and hear and Brad brings them right to my computer. There’s at least one in most episodes I have several take away lessons to use in my business. Thanks, and keep up the great work.” Darcy, thanks for the review. I’m glad you’re getting value from every show. That’s the goal and I try to keep the guest list full of superstars you all can learn from and keep it eclectic enough that you all are surprised by who shows up at the same time. So, thanks for subscribing to the show. Super appreciate it.
And the last featured review for the week comes to us from ajstoller who says, “Listened to them all. I got hooked on this podcast. It has given me many great ideas to implement my business. I have now listened to all of the podcasts available. My only complaint is that I ran out of podcast to listen to.” AJ, I guess I have to crank up these episodes and get them out faster to keep up with you. That’s impressive. As to date, we’ve put out over two days’ worth of episodes, so you are putting in some serious work.
I love reading this type of reviews so thanks to you all for taking the time to send the love via the internet and honestly, we’d love to put out more episodes however I do this podcast in my spare time. For those of you that have interest in diving deeper or figuring out how you may be able to have our team help you implement many of the ideas shared on the show, my day job happens to be consulting financial advisors from all over the US on how to grow their business and design a practice that serves them versus the other way around. So, if you’d like to apply to see if it makes sense for us to have a one-on-one conversation, you can do that at BradleyJohnson.com/apply. It takes about five minutes to fill up the application, so I can understand what your business looks like, what challenges you may be facing, and how myself and my team may be able to help.
Before you go, as a special thank you for listening in, if you haven’t already, make sure to check out the shows notes at BradleyJohnson.com/41 for Chris’s free gift to you all as well. So that’s it for this week. Thanks for listening and I will catch you on the next show.
[01:23:52] Brad: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint. For access to show notes, transcripts, and exclusive content from our show’s guests, visit BradleyJohnson.com. And before you go, I’ve got a quick favor to ask. If you’re liking the podcast, you can help support the show by leaving your rating and review on iTunes. Not only do we read every single comment, but this will help the show rank and get discovered by new listeners. It really does help. Thanks again for joining and be sure to tune in next week for another episode.
The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Advisors Excel. The guest speaker is not affiliated with or sponsored by Advisors Excel. For financial professional use only. Not to be used with the general public or in a sale situation.
This is provided for informational purposes only. Producers are ultimately responsible for the use or implementation of these concepts and should be aware of any and all applicable compliance requirements. Results from the use of these concepts are no guarantee of your future success.
For financial professional use only.