In today’s conversation, I’m thrilled to speak with New York Times bestselling author Greg McKeown. He’s the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, in which he draws on experience and insight from working with leaders of the most innovative companies in the world, to show how to achieve the disciplined pursuit of less. Special thanks to my buddy Jon Vroman for helping make this conversation happen, however it was my friend Michael Hyatt, first introduced me to the concept of Essentialism when he shared Greg’s book with me a few years back. It quickly became one of my top reads of all-time as it truly spoke to me with something I’ve struggled with and I’m sure many of you have as well, balancing everything we want to do in business with the things that truly matter in life. I highlighted passage after passage, then I realized something… As financial advisors, if there’s one thing we need, it’s a book on what NOT to do and a framework to focus on the things that truly matter – and Greg has written just that book.
Greg has also spoken on NBC, NPR, and at countless companies across a variety of industries including Apple, Google, NFP Securities, and Goldman Sachs. He definitely knows a thing or two about helping financial advisors, as well as high net worth individuals – and his advice extends to almost anyone who has ever caught themselves struggling to make time for both their work and their personal life.
Today, we discuss why we trade off incredibly important things for less important ones. We explore why our world prioritizes working constantly and our obsession with the idea that you need to always be ON in order to be successful – and how you can have a fuller, happier life by focusing on what truly matters.
Here are a just a handful of the things that you’ll learn:
- [08:05] Why essentialism matters so much to financial advisors. We dig into why we have so much emotional attachment to our clients – and the fool’s bargain that we’re prone to falling for.
- [10:43] Greg’s “Aha!” moment that led to his book Essentialism – and why you simply don’t have to sacrifice essential moments of your life to grow a successful business.
- [13:04] From there, Greg introduces the concept of the Undisciplined Pursuit of More and how our initial wins early on don’t set us up for future success, but rather, for a framework that ultimately leads to burnout.
- [14:26] Then Greg introduces the 3 E’s – Explore, Eliminate, and Execute – which are at the heart of practicing Essentialism – and practical strategies that financial advisors can use to achieve more in less time.
- [29:07] Greg then shares a powerful example of what happens if you continue to neglect and borrow time from other places in your life – and what happened to a very talented entrepreneur who stretched himself too thin.
- [57:46] Finally, Greg and I get into why financial advisors need to focus on WHY when building out a plan for prospective clients, in order to build meaningful connections. HINT: If you’re focusing on specific details and not the big picture vision, you likely aren’t relating to your clients in the way you think you may be! Greg reveals exactly where so many financial advisors go wrong when presenting to prospects – and it’s something you can easily correct!
- [05:54] The incredibly powerful story that opens Greg’s book.
- [14:29] Greg’s strategy for moving away from chasing success – and instead prioritizing and pursuing what’s essential.
- [19:37] Why almost anything we do has the potential to possibly be useful – and why Greg instead organizes his life based on what’s vital, what’s good, and what would simply be nice to have to keep his life (and calendar) decluttered.
- [26:32] Why highly productive people, including the best financial advisors, would prefer to spend an hour of their time training someone to do something instead of spending an hour on it themselves.
- [33:58] The reasons Greg believes that exhausted financial advisors are bad financial advisors.
- [38:42] Why finding essential work that drives the success of your business for other people to do can be hugely useful – and taking a $20 pay cut in order to free up an hour of your time is worth it if you’re still earning $780, $880, or $980 an hour.
- [40:20] Greg shares a story from early in Nora Ephron’s life about finding hidden stories – and how this applies to being an essentialist and a financial advisor.
- [01:00:43] Greg explains why being competent leads so many people to take on so many inessential activities – and the number one mistake Greg sees so many people make, even when taking on big-picture work like writing books.
- [1:07:46] Greg tells the true story of a 12-year-old girl on a business trip with her father, and how he made her feel essential – and how it proved he lived by his word.
- [1:13:18] Why Greg’s wife and her wisdom is so essential to his success.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Greg Mckeown’s Website
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE
REVIEWS OF THE WEEK
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Mandy, thanks for the kind words and the review! I’m doing my very best to make sure every episode features an amazing person that we can all learn from and ask questions I think that can serve our financial advisor audience, so glad it’s resonating with you! I’ll keep the episodes coming for you.
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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.
[00:00:23] 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 distill the best ideas and advice from top thought leaders and apply it to the world of independent financial advising.
In today’s conversation, I’m thrilled to speak with New York Times best-selling author, Greg McKeown. He’s the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less in which he draws on experiences and insights from working with leaders of the most innovative companies in the world to show you how to achieve the disciplined pursuit of less. Special thanks to my buddy, Jon Vroman, for helping make this conversation happen. However, it was my friend, Michael Hyatt, who first introduced me to the concept of essentialism when he shared Greg’s book with me a few years back. It quickly became one of my top reads of all time as it truly spoke to me with something I’ve struggled with and I’m sure many of you have as well which is balancing everything we want to do in business with the things that truly matter in life. I highlighted passage after passage and when I really thought about it and I thought about this podcast, I realized something.
As financial advisors, if there’s one thing we need, it’s a book on what not to do and the framework to focus on the things that actually matter. And Greg has written just that book. Greg has also spoken on NBC, NPR, and at countless companies across a variety of industries, companies like Apple, Google, NFP Securities, Goldman Sachs, and he definitely knows a thing or two about helping financial advisors as well as high net worth individuals. His advice extends to almost anyone who has ever caught themselves struggling to make time for both their work and their personal life and today we discuss why we trade off incredibly important things for less important ones. We explore why our world prioritizes working constantly and our obsession with the idea that you need to always be on in order to be successful, and how you can have a fuller, happier life by focusing on less. Here are just a few of the highlights of what we get into.
[00:02:16] Brad: First, Greg and I get into why essentialism matter so much to financial advisors. We dig into why we have so many emotional attachments to our clients and the fool’s bargain that we’re prone to falling for. Next, Greg shares the aha moment that led to his book, Essentialism, and why you simply don’t have to sacrifice essential moments of your life to grow a successful business. From there, Greg introduces the concept of the undisciplined pursuit of more and how our initial wins early on don’t set us up for future success but rather for a framework that ultimately can lead to burnout. Then Greg introduces the three Es, explore, eliminate, and execute, which are at the heart of practicing essentialism and practical strategies that financial advisors can use to achieve more in less time. Greg then shares a powerful example and a story of what happens if you continue to neglect and borrow time from other places in your life and what happened to a very talented entrepreneur who stretched himself too thin.
Finally, Greg and I get into why financial advisors need to focus on why when building out a plan for prospective clients and really help cement that meaningful connection and relationship. Special hint from Greg, “If you’re focusing on specific details and not the big picture vision, you likely aren’t relating to your clients in the way you think may be,” and Greg reveals exactly where so many financial advisors go wrong when presenting to prospects and even better, it’s something you can easily correct.
Okay. Before we get to the show, Greg has prepared something for you, Blueprint listeners, that I know you’re going to love. He’s sharing his free downloadable Essentialism, 21-day Challenge which you can use to start simplifying your life and becoming truly focused on what matters. You can get your download for free at BradleyJohnson.com/48. As always, show notes that include links to all the resources, books mentioned, people discussed are available there as well. So, that’s it. As always, thanks for listening and without further delay, my conversation with Greg McKeown.
[00:04:18] Brad: Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint podcast. I have special guest and New York Times bestseller, Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism. Welcome to the show, Greg.
[00:04:29] Greg: It’s great to be with you. Thank you.
[00:04:31] Brad: Well, I have to tell just a quick funny story this morning. So, we’ll get into what Essentialism is for all of the financial advisors that haven’t had the opportunity to read your book yet but I’m chatting with my wife this morning. I have your book. I was running through it this morning, just looking through the highlights, gathering my notes for our conversation here today. And I opened this thing up and it’s just highlight after highlight after highlight and my wife is like, “You know what you really need? They need to invent like a book that’s already highlighted and then an unhilighter for you, so you could save yourself half the time.” And, you know, kind of my defense is, “Well, this is a book on essentialism so obviously there’s not going to be anything in here that’s not essential.” So, fortunately, it was your book. If it was some other book, I’d be in trouble but I’m super excited today. We were introduced by Jon Vroman, mutual friend. Michael Hyatt was actually the original guy that put your book into my hands and it’s been one of the top reads. Business, life, it really crosses multiple boundaries.
So, I’m super excited to dig in and if there’s one thing that’s needed in financial services, it is a book on what not to do. So, I was just thinking as we get into this conversation for those that haven’t read your book yet, there’s an incredibly powerful story that you open the book with and I was wondering if you could just share that for the audience today because I really think it shares a lot about what your book is all about.
[00:05:54] Greg: Well, I was in the middle of a busy season at my life and I received an email from my boss at the time that said, “Friday would be a very bad time for your wife to have a baby because, yeah, I need you to be at this client meeting,” and Friday comes along. We actually are in the hospital. My wife has given birth to our daughter and we’re just sort of in recovery mode from that but everyone’s doing well. But I’m feeling torn, pulled in both directions. How can I keep everybody happy? How can I do both? And to my shame, I went to the meeting and I have to remember being told, “Well, the client will respect you to the choice that you just made,” and I’m not sure that they did. I’m not sure that the look in their faces has been that sort of confidence but even if they did, I knew that I had made a fool’s bargain and learned the simplest of lessons which is this: if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. And that’s really the beginning. I realize this is – it’s not just me. Maybe people watching this or listening to this haven’t pulled a McKeown, but I don’t think I’m alone in having made trade-offs in such a way that we are giving up something more important to something less important and I was curious about why and what we could do about it.
[00:07:29] Brad: Well, I can promise you this. On this podcast, for financial advisors, if there’s one industry that has made a lot of bargains like that over the years, it’s our industry which is why I was so excited to have you on here.
[00:07:41] Greg: Why do you say that by the way? What is it in the industry that especially makes this relevant in your mind?
[00:07:48] Brad: What makes it relevant is besides a doctor that’s dealing with someone’s health and really life in their hands, I think a financial advisor is the next closest thing dealing with someone’s life savings and their nest egg. And so, it’s a very noble cause and it’s a very important cause and I think because of that, there’s a high emotional attachment to the client to make sure they’re safe and covered. And you read an article about Ponzi schemes every other week in the newspaper to make sure they’re taken care of and I think the fool’s bargain that’s oftentimes made in our industry is exactly what happened with you and your wife. I have to do that appointment at 5:00 or 6:00 or 7:00 at night even if that’s sacrificing dinner away from my children. I have to take that Saturday morning appointment. That’s the only time the person with $2 million can meet with me. And, I mean, I’ve been literally counting down the days to this conversation because this content and really your message is so badly needed in our industry.
[00:08:50] Greg: What you just said is that culturally the industry you feel celebrates this non-essentialism where it’s so business first but it’s not just business first. You’re describing a norm where people believed this is how you become successful. This is what you have to do if you want to actually hit the results you want to achieve.
[00:09:14] Brad: I literally have this conversation two days ago. Super successful advisor, husband and wife, top 5% of our industry and as I dug in, his typical day he runs a 5:00, a 6:00, a 7:00 PM appointment. He has two daughters at home, eight and six I think, and I ask this question a lot on my side, “Why?” And his answer was, “Well, that’s just kind of the way we’ve always done it and we felt like we had to,” and one of the pieces of success our company and we consult financial advisors, that’s our client. Yeah. We teach them they don’t have to but it’s this mental block kind of like the mental block that you had with your wife in the business meeting and kind of the tug of war that you were playing. So, can we dig in there? I mean, that was kind of the aha, the lightbulb moment for you that really led to the book and basically, I’ll call it a movement because I really feel like the book’s more of a movement that you’ve created. Can you keep going with that story? And I think a lot of what you share will apply to financial advisors and maybe give them some keys to getting away from feeling like they have to sacrifice these moments and their time away from family to grow a successful business.
[00:10:28] Greg: Well, I mean, first of all, my story what I learned from it is fine but what about these advisors, the advisor that you’re talking about and the other people who participated today? Let’s just ask a few simple questions to assess this so people can self-examine. Have you individually ever found yourself feeling stretched too thin at work or at home like I was? Have you ever found yourself like I was being busy but not necessarily productive? Have you ever found yourself having your day being hijacked by somebody else’s agenda? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, then we establish a certain relevance that there is a problem and it’s a problem that we ought to examine a little more from them because it’s a problem that is especially relevant for successful people.
I noticed this phenomenon when I was working with some Silicon Valley companies and I noticed a predictable pattern and it was this that in the early days there would be a clarity around what they were pursuing, small group of people focused on the right idea at the right time led to success. And success bred options and opportunities and those options and opportunities they all sound like a right problem to have, right? Clarity leads to success, leads to options and opportunity. That all sounds great unless it leads to what Jim Collins has called the Undisciplined Pursuit of More and if you fall into the undisciplined pursuit of more then what you’re actually citing to produce is in a certain chaos.
[00:12:23] Greg: And so, what we can say even if it slightly exaggerates the point in order to make is that success can become a catalyst for failure because it undermines the very clarity and focus that led to success. And so, what we have to learn is how to become successful at success. We have to learn a new set of standards, of skills, of criteria, a new way of operating once we become successful. The person that you were describing a moment ago with his 5:00, 6:00, 7:00 appointment is successful. I’m sure. Well, you said he was top 5% so success is not an issue. The question is what do you do to make sure that success doesn’t consume you? What can you do to make sure that success doesn’t overtake you? Doesn’t own you?
Success makes I’ve found a good servant, but a poor master and Bill Gates put it this way. He said that success is a poor teacher. So, we can’t let success be the guide or even the momentum of success. What we have to do is we have to go back to what is essential and that could be different given the certain level of success. We may have different answers than we had before and it’s important that we go back and get those. So, the way to do this is to explore what’s essential, eliminate what’s not and then build a system that protects what you now identified as highly important. Those are really the three things. That’s the work to be done here, to create space, to figure out what is essential, to develop the skills, to be able to eliminate the things that aren’t and to build systems, routines and stretches of systems to make execution as effortless as possible.
[00:14:20] Brad: Can you share your framework, Greg, on the closet example? Because I think it’s brilliant because it’s simple. Everyone’s got one and everyone gets it once you kind of roll through that, but I think that really help paint the picture for the audience.
[00:14:33] Greg: I think that this idea of explore, eliminate, and execute is well explained using that metaphor. I mean, first of all, let’s go back to the problem. So, does anybody’s closet ever follow the paths that we just described? It’s not empty and then you start to put things into it and soon you’ve added and added to it, options, opportunities. These are nice problems to have but, I mean, of course, we’re happy to have a problem of abundance where there are so many clothes that we can wear. That’s a terrific problem. It’s still a problem and sometimes people think, “Well, the problem is that I need a large deposit,” and that’s true until they get a large deposit then they realize that wasn’t really the problem because that too got filled because they are using a non-essentialist process in their lives.
[00:15:24] Brad: Yeah. Well, it’s the exact calendar example we just talked about, ran out of time during the day, the 8:00 to 5:00 so the larger closet was the 5, 6, 7 PM appointment. So…
[00:15:35] Greg: Yeah. And the same thing happens now. I have people I remember somebody distinctly who I was trying to, you know, my assistant was working with them to set an appointment and they kept offering Saturday morning and I thought, I mean, we could make up their own minds as to how they want to structure their schedule but for me it’s just there has to be a really great reason to get into Saturday. It’s something urgent, it’s something critical, and there was nothing like that. This wasn’t even urgent. This was just when are we going to chat? And so, they’re offering of Saturday repeatedly I thought, “Okay. This is, well, we’re not going to do Saturday.” So, their response was, “Okay. Well, what about Sunday?” And I thought, “If I give up Saturday and Sunday, I’ll never get it back. That will just become the new normal. That will become the new habit and just like the closet which we’re talking about, it will just get filled up again.”
Now, if you want your closet to be packed full so that you can’t move in there, fine. Like if that’s what you want, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have that if that is what you want. If you want your schedule packed full so that you’ve got no space to breathe, think, operate, fine. Then that suggests that non-essentialism is working for you so proceed with it. Double down on it maybe even. Sleep less. Say yes to absolutely everything without even thinking about it. See if it works. In fact, I spoke to somebody who started exactly that experiment that came to a keynote that I was doing, and they had a lunch and afterwards for a few different people and she was one of them. She said at beginning of the year, I mean, literally, she said, “Before I read essentialism and I literally said, ‘Okay. This year I’m just going to say yes to everything and everyone. I’m just going to completely open the gates.’” And I just laughed so hard to hear that someone had literally chosen this strategy. Most people default into it but here we have someone who had actually determined, “I would say yes to everything and everyone without even thinking about it.”
[00:17:38] Greg: So, we laughed and I’m like, “What happened?” Of course, it’s all predictable, isn’t it? The stress goes up, the quality of work goes down, and she was absolutely desperate to find an alternate strategy and she found the alternate strategy in Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. So, let’s go back to the closet. So, what do you do? How do you solve this problem? Well, you have to do a few things successfully, the closet’s. We have to, first of all, get everything out of the closet and look at it all. Everything comes out and everything starts to be evaluated by new criteria, series of criteria. Instead of asking the question as I think we do in the closet, when could I possibly use this again? We’re going to have to find a better question. So, what’s the life equivalent of that question? It might be, “Look, is this a good thing? Is this potentially useful? Is this a potentially valuable person to be talking to?” Well, the answer to those questions is so to such broad criteria, the answer is going to be yes.
And so, that thing is going to get put on the calendar, that email is going to be absorbed, that responsibility to be taken on. It’s basically good. It’s possibly useful. Almost everything is possibly useful so it’s so broad. So, we have to use more selective question. We have to get everything out of our life. I use a journal for this and almost literally on a daily basis, I am pouring out everything that’s on my mind. What’s all the stuff that’s in there, all the closet, let’s get it out. Now, I’m looking at it and I’m saying, “Okay. Which of these things is actually essential? Which of these things is really important to me prioritizing those items?” And a process, I’m using a daily process to try to say what’s vital? What’s just good? What’s just nice to have? And I went back to the closet, yes, I would say do I wear this often? Do I look great in it? Do I love it? Would I buy this now?
[00:19:33] Brad: Yes, would I buy this again? I love that one.
[00:19:35] Greg: Yeah. We’re going back and forth between the metaphor and the closet of our lives because that’s the point is to say, “If I were not working on the opportunity that I am worth upon, if I were not doing what I’m currently doing, would I now sign up for it in the new reality?” If the answer is no and there’s not quite the same as this stuff in our closet, we can’t literally just go, “Okay. Well, it’s eliminated.” I mean this is a closet to a world of things and we don’t treat people like things. We get in trouble if we do that. Nevertheless, we at least we question it. We should pause. We should be asking, “Is this the very best use of me? Is this the most valuable use of my time and energy?” Really, when financial advisors understand this in a certain degree as it applies to investing finances, where are we going to get the best return on investment? And to do it flawlessly, reactively as most people do who is sort of just not managing their money is the poorest way to approach it.
That’s how they’ll fall into the financial and disciplined pursuit of more where they’re just buying stuff and they’re doing stuff and they’re doing it reactively and they’re basing it upon what other people around them are doing and they’re basing it on keeping up with the Joneses and what they see on social media and other people are doing, going on a vacation. They should be going on a vacation. I mean, it’s basing decisions based upon everything around us. That’s the undisciplined pursuit of more in a nonessential culture like we’re living in. So, a financial advisor I think understands the disciplined pursuit of less, the thoughtful approach, the selective criteria is essential with managing money wisely. And so, we’re just trying to say I’m saying today how about taking that same approach that thoughtful, methodical, wise approach to invest money in the way that we invest our time and it is I think far more valuable asset because we just can produce no more of it.
[00:21:36] Brad: I think the experts would agree with you on that. Time is you can’t get any more of it. Money, you can always go broke and make more. So, let’s unpack a few things there because there’s a lot going on there even though it seemed simple. So, going back to the point you made on in the early days it’s very clear like this is what leads to success. Same in the financial planning world, they come into the world and it’s probably a 95% burnout rate as far as the Ameriprises, the Ed Jones, and a lot of independent advisors who we consult, that’s how they got their start. They started working for some big bucks and most of them don’t make it. The ones that do are the ones that grind like many of the startups you’ve consulted, and they get a group of clients that they serve at a high level. They bring a lot of value to but now as they start to have success and grow and now maybe 100 million, 500 million, billion dollars of assets that they oversee, now there’s not enough of them to go around and now it becomes about scaling and becoming more of a CEO versus a salesperson.
So, what are the keys there to making that transition? Because I know you’ve worked with a lot of startups. I mean, pretty much every social media company on the map you’ve spoken with or consulted with, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, I think the trifecta and whatever other ones I haven’t heard of but what would be the key to shift in mentality there of, “I’m no longer the do it all yourself but now I’m leading an organization and protecting the time and putting the rules in place to where I’m not just borrowing time from other places in my life?”
[00:23:15] Greg: Yeah. I mean, there are basically two ways of thinking about execution. One is think about this as something that you do yourself and you force, and you do it through brute willpower, strength, hustling and so on. And by the way, I mean, I don’t think that that’s somehow a totally false mindset. Of course, there’s something to be said but just going strong about what it is that you’re trying to achieve. What we have to learn is how to shift once that strategy has done what it does for us. We have to say, “Well, how can I…” You know, I mean, you just look at the most successful financial advisors. They’re not working 10 times, 20 times, 100 times harder than the average performance. There’s no such thing.
You can’t work 100 times harder than average performance. You don’t have 100 times more times to how you do it. What do you do to be able to keep going forward? Well, one thing you can do, you’ve already sort of into that into question is to trade off one more hour of me doing something and instead do one more hour of training someone else to do something and that’s a really important thing because the highly productive people that’s a tipping point kind of change to really go, “No. I am actually going to hire that next person and I’m going to train them.” You have to work hard for a while. You have to use your discipline and your hustling to get that person up to speed, get the right person, find the right person. All of that takes its own hustle but you do it in order that after you built that, it’s part of building the system of your success. It’s part of this second way of doing execution which is you use your discipline.
[00:25:15] Greg: Instead of acting upon the thing you’re trying to do the productive work itself, you use it to build a system and then the system will produce what it is you’re trying to produce and that’s the big shift. And there’s a variety of ways that somebody needs to do that different points of success and scaling up that contribution and it’s startup to a moment of your business. One level is simply making your first hire. I think for a lot of financial advisors, that’s actually quite a big step. Then, of course, there’s a certain point of which you have now a team of people and you are really a leader of that team and what your job is, is to hire managers of those people. It’s the same process though because it’s all about stepping out of your doing mode to act upon your system. It’s to step aside and look at it and say, “Okay. How do I, instead of driving this machine, how do I work on the machine? Than just letting the business drive me, I’m going to actually step out and construct a better business.” So, I think this is a big shift that has to happen, and you have to do it in multiple ways.
[00:26:27] Brad: You had a really powerful story in the book. I think it was a Silicon Valley exec that was 60%, 70% of his time was spent on an airplane and whittling down the hours of sleep. Can you just share a piece of that story? Because I think it’s a really powerful example of what happens if you continue to just neglect and borrow time from other places in your life and just add, add, add to where eventually it catches up with you.
[00:26:55] Greg: It was a very talented entrepreneur. He became one of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year and he helped to create an amazing company and was doing very well with it. He’s traveling all over, literally all over the world. He’s making a big difference. He’s in the financial services but it was in microloans and he’s just being mentored by all the top names and top people in this industry but he’s making a contribution. All of those things, all of them are true so apparently led to success. Success was bringing immense options and opportunities. He would, in a sense, just living the dream but, again, it became so consuming that it became to a degree a master of him. And suddenly he said after one of his trips, he was at home and it was the middle of the night and he said it was almost like a gun went off next to his head and he sat up straight in bed and gone like, “What just happened?” but everyone else was asleep.
So, he realized, “I must have dreamt of something.” Couple of days later, the exact same thing happens to him in the middle of the day. He’s walking along the street and the same sort of gun goes off and he’s like, “Something is not right. Something’s off right now.” So, he goes to the doctor. Doctor talks to him, goes through this. There’s some diagnosis and finally, this says, “Look, you really need to go and rest. A lot of rest is going to be critical for you.” And he used the same overachiever strategy that had got him to success in order to manage his success. That was the fundamental error and what he – in fact, he said, he’s like, “I’m not going to wait two weeks.” I think he was told six weeks, something like that. He said, “This isn’t going to take six weeks. In two weeks I’m going to be back. You watch this.”
[00:28:56] Greg: Because he thought, “I can’t work my way, will my way to rest,” which in fact isn’t the way to do it. You don’t force your way to rest. That strategy was useful to a point but then that strategy is no longer helpful, and you need a new strategy, a new approach. After two or three weeks he was like, “I was just sleeping all the time.” He said, “I just crashed. I just crawled back to him two or three weeks later and he was like, ‘Oh yeah, okay. I get it. This is a problem.’” And so, in the end, what they did and it’s fortunate that they’re able to do it I suppose. He’s not available to everybody but they said, “Okay, we’ll take you time out.” Two or three years they went to South of France. They went and spent time just in total recuperation mode. He had to reset his whole physical system.
He was a little embarrassed by all of this because he had to give up leading the organization that he helped found and do all this. He never expected this to happen. This wasn’t how he wanted to go out and for a time he didn’t want to even talk about but encouraged by some of his peers to share about it. He did, and he shared his story and he summarized everything he learned in three words and it was to protect the asset. You’ve got to protect the asset. You’re the only asset through which you can influence any other assets. It doesn’t matter what else you’re trying to achieve. You must at first contribute to yourself. You can’t build a system if you as an asset are worn out and burn out. You’re no good to your family, to your clients if you’re burned out.
[00:30:53] Greg: But ultimately, if you don’t protect the asset, if you don’t then protect the asset in your personal life, eventually you’re not going to be very useful to the people even in your public life, your professional pursuits. For a few reasons, one because of course you just won’t actually be very consistent and strong and so on but also because you weren’t wise. You won’t actually be able to help your clients. I mean the whole point of financial management isn’t just, “Okay. I put some money in this portfolio. I put some resources here or there.” That’s not the point of the exercise. That might be a part of the mechanism, but the point is to help people to achieve their goals, their highest contribution firstly and professionally. That’s what it’s about. It’s about building up a long-term strategy so that you can make a difference to your own family, your own, and also maybe to intergenerational family.
So, if you can’t live it and you’re not gaining insight from doing it personally in your secret life, in your personal life, I think that you’re that much poorer of an advisor to other people. I bet you just pay lip service to the whole real strategic plan, the element of advising because I think a lot of people do. It’s, “Hey, fill us out. What are your top goals?” and you spend 20 minutes on that and then every other meeting you have is, well, you could put this percentage in this or that percentage here. You can invest in this thing. I mean it’s just lip service to the first but that’s the real work and that’s what I would want for financial advisors to listen to this is to help people to actually achieve intergenerational long-term important work and, by the way, they will need to have a financial strategy to do that. To me, that’s essentialism applied to the financial industry.
[00:32:58] Brad: You’re so spot on, Greg. I heard one of our top clients. I mean, his firm will capture north of 300 million of new assets this year and this is not going out and acquiring firms. This is organically. So top .1 of 1% in the industry and I’ll never forget he said, “Write down on a piece of paper everything you absolutely hate doing in your practice. And just like you walk in, you see it on to to-do list Monday morning and you just cringe.” He says, “Write all that down. Write all that down for me.” And he says, “Okay, now if you can cut a check and never do that again the rest of your life, cross it off the list.” And that’s the thing I think many financial advisors struggle with is they look at that as a sunk cost or its money out the door when in reality the upper echelon of advisors out there, their time is worth $200, $300, $500, $1,000 an hour. So, you hire somebody for $20 an hour, you decrease your wage from $1,000 an hour to $980 an hour but guess what, you never do that ever again the rest of your life and now you serve your clients at a higher level because it’s a relationship game and you have more time and more margin on the calendar to sit down and serve the people that you’re supposed to serve at a higher level. So, you’re so spot on there.
[00:34:19] Greg: Yeah. And there are two ways of thinking about hiring other people. One is to remove part of your life the things that you don’t want to do, or low-value things and the second way, of course, is to think about things that you won’t get to but are highly valuable work that would be worth more than your investment. I mean, if you actually do the simple math on it and you say, “Okay. This is how much the annual wage would be for work at average annual wage in the US.” I mean, I’m in California right now so the average wage is much higher here because cost of living so much higher, but I don’t know. Let’s call it just so the $50,000 or something like that. And the question is again, is there a way that you can have a $50,000 asset produced more than $50,000? Can that person produce more than $50,000 back? I mean, of course, there are so many ways to do this and then you simply can’t become – you’re not going to become the top of your field without doing that.
In almost any field I can think of, top performance, you’re going to need to be delegating well and I think you’d be hard pushed to get to find an asset that could so significantly exceed that investment if you have been doing the right work. Now, there’s a caution which is you shouldn’t delegate to people what should not be done at all and that’s a very real element off essentialist insight that I remember working with small business owner who had half dozen people on the team and suddenly realize you just don’t know what any of them are doing really. They’re busy but I just don’t know what they’re doing and then through a series of process that some people had, and some people got rid off and it was like, “Wow, I really still don’t know what we were doing.” It was just too much busy stuff, so I do think there’s a caution here but if you can find essential work that would really drive the success of your business, it’s really, really smart and an underutilized strategy for small business owners.
[00:39:58] Brad: Too good of a book, too much good stuff to cover, not enough time. So, let’s keep jumping around. Okay. So, page 73 of the book, a story about Nora Ephron and I’m going to let you share it, kind of the whole concept of what a lead story is and then I want to apply to financial services here, kind of want you unpack the story and we can go a few different directions.
[00:40:20] Greg: Nora Ephron was the award-winning writer of the whole series of movies and scripts including Sleepless in Seattle and others. But before she was famous for that, she was a journalist by training and her first journalist task was at Beverly Hills high school with a Mr. Sims. First day of class, everybody comes in. At the time it’s still the time of typewriters and they give the story, the story that they have to write their first ever lead and the first lead is – the chief starts, Mr. Sims starts giving all these facts out. He says, “Okay. On Thursday the governor is going to be speaking at this teacher training conference and these people are going to come and this where the event is being held,” and so and so on.
And everyone is busy working on their typewriter. He collects them all and he starts reading them through. Every lead is the same. Every lead is regurgitating the same facts in a slightly different order. Some mentioned the governor first, some put it last, but it’s the same. He takes them all. He rips them up. He puts them aside and says, “The lead is that there is no school on Thursday. This is the lead. It’s the point.” And she said that was like burned into her. That in any given set of facts there’s a hidden story. There’s a story and your job as a journalist or later as a writer is to find that hidden story. And as an essentialist, one of the ways of thinking about being an essentialist is taking on the role of journalist in your life. First, you are being the journalist. You’re looking at all the facts. You’re looking at all the different…
[00:42:19] Greg: And your job is to connect the dots in your life, in your business as you’re paying a lot of attention which means you’re asking a lot of questions. That’s why exploring is the first pillar of becoming an essentialist, is that you’ve got to create space to explore. You’re asking questions. You’re using various mental models to connect dots together. You’re not just looking at the world through a single mental model. Most people, not most people, but a lot of people aren’t aware of the mental models that they’re using or how limited the mental models are that they’re using. And so, I really encourage people to actually name and to learn and to develop as many mental models as they can so that they can start to look at the information what’s going around them through many different lenses so that they can connect the dots and the reason that this is all just valuable by the way is because there’s some hidden story of enormous work.
There’s some insight that’s so valuable, a vital few, an essential thing that’s worth all that effort to find and identify. And so, you’re using all, you’re asking all these questions. You’re being the journalist and then you move to stage 2, the elimination section which is where you become the editor and your job is now to edit out all of the noise, all of the junk, all of that varying lead work that those students in that high school classroom had put in place. That all has to be removed. So, as Stephen King put it, you have to kill your darlings. You have to remove all that junk so only the essential story remains.
[00:44:01] Brad: I was reading that in the book. Oh, which by the way, so I listen to this on audiobook the first time and I bought the book because I knew we had this interview coming up. I wanted to go through and highlight and pull a few things out. I completely did myself a disservice by listening to this on audio. I don’t know who did the sketches in here but speaking of editing and clarifying points, a lot of the visuals in here are magical. So, kudos to whoever you had put that together. Maybe it was you. Maybe you were drawing on a napkin. I don’t know.
[00:44:30] Greg: It was a collaboration and a shout out goes to Amy Stellhorn. She was a great collaborator on the visuals here and some of it is just literally is Sharpie on a page that I would try and express things this way visually. I love using visuals because they cut through all the noise. It’s easy to hide behind words and a lot harder to hide behind graphics.
[00:44:54] Brad: If you’re listening on audio, go check out the video, page 6 of the book. Okay. So, as I’m reading the whole lead story, obviously, this is talking about essentialism and how you kind of distill the key things in your life but what I immediately went to in financial services is what the best of the best financial advisors do is they take like that little story you have of like such and such is coming into town at this time, this conference, and distilling that down to no school on Thursday. That’s what great financial advisors do for their clients because they come into their office the first time. Their financial plan probably looks like a kitchen junk drawer just stuff thrown all in there, unorganized, no plan, no process. And the other thing that they do is these clients have, I mean, there’s anxiety. What happens the next time the market corrects? Am I good for retirement? Will I have enough money? Am I protected?
And a great financial advisor takes all of that noise and they get it down to the lead story and the lead story is, “You know what, we’re going to create a financial plan that does this, this, and this so that you’ve got income that lasts as long as you do and that bucket list trip that was number one. Go see the Vatican in Rome. We’re going to guarantee you can get there. We’re going to let you check that off the list.” That’s the lead story in financial services and the ones that I see get that wrong are the ones that then take all of this noise and immediately go to, “Well, you should buy this annuity. You should have these four asset managers. Look at this interest rate and the tax savings,” and they just create more noise as opposed to simplify the complex. So, if you have stories like in your dealings with financial advisors maybe what you’ve seen go really wrong or maybe you’ve stumbled across one or two that do it really well, I’d love to hear your color commentary just around that whole thought process because that’s where I went to when I read that.
[00:46:47] Greg: Well, I mean, I think I’ll just observe this, but I think it’s the differentiator. I think that, I mean, of course, any financial advisor can have its unique products whether it’s from a big box company or whether they’re building their own shop, they can put together their own products and they say, “Well, this would give you this advantage over that advantage.” But I think that’s the red ocean to use the blue ocean versus red ocean strategy. That’s where everyone’s competing. This is trivial improvements, this versus that one. Okay. This will have this return. That will have that return. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s that much does that. I think there’s this blue ocean which is we’re really going to understand what you want.
We’re going to work with you to help you discover what you want. I remember working with one financial advisor who after a while I realized I’m confident, I’m thinking and making plans more deeply about. Like every conversation, I would be the one going, “Okay. I think this is the long-term strategy and I think that this is what we need to try to achieve,” and maybe that wasn’t totally inappropriate because maybe there’s a different sort of managerial role that they can play and I’m a leader in this conversation, but I came away going, “I’m going to find somebody who is thinking about this in this long-term strategic way and really actually sitting there and going and bringing that to the table.” Well, listen, I think what you describe to me is these are the one or two things that 20, 30, 40 years from now absolutely must for you that really matter in your life.
[00:48:51] Greg: It’s not about your money. It’s about your life and I think there’s so much room there and that’s the work to be done. I think that’s a key differentiator. I worked with one company whose specialty one financial advising organization that really got into essentialism as a company that specializes into generational planning. So, these are generally they’re focusing on a certain clientele which is high net worth, family-owned businesses. That’s just one, that’s a certain strategy, isn’t it? You’re not trying to serve everybody. You’re trying to serve a certain group and what that means is you can get better and better at anticipating and designing what these kinds of people are struggling with, what these kinds of people want to achieve, and you might even be to articulate to them better than they can articulate what it is they really want because I think a lot of people do not know.
I mean, this is a question, this isn’t a financial advisor question. It’s a human question which is if you simply ask people what do you really want five years from now? Oh, there are not many people who are going to answer that question. Surprisingly tough question for people to answer and it actually can be quite painful for people because they know if they knew, it would help. They know that they sort of have a center. I ought to know and I just think that very few people do. So, it’s not enough to ask this question. Is that you are going to help people through a process is they would then to really solve this with them. And so, that they actually have clarity and then we’re going to help you with some financial tools and solutions of products that are going to help support that set of goals but it’s a very different conversation.
[00:50:50] Brad: Yes, it is. That is absolutely the blue ocean. That is our most successful clients, they’ve trademarked their process. They have a clearly defined process. Here’s how it serves you and it really does. It simplifies for the client. They just understand, “Oh, here’s what we’re actually trying to get to at the finish line.” So, there was another story there. Sorry. I’m just picking all the stories out of your book. That’s what I love about the book by the way. This was not a boring academic book. This was like real-world stories and how they apply. So, the sales force story, for time’s sake I’ll summarize it but maybe there are a few takeaways, but I see this often when advisors call us and they say, “Hey, I’ve got this client that has $2 million and they will be down in the weeds. I mean, they’re down in it,” and they’re kind of like financial architects. They’re sitting there with the hammer and the saw. They’re trying to build the structure and they’re all in it and then they asked my advice and I simply say, “What’s this client’s problem or concern or issue that we’re trying to solve here?” They like sit back in their chair and they’re like, “Oh, shoot.” It’s like they were building the – they were so busy staring at the hammer and the nails and the lumber, they forgot what they were actually building, and you tell a story about the sales force, I think your question was, what question are you trying to answer?
[00:52:06] Greg: That’s right.
[00:52:06] Brad: I just saw so much application to our world too there. So, this was some sort of a workshop. Can you give a little bit of a backstory of that and then it was a contest of some sort?
[00:52:15] Greg: Yeah. You got multiple teams in different rooms and each team is running the same contest. It’s like a virtual three-year process crammed into I think two or three days and they have to make decisions for the team but they’re competing with other teams who are doing the same thing. And what I noticed I was just observing the one team that I was working with directly and what I noticed and have quickly they were jumping into answers and my job was [inaudible] just kept coming back to this. Every so often, they’re not often, but every so often, I would just say, “So, what question are you trying to answer?” “Oh,” actually what would happen they would pause for a moment and they’ll go, “Ah, hmm.” Then someone would say, “Well, anyway, this Excel spreadsheet,” and they get back into it.
And eventually, they did actually just pause and stop and say, “Okay. What question are we trying to answer?” They got clear on the question and they went on to win the whole event. Now, there could be other factors. This is just one anecdote, but it certainly felt like a parallel to like an actual question that we can ask ourselves. We’re getting all busy in a day when we just pause, what question am I trying to answer? What problem am I trying to solve? What am I actually trying to do right now? When we’re working with clients, the same thing, what questions are we trying to answer here? I mean that goes back to what we were just talking about a moment ago that are you trying to answer a question of what are the different products that we offer and which one should we use? Or are we trying to answer a different question? I think that question is really boring.
[00:54:13] Greg: I think it’s far more valuable question to ask, what are you really just trying to achieve? What is the contribution you’re trying to make? And certainly, that’s exceedingly right to value me as a potential client, to have somebody who is genuinely interested in the whole strategic piece and that coherence of each of those pieces that they come together in a consistent way. That’s what strategy is. Strategy is the coherence of all the different parts working together and one more time I think that the financial advisors are often doing this as a piecemeal, “Oh, we’ll just manage the finances over here. You worry about the rest of your life over there.” I mean this is like rubbish. I think it’s rubbish. I want it all working together, the whole.
This is the idea of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I want all these pieces sticking together and I think an advisor that can do that is a highly valuable advisor and I think that’s the goal for each advisor in their own life applying these ideas to themselves is how can I make an integrated life where all the pieces fit together so that I’m not top heavy where I’m spending all of my time doing the work thing. And pretending that the reason I’m doing that is somehow, well, one day I’m going to kill myself. I’m going to retire and then I’m going to then spend time with family. That whole concept I think, personally, I don’t think is such a great idea. Of course, I understand you have to invest a lot in order to then have dividends that come back to you, time dividends even. Yeah.
[00:56:06] Greg: So, I do understand you might make sacrifices short-term for longer-term results but the idea that I’m going to just do 50 years of health for my family so that somehow over the 50 years is too many but 20 years, even 25 years. You never know do you, what happens with these, how unexpected life can be, how short and precious life is.
[00:56:28] Brad: It’s interesting, Greg, just as I’m sitting here listening because you’re taking essentialism, but I hear pieces of it coming out. It’s like, “Hey, man, here’s what I would really yearn for in a financial advisor,” and some of the most frustrating I’ve heard from my clients who were sitting across the table from someone like you, a super successful person that they would love to serve, who’s done well for themselves and some of the frustrations I hear from my side is, “Oh, I built a perfect plan and they gave me, ‘I want to think about it.’” And oftentimes when I dig in and I walk through how that process looked, how it came across the table to you is here’s someone over here with a bunch of financial Lego blocks and they’re just sitting here, “Look at my Lego blocks,” and they’re like clicking them together and you’re completely checked out. Eyes glazed over.
Where in reality if they would this stayed on the stuff that you cared about, the emotional side, the inspirational side like why you actually go to work to build money up, so you can do this with your family and create these emotions, these memories, they would say, “Greg, you know what. If we do these three things, where was that family trip you’re wanting to take four or five years out that was really important to you? Yeah. Oh, well, that’s great. We’ll have income in place. Here’s a little side bucket to take care of that. Oh, and then you want to retire when? And where did you want that to be? Oh, you want that second beach on the house? Okay. Well perfect, we’ll build that into the plan,” that’s the stuff that inspires people to take action. Not getting down in the weeds and focusing on the nonessential really and from your standpoint, you don’t care how the engine is made, how it’s assembled. You just want the car to get from point A to point B and I think a lot of times because financial advisors use the building pieces, they get very engineer-like when they start to get into the planning and completely disconnect as to the purpose behind what they do with why they do what they do.
[00:58:15] Greg: Yes. I think it comes back to the old sentiment that nobody wants a 6-inch drill like everybody wants a 6-inch hole. And so, to use Clayton Christensen’s question on this, the question is what is the job to be done? I mean, the job to be done for a financial advisor is none of the instruments of the job to be done. Of course, there’s competence that has to be there. Of course there have to be solutions that otherwise you’re just a strategist, a life coach or something which is a completely different thing but I still maintain that it’s not just that you ought to do a bit more of it which is I think even as I heard you talking there, well, what if I dig a bit deeper and I ask them to do here the three things that we can do to help you, what was it that you wanted to achieve?
Even in some of that language, what I heard was we are majoring in the same core products and minoring in the language to connect the dots for you. And I think it’s ought to be the other way around. Whether the major, the core of a great financial advisor is understanding the strategy that somebody is trying to pursue. I think that’s the core and by the way here are the products that we have. Here are some of the things, pieces that we can help you with. Here are some of the missing pieces that we don’t have but we can probably suggest people that could come into there or help you in a limited way to try and achieve those missing pieces. Some of it will be just how to have increased income. Well, that’s not what a financial advisor does but the idea that we’ll just look at our clients through a straw because that happens to be our competence is so, to me, is so short-sighted. It’s so limited.
[01:00:14] Greg: What I want in somebody that is completely helping to design the long-term perspective, the long-term plan that the design of it, here are the pieces we can do and here are the missing pieces, but this still needs to be solved to achieve your goals. This is the kind of person, this is the kind of work that I think is that this is essentialism as it applies to professional aspects of being an advisor.
[01:00:39] Brad: What’s interesting about you sharing that is we’ve seen a trend in financial services of you go to the financial advisor who historically is, “Hey, we’re going to grow your assets. We’re going to manage it. Well, many of our clients have now transitioned to where they’re also creating income, managing assets, marrying these portfolios together,” but it doesn’t stop there. They’re going to now bring in, “Well, Greg doesn’t want to also drive across town to a CPA, so he’d prefer that’s just bolted on like family office style.” And then, “Oh, by the way, Greg’s got estate planning. He needs to make sure his daughter is taken care off and the rest of his family. Well, let’s bolt-on estate planning.” So, really a holistic approach is where you see the top firms in the country going. Because that’s what you want. You want to go in one door. It’s one cohesive plan where all three of those world’s talk together and the ones that are doing that are winning. The ones that aren’t, they’re scrambling for clients. So, it’s interesting that you bring that up.
[01:01:33] Greg: Yes. And I think that there’s a source of inherent weakness in all competence that is a primary challenge and leads to a lot of the nonessential activity that I’ve observed in across industries. And it’s this that competence makes us blind. So, in my industry, right, in my field as a writer I talk to people very frequently who will say, “Oh, I’d like to write a bestselling book and I’d like to…” Everyone seems to have it, lots of people on their bucket list. And they may be even further developed than that. They’ll say, “Here’s my idea. I’ve been working on this idea.”
And the number one mistake I see they’re making which will produce an endless array of nonessential activity is that they begin with their own mind in mind. So, they are so taken with an idea, they so believe that the world needs it that they forget the most important question which is nothing to do with need and nothing to do with their own mind. It’s everything to do with whether the person, there is a person, not just of course one, but we can start with one who is hungry for that right now who wants it. People don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want. And so, in writing, there is a really huge discrepancy here. Somebody once said to me years ago even after I said to them what my book idea was, this was 20 years ago, they said, “Well, Greg, if I were you I just wouldn’t write a book that nobody wants to read.” That was so right and he was so right.
[01:03:17] Brad: Was this the same book idea or a different book?
[01:03:20] Greg: No. Different.
[01:03:21] Brad: Okay. I was going to say it was slightly off if that was the case but…
[01:03:24] Greg: No. No, but he was so right, and it took years and years to keep working and thinking very deliberately about the language choice and how you do this in a way and the visual choices, the cover design, all of it so that somebody who the ideas in this book are relevant for might see it and instantly pick it up. Oh, that’s relevant. I want that thing. Well, you have to get yourself in a very different headset, headspace to do that well. If you don’t do it, you’re going to get caught in a whole non-essentialism journey because you can pour in tons of passion and tons of hard work but the thing at the end won’t have the power of relevancy. And so, all of that work is actually nonessential. All of it is taking you down the wrong path and this is the slightly depressing reality of publishing.
And so, it happened to me just not very long ago that somebody actually who I really respect, a very talented leader said to me about, “Oh yeah, I wrote a new book. I wrote a book.” It’s that first book and they told me to type them, and I just instantly was like, “Oh, that’s just dead on arrival.” Not because it isn’t true, not because it isn’t good, not because it isn’t worthy, not because that person is incredible to talk on the subject. All of that was true but nobody is interested in this subject. It didn’t meet where people’s pain is. And it’s so sad. The opportunity is so immense to have made some difference there. And so, this disconnect and how it can expect to sort of the structural, the principles of essentialism is that we have to do better in exploring what’s is essential to the person we want to serve and then we have to be willing to eliminate all of the non-essential stuff however passionate we are about it so that we can then start to build a new system that actually helps us to execute on what is most valuable to them.
[01:05:31] Greg: And so, I think there’s so much baggage in the financial services industry of this is how we do it, this is our system, this is our way, this is our legacy way of doing it, and the person who’s coming in through the door couldn’t care at all about that. They have to cut through that themselves in order to try and get the value that they actually want out of the process. And so, our job if we want to, you know, sort of you want to become like the apple of our industry, we want to make it as easy. We’re just talking before we started here about the AirPods. They look a little silly, but they work so well. Think of how much they have to cut out of the process in order for that to work, for that product to come to me, be magical, effortless. That’s what we have to do for our client.
[01:06:21] Brad: The AirPods are the true essentialism headphones. I mean you’re representing it right there and live on the camera. I mean they’ve cut everything out, the cord, all of that. Greg, this is awesome. I want to respect your time, but I will not forgive myself if I do not hear the story of the – and I’m not going to give away the punch line yet either, the story of the little girl that had a date plan with her dad and we want to wrap with that. If you’ve got time, we can get a couple of rapid-fire questions after, but I want to respect your time. I know we’re coming up on the end here.
[01:06:52] Greg: So, the story is a true story. I spoke to the daughter about this experience and she got a whole plan with her dad. She’s traveling with her dad and…
[01:07:06] Brad: She’s 12 or so?
[01:07:08] Greg: Yeah. That’s just about right. And it was a business trip and so they’d organized it. First business trip she stayed there in the hotel but then after his portion of the conference was done, they would go in and they’d go and eat Chinese food. They go and get watch a movie. They come home to the, not home, but to the hotel room. They order sundaes, watch another movie there. The whole thing has been planned there. They had been planned way in advance too, so she had been really looking forward to the whole thing. It’s an important part if you’re going to do this sort of work with your children. The anticipation is almost as important as the thing, the event itself. So, everything’s going according to plan. Dad is finishing up, just finishes up the work of the conference and as he’s leaving, a friend from many, many years before, a good friend turns up, surprises them. Him and his wife were there.
And he says, “My goodness, I can’t believe it. As soon as I heard that you’re here, I came. It’s so exciting. It’s so great that you have your daughter here too. We want you to come. Let’s go out to eat together. We’ll do this fabulous seafood dinner by the Bay in San Francisco,” and this whole thing it spontaneously happened. It’s very positive and good and happy moment but for the 12-year-old daughter, just her heart sinks, because she says, “Well this is, I hate seafood and I know what will happen. This will be adult conversation and I’m going to be ignored.” And so, her heart sinks. And then she hears her dad say, “Oh, it’s so nice to see you and I would love to do it but our plan is absolutely built end-to-end, and so I would just have to take a rain check.” He grabbed his daughter’s hand and out they went, and they proceeded with their plan completely.
[01:09:10] Greg: I was talking to this daughter, this young woman decades later. She’s reflecting on it after her father had passed away. This was one of many but one distinct story that she could point to where her dad had actually made a tradeoff between an essential and a nonessential, and that she was the essential for him. And so, her father is Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and, of course, he spends much of his life trying to emphasize this mission-driven type of living and rather than urgency being the driver. And this is a good example. It’s sort of a counterweight. We began with the failing the mic test and here we have what it looks like a success. It’s smilingly, unapologetically, happily say no to the nonessential so that the essential gets the attention that it ought to get.
[01:10:24] Brad: Such a powerful story. I actually texted pieces of your book to someone that I’ve been working with or having conversations with I should say. Ultra, ultra-successful advisor. I mean, literally like Doogie Howser, you remember the TV show, Doogie Howser, the young super brilliant doctor like sixteen or whatever?
[01:10:43] Greg: Yeah.
[01:10:44] Brad: He’s like the Doogie Howser of our business like he’s built a multimillion-dollar organization by the age of 28 and the last conversation we had his exact words says, “I feel like I’m dying at age 28,” because he’s literally – he’s like the story out of the book of the guy that was flying all over the country, 60%, 70%, 80% of his time on an airplane, burning the candle at both ends. And that story to me whether it’s your children, whether it’s your family, your spouse, your health, it just puts it all in perspective of when you get true clarity on what is essential and what’s important, it allows you to structure your life and make decisions around that. So, Greg, thank you so much for just carving out some time here because this conversation is going to be really impactful to a lot of advisors around the country and I’m just super appreciative so thank you so much.
[01:11:41] Greg: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.
[01:11:43] Brad: I always end with one question. So, if you’re cool to answer one final question, I’ll ask that and then we’ll part ways and hopefully cross paths in the near future. You good to wrap on one more?
[01:11:53] Greg: Yes, done.
[01:11:55] Brad: Okay. This is fun because it’s the one thing. So, if you had one piece of advice that you could share with our audience that’s led to your success to this point, what would it be?
[01:12:07] Greg: It’s not advice. The one thing though is my wife. I know it’s not advice like you wanted but her wisdom is really rare. I mean, I literally can hardly think of a time I’ve made an error of which I made so many but where I have made error after really counseling together with her. And so, I think that when I compare what’s happening in my life, it’s so far with what would’ve happened if she hadn’t been in my life. I think, oh, it’s like night and day and it’s not over yet because it’s so much of the work that’s gone on so probably it’s just been foundational and preparing for the next wave and the next phase. And so, to me, there’s no comparison.
[01:13:00] Brad: And she was obviously a foundational part of the book, Essentialism. I mean literally, the story is right out of the gates that was kind of an eye-opener for you.
[01:13:07] Greg: Yeah.
[01:13:08] Brad: Well, Greg, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure and hopefully, our paths cross again soon.
[01:13:14] Greg: Thank you so much. Bye for now.
[01:13:16] Brad: Take care.
[01:13:20] Brad: Thanks for checking out the latest show. I really appreciate the couple of minutes you all have taken to share your thoughts as the reviews help our show get found and rank on iTunes. Also special thanks to those of you who left a review since our last show as we are now closing in on 125 five-star reviews. Thank you.
Here are four more recent reviews. The first one comes to us from user Kyle12345678900 who says: “Chris Smith Interview. Five stars. Only my second time listening to the podcast, but Chris Smith interview was amazing and completely inspiring. It will be one that I will listen to numerous times. Thank you! Look forward to becoming a regular listener.” Thanks for the review, Kyle, and so glad you found the Chris Smith episode on listen #2 as that’s one of my favorites in our show’s history. Also, love the fact you are going back and relistening again. Don’t forget, in order to make it as easy as possible to grab all those ideas shared on the show, we make sure to have a transcription done for each one. You can find it at the bottom of the show notes. For Chris’s episode specifically, it should help you take advantage of the language he shared on how to create an over-the-top first impression. That was episode 41 for those of you that haven’t had a chance to give it a listen yet. Hope you’ve caught a few more episodes, Kyle, since leaving your review and don’t hesitate to reach out through the website if anything else I or my team can do to help!
The next review comes to us from Mandy Andrei who says: “Excellent podcast. Five stars. One of the best podcasts out there for ELITE advisors. So much to learn from each episode. Time well spent!” Mandy, thanks for the kind words and the review! I’m doing my very best to make sure every episode features an amazing person that we can all learn from and obviously ask questions I think that can serve our financial advisor audience like you. So glad it’s resonating! I’ll keep the episodes coming for you.
[01:15:12] Brad: Next up is user Mlewis7804 who says: “Exactly what advisors need! Five stars. Thank you for doing this. Really enjoy the mix of successful advisors and people outside or ancillary to the industry. I get actionable intel from every episode that helps our practice from every aspect. Please keep it coming!” You are welcome and thanks for the review. It’s reviews like this that make me want to keep these episodes so thank you and I’m incredibly grateful for those of you who have taken a few minutes to share your thoughts and reviews like this. It helps me know what type of guests can serve you all and I also love that you’re seeing value from both sides from those inside our industry as well as those outside of it. Part of what really keeps it fun for me as well! Thanks for listening in, Mlewis7804!
And the last featured review for the week comes to us from user mccomasknows who says: “Spot On. Five stars. If you are serious about growing your business, becoming a better financial advisor and even a better husband and father then you have to listen to Brad’s podcast. Brad is truly giving away of nuggets of gold in each and every podcast. Congratulations, Brad. Keep up the great work!!!” Wow, thank you for sharing that. What an incredible review. I’m humbled. That really hits home, especially when you look at what Greg had to say in this episode… as what’s the point of building a business if it’s not allowing for a lifestyle where you can create memories with those that you love? I’m going to assume you may be referencing a piece of the Jim Sheils episode which was episode 36 for those of you who may not have given it a listen yet. It’s the best routine I’ve ever implemented when it comes to being a more intentional dad, a more present dad, a more connected one-on-one with my kids type of dad so I hope it can serve all you moms and dads out there!
As we wrap this show, just have to say that I love reading each and every review, so thanks for taking the time to send the love via the internet.
[01:17:09] Brad: 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 them serving it. Yes, it’s possible to grow your business and work less. This is a model we’ve replicated over and over in markets all over the country. So, if you’d like to apply to see if it makes sense for us to have a one-on-one conversation on how to overcome what may be getting in your way, you can do that at BradleyJohnson.com/Apply. It takes about five minutes to fill out the application, so we can understand what your business looks like, what challenges you may be facing and how myself and my team may be able to help. We then dive into a Discovery session where we ask a lot of questions based on your survey, we do a lot of listening, we take a lot of notes to build a rough draft of our proprietary Elite Advisor Blueprint – 90 Day Plan™. Taking the first step is as simple as applying at BradleyJohnson.com/Apply.
So, that’s all for this week. Thanks for listening in and I will catch you on the next show.
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.
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