On today’s podcast, I’m talking to Chris McChesney. Chris is the Global Practice Leader of Execution for Franklin Covey, where he serves as one of the primary developers of The 4 Disciplines of Execution – a framework for accomplishing strategic business goals and creating lasting organizational change.
Chris has led many of the most noted implementations of the 4 Disciplines, including Marriott International, Shaw Industries, Ritz Carlton, Kroger, Coca Cola, Comcast, Frito Lay, Lockheed Martin and Gaylord Entertainment, to name a few.
I first came across his work through Michael Hyatt, who called The 4 Disciplines of Execution the gold standard for his team. It’s one we’ve implemented into our team’s weekly ritual as well.
Today, I’m honored to have Chris on the podcast to talk about how to simplify what’s really tough for a lot of financial advisors to execute on – and the tools and techniques you can use to inspire your team to help them not only meet your goals, but their own as well.
Here are a just a handful of the things that you’ll learn:
- [18:52]How to apply The 4 Disciplines of Execution (focus, leverage, engagement, and accountability) to your business in order to achieve your most important goals – and how to make time for the work you’ve been putting off for months, weeks, years, or even decades.
- [52:43] The story of how Chris helped a major hotel cut luggage delivery time from 112 to 20 minutes in order to boost customer satisfaction – and how much these same principles apply to financial services.
- [57:45] How to motivate your team to break decades of bad habits, make people feel like they really matter, and hold them accountable without feeling like the micromanaging boss you never wanted to become.
Watch the YouTube video of today’s interview to see Chris’s screen as he walks you through The 4 Disciplines of Execution! Click on the video below to jump directly to that section!
- [05:00] The unconventional way Chris got his first job at Franklin Covey – and how he became Stephen Covey’s publicist while an unpaid intern at the Covey Leadership Center.
- [11:39] The 4 Disciplines of Execution and how to build a business that will leave a legacy behind.
- [13:18] Why the move to urgency is such a natural human tendency – and how to get through the wall and focus on the strategic components that will make you most successful.
- [51:59] Lead measures you and your team can actually use to measure success.
- [54:33] How the 4 Disciplines helped Chris cut a major hotel’s luggage delivery time from 112 to 20 minutes in order to boost customer satisfaction – and how this applies to financial services.
- [1:08:03] How to use the 4 Disciplines to lead a meeting, even when a CEO, founder, or team lead isn’t present.
- [1:19:25] Why crazy goals always lead to burnout – and meaningful, achievable ones can transform businesses.
- [1:19:55] How to find the balance between work and family, the power of great parenting, and some of our favorite books.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
- The Art of War
- The Compound Effect
- The Family Board Meeting
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
- Michael Hyatt (also check out Michael Hyatt on the podcast)
- Franklin Covey
- Stephen Covey
- Jim Rohn
- Dan Sullivan (also check out Dan Sullivan on the podcast)
- Darren Hardy
- Jim Sheils (also check out Jim Sheils on the podcast)
- Mike McCarthy
- Tim Harford
- Carol Dweck
- John McEnroe
- Michael Jordan
REVIEWS OF THE WEEK
Thanks for checking out the latest show, on to this week’s featured reviews!
This week’s first review comes to us from Neal David who says:
NealDavid, thanks for the ultra kind review and love the fact that you are going back to some of the early episodes to give them a listen as even through I was still figuring out exacting how to interview a podcast guest there were some absolute rockstar guests that were kind enough to sit down with me as I stumbled through my interview. We’ve all got to start somewhere though right!! Really appreciate you listening in and don’t hesitate to reach out if anything myself or my team can do to help.
The next review comes to us from Ashby Daniels who says:
Ashby, thanks for taking the time to listen in and leave a review. I’m especially honored when I hear a member of the #FinTwit community listens to the show and finds value in what we are putting out. I hope you are still cranking out those thank you cards and doing big things as 2019 comes to a close. Open invite if your travels bring you though KS, love to connect in person some time!! For those of you out there on Twitter, make sure to give Ashby a follow @DanielsAshby as he’s putting out great content and is a great resource in the advisor community. Also if we haven’t connected yet, you can find me at @Brad_Johnson.
And the last featured review for the week comes to us from user GeekSoapBox, who says:
What an awesome review, I appreciate it and am glad to hear that many of you Blueprint listeners find the eclectic mix of guest to be refreshing and set my show apart from others out there. There are plenty of conferences to go to if you just want to hear the financial industry stuff, and one of my favorite parts of the show is keeping it fresh by bringing outside industries and thoughts into our advisor community. There’s much to learn from others if we are open to it. For those who haven’t caught the James Clear or John Israel episodes yet, they’re episodes 52 and 53 if you want to give them a listen!
Take the 1st Step to Building Your Ideal Practice: Apply for “Virtual Discovery Session“
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 1-on-1 conversation on how to overcome what may be getting in your way, you can do that at bradleyjohnson.com/apply. It takes about 5 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, and 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 🙂
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- Listen to it on iTunes.
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 InvestmentNews, the Wall Street Journal, and other industry publications.
[00:00:27] Brad Johnson: Welcome to the Elite Advisor Blueprint, the podcast for World Class financial advisors. I’m Brad Johnson, VP of Advisor Development at 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. On today’s podcast, I’m talking with Chris McChesney. Chris is the global practice leader of execution for Franklin Covey, where he serves as one of the primary developers of the 4 Disciplines of Execution. It’s a book, New York Times bestseller, as well as a framework for accomplishing strategic business goals and creating lasting organizational change. Chris has led many of the most noted implementations of 4DX, including Marriott, International, Shaw Industries, Ritz Carlton, Kroger, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Frito-Lay, Lockheed Martin and Gaylord Entertainment to name just a few. And I first came across his work through Michael Hyatt, who called the 4 Disciplines of Execution his gold standard for his team, and it’s one that we’ve implemented as well on our team over the last handful of years.
Today, I’m honored to have Chris on the podcast to talk about how to simplify what’s really tough for a lot of financial advisors to execute on, and the tools and techniques you can use to inspire your team to help them not only meet your goals, but their own as well. In today’s episode, you’ll learn three things. Number one, how to apply the 4 Disciplines of Execution, focus, leverage engagement, and accountability, to your business in order to achieve your most important goals, and how to make time for the work you’ve been putting off for months, weeks, years, or sometimes even decades. Number two, the story of how Chris helped a major hotel cut luggage delivery time, from 112 minutes all the way down to 20 minutes in order to boost customer satisfaction, and how much the same principles apply to financial services and your practice. Number three, how to motivate your team to break decades of bad habits, make people feel like they really matter and hold them accountable without feeling like the micromanaging boss you never wanted to become.
[00:02:26] Brad Johnson: Okay. Before we get to today’s conversation. Chris and his team are super generous, sent me a box of autographed copies of his book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, which has all of the details to execute on everything we discussed today. And I’ll be mailing them out until they’re all gone. So, here’s what to do next if you’d like your free copy. Number one, all that I ask is that you leave an honest review out on iTunes for our show. To make it easy, there’s a graphic right at the top of the show notes, BradleyJohnson.com/63. Just tap on it. It’ll take you right where you need to go. Or if you happen to be listening on a mobile player, just simply tap on the episode, scroll down into the description. There should be a link right there. Number two, once you’ve left a review, just drop us an email via email@example.com with your iTunes username and a mailing address and we will drop you a copy in the mail as a thank you. That simple.
Also, quick apology to our international listeners outside of the US who’ve been kind enough to leave reviews. We appreciate you but due to crazy high shipping prices, we can only ship these domestically so please support Chris and just go grab a copy of 4DX at your local bookstore or out on Amazon. So that’s it. As always, thanks for listening in and without further delay my conversation with Chris McChesney.
[00:03:45] Brad Johnson: Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast. I have Chris McChesney here with us today. Welcome to the show, Chris.
[00:03:53] Chris McChesney: Thanks, Brad. Great to be here.
[00:03:55] Brad Johnson: So, your official title, Global Practice Leader of Execution for Franklin Covey? Did I get that right?
[00:04:01] Chris McChesney: Yeah.
[00:04:02] Brad Johnson: Cool. And it’s fun how this conversation came to be. The first time that you were ever put on my radar, Mr. Michael Hyatt, who I was in a mastermind group with handed me your book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, and at the time, we were growing our team internally. And it was just, as you know, anytime you have a growing team it’s tough to execute. And coming from a guy like Michael who devours all kinds of content, he’s in multiple mastermind groups, and he basically said, “This is the gold standard for our team.” So, when I have a guy like that, that I respect at that level, I’m like, “I better read this book quickly,” and I did and it was gold. And what I loved about it was the fact that you really simplified what is really, really tough for a lot of teams and companies and businesses to execute on, which is how do you actually inspire a team and lead them all in the same direction to hit a goal. So, to say that I’m excited for this conversation is an understatement, so thanks for joining today, and I think we did like a 30-minute podcast before we actually started recording the actual podcast.
[00:05:07] Chris McChesney: I know. Right? That’s a very kind introduction. I really appreciate that. And Michael Hyatt is an amazing executive coach so that’s a high honor for sure.
[00:05:16] Brad Johnson: Well, let’s dive right in. So, as we were kind of talking a little bit on your background, you have a fun story of how you actually got into Franklin Covey. Do you mind just kind of opening and sharing how that came to be? And then we’ll dive into the 4 Disciplines of Execution.
[00:05:29] Chris McChesney: Right. We’ll get the embarrassing stuff out of the way first.
[00:05:31] Brad Johnson: Perfect.
[00:05:32] Chris McChesney: Yeah. So, it’s so funny. I tell the story and everybody reminds me that there’s an episode at Seinfeld with the exact same plotline where Kramer starts going to work for a company he doesn’t actually work for. The only difference is they fire him at the end and they kept me at Franklin Covey, but they wouldn’t interview. It was the Covey Leadership Center. And I was I was a college kid and I was obsessed with Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits and more than anything, I wanted to work for him, and they wouldn’t interview like anyone, let alone me. And so, I sort of pretended to work for a newspaper. I said I’m writing which was true. I said I’m writing an article for the local paper on up and coming companies and asked if I could interview Stephen Covey. And so, in that process, and the newspaper was nice enough to publish the little story I had written, and then I told them that I needed an internship which also might have not been true. So, long story short, four months in, I’ve been coming to work every single day. I ended up as Stephen Covey’s publicist while being an unpaid intern at the Covey Leadership Center.
One day, they figured it out. They said, “Kid, you can’t do this. There are laws. You don’t actually have a job here. We know there’s no internship. What are you doing?” I think out of guilt, they said, “We’ll give you $6 an hour.” They didn’t have the heart to tell me to go home. So, yeah, that’s my very illustrious beginnings 29 years ago.
[00:06:55] Brad Johnson: Wow. And how old were you when you just took this leap of faith?
[00:06:58] Chris McChesney: 23.
[00:07:00] Brad Johnson: Twenty-three. Wow. Okay, so then there’s a fun story, too. So, you were actually the publicist at Franklin Covey, when Covey’s 7 Habits actually hit the number one bestseller. Was that the case?
[00:07:11] Chris McChesney: Yeah. Again, completely by accident. This was during the controversial interim period because they had let go of their publicist one week and they were looking for a new one, right when 7 Habits hits number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and there’s literally no one to do the amount of work they had. And they said, “Well, what about him?” He said, “He’s from New York. Let him call New York.” So, I’m on the phone with Good Morning America. I’m calling all these news outlets. I don’t even really work for them. So, I got to travel with Stephen Covey, and it was just one of those right-place-right-time kind of thing. Yeah. So, it was just a weird wrinkle in the universe.
[00:07:50] Brad Johnson: He must have seen something in you because, obviously, you were a go-getter at that young age. What was it like to be in Stephen Covey’s presence? What was that like as a 23-year-old as you’re first kind of entering that world?
[00:08:01] Chris McChesney: I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me that question before. You know, I think the thing I was most surprised with was how real a person. You know, we think of these people, someone like a Dr. Covey, that’s now one of the most influential people of the century, you know, and he’s written the bestselling business book of all time. And we put them on this pedestal and just how human they are and how much they’re like – he was a goofball. I have these crazy stories of things that he did that I don’t even tell people because they wouldn’t believe me. Great relationship with his kids. He was funny. He had these weird quirks. I bring him a set of questions for an interview, and he would never look at the questions. He said, “No. I want to be spontaneous,” like stuff like that. A huge broadcast, he didn’t want to see the questions ahead of time. He wanted to be authentic and deeply spiritual person at the same time, and really, really humble about these were not his principles, that there are God-given laws in the universe. And if you can understand them and their consequences, you can live a much better life. And so, yeah, I just adored the man. So, thanks for the question. Brad.
[00:09:11] Brad Johnson: Yeah. Do you have any one untold story you want to share with the audience here?
[00:09:16] Chris McChesney: Oh, yeah. Okay. So, I’ll go, I’ll stand the Stephen Covey thing. Okay. This will probably kill our audience and any credibility, but it’s so wild. Now, that you’ve asked, I got to say it.
[00:09:29] Brad Johnson: Okay.
[00:09:29] Chris McChesney: He would talk all about how much time you should spend with your children and being balanced and then he was a workaholic at the same time. Well, one of these kids, David, who’s a dear friend of mine to this day, decided to take his father on. And while his dad was on a call, he got out a jar of peanut butter and Dr. Covey has this famous bald head, and his dad was trying to ignore him and he started spreading peanut butter on his father’s head. And it got worse. Then he went and got the jelly and then he slapped a piece of bread on his dad’s head. So, it’s this hilarious story, but they actually it was this great inside joke about making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on your dad’s head. Anyways, and I guess the funniest part it was like he never acknowledged that this was going on like he never broke stride the entire time. So, I just love laying that visual over a man that talked about some of the most important life-changing principles. I just think it’s great.
[00:10:31] Brad Johnson: We’re all just human beings when it’s all said and done. We’re parents where our kids act up. They throw food at the dinner table. It’s funny how that works.
[00:10:40] Chris McChesney: Yep. It’s just a guy that just didn’t take himself that seriously, but took his mission very, very seriously, dedicated his life to one idea of restoring the character ethic in the United States and really spread around the world. I mean, he has incredible status to this day in countries all over the world and found out that these principles, they’re not American, they’re not US. They’re in every culture.
[00:11:04] Brad Johnson: Yeah, it’s a testament to building a business that outlasts you, right? He left a legacy behind in the business that he built.
[00:11:12] Chris McChesney: That’s a great statement. He was very deliberate about that, Brad, and really built this organization along with the book and really wanted, yeah, to be a change agent and to create something that was intergenerational. Yeah, that was a very deliberate thing.
[00:11:26] Brad Johnson: Well, with that in mind, that’s a good transition to the 4 Disciplines of Execution and as you start to think through our audience, a bunch of independent financial advisors all across the US, I think that’s one thing where I start to see a little bit of a hurdle that oftentimes is tough to overcome, because most people that get into our business, they’re like the 1%, 2%, 5% that didn’t wash out where 100 people came in to their sales organization when they were that 23-year-old kid that stuck around and worked and grinded and came out the other end, and were actually successful. But the hard part is that was all based on them. And now how do you start to translate that to a team and a business, especially if you want a business that’s going to outlast you and leave a legacy behind? So, I’m going to cue up 4DX. I’m going to let you just kind of what is 4 Disciplines of Execution, if you don’t mind, kind of laying out the 30,000-foot view, and then we’ll just dive in wherever that takes us.
[00:12:23] Chris McChesney: Okay. Perfect. And I want to play off of what you just said. The fact that you’re dealing with an audience that we’re talking to an audience right now of people who are the 5% means that these principles will not be uncommon. And maybe the terminology might be new with a way to frame them but a lot of what we are talking about might be what we sometimes call subconscious competencies. These are things that your listeners do intuitively on their own very, very well, but might struggle to educate their team members on because it’s a subconscious, something they’re doing. They don’t even know. They don’t even think to articulate. It’s sort of inherent in them. And a lot of great operators, a lot of high achievers in sales organizations, the trickiest part of replicating that is understanding that so much of it is subconscious competencies. It’s why great players don’t always make great coaches.
[00:13:14] Brad Johnson: Yeah.
[00:13:16] Chris McChesney: And so, before diving into the disciplines, we’ll hit those very quickly, let me start with the one dynamic that seems to be at the heart of this whole thing, and resonates with everyone. It’s this tension between things that are urgent and things that are very important but don’t have inherent urgency in them. In other words, there are critical activities that will not act on you. And truthfully, you could do those this afternoon instead of this morning, and you could do those tomorrow instead of today. And no one’s going to get in trouble. There is no immediate accountability for certain activities in the moment. So, that’s the first problem. You’re logically sound in saying, “I could do those this afternoon, I could do those tomorrow,” and tomorrow can never come. And then you can pile that with the fact that there’s this human tendency to always move to urgent activities. Even if you’re on the most important project of the year, you’ll catch yourself going, “What am I doing? Why did I answer that text message? Why did I pick up that phone? It can’t be four o’clock already.”
All right. That little tendency, that move to urgency, let’s call it, doesn’t seem like a huge challenge because we can override the tendency, so we think. The problem is that anything that you’re trying to do that’s strategic, you have to get through that wall. That includes your team, that includes your own behavior. You’re never not fighting this tension. And we call the urgency, we call the whirlwind, and it represents everything that you have to do just to maintain your operation today just to get back to the clients. All the things that are going to bite you right now if you don’t do them and people can stay 100% consumed and busy on those items and never get to the most strategic components that actually make you successful.
[00:15:12] Chris McChesney: And that one dynamic shows up in every line of business everywhere. Can we put energy against strategic, non-urgent activities? And it is like developing a muscle and all four disciplines go right at that problem. So, before, Brad, any follow-up questions or added clarification you want to add on that point before we dive into the four disciplines? Because that’s the why these disciplines exist.
[00:15:38] Brad Johnson: What it reminds me of, Chris, is those days that we’ve all had, where you go home and your spouse was like, “How was today?” and you’re like, “Busy.” And then you look back and you’re like, “I don’t know that I actually got anything that mattered done.” And that’s that whirlwind and that’s what really hit home with me when I read your book. I was like, “Yeah, that’s why this stuff works is you’re focusing on the stuff that actually matters.” So, yeah, let’s dive in.
[00:16:06] Chris McChesney: Okay. I know, I’m driving you crazy. Let me go one more point on this because you got to get to the human, you got to get to how this feels. There’s a great irony in acting on the urgent. In the moment, it feels good to act on the urgent, and it feels bad to act on the non-urgent. As a matter of fact, you have to convince yourself that you’re not wasting time. When you have to convince yourself you’re not wasting time when you’re actually working on the most important thing you could be doing but we’re so addicted to urgency that it doesn’t feel important. Have you ever had to talk yourself into something into putting energy into something that should be inherently obvious this is what you need to be spending your time but you’re feeling this weird withdrawal symptom from urgency? So, in the moment, here’s the point, in the moment, the urgent stuff feels good all day long. It’s like it’s an itch you’re scratching.
[00:16:55] Brad Johnson: Yep.
[00:16:55] Chris McChesney: Until the end of the day, when you’re talking to your spouse or your kid and they have no idea what you’re talking about when you say, “I killed myself all day. I’m not sure I got anything done,” like that sick feeling at the end. And there’s a great quote, I think it’s Jim Rohn. He’s a motivational speaker but he has this great quote. He says that the pain of discipline is better than the pain of regret. And so, there is just a little bit of pain associated with all four of these disciplines and it’s far better than the pain of regret when you’ve been busy all day and you haven’t had anything done. Okay.
[00:17:30] Brad Johnson: And I have a hunch. I’m going to let you confirm this, because you’ve been doing the 4DX work for how long now?
[00:17:36] Chris McChesney: Seventeen years.
[00:17:37] Brad Johnson: Seventeen years. So, very, very pre-iPhone, pre-smartphone. I’m going to guess the whirlwind in your work with all of these different companies, pre-smartphone, pre-iPhone whirlwind to post-smartphone whirlwind, how much worse has it gotten?
[00:17:55] Chris McChesney: Well, here’s the thing. This is not from us. This is everybody we talked to. Fifteen years ago, 17 years ago, people didn’t think you could get any worse like we were just warming up. This is a personal whirlwind device right here. The ability to be distracted has gotten so intense and people’s attention spans have gotten so small that, yeah, if this problem was an issue 15, 17 years ago, yeah, it’s so much worse than that today. So, you’re right. We’re at a whole new level of urgency addiction that we didn’t even think was possible.
[00:18:28] Brad Johnson: Yeah, we were standing in line as a family the other day at Chipotle and my son’s like, “I’m bored.” I’m like it’s gotten so bad that we can’t stand in line for five minutes without some sort of stimulus in our society.
[00:18:44] Chris McChesney: I’m feeling you, right? You’re not even making the food. I know.
[00:18:49] Brad Johnson: Yeah.
[00:18:50] Chris McChesney: It’s epidemic. That’s right.
[00:18:52] Brad Johnson: Alright, so let’s dive in there. Like what the heck are the four disciplines so let’s get those.
[00:18:56] Chris McChesney: Okay. So, fastest overview ever. I’m just going to stay at a principle level. This is how I think about it. Think about flying an airplane there’s four rules, there’s lift, thrust, weight, and drag. You box one of those rules, the plane comes down. Same idea. Only it’s not lift, thrust, weight, and drag. It’s focus, it’s leverage, it’s engagement, and it’s accountability. Focus, leverage, engagement, and accountability, and they are as unforgiving to execution as lift, thrust, weight, and drag are to flight.
[00:19:29] Brad Johnson: Focus, leverage…
[00:19:31] Chris McChesney: Engagement and accountability. And they play off of one another. You know, lift, thrust, weight, and drag are not independent ideas to an air flight, right? They’re all acting simultaneously. And this seems to be, this metaphor really stood the test of time. It really seems to be a great way to think about focus, leverage, engagement, accountability. And focus is really getting clear on what’s whirlwind. What’s life’s port? And what’s the critical game-changer in my operation? And if those two things get mixed together, you spin, and urgency takes over, you’ve got to create delineation between what is the one thing and it’s not your highest-level objective. It’s not, you know, it’s not total assets under – what’s the term that’s that used in financial? Right?
[00:20:26] Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, yeah, I’ll give you a real-world example. So, number one, focus. Focus on the wildly important goal. So, I’ve done goal setting now with our clients for the last 12 years. It’s the part it always goes to which we’ll take us probably into point number two here in a bit. It always goes to, okay, I did 5 million of new assets last year. Now, I want to do 10 million this year or my revenue was 500,000 as a firm last year. Now, I want to get to a million.
[00:20:53] Chris McChesney: That’s right.
[00:20:53] Brad Johnson: Always focused on the big number of typically assets or revenue of the firm.
[00:20:58] Chris McChesney: Right. And what I want to do is I want to create in the minds of everyone that’s listening, two different types of objectives, okay? That it is totally fine to have an objective to go from 5 million to 10 million. That’s fine but that is not an executable goal. If the goal is – what we try, I’m going to introduce the term just because we have to have one of them, a term we call a WIG or a wildly important goal. And it’s not the most perfect term, but it’s the one we chose, and we’ve stayed with it but here’s what this means. The wildly important goal is the goal that is a subcomponent of the big objective but it’s the difference-maker. It’s the part that’s not part of the day job. Okay. And if we could do that, if we could increase the amount of business per client, if we could decrease client churn, if there’s a particular category of investor that we could improve, if the title of the book is to go from 5 million to 10 million, what’s the most critical chapter in the book? That’s the wildly important goal.
Because if your critical goal represents the sum totality of all the work you do, then you haven’t narrowed your focus. Right? So, don’t just look at your high-level goal and think, “Done with discipline one.” No, no, no, no, no. Focus on the wildly important means. Yeah, look at your highest-level goal, but then choose what’s the critical chapter. Where am I going to put disproportionate energy? That’s what strategy’s about. There could be 10 chapters to the big number. Where do I put disproportionate energy? And it’s got to have a starting line, it’s got to have a finish line, it’s got to have a deadline, it can’t be conceptual. It has to be in the form of a target. That’s discipline one.
[00:22:49] Brad Johnson: Hey, all. Sorry to interrupt the conversation but Chris, actually, the next handful of minutes walks through a diagram he prepared specifically for applying four disciplines of execution to financial services going through all the details, lead measures, lag measures, exactly how they applied to setting goals and motivating your team. If you want to check that out, simply go down to the show notes, click the link right at the top. That will take you to the YouTube video version of this conversation. And by the way, if you want to catch our episodes out there, it’s as easy as subscribing in the lower right-hand corner. Catch you on YouTube.
[00:23:30] Brad Johnson: Okay. So, maybe we’ve got some case studies or stories. And by we, I mean, you, Chris. So, that’s the big goal. Looking at maybe some service firms you’ve worked with or maybe some financial firms that you’ve worked with, what might be a subset of I want to double my revenue or I want to double my assets gathered, that might be an example of a wildly important goal?
[00:23:50] Chris McChesney: Great. Can I grab the screen?
[00:23:52] Brad Johnson: For sure. Yeah.
[00:23:52] Chris McChesney: Okay. Let me just show some…
[00:23:55] Brad Johnson: And real quick for those of you listening in on audio, where Chris and I are on video right now. So, if you want to check the show notes, there’s a YouTube video where you can actually see what’s on Chris’s screen here.
[00:24:08] Chris McChesney: And, Brad, what I’m going to do is I’m going to drop two levels.
[00:24:11] Brad Johnson: Okay.
[00:24:11] Chris McChesney: So, maybe the highest-level goal or objective of the team is to increase total assets from 5 million to 10 million. And you could say, okay, we’re going to increase what we’ve termed pervasive clients, from 34% to 46% as an example. So, what we’re saying is, is we’ve created a category within our client base of a particular type of client. I like to call this the Bachman-Turner Overdrive Principle. You remember that song? I’m going to sing some of it right now. “Any love is good loving so I took what I could get,” is the line that we’re playing off of and you know, any revenue is not good revenue, like some revenue is better than other. And so, you know, this particular advisory group is saying, look, there’s a type of client called pervasive clients and these are the ones that have multiple lines with us. These are the ones that have insurance and there’s a particular category of client we want to grow.
[00:25:14] Brad Johnson: Cool. A lot of times our firm will call that like an avatar client. That’s the ideal client. Is that the same?
[00:25:19] Chris McChesney: Yes.
[00:25:19] Brad Johnson: Okay, cool.
[00:25:20] Chris McChesney: Yep. So, there’s a category. You want to move that particular category. And you’ll really have to almost do a business case on this because you say, “Look, if I’m going to put disproportionate energy against that objective, by the way, the person that taught me that term, his name is Tim Tassopoulos, and he’s now the President of Chick-fil-A and you want to look at an organization that executes on a phenomenal level. A freestanding Chick-fil-A will do five times the amount of revenue as a McDonald’s across the street working six days a week instead of seven.
[00:25:51] Brad Johnson: So, real quick, because that’s a fun story. And I think most people have a Chick-fil-A in their market. So, let’s say I’m going through the drive-thru and there’s a guy on an iPad standing right next to the board. Right? And I’m like, “Oh, is your board broken?” “Oh, no, sir. It’s just we found it’s a little bit faster and more convenient because we’ve got this kind of rush hour. So, if we come out here and take the orders for you so you get your food quicker.”
[00:26:16] Chris McChesney: Yeah. And he took your credit card too.
[00:26:19] Brad Johnson: Yes. Yeah, literally paid right there.
[00:26:21] Chris McChesney: Yep, yep. And then they…
[00:26:22] Brad Johnson: I’m like that is a company right there that gets it.
[00:26:25] Chris McChesney: They handed you the – right. And the kids they hire, right? They’ll tap into half a dozen families, honor students, and then they’ll network off of half a dozen families and those are the kids that they’ll hire. And it’s like a whole different, right, it’s every aspect of that operation. So, 15 years ago, Tim Tassopoulos was working with us on some of this and I reminded Tim of this, he kept using this term, “Where do we need to place disproportionate energy?” And if you don’t do that, you don’t have a strategy. Strategy is about saying, “Look, all right, there are 12 chapters and I know they’re all important, but what am I going to double down on?” That’s really what this…
[00:27:09] Brad Johnson: Just sharing. I mean, if this isn’t proprietary information, like everybody knows Chick-fil-A story. What did they decide this is where our disproportionate energy goes to?
[00:27:18] Chris McChesney: You know, it’s 15 years ago, but it’s the things that you would expect. For one operation, it might be speed at checkout or drive-thru time. I remember, we were out there working with them when they came out with the shakes, and those ridiculously great-tasting shakes, and for the next, it wasn’t anything amazing. It was just the next thing. They had such a great whirlwind, that they could just pick the next battle. So, the mindset is really whirlwind plus one. Where you get yourself in trouble is where you try and go whirlwind plus three.
[00:27:52] Brad Johnson: Yeah.
[00:27:53] Chris McChesney: Right? And differentiate in your mind this is the stuff can – if you don’t get anything else from the podcast, get very clear in your mind on this is the stuff that has to be maintained. Maybe that eats up 80%. The disproportionate energy may only be 20%. And what we’re saying is the disciplines, the four disciplines of execution are not what you use to run your operation. That’s the 80%. That’s the part you already know. The disciplines of execution are what you do, how you focus the 20%. So, discipline one, like you can see in this model is chunking down, okay, pervasive clients. And to do that now, if on a team level, I’ve got to increase qualified hires, like there’s a type of team member that’s going to work really well with that group. And you know what, I know that pervasive clients come out of a particular category type.
They have certain economic demographic markers and we’re going to categorize that. And they have a certain, I can’t remember what this one meant, but there’s certain and the constructs you’re looking at right now is what we call fewest battles to win the war. This goes back to the – you probably heard the book, The Art of War. It’s like 1,000 years old and it’s this idea that if the big goal, and it’s not even the biggest goal, but the first wildly important goal as pervasive clients, there’s probably some battles to winning that war. If those can be divvied up among different parts of the team, you’ve now created even more focus so that’s discipline one right now and we call those L-A-G, lag measures.
[00:29:37] Brad Johnson: So, real quick, and I want to make sure I’m understanding this. So, every successful financial services firm, they’ve got whirlwinds that they don’t ever turn off, right? It’s the basic work every day, the new clients coming in, all of that, the client experience. But what I heard you just say is, okay, take 80% of the team’s effort, maintain that. Now, the 20%, let’s put it towards this one wildly important goal, that’s going to take us to the next level, the 5 million to 10 million or the 500,000 in revenue to a million. And it actually reminds me a lot of Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach, like some of his coaching, where you’re working in your business.
[00:30:15] Chris McChesney: Yes.
[00:30:15] Brad Johnson: And then you have a day where you work on your business. Same concept where you can go…
[00:30:18] Chris McChesney: Yeah. Very, very similar. Yes, he’s getting at this, he’s scratching at the very same itch because in your business will consume you and you will feel like you can’t be any busier than you already are. But as Peter Drucker said, work is like a gas. It will fill the available space you give it. If you push it from 100 to 80, that life support, you’ll find that there’s 20 that you can put towards strategic energy. And some of the listeners they do this automatically. They do it and they don’t even know they’re doing it. They just know to do it. And what we’re doing is we’re giving you language that says, look, everything we’re showing you right now lives in that magic 20%. Strategic focus is not about what you do with the 80. You don’t get a choice on the 80. You got to maintain that stuff. It’s what you do with the discretionary energy. The deliberate energy used against discretionary time and some of your listeners are thinking, “I don’t have 20%.” Folks, you do.
If you’re sitting in a boat, and the boat had a hole with it, you could convince yourself that you have no time to do anything but bail water. But the truth is at some point you got to put down the bucket and you got to work on the hole. And, yeah, it’s going to be a little bit nerve-wracking when you see the boat filling up with water while you’re working on the hole. But that’s working on the business is working on the hole, not just baling the water. I wasn’t sure that analogy was going to stand up
[00:31:46] Brad Johnson: I almost about ready to just tell you your analogy game’s on point but I was like, “No, I’m not going to derail you.” So, but yes. Keep going.
[00:31:52] Chris McChesney: Right. Right. But that’s psychologically that’s the closest thing we can come to, to what stress associated with putting the bucket down. But that’s where strategic execution happens. Chick-fil-A didn’t get to be Chick-fil-A by accident. It’s painful to put energy against the next thing. Speed of checkout. You saw it, Brad. They just did, they just went a little further into the woods than everybody else. They did a little bit more work. I’m so glad you brought up that example. And they figured out, “No, no, no, no. We got iPads. We’re going to test this out.” They probably tested eight different things. You didn’t see how much work went into because it never looks that brilliant on the backend. When you see it, you’re like, “Oh, yeah, anybody could have done that.” Well, anybody didn’t. They did.
[00:32:31] Brad Johnson: Yeah. The combo with them which you went back to you describing how they recruit their team, the caliber of worker they have at a fast-food restaurant versus every other fast food restaurant is night and day, astronomical.
[00:32:43] Chris McChesney: Shocking. Yeah. You think, “Well, look at everybody else. You know, these are the people we’re stuck with. This is what you have to get. Yeah, you got to understand this.” And I’ve heard all the excuses. So, okay, now I got to go one more so I’m at a Chick-fil-A kickoff with 1,500 new owner-operators. And actually, you might look, I mean, Advisors Excel might look at this model. It’s a very interesting relationship between the owner-operators and the mother company. It’s interesting dynamics. But the old man, Truett Cathy, is still alive, the founder, the creator of the Chick-fil-A sandwich, and he comes out and he’s like grandpa, and they all just go crazy. They love this guy. And his story is just what you can’t – like there’s Truett Cathy and then there’s Santa Claus, right? He’s like the most adored human being. So, he comes out, he’s got this big bucket and his big bag, his big plastic bag of stuffed cows and he’s chucking the cows out and everybody’s having a great time. And I don’t see this coming.
And then he gets really serious with them and he says, “There’s one thing I want you to remember if you forget everything else.” He said, “Don’t let anyone else hire your people.” I was talking to the owner-operators. There might be a staff of 30, 40, 50 people between all the shifts and everything at one of the bigger freestanding Chick-fil-As. And he says, he gets really serious and he says, “Don’t let anyone interview your next hire except you. You don’t delegate that to anyone else. You bring someone into our organization, you are bringing them into our family.” And it was like this lightning. I can’t remember anything else that happened for that day now, but Truett Cathy gets really serious about that part of the operation and who you bring. Like he got that and so it’s not an accident.
[00:34:31] Brad Johnson: Yeah.
[00:34:31] Chris McChesney: Right? It’s not an accident that everything about that experience is different.
[00:34:37] Brad Johnson: And now, this is where these podcasts start to…
[00:34:40] Chris McChesney: I know. I’m so sorry.
[00:34:41] Brad Johnson: This is really important stuff because this book is based on execution. And Michael Hyatt, I’ve stolen this quote from him, “If you don’t have a big enough dream if it doesn’t require a team.” I mean, I think the tough thing with financial advisors is they all start out as a team of one and it’s them. And then they’re a victim of their own success because they do so well. They’re like now I’ve got this whirlwind surrounding me and here’s the biggest thing that I run into all the time because we help hire team members for our clients, we help train them. And it’s this back to don’t let anybody else hire your people and you should be interviewing them. There’s this thought process and this methodology in financial services of hiring is an expense versus an investment into your business. And when you look through the lens of expense, it’s how cheaply can I do this?
And as you know, Chris, because you’ve seen all kinds of teams in your work, if you go cheap and least expensive, that’s what you get, people without jobs. If you go investment, and how can I hire the rock stars, guess what? They’re the most expensive because they already have a job and they’re a rock star somewhere else but those are the people that actually execute, right?
[00:35:54] Chris McChesney: I know.
[00:35:55] Brad Johnson: All right. I’ll get off my soapbox.
[00:35:57] Chris McChesney: Well, I want to hold that note for just one second. We’ll wrap up the other disciplines but just this idea that you just struck right there. If I recognize like it’s the top box on this little visual right here, qualified new hires. Let’s suppose that’s not just a concept. Let’s suppose there’s been some real definitional rigor that’s been put behind that and we’re going to increase the number or the percentage, right? This was obviously made for a somewhat larger team. We’re using percentages. But if I’m going to get three qualified hires in the next four months, that is going to take deliberate disproportionate energy. And so, that won’t happen automatically and it won’t happen without discipline. And so, what have we got to do to create energy around that thing, so that the whirlwind doesn’t pull me back? Because as you said, if I’m an individual advisor and I’ve grown the business, the whirlwind increased right along with that, and it will increase to the point where it will keep me from being able to do anything strategic.
And that in there is the rub. And I think as you go from a one-man operation, where if I just get back on the phone, I can produce so much to you know what, we’re going to push that to A and we’re going to move. So, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about discipline one, focus on…
[00:37:15] Brad Johnson: Well, let’s hit one thing if you don’t do it right because I’ve seen this, unfortunately, a lot where your success will eat you alive. You’ll continue to give more, more and more and you’ll go from 40 hours a week to 50 to 60 to 80. I’ve seen people like this badge of honor 100 hours a week, and I’m like is that why you built this business? So, you don’t know your wife or kids and you never get to have dinner with them? Is that success? Because that’s not how I define success, right? And so, to me, this is like not just philosophy. This is like real important stuff that matters if you want your business to actually serve you versus the other way around. And so, that’s why I’m so passionate about this conversation.
[00:37:56] Chris McChesney: And all we’re doing right now, they say that the beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms. We need a way to think about these dynamics. Otherwise, when the wildly important goal and the whirlwind start to blur together, you lose traction.
[00:38:11] Brad Johnson: Yeah.
[00:38:11] Chris McChesney: And so, getting very deliberate with exactly what’s the starting line, what’s the finish line, what’s the deadline? When we say new hires, what does that qualify new hire? What does that mean? When we say category, you know, category A clients, what do we mean by that? Like, it’s very difficult to execute on a concept. You got to move it. You look at people that have had significant achievements. They’ve moved out of a concept and into a target. So, that’s discipline one, getting the target right. You want to keep…
[00:38:41] Brad Johnson: Let’s keep going. Yeah.
[00:38:42] Chris McChesney: All right. So, we call the targets, whether it’s for the whole team or a subcomponent, we call those lag measures. Those are results measures. Discipline two says act on the lead measures. Now, these are things that you can do. They’re either small results or they’re actual activities that can be tracked. They’re much closer to home. They have to be tracked or they’re not real. So, if the lag measure was weight loss, the lead measures are not diet and exercise. The lead measures are cutting my calorie input from X number of calories a day to Y calories per day or running three miles five times a week. There are specific targets that get you to the outcome and this very interesting logic that comes. This is the heart of the thing. This is where most people struggle with this methodology and I’m going to tell you why. We didn’t understand this even when we wrote the book, Brad.
People get to the second discipline. I’m going to tell you what the key to the second discipline is, because this is if the first discipline is focus, the second discipline is leverage. Now, I’ll give you a visual in just a second, but the second discipline is what can I act on? In other words, it’s influenceable that will be predictive of the outcome. So, it’s just like if I pull the lever, the rock will move, and the lever’s not so heavy that I can’t. – I can pull that lever. And when I pull the lever, the rock move, like that piece is so critical. But the problem is, when people do the first discipline, they go too big and they go 5 million to 10 million in assets. That’s my lag measure. And then they try and put a lever under a boulder, and it doesn’t work. And they go, “Wow. Discipline two is hard.” No, no, no, no, no. Discipline two is not hard. You didn’t do discipline one correctly. You didn’t get the rock down to a movable size, like increasing category A clients. That now we got something I can act and get like now I got something I can put a lever against.
[00:40:43] Brad Johnson: That notion of getting the target small enough that they’re movable, but they’re still strategic to the outcome, there’s some real work and discipline one on the lag measure, and then the lead measure, what is something I can measure that will move the outcome? We don’t have time on this but that’s something we give lots of examples on. People need to see examples before they can start experimenting. A lot of times you do have to experiment with what’s going to be the lead measure but let me tell you, when you get this right, this is everything. This is a winnable game.
[00:41:19] Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, let’s go into the lever example because, I mean, I know you actually, I love the fact how much you prepared for this and I really appreciate it because you made this a specific example to financial advisors.
[00:41:29] Chris McChesney: So, look at this. Let’s say the blue box is the lag measure and the green box is the lead measure and I’m going to show you some bad examples.
[00:41:36] Brad Johnson: So, for those of you on audio so…
[00:41:38] Chris McChesney: Yeah. Sorry.
[00:41:39] Brad Johnson: New accounts says the boulder. First appointment says the lever.
[00:41:43] Chris McChesney: That’s right. And so, I’m going to do two bad examples. Okay. So, let’s say that we say new accounts could be new clients. First appointments is the lever. Well, if you’re a very experienced advisor and you know how to get first appointments, this is a good lever. But if you burn through your network, if you’re thinking, “Oh, yeah. Great lever. I wish I had 18-inch biceps, and I could pull that lever.” But that lever is just too heavy to pull. I mean, it sounds good when you say what’s your lag measure? New accounts. What’s your lead measure? First appointments. That is the lead measure. That moves that.
[00:42:22] Brad Johnson: Which real quick on that, Chris, by the way, that right there which is your bad example is a better example than 99% of advisors with my experience actually use.
[00:42:33] Chris McChesney: I know.
[00:42:34] Brad Johnson: They just throw the lag up and say, “Hey, I’m going from 5 to 10. Let’s do it, team.”
[00:42:39] Chris McChesney: I know. I’m really glad you said that. So, this is a good testament. I’m really glad you said that. Even if you don’t get these disciplines exactly right, you get good traction.
[00:42:48] Brad Johnson: Yeah.
[00:42:49] Chris McChesney: You don’t dial on it perfectly but, yeah, I’m going to show this as a bad example because for some advisors, for some advisors that can actually pull that lever, it’s a great example. But if I’m an advisor that’s burned through my network, it sounded good. After a couple of weeks, I’m back in the whirlwind. Because when the strategic bet doesn’t seem viable or seems futile, I’ll just start to default back to urgency. I won’t even know I’m doing it. That’s where people run. When your people lose belief and hope in your strategy, you’re not losing to defiance. You’re not losing to belligerent, stupid, or lazy. You’re losing to busy. They’ll just go, they don’t even know what’s happened. They just get sucked back in the day job. All right. So, the problem with first appointments to new accounts is for a lot of advisors, that’s not a winnable game. I mean, it sounds good. My friend in Mississippi says, “That dog doesn’t hunt.”
[00:43:40] Brad Johnson: We use that in Kansas too.
[00:43:41] Chris McChesney: You use that in Kansas too? That dog won’t hunt. I mean, it sounds good. She’s going to look at the dog. She’ll hunt. Alright, so here let’s do another one. So, let’s play with the laws of physics, right, and let’s get a longer lever. Here’s another bad example. New accounts, let’s predict, let’s get a lead measure that will work, and let’s get cold calls. Let’s just get that phone book. Let’s just start talking to everybody, let’s just get cold calls. Let’s do this. And you can move that lever all day long but you might find that while it’s very influenceable, it’s not predictive. And you’re spinning your wheels, and there’s nothing coming out the other side. Anybody who’s done a lot of cold calling, you know, you hate to admit it, but you know, like, maybe you got an account, but you’re not sure you would’ve gotten that account anyways. When you really don’t know that the cold calling is paying off and you stop doing that after a couple of weeks, right, because again, it’s not a winnable game. And it works just like it does in nature. Like you put a 25-foot pole under a boulder, you can move that pole all day long. You’re just bending the pole. You’re not moving the rock.
It was literally when we were drawing out these diagrams, we were like moving the fulcrum. We were trying to figure out the physics and we said no. Who was that? Was it Copernicus? Somebody said if you give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, I could move the world. No, no, you can’t. They’ll just bend your pole. So, that’s a bad example. So, I’ll give you a good example. Let’s change the lag measure. Maybe for this advisor, instead of going after new accounts, let’s look at that thing we were trying as a lead measure a minute ago, and let’s say maybe the lag measure, maybe the wildly important goal is just getting first appointments. Maybe first appointments, that thing I thought was a lead measure, maybe that’s the lag for me and it’s just can I get first appointments? Like the rest of the operational, it will sort of take care of itself. Maybe I put my deliberate discretionary energy against first appointments. Now, what’s a lever for that?
[00:45:38] Chris McChesney: And it’s amazing how when you get smaller on the rock, you recognize, “Oh, referral leads are something I know I should be doing.” I got a client base that really likes me. They know people, this is better than cold calling, I’m just going to make sure that twice a week, I’m going to get really a qualified lead and see if that lever will move that rock, something I can do and it moves the needle. And this is a winnable game. And here’s the point. When you get it, it won’t sound like much. But if you just looked at this, you think, “Oh, yeah, well, of course, you do referral leads to get first appointment,” right? But I’m telling you, nobody gets there. You go through all these gyrations and you try out bad models before you really dial in. Where’s the lead and where’s the lag measure? But once you get it, you can run that bet like that dog will hunt and it becomes a winnable game. And people’s energy level changes when that happens.
[00:46:34] Brad Johnson: Yes. So, let’s go to that because this is real world. And what I love is the example that you came up with completely on your own. We weren’t going back and forth, shooting emails back and forth. That’s what our number one like literally what’s on the screen right now.
[00:46:48] Chris McChesney: You’re kidding me.
[00:46:48] Brad Johnson: Our number one office that brought in 300 million organically last year, which puts them like other than firms out there actually buying practices and absorbing them, I don’t know anybody that’s organically creating that much volume per year. His team, their lead measure, or I guess, lag measure in this example, right, their lead measure to growth, right, because first appointments is like a lead measure to total volume.
[00:47:16] Chris McChesney: Yep, that’s right.
[00:47:18] Brad Johnson: That’s what their team sits down and looks at every week in their meeting is how many first appointments are on the calendar versus what they should be at if we’re going to hit this volume. And so…
[00:47:28] Chris McChesney: Well, let’s pause on that for just a second. As a listener, if you’re listening to this, I want you to picture someone, and you’ve all got one, I want you to picture someone you know in your circle of friends who’s lost 40 pounds deliberately, like not an operation or something weird physically, somebody that you know that deliberately set out to lose 40 pounds. Hold that person in your mind because the principles are universal. They, first of all, they were counting. Nobody lost 40 pounds because they understood a diet or an exercise program. They had to count. They had to hold up the ugly mirror-like, Brad, like your example where they go, “Look, I know everybody thinks first appointments is important. How many did we get last week? Argh, that is an ugly number.” And here’s the thing, it’s the commitment to that. It’s not how bad you want to lose weight. That doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if losing weight is the most important thing in your life. It doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is your degree of discipline to the lever. That’s what gets the results, not how much you care about the lag measure.
[00:48:35] Brad Johnson: The lag measure in your example is the person that just gets on the scale once a week and then is…
[00:48:40] Chris McChesney: Cries their eyes out.
[00:48:41] Brad Johnson: Because it’s the same as it was the week before or sometimes worse, right?
[00:48:46] Chris McChesney: And we start lying to ourselves, “You know, my metabolism isn’t like everybody’s metabolism.” And they do this in hospitals with patient satisfaction. “We can’t be on the bottom quartile. You know, I think our market’s different. I think people just in this market are different.”
[00:49:00] Brad Johnson: Okay. So, let that one echo a bit because one of the things I’ve heard over and over the last 12 years is my market’s different than everyone else’s. And then I pull up the database, and there’s somebody half a mile away crushing it, just absolutely crushing it. It’s not the market. So, let’s just go ahead and dispel that belief across all the financial services. It’s not your market. Are we on the same page there, Chris?
[00:49:30] Chris McChesney: Yeah. And I want to be really clear about so that people don’t think we’re talking about a magic pill.
[00:49:36] Brad Johnson: Right.
[00:45:11] Chris McChesney: This formula, which sounds like basic common sense, first of all, let’s go back to discipline one. Narrowing the focus, you’re going to hate that, folks, because there are seven other things you want to put energy against and you’re going to have to say no. So, you want to know why nobody does these really simple things? Because they’re counterintuitive. Like, if each team picks one of those three battles, if you as the leader of the team, pick the top war, there are seven things you can’t really chase outside your whirlwind. You’re going to hate that, Discipline two…
[00:50:14] Brad Johnson: Can I throw a fun story in there?
[00:50:16] Chris McChesney: Yeah.
[00:50:17] Brad Johnson: And this might be one of those myths that they took a famous person and put them in this myth just…
[00:50:21] Chris McChesney: Did Albert Einstein say it?
[00:50:23] Brad Johnson: Right. Yeah. So, I heard it. I read it was a blog or somewhere on the internet. Warren Buffett’s pilot was having a conversation with him.
[00:50:34] Chris McChesney: Oh, this one I don’t know.
[00:50:35] Brad Johnson: Have you heard this one before?
[00:50:36] Chris McChesney: No, no, no.
[00:50:37] Brad Johnson: So, Warren Buffett, and this was years ago, but his pilot was having a conversation. He’s like, “Hey, I’ve got these big goals and some things I want to accomplish.” So, Warren is like, “Have you written them down?” “No, I haven’t written them down.” He’s like, “Well, go write them down. And then once you write them down, bring them back to me, and we’ll discuss them.” So, he goes home, writes them down, comes back with his list of 8 or 10. I forget how many were on there. And so, he sits down with Warren, and they kind of go back and forth. He’s like, “Okay, well, which one’s the most important?” And they have the conversation is like, “This one right here.” Circles it and he goes, “Okay. Well, that’s what you need to focus on.” And then the pilot goes back and he goes, “Oh,” he comes back and he goes, “What do I do with the other nine?” And Buffett’s like, “Ignore them.” And he’s done some pretty big things in his life, obviously, but I think I heard that story and I was just like, “That’s why people that get big things done, that’s how they do it.”
[00:51:30] Chris McChesney: So, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are at a dinner party.
[00:51:36] Brad Johnson: Is this a true story? Or we…
[00:51:38] Chris McChesney: Yeah. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett walk into a bar. No. They’re in a dinner party with some other really cool people, and everybody, and they start the dinner off with a little game and they say, “Everybody has to give a one-word answer for what’s the most important word relevant to their success.” Gates and Buffett give the same one-word answer, focus. And everybody else had given different answers but Gates and Buffett said this. They’re just looking at the same principle we are, right, and they moved it from being a subconscious competency to where they’re competent about it. So, discipline one is and you’re not going to like it, it’s really narrowing the focus. Discipline two is the lever. It’s the lead measure, which by the way, you never get the lever if you don’t really fixate on the rock and get very clear about exactly what the rock is and what we’re going to do to move the rock. This is your friend who lost 40 pounds. This is what they did. Right? You look at Weightwatchers.
[00:52:31] Brad Johnson: Chris, with the risk of making this a three-hour epic podcast, which I’m not going to, Fourth of July.
[00:52:38] Chris McChesney: It could be like Lord of the Rings.
[00:52:40] Brad Johnson: Yeah. We’ll just put it up into chunks or something. So, I think what I found in sales organizations, the easy part of a lead measure for salespeople, I mean, it’s like, okay, well logically it makes sense. If I have more first appointments of qualified people, I’ll do more business. Like, logically, everybody gets that. I think the hard part is now flipped over to the upside. So, the people filling out the paperwork for new business, the people, you know, running the marketing programs, do you have some examples that are kind of, hey, what lead measures for success over there might be some things that financial advisors could think about out there?
[00:53:16] Chris McChesney: So, I’m in Australia, and I’m working with brokers for mortgage businesses, and they’ve got sales metrics that look very similar to yours. But they know that there’s a processing component. Once a person starts, right, there’s an operational, there’s a back of the house component. And so, they had to say, “All right. What’s the contribution there?” And they said, “All right,” and the rules are a little different in Australia. If we can get the processing component down to one week, there’s all of this buyer’s remorse component that goes away. There’s other things like, what is the deliverable? It’s like a battle to winning the war. What’s the specific operational deliverable? And in some ways, these are easier because you actually have more control over these. You don’t have someone else’s free will that’s getting in the way of delivering on an operational objective. Sales objectives, customer satisfaction objectives are really brutal. You have to put enormous leverage energy against those.
Cost metrics and operational metrics respond very, very quickly. And so, the speed of checkout example that you gave at Chick-fil-A, what’s the service element? In a hotel, what percentage of profile items that the guest puts in their profile that we actually deliver on? When you say you wanted foam pillows, do you actually get foam pillows? You know, I think about my own financial advisor. There are some operational indicators, when I have a request when I want information. It’s not just relationship. There are some hard-surface components to this thing. And…
[00:54:54] Brad Johnson: You’re bringing a story from the book out because you guys did a ton of work with the Gaylord Opryland, the massive, massive hotel right outside of Nashville. I believe one of theirs was how quickly the, when you checked in the bags, it got to the room, right? It was a big measure for them that led to client satisfaction. Was that one of them?
[00:55:14] Chris McChesney: Yeah. As a matter of fact, I remember the story. They told me. They were in 112 minutes. It was taking people to get the bags delivered to the room. They had tourist buses that were coming and big mountains of luggage were hitting the lobby because these tour buses were coming in. And they said, look, the battle they were trying to move was arrival experience. An arrival experience was a battle to guest satisfaction. But for the bell stand, their wildly important goal was to move luggage delivery time from 112 minutes to 20 minutes. We came back nine months later. They were at 12 minutes. So, I mean, they cut 100 minutes off of this thing. You say, “Well, how did they do that?” They made it to plus one. They had a day job. They made it to plus one. What were the lead measures? Okay, we’re going to walk 50% of the guests with their bags to there. We’re going to identify and mark every single bag that comes through. We’re going to stop playing that game. And those lead measures would change every couple of months. We go after the new lever.
[00:56:18] Brad Johnson: And then how did the lag measure of client satisfaction? How was that impacted?
[00:56:23] Chris McChesney: Okay. So, that was one of 75 little tiny battles leading to a rival experience, problem resolution, can I do this? Yes, food and beverage quality, right? Food and beverage quality, problem resolution, and arrival experience spawned 75 sub-battles. Those three battles moved what they called top box or perfect ratings. They had never been higher than 44% on perfect ratings. Their goal was to get to 51. Nine months later, they were at 61. They went beyond their two sister properties at the time, The Palm and The Texan and this was one of the first really large-scale operations where we’ve seen this work and we realized, okay, you know what, there really is something to this focus thing.
[00:57:09] Brad Johnson: So, that’s such a good analogy. Because if you think about financial services, you know, somebody comes in, they have these problems, so it’s almost like they’re checking into a hotel. And really like the bag is a good analogy for a financial plan but a financial plan is not actually any good until it’s like complete with the financial products that are going to sit inside of it or the asset management that’s going to sit inside of it. That’s like the bag showing up to the room. Right?
[00:57:35] Chris McChesney: Yeah. And it becomes real for me, the client. When I see it up until that point, it’s just part of your sales pitch.
[00:57:43] Brad Johnson: Yes. So, if I was going to take some of the similar concepts that worked for a massive scale hotel that hosts massive events, it’s not that different from an advisor that’s gotten all of these people on the calendar that they’re building financial plans and this stack of bags is piling up on them or financial plans. So, going back to the upside, how do I take somebody? I’m going to put myself in a new business role now in financial security.
[00:58:09] Chris McChesney: Sure. Sure. Sure.
[00:58:10] Brad Johnson: And I’m Sally, the new businessperson. And now I look over and there’s a stack of paperwork this high, you know, like four Bible stacks high. Where does the motivation on the execution come in? And maybe that takes us into three. I don’t know. But how do you take someone that’s now kind of being like, “Okay. Well, we’ve done it this way for five years”. Now, you’re putting these new things on me. Where do you get the motivation factor to get them execute on that?
[00:58:36] Chris McChesney: Yeah. It’s a great question. All right. And we’ve done this wrong so many times, in so many ways for 17 years. That’s why I have a little bit of confidence about what I’m about to tell you. There are many things that that person that you’re about to try and engage has no say over when it comes to the operation, when it comes to the procedures that we use, when it comes to all kinds of stuff. Those are decisions that leaders make. This person doesn’t have. And we are not advocating rule by democracy. But when it comes to these kinds of strategic goals, you have to create involvement because you got to have commitment. And if you don’t have involvement, you don’t have commitment. And I don’t care how convinced you are that you know what the answer was. What you’ve got to do is you’ve got to let them play. We use a principle called veto, but don’t dictate. Let them tell you what they think the target is like describe the problem. Give possible scenarios of what could be meaningful.
Give them options like, “Here’s three, you know, I’m thinking about what we’re trying to do with getting these financial plans to fruition. Here are three ways we could measure it. What do you think? Which is the one that would make the most difference that we could actually win at?” Let them pick. Then when they’ve picked and you’re okay with it, you get to veto, you get to say, “Okay. See why you said that but here’s what it’s not doing to the operation. Try again.” Give it back to them. Don’t do it for them. “Well, I’m not sure what you mean, boss. Just tell me what you want.” No. They got to put their fingerprints on it or it’s not theirs. And like I said, there’s 100 other things they don’t get any say in. Give them a say here. And then when they’ve got the lag measure, help them brainstorm. “What are all of the things that you can measure every week that would get you that? I mean, I know there’s 10 steps to the process, but which are the two steps that you think it happened every week would get us this outcome?”
[01:00:36] Chris McChesney: “Well, boss, one of the steps is yours.” Okay. Because if I don’t get this back, I can’t do the next part. All right. I’ll own that lead measure. Alright. “And then if you’ll get me that by day three, I can get you this by day five.” All right. What we’ve learned is give them options, let them choose. If you just give them a blank sheet of paper, they won’t track with you. Give them options, let them choose and let them dial it in. And that’s just the first stuff of the engagement. That creates something in their mind. There’s two components. That creates something in their mind that looks like a winnable game. But if you as the leader take your eye off of it, it no longer will feel like a high stakes game. It has to feel like a winnable game and it has to feel like a high stakes game. And at no point have you heard me talk about incentives or bonus or anything else. That didn’t show up. You start bonusing, get ready to bonus on everything. Okay? And I’m not saying you can’t make it interesting or put a little cheese out there. That’s not where you go. That’s not what it’s about. Is it a winnable game that they helped identify? And does it matter to you? Are they part of that weekly cadence?
So, I can wrap the disciplines up right here. The discipline two is picking the lead measures. So, now we’ve got leads and lags. Discipline three is creating scoreboard. It’s got to go live. It’s got to go from a target of a lag and a lead to an actual, “Alright, how’s our client list looking? Okay, are we moving our lead measures?” I got to be able to see it in physical form. We have apps that allow you to do that. People use physical scoreboards, and the scoreboard is only as good as the weekly cadence of accountability. And so, that’s the meeting every week, automatically the same time every week. It’s like, it’s got to be a religion. These are not the four good ideas of execution. They’re the four disciplines. And in that meeting, right, not only do you bring the scoreboard back up every single week like the team that you were talking about, Brad, with new appointments, but you got to come up, every member has got to come up with something they’re going to do to move their lead measure that week.
[01:02:35] Chris McChesney: All right. I’m going to create a webinar from training. We’re going to acquire a new prospect list for the Albany area. Something that’s going to fuel. We talked about force against leverage. So, to get to your question, are they involved in the target that’s closest to them? Did they pick the lead measures? Because if they pick them, they’ll tweak them, they’ll work with them until it work. If you pick them, they’ll just tell you, you were wrong, and they don’t work.
[01:02:59] Brad Johnson: Here’s another company initiative that’s being forced down the pipeline base.
[01:03:03] Chris McChesney: Yep. And I’m already busy. I’ve already got it. Give me something else to do. It’s a small thing that’s a huge thing. 80% they don’t have any say in but when it comes to the strategic 20%, you got to let them even if it’s not what you would have picked. If you think it’ll deliver, if you think it’s a winnable game, just land that plane. Let it be there. So, two big ideas behind the four disciplines. Is it a winnable game, number one? Is it a high stakes game at the work level? And if you know those two ideas, you’ll make really good choices with disciplines one, two, three, and four. If you’re thinking about winnable game, high stakes game, you can start to get some results that won’t respond to anything else.
[01:03:47] Brad Johnson: Two thoughts off this. In your work and you’ve now done this for a while with multiple different companies and all kinds of different industries, so let’s go to the Opryland example. You’ve got a bellhop that’s working at a really, really big hotel. Probably. I mean, I’ve been to a lot of nice hotels. You don’t see a lot of bellhops that I would call super engaged. You know, they’re like skipping to go take the bag to your room. So, once you go through this, and they have some say and now you’re engaging Mr. bellhop in, “Hey, your job matters and here’s the end goal of how you’re driving this massive initiative for the company that’s going to get really big results.” Do you see like a light bulb start to come on where people that thought they were just cogs in a machine? Now, they start to like figure out, “Oh, wow, I matter.” Like, how have you seen that play out in some different stories that you’ve seen?
[01:04:43] Chris McChesney: This is a really great question. And I got good news and bad news on this one from our experience. If you ask them, they will play but you won’t see a pop in engagement. So, what I mean by that, if you get their input on discipline one, if you ask them about what the lead measures ought to be, they’ll tell you. It’s like the human mind can’t resist. It’s like a riddle and it’s a riddle around the thing they know more about than you do even though you’re the boss, because you’re in their wheelhouse now. If you make it like a riddle, you got them. I’m talking union environments. We’re not even technically allowed to have these conversations. We can get them. If you have them build a scoreboard, you’ll be shocked at what you get out the back. You’ll get really cool stuff. The day job will still beat it. You’ll think you got more than you got. You’ll come out of the meeting. You’ll have a great scoreboard. They bought in.
Seventy-two hours later, it will be like you never had the conversation. The whirlwind will come back into play and kick your butt and you’ll wonder what the heck did you just do. Seventy-two hours later, it’s all gone. Here’s where the engagement happens, a little like priming the pump. Every week, you bring him back on it. “All right, let’s look at it. All right, we were doing good for two weeks, we just felt it. All right. Let’s make the commitments again.” So, this thing that started is kind of a cool riddle, kind of a cool game. Ah, it starts to go through this lull, where you’re like, “Oh, okay, everybody made a commitment from last week. Let’s go around. Did you get your commitment? You know, I didn’t make that commitment. You made it.” And they realize this is real. This is a high-stakes game. So, winnable game, you can sort of set upfront. High stakes game, you have to win it week after week after week. But it’s their commitments, moving their lead measures, moving their outcomes, but the leader has to maintain the cadence. And pretty soon, not by how you launched it but how you play it.
[01:06:44] Chris McChesney: They start to get the idea that, yeah, there’s a day job but then there’s this other really important thing and it starts to get this flywheel effect. You still don’t have engagement. You got attention. The first time the lead measures starts to move the lag measure, then you have magic. And that’s winning. And I can take you – we’re not the only ones that have done research on this. You go back to the 1960s, a guy by the name of Frederick Herzberg and we found this after we saw the engagement pop. Hey, Brad, we didn’t do any of this to drive engagement. Like seven years ago, we were the pointy end of the Franklin Covey stick. We were the business side of it. We didn’t care about cross-functional collaboration. We didn’t care about engagement. It was results, results, results. And then we started to see engagement as an accidental byproduct. When you go back to the 1960s, Frederick Herzberg has this thing he calls the progress principle.
And he says people will quit you over money, they will quit you over benefits package, they’ll quit if they don’t like the boss, they’ll quit if they don’t have a best friend at work, they’ll quit over a whole bunch of stuff, and that’s not what engages them. Engagement is not the opposite of turnover. Engagement has to do with what Herzberg called the progress principle, which ironically, it’s just a different way of saying, are they winning against something that matters? Is it a winnable game? Is it a high stakes game? We backed into this by accident. You don’t get it right away. You get it when the leads start to move the lag, but, Brad, we’ll prove it. We’ll go to the team, go to the team that’s focused on new appointments. And even if they didn’t have all the disciplines working, ask them when they saw the pop in engagement. Now, I bet you everything, it was when the needle started to move.
[01:08:29] Brad Johnson: Well, it goes back to where we started this conversation of you go home to your spouse, “How today go?” “I was really busy, but it mattered. We got some stuff done today,” right? Because you’re seeing the end result and how what you did spent all the way through.
[01:08:47] Chris McChesney: And if you’re not doing this, it’s only a matter of time before the drudgery kicks in. Why only 5% stay in the business? Because I give you the word. One word starts with an F and it’s okay. The word is futility. And the opposite of a winnable high stakes game is futility. “I can’t see the finish line. I don’t know that this is for me. I don’t know that my personality was really right. This wasn’t really what I was…” I’ll give you all the excuses. “I didn’t have a winnable game.”
[01:09:25] Brad Johnson: Alright. So, I want to hit one other thing that’s a common, common thing I see happen on our side. And one of my favorite books of all time, Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect with basically the principle of nothing’s easy. It’s just consistent work over time, right? And so, back to the fourth principle, accountability. We get all fired up. Here’s this new thing we’re doing and then a month later you don’t do any more meetings or the one I see a lot is lead advisor founder of the firm flies out to a conference. The meeting was supposed to happen Monday but he’s not there or she’s not there. Tell me how 4DX should be handled when kind of CEO or lead guy or gal is not there. What do these meetings look like?
[01:10:09] Chris McChesney: Early on Marriott, the Marriot Marquis was the flagship for Marriott. It’s the most profitable Marriott in the whole world. Bill Marriott himself visits it once a month. The general manager of the Marriott Marquis is Mike Stengel. It’s hard to stay on the hotel, but you started that.
[01:10:25] Brad Johnson: No, this is perfect.
[01:10:26] Chris McChesney: Matter of fact, they got onboard based on what they saw at the Opryland, so the tourists are related. Stengel is the general manager. This is exactly when China hosted the Olympics in Beijing. Stengel and a bunch of friends go to China to go to the Olympics. We didn’t find this out from Mike. We didn’t find this out from the Marriott. There was another person that was with Stengel that we knew, who told us Mike was getting up at 2:30 in the morning in China, to be on the week session calls at the Marquis. Don’t miss the meeting. Okay. First year running the four disciplines, the Marriott Marquis had the highest revenue, profitability, guest satisfaction, and event satisfaction in the 20-year history of the Marquis and it’s not because of the four disciplines. It’s because Mike Stengel sent a very clear message, “This is a high stakes game.” You do not delegate execution. No. You don’t dictate it either. Right? You pull it.
But if the leader can maintain the cadence, and yeah, maybe their operations guy can’t be on all the calls. Maybe it’s a bigger setup. But whoever owns that meeting, you don’t miss. If you’re at a funeral, someone is there in your place, but that sends a message and it’s so more powerful, so much more powerful than anything that you can say. So, if you just anchor those two ideas, you’ll get everything right. Do they believe it’s a winnable game? Am I communicating it’s a high stakes game? And last point on this, the high stakes thing, you don’t think we did not think that something being a high stakes game drove accountability until we started looking at sports. How much engagement is there around the pre-season compared to playoffs? The only difference between preseason and playoffs is accountability. In the pre-season, there is no accountability. It doesn’t matter. And with no accountability comes no engagement.
[01:12:24] Chris McChesney: And in the playoffs, people that are not even sports fans start wearing the merchandise, start following it. And what happens? You lose, you go home. Like there’s this weird, sick part of our brains that we got to amp the drama up just a little bit. And so, when it’s a high stakes game, you get it and particularly if they participate in it, but you set the cadence as the leader.
[01:12:47] Brad Johnson: Well, let’s go back to your sports analogy. I’m assuming most playoff games you’ve been to there was a scoreboard up there tracking the score.
[01:12:55] Chris McChesney: And it wasn’t a coach’s. It wasn’t a coach’s scoreboard.
[01:12:57] Brad Johnson: I think there’s an analogy in the book I think of watching a game without a scoreboard and how it doesn’t matter, right?
[01:12:03] Chris McChesney: Everybody knows the score. And we’re used to scoreboards, but we’re used to coach’s scoreboards. We’re used to the kind of data they hand the coach at halftime with tip balls and assists and turnovers instead of down and just score. Like what do we show the players? So, the scoreboards we’re talking about here, great point, Brad, they’re player’s scoreboard. They’re not coach’s scoreboards.
[01:13:25] Brad Johnson: All right. So, one other thing that I struggled with very, very early, and it’s still something I learned something new every day because I think this is one of the hardest things as a leader because there’s this natural resistance, I want people to like me. And anytime you say the word, accountability, and everybody gets nervous and their skin starts to crawl. So, what I love about the framework, let’s just as we kind of wrap here, because I want you to be able to get back to your family.
[01:13:51] Chris McChesney: Hang on. Good, Brad.
[01:13:52] Brad Johnson: So, as we think about that, the 4DX, if you can go through kind of very high level and quickly, like what does that, what is the cadence of that meeting and then the personal commitments by each team member but then when they don’t follow through on the commitment they made the week before, how is that addressed in the meeting?
[01:14:11] Chris McChesney: I think I got a way to do this. So, Brad, let’s suppose you and I are on this meeting and I’m the leader of the meeting. And by the way, I don’t always have to be the one to conduct. At some point, I want to start passing the ball. I want team members. I want to create peer accountability versus boss accountability, but not at first. At first, I got to send the message. Let’s say everybody gets their commitment done except you, Brad.
[01:14:30] Brad Johnson: Okay.
[01:14:31] Chris McChesney: And everybody’s looking because it’s embarrassing for you. I want to take the heat off of you. I’ve seen enough jerk bosses. I don’t want to be the jerk boss. And so, here’s what I’m tempted to say. What I’m tempted to say to Brad right now, folks is, “Hey, Brad, I know what a crazy week you had last week. And I know what happened with two of those clients. And I know what happened in the whirlwind and it was really heroic. And you know what, Brad, I’m just glad you’re at the meeting. Thank you. You know, go ahead, try for next week. What have you got for next week?” And, “Aww, I think Chris is a cool boss.” Do you know what I just communicated? Low stakes game. I didn’t mean to. But that came through loud and clear. Oh, we’re doing this meeting again. All right. I know, low stakes game, checking a low stakes game, checking the box. Alright, so let me give you a counter type. I don’t have to be a jerk. As a matter of fact, if you’re a jerk, you’ll kill it. But I can care about the person and make it a high stakes game all at the same time. So, everybody misses their commitment and I come back to Brad and I say, “Brad.” I say the same thing almost.
I say, “Brad, I know what happened to you last week. I know what you had to do to save those two accounts but do me a favor. If you get yourself in this situation again, where you’re going to miss one of your commitments, would you give me a call? Give me a couple days’ notice and give me a call and we’ll rally. And, I mean, I know it was a hard week, but we’ll make sure that you can be in this meeting and have your commitment done.” I think that was just as nice. But everybody got, “Geez, this matters to Chris.”
[01:15:58] Brad Johnson: Yeah. And I don’t know if this was from the book or another version of that. I’ve also heard like, “Hey, everybody, we’re a team,” right? And a teammate goes down with an injury, who’s going to step up and basically help? Because guess what, if we’re not executing on this, the team’s not going where we want to go. And so, I’ve heard another version where, “Hey, like, what can the team take off your plate, those two, you know, accounts you’re going to lose? How could the team have stepped in and helped out picked up some slack so you could still have executed on the one thing?
[01:16:31] Chris McChesney: Right. But if we hold on that note of there was a missed commitment.
[01:16:34] Brad Johnson: Yeah.
[01:16:35] Chris McChesney: And we try to help you, your skin’s crawling, man. You’re like, “No, no, no, no, no, no, this was on me. I could have done this. I got distracted. I really appreciate you guys saying this. I can own this. I’ll get those next week. I’ll get those done next week. I’ll give you one more.” Like, “No, I got it. I mean, you guys are being more than fair. This one’s on me.” I heard people, I mean, it’s so funny when people say, “I was up until two in the morning but I was not going to walk into that meeting and not have that commitment done.” That’s what peer accountability sounds like. People, they don’t like disappointing their boss, but they get over it like they really don’t want to disappoint their peers.
[01:17:13] Brad Johnson: Yeah, their peers are the people that are going to give them a hard time at the bar and after work.
[01:17:18] Chris McChesney: You won’t do it. But that doesn’t happen at the front. That is the byproduct. That kind of really healthy, great accountability comes from a very consistent leader. And last thing on this, what does this feel like culturally? We had a day job. I get a day job, just like the advisor down the street has a day job. That’s all the same. What’s different is that in addition to the day job, we’ve always got this other thing. We’ve always got this intense little game we’re playing and sometimes it’s not an operational component. And sometimes it’s on a new part of the market. But in addition to the grind, we’ve always got a game and that doesn’t happen without leadership, and you retain people. It has a much bigger impact on people’s personal lives than you have any idea when they feel they’re winning at work. It blew us away. We were not aware of how much the work influenced the engagement and the quality of people’s lives, giving them something they can win at. The human soul is allergic to futility. You know that. You’ve seen – your business…
[01:18:24] Brad Johnson: Well, it reminds me of this study. It reminds me of a study, and I don’t know exactly where it came from but basically, happiness levels during times of war in countries actually goes up and suicide rates go down because everybody’s purpose for a common cause, right?
[01:18:40] Chris McChesney: I’ve not heard that. It’s very interesting. I’m not surprised, though.
[01:18:43] Brad Johnson: But, yeah, it’s like they’re living through like the worst time but they’re the most engaged because they’re all fighting towards a common good. And the other thing that this really this book unlocked for me, I mean, it helped me become a better leader because now I didn’t feel like the jerk boss. When I was holding people accountable, it was more like, help, help me help you. Right? Help me help you so we all execute this thing together. And then the other thing of when somebody commits to something, letting them set their own deadline, assuming it’s not like I’m going to get that done two years from now, but they’re putting their own reasonable deadlines on so when they aren’t delivering on them, it really was their own thing that they set. It’s like they set their own goal and then they didn’t deliver on it.
[01:19:27] Chris You’re going to be shocked. They will commit to stuff you would have never given them. Most of the time you got to back them off. You got to say, “Hey, it’s really more important that we hit what we say. I mean, I get it. That’s aspirational and that would be way cool. Give me something you know you can deliver.” And, you know, integrity in this stuff is what really matters. The psycho stretch goal I’m not much of a fan of the shoot for the stars, hit the moon. Sorry. We found that that’s not a motivator. Meaningful goals the team can deliver on that make a difference, they’ll hit them and go bio, but integrity around that, that tends to be really more critical.
[01:20:06] Brad Johnson: Yeah. The crazy aggressive goals that just, yeah, they might hit them for a month, but then you’ve got burnout factor going on, and nobody wants that long term. Okay, Chris, so, man, this conversation has exceeded expectations on every level.
[01:20:21] Chris McChesney: Well, right on. Thank you, Brad.
[01:20:22] Brad Johnson: So, I really appreciate it. Are you good to close with a couple philosophical questions, and then we’ll move on to…?
[01:20:28] Chris McChesney: Yeah. Absolutely, man.
[01:20:30] Brad Johnson: Our fourth of July holiday here. Alright, so…
[01:20:34] Chris McChesney: It’s been pretty philosophical.
[01:20:36] Brad Johnson: We have been pretty philosophical. I don’t think we’ve made this too dry. I think people are still listening in here. So, I want to take this more on the personal side. You shared a story, Stephen Covey. It’s kind of cool because, in a form, he was a mentor to you. I mean, I know he was your employer, but you know, riding shotgun with him on these events I’m sure you picked up some things along the way. You have seven children. I have three. So, one of the things that I always try to get out of successful people is there’s a tug on both sides, business and family. What are some of – you’re literally I pulled you away for a little bit from your children and grandchildren. What’s a lesson or two through the years of business that you’ve picked up that have helped you kind of balance those two things, work and family?
[01:21:23] Chris McChesney: I got two thoughts. It’s not enough for a book but they’re pretty good. The first is that great leadership and great parenting have I think two things in common. It’s love and expectations. The Wegman leadership, that amazing grocery store chain in the northeast, Chick-fil-A, Ashton Furniture, there’s organizations where you see, and I’ve gotten to know these leaders, and the vibe that you get is and you get it when you work for them. You don’t just get it as an employee, like the minute you start partnering with them, they treat you like this, like Coleen Wegman is the CEO. She took over for father Danny Wegman and, man, like she talks to you. You think you can do anything like they just believe in you at this weird level that raises expectations. You talk to anybody that had great parents, expectations. Anybody that had a great leader, expectations. And the other thing is they communicate love in really unapologetic ways.
Like, these people, the Wegmans, they’re richer than Midas like they’re privately owned. They’re so profitable. On Christmas Eve, they could be on a private jet to Vale drinking champagne. You know where they are at Christmas Eve? They’re in the cold in the northeast, in a van going store-to-store delivering groceries. It’s hard to talk about that and what are the results they get back?
[01:22:47] Brad Johnson: On Christmas Eve they’re delivering groceries? Is that what you said?
[01:22:50] Chris McChesney: Presents to their employees. They go in from store to store.
[01:22:54] Brad Johnson: Wow.
[01:22:55] Chris McChesney: And they drop off presents to the people that have to work on Christmas Eve. That’s who these people are. And so, yeah, are there high expectations? Yeah. Is there equal amount of love? And I really like that idea. I think the second point is winnable game. I mean, if you have teenagers, because I have a bunch of teenagers, and…
[01:23:15] Brad Johnson: Well, what’s the age breakdown?
[01:23:17] Chris McChesney: Twenty-seven to nine years old.
[01:23:20] Brad Johnson: Oh, boy.
[01:23:21] Chris McChesney: Yeah. We’ve got two married. Two daughters that are married and the rest was single. And if you have teenagers, you have a job. I’ve got five girls and two boys. And the drama will always be there. There will always be something. There’s always going to be the next thing. And that’s the whirlwind. That’s like firefighting. I think the question you got to ask yourself as a parent might be very similar to what we’ve talked about, “Is there something in this child’s life that matters where the kid feels they’re winning?” And almost it doesn’t matter what it is. You know, for us, Sarah struggled on a whole bunch of fronts but her artwork is unbelievable. And we’ve poured energy and resources, and I mean, she could probably be hired as a graphic artist today as an 18-year-old without any formal training but when that started to take hold, all these other elements, social elements, academic elements, other things started to fall into place. And is there somewhere in that kid’s life where they feel like they’re winning?
So, love, expectations, and just invest in somewhere where that kid can feel like, “You know what, there’s something that I do really well,” are huge. And then as a parent of a big family, and it’s funny because my wife and I did with kids what we tell you not to do with goals. There was always just one more.
[01:24:38] Brad Johnson: Yeah. I know what you mean.
[01:24:39] Chris McChesney: But I like one-on-one time with kids just on a side note. So, even though I’ve got a mess of kids, I’m out here with a bunch of family and cousins and everything else. I’m pulling one kid away every time I have to run an errand, every time I do something. I don’t get anywhere with my kids in group form. So, I’m a big believer in one-on-one time. So, I guess there’s a focused principle right there. And what I find is that we call it windshield time, and 10 minutes driving, stuff will start to come out that will not come out in any other setting. And I don’t have to ask him, I don’t have to be clever. I don’t have to be tricky. It just comes out. And I think that’s where the relationships get built. They get built one on one. That’s kind of the parenting angle on all this.
[01:25:20] Brad Johnson: Thank you. That’s awesome. Are you familiar with the guy named Jim Sheils and a book called The Family Board Meeting?
[01:25:26] Chris McChesney: Somebody had mentioned it. I think I’ve heard that one time, but I don’t know that I know what the concept is.
[01:25:32] Brad Johnson: So, basically, it’s your one-on-one time, right, and he basically – the family board meeting is so many times we look at our calendar and it’s got all these meetings on it for business, but it has nothing for family other than maybe the family vacation, we’ve got penciled in or whatever. And so, he just did a quarterly board meeting with each of his kids.
[01:25:52] Chris McChesney: That’s awesome.
[01:25:53] Brad Johnson: Principle number one is one-on-one, no electronics four hours.
[01:25:57] Chris McChesney: Great. Four hours. Yes.
[01:26:00] Brad Johnson: Activity of their choosing. So, I was just curious, because that model’s a lot of that. And that’s not easy to do having seven kids. So, that’s a true commitment on your side.
[01:26:09] Chris McChesney: I took Mariah to Australia with me. And I took Sarah to Japan. So, my illustrator got to go to Tokyo and see a whole bunch of anime and all that stuff. So, these are like big, but the principle is one-on-one.
[01:26:25] Brad Johnson: Yeah.
[01:26:25] Chris McChesney: And just from my own sake, just selfishly, if on a weekend if I can say I can’t get them all but on a given weekend, if I can go, “Okay. You know what, it’s Cambria and Tabitha this weekend.” And I got to tell you, I can just, I don’t know what it does. Just the guilt factor goes down. Everything goes down. I just feel like you know what, I can give myself back to other stuff if I can check that box. There was a great man who said that no success in life will compensate for failure in the family. Like, that’s what we, you know, my dad passed away a year ago, and 89 years old, incredible life, beautiful passing. I mean, if you’re going to go out of this world, he did it right. But he was surrounded by family that just adored him. You know, he’s like everybody else like he wasn’t a perfect person by any stretch, but he contributed so much to the family, that you realize you got a really good perspective on what mattered in that moment. And, yeah, I want that more than the other stuff. I want that.
[01:27:32] Brad Johnson: That’s success. That’s success. I mean, I was at a conference, that Dads Retreat that one of my buddies started because he’s like there’s all these business conferences, but there’s no conference on the job that actually matters the most that’s being a dad and a husband. And one of the guys there, a guy named Mike McCarthy that started GoBundance is kind of his event. He said something that struck home with me, and he said, “The only true legacy any of us will leave behind, yeah, we can build amazing businesses, a lot of money in the bank account, the only true legacy that will outlive us is our children, and how they show up in the world, and how their children show up in the world after them.” And I always took that to heart because if you’re not taking the time, like what you are, somebody else is doing it. They’re doing a one-on-one with somebody else, right? And it’s not you.
[01:28:21] Chris McChesney: You know, one of my mentors was a guy named Mike Weaver, the guy at Weaver popcorn. I went and worked with him for a year. And Mike used to say that when it came to your profession, when it came to your career, and I have the visual, he said it’s like a glass of water. And he said, “The hole you will leave is the same hole you leave when you take your finger out of a glass of water. You’re not going to leave a hole. They’re going to forget you fast.” That’s a brutal thing to say about somebody’s career but he don’t care. He wrote what you think is the bestselling book, if you built an industry, he used to say, and he had a quote for it, and he would just say, “Like taking your finger out of a glass of water.” And it was his way of saying, don’t forget what last and it’s the family. That’s your contribution. That’s kind of a brutal metaphor. But we have a lot of fun with this stuff. We can give ourselves to it but, yeah, philosophically, Brad, those people are what’s going to matter.
[01:29:17] Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, Chris, I almost want to leave it on that but I’ve got one final question. I’m going to let you do your thing. So, obviously, you know the audience here. We dove in, I think, about every different angle we can in the time we have here together. So, if you were going to just take one principle that’s led to your success to this point and just share it with a bunch of financial advisors listening in that they could help them out, what piece of advice or what’s led to your success to this point?
[01:29:43] Chris McChesney: So funny. Okay. So, I got a son coming back from Argentina. He’s been there 18 months on a service mission. He’s a 20-year-old kid. And I’m thinking in my mind, like, what am I going to tell Ben like when he switches gears back into the real world? And it sounds cliché, but you’ve just got to embrace failure. I heard a quote the other day, that successful people fail way more than failures fail. And this execution methodology is really as much about failing as anything. There’s a great TED Talk out there on trial and error by a guy named Tim Harford. He’s my favorite TED Talk. Harford’s a British economist, and this is so poignant. Where success comes from? This is great life irony. And Ben is such a smart kid and people love Ben but Ben doesn’t like failure.
And when something starts to feel like failure, man, he shies away, or he’s played it out, and you’ve got to just embrace it, you’ve got to bathe in it. And a lot of times, it’s the only reason that I’ve done that in my career, I think it’s because of self-delusion, but whatever gets you into failure, man like you’ve got to continue to fail. The success is in there but it’s wrapped in failure. And if Benjamin can get okay with failure, and sometimes it does look futile, and you if you can keep pushing, if he can get okay with that, that kid is going to be amazing. That’s my big one. Just embrace that and be okay like allow yourself to be okay with it. Like, we beat ourselves up over it. If you can just believe that, “No, no, no, no, no. This is part of the process. It’s okay.” I don’t think there’s any other way.
[01:31:34] Brad Johnson: Such good advice. And there’s a book that changed my life as more as a parent probably than business, but it applies to both sides. The book Mindset, Carol Dweck, has it crossed your radar yet?
[01:31:46] Chris McChesney: Yes, it has.
[01:31:48] Brad Johnson: This is the John McEnroe versus the Michael Jordan, right?
[01:31:50] Chris McChesney: Yep. Yep.
[01:31:51] Brad Johnson: And it’s like that was one thing I made a mistake with my kids early on, when Braun was little. He was pretty big and pretty fast and athletic, and he run this little kid’s race or something. I’d be like, “Braun, you’re so fast.” And the thing I took out of mindset is I’m just preparing him for failure down the road because there’s going to be a day where he’s not the fastest. And as soon as he says, “Well, every time I run a race, I’m proving my dad wrong because my dad thinks I’m fast,” he’s going to stop entering races. Right? And so, it was all about, “I love how much effort you’re giving and how you you’re racing those other kids that are really fast, because guess what, if they beat you, you’re getting faster in the race whether you win or not.” And what you just described is that as a parent just playing out 20 years down the road.
[01:32:37] Chris McChesney: Maybe we ought to do more of that with four disciplines, Brad. Maybe we ought to be preparing people for the fact that some lead measures are not going to be influenced but some measures are not going to be predicted, and some targets are not the right target. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard second round of four disciplines where it pays off. Like I didn’t really like first round we were just figuring out what it’s good for. Now, we know what it’s good for like they had to go through a round of failure.
[01:33:02] Brad Johnson: We thought this was the lever. We were grabbing the wrong lever.
[01:33:04] Chris McChesney: We have the wrong lever. Right. Second round magic, we get a lot of that.
[01:33:08] Brad Johnson: Chris, man.
[01:33:09] Chris McChesney: Man, I feel like I made a friend.
[01:33:11] Brad Johnson: You have an open invite so come back anytime you want, man. This has been such an incredible…
[01:33:15] Chris McChesney: Likewise. Anytime you want to get into this more, let me know for sure.
[01:33:20] Brad Johnson: All right. Well, Happy Fourth! Go hang with the family. And appreciate you.
[01:33:26] Chris McChesney: Thanks so much, Brad.
[01:33:27] Brad Johnson: All right.
[01:33:30] Brad Johnson: Thanks for checking out the latest show. On to this week’s featured reviews. This week’s first review comes to us from nealdavid, who says, “Excellent Insights into Advisory Practices. Five stars. This is an exceptional podcast, and worth a listen from the very first episode, through the most recent episode. Brad Johnson does a terrific job organizing the content, inviting impactful guests, and sharing insights relevant to a broad array of financial advisors. It’s the top of my podcast list.” Nealdavid, thanks for the ultra-kind review. And I love the fact you’re going back to some of those early episodes, to give them a listen as even though I was still figuring out exactly what I was doing. How do you actually interview a podcast guests? I didn’t really know in those early days. But there were some absolute rock star guests that were kind enough to sit down with me as I stumbled through those interviews. And it’s just a testament I think to all of you out there. You’ve just got to hop in, do the work, figure it out, iterate, and get uncomfortable along the way. And that’s what’s worked for me so I know it can work for many of you out there. Nealdavid, really appreciate you listening in and don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything myself or my team can do to help you out. We’re here. Just hop on the website. Let’s connect there and happy to help however we can.
The next review comes to us from Ashby Daniels who says, “Great podcast! Five stars. Love listening to Brad’s podcast. I’d recommend that everyone listen to the episode with John Israel, it has changed the direction of remainder of this year and maybe longer! Great stuff!” Ashby, what’s up, my man? Thanks for taking the time to listen in and leave a review. I’m especially honored when I hear a member of the FinTwit community listens to the show and finds value in what we’re putting out there. And I hope you’re still cranking out those thank you cards and doing big things as 2019 comes to a close. Open invite if your travels ever bring you through Kansas. I’d love to connect in person sometime rather than just trade messages out on Twitter.
[01:35:28] Brad Johnson: And for those of you out there on Twitter, make sure to give Ashby a follow, he’s @DanielsAshby, as he’s putting out great content. He’s a great resource in the advisor community. He’s a young guy doing really big things so go connect with him out there. And also, if we haven’t personally connected yet, you can find me @Brad_Johnson. Love to connect out there and take the relationship to a deeper level.
And the last featured review for the week comes to us from user GeekSoapBox who says, “A fellow advisor. Five stars. Brad’s podcast is one of my regular listens because it goes so far beyond the boring ‘I built my $100mm wealth management practice’ that so many other industry podcasts devolve into. Instead, anyone interested in becoming a financial professional gets useful, tangible insight into the mindset of what makes an advisor truly elite. Look no further than recent interviews with James Clear and John Israel. These are genre-busting, mind-changing ways to rethink how you approach every day that inevitably will lead to success if you have the commitment to see it through. Kudos!”
Wow. What an awesome review. If I ever wake up in the morning not in a great mood, I just need to read something like that and get my day started right. So, I appreciate it and I’m glad to hear that many of you blueprint listeners out there find the eclectic mix of guests to be refreshing. And I find that hopefully it’s setting my show apart from the others out there. There are plenty of conferences to go to if you just want to hear financial industry stuff. And one of my favorite parts of the show is keeping it fresh by bringing outside industries and thought leaders into our advisor community. There’s so much to learn from others if we’re just open to it. For those who haven’t caught the James Clear or John Israel episode yet, they’re Episodes 52 and 53 if you want to give them a listen. Absolute, both of them are rock stars in their own regards and both of them I believe I still have books available. So, if you want a copy, hit us up and I’m sure we can take care of you.
[01:37:31] Brad Johnson: And for those of you who 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. It’s actually possible to grow your business and work less. It’s 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. Taking the first step it’s as simple as going out and applying at BradleyJohnson.com/apply. So, that’s all for this week. Thank you for listening in and I will catch you on the next show.
[01:38:27] Brad Johnson: 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.
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