Ep 069

Streamline Replay - Creating Unlimited Growth and Freedom in Your Business AND Life


Brad Johnson & Dave Zoller

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Inside This Episode

Today the tables are turned! This is going to be a slightly different episode, as I’m the one being interviewed. A while back, I had the pleasure of guesting on Dave Zoller’s popular YouTube show, Streamline My Practice – which serves thousands of financial advisors by teaching them how to grow their financial practice.

The episode got a lot of engagement, to which I give full credit to Dave; he’s a great interviewer who prepared some really thoughtful questions. I think our own audience would get a lot of value from hearing this one, so I wanted to re-share it for DBDL listeners.

Oh, and in case you missed it, I actually interviewed Dave on our podcast not too long ago, and that was all about how he’s using YouTube as a marketing funnel that led to $60M of new assets for his firm! So, if you haven’t listened to that one, definitely go back and check out episode 21. In the meantime, enjoy my guest appearance on Dave Zoller’s show!

3 of the biggest insights from Dave Zoller

#1 The #1 characteristic that sets top advisors apart from all the rest.

#2 The 3 types of financial advisors every firm needs – and what McDonald’s can teach you about building a scalable business.

#3 The 4 phases to level up your practice — and an example of an advisor who uses this model to gather $200M+ annually.


  • Character Traits of Top Financial Advisors
  • Run Your Practice Like a McDonald’s Franchise
  • The 3 Types of Financial Advisors
  • The #1 Missing Role in Finance
  • Hiring Tips for Financial Advisors
  • Scaling Your Advisory Firm
  • The Power of Culture & Vision
  • Attracting & Retaining Top Talent
  • From Financial Advisor to Business Owner
  • 4 Phases to Scale Your Advisory Practice
  • Gathering $200M+ of Assets per Year
  • Showing Up for Your Family







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  • The most successful advisors that I’ve crossed paths with in the last 15 years, they’re constantly growing. They’re constantly evolving. Oftentimes, it’s the solo advisor who grinds their way to that $30, $40, $50 million a year mark, and then they can’t evolve to leader and business owner that can empower a team, that can bring on great talent. They cap out because they stopped growing and evolving.” – Brad Johnson

  • Imagine if you went to a McDonald’s, you order a Big Mac and the guy behind the cash register says, hey, just a second, I’ll be right back and walks off to make the Big Mac. You’d be like, what kind of operation are they running here? This isn’t very efficient. Yet, that happens all the time in finance. Any activity that takes a financial advisor away from the ‘cash register’, away from that meeting, is decreasing the revenue to the firm.” – Brad Johnson

  • “There is no manual for being the world’s best husband or the world’s best dad, but I think it starts with intention, and every advisor that I’ve ever talked with that is married, that has kids, or someday hopes to have kids, they all have the intent.” – Brad Johnson

  • “You just try to get people in your life that you can learn from, that are great mentors, that are people that you aspire to be like, and you just ask them.” – Brad Johnson

Dave Zoller: So, Brad, you get to talk to and really coach a lot of different advisors. You’ve done that. You’ve done it for years. Can you think of either character traits or maybe personality traits or actions? Who are the advisors that find success and find the growth that they’re looking for and then versus those who might struggle? Can you think of the differences between the two?

Brad Johnson: Yes. So, here’s what comes to mind, Dave. The first place I would start is mindset. The biggest difference between the advisors that have success and it’s consistent year over year versus, hey, I just had a stellar year and then kind of went back to baseline. It’s a mindset of continuing to grow. One of the things we say at Triad is, and one of the ways we curate our community here who are top achievers by revenue and by volume in the independent financial advisor space, we say we check our egos at the door. No one has ever arrived. We’re all lifelong learners. I don’t care if you’ve got 100 million under management, 500 million under management, a billion, 5 billion. We’re all still growing and learning and on this journey as a human together.

And I remember a lesson, Dave, this has been a number of years back, but I was at an advisor conference and there was an advisor on stage sharing some best practices, and they might have brought in like 5 million of new assets the prior year, which is great. That’s a good number for a lot of advisors. And I looked at the front row, and there was an advisor sitting there, notebook open, just scribbling notes. This advisor had brought in over 300 million the prior year. And they were voraciously taking notes down from an advisor that had done five a fraction of what they had produced the prior year.

And the quote, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, I found that to be so true. And you can learn something from everyone. And I’ve just found the most successful advisors that I’ve crossed paths with the last 15 years, they have that mindset. They’re constantly growing, they’re constantly evolving their ego. And by the way, I’ve seen it work the other way, too, Dave, where the ego grows as the production goes and you know what happens, almost like magic? It’s not a good thing, they’ll hit this ceiling of complexity. Oftentimes, the advisor, it’s the solo advisor that kind of grinds their way to that 30, 40, 50 million a year, and then they can’t evolve to leader and business owner that can empower a team, that can bring on great talent. They cop out. And it’s the most frustrating thing in the world because it’s like they figured out the game. It’s like a video game where they pass one level, but then they can’t figure out the next level, the level you get stuck on. I’ve seen that happen so many times because they stopped growing and evolving. And leadership and building out a culture that attracts great talent, that’s not a natural. You’re not just gifted with that.

And the advisors that continue to grow and evolve and it’s not a big enough dream if it doesn’t require a team. That’s something we say around here a lot. And to build anything of substance, a generational sort of business, you’re going to have to have a story that attracts great talent, and then you’re going to have to learn how to treat them right and keep them around, or it’s always going to come back to you. And that no advisor wants the weight of all of the revenue on their shoulders from my experience. They want to be able to actually go on vacation, unplug with the family. And it’s a beautiful thing when revenue continues to flow in when you’re on vacation. It takes a team to do that.

Dave Zoller: That’s super, super interesting. So, if we think about this, the journey that a lot of advisors go on, which is yes, they’re solo, they’re figuring it out, they’re getting the knowledge, right? They’re studying, they’re getting the letters after their names, and then they’re doing it and growing a business. And then, yeah, they get to this point, everything’s going great. And then there’s that first wall. And if they do nothing about it, it’s almost like, I’m picturing like the line graph going up. And then if they do nothing when they hit this wall, it’s just going to go down.

And it’s those ones at that point or earlier who figure out, how do you know when is the right time? What advice would you give to an advisor? When’s the right time to hire? Who do you hire? How do you get– I talked to advisors who say, I’ve thought about hiring an assistant or virtual assistant, but I just don’t want to pay for that person. What’s the advice for someone who’s at that level?

Brad Johnson: The first quote that comes to mind, by the way, I did not coin this quote, so I’m borrowing it from somebody else. If you don’t have an assistant, you are the assistant. And there’s no disrespect to assistants out there because I mean, Brooke, that’s my EA, she is world-class talent. She’s an executive assistant. She’s on the org chart. She is beside me. And Michael Hyatt, who I’ve done a lot of private coaching with, we were asked, Shawn, my business partner, and I, we’re in a private coaching session. We said, hey, if you had to go back, because he ran Thomas Nelson. So, for those not familiar with him, he ran one of the top 10 book publishing companies in the country, publicly traded, thousand-plus employees, published all of Dave Ramsey’s books, John Maxwell’s books. I mean, these are his personal friends. So, he’s kind of been surrounded by thought leadership his entire career.

He left that to go start Full Focus and grew a team, eight-figure revenue income very quickly, and I think a team of 40 or 50 now. We said, “Who would your first hire be?” Like, without hesitation, he said, “An EA, an executive assistant.” He said, “Because my time is my most valuable asset, and if I don’t have somebody controlling my time and my calendar, I’m not going to be allocating that time wisely.” And so, when, to answer your question, is yesterday, because if you look at how the analogy we use a lot in the coaching at Triad is, you look at other business models and apply lessons from those to the world of finance.

I’ll tell you what, McDonald’s does a hell of a case study, the most successful franchise in the history of franchises. And if you compare a financial advisor, if it was like a McDonald’s, well, back in the day when there had to be a human there to take your order, now you can just do it on the punch screen. But back in the day, the only way McDonald’s made money is if there was a paying customer across the cash register from them. That’s similar to most financial advisors, the only way you’re driving revenue in a financial services firm is if you’ve got a potential prospect with money across the table from you or across the Zoom from you, depending on your model. Well, essentially, at the simplest form, any activity that takes a financial advisor away from the cash register, away from that meeting is decreasing the revenue to the firm at the base level, at the beginner level.

And so, oftentimes, advisors are doing their own paperwork. They’re building their own plans. They’re the janitor. They’re making the coffee in the morning. So, any of those activities, because we all have the finite resource of time that take you out of revenue-producing activities, hurts your firm. And many of the firms we coach, it starts with the founding advisor, the partners that founded the firm. That’s cash register one.

And then the next one is service appointments. So, if you have any amount of success now, you have to withhold promises to clients because now you have a growing book of business. Well, if you look at your calendar and by the way, I’ve seen many advisors, like, “I can’t do an appointment for two weeks.” I’m like, “Well, let’s look at your calendar.” And all it is, is reviews. So, basically, that would be like a McDonald’s where the entire line behind the register is refills, free refills on the cola, right? Because these customers have already paid per se, and now, you just have a line of service work.

And obviously, as a fiduciary, as anybody that runs a great financial services practice, you have to withhold promises or uphold promises, I should say. And so, now, the service advisor model can actually help you because you think about a day, if you’re sitting there doing appointments all day and you’ve got it inbox that hasn’t been answered, if you’ve got voicemail blinking on your phone, you’re actually a horrible service advisor already. So, the fact that you hire a service advisor that can proactively communicate quicker, the client experience elevates. But back to the cash register analogy, now you actually don’t have to leave the cash register as a selling advisor. You can continue to do transactions which drives revenue, which creates cash flow to hire a bigger team. So, now you can have a service advisor, you can have a planning team.

The other thing you think about, imagine if you went to a McDonald’s, you order a Big Mac, and the guy behind the cash register says, “Hey, just a second, I’ll be right back,” and walks off to make the Big Mac, you’d be like, “What kind of operation are they running here? This isn’t very efficient.” Yeah, do it all the time in finance, because that’s the advisor that goes and builds their own plans, and nothing against that. There’s some world class, like, very CFP, CFA designations, but I will say if your goal is to grow revenue and help more people, any activity that takes you away from cash register or meeting hurts the productivity of financial services firm.

So, that’s why many– one of the things we coach on is there’s actually three types of advisors. There’s a selling or relationship advisor. That’s the one managing the cash register. There’s a service advisor, the one loving on and caring on the clients and upholding all the promises and monitoring the financial plan. There’s a planning advisor that might be a little more analytical, kind of think CFA engineer mindset. They’re the one in the back. By the way, if they focus on that, they’re building much more world-class plans than you could ever build being a part-time planning advisor and a full-time selling advisor. So, that’s just a couple. I mean, you can continue to dissect that all throughout the financial services firm, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind, Dave, on the timing of the stuff.

Dave Zoller: Yeah. So, to sum it up, a few of what are they actually going to be doing, calendar, email were two big ones, right? Someone who is replying on your behalf or as the assistant, that seemed like two big things. That takes up a lot of time. Because I’m thinking, like, for the person who was hesitant, who is hesitant, you don’t have to hire a 40-hour per week person. You could find the EA/VA, virtual assistant, that has a few things, right?

Brad Johnson: I heard it put once, Dave, look at the stuff you absolutely dread. Actually, Dan Sullivan, we just talked about in the podcast interview we just did. Dan Sullivan, I love this that I took from him. He said, “What if procrastination was a form of wisdom?” And so, think about your desk and the pile of paperwork that always piles up on the advisor’s desk. Why is that? Because you hate doing it. It’s like, I will do that when it’s the last thing I have to do.

Well, if procrastination was a form of wisdom, look at those things that you dread, that are always the last thing you do. If you could write a check and never do that again the rest of your life, and actually just stop there, you’d be happier. You’d probably show up at home better, you’d have less on your mind. But the truth is, you write a check and never have to do that again. Now that actually frees up time back to the cash register analogy where I can actually see more people. And so, not only do you get rid of the things you don’t like doing, but you free up time to do the things that you love doing and drive more revenue.

And on the EA front, I heard it put one time as well, email is someone else’s to-do list. So, if you come in and all you do is bombarded by emails all day, basically, you’ve dedicated your time each day to doing other people’s to-do list versus your own to-do list. And so, a great EA, inbox management, it’s Brooke’s goal, who’s my EA, that I have five emails or less to answer per day. So, she will literally answer on my behalf. She’ll say, “Hey, Brad’s in a meeting. Do you mind if I hop in and help you out in the meantime?” Nine out of ten people are like, “Heck, yeah, I’m getting faster help here.” One out of ten will be like, “Hey, yeah, just get this to Brad when he has a moment.” So, now, that’s the one you need to personally answer.

So, inbox management, calendaring, Do Business. Do Life., the podcast that we do here, that’s our mission. At Triad, we want to do business and do life. That’s integration, not balance, is the way we view it. She coordinates with my wife, Sarah. So, before I commit to, say we have a client dinner flying in, she is going to check with the home front. Hey, are there any ballgames that night? I got myself in trouble so many times, Dave, where I just overcommit. We’re Enneagram 7s. We’ve got fear of missing out. We want to be at every party. And so, I would overcommit and then I would just feel so guilty because I’m like, oh, now I’m going to either disappoint the person that I already committed to or I’m going to miss a ball game. And I just was constantly torn.

Think of a great EA, it’s air traffic control for business and life and coordinating that, making sure you’re showing up at the right place at the right time. So, inbox management, calendar management, which I mean, those two things right there by themselves could be a full-time job, also bookkeeping. So, you think about, hey, I went out. I need to submit this receipt, list lunch receipt as a business expense, Brooke handles all of that where she’s going to monitor those and get those to the accounting team. So, those are the three real big ones. And by the way, I learned all of that from the guy that wrote the book on it, Michael Hyatt. I borrowed many of his frameworks for that.

Dave Zoller: What is that book?

Brad Johnson: Actually, he wrote a book. I think it’s called, like, Be a World-Class Assistant. He wrote that and then his– I think they’ve actually worked, him and Jim, Jim’s his EA, they’re working on a course. I don’t know if it’ll be live by the time this hits the internet, but I think he’s doing a course on it too. But yeah, he wrote a book, Be a World-Class Assistant, or something like that.

Dave Zoller: Okay, awesome.

Brad Johnson: Oh, one other tip, BELAY, great company. That was how I found Brooke. So, she started out as 20 hours a week. The cool thing is, you can grow into this if this is new to you as an advisor. So, Brooke started out at 20, and then eventually, she’s like, “I need to be at 40.” And then the way BELAY works, it’s almost like a headhunting firm, actually bought her out of her contract. So, it’s a great way to test the concept, get used to the concept. And then if you find the right person where you’ve got that chemistry, you can actually hire them on full time.

And Brooke, I’m here in Lawrence, Kansas, she’s in Atlanta. She’ll see, like, if I’ve got meetings running through lunch, Chipotle will just show up at the door. She’s like, “Hey. So, you had meetings running through lunch, and so, I went ahead and got you Chipotle.” Oh, that’s one other tool. So, there’s a worksheet I got from Michael Hyatt. He calls it an Executive Summary. All it is, is an Excel doc. It’s basically your life on a spreadsheet. So, it’s frequent flier numbers, hotel Marriott numbers. Like, if I’m traveling, where do I want to stay? How do I want to get there? How do I take my coffee? What are the local places that I would order lunch from and exactly how my order would be, my wife’s name, my wife’s birthday, my kids’ names, my kids’ birthdays, anniversaries.

One of his sayings is it’s not lack of intention, It’s lack of execution. It gets you in trouble. And so, Jim and Brooke, on my behalf, like my wife’s 40th birthday is coming up. Big birthday. I literally have been that guy. It’s like, “Oh, shoot, my wife’s birthday tomorrow,” because I’ve been so busy. Now, I have somebody proactively looking out on the family calendar, “Hey, don’t forget your wife’s birthday’s coming up in a month. Have you thought about a birthday present? Where’s her birthday party going to be at? What do you want to do? Where do you want to have it at? Date night? What restaurant do you want to try?” So, it’s just like the work-life integration, really being proactive and looking out in advance in the future, and just making sure you prioritize what you want to prioritize in life.

Dave Zoller: That’s awesome.

Brad Johnson: I think, Dave, the EA role is the number one missing role in all of finance. You look at any Fortune 500 CEO, they all have an executive assistant. You look at any top-performing financial advisor in our space, almost none of them have an executive assistant. I think it’s the number one gap in most financial services firms.

Dave Zoller: Wow. I love the, what you said, BELAY, you recommended them to me. I’m using them as well. And it’s been excellent.

Brad Johnson: Were you able to on the first– was the first hire the one or did you go through a couple before you found the right one?

Dave Zoller: Currently, it’s the one right now.

Brad Johnson: Awesome.

Dave Zoller: It’s only been a few months, but it’s already– and then you figure out stuff that you wouldn’t have thought about unless you actually had someone who was there to support you and to take some of these things off your plate. So, you can’t think of things that they would do now, which I’m sure you can. If you’re listening to this, there’s even more that comes up when you hire somebody.

So, now, let’s go back, okay, solo person hears this, hires the EA or the VA, and they’re doing 20, 10 hours a week, and they’re taking some of these big things on a do not do list, taking over, freeing up time, but then there’s this thing that you got to do, which is people management. Most advisors don’t get into the business to do people management. Some are good at it. I’m horrible at it. And then if you continue to grow, then you’ve got this group of people and you want to make sure everyone’s doing the right thing and things are moving forward and you become almost like a project manager. If you were solo, and now you’ve got a group, and then this idea of culture comes into play and all these new things, which for a lot of people, it’s like, well, I didn’t really sign up for that. I want to talk to people and help them with their finances and help them make good financial decisions. How? That’s to me, it seems like a hard transition.

Do you have any advice when it comes to this idea of maybe it’s leadership? Leadership and management, two different things. Maybe it’s making sure everyone’s rowing in the same direction, vision. What’s your advice to someone who is now, they’ve crossed that first barrier and they’re almost still going down because now they’re training people, they’re writing processes and systems? What’s your advice for that person to get to the next level of working with the team?

Brad Johnson: There’s just so many places to go with that. It is a common struggle. It’s the book what got you here won’t get you there. I see it over and over. And it’s super frustrating to a lot of advisors because it’s almost, you hit this ceiling of complexity and you’re not sure how to break through to the next level. So, in simplest form, if you want to scale any business of substance as a successful financial advisor, it flips from a solo player game to a multiplayer game. And the tough part about being a great financial advisor is almost every single advisor I’ve ever met in life started out as a solo game. In fact, most of them got horrible training, kind of thrown in the deep end, and they were the one that didn’t drown. Everybody else in their class, 20, 50, 100, everybody else was like out, they’re washed out of business. They were the one that figured it out. They grinded their way through it. They problem solved their way through it. They were a survivor.

And what’s so tough is the moment you flip over and you have to start empowering a team, it’s so frustrating when the advisor that’s been doing this 10, 15, 20 years has all this knowledge in their brain by the school of hard knocks and they have to slow down. They have to watch somebody blow a couple sails, fall on their face, skin their knees, and not lose their mind and have a calm demeanor about it. It’s like parenting, Dave, right? And if you want your kids to be anything in life, they’re going to have to stumble a few times along the way. They’re going to have to build character. You’re going to have to be patient and you’re going to have to allow that to happen. And so, that’s kind of the first mindset. You have to start with patience and empathy and go back to that time when you were the 20-something-year-old advisor just getting into it and realize, like, they’re not going to come into it with the same skill set that you did 20 years later.

The second thing that comes to mind, you mentioned vision. No one can follow anyone that doesn’t know where they’re going, or if they do, you’re all going to be scattered, running all over the place, and it’s going to be a whirlwind of chaos every day. And so, taking a second, we typically coach on three years, it’s long enough out there that you can make dramatic changes, but it’s not so far out. It’s unattainable. And so, we work and we coach on a three-year vision and really clarifying what that looks like. And if you think about it, like, we were just out in Vegas together, think about the Vegas Strip for those that have been there. You can look out and you can see the Caesars or the kind of notable casinos. And you’re not exactly sure how far down it is, but you know, hey, if I just keep walking in that direction, I’ll get there eventually. That’s a great vision. You don’t have to have the how. You’re going to get there. In fact, a great vision, you shouldn’t have the how. It should be aspirational. It should be, we’re not exactly sure how we’re going to get there, but we’re going to find a way. We’re going to empower a team. We’re going to all work together for the collective goal of the vision.

So, vision alignment, then how do you align the team to execute on that, then execution. Most financial services firms, it’s execute, execute, execute, whirlwind, whirlwind, whirlwind, appointments, appointments, chaos. Oh, shoot, we didn’t hit our goal for this year. Oh, we had five people quit on us. And then they wonder why. Well, nobody knew where they were going. It wasn’t a compelling vision. Like, Elon Musk, the one thing that guy knows how to do, I’m not saying I agree with all of his work practices and his hiring and firing and all that, but I will tell you what the guy knows how to do. He knows how to create a compelling vision. We’re going to Mars. We’re building a rocket that’s reusable. We’re building sustainable transportation with Tesla. He knows how to create a compelling vision and the right people join that. The people that aren’t scared of working 100 hours work, but they are going to get a person to Mars, that’s who’s at SpaceX right now.

And so, it starts there, and then the culture side of it. There’s one other thing, our industry tends to look at the team as an expense versus an investment. And if you look at building a team, like, Dave, if I’m like, man, this guy is pretty good at what he does. He crushes it on YouTube. He’s a pretty intelligent guy. I think he builds great financial plans for his client. Man, I’d love to have Dave on the team. The only way I’m going to get a Dave Zoller is if I have a compelling vision, and then I have a culture that attracts great talent and great humans, and I pay them incredibly well. I have great benefits.

You look at most financial services firms when they’re small, they have no 401(k), they have no match, they have no health care. It’s literally like, look at any baseline business out there. benefits, that should be the minimum, is health care some sort of retirement plan, some sort of match, some sort of vacation package. And then if you want to hire great talent, they’re already working somewhere. They already have a great job. They’re probably getting loved on by their current company because they don’t want to lose them.

And so, you have to look at acquiring great talent. This is one of the things I’ve learned at Triad. We’ve gone from 0 to 60 team members in about two and a half years. I screwed a lot up along the way. But one thing we’ve learned, no different than you need to, if you’re going to acquire clients to your firm, go from prospect to client, you need to have great marketing, and then you need to have a great process that attracts them, that your firm is better than the one they’re at or the one down the street. I see so many advisors that are incredibly gifted at that with their own clients, and then they stuck at that with their own team.

What’s really interesting is many of the same dynamics there actually apply to a team. You need to sell a great team member on. Here’s why our place is better than where you’re at. Here’s the competitive package we’re going to invest into you. Great talent, you should be 10%, 20% above market. If this role is a 50k roll, industry wide, in your marketplace, you’re going to need– by the way, that person that’s already at a firm and already happy, they’re not making a lateral move. Human psychology does not like change.

So, if you’re offering 50k which is exactly what they’re making with the similar benefits package, you are never going to get that individual. If you are now at 60k with a compelling vision, and here’s where we’re going and we want to invest in you and we want a career track, not a job where you can grow once you’re inside of this firm, okay, now that person perks up their head. They’re like, “Oh, 10k pay raise? Oh, I have a career?” Maybe it’s marketing. So, if you look at your business, sorry, I’m just firehose in here, but I’m just giving you my stream of consciousness.

So, the biggest leap is from financial advisor to business owner, you now have to look at it as a business. So, now, I have divisions. I have a marketing division. That’s the before that manufactures the appointments. I have sales, which is the during the conversion process. I have ops which is the after which is following through on the promises we make, the plans we built. So, now, I need who’s– I go from tasks, like, hey, Dave, will you do this? Oh, what should I do? That’s the constraint. If Dave is the advisor in charge, every task has to run through Dave.

If I move into phase 2, which is business owner, now Dave invests in great talent in marketing, sales, ops. Typically, the last division an advisor leaves is sales because they’re the one making the sales. But you might have a director of marketing. Now, I’m going to go from task delegation to I’ve got a person that I’ve empowered to have responsibility over the marketing. We use a framework called 10-80-10. The front 10% is the ideation, which would be, Dave, the founder, meeting with person responsible for marketing. Hey, I’m thinking we might want to do some dinner seminars. Why don’t you look at some local venues that are within 30 minutes of our office and they need to be kind of upper level, wrist crease level. Let’s see what they are and bring those back. Now, you’ve delegated responsibility. They’re doing the middle 80, which is the work. So, front 10% ideation, middle 80% them, empowering them.

Here’s the missing piece for most advisors. Last 10%, quality control. This is why people get scared to delegate because they’re like, I gave them the task, and then they were hosting the next seminar, I don’t know, the buffet, what are this? Golden Canyon, whatever they’re called, Coyote Canyon, because there was no quality control on the back end where you basically checked their work. And so, that last 10 is like, okay, I like these two. Let’s get date set. Okay, cool. And then after a few iterations of that, now it’s just a system and a business. And so, that’s kind of that second phase is moving to business owner, which is empowering and investing in great team and talent and then getting the hell out of their way, honestly. That’s what Ron Carson told me. He said, “Number one thing that’s contributed to my success is I hire great people and I get the hell out of their way.”

Dave Zoller: I love that. That 10-80-10, that’s super helpful. You said advisor and then kind of graduating to business owner. I want to ask about the– do you know any advisors? Do you have any stories of advisors who know the kind of paths to paths they can take, but they don’t want to be the business owner? Do they end up hiring the CEO or do they– is that an option for people? Or do you just stay the solo and you have a small team and that’s good? You know what I mean? Like, what if you don’t want to be a business owner?

Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, there’s a few frameworks out. So, the short answer is yes, Dave. And that’s one of the things that just– that’s why I’ve never gotten tired of this business. There’s so much freedom to build a business that suits you and serves you in the space. Like, look at your story, you’re like, “I started creating YouTube videos.” You came up with a unique marketing funnel that served you and how you wanted to build a firm. And guess what? Some people are like, “I hate doing YouTube videos.” They’re not going to do that.

So, here are the four phases of scale that we coach too. There’s the advisor-in-charge model, which is typically where you start. You’re the solo practitioner surrounded by a bunch of assistants, right? Like, very generalized roles. The second phase is business first or business owner. We now divide the business into an actual business with a marketing division of sales division and ops division. You can now start to hire leaders in each of those divisions, typically, like a director of marketing and director of ops. You mentioned, like, most advisors do not like personnel. Great salespeople tend to have not great follow-through, not great accountability. And so, you have to hire your compliment. Your differences are your strengths in business. So, in Kolbe, that would be a high Follow Thru or most advisors are high Quick Starts if you’re good salespeople. So, you might hire a high attention to detail that handles a lot of the personnel to free up your sales.

The third phase is CEO. And so, phase 1, we delegate tasks. Phase 3, we delegate responsibility. Phase 3, we delegate the thinking to where now kind of a COO level. They’re thinking about the ops. They’re coming and bringing ideas to you. Ideally, they’re a specialist, the track record of doing this before. And so, now, as CEO, and we’ll get to like if you don’t want to be a CEO in a second, CEOs are responsible for vision for the team where we’re headed and inspiration. Like, it’s kind of the Mel Gibson Braveheart scene, where he’s got his face all painted and he’s in front of the group riding the horse. It’s like, that’s a great CEO. It’s like an inspiring vision that people want to follow. COO is more the day-to-day execution.

And then phase 4 is board member where I have shares in the company, but I do not have to show up on a daily basis. And so, where I’ve seen, to your question, where founding advisors can kind of pick their own path, I’ve got an advisor. We’ve got an advisor in Chicago we work with. He’ll bring it. Their firm will bring in north of 200 million this year organically. They’re not buying firms and rolling them up. And so, back to marketing sales ops, most advisors where they leave last is sales because they’re responsible for the revenue, right? They’re meeting with clients. And some founding advisors will bump their minimums to a million, 2 million, 3 million. They’ve got an advisor team that maybe see the lower ones.

But if you want to remove yourself, like Anthony did, the advisor up in Chicago, he actually wanted to rainmake. That was what he loved. He loved the marketing. Similar to what you’re doing right now, Dave, you’re rainmaking through YouTube. You’re generating appointments for a team. That was his unique desire. That was what kind of brought him joy. He’s the TV guy. He’s the YouTube guy. He’s the seminar guy, which, by the way, he’s got a family. His seminar speaking days, he just retrofits his day. He takes the whole morning off. He does breakfast with his kids, he drives them to school because a lot of seminars, he’ll be like, “I’m not missing family dinners. That’s why I don’t do seminars.” He’s like, the most valuable hour, he makes about $40,000 of revenue every time he speaks, every hour because of the ROI of talking with an audience full of qualified people. So, it’s one of the most valuable things he can do on a daily basis. So, he just retrofit his day.

So, we’re on seminar nights, he might hit the spa. He hangs with the kids in the morning, drives them to school. So, he doesn’t have this guilt of like, I’m sacrificing my family to build this business. He just retrofits it and then he looks forward. What could it make possible if you actually looked forward to seminar days? And so, he changed his seminar routine and day, so where are those are some of his favorite days. He loves speaking in front of an audience. He goes and crushes it, and it’s one of the most valuable things he could do to drive revenue to the firm.

And then he’s got a guy named Bryan on his team. All he does, he owns the sales division. So, Anthony is making it rain appointments onto the calendar. Bryan, all he does is he’s their head sales guy. He did north of 100 million. I think it was like 108 million last year of new assets gathered by one individual on the team. Because back to the cash register analogy, all Bryan did was out of the cash register all day. He has no service work, he has no planning, no follow-through. He just sits and connects all day long, every day.

And so, you go from generalist and the advisor-in-charge model to specialist. And what Anthony has developed is a specialist in that role and in many other roles in his firm, which by the way, if you’re going to build and attract a great team and a great culture and great talent, great talent wants a career, not a job. So, hey, inside of our firm, you start here, and then here’s the next step and the next step. And you could, if you do really well, get up to here. And by running this like a business, not like a financial advisor, you actually start to build these career tracks inside of your firm where people are like, “Oh, cool. There’s opportunity there. That sounds like a good opportunity that I’m willing to jump from where I’m at.”

Dave Zoller: Wow, this is exciting. This is great, great stuff, at least for me. Super valuable.

Brad Johnson: Well, hey, back to your YouTube, if it’s only you, cool. Mission accomplished.

Dave Zoller: No, there’s a lot of advisors streamline my practice, they’re going to love this. We’ve got two minutes. Can you summarize in two minutes? You’ve got Do Business. Do Life. Family is above work, right? It’s easy to get burnt out. Especially if you love what you do, it’s easy to work and work and always be thinking about work. How do you focus on your family? How do you be that dad and also be a successful entrepreneur, an advisor? What’s just a framework or idea or tip?

Brad Johnson: Well, first off, I’ve screwed all this up along the way, Dave. So, nobody’s perfect at this, and anybody that says they are is lying to you. There is no manual for being the world’s best husband or the world’s best dad, but I think it starts with intention and almost, I think universally, every advisor that I’ve ever talked with that is married, that has kids, or someday hopes to have kids, they all have the intent. But the intent with that, the way I try to live life is by design, not by default. And back to, I don’t know how you’ll slice and dice this video, but somewhere along the way, we just talked about an EA, what gets calendar gets done.

And so, one of the things we do in my family, there’s actually, I think I’ve heard this story the first time, it’s Sunday school growing up. Maybe you heard it, Dave. It was the parable of where there’s this empty pitcher, and this guy puts these rocks in it. And he says, “Is the pitcher full?” And the kid says, “Yes.” He’s like, “Oh, okay.” And then he takes some sand and he pours it in the pitcher and he says, “How about now?” And the kid, like, kind of double takes and he’s like, “Well, yeah, now, it’s full.” Then he takes some water and he pours it in the pitcher.

And the truth is, a lot of advisors that I’ve seen that get to kind of red line burnout, just lack of balance, the way their calendar works is all of that stuff that’s poured into the calendar is business first. And so, what we do at the Johnson House once a year, my wife and I, it’s around September, November, we sit down with Brooke, my EA. We look out over the coming year and we say, “We put the big rocks in first.” And the big rocks are family. The big rocks are birthdays, scripts, the stuff that matters that is way more important than anything business related. And now, we pour the sand in. The sand could represent the business calendar. And that works around the big rocks. We don’t do the sand first and then try to jam big rocks in. And that’s one of the things I’ve seen a lot of advisors, they try to cram the big rocks in after the business is on the calendar. It just doesn’t work.

And so, I think it just starts with intention. It starts with screwing a few things up and you create systems. I’ve tried to just surround myself with just people that are further down the path than me, guys, like Michael Hyatt, that are super intentional. And what I love, it’s like, he’s told me to, like, Michael, when I said, I don’t mean, like, there’s a point, he has five daughters. He was the CEO of Thomas Nelson. He said, “I was literally on the verge of divorce because my wife sat me down and said, ‘I feel like I’m a single mom.’” And this is a guy that’s such a great human and so intentional. And so, I just know, like, if he’s gone down paths of messing this up, everyone has.

And so, you just try to get people in your life that you can learn from, that are great mentors, that are people that you aspire to be like, and you just ask them. And I found that most of them are really generous humans that just share everything. And so, that’s a few thoughts. That could be a whole day conversation, Dave. But that’s a few thoughts from my side.

Dave Zoller: Oh, it’s so helpful, Brad. Thank you. Thanks for sharing that wisdom. Super helpful. I’m glad you’re in my life. You’re one of those guys that you just mentioned. Yeah, advisors are going to love this. Thanks for being on the show.

Brad Johnson: Hey, likewise, Dave. I’ve learned a lot from you as well. So great to be connected with you. Thanks for all you’re doing out there for advisors to help them level up in business, in life. And yeah, hope this helps a few advisors out there and always down for another conversation, so just let me know.

Dave Zoller: Awesome. Thanks, Brad.


These conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies,
concepts and tools that could be incorporated into the advisory practice, advisors are
responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed is in accordance with
any and all regulatory and compliance responsibilities and obligations.


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