Brad Johnson: Well, Corey, welcome to the Do Business Do Life podcast. This is a little extra special. You decided to one-up all my other guests besides Sean and Kristen, who obviously shot here in person because we’re at Triad headquarters. And you said, “Hey, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right. I’m going to fly in.” So, we just got done with a little business meeting, and here we are in the Triad headquarters lobby, and we’re doing this thing live. So, welcome to the show.
Corey Westphal: Oh, thanks so much. I mean, I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to come see your new offices here, which are fantastic, by the way. You guys are doing it right. And it’s fun to see the growth already. And I can do this over Zoom. I had to come and spend some time with my old friend.
Brad Johnson: This is fun. So, thanks for making the trip out. And I did a little research. We were talking about the Corey-Brad origin story, which I think is all interesting for the listeners. It’s like, “Wait, how did this conversation come to be?” And I printed a little something off the Internet for you here, which we may have to show to the camera here in a second for those listening in or watching in. Will you share the date from that article there, if you don’t mind?
Corey Westphal: Yeah. It’s June 18th, 2015, on Investment News.
Brad Johnson: Do you want to share your side of the story first, or should I share mine, and then you can take over?
Corey Westphal: I’d love for you to start. Why don’t you tell everybody exactly where this came from?
Brad Johnson: Okay. So, before this was a podcast, it was actually a blog. I don’t know if a lot of people know that. So, BradleyJohnson.com because the guy that owns BradJohnson.com still will not return my email. If someone out there knows a Brad Johnson that’s a graphic designer in Oregon, please let him know I’d like to acquire his website. That’s still not being used for what I recall but anyway BradleyJohnson.com was my blog and I remember around this time so it was probably 2013 or ‘14 and I was trying to build a personal brand so that I could connect with advisors and I was like, “Well, what do advisors need to know about?” And one of the things I saw so this was almost a decade ago now was just this massive technology gap. And I was an I.T. major coming out of college before I got into finance. So, I was probably geeked out on it a little bit more than others.
So, I wrote a blog that was something to the effect of seven tech tricks or hacks every advisor should be using. And the original version of this article, so we’ll put a link in the show notes, by the way, for those that want to check out some old-school information here from back in the day. But technology hack number two and here is what it said, “Says my good friend, Corey Westphal, was definitely ahead of the curve when he created Mobile Assistant.” And what’s funny is the original version of this, number two, was Copytalk.
Corey Westphal: Yeah, yeah.
Brad Johnson: And there’s a nice little entrepreneurial story in here that a decade later led to quite the friendship and business partnership but I wrote this and it was, I believe, just on my blog or maybe I posted it somewhere on social. And by the way, I wasn’t getting a lot of comments back then, so I think yours might have been the only comment at the time. And this guy named Corey comments and says, “Hey, if you like Copytalk, you might want to check out Mobile Assistant. Love to connect on…” I think you said like, “I’m the founder, the CEO. Here’s my email or here’s my phone number.” I don’t remember exactly what you put in there but basically, you connected and you read it and you said, “Hey, I might have another option that’s as good or better.”
Corey Westphal: Well, I’ll tell you what, to your credit, you pretty much I remember you put your phone number and there’s a, “Let’s talk,” and I’m pretty sure within a few hours we were on the phone together, which was really cool because my main objective with reaching out to you was we were new to the financial industry from our dictation technology. It was very well known that dictation has been around forever. In the medical side, doctors have been using dictation as a way of quickly documenting patient interactions and doing it in an efficient way. And so, when I started Mobile Assistant 12 years ago, the financial industry was pretty new yet, the idea and the concept behind dictation and how it can help. And so, one of the first things I did was just start looking for people that were talking about technology and talking about specifically dictation in the industry, and I found your article. It was great. And I got a lot out of all the different ideas you had on the technology that you thought was having an impact for advisors. And obviously, dictation caught my eye and noticed that you weren’t talking about us.
So, it was fun to connect with you and kind of get your insight on where was the industry when it came to adoption of dictation. So, I learned a lot from you just being new to the industry, just trying to understand exactly where we were going to fit in.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, what I love was there’s a lesson here. And you were a founder and CEO that was not scared to get down in the trenches. That’s the first lesson. And there was no ego. There was no like, “Hey, I’m too big of a deal to leave a comment in some random dude’s blog.” You know, it’s funny like people are like, “Oh, you do this podcast.” The truth is it’s just I had a $60 mic I bought off Amazon and I tried to get into conversations with interesting people that I could learn from and I hope to serve others. That’s how it came to be. And that was just the precursor to that, which was just, “Hey, there are some advisors. I geek out on this stuff. I’m passionate about this industry. I like to help people.” And that was just an earlier version of that. But one of the last episodes I just had, Kyle Van Pelt runs Milemarker had a stint at Riskalyze. He shared a podcast that actually just for the DBDL insiders, we just texted this out as like a resource last week and it was Airbnb and it was their early story.
And one of the lessons that I’m going to share because you did it in this instance, it was early advice they got when they were scaling and it was Y Combinator. I think the guy that runs it said, “Hey, where are your users at?” And at that time, Airbnb’s users were in New York and I think they were in Silicon Valley. I forget where they were based out of. And this mentor said to them in the early days, he said, “Why are you still here? Go talk to your users. Go figure out how they’re using your product, why they’re using your product, the feedback that could make your product better.” And he basically said, “Do things that don’t scale,” because you can in the early days, and that’s exactly what you did. You said, “Who’s out there using this some form of dictation service? Let me figure out where they’re at and how we can serve them.” And you went to the user.
Corey Westphal: Right. Well, when I think back almost ten years ago, one of the most important things that I think technology companies need to remember is they need to build the tech based on what the end user needs, right? Not building tech that we think will help the advisor community, but getting the advisors to talk about how they utilize the service, what the technology does for them, what the processes that they have and how do we make that better. And I think that that was a great example of I just I wanted to know how our advisors are using dictation right now because I don’t know. So, before we started innovating and coming up with new technology and new ways for advisors to use our service, we first had to start with the question of how are advisors actually using dictation. How are they incorporating it in their practice?
So, taking that information and just trying to learn, you can’t keep yourself in a bubble and just create technology that you know because it’s just this technology, you know it’s going to help everybody. Well, you come to find out like and we’ve got an interesting journey that we’ve been on with our technology innovations that we kind of we learned along the way that it’s not always what you think is going to impact and help advisors. That’s the biggest and most important part of your innovation. Maybe it’s completely different and then until you get that information from the person and the people that are using your service, until you have those conversations, you don’t really know.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, you have to ask, right? And a lot of companies, I think there’s, you know, we’re reading a book at Triad right now, Ego is the Enemy. And Ego means I build a product and I know what they want, and then I sell the customer the product, right? And unfortunately, that’s what a lot of companies, that’s the way they produce their products. And then they wonder why it doesn’t sell. The opposite of that is go to your end user, your audience, your customer, and say, “Hey, we think there’s a need.” Instead of sitting there hacking out 4 hours of notes into a CRM, we think there might be a need where if you could just speak that and then we have it transcribed and delivered, basically get the data from up here in your brain to in a CRM or somewhere where your team uses and it empowers them. We think we have a better way to do that. But what are your thoughts? That’s a whole different conversation.
Corey Westphal: Yeah. One of the biggest innovations that we have had as a company are dictation templates. And dictation templates are a perfect example of that, which is for decades, dictation was you call a dictation hotline using your phone and you speak your notes. It beeps at you. So, you know you’re recording and then you just talk, right? Well, we built the app in 2013 to eliminate the need to just call a hotline. Now, you can interact with the mobile app. We thought that was a really important step in our evolution as a company that it could be something that an advisor would have with him at all times. You’ve got your phone. You’ve got the ability to record your notes using our mobile app, Talk It. But what I wasn’t aware of it was really how difficult dictation can be for some people. Like, Brad, you’ve used dictation for years, right? You’re really good at it. You can hit the record button on our app and talk for 15 minutes and keep yourself structured, organized, on track, and get all the information that you want to convey from your head into that dictation. And it’s going to come back and it’s going to be great. That transcript is going to look really good.
There are a lot of advisors out there that have never used dictation before, and the idea of hitting that button and trying to keep yourself organized and keep yourself on track, a lot of people can’t do that. And it’s a difficult skill. It’s a habit. It’s something that you need to learn. And so, what we found is the idea of having a structure with the process where advisors weren’t just expected to hit record and remember how to dictate everything and just speak. Introducing the dictation templates in 2017 was a huge step for us because it gave us the ability to give stepping stones, if you will, or a guide to our user base to say, “Hey, we don’t expect you just to stay on track and remember everything. We’re going to have templates that are built in now to the process that allows you to hit record but there’s questions on the screen that you can follow. You say the question and answer it.” All of a sudden now, advisors that maybe were a little leery of using dictation because it was a little scary to get started and weren’t sure how to record everything that was important to them, now, the idea of having templates for client reviews, for phone calls that they can have different templates that have different questions, all they need to do then is open the app, go to the template that they want to utilize and say, “Let’s answer it.” It takes away the stress. I think of just really not being alone in the process. Now, we’ve given an easier way of dictating that hasn’t been done before.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. And there’s a lot of directions you can go from there but if I look at one of the biggest frustrations, a lot of founding advisors, where they get stuck is how do I get this knowledge in my brain, for some of them, that’s 10, 20, 30 years of experience, how do I now start to get it out of me where I’m the constraint to where now it can be in some form of written something that can be used to empower a team? And specifically, if you’re listening in out there and you’re an advisor and you’re like many of the advisors I’ve spoken with, you’re at that stage of going from advisor in charge where everything’s on your shoulders, very task-oriented, do this, do that to business owner, which is now you start to dictate to your team the thinking behind marketing, we were just talking about this, Corey, the thinking behind the sales process, operations. All of these are systems and just different aspects of the business.
And one thing I know about most advisors, not all, but most, and I’d say a very high percentage like 80% plus, maybe 90% plus, they’re great at speaking. They do it for a living, whether it’s in client appointments, whether it’s at seminars, TV shows, radio shows, depending on how their business is structured. But if I said, “Hey, advisor, go type these three pages of notes”, that is their version of hell. Right? So, you’re taking a preferred communication and now feeding that. And I do think that was huge because you basically made it more intuitive and easy, which is just pull up an app. It’s basically a voice memo recorder. Record it. Submit. By the way, I’m kind of giving a little bit of a description here for those that aren’t familiar. So, Mobile Assistant, it’s an app. You download it. You would record a voice memo. You’re going to say, “Here’s who it’s to. Here’s the subject line in an email, subject line of an email. And then body of the email, here’s the content.” And the cool thing like what pulled me over is because it’s real humans that are basically looking through and cleaning up the data, I can say bullet one, bullet two, action items, all caps, if I want it to stand out so my team can see it easier. And that was what pulled me over. And that was version about 5 ago.
But now, it’s intuitive to where now it’s on an app and now you’ve got prompts. So, when Corey says “Template”, you’ve got prompts like little Milemarkers along the way of like, “Hey, if this is a first appointment, first name, last name, date of birth,” and that might be the advisor, that might be their team, but an intuitive way to get that information into a CRM or a recap email or lots of different ways that advisors can use it. So, I just love the thinking behind it. And that was an evolution in 2013. Let’s talk about what’s next if we’re ready to go there because one of the things you mentioned, Corey, is we just met with the team internally here at Triad, and I would argue there’s one thing potentially that’s more valuable to an advisor long term than the assets they’re gathering and the plans they’re building for their clients. Remember what we talked about, the one word?
Corey Westphal: Data.
Brad Johnson: Data.
Corey Westphal: Yeah. It’s not just data, it’s clean data, right? I think that’s a big topic that a lot of people are talking about now, especially with the introduction of all this new technology with A.I., with ChatGPT, and how amazing that technology is. The problem is, is that that technology right now is pulling information from everywhere and it’s not utilizing data that you know is precise, you know that it’s accurate, you know that it’s the source of truth. And I think that’s what’s so interesting for the future for us as a company is that the data that we are producing for advisors, it’s been edited by humans so that the accuracy of the data that is delivered back is guaranteed to be almost 100% accurate. It’s going to be interesting to see where Mobile Assistant fits in when it comes to those types of technologies but I know that the importance of the data, of being clean, having it be accurate, that’s what’s going to make those technologies really, really valuable for companies. And to be able to provide data that is accurate and clean to companies looking to utilize that technology, that’s where our seat at the table is, is being that source of truth and having that human component of what we do, that’s what makes us different. That’s why we’re not Siri. That’s why we’re not Dragon.
For any advisors that use dictation, when they first heard you mention dictation, they’re probably like, “I can use an app for that. It’s Siri, it’s free.” The difference and what makes us special as a company is the human component. It’s the human touch that we have over 70 transcriptionists throughout the country. All they do is listen to financial terminology all day and make sure that the transcripts are accurate when they get delivered back. So, having that little human oversight that is behind the scenes that you might not maybe have even known when you started to use in our app, that’s what the secret sauce has always been for us and will continue to be even more important as the accuracy of the data becomes even more to the front of all these technologies that are being utilized.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, let’s talk about as we were talking about this a little while, I’m thinking of like if I’m an advisor out there, yeah, day-to-day data, I know I should be storing it or categorizing it, all of those. But like I think where the rubber hits the road is like real use cases. And if I look at a lot of our clients have done public events for sometimes over a decade plus. And if you look at the general ratios, they’re all a little bit different but I fill a room, half the people say yes to an appointment. So, already half of the people that showed up that had some form of intent go over here into a side room. So, now there’s half that say they’re going to come in to a first. Between 70% to 80% of them actually show up for the first. So, now take that 50% that was left, carve off 20% to 30%, go put those in another side room. So, now we’re down to like what would we be out here? Never do math play, that’s all. But anyway, smaller subset. And at the end of the day, probably one out of every five that shows up becomes a client. So, here’s who became a client, a very small subset of the room. And everybody else in that room expressed some form of interest because they raised their hand and they at least showed up and then they just fell off along the way.
And one of the things we’ve seen is the firms we work with intuitively and purposefully go back and mine the rest of that data. Our industry’s a relationship business and it’s a timing business. Hey, I was retiring three years out, so I just kicked the can a little bit down the road. I procrastinate. I’ll come back and do this when it’s a little closer. And if that advisor is capturing that data and it’s going somewhere into a CRM or somewhere where you can slice and dice data of these people said, “Hey, we’re interested, just not now,” it is amazing the ROI that can come out of the rest of that. The problem is the capturing piece of it, right? Yeah, I know I should but it sucks. It sucks to sit there and type. And so, one of the things that I love with the next update I think we should talk about the open API is if I really oversimplify what you’re allowing offices to do is here’s an easy way to capture data easier. But before, like if they wanted to interface with Salesforce or Redtail, Mobile Assistant, sure could just drop those notes right into their CRM but it had to be a standardized formatting because your description it was pushed to that API.
Going to an open API, now you’re storing then like a data warehouse where it’s tagged properly, first name, last name, date of birth, that sort of stuff. And now you’re actually building an API, an open API where you said software can go access this to where now if I’ve got just all these verbal dictations over five, ten years of my business, now you’re standardizing that where the end user can start to use it how they see fit rather than you having to push it in a certain format. That’s the least nerdy way I know how to describe that. What’s your color commentary on the why behind that or what that makes possible?
Corey Westphal: Yeah. I think it’s really the open API project that we’ve just undertaken is like the next step in our evolution as a company where if you think about where we’ve been and where we’ve gotten to at this point is we’ve gone from hotline to templated dictation process to ATM, which we released in 2021, which allows for the creation of templates that are pushed out to an entire team. So, now you have a way of replicating process. And where that ties in with the open API is up until now, we have all these different integrations with CRMs where we would push that data then, right? And we push it in a way that it just puts it into the notes section for the contact. Very useful, but nothing happens to that data after that. It just gets pushed and there it is. What the open API does is it allows us to segment the information that the advisors are providing us and we can deliver it back in a form that is digestible by the organization or by the team or the advisor team.
And what I mean by that is imagine the data being segmented into a menu and what we’re going to be able to do that, this project, is we’re going to be able to provide that menu to organizations and say, “Here’s your data. We’re not going to push it anywhere. We’re just going to provide you that menu. You as an organization can decide what’s important. You go out and you grab that information and you can put it in every system that you want, whether that’s Salesforce, the CRM, is that a Redtail? Is it a Wealthbox? It won’t make a difference to us as a company anymore that we need to push it somewhere specific. The organization can put it where they want it, and I think that it opens up a tremendous amount of opportunity where you mentioned those opportunities that get lost, right, from just information that either doesn’t get to the CRM or it’s put in an unstructured way where it’s just a big paragraph of information. Being able to have that data segmented so that an organization can identify those opportunities by grabbing that data that’s in that specific location, every advisor that uses us and uses that specific template, it’s a crazy amount of opportunity I think that will not only increase opportunities, but it’s going to increase efficiencies like we’ve never seen before.
So, that’s what’s so exciting to me about this next evolution of us as a company where we can provide the data in meaningful ways for organizations to customize it the way that they really need it, and they want to consume the data.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I actually skipped a step in there. Back to the templates, we talk a lot about automations around here and it’s all in the context of we try to get out of weird like data scientist world because most advisors, you start to talk and we’re at risk right now. We’re tiptoeing in the deep end where advisors are starting to glaze over a little bit potentially. But if you talk about opportunity to an advisor and ROI and getting more dollars out of that same marketing spend you did three or four or five years ago, “Hey, Mr. Advisor, Mrs. Advisor, what would it look like if that seminar mail or email back in 2018 if it was still producing results today?” Now, most advisors here start to perk up. Well, if data is properly captured, it can create dividends years later. And for example, if you tagged, “Hey, they decided to not move forward after the first visit. Their retirement date is not for another three years. They appreciated the information and they said to stay in touch.” Now, imagine if in that data warehouse we’re talking about, everything’s archived and you might have a little tag that says, “Projected retirement date,” and you run a query. We’re talking about AI, and that’s coming regardless of whether or not you embrace it or not, it’s coming.
And ChatGPT, it’s scrubbing the Internet, but future AI, you can just unleash it, you could say, “Future ChatGPT, search my data. Give me a list of the hundred. Give me a list of anybody that’s going to retire in the next 12 to 24 months and list.” And those are your ideal prospects that are primed to come back to a future event or come in for a coffee depending on how that…
Corey Westphal: And I’m not going to get into this too much because to your point, I don’t want to get too in the weeds with the tech and where it’s going with the AI but the amount of data that we are sitting on that our advisors that have used us for years, I know that there’s going to be a day that we’re going to be able to go to our advisor community that uses Mobile Assistant and say, “Hey, if you use this for five years, how about we provide you a report on all of the data that you have that we have stored. It’s your data.” It’s not our data, right? It’s their client information but be able to provide opportunities that we can’t tell right now because we don’t have any kind of reporting that comes out of it. I think there are some tremendous applications in the future that will be able to utilize the data that we have just securely kept under lock and key for our clients and our advisor clients over these years that be able to leverage that data in a way that can provide some benefit to the advisors is a whole new territory that is going to be an exciting new world for us.
But prior to that, like when you were talking about advisors, like, why should they care? Why should they care about the data? And it is the opportunities for sure but one of the things that I’ve talked about for years is an interesting stat, which is it’s called the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve. Two-thirds of your short-term memory is gone after an hour. After one hour. And so, when you sit down with a client or prospect and you have this great client interaction, you leave that interaction, you go to another one, or maybe you go to your kid’s ball game or you have something else, everybody’s busy. Everybody has to get somewhere else. Having an easy way of within 5 minutes after that meeting, opening up the Talk It app, capturing the information, talking about everything that we just interacted with in that client meeting that we just had, the amount of information that you can save all that information, that’s where the opportunities are. And I think that’s where advisors get so busy sometimes that they forget that, “Hey, it does pay off to designate some time to make sure you don’t lose all that important information that you just got done gathering and it’s all in your brain.”
You have to have an easy way to get that information out of there so that that way you can go on to that next client meeting and know that accurately, all that data, it’s going to come back to me. I’m going to have it in a few hours or I’m going to have it the next day. And so, I think that’s an important aspect of just what we do for the advisor community that is, I am really proud of the fact that we give the peace of mind to advisors that, hey, Mobile Assistant’s got it. We’re going to take care of that data and make sure you get it back and you didn’t lose any of it.
Brad Johnson: I love that point, Corey, and I personally have experienced that. I remember there was a time and hopefully… Well, I hope advisors don’t relate to this, but they probably will. I remember I’d have like five coaching calls in the day and all done virtually via Zoom. And I would go home with a stack of sticky notes. I remember my team would laugh at me because I’d have sticky notes just piled up, right? And my process was, because I was back-to-back-to-back for the day I’d just scribble my notes, and then there would be action items that the team would need to follow up on or it needed to go into the CRM, and I would just dictate on my drive home. And the truth is, like some days I’d be so busy or a phone call would come in, those sticky notes wouldn’t get dictated until the second day or maybe the third day. And I remember it’d just be like, “Wait, was that detail from that call or was that the other call?” because they would start to blend together, right?
And complete aside. I’m going to give a little shout-out to some Triad members here. So, Tim, Nick, Brennan, Donald, we literally just did a call and we talked about structuring a calendar. I’m just bringing it up because what you said is so accurate. But if you’re an advisor out there that just really struggles and has a tough time, you need to retrofit your calendar where it allows for gaps. And those little buffers in between appointments, the truth is, if I had to write notes, it’d be like a 30-minute project. You probably know the stat. What’s the difference in how fast you can talk…
Corey Westphal: Seven times. You can speak seven times faster than you can type on average.
Brad Johnson: So, if it’s 7X faster, that’s about right, because I typically could dictate everything in like 5 minutes of long dictation, right? So, 7 x 5, 35 minutes. About accurate, right? So, if you’ve got a little 5 to 10-minute buffer and you bake that in, now literally on demand when it’s still fresh, out of my brain, action items to the team, into the CRM, done, on to the next one. Where if I’m sitting there typing, that’s like the mountain of work that never stops growing, and then people just give up. They just, “Oh yeah, I just don’t take notes.” That’s not the answer either.
Corey Westphal: But your point there about the team is what I think has come to light for me as a leader of this company to understand that it’s not just about the advisor because there’s a team behind that advisor that is keeping that machine running and keeping those opportunities coming and keeping that client communication, that client experience the very best they can. That team is incredibly important, the people that are supporting that advisor. What we’re doing is we’re not just getting the information from the advisors like the client meeting details and putting it in for compliance purposes. That’s one aspect of it. But I think one of the huge aspects of what we’re doing is we’re helping the communication from the advisor to get those action items communicated with the team. And by doing that, immediately after the meeting, they’re all waiting. You’ve got a team that are ready to support you as an advisor to get those next meetings scheduled or pull that paperwork that has to be done. And the faster and the more efficient way that you can communicate those action items, the more efficient and the faster you’re going to grow as an advisory firm too.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. The more like to me leadership, we talked about this earlier too. We should have recorded our conversation before the podcast. Leadership is how can I serve you? I think the old school form of boss is top-down almost dictatorship. By the way, if you run one of those organizations in today’s day and age, you’re going to have a tough time getting talent, right? I would say what I have really Triad’s gravitated towards and sounds like Mobile Assistant has as well is really like servant-based leadership of, “Hey, how can I serve you? How can I help? What hurdles can I get out of the way, team, to help you just crush it?” Obviously, you got to all know where you’re going. That’s vision. But I think that is such a good point, Corey. It’s not about you, the advisor. If you make it about you, the advisor, I don’t need to do that. Okay, maybe you don’t but your team sure needs them. We just had one of these the other day is there was an anniversary trip. I don’t remember the exact who it was on there but in that coaching call, it came out, “Oh, anniversary trip. They’re going such and such place.”
Well, that was shared with the team. And as opposed to getting out of a coaching call and now sending off five different emails to five different team members or just drowning the whole company in a blanket email, dictation allows, “Hey, by the way, such and such’s anniversary, we should send them a little fun gift. Here’s where they’re staying.” And Liza on our team crushes it and then I get this raving, “Thank you.” I feel almost guilty a little bit because I’m like, “Yeah, I passed on the information but I had very little to do with the gift.” Like, just the team delivered this incredible client experience because knowledge or communication is power and if that was emails or entering stuff into CRM, the truth is it would have never got done. The intention would have been there but the execution wouldn’t have been. So, it’s just like little things like that. I feel like execution goes on steroids when you create systems like this. And by the way, if you’re listening in, this is not a Mobile Assistant sales pitch. I mean, the truth is I can be passionate about it because I’ve used it for over a decade now, and it’s helped me deliver on a client experience that we continue to try it all.
Corey Westphal: I appreciate that. I mean, the experiences that our customers share, like you just talking about, like what’s working and why it’s why it matters. Why did it impact your client? Those are the kind of stories that are gold for us. We love hearing about them. It helps us to shape what we innovate next because it does. We do look at the impact that we have on the teams and the organizations. And so, I love hearing those stories. And the one thing I’ll just add is like something that I’ve really tried to do as the CEO at this company has been to ask the team in whatever role they’re in, like, how can I help? Because for an advisor that is looking at the process that they have in place with their team, “How often do they do that?” And I think it’s an incredible show of leadership to be able to be humble enough to say, “Hey, I know you’re killing it and you’re so good at what you’re doing. I know you have pain points. I’d love to know more what those are, but more importantly, how can I help?” And my wife, Stephanie, taught me that. Stephanie Westphal is our COO at Mobile Assistant, and she’s been with us for seven years now.
And one of the best things that she did for our company is that she structured one-on-ones so that I could actually get in front of all of these talented people that run the different departments, different business units at our company, and end every one of those one-on-ones with that question. And it made a huge impact because it identified that there actually were things that I could do to help that I didn’t know. I think that’s a great lesson for advisors to just keep that in mind that if you haven’t had those check-ins with your team, you might find out that there are a lot of things you could do to help that you don’t even know about today.
Brad Johnson: So, the question, just to be clear, is how can I help? And then make sure you’re open to the feedback, right? That’s the other thing is, number one, you ask the question and by the way, all of this is stuff I’ve screwed up over the years in leadership is you grow and you learn. But if you say, “How can I help?” and then they’re like, “Well, actually this one thing you do kind of sucks for my role.” Immediately defend, “Well, this is why we do it.” Guess what? They’re never going to share again. So, how was that on your side, Corey, where you’re like, “How can I help?” And then let’s say you heard something that wasn’t necessarily fun to hear. How, as a leader, did you need to lean into that?
Corey Westphal: Yeah, just by asking more questions because there could be a process that’s in place that maybe I helped to coordinate at some point over the years that I think is working. I think it’s working well because I don’t hear about it, right? If I get feedback that something is maybe not working as efficient as it could be, that’s hard to hear. I want to take the approach and think that the processes that we have in place that maybe I was really instrumental in really had an impact and are really helping everybody and making us more efficient. Well, I’ve got to be open as a leader to like maybe there’s not one way to do something, and maybe there are ways of doing things within your company that can be done in a way that wouldn’t be the way I would do it but it’s the way that it will make it more efficient for my team. I think it’s a great point. You’ve got to recognize that you might have, as a leader, you can have great ideas but you also have to make sure that your team is on board with them first of all. But also, amazing how many more different, like when somebody else looks at a process, how many different perspectives can make that process even better if you’re open to it, if you’re open to getting that feedback and implementing different things that you hadn’t thought of.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I forgot where this came from anymore. It’s a podcast, a book. They all blend together but it said, you want to create an organization of like kind people that are willing to disagree with each other. Because if you’ve got disagreements without kind people, that just turns into an argument, right? And if you’ve got kind people that just agree with each other, well, now that’s just a bunch of yes men and women that are all just telling each other how awesome they are. But that combo we just had one of those meetings last week and there’s very passionate people at Triad. Sean and I have tried to surround ourselves with really intelligent people that are far superior at certain levels of expertise than we will ever be. And that’s great unless you don’t listen to them. It doesn’t do you any good to having incredibly brilliant people on your team if you just have a massive ego as a leader and just like think you know it all.
Corey Westphal: Right. And I know this isn’t easy to do in all situations because of nature of like where businesses really have transition to over the years but one of the things that I find incredibly valuable is getting everybody in the room. So, all of your leadership team in the room go around and talk about what’s working, what’s not working, and then prioritizing as a group what’s going to have the biggest, most impactful, like positive impact on the company if we make these changes, if we fix that problem, if we make that better. And I think having that in-person meeting like we just had our leadership team come to Madison, Wisconsin, just a few weeks ago and I forgot how valuable it was to get everybody in the same room in person, talking about all the different things that are important to each individual. I think a lot of times everyone can get so siloed in what they’re focused on and what’s important that they don’t realize that there are things that they’re doing that are impacting this person, like in operations or whatever any other business unit that until you get everybody in the same place to talk about it, you’re like, “Wow, I didn’t know that that was actually having a negative impact on her.
And it really helped us as a company to focus and make sure everyone on the big picture and the goals are what we’re trying to do as a company. Everybody’s moving in the same direction and everybody’s working together to get to those goals but I really appreciate it just having everybody just getting everybody in the room again. And I thought it was incredibly important.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I think the other added benefit of that, you’re making me think of a meeting we had internally here. You actually start to have empathy for others, which I think a lot of organizations might say they do but do they really? I think sometimes the advisor space, trust me, I’ve grown up in it, it’s the, “Hey, we’ve got to do this.” You know, it’s like everything yesterday because there’s a $1 million case on the line or whatever it is. And sometimes you forget, “Hey, the new business here in the corner, they’re completely slammed with a stack of papers this deep that they can barely see from behind.” And until that person’s in the room with the advisor and you start to have empathy for their position, that’s where, and you see this a lot in our space, high turnover where, “I can’t find any good talent.” Well, have you got the people in the room and if have you had a conversation about how we can level up here? And if you haven’t, that might be part of the source.
And trust me, we’ve screwed some of that up along the way, too. You go from zero to close to 60 team members and two and a half years, there’s going to be some growing pains. And I know you all have as you’ve grown and scaled, I remember one time talking to you and you’re like, “Wow, this is tough,” because we’ve got this transcription team and sometimes it’s this much work, sometimes it’s this much. And how do you scale it? And how do you make sure the turnaround is good? Every business has a different version of that. What is a learning on that front? Like how you start to balance cash flow and scaling the team and having the service level you want because that’s like a really, really big deal in your space.
Corey Westphal: That’s a great question. I really look at it as like I’ve learned so much that in how important the infrastructure is that you have before you go out and grow and scale. Just a great example like from this last meeting we had with everyone in person is that I can get a little focused, a little ultra-focused on the client experience and I can sometimes because it’s exciting stuff. That’s what we’re in it, right? It’s the bringing out, bringing in like templates to life and bringing the new open API for clients. And I can get a little bit laser-focused on making our company better from that aspect so that the client experience is just even better and I sometimes can lose focus on like, well, that’s all great, but what are you going to do when you double in size as a company over the next two years? Do you have the team in place to be able to handle that kind of growth and not just the team but the infrastructure from a technology standpoint?
So, what it brought to light for me is that we had to be able to handle the kind of growth that we’re projecting from an infrastructure with our internal IT meaning everything, like all the systems that we have in place that house the dictation to the platform that our transcriptions work on, that all has to be incredibly stable and incredibly powerful enough to be able to handle that kind of growth that we’re trying to do with all of these new client experience introductions that we’re doing. So, I guess, my point is, is like, don’t neglect the internal processes and the internal operations before you look to grow because it can get out of hand very quickly. And I think that that’s where like I’m amazed by the growth of Triad because that is some fast growth. It’s tough to keep everything organized on track. You’ve done this before so like I know that you’ve got a lot of experience, but when you talk about like your growth, the team that you have around you, I know that that’s what makes it work. It’s the people. It always comes down to the people, you know.
Brad Johnson: Well, on that note, like, I feel incredibly blessed and humbled by the amount of talent that has been attracted to Triad. One of them is right here behind us. Henry, shout out to you. You don’t get enough love. So, shout out to Henry that’s getting this on video for us.
Corey Westphal: Nice, Henry. Yes.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. But I’ll tell you one of the learnings, Corey, not to go too far down the rabbit hole but one of the things I’ve seen from a lot of advisors is when they think of growth, they think of more assets under management, more revenue, more annuity premium, depending on their structure. What I’m starting to realize is if they want more premium, more assets under management, more revenue, they should actually be focusing more inward as opposed to outward and looking at the talent on their team, looking at how I acquire great talent, looking at how I keep great talent, build a culture that attracts talent, have compensation structures that are going… Like, the truth is there for the longest time, you’d ask an advisor, what is your benefits package? And they’d be like, “Uhh… I pay them like this many dollars per hour.” And I don’t say that to be mean. I’m just calling it like I see it. The job market out there in the world, it’s like, wait, do you not have health care? Do you not have some sort of 401(k) or match or profit share or something? Because if you don’t, that’s kind of like the base standard level to attract talent.
Otherwise, you’re going to attract talent that doesn’t have a job. That’s just the truth. And you’re like the last stop on, “Hey, it’s either this or be unemployed.” And as you level up your benefits, your package, your culture, and how you acquire and sell, let’s just be honest, you have to sell great talent that your place is better than the place they’re currently at or you’re going to have mediocre to below-average talent. And so, that’s one of the transitions I see happening with a ton of our high growth offices is they’ve always focused outward towards growing client assets and they’re starting to look more inward of how do I develop a world-class culture that attracts great talent? No team was ever built without world-class talent. No. It’s got to be world-class and then they’ve got to work together, right, culture. But anyway, do you have thoughts? Because I know you’ve grown a team. I know you’ve had to scale pretty quickly with the ebb and flow of work.
Corey Westphal: A couple of points there that I would really kind of try to focus on a little bit is that the long-term benefits of adding value as a company to provide your employees 401(k), health plan, paid time off, flexibility with their remote working, those are all things that to your point, those are not just nice-to-haves anymore. If you’re not consciously doing those things and being like really being mindful of things that will add value to your team, like how do you expect to have the top talent or have talent at all? Because there are a lot of companies that are doing that and a lot of companies that offer a lot of benefits these days that because it is such a competitive, ultra-competitive environment. I just think that that’s an incredible investment that I know that we’ve made that investment over the years where we’ve added 401(k), we’ve added health benefits and we’ve done it in an industry that it was a little unheard of. The transcription industry, for years independent contractors paid by line, right? Because that was the cheaper way to do it, didn’t have to pay benefits, could be flexible hours but these transcriptions are making pennies on every line that they type and based on production.
And what we found is a year ago we made a shift where we’re like, “We’re going to shake this up,” and we’re going to shake up the industry because what we’re going to do, we’re going to change that model and we’re going to pay our transcriptions per hour and we’re going to have different quality levels that they have to maintain and production levels. But tell you what, we’re not going to count lines anymore and we’re going to pay them benefits. We’re going to pay them and get a 401(k) in place for our full-time people and our health benefits and the production went through the roof. Isn’t that interesting? No longer being required to have a certain number of lines to be able to meet your quota. For us, in our industry-specific, I know that’s not very like super relatable because the transcription industry is different but that was a huge, huge shift for us this last year. But speaking of culture, it was my second point that I wanted to hit on is a great example.
Shout out to Brian McLaughlin at Redtail. I have seen them grow from a company that he created in the garage to a company with hundreds of employees that were all raving fans. And I remember talking to him over the years about how he was building that culture because you talk to any Redtail employee, it was like they were talking about family when they were talking about the company that they work with and they work for. I just thought that was amazing. So, I have tried to incorporate things that I’ve seen them do over the years. And honestly, it did come down to what are you doing for benefits and are you being overgenerous with your employee match for the 401(k)s, things like that. I think that you can learn a lot from companies that when you meet their employees because we interacted with the Redtail employees a lot over the years because they’ve been such an incredible partner of ours, over a third of our total customer base, our Redtail integration users with Mobile Assistant. That says a lot about the partnership, but the interaction we had with the Redtail employees over the years, they all just talked about, it wasn’t work for them. They were all working towards a common goal of just being the best CRM.
And so, I think that that’s just a great example of in the financial industry, the companies that really set out to make that culture unique and make it a really positive culture, it comes back twofold because they didn’t have the turnover with their employees that a lot of companies in our space did. And that’s why. Right? Those employees were raving fans. They created raving fans of their employees. That’s pretty special.
Brad Johnson: One of my favorite questions on that front that just like cuts through all of the BS, would you want to work for you?
Corey Westphal: Oh, that’s a great question.
Brad Johnson: You just flip it and it’s like if the answer is no, there’s probably a lot of things that are missing. And to me, there’s the financial package that we’re focused on. I’m going to guess and maybe you’ve got some examples. What does, if you say it’s like family, families have rituals and get-togethers. They break bread. They maybe have some happy hours. Are there any things out of that playbook that you’ve seen that led to that sort of culture?
Corey Westphal: Oh, absolutely. And like even in the hardest of times during the pandemic, when all their employees had to be at home, they had built this beautiful office in Sacramento and it had an amazing cafe where everything was provided to the employees. They had rooms where they could play ping pong and pool and stuff like that. Well, that all went away. And in order for them to maintain that type of family-like culture, all of a sudden every Wednesday, they had a trivia night that was on Zoom. They were like you go and see like the people on this thing, and they would do things like that to just go above and beyond to find ways to stay connected as a company. I think that that’s incredibly important to just come up with different ways of interacting with your employees and not just interacting with your employees, but like how do they interact together, like what’s the culture like? Because that’s where the culture builds is not from just the leadership. It’s from the people that are working together on a daily basis.
I guarantee like one of the coolest things, I won’t let the cat out of the bag, but one of the coolest things that I saw in one of your offices was a project you have coming up. And it’s all about the employees at Triad and it’s something special you’re doing for them. Those are the type of things that make a huge difference because it brings everybody together. So, I’m just walking around this office. I’ve seen so many examples of that, that hats off to you because you guys obviously you have that. And when you go around and look and like I’m looking right now to Triad’s promise, which is on your wall, which is just a bunch of quotes from employees, that’s amazing that talks about what’s important, like, where do you think we should go as a company? Very cool.
Brad Johnson: So, Corey, you mentioned the Triad promise. Actually, that’s for our Triad members. So, the words up there were actually inspired by Tim Tebow. I don’t know if you know that he came out to our first launch experience out in Nashville.
Corey Westphal: I saw that.
Brad Johnson: Very cool. So, his famous speech, The Promise, we’re like, “You know what? That embodies a lot of what we want our promise to be to our Triad members,” and we call them Triad members versus advisors or agents, because to us, we want to curate the most exclusive community in finance, not just from a production standpoint, but also like growth-minded individuals we want to do business and do life with. And one of those writings there that’s actually, in their words, their champagne moments and champagne moments is when you pop a bottle and celebrate 12 months from now. So, this year we expanded it. We’re actually getting the updated version, but it’s a do-business champagne moment and a do-life champagne moment. So, we had two community members that are both going to drop over 60 pounds as their goal this year.
Corey Westphal: Wow. Well, that’s awesome.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, for me, that’s like, “Great. We doubled your income this year. We helped you build out a team.” But none of that matters if you’re not around to enjoy it. So, I just love that. That’s like that to me is winning on both fronts.
Corey Westphal: And I can imagine there must have been so many that have to do with either family or health. So, including that on the board is pretty special because you can’t have one without the other, right?
Brad Johnson: Yes, exactly. So, Corey, you said something earlier I want to circle back to. And it was you talked about automations and data. And then we started to talk about a little bit about how the founding advisor, one of their biggest frustrations because, by the way, like most advisors I’ve met in this business, it started with them and that was the school of hard knocks, that was door knocking, cold calling. They were the janitor, they were reception, they were the head salesperson, the head of new business person. And all of those characteristics, the grind, the figure it out are great until that business becomes more than just you, and then it becomes the opposite. It almost becomes this frustration. I’ve heard advisors actually say, “I’ve just decided to just cap out because I don’t want to manage or oversee people.” And one of my favorite phrases is, “It’s not a big enough dream if it doesn’t require a team.” And if any advisor out there wants their business to actually outlast them and become a legacy, you know, generational, it has to be built on more than just them.
So, we’ll talk about the technology piece of this, but we were whiteboarding a little earlier about some of the stuff we’re doing, and those that haven’t listened, go to Episode 2 with Shawn Sparks. We talk about the Triad advisor model, and there’s actually three advisor roles where oftentimes most advisors see it as a singular. It’s the head sales guy or a relationship guy, charismatic, can simplify the complex, can get people to move from where they’re at to with you. That’s most founders, by the way from my experience. There’s the service, which is following up on all the promises made and the plans build and making sure that you actually execute on the financial plan or the annual reviews or all of that. And then there’s this other side, which is the planning side actually building the plan more of like the engineer mindset of how the money is allocated to deliver on the needs for that retiree as they go through.
So, with that big build-up, one of the things I’ve seen start to be used and it goes back to the templates is you look at other businesses like McDonald’s. What happens when they get really busy? They open up that second cash register or these days open up the second touch screen, right, because it’s all automated. But let’s go back to when it was primarily a people-based business. Lead cash register, lines too long, which by the way, is like an advisor that has too many review appointments, “Man, I can’t see any new people. I’m too busy seeing all our old clients,” so they want to open up that second cash register. But imagine, this is a true story, a lot of financial services firms that would be like this one selling Big Macs, this one selling whoppers, two different recipes. So, what are some things you’ve learned? You work with some really big organizations that through that process have implemented a first, a second appointment. What are some takeaways of firms that you’ve seen scale that advisor experience that you could share with the audience?
Corey Westphal: Yeah. Well, I think that’s a great point that you have a lot of passionate advisors out there that have started something really special. They have a process in place that works for them that then they go to the next level and they start to scale. They start to bring on new advisors to work with them. And the piece of that whole story there that sometimes doesn’t end very well is that if the advisor that’s leading that story doesn’t have a replicable process, it’s almost impossible to bring on new advisors and have them be successful in the way that you do things. So, one of the things that we just really encourage advisors to think about is how do you rep process and workflow? And for what we do, it’s very simple. It’s the utilization of dictation templates to help drive that process. So, when there are new advisors that come on onboarding and new advisor isn’t as difficult because you can as the founder, you can have templates that are built that has the data and a structure that you know is important.
So, like what information, not just the order, but like what information are you wanting your advisor team to be gathering when they have those client meetings? If you can help drive that conversation for the advisor so they have a method, if you will, of being able to guide them through the process that, “Here, after every annual client review, this is the template that I use that has all the important questions that I need to answer.” So, now that founder isn’t having to have those individual conversations with their team. They can actually communicate what’s important through the use of some technology, like dictation templates that can be pushed out. And so, I just think that the replication of process is something that advisors absolutely need to keep in mind as they’re scaling so that they can keep a handle on that important process that they know works like they’ve got a successful practice. Well, how do you ensure that that’s going to continue with the new advisors that come on that are going to be working with you?
Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, I’m trying to remember the guy’s name. Jordan Belfort was the wolf of Wall Street, right?
Corey Westphal: Yes.
Brad Johnson: Okay. So, before advisors out there are like, “Uh-oh, where is this going?” I do not endorse the ethics that he ran his business with, but I think most people would say the guy was a hell of a sales guy. And by sheer randomness, I was in Mexico. I’m going to circle back to your point here. Jordan Belfort supports it, by the way. I was in Mexico at an all-inclusive resort and I look at this flier and it’s like, “Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street, will be leading a sales training at the…” and it was like right in the middle of my stay. So, I go in there and it is a timeshare sales training in Mexico. I was like the only white dude in the room. And he literally was going through his sales principles and one of them is straight-line sales. But what he talked about that you just reinforced is the best salespeople in the world follow a structured process, scripted. They don’t just go up and wing it. And most of financial services, unfortunately, where I see the founder get super frustrated because he’s got the marketing spend, he’s manufacturing appointments, he brings in the new advisor, and all of a sudden they’ve got whatever and haven’t closed a deal or brought on a client or whatever your verbiage is inside of your firm and they get really frustrated. But when you ask them like, “Well, what’s your process? What did you train them to follow?” It’s like they spent a day or they had them shadow for a week and then they throw them in the deep end.
And Jordan Belfort, I remember like specifically you remember the scene out of Braveheart where Mel Gibson parades around like the famous scene, right? Right before he gets the ragtag bunch to go fight the big army and they’re outnumbered. And it’s this super inspiring scene. We should throw this in the show notes, by the way.
Corey Westphal: Yeah, we should.
Brad Johnson: He goes, “Do you think the director went up to Mel Gibson right before that scene, face all painted up and everything, and just said, ‘Hey, we’re not sure what you’re going to say, but go inspire the hell out of them?’ No. He had a script.” And so, this argument that like scripting takes the personalization or whatever, it’s like, no, it gives you something to follow. And then great advisors are great at building relationships, which means, yes, they might go slightly off script or ask a follow-up question or things like that. But if there is no script whatsoever to follow at all, then you’ve built a firm based on your personality and it’s not going to scale much more than you. Right? And so, to your point, I don’t care if it’s Mobile Assistant and that template to follow or an actual old school script or a fact finder with key terms to follow, if you do not have that inside of your firm and you’re an advisor and you want it to be bigger than you, you’re missing some of the ingredients to make it happen.
Corey Westphal: Yeah. That’s so great. And advisors want representatives of their company tell their story. What story doesn’t have a script? And I think that’s exactly what you’re talking about is actually giving that guidance to everyone at your firm, not just other advisors, but does your team all follow the same script as far as what’s important to your company? Like, what are the values of your company that you should be talking about every time you have a client interaction? For us, it’s quality, right? And it’s the human touch was the two main aspects of Mobile Assistant that every one of our team are absolutely on board with and our focus that that is that’s what makes us special. And I think having a script for other advisors to follow and other team members, it’s incredibly important. It’s a great way to just have a little litmus test on your culture within your firm is like, does everybody know what your script is? What’s important to you? What are you projecting out there in the world that makes you different as an advisory firm compared to the one that’s down the street?
Like, why should anybody care or why should anybody trust you versus some other advisor? It’s a great thing to go through just to have that conversation and talk about your script. I mean, what a great team-building exercise to get together and say, “Hey, we’re going to talk about our script today,” and you’ll probably get a little bit of head nods like, “What are you talking about?” As soon as you start talking about the way you just did though, every great movie out there has a script that they followed and we’re going to talk about what our script is because what is our story and how we’re telling it.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. That’s a lot of the work we do with Chris Smith, Campfire Effect, Episode 5, I think, if you’re listening and you haven’t checked it out like we believe, that’s our statement. That’s how we lead into. We believe that advisors out there should be able to basically have unlimited growth and freedom in both their business and their life. And if you really boil it down, there’s a lot of other stuff we believe too but at the core, that’s what Do Business Do Life stands for. And from our experience, every advisor we’ve ever met wants that. They want to level up their business. They want to level up their life. And if you can do those together without sacrificing the other, that’s a pretty awesome recipe. So, yeah, couldn’t agree more. Well, we better in this so we can go get some great food since you came in, in person, Corey, that’s the benefit, by the way, for guests. If you’re a future guest of the podcast, if you come in and see me, then we go to dinner afterwards and Mass Street is only a block away in Lawrence.
Corey Westphal: Just promise next time when we do this again, we’ll have some of my dad’s bourbon together. I know today we couldn’t because you’ve got a program that you’re on right now, which is pretty impressive. I don’t know if anybody knows about these. Is it the fast like 75 Hard? It’s pretty awesome. So, it’s a great thing to do for your health. Not so great if you want to enjoy some bourbon on a podcast but we will do it another time.
Brad Johnson: I’ve been impressed with myself because I’ve gone to Vegas for Joel, where we saw each other. I’ve gone to Nashville for a coaching session with Michael Hyatt and our team, and here I am and this is now I have not… This is day 50 of sobriety. And you know what? It’s been pretty interesting. I think one of the things that I’ve always tried to do in life is challenge myself, like do things that feel like they’re going to like push me outside of my comfort zone. And actually shout out to Colin on the team, 23-year-old on our team. He’s awesome, but he’s like, “Hey, I’m doing 75 Hard. Me and a couple of buddies that had committed,” and he’s like, “Do you want to?” And I was like my honest answer as I was thinking through it is, “Not really.” Not drinking for 75 days, drink a gallon of water. There’s a lot of other things. But the truth is it got me out of my comfort zone. And so, I just think that’s always good in life to do that. And I wanted to go, Corey, back to you as we talk about that. You were a college athlete, tennis. You do have the tennis build. I would not want to receive a serve from you, but Northern Illinois, correct?
Corey Westphal: Correct. Yeah. Home of the Huskies.
Brad Johnson: Is that D1?
Corey Westphal: D1.
Brad Johnson: D1 AA or D1 like the big boy D1?
Corey Westphal: D1. We played most of the Big Ten schools when I was there.
Brad Johnson: Nice. You also have a famous alumnus that you mentioned.
Corey Westphal: Oh, yeah. Cindy Crawford is Northern Illinois’ claim to fame. She attended there a few years.
Brad Johnson: Nice. So, let’s go to that as an athlete.
Corey Westphal: Sure.
Brad Johnson: What things did you learn as a college athlete that apply to business today and just get out of your comfort zone that we were just talking about?
Corey Westphal: Yeah. Well, when you were mentioning how like this journey that you’re on with your health, with this Hard 75, you don’t grow as a person like by being comfortable. And I think that that’s something that I learned through athletics and being at that level of tennis. Like, there’s a reason why you push yourself so hard in practice and you push yourself so hard in the gym. You only get better as a person if you’re making yourself uncomfortable and you’re working towards something. And so, for me, like I’m very a goal-driven person and I got that from those experiences with tennis growing up. Like, we were all working towards something. And I think that that translated really well for the role that I have. My role at our company is to push everyone and lead everyone as well as I can towards the common goal of like making the biggest impact for advisors that I can and that we can as a company. And I think athletics is incredibly important. I mean, I think about all the things that athletics does, like for our children that are in athletics and the different lessons that they learn dealing with coaches that they might not like and having practices that are really, really hard. You know, it’s important to get out of the comfort zone and really push yourself.
And so, I’m really incredibly grateful for all the experiences that I’ve had in athletics over the years, the great coaches that I had, the great teammates that I had. And what I’ve tried to do is really translate that into my leadership role at our company is that this is a team. This isn’t the Corey Westphal show. This is me doing everything I can to make everyone else succeed and be as successful as they can. I like to tell people, “Great leaders get the best talent around them. Ask them what they can do to support them, make sure that they’ve got all the tools that they need to be successful, and then get the hell out of the way and let them do their work and let them shine and bring the value that you know that they’re going to bring to the company.” From my perspective, those are some of the traits that I hope that I instill in my kids too.
Brad Johnson: I love that. Ron Carson gave me that same advice, by the way, get very talented people, hire great people, and get the hell out of their way. I think it’s simple, not easy. So, I love that advice. While on the athletics journey, do you have a memory or like maybe a favorite coach that kind of exemplifies this man? This was a moment where Corey, the athlete, grew or was pushed beyond his limits and the lesson you took from that?
Corey Westphal: Yeah. I’m going back a ways now because this isn’t just a few years ago. I’m getting up there but the coach that I had the privilege of being, of having three really great coaches in four years at Northern Illinois but the one that stands out the most is definitely my first coach, Chuck Merzbacher. He’s at Chattanooga now coaching the tennis team there. But he was only with me for a year, a year and a half. He went on to coach at Michigan State. And one of the reasons this will give you an idea of how important this type of an attitude is for someone is that I went and met with him and he saw me play and I had never even been to Northern Illinois. I couldn’t even tell you where it was. I knew it’s in the Chicago area somewhere. But after sitting down and talking to him and hearing how much he expected from me and the reason why he was recruiting me is because he saw so much in my abilities and my attitude that he wanted me to be part of the team.
And so, translate that into business, I think it works exactly the same way. When you find those talented individuals, you make sure you know that the importance of what they do for the team is why you want them to be involved in your company. And so, yeah, shout out Chuck Merzbacher. We haven’t talked in a long time but he had a tremendous impact in everything that I did in business because of that great year and a half that I had with him at Northern Illinois.
Brad Johnson: That’s awesome. So, let’s make sure we’ll get you a little clip for Chuck and you can send him right at the section because I think sometimes as a coach you’re doing your grind and you don’t realize in that moment that little seed of I’m assuming that was 18-year-old Corey Westphal, the senior in high school. I mean, now we’re just old dudes in finance, right? But he lit a little fire under you in that moment. And you bring up a great point. If you look at recruiting great talent, at the college, it’s recruiting. That’s selling. Here’s why I want you at Northern Illinois and not these 50 other schools that are recruiting you or whatever. Guess what? Guess how much that applies to the talent acquisition we just talked about? Like, you have to recruit great talent. That’s how it works. And if your benefits package, if whatever, does not hold the candle to the school down the road, you’re not going to land the great talent. So, I love that. I’ve never really thought about like the recruiting at the college level, how much that applies to business as well. Same playbook really.
Corey Westphal: Yeah. You know, I’m going to try to remember this quote and I might screw it up, but it’s a Winston Churchill quote that my freshman year at Northern Illinois I was really struggling. I was not playing well. I was really, really down on myself questioning whether I should even be there. And I remember going to my little, I remember the little mailboxes you’d have, you know.
Brad Johnson: The little college mailbox?
Corey Westphal: Yeah, the little college mailbox. You know, it’s about 4×4 inches. Open it up and here’s a little handwritten note. All it had on there was the quote, “It’s not the will to succeed or to succeed that counts. It’s the courage to continue.” Like, oh, I screwed that up but it’s a Winston Churchill quote that’s incredible, that what it’s basically getting at is it’s the courage to continue trying even amongst failure when you have those failures that makes the difference in your life. And that stayed with me for the rest of my life. It was one of those moments where reading that made me realize that it was okay, that it’s okay to fail. What’s not okay is to give up. And I think everybody that listens to this, if they just have one takeaway here today, like just remember that, like if you’re having tough times or you’re failing at anything, whether it’s in business or life and you’re not feeling good about where you’re at, it’s okay. It’s the will to keep pushing through it that’s going to make a difference and you’ll get there but you got to keep pushing.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I had a mentor that talked about their seasons in life. There’s winter, which is cold and bleak and everything’s dead but right after that, there’s spring. And so, if you battle through winter, guess what? Spring is coming. And I think it’s a great mindset thing. Anybody that’s done anything in business in life, they’ve all had tough moments. And the question is, what did you do in that tough moment? Did you battle through? The quickest way is sometimes is through versus around. And yeah, it’s good stuff. Well, we better end with a question here. Number one, thank you. You’ve always been a giver, Corey. Whether that was the random bottles of wine that would show up at my house from where is our spot?
Corey Westphal: Del Dotto
Brad Johnson: Yes, Del Dotto, which, by the way, the wine tour for those that go out to Napa.
Corey Westphal: Oh, the cave.
Brad Johnson: Yeah.
Corey Westphal: Cave tours. Yeah.
Brad Johnson: They pour heavily, so do not drive afterwards. So, Del Dotto, I remember like a bottle just showed up at my house and you’re like, “Hey, I know you like wine. This is one of my favorite spots.” You literally just brought down a Spotted Cow.
Corey Westphal: Yeah. It’s the Wisconsin claim to fame. They only sell in Wisconsin. It’s called Spotted Cow made by New Glarus, which is little town right outside of Madison. And it’s a fun one to share.
Brad Johnson: Well, 25 days from now, I will be cracking one. I’ll send you a picture.
Corey Westphal: Although they’ll be aging well.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, I’ll put them in the fridge. That’s all good. So, thanks for doing that. But also, you were kind enough to say, “Hey, if this conversation brings up more questions around like, what are our best practices around automating,” basically, I think it’s wise that you got away from transcription or dictation because the truth is it’s well advanced from the early Mobile Assistant days. To me, it’s what is the most seamless, intuitive way to get data into a system that empowers your team. That’s really what we talked about today and that can be in multiple aspects in the CRM for follow-ups, in the planning side to build world-class financial plans. But you were kind enough and I’m sure we’ll put something in the intro with details to just say, “Hey, I’ll host a private conversation with the DBDL audience to just talk through that.” So, we’ll get all the details but if you’re at the end listening to this and you’re watching or listening in, thanks for always being a giver, that’s like who you are. That’s why we connected from the very get-go.
Corey Westphal: Yeah. Well, I appreciate it. And to your point, just to add on like that conversation that I would love to have with anybody that’s listening is there are specific dictation templates that have been built by organizations and by advisors that work and that we know that work because we’ve seen the impact they’ve had on efficiencies with the teams that have implemented these templates. So, instead of going out and just trying to figure it out themselves, like we have that knowledge that we can share. We can share those templates. We can give some ideas on what kind of templates can have an impact based on the process that the advisors have that’s kind of their own. And so, that’s, I guess the value that I’d like to just be able to add is, hey, you can share with everyone what’s working, if they’re interested in learning more.
Brad Johnson: And it’s a lot easier to do your homework when you’re not starting from scratch.
Corey Westphal: Exactly.
Brad Johnson: So, we call that R&D around here, rip off and duplicate. So, that’s awesome. Thanks for that. Well, as we wrap here, I know you brought at least Tate with you on the road trip.
Corey Westphal: Yes.
Brad Johnson: So, he’s chilling in Kansas City, I think, with the family. I’m hoping I see another burger review soon. But one of the closing questions I like to ask every guest of Do Business Do Life is, how would you define what doing business and doing life is to you? And so, I know you’re a family guy. You’ve got a great crew at home. And so, what are your thoughts around how you do business and do life?
Corey Westphal: Wow. That’s a great question. And I’m going to have to think about it for a minute because it’s for me, business has always been so personal because it hasn’t just been Mobile Assistant to business and then Corey, the personal and my personal life. It’s all been one goal and one big family almost because it has been my life. My life has been this business and it’s been this company. And so, what I’ve really, really tried to do even a little bit more recently is as important is to carve out time where it’s not like you’re not thinking about your work and not thinking about business, but you spend time just focused on your family. Because I think I went through a phase where I felt like it was okay to just be checking in with work at the same time as like having dinner with my family because it was just, well, it’s important. It’s Mobile Assistant, it’s our brand, and it’s so important to this family. I think that that’s an important thing to try to segment time where you’re focused on your kids, focused on your wife, and you take that time. It doesn’t have to be days. It can literally be little segments and pockets of time every day that you just put away everything and everything can wait for half an hour.
I mean, what do you have at work that’s so pressing that you’ve taken away from your family to address it right then? And so, I’m definitely guilty of it still to this day but I’m trying to get better at that of just making sure that I’m present when I’m with my family. And being present means you really do need to let everything else in your life on the business side, let it sit. It’s okay, right? Be present so that your kids don’t look back and say think about you one day that while he was just always thinking about work. Right? And so, I think that would be my one personal experience as far as what I’m trying to do better at as a business owner, as a dad, as a husband. Just be present when you’re with your family.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, hey, number one, great advice, which by the way, nobody does that perfectly. Everybody’s guilty that’s ever done anything in business. Like, it is a constant battle of like, how do I turn off work and begin at home? But one of the things is like you’re doing business and doing life right now, like you road tripped with your son down, right? So, you can actually find some pretty interesting ways you just brought to mind and I wasn’t planning on sharing this, but we’re in the conversation, so let’s do it. I just got back. I took my middle son, Nash, to the Dallas Card Show and one of our Triad members, Keith, took his two boys and it’s literally like sports cards, like 700 tables. And to your point, it was about two days of like father-son time. And we crawl in bed the last night in a little hotel room. We’ve got two queen beds, right, for the two of us. And, Sarah, if you’re listening to this, sorry, 1 a.m. There was no bedtime, right, because there’s trade nights and all like this stuff doesn’t turn off.
And we crawl in bed and my son, Nash, goes, “Dad, I love you.” Just one in the morning, like, just crawls in bed and I’m like, “Dang, that’s what quality time will do.” And no amount of money in the bank account will do that. It’s time and it’s focus time, not distracted time. And I remember like I was like, well, this whole trip was worth it because he felt that love, you know? And that’s exactly what you’re talking about, man. Yeah.
Corey Westphal: Well, thanks for sharing that. That’s amazing. It’s those little moments, right? That it makes all your business, all the work that you put in, it makes it all worth it when you get that kind of interaction. So, yeah, that’s awesome.
Brad Johnson: I wasn’t planning on, like, making myself tear up. I didn’t do that on purpose but this stuff matters. Doing business and doing life, it’s not just the name of a podcast. Like, that’s what I want to deliver on. How can we help advisors out there a level up in business but sure as hell don’t do it at the sacrifice of life. Like, if you double your business and your kids don’t know who you are when they graduate high school, that’s like a bad trade-off. And so, I appreciate you sharing that. I also appreciate the realness of like, dude, this is hard. If it was easy, this podcast wouldn’t need to exist.
Corey Westphal: Right. We’re all figuring it out, you know? And so, yeah, this has been great. I appreciate you having me and I can’t wait to come back and do it again someday.
Brad Johnson: All right, buddy. Well, we will do it again. Thanks, Corey. Appreciate it.