Ep 032

Principles for Scaling Your Advisory Business, Live at Future Proof


Brad Johnson, Kristin Shea & Clayton Alexander

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Inside This Episode

Today, we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of our usual interview, we’re recording the pod LIVE from Future Proof – the world’s largest wealth festival.

If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a 4-day event that brings together top professionals from the wealth management ecosystem to provide insights, workshops, panel discussions, and exclusive networking opportunities, driving growth and innovation in the industry.

And instead of a stuffy conference room, the event happens entirely outdoors, beachside in sunny California, making it a pretty unforgettable experience.

I’m joined on stage with our Chief Product Officer, Kristin Shea, and Triad Member, Clayton Alexander, who is the founder of Teton Wealth Group.

We’re talking all about one of the biggest struggles we see in our industry, the transition from the “advisor in charge” who is constantly grinding, to a business owner and CEO who empowers their team to scale the business.

3 of the biggest insights from Future Proof LIVE

  • #1 Why work-life balance is BS. Find out why you don’t have to sacrifice family to grow your advisory business.

  • #2 Why “comprehensive planning” doesn’t differentiate you from the competition. Learn how to build a purposeful mission and define what you do better than any other advisor, so you can inspire talent to join your team & give prospects a reason to do business with you.

  • #3 The single most important question you can ask that will help you determine the health of your company’s culture.


  • Work-life balance is BS
  • How Clayton replaced himself to scale
  • Build a business that blesses your life
  • What differentiates you from the advisor down the street?
  • Uniting your team through a shared vision
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • Advisors VS. Leaders
  • Building a great company culture




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  • If that vision that we as a team created was anything different than how I really feel at my core like, ‘What is my purpose here?’ then it would be the biggest waste and I would feel like I didn’t know what I was doing on a regular basis. This gives me the ability as a founder to say, ‘I know why I’m doing this. I know exactly why I’m doing the things I’m doing.’” – Clayton Alexander

  • “Leadership is a mountain that you’re climbing and there’s no top. You will never reach the top. You’re just going to keep climbing.” – Clayton Alexander

  • Getting to the next level always requires ending something, leaving it behind and moving on. Growth itself demands that we move on without the ability to end things. People stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.” – Clayton Alexander

Introduction: All right. We are going to kick off our first podcast of the 2023 Future Proof event. I’m hugely excited for this one. I would suggest people come in off the walkway and come here. We’re going to talk not about work-life balance but work-life integration and how you can help power your business to grow. To lead that conversation, it’s Brad Johnson from Triad Advisors, Kristin Shea, and we have Clayton Alexander. I will let them take it away from here. It’s all yours, Brad.

Brad Johnson: Thanks, John.

Unknown: You’re welcome.

Brad Johnson: All right. So, as we kick off this conversation, for those that aren’t familiar with the podcast, really, as Do Business Do Life came to be, one of the things that we noticed was really let’s call it an epidemic in finance was this concept of work-life balance, which we believed to be kind of not really true because if you think about balance, there’s a trade-off, give up this to get that. And many advisors out there really deal with just the tug of war between growing a business and sacrificing family, sacrificing family dinners, kids’ games versus, “Oh, maybe I’ll just focus on a lifestyle practice and not to sacrifice business growth to get that.” And what we found with the proper framework is that’s not necessarily true. So, we talk about the yes/and versus the either/or approach, and really we’re going to focus on that today. And one of the biggest struggles we see in finance is the transition from financial advisor, where it’s really all on you, the founder, and how hard it is to transition to business owner and CEO.

And the analogy I use a lot, it’s almost like you’re playing a video game and you beat one level and it’s really easy, and then all of a sudden you unlock this second level and it gets really hard. And so, we’re going to dive in. And just a quick introduction, we’ve got Clayton Alexander here on the far right. So, he is the CEO and founder of Teton Wealth. And one of the things, just why is he on stage? We have a number of Triad members and one of the things I’ve seen Clayton personally do, he founded his firm in 2019, so about five years ago, left a firm to venture out on his own, four team members. First year, crushed it still, brought in 25 million show of assets organically. But fast forward 2023, this year, up to 20 team members, organically will capture 85 million, but even more impressively, empowered a team, built a culture, and less than half of that production will come from you personally, Clayton. Correct?

Clayton Alexander: Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah.

Brad Johnson: So, we’re going to, and then Kristin Shea, our CPO at Triad Partners. And one of the things we found the gap when it comes to vision and messaging and clarity, it’s really hard for a lot of founders. And so, Kristin is our Chief Product Officer, actually invented a product, helped invent a product on our members’ behalf and we’re going to talk about the launch plan and some of the learnings that came out about what the number of top-performing firms across the country. So, with that being said, I’ve got a little quote here that I thought could set the stage for us. I’m going to read it and then I’m going to get your take, Clayton. So, “Getting to the next level always requires ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on. Growth itself demands that we move on. Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.” And to me, that explains a lot of the transition from financial advisor, the grind, the survival of the fittest, the knock on doors, the grind out appointments, the reviews. But now you get to CEO and business owner and all of a sudden, you can’t do it alone. And tell us about the before and after and the struggles that you face.

Clayton Alexander: I’ve been that advisor that you talked about in the very beginning where it’s working late hours, working long weeks. You’re missing things with the family. You’re missing things with your spouse. And the thought is, “Hey, if I want more, if I want to create more, I’ve got to do more.” That’s not necessarily the truth, right? It’s not working harder. It’s working smarter. One of the things that I loved about the quote that you just shared is the last part of it talks about your talents and your abilities. One of the things that I’ve found that’s been really powerful in my practice is identifying the things that I love to do, identifying the things that I’m good at, and the rest of it, find somebody else that that’s what they love to do. Let them create in that space. Let them grow. Because I’m not built to grow in that way, right? And I had one of my mentors taught me this lesson about as an individual, we can only do so much as an individual, as an individual, as an individual, but the three of us collectively can do more than what each one of us could on our own.

So, defining synergy as one plus one equals three. I think that that principle has really helped that along with identifying what you love to do and focusing on that. That’s what’s really helped us transition from a solo advisor practice, working long hours, to now having a team that really working towards this common vision, this common goal, and enjoying the business and the life side at the same time, not trading one for the other.

Brad Johnson: Love that. And one of the things I know you’ve done a ton of work on, this thing of creating a vision for a business is not a new thing. It’s in just about every business book you ever read. Michael Hyatt is a strategic partner in the community, wrote a book, Vision Driven Leader, on it. And so, I see oftentimes it’s not the lack of knowing it’s important. It’s the lack of getting out of the founder’s, the visionary’s head onto a piece of paper where now a team can join in on that vision and co-create that vision with you. So, with that, I want to pass it to Kristin because one of the things that we’ve seen inside of Triad is helping create a product, helping create a process that can help distill that vision has been really important to a lot of founders. What have been some big ahas or takeaways as we’ve looked at 60 of some of the top-performing firms all across the country?

Kristin Shea: Yeah, So, it’s important before we get into the learnings to just zoom out and talk about what the value of a vision is. So, one of my favorite stories and ways to visualize it would be imagine that you are walking through medieval Europe. You’ve lived there forever, 40 years. There’s this land that has never been touched, of grass for days. And you go there one day on one of your daily walks and you see a group of construction workers. It’s medieval but let’s say they still have bulldozers and stuff like that.

Brad Johnson: This story’s getting interesting already.

Clayton Alexander: I could live in this medieval time.

Kristin Shea: And this is the vision. You see these people building, right? Okay. So, you’re like, “What are they doing here?” You go up to the first construction worker. I guess they probably use the word like foreman or something, say, “What are you guys building here?” The first one looks at you and is like, “Well, isn’t it obvious? I’m laying brick.” And you’re like, “Okay, cool. But what are you doing to this land?” Move to the next person. Next foreman. There are three. “What are you guys doing here?” And he says, “Well, isn’t it obvious?” Kind of same thing, gives you the dumb look, “I’m building a wall.” “Okay, cool. Brick wall for what?” Go to the third foreman. “What are you guys building here?” And he says, “I’m building the most beautiful cathedral in all of Europe.” The difference between those three foremen was not that they… They were all executing on what they thought the task was that they were supposed to be doing but the difference is that the third had a vision.

And if your goal is to build the most beautiful cathedral in Europe or castle that Europe’s ever seen, if your goal is to build a business that blesses your life instead of becomes your life, then the brick and the wall and every step that you take to get there needs to be with that in mind, as opposed to running full steam ahead, looking at your feet, and playing a finite game.

Brad Johnson: I love that. I’m going to kick it back to Clayton here for a sec because we were just talking about this as we were preparing for this conversation. And you’ve always been a visionary. I mean, you had a vision for your firm. That’s why you left your old one to build Teton and what you all are about. But what was the difference as you started to actually really put context to it and share that with the team? And I know a lot of that first played out. We see this very common thing in finance where it’s kind of the rip-off and duplicate. You see something cool on another advisor’s website, “Oh, that’s cool. I’ll add that to mine,” and you kind of copy paste and if you’re doing holistic planning like you do at your firm, asset management, income planning, all of that, and then you kind of slap a name on that process, yours was called the Ascent Plan.

Clayton Alexander: I did that. Yeah. Yeah, I did that.

Brad Johnson: So, tell me what that’s like of kind of like, “Oh, I borrowed somebody else’s. Now I’m kind of pretending that that’s our firm.” And I know we did a lot of messaging around this to change it and actually make it unique and distinct to you. So, give me kind of the before and after snapshot of that.

Clayton Alexander: Sure. So, 2019, break off, start our own firm. You’re just scrambling, right? It’s like you’re trying to do as much as you can and you’re running a million miles an hour and you’re just trying to check off boxes. And so, one of the boxes was like, “Yeah. Proprietary planning process.” You’re looking for ways to make yourself different from the advisor’s office down the street. So, it’s, “Hey, our planning process is the Ascent Plan. It does this, this, this, this, and this. And that’s how we’re different, right?” You get the website up, all that stuff. That’s the very beginning. That’s the rip-off that you’re talking about, where it’s just copy-paste something, “Hey, change this color to blue, change this font to the font of our logo.”

Brad Johnson: Slap my logo on that other person’s brochure.

Clayton Alexander: Let’s run, right? Take that now to from four team members what we started with to now we have 20 team members and enrolling all 20 team members towards what the Ascent Plan actually is. And it’s not just income planning, investment planning, tax planning, health care, and legacy. It’s a belief that people deserve to live a life that they love, people deserve to live a life of purpose, and our purpose is to help other people live into theirs. And getting a group of individuals moving in that direction, that’s what makes you different from the other advisor shop down the street, right? Like, we all have access to the same investment products. We all know how to walk a client through Roth conversions or how to leverage life insurance in their planning. Like, what actually makes you different? Right? And so, in the very beginning, in 2019, yeah, it was the rip-off but over the last four and a half years what it’s turned into is a lot more than that.

Brad Johnson: And the hard part about it, it’s deep work. When you have to put deep thought into why you exist and what you’re about, you can’t just snag it from another website, which is why most offices or firms never do it. Actually, I brought yours up. So, I’m going to message this and if you’re out there listening in, listen to how this hits differently from, “Hey, here’s a logo.” I kind of compare it to it’d be like you start a hamburger shop and you’re like, “Check out McDonald’s website,” and you’re like, “Big Mac, huh? That sounds kind of cool. Let’s just do a Big Mac, too.”

Kristin Shea: Is that what Burger King did?

Brad Johnson: Maybe with the slight variations.

Kristin Shea: They got a chef fired.

Brad Johnson: But that’s the thing that oftentimes unfortunately happens in our space is just copy-paste. But listen to this. So, what we’re known for, at Teton Wealth Group, what we’re known for is helping families ascend beyond what they thought possible. And this ascent is not about a destination. It’s a lifelong journey of doing more, seeing more, and becoming more. And obviously, your logo and your identity and your brand, obviously, here in Salt Lake, a lot of mountains around there so it complements the brand. It speaks into the brand. It describes the brand. And give me the difference where you had the before where it was kind of like you were imposter syndrome living somebody else’s versus now, “No, this is ours. We own this. This is what we’re about.” Not so much from the founder, but from the team. What has been the difference there?

Clayton Alexander: I think one of the things that a lot of us just at a core level, what we seek out more than anything else is a sense of belonging, right, like that concept of finding your tribe, your group of people that you can relate to. And a purpose like what you just read has had the ability to unite our team in ways that I would have no any other way to do it. And I can also tell you that, yeah, that is deep work and that’s hard when you’re building a business and you’re transitioning from just like a solo advisor to a CEO business owner that’s a lot bigger than just your own personal practice. It takes time and energy to step out of the client reviews and the prospect meetings and the marketing events to create this. And I can tell you if that vision that we as a team created was anything different than how I really feel at my core like, “What is my purpose here?” then it would be the biggest waste and I would feel like I didn’t know what I was doing on a regular basis. This gives me the ability as a founder to say, “I know why I’m doing this. I know exactly why I’m doing the things I’m doing.”

And for our team members, they can look to their business owner, their CEO, their founder, and say, “Okay. Clay’s leading from the front because he’s not just saying to do these things. He’s also doing these things and I’m all in.” And that’s been the general response. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we’re far from perfect, right? We’ve had turnover. I’ve been in the firm where I’ve trained my competition and those advisors leave and they start their own. I’ve made those mistakes. We still make mistakes. But taking this step of creating this what we call mission control or this vision plan has been a huge tool in helping bring our team together.

Brad Johnson: I just look at it from think about reception. You’re answering phone calls or think about some of the tedious tasks that unfortunately have to be done, follow-ups, transferring assets where normally it would be checking a list if you’re a member at Teton, like going down a really long spreadsheet, monotonous kind of work. But when you infuse the purpose of why that matters of how you’re helping your clients do more, see more, become more, that completely changes the lens or the perspective that the whole team starts to look through. I’m doing something that matters now, right? And, Kristin, I want to kick it back to you because we’re hearing Clayton’s version here. But one of the things with a lot of founders that’s really tough, you mentioned it, Clayton. It was, “I knew it mattered. I just didn’t have the time to do it. I was so busy.” And Michael Hyatt, who’s a partner in our community, he coaches entrepreneurs, not just in finance, but all over the U.S. this is a common theme everywhere for founders.

And he saw the work that Kristin had started to create, the launch plan, and they actually took some of this into their coaching program because imagine like going through college and having a tutor helping you do the homework. That’s really what we did is it’s kind of like Jesus wrote a pretty good book but he didn’t write a word down, right? It was a bestseller, The Bible. All he did was tell stories and other people wrote it down. And so, that’s kind of a good analogy, Kristin, for what you did. It’s a 6 to 7-hour interview process where we pulled it out of you, documented it so that then you could share it out to the team.

Clayton Alexander: And it was exhausting. It was tiring but it was like it’s so worth it.

Kristin Shea: It was a blast.

Clayton Alexander: It was a blast.

Brad Johnson: Kristin had fun doing it. It was exhausting but…

Clayton Alexander: But it was like running a marathon. If you love to run, yeah, but you’re still running, you know, for a long time.

Brad Johnson: So, let’s go to did this really intentionally, vision then the messaging which we just hit on a little bit there, Clayton, and then the identity. So, Kristin, you’ve now kind of run side by side parallel with I think about 40 Triad members, 40 of the founders so far. And obviously, everyone’s a little different, has their unique spin, their unique personality. But what are some themes that you’ve seen come out of this process that have been ahas or, “Oh my gosh, why didn’t I do this ten years ago?” Like, give me some takeaways.

Kristin Shea: So, I think it’s important to give you an idea what that process looks like, right? So, there are a series of questions that we want to tee up really universal statements that they can use inside their business. So, it’s not just Clayton saying, “This is my purpose,” but the team has that shared language. And one of them, right, that you just shared is what do I want to be known for? So, that’s the first question that we ask, right? What do you want to be known for? We did this together and Clayton actually invited his team into those conversations, which is really cool because people help own that which they helped create, right? So, the question is, what do you want to be known for? And the first answer, second answer, or third answer is, “Well, comprehensive planning, retirement planning. Well, I’m really good at taxes.” No, no, no, no, no. That’s what everybody else is saying that they’re known for. And I’m sure you’re really great at comprehensive planning and retirement planning but there is a study that came out from Pershing, 84% of investors can’t tell one advisor apart from the other.

And to be honest, retirement planning, comprehensive planning, it doesn’t intuitively make sense to our subconscious and our reptilian brain. It’s not something that makes anybody, even if it’s on your team and you know the power of it and you’re an advisor and you’ve seen the transformation you can make, want to go flip cars in the parking lot with your bare hands because you’re so excited about it. It takes a lot of work to differentiate between the what that you do. Okay. What you do is comprehensive planning. What you do is retirement planning. But who are you and what? Because that’s truly the biggest differentiator that you have. Who you are is your biggest differentiator and what is the outcome of that? Okay. So, you do retirement planning. Great. What is the outcome of that? The outcome of that is the ability to ascend more than you ever thought possible, to do more, see more, become more. I don’t know if I got that verbatim right.

Clayton Alexander: You nailed it.

Brad Johnson: That was good.

Kristin Shea: But then it’s a completely different conversation and then you’re showing up in front of your team, Clayton showing up to his team, I mean, and it’s got to be crazy easy to hire. That’s been the biggest thing is that this messaging has made it easier, as I’ve heard from Clayton, other team, other founders, that having this type of messaging you show up completely different on Indeed because it’s not like, “Hey, come join our company to help build plans and conduct trades.” “Hey, look, what we’re doing here is helping people become more, see more, do more, ascend further, extend beyond what they ever thought possible. It’s a purpose-driven plan.” That’s a mission that people want to be a part of. And then when you show up as that leader, of course, internally is one thing but to show up like that in front of a client, it’s a completely different conversation that nobody else is saying because they’re all saying, “The thing I’m the best guy is comprehensive planning.”

And even if you are the best at it, then you get into this like weird Whac-A-Mole game where they’re like, “Well, my other advisor or the other advisor I went to go see a seminar with, their biggest differentiator is comprehensive planning.” And then you get into this like, “Well, my comprehensive planning is better.” “Well, my comprehensive planning is better.”

Brad Johnson: My advisor does that, too.

Kristin Shea: Right. So, it’s like, “Okay. Well, that’s great, but let me tell you what we’re known for.” Complete game changer.

Brad Johnson: Clayton, you look like you had some thoughts over there.

Clayton Alexander: And I can say that’s a great robot impression. Those are really good.

Kristin Shea: Stop.

Clayton Alexander: No, you’re exactly right. It’s the hiring process which I think is really difficult, especially if you’re trying to scale a practice and have a team of advisors. Good advisors are really difficult to come by. And I’ve had multiple conversations with them where it’s been as frank as like, “Hey, you know how to generate marketing leads, you know how to present, you know how to build plans, you know how to service. Why aren’t you just doing this yourself?” They’re hard to come by, but when you have something like this in that meeting, you’re totally different than anybody else I’ve talked to. You could talk all day long about, “Yeah, this is our HR package and we have unlimited PTO. And we’ve got the 401(k) plan, we’ve got health benefits,” all of those things. But if you want to stand out when you’re interviewing future hires, if you want to stand out when you’re talking to prospects and current clients, start using language like this because that makes you different. Yeah, they’ll hear you.

Brad Johnson: Love it. I’m going to share a couple others because you gave me permission and said I could. So, this will hopefully spark some thought out there for those listening in or watching. So, at Teton Wealth Group, the true outcome of our work is we empower families to live a life of purpose. And you can only live a life of purpose when you have freedom to pursue new possibilities, be intentional about what you spend your time and resources on, and grow deeper relationships. And one of my favorites, whereas that– what’s the one about purpose? Like, our purpose is to help you find your– here it is. I’ll brag on you so you don’t have to.

Clayton Alexander: Our purpose is to help you pour into yours, basically.

Brad Johnson: At Teton Wealth Group, the thing that differentiates us the most is that we are leaders, not advisors, and our purpose is helping you live into yours. That’s powerful. I know we’ve done a lot of work with Chris Smith and the community as well, who’s helped with some of this messaging. Let’s talk about the difference between being an advisor and a leader and how that’s played into your appointments and how you show up differently.

Clayton Alexander: Okay. Yeah, I think we actually start getting to the topic of this is external messaging, right? But it’s not just external messaging, it’s also internal messaging to your other team members. So, speaking first to your point of how’s this come up in appointments and whatnot, speaking to the families that you serve that way, they’ve never been talked to that way before. And advisors probably never sat down with them and said, “You know what? My whole goal, my whole purpose is to help lead you to a place that you never thought was possible that you could get to from a life standpoint.” Not just a money standpoint, but let’s make it way bigger than that, right, from a life standpoint. “And my whole goal is to help you be more, see more, do more.” Take that internally and use the same language to your team members. And that’s what I was saying earlier, like, if I didn’t mean down to my core, everything that you’ve said so far, I would feel like I was just like a fraud, basically.

Brad Johnson: I would just say living a lie.

Clayton Alexander: Yeah, living a lie. Like, that is down to the core. If I’m really committed to that, then that’s on all fronts, right? Not just with your clients, but with your team members, which you’d mentioned Chris Smith. One of the things that Chris opened my eyes up to as I was growing into this CEO/business owner role was the concept of stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. And he said, “A lot of advisors don’t realize it, but the dollars are your team members and the dimes are your clients.” Yes, we aim to serve the clients. That’s our purpose, our goal. But your team members have to be in the right mind frame. You’ve got to be supporting them in ways that they’ve never been supported before. And when you do that, it allows you to then challenge your team members more than they’ve ever been challenged as well.

So, taking this vision and turning it into our team members and saying, “Okay, we are committed to helping you live a life of purpose. Our purpose as a company is to help you live into yours.” And those are some real conversation. I actually had one two weeks ago where we had an advisor leave. He was having a tough time. We were getting a lot of families in front of him. He was just having a tough time closing, I guess. And so, he wasn’t making the money that he needed to make. And we had been supporting really as much as we could, but taking full ownership, we failed somewhere and still working through where, but that advisor leaving, kind of left the office in this funk.

So, I had to have that conversation where it was like all hands on deck. Being at like 9:30, let’s all get together, take a half hour, have this conversation. And it was me recommitting these things to the team members, and it made it very easy. Like, look, if you don’t love what you do, then go find what it is you love to do and let’s part as friends. If what you’re doing right now isn’t what you love to do and what Teton is about that’s not your vibe, that’s fine. If I really am sincere about it, that I care, my purpose is to help people living to their purpose, then I mean it when I say, “Hey, if it’s not at Teton, I wish you the best and go find what it is you love to do and do it.”

And that was actually freeing for a lot of people. It’s an emotional type meeting, but being able to have that type of conversation in 25 minutes took a group of 20 people and put the team back on track for the direction, the vision that we are going because we have this vision created, it’s documented and we all have it in front of us. So, we’re able to have that commonality of that reminder, okay, what are we actually doing here?

Brad Johnson: I appreciate the realness. I think oftentimes, unfortunately, on stage, people try to, oh, everything’s perfect. Our culture’s amazing. And it’s straight up into the right is our growth. And the truth is, if you build a team that involves people, there’s personnel issues. There’s real humans with real emotions.

And the root word of culture is cult. Now, you can have a good cult or a bad cult. And we were just talking about this on the way. But I think what we talked about was the Apple store, right? Go into the Apple store. That’s a cult, people. If you’re an Apple enthusiast, they are not going to have a PC in there.

And what you just described was, here’s what we’re about for the betterment of our clients, for the betterment of our team. And guess what? If you’re not aligned with this, that’s cool. We don’t have to be jerks. We don’t have to say, “You’re fired. Get out.” We’re just like, “Hey, go live your truth in life and go do your thing.” And that’s the power of what I’ve found when it comes to serving clients at a whole ‘nother level, serving your team and attracting the talent that’s going to align with the mission is you can’t do that if there is no mission or no vision of where you’re headed, right?

And what’s really mystified me, because this was very much client facing when we created it and where Kristin and the team really started to navigate a lot of our members through this, it’s blown me away how it’s become a magnet for talent inside of firms. And Kristin, I want to throw it back to you because I know we’ve got Clayton’s in the process of rolling the newer version out to your team here in a couple of weeks. But let’s talk about some of the firms that have kind of already rolled it out and started embedding this into their talent acquisition, into their hiring process, and some of the surprises that have come out of that.

Kristin Shea: Yeah. So, first, I love that you use the word magnet because that’s one of the core principles that goes into this process. And I think everybody needs to remember is that you have to be magnetic in your business as an employer and as a leader. What is the first thing you think about when you think about magnets? You think about how magnets attract, but magnets don’t just attract, they also repel.

So, if you do not believe that our clients deserve to live a life that they love and you do not believe that the purpose of every single appointment that you sit in with those clients is to help them live a life that they love, then maybe this isn’t the right place. And the more specific you get in that purpose, mission, you’re going to repel people, but that means that those people that you attract are going to become a lot closer.

You’re familiar with Robert Cialdini’s Principles of Influence. Okay, everyone’s familiar with scarcity, reciprocity, right, those big ideas. There were six core principles of influence, I think. And for years, decades, I mean, bestselling author translated to every language, I would guess. In fact, check me later. But for decades, people would ask Robert Cialdini, “Do you ever see yourself adding a seventh principle? Do you ever see yourself adding a seventh principle?” “No, no, no, no, no, it’s only six. It’s only six.”

And in the past three years, he came back and revisited and said, “You know what? There is a seventh principle.” And that seventh principle is unity. It’s the innate need that we have to be a part of a tribe, to be with our people, right? So, the reason why I’m an Eagles fan. If I’m talking to somebody else, I know they’re an Eagles fan, we’re immediately friends, that time to trust factor, I know everything I need to know. And being able to lean into that, into the human element of that is the differentiator for the person making the choice between the firm that’s offering X compensation package, X compensation package, this job title, this job title, but to help people live a life that they love. You know what I mean?

Brad Johnson: 100%.

Kristin Shea: Completely changes the game.

Brad Johnson: Well, I mean, for our companies specifically, Do Business, Do Life, that is the mission of Triads. We want it for our Triad members, we want it for our team as well. And one of the things that’s just blown me away, I was sitting in an interview the other day for our CMO. So, pretty, pretty important position. And he was well compensated. He was working for a firm that literally builds all NFL stadiums, turf all around the country. So, they were doing big things. And he said, “When I heard Do Business, Do Life,” he goes, “I thought I was going to retire where I was at, but I knew this was the spot for me.” And so, we felt it and it wasn’t like we predicted it. It’s just as you put that message out into the marketplace, you’re surprised with what comes back, what resonates.

I want to shift gears here a little bit because we’re almost through this. We haven’t said Enneagram once and that’s not common. So, one of the things that we do a lot in our hiring process and in our community is self-assessment. And there’s no end all, be all, Kolbe, StrengthsFinder. But I know Enneagram, the test, I’m curious who out in the audience is familiar with the Enneagram, show hands.

Kristin Shea: Let’s see. Oh, let’s go.

Brad Johnson: Oh, not too bad. What’s that? 20% maybe. Not bad, but more than normal. I’m impressed. So, Enneagram, for those unfamiliar, it’s kind of an ancient personality typing test. Nine different personality types. You actually have a 7, a 7, and a 7 all on stage here which is really dangerous.

Kristin Shea: Jackpot.

Brad Johnson: But yeah, that is a jackpot, isn’t it?

Kristin Shea: Wow.

Brad Johnson: So, one of the things, we brought Ian Cron, who wrote a book called The Road Back to You into our community. And there were a lot of breakthrough moments, but I remember specifically, Clayton, you had your whole team take this test. And it’s not the freebie version. Do not do the free internet version of Enneagram. Do the paid. There’s a $40 version online that’s a very thorough assessment.

And one of the things that came back was your team took it and this, like on the 20th page, it said areas of stress. And there were some aha moments where you saw, “Oh, I might be creating a company that’s unintentionally creating stress for my team.” And I love that you said, “I’m going to change that this year,” and this was beginning of 2022. So, what were some takeaways or things that came out of that for you and the team, Clayton, when it came to culture and just how you work together?

Clayton Alexander: Yeah, so give a little bit of context on the stress profiles. It gives you five different areas of stress. One of them is occupational. The others are the rest of what involves your life, like a psychological stress, interpersonal stress like relationships kind of thing, and then an overall sense of happiness. And even though the occupational side is only one of it, and that was the only part that really related to at the time what I felt like I had a role in, it didn’t sit well with me. It really bothered me to know that I had team members that you wouldn’t know it but were super unhappy, super struggling, like all high levels of stress, all low levels of happiness, and you didn’t know what was going on and and it just kind of came back to you, hey, number one, if I’m truly committed to this person, what more can I do to support them?

But then having an employer take that type of role and care. I don’t think that that happens very often, but I mentioned this earlier, but when you support a team member in that way, it also allows you to challenge that team member more than they’ve ever been challenged. And it’s kind of like the refiner’s fire, right? And to your point, magnets can attract, but they can also repel. And so, it’s a quick way to be like, okay, are we all the way in or are we not going the same direction? And that’s okay.

Yeah, finding that out, I had a choice of saying, “Okay, I can either just ignore it” and just say like, “Hey, that’s your stuff, you deal with it.” Or if I really care about building a team of people that love what they do, and on Sunday, they’re excited about Monday morning, I’m sure all of you have probably had like those Sunday afternoon, Sunday evenings where you’re like, “The last thing I want to do is go to the office tomorrow.” And you actually feel your blood pressure rise, like that anxiety feeling. I have felt that before, and I knew that I wanted to create a place that people don’t feel that as they gear up for the workweek.

And so, there’s a lot of things that we’re still trying to do, but implementing things like we bring in a life coach for life development programs for our team members, and they meet on a monthly basis. We put different motivational speakers in front of them on a regular basis that not just say good things, but it’s also like takeaways of what you can implement in your daily lives. There’s a higher level of commitment there to just one person’s personal growth outside of the business, and then being real and upfront of saying, “Hey, if this is what you love to do, cool, that’s fine. Go find what it is you love to do if it’s not here,” right?

Brad Johnson: So, working in finance for almost two decades now and being blessed to coach some of the top performing financial services firms all across the country, I have been blown away with how unfortunate, how frequent you see high turnover. Red line behavior is what I call it, where just go to the office and grind, 60, 70 hours a week, 80 hours. I remember I was coaching a guy who’s like, “Yeah, I’m 100 hours a week.” I’m like, “How are you alive still?” Because he’d been grinding for a while.

And here’s a really simple question to ask yourself that will help you define your culture. Would I work for me? And then be honest with yourself. And that’s what I loved about your awareness in that moment, Clayton, because there’s a lot of founders I’ve seen, like they’re kind of aware they’re culture is not great. They’re dealing with turnover, they’re dealing with the anxiety of going in Sunday night because like, man, my team, they don’t even want to be here. But guess who hired them all, guess who trained them all.

Kristin Shea: Clayton Alexander.

Brad Johnson: Cut on me, right? So, I love the self-awareness that you have there. And what I’m hearing is you’re pouring into and investing in your team so they know you care about more than just business, about their life, about a lot of what you messaged, about what Teton is about and why you exist. But it’s not just saying it, it’s doing it. It’s modeling it.

And any other things because we’re getting towards the end of our time here? Any big takeaways as we wrap up this conversation when it comes to how we started the conversation? Financial advisor, single player game, founder or CEO, business owner, multiplayer game, and as we say a lot inside at Triad, it’s not a big enough dream if it doesn’t require a team. But guess what? The team has different rules. So, any big takeaways as we wrap here?

Clayton Alexander: Yeah, and this will actually tie in to one of the questions that we received. So, one of the questions that somebody in the audience submitted, “When thinking about your team, how important is it to have the right people in the right positions?” That’s a huge piece of the puzzle. And actually, going back to the Enneagram, that personality test, and seeing where your team members are from a personality type, one of the things that I’ve made a commitment to working on is understanding that some of my team members respond differently to certain types of challenges or certain types of communications, and then being self-aware enough to adjust my communication style or the way that I would challenge a team member to grow is going to be different. It’s going to be individualized.

So, identifying the right people for the right roles, I think, is really, really important. I’m a good example of getting it wrong a lot of times. You slowly put it together, but there’s a lot of tools out there like the Enneagram that I think can save you a lot of time, headache, money, energy to getting the people in the right positions.

Brad Johnson: Forty-one seconds, we’ll hit this last question. But self-awareness as a leader, how do I develop more of that? Enneagram, other tests, 100%, we do that a lot inside of Triad.

Clayton Alexander: Yeah, check yourself.

Brad Johnson: And you’re never done. Yeah, check your ego at the door. You’ve never arrived on this mission of self-awareness. Okay, so just as it takes us many years to find our identities from children to adults, how long could it take for a firm to find their true identity?

Clayton Alexander: I feel like I was just involved a little bit. Like, as we’ve grown into what it is, I will honestly say, in 2019, I didn’t think my firm would be where it is at today. That being said, as soon as I knew from the beginning, I want to help people. That’s where I get the fulfillment, right? And I think that if you love being a financial advisor, that’s probably where you get the fulfillment as well. You love feeling like you’re making a difference in somebody else’s life for the better. If you’re doing it for another reason, maybe rethink what you’re doing as your profession, right? But yeah, I would– yeah, the question went away. I’m just trying to…

Brad Johnson: Well, as far as your identity.

Clayton Alexander: Oh, that’s right. How long will it take? I would say once you get to that direction where you feel like you’ve got a good amount of team members that are collectively working towards the same direction finalize that identity. And for different advisors at different periods of time, ours are being built over the last four and a half years. So, it’s definitely a marathon compared to a sprint.

Kristin Shea: If I could offer something through the experience of going through these conversations, you’d think about the identity that you establish throughout your whole life, we start that, right? What do you want to be known for? What’s your biggest differentiator? It’s comprehensive planning. The thing that it always goes back to is what your identity was that you’ve been creating your whole life on the human level outside of the business because it’s not B2B, it’s not B2C, it’s H2H, right? So, this identity that Clayton has really refined and translated throughout his entire organization over the past four years has been informed by decades of being the type of human that believes that other people deserve to live their best life.

Brad Johnson: I love it. And you’ve never arrived. I know how you roll, Clayton. You’re a student for life. That’s why we love having you in the community. And it’ll continue to evolve and get better over time. And I just love the intention.

Clayton Alexander: Leadership is a mountain that you’re climbing and there’s no top. You will never reach the top. You’re just going to keep climbing.

Brad Johnson: All right, Well, with that, I know we’re out of time. So, thanks for those of you that joined us. Thanks, Clayton. Thanks, Kristin. Appreciate it.

Kristin Shea: Thanks, Brad. Thanks, guys.

Clayton Alexander: Thank you.


DBDL podcast episode conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies, concepts and tools that could be incorporated into their business and their life. Financial professionals are responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed related to business is done so in accordance with any and all regulatory, compliance responsibilities and obligations.

The Triad member statements reflect their own experience which may not be representative of all Triad Member experiences, and their appearances were not paid for.

Copyright ©️ 2023 Triad Partners. All rights reserved.


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