Ep 031

How Financial Advisors Can Build a Brand That’s Authentic to You

With

Kristin Shea

Listen Here

Inside This Episode

We’ve got a special one lined up for you today! I’m talking to Triad’s Chief Product Officer, Kristin Shea, who has been helping build and shape our company since day one.

If you’re in financial services, you’ve likely already come across Kristin on LinkedIn, a platform she leaned into and leveraged early on to connect and build relationships directly with advisors. In fact, this is where I discovered her AND why I pushed so hard to recruit her! 

Over the years, Kristin has amassed a significant following through her authenticity and ability to create advisor-focused content that adds value and serves our community at the highest level.

Her continued success is rooted in helping advisors do one thing: build a practice that blesses your life instead of becoming it.

She’s also the author of The Truth About Digital Marketing for Financial Advisors: How to Create a Magnetic, Authentic Brand that Unlocks Unparalleled Growth for Your Firmgo grab a copy here!

3 of the biggest insights from Kristin Shea

  • #1 How to create a company vision that attracts top talent and gives people permission to be themselves. 

  • #2 What building a brand truly means – and how to create one your entire team believes in.

  • #3 The 3 core tenets to creating content in the “attention economy” – and how to overcome imposter syndrome and leverage social media to foster deeper connections and generate new business.

KEY TAKEAWAYS: 

  • 00:00: Being many things vs. being one thing
  • 04:28: How Brad and Kristin joined forces
  • 15:57: The reality of entrepreneurial struggles
  • 22:57: Getting your team to buy into your mission
  • 34:27: Using a vision to attract and retain talent
  • 43:32: How to create online content that grabs attention
  • 01:02:11 Aligning your brand, values, and vision
  • 01:16:08 A fortune cookie reading for DBDL listeners
  • 01:19:05 Doing life and business through bold adventures

GETTING YOUR TEAM TO BUY-IN TO THE COMPANY MISSION | KRISTIN SHEA

BUILDING A BRAND THAT YOUR TEAM BELIEVES IN | KRISTIN SHEA

CONTENT CREATION IN THE ATTENTION ECONOMY | KRISTIN SHEA

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE: 

PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE:

THIS WEEK’S FEATURED REVIEW

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MIC DROP MOMENTS WITH KRISTIN SHEA

  • “Your vision is one of the biggest reasons why somebody will or will not join you.” – Kristin Shea

  • “You have to have those core values and you have to know what’s important to you first because, otherwise, you end up just saying what you think people want to hear and then building a business that you don’t love.” – Kristin Shea

  • “You’re not supposed to have all the answers when you get started.” – Kristin Shea

  • “You can’t figure out where you’re going until you take inventory of where you are and where you’ve been.” – Kristin Shea

  • “The ability to cast a vision and transfer that belief to potential hires has a 99% correlation to your ability to attract and retain amazing talent.” – Kristin Shea

  • “You have way more to lose by not creating content than you have to lose by making a mistake and embarrassing yourself, which is 100% a guarantee.” – Kristin Shea

  • “In an abundance of information, the only thing that’s truly scarce is attention.” – Kristin Shea

  • “If you’re the advisor that’s sitting behind the mahogany desk and the bookshelf in the suit and talking about taxes, you’re not winning in the attention economy because the key word in social media is social.” – Kristin Shea

Brad Johnson: Okay. Welcome back to another episode of Do Business Do Life. Have a very special one here today. Kristin Shea joins us, Triad’s Chief Product Officer, friend, author, LinkedIn. What do you keep getting called at Future Proof? The LinkedIn girl? I don’t know. It’s just funny because, yeah, you are known in different circles for different things but what I love about you, Kristin, is just that the authentic person that has showed up at Triad from day one and has helped build this thing often days down in the trenches where I feel like we’re slugging it out side by side but really excited to have you join the podcast today. Welcome.

Kristin Shea: Yeah, thanks. Glad to be here. I have something fun for us to start with, actually, on the way back from our event last week at Scale Summit. So, we’re going to do this together. It’s funny that you mentioned that being a jack of all trades. I think that’s an Enneagram 7 thing but I did just hear a quote from Naval Ravikant who I know you’re a huge fan of on business philosopher. if you’re not familiar, he’s worth checking out. He said, “If we were meant to be specialists, we would be ants.” And at first, I was like, “Wait, what?” I guess I don’t know that much about ants but basically saying that the world is so much bigger and, yeah, you want to specialize inside of your role, but inside of your life, like you should aspire to do and be as many things as you can. And reference back to, I think it was the Roman Empire how you were a student and then you were in the military and then you started a business and then you work for the government and then you were a philosopher. Like, that was the career path was doing a million different things and not being ants. So, thought you might appreciate that one because I think you’re kind of the same.

Brad Johnson: Well, what’s interesting in an Enneagram 7. And so, for those unfamiliar, go back and check out the episode with Ian Cron. But one of the things that has become a core pillar when it comes to culture at Triad is everybody here knows their Enneagram number 1 through 9. Chris and I both share the Enneagram 7 number, which is known as the enthusiast, which can also be known as kind of fear of missing out, wants to have their hand in everything, scared to miss a party sort of personality. And with that, also comes I think one of the things that why I love the podcast is I’m naturally curious. I naturally love people, relationships, deep conversations, learning. And so, I think some of these things tend to be superpowers applied to the right medium or the right focus. And so, I appreciate you saying that because one of the things that I love about this show and just this industry, in general, is all of the different types of humans you’re exposed to, all the different ideas. And yeah, that’s why I’m still doing the show. I think we’re about 150 episodes in now, going back to my prior show. And just another quick shout-out for those that are unfamiliar, Kristin is the voice that does the intro to the other DBDL episodes.

Kristin Shea: I’m not a robot.

Brad Johnson: She’s not a robot. She’s not even AI.

Kristin Shea: Even though you hear the text message and data rates may apply, please reply stop in anytime to opt out. Kills me every time.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. The same disclosure every time that we have to say which is fun. But one of the things, and we’ll get into this, Kristin, is you’re truly gifted at you know this industry well. You’re super passionate about it, obviously. But one of your superpowers to me is taking loads of data and content and information and curating it in a beautiful, easy-to-understand way, which is really hard, by the way. And as I thought about how do we take this podcast to the next level, there is no better person to put on the mic to kind of intro each episode than you because you’re just so good at taking long-form content, big data, and like curating it into, “But like here’s the three things you got to know about.” And I know you’ve been doing that on LinkedIn for years. So, with that, I know we were kind of prepping for this conversation. I would love Kristin Shea’s version of how our paths originally crossed. I’ve got my version but we’ll start with yours and maybe we do a little back and forth because I think there’s so much you can always learn from an origin story, and then we’ll get into all of the cool things we’re learning from the Triad members, the advisor offices out there, your book. I’ve actually got a copy right here, The Truth about Digital Marketing for Financial Advisors, and we’ll let the conversation flow. But what’s Kristin’s story of like, “Hey, here’s how Brad and Kristin connected and went down this rabbit hole to where we all eventually ended up at Triad together?”

Kristin Shea: I did mention in the beginning that I had something fun, and when I say fun, I mean I had to protect it. Like, with all of my suitcases, there are multiple states and airports to get to and order from Uber Eats that it got replaced with P.F. Chang’s and I got two fortune cookies. So, maybe we do this at the end, thought one for you, one for me. Or I thought if we did it in the beginning, it could set the tone and maybe we could just talk about whatever the heck king fortune cookie says. What do you think? We save it to the end?

Brad Johnson: Here’s what I think we do. I think that will be a great way to end the conversation when it comes to doing business doing life. And we’ll see what the fortune cookies have in store for each of us. By the way, now they have to stick around and hear the end. That’s a good hook.

Kristin Shea: Literally, unwrapped it and stopped it and like had to put it back in the bag and break it. All right. Well, sounds good. The story goes back many, many, many, many years ago. Actually, almost ten years ago, gotten into business 2015. Phil was recruited out of a restaurant where I was waiting tables by two nice men who tipped well. I was over college, found myself in the corner of the universe that wholesales annuities to independent advisors. As a millennial, I like to consider myself as an artist, and I think I’m a little bit of a rebel at heart. When they said I needed to make 100,000 cold calls a day, I said, “Okay. Sure. But also, no thank you. Let’s see if there is another way or a better way where we use the internet.” So, I leaned into LinkedIn. I did not know that where LinkedIn was over the past couple of years is where Facebook was decades ago. I would love to say that there was like some master plan but the strategy was really connecting and building relationships directly with advisors, mostly through direct messages because you could skip the gatekeepers, you could do it at scale, which turned into content creation. And I think at some point you and I connected because I was a huge fan of your podcast, listened to all your episodes, was like raving fanatic. I must have been like 23 years old, 24 if they own a business.

I was 21 when I think you reached out and you’re like, “Hey, any thoughts on ever moving to Kansas?” And it was like, “Absolutely not. I would never,” which is hilarious. Joke’s on me. I think we did that dance for a couple of years because you were a relationship I really wanted to keep, but I also was like never going to move to Kansas. Joke’s on me. But we had this great relationship. “Hey, great podcast episode.” You’d say, “Hey, great LinkedIn video.” And then I think there was one day in 2020 when the world was falling apart, I think everybody kind of had like a come to Jesus moment where they kind of were like, “Wait a second, am I happy with where I am? Am I built for more? Is there more out there? Am I creating the most value in serving the people and the missions I care about the most right now in my life?” I had one of those moments in 2020, called you. I think I texted you because I was crying and I was like, “God said I’m coming to Kansas,” and then slept on it. Woke up the next day. You’re like, “Nice. Hey, what’s your address? I’d love to send you a book.” Classic Brad. I’d love just teaching and sharing, had a little bit of that like, “I’m now ready to move to Kansas,” and like, “Everything’s okay. I slept on it.”

But then I heard, I think, in August that you would quit. The week that you would quit, picked up the phone, called you. “Yo, heard you had quit.” I don’t know if it was like a day after, a couple of days after right around your 40th. And then I think it was the first time that we talked and we weren’t competitors and we could just talk and let it flow. And I feel I remember us talking for hours and I remember hanging up the phone, walking straight into CrossFit, and then turning out, turning around, and walking straight back out. Like, you would think with all that energy, I would have like actually worked out with it but I think instead, I just walked out and spammed you with 100 messages because of what you had said, which was basically like, “I’m ready to create a bigger difference in this industry. I don’t know what I’m doing yet, but I want you to be the first hire. I want to build a community. I want to build a business that is about lives.” And then from there, it was me being like, “Hey, what’s your address? Let me send you a book,” until we met, etcetera. Similar to your story?

Brad Johnson: You know, I would say the vast majority of all those facts, like, that’s exactly how I remembered it. My side, you know what’s so funny about the FMO industry? Like, just looking back now is how territorial it gets and not for the benefit of the advisor, actually to the detriment of the advisor, I think, oftentimes. And I remember there was definitely a mutual respect because I think like one of my clients at the time commented on one of your LinkedIn posts or something. And of course, the natural tendency is, “Oh, they’re like commiserating with the enemy sort of deal,” right? But then I was like, I just watched the video. I was like, “Damn, it’s pretty good.” And so, then I think I gave you a follow or like however we linked up on LinkedIn or whatever it’s called. And then I was like, “Okay.” And then there was a consistency of great content, thoughtful content. I love that you are real and authentic always. I love that you were advisor-focused, not me-focused. You know, I saw a lot of consistency between the content being created and it was about the advisor first because there’s a lot of content online, unfortunately, that’s like about, “Look at me,” and it’s about the own personal ego thing. And your content was actually, “Here’s how I can serve. Hey, I read this article. Hey, have you thought about this fact? Hey, here’s a conversation I had with an advisor that kind of struck a chord.”

And so, I think there was a shared love of the space and the advisors, the relationships, which I found to be very true as we’ve worked together, that stayed very consistent. And there was a shared respect that then turned into a friendship, but there was always a little bit of a dance going on to your point because at the time we were competitors. And the only thing I remember differently from your recollection is, I believe, so I think you called me. There was a couple of iterations of conversation, and then it was almost like because, I mean, I was like, “Hey, Kristin would kill it on whatever team she’s on.” And so, I was like in recruiting mode of like, “Hey, I’d love to bring Kristin onto the team.” And you would kind of be like, “Yeah, but no.” And then it was kind of this dance.

Kristin Shea: “How much would you pay me? Okay, that sounds nice. Nice to hear. Appreciate the affirmation. No to coming to Kansas.”

Brad Johnson: Well, part of it was the location deal, right? We can get into that in a little bit. But here’s what I remember. When I left my prior life, I mean, I’ve covered this in previous podcasts, so go back and listen to Episode 1 if you’re not familiar with the story, but that was really, really tough. It was personally like one of the hardest decisions, most emotional decisions. It was the week I turned 40. So, that was all kinds of life milestones happening, and that was my identity and who I was for almost a decade and a half. But I knew it was time and I knew it was time for that next evolution of me as a man, as a business person, all of that. And my recollection is it was a week or two after my last day. You hit me up and I thought at the time you still didn’t know. So, maybe you did know, maybe you didn’t know, but it was like, “Hey, I’m ready to explore like coming to Kansas to work at my prior life.” And what I remember in that moment was, yeah, so I quit my job and it was this like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know how that played out if it was conversation one or two,” but then I remember exactly where I was as well.

Kristin Shea: I think it was like, yeah, let’s talk and I took that as, okay, he is still recruiting me and you are probably going to be like, “Let’s get on the phone.” And so, I can like that I’m not there anymore I think was that was. Because you know me, I’m a quick start, nine out of ten quick start. The second I found out. Huh? Cleared my desk, threw it all on the ground, and called it.

Brad Johnson: Interesting. Well, so here’s what I remember about that first extended conversation on that note. I was in my backyard on my cell phone, and it was probably an hour-long conversation, maybe somewhere around there. And the idea has just started flowing about everything that was right in the industry and everything that was missing in the industry. And as we both know, this is 100% relationship business and there was just a lack of like the sort of community that I believed was possible in this space. And, obviously, this is the Do Business Do Life podcast that has become our mission. Back then, it was just an early idea of like, what if you intentionally created a community? We didn’t know what that looked like. Was it FMO? Was it a paid mastermind group? But there is a shared love of the people in the space and how to serve them at a higher level. That’s what I remember. Like, the themes that were coming out of that conversation and all kinds of ideas flowing around.

Kristin Shea: Yeah. It was exciting. It was like, we could do this and we could do that and we could do this and we could do that. Like, it wasn’t a conversation of like, “Here’s all the stuff that’s wrong.” It was like, “Whoa. Imagine the possibilities.” Like, if you just get into the things that we care about and we know our advisors care about it. Like, the sky is the limit in the industry, like for the people serving advisors and for advisors themselves to challenge the status quo and shake things up in indefinite amount of ways. It was just exciting. I feel like we just like ping-ponged, like crazy.

Brad Johnson: It’s very dangerous to give to an Enneagram 7s a blank slate. You never know what’s going to come out of it but it was a really cool conversation and I want to go to something that you’ve helped a lot of Triad members help create. And when I really look back, that was the very, very early beginning stages of a vision for what Triad would be. And obviously, it wasn’t too long after a lifelong friend, Shawn Sparks, partner at Triad Partners. It was just those early stages of every business. And if you’re an advisor listening to this, go back to like when you decided to leave that captive firm to go independent when you broke out on your own, like whatever your original origin story is because there’s the honeymoon phase of the ideation then there’s like, “Oh, what did I do to myself? This is way harder than I thought it was going to be.” I think every business goes through that but don’t ever forget that magic of why you created the thing in the first place. And I do believe it was that shared vision that as we came together, as we hopped on a whiteboard, as it all kind of started to come together, we just had some really passionate people in the room. The very early team at Triad, where I remember you were running a 99 logos contest for our original Triad logo and all of the different things, and you can’t ever forget that early energy of like why you exist in the first place. So, what are your thoughts just on those early days, the vision, your learnings from that whole thing? You actually moving to Kansas, by the way. Don’t leave that part out.

Kristin Shea: Okay. Move to Kansas. I remember Shawn saying at one point because you guys also have experience building and growing in other areas of your career. It’s either you or Shawn saying like these are the days that you’re going to look back on forever. And like there were moments in the beginning where there were early like where we’re putting together desks, small win. We got a new tape, a new conference room table that didn’t fall over if you leaned on it the wrong way, like those were small wins that were like huge yeses and those are amazing. It was also I feel like I also died but in the best way. Like, the person who left your fiancé, packed a suitcase, took the dogs on a yearlong lease like basically on a whim to come out to visit you guys is a completely different person than the person that came back. And it’s because, I mean, that chapter, in the beginning, I think really broke us down so that we could build and become something so much bigger and better. I don’t think we knew how hard it was going to be. And I also think we made the mistake that most business owners and I think advisors, we see it all the time, make what we made it is that we cloned ourselves. You cloned yourself by making me the first hire.

And similarly with Shawn where it’s just all ideas and it’s all chaos and a lack of follow-through. Like in hindsight, like as Michael Hyatt says, first hire should be an EA straight up. But more than anything like even on the worst of days and like we had them. It was the most fulfilling work I’d ever been a part of and it still is. I’ve never been more proud of anything, including those days where I may have acted like an A-hole because I didn’t know because the world felt like it was crumbling around us at any given moment, you know?

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Sometimes being naive to what you’re getting yourself into is a good thing because I think there’s this entrepreneurial mystique in today’s world where it’s like the TikTok videos, the IG stories, whatever, where it’s like, “Oh, this is all just glorious.” No, no, it’s hard. It’s really hard especially when you’re joining a really small company at the time. I mean, we were kind of five original team members. You know, now we’re approaching 70 team members three years later. So, just like how it’s all grown so quickly and come together and the personnel stuff and getting new people that don’t know each other, that are super passionate to work together and communicate in a healthy way, like so much. So, yes, it’s like you died and became a new person but one of the things we say at the Johnson household is, “Get uncomfortable. That’s where all the growth comes from.” And, boy, did we all do that. So, let’s go back to vision.

Kristin Shea: Yeah. And really I think if there’s one thing that I would say looking back and you think about social media and glorifying the hustle culture and entrepreneurship, which is amazing, one thing I really wish we’d done a better job of, and I think we’re doing a better job of now, is building in public like documenting the behind-the-scenes because, first of all, it’s just amazing to be able to look back on. Like, I don’t think we have enough but also because the people that are invested in the business, invested in your success, considering joining your mission. Like, that’s really interesting and helps transfer ownership of your vision to those people. Like, I wish we would have had videos where it’s like taking the printer off of the box and onto a desk. So, that like the people that were rooting for us but couldn’t say that they were rooting for us outwardly could be like, “Yes, you got a desk.” That’s the one thing I think I wish we could have done differently.

Brad Johnson: Well, I’ll tell you what. Just because you are very good at snapping pictures, it’s sometimes tough for an Enneagram 7 to be present and be in the moment. We’re very futuristic thinkers of like, “Here’s what’s next. Here’s what I’m excited about.” I think you’re actually pretty good about being in the moment because a lot of times along the way you’re like, “Guys, we have to take a picture of this and remember this.” Like, you’re not joking that there was a free conference room and I say a free conference table, I should say, that was in our conference room in the early days. Why was it free? Because if you put your elbow on it and land, the whole top would fall off. And like, I don’t know how many times it was like the initiation at Triad, somebody would go to sit down on the table and literally flip the whole thing. But those are special memories and moments we will look back on because now we have a really nice conference room with like a beautiful conference room table. But I kind of in a weird way missed the early one. It was like character building and the grit of a startup.

Kristin Shea: Yeah. You know, like lose some weight because if you are over 40 pounds and you lean on the table, you know, it’s over. You might break your femur. You know? Yeah.

Brad Johnson: All right. Let’s go to…

Kristin Shea: Sorry. Go back to vision.

Brad Johnson: No, no, no. You’re good. I was planning on reminiscing a bit along this conversation. So, let’s go to vision. And one of the things, hindsight looking back, and I’d love to get your take because there was a very rough vision in the early days. Yes, there was kind of a North Star mission that was very like not clear. But one of the things that I saw you do a lot along the way was you were really good at documenting and saying, “Hey, there’s this thing. We’ve said it like 15 times in the last three days. That should probably be something we write down and remember.” Check your ego at the door was an early one. Do business do life, by the way, fun fact, it is now Triad’s mission. Originally when we started, it was one of our missions. It wasn’t the mission. And what’s been really cool and I share this because I see a lot of advisors get stuck, where they’re like, “Oh, it’s got to sound perfect, you know, my brand identity and my message and my mission statement.” The truth is it was really messy but we did a pretty decent job of like documenting the things that kept coming up. And then eventually we turned that into a true mission statement, true core values.

But what’s your side of that? Because you obviously were at least clear enough on the vision to invest into that as early talent that was recruited into Triad. And I think there’s a lot of clues in that for advisors because there’s a lot of two, five, ten-person small businesses that their hardest part is getting great talent to buy into the mission of the company. So, what are some learnings or ahas from you on that side?

Kristin Shea: So, basically, like what did you guys do an amazing job at? No, I’m just kidding. I’m super. No, no, I’m just kidding. Let me give you that because you guys, I mean…

Brad Johnson: No. I know we did a very aha-some job at most of it. That’s the truth.

Kristin Shea: No. So, I’m not going to call myself an A-player. I appreciate you calling me that. What I will say is I was somebody who inside of my role was constantly trying to push boundaries and go outside of my role to create and build with the vision of doing more, becoming more, right? Like, wholesalers don’t typically go on tour with the Rolling Stones to talk about what it means to retire like a rock star. They don’t typically do speaking engagements on digital marketing. I wanted to start a digital marketing company. I think earlier in 2020 there was like this itch where it’s like, “I want to build. I want to make a bigger impact.” And inside of my role, I don’t know that I have the path to do the things that, first of all, I really love to do and I think I’m decently good at. So, the first thing that I think was really exciting was that there was a promise and an action that backed it. That was ownership. It’s, “Hey, we’re bringing you on because you’re an expert and what you say we’re going to trust you.” I mean, before Triad, and the restaurant I dropped out, we’ve only worked at one other place.

And I wouldn’t trade that for anything and like the empowerment and sense of ownership that you guys promised and then delivered was insane. It’s incredibly fulfilling. I think there was a research that you and I were just talking about how like one of the biggest things that “performers” need is autonomy and the freedom to make decisions as opposed to saying as opposed to them saying, “I really think we should do this,” and then somebody saying, “Oh, well, no, it needs to be this way,” or like, “That’s a good idea, but no.” You know what I mean? Like, it was all ideas. The sky was the limit. The answer, the response to the ideas were more along the lines of what’s possible as opposed to what isn’t possible. And I think in companies we tend to, and maybe it’s just because we were new, but I think in general it’s stressful being a leader. It’s stressful being a CEO. It’s stressful having the constraints of the business and cash flow and all of that. It’s easier to say, well, in some ways like to say like, “Let’s just stick with what’s comfortable.”

And I thought that was really cool. I’ll tell you, the people were a huge deal. You and Shawn are legends and I wanted to be on the dream team. I wouldn’t have said that I helped make the dream team but it was like Brad and Shawn are legends. I want to be on the dream team. I want to work with the best of the best. And at that point, I don’t even know how much of a vision that we had. I just knew that anything that you guys did was going to be amazing. I remember when I first met you guys, we had dinner at Shawn’s house and Shawn, like his brand, he had a huge brand, huge respect following in the industry but it’s a little bit different I think than yours and I where we’re accessible. You get to know you through the podcast. You get to know me through my content. Shawn’s was different because he had a book, right? So, you had a little bit of this like mystique. You couldn’t hear Shawn’s voice. He didn’t really know what to expect. All he knew was he was like the best of the best from the biggest and baddest.

And I remember having dinner at his house with you guys and Sarah and Aubrey were there, your wives were there, and you were so chill and so down to earth. And we drank wine. And I think I said the F word a couple of times, and I was really comfortable. And it wasn’t like all of this like makeup and some… Aubrey would have had like glue-on nails, and the nail fell off into the dessert. And it was like, “Wow. These are real people.” So, I think it was nice. I would not have come if I felt like I was going to go somewhere and feel like I have to be somebody that I’m not.

Brad Johnson: I love to hear that. I mean, I appreciate it and I’m humbled by your kind words but I’ll tell you what…

Kristin Shea: You didn’t know I was going to say that. I think that was the first time I said any of that.

Brad Johnson: I’ll tell you what I love about this business is the people and surrounding myself with just people that want to go do big what seem like impossible things. And that was definitely you and is you, that was definitely Shawn and is Shawn, and that is definitely me. And it’s really fun for me to collect these relationships that are all like, let’s go do something big that deserves to exist, and there’s not an easy way to do it, and let’s figure it out. And by the way, not take yourself too seriously while you do it. If you do, that’s where you’re honestly like getting yourself in trouble. And I’ve seen it. I’ve seen what this business does to egos, unfortunately, and probably suffered from some of it along the way. I think we all have if we’ve had any level of success. But your last thing you hit, I think there’s so much wisdom in that little statement of build a business that allows people to be themselves. Well, number one, recruit people aligned with the mission, right, and of high character, but also allows people to be true to themselves. And I know you know Shannen on the team who just joined not that long ago and he said that in a different way is like, “Man, I just love not having to play some game or pretend to be somebody I’m not when I walk through Triad’s doors,” and I’m like, “Well, if you ever do, you let me know because we’ve screwed something up along the way.”

Kristin Shea: You’re fired. No, I’m just kidding.

Brad Johnson: I’m fired?

Kristin Shea: Yeah. You’re fired, Brad.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. So. All right. So, I love that.

Kristin Shea: Well, wait, wait. There’s actually one more thought on the vision because you know what’s interesting? We talk about a vision, the vision that we had that we came to the earliest and we rallied around and we still say it every day, “Creating unlimited growth and freedom in your business and life.” I think that’s the closest thing to a vision that we had. And I think it was so easy to do. Like, a lot of times when you go to craft a vision, your mind goes straight to planning, your mind goes straight to a to-do list, your mind goes straight to the details, like what do I need to execute on, instead of where are we going? You know what I mean? Like, it was a destination. And when you’re in the weeds, luckily there were no weeds for us to be in. We only had to think about the future because there was nothing in the present, right? And I think we had that to our advantage for advisors that are looking to cast a vision. The biggest challenge is like removing or like, yes, taking inventory of where you are but then being like, “Okay. Now let’s imagine a completely different world.”

The other thing is we talk about the curse of knowledge, right, which is a tendency to lean into jargon and technicalities when you’re like overly familiar with the topic and you tend to lose people and you lose the human element because you’re just into like all of the specifics. That statement, “Unlimited growth and freedom in your business and life,” there is no jargon. There is no products, divisions. I mean, that’s a part of the vision first but you back into that like what’s like the big pie in the sky and like the details don’t really matter. You’re not supposed to have all the answers when you get started. And I think that for us, casting a vision for you, casting a vision, that was a benefit that in hindsight I’m realizing we had.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. I completely agree. The firms we’ve worked with that really struggle, they’re trying to figure out the how of how to get there. They get stuck in that. I know we both have a shared love for Michael Hyatt, his mentoring, his coaching. The analogy he uses in this book, Vision Driven Leader, that I love, it’s John F. Kennedy saying we’re going to the moon by the end of the decade. He had no clue how that was going to happen. I don’t even know that they built a rocket at the time, successfully. Maybe Russia just put the satellite in orbit. I don’t remember. But there’s no like getting lost in the day-to-day minutia. It’s like, “No, this is where we’re headed and being truly competent and we’re going to assemble a world-class team and we’re going to figure it out.” But I think that’s the beauty. We didn’t bowl. Like, do business do life really easy to say, really hard to do because do business do life is work-life integration and how you build and scale a business that’s bigger than you.

One of the things we say, “It’s not a big enough dream if it doesn’t require a team,” but building teams are really complicated. Personnel, really complicated. And so, it was not an easy problem to solve but it was a mission worth solving is the best way I can put it. And to your point, if you’re an advisor out there listening, you’re like, “Man, I know I need a vision, but I just can’t get through it.” Like, by the way, we’re going to get into that a little later too but you do not have to figure out the how. Remove yourself, release yourself from that trying to figure out the how. It’s like what is core to why you exist is really where I go to. Do you have any other thoughts? You’ve helped a lot of our firms through that. So, any other ahas like that have got advisors stuck to where they’re just having a tough time processing, just even the exercise?

Kristin Shea: Yeah. So, I think there are a couple of things. One, you can’t figure out where you’re going until you take inventory of where you are and where you’ve been, right? Where had we been? Somewhere that we were moving away from. There were things that we loved. There are things that we like totally wanted to continue to use and lean into and explore. And then there are other things where, like, I think we can maybe do this differently. And I think it’s important that you take that exercise of taking inventory of where you are and where you’ve been and do that separately. It can’t happen in the same conversation that you’re talking about where you’re going because it immediately gets back into, well, I only have these people on my team and I don’t have this person and we don’t have this process. You have to take inventory of where you are, where you’ve been, amazing, and then look out into the future. The future is not a year from now. The future is not two years from now. Ideally, we’re looking at 3 to 5 years.

And there are four pieces of criteria that Michael Hyatt coaches to and we prescribed to, right, that are included in a vision. It has to be clear and practical. I think advisors/founders are really good at the clear and practical because they can say, “We’ll be doing, we’ll be bringing on X amount of assets. We’ll have X number of people on our team. We’ll have X number of office locations.” Right? That’s clear and practical. It’s measurable. But the other two pieces of criteria is it has to be sellable and inspiring. Okay. So, three years from now, you want to have a great culture. Cool. Your vision is one of the biggest reasons why somebody will or will not join you. In fact, on recent research that we’ve been doing with founders inside the Triad community, the ability to cast a vision and transfer that belief to potential hires has a 98.9999994% correlation to your ability to attract and retain amazing talent.

So, instead of saying, for example, “In three years, we’re going to have a great culture.” Cool. That’s practical enough, I guess. But sellable and inspiring, “We’re going to have a culture that is so good that it’s our competitive advantage. We’re going to have a reputation in the community for being one of the absolute best places to work. Every single person on our team is going to refer every single friend that they know to every single open position because they know it’s such an amazing opportunity and they will never, ever want to leave us because they will never have felt more supported and challenged and cared for in their entire life.” Like, there’s a difference, right? I’m pretending to hire, “Hey, come join us. We’ve got a good culture, and in three years it’s going to be great.” “Hey, come join us. We’ve got an amazing culture. But you know what? In three years, based on some of the things that were our number one focus over the next three years, and we would love for you to come in and take ownership, right, take ownership of the vision because it’s a shared vision, we want to have a reputation. We want to have that big sign out on our window that says Loudoun County’s Voted Best Place To Work in three years from now. You down to help us make that happen?”

The sellable and inspiring I think is the biggest part. And if you don’t – but you have to know what inspires you first. Like, you have to have those core values and you have to know what’s important to you first because otherwise, you end up just saying what you think people want to hear and then building a business that you don’t love.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Authenticity and belief, I think that’s where a lot of advisors struggle because it’s like, “Oh.” I was literally just, we call them Triad packs. I was on one earlier today and complete different, but I’ve seen this with visions too, proprietary processes that became like the big, I’ll call it like five, six years ago, that became like, “Oh, I got to have a proprietary process.” And what did that lead to? It led to a bunch of advisors going to other advisors’ websites and just ripping off their proprietary process and putting their company name in front of it, like XYZ roadmap. I don’t know how many times I saw retirement roadmap and everybody’s like, “I got a proprietary process.” You’re like, “Do you? Like, okay, let’s…”

Kristin Shea: It’s like Oprah. You get a roadmap. You get a roadmap. You get a roadmap.

Brad Johnson: And I’m like, “Let’s ask your team what it’s called.” And you would have a conversation with the team and they’d look at each other like, “Was it blueprint? Roadmap? I don’t remember.” I’m like, “No, that’s not a shared belief system because it was ripped off.” That’s the truth. Like, it’s really hard to believe in something that’s not true to your core and authentic to yourself. And what I hear you saying, which I love, is a great vision it’s almost like extract it out of you onto a piece of paper where now it can be shared out with the team and said, “Here’s where we’re going.” And by the way, a great vision, we’ve seen this, it will get people on board. And what else will it do? Get people off board that aren’t aligned with that, which is really key, right? You’ve got to have a team that is fully aligned. And once you state this is our North Star, you almost give permission to those that aren’t on board with that to like remove themselves. And that’s okay. You know, it’s not a life sentence when you sign up with the company. So, I want to get to some of the cool products you’re helping build, but any other closing thoughts on just vision or anything else kind of around those, around that topic?

Kristin Shea: Yeah. I’ll give a practical, I think, takeaway, easy takeaway. So, step one, take inventory of where you are today and where you’ve been and reflecting inside of that, ask questions like, what are the things I’m the most proud of? What are the biggest challenges? What are my biggest pain points? And there’s a jumping-off point for the vision because it’s really hard to think about the future, right?

If Henry Ford would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said, “Faster horses.” Sometimes, it’s easier to say what you don’t want than what you do. So, if you look at those things that are the biggest challenges inside your business, let’s say biggest challenge inside my business is like, I’m the only person who can run appointments and work with clients and I can never take a vacation. And I’m always doing everything. And it would be great if I just had another advisor on the team.

Okay, what’s the opposite of that? Three years from today, not only are we going to have a duplicatable, systematic, repeatable, rinse, wash, repeat process that is easy to train on, easy to jump in on on new hires, and an incredible, seamless experience for the rest of the team. So, new business and operations is in constant whiplash from it. But that sales process, you know what? It’s going to be so darn good that the advisors at competing firms are going to be dying to come work with us because they know that they can immediately plug into a system where they’re not begging for business. It’s turnkey. They can do what they love and only focus on the things that they love and they’re good at. And we can all take vacations. And you know what? We’ll take you. Well, we’re going to take the best vacation together when we hit that goal.

So, you see how that happens. But in taking inventory, sometimes it’s easy to start reducing, like, you know what? What do I don’t want? Because then it opens your mind to, okay, well, and this is what I do. What’s the opposite? And how far can we take it? Do you know what any of that looks like today? No, you shouldn’t. Because if not, that’s like a six-month vision. That’s like a one-month vision. Bring in the right people, you bring and invite your team into it, and then you guys figure it out together. And you can do anything that you commit to and you believe in, truly.

Brad Johnson: Well, and the cool thing back to the vision going back to, like, hey, we’re going to land on the moon by the end of the decade, once you’ve clarified this is where we’re headed, now you get the right team in place, which, by the way, one of the things that’s blown me away is how great vision will literally pull the talent in. One of our team members literally told us he was going to retire where he was at. And he goes, “But then Do Business, Do Life just spoke to me. It’s like, I knew this is where I needed to be.”

And so, don’t be surprised just for the prospects that the financial advisor clients that you’re trying to bring into the firm with this kind of shared value prop and vision of where you’re headed, also the talent you will acquire on the team, we’ve started to see many of the firms that have gone through this exercise with this. They literally use this in the hiring process to bring great talent on. And so, it’s really cool how it crosses multiple aspects of building a business.

Let’s get to, I want to spend a little bit of time, this is a little bit of a segue, but we’re talking about, okay, vision for a company, how that brings in talent, how that aligns everybody so they can run forward. But a big piece of that vision, I believe, is almost like this brand identity that comes spoken out of the vision. So, I want to go now, Kristin, because I look at kind of what we coach on from a company standpoint, and you actually started to do that as an individual contributor inside of a company where you started to build a brand and identity on social and a lot of the lessons that come out of your early experiments on LinkedIn, because I think that’s really what they were in the early days, it’s actually a lot of companies are trying to do that for their company, what you kind of built as a brand and identity for yourself on LinkedIn.

And here’s where I want to start. Putting yourself out there on the Internet, whether it’s a podcast like we’re doing right now, whether it’s a video in your early days of your LinkedIn, putting content out there is really scary. I’ve seen many advisors just stop right there because it’s scary. What advice would you give content creators in finance to nudge them to take the first step and just like, just go. Just start creating, learn, you’re going to mess some stuff up, but it’s okay. Give me your Kristin Shea’s wisdom there from doing a lot of content online over the years.

Kristin Shea: So, this is my view now. This was not my view then. I mean, I grew up saying I wanted to have a talk show, like when I was a kid. I want to be a teacher. I want to be a nurse. It was like, I want to have a talk show. I want to be a sportscaster. So, I think there are some people that have a natural inclination for it. That being said, we can go back to this, like there’s a ton of content that you can create that doesn’t require you to speak to a camera. There’s so many other ways.

In fact, a lot of the algorithms right now are moving more towards pictures because attention spans just keep getting shorter. Even the video game is changing. Right now, if I could be completely direct, you have way more to lose by not creating content than you have to lose by making a mistake and embarrassing yourself, which is 100% a guarantee. I went back and went back through my videos and one of the first videos I did, man, I was wearing a turtleneck that I bought for my new job in finance, glasses. I don’t know what was going on with my hair. Shoulders were scrunched.

When you talk in camera, it tends to play back slower. It’s like objects are closer than they appear in a rearview mirror. Your voice is way faster than it sounds when you’re on video. You know what I mean? So, it’s like this weird turtleneck, like weird turtle video, very strange, super cringe.

But you get better, you get used to it. And then, if nothing else, skills aside, one of the things we say around here is that language creates is just by telling yourself, I’m going to make an amazing video. I’m amazing on video is immediately going to transform the way that you show up. I think there are three really important things to keep in mind, because I think a lot of times when you go to record or create content, advisors, they feel like they need to be somebody. They need to be an advisor, right? Like, yes, you are an advisor, but first and foremost, you’re a human, right?

So, you see the bookshelf, you see the suit, you see the folded hands, you see the graphs. And that’s uncomfortable for you because how often do you get suited and have all these lights pointing at you with this big bookshelf behind you and you’re reading from a transcript? That’s not comfortable for you, but it’s also not comfortable for your audience. They’re not interested. They’re not going to watch it.

The keyword in social media is social. So, there are three core tenets that I have about branding, about content, about business, about life that I live by. And I think it’s important to keep in mind and should be motivating as much as they are informing. So, one, we’re in the attention economy, okay? Economics is founded upon the idea of supply and demand. How do we allocate a resource with a limited supply in a world where we have unlimited demand? You go back a hundred years ago, what did that look like? Food, water, shelter. Okay, fast forward to a first-world society, right? Those types of things aren’t really that scarce.

We have food, we have water. But what is scarce is attention because we have this abundance of information. So, there was a Nobel Prize awarded to an economist. His name is Herbert Simon. In recent years, over the past 10 years, he says we are now in the attention economy. So, in an abundance of information, the only thing that’s truly scarce is attention.

To go back to the original statement, which is that you have more to lose by not creating content than you do by maybe making some cringe worthy videos or content pieces is that there’s an attention inequality gap in the same way that there’s a wealth inequality gap, right? And that gap continues to get wider. So, the people at the top that are getting the most attention in the industry, on social media, in the business, it doesn’t matter what it is, as things move faster, we have more information at our fingertips. They’re going to continue to get more information. And the people that are not capturing a lot of attention, it’s going to get really hard to catch up.

So, you, not you literally, maybe you, I don’t know, if it’s you, that’s okay. But if you are the advisor that’s sitting behind a desk, the mahogany desk and the bookshelf in the suit and talking about taxes, you’re not winning in the attention economy because the keyword in social media is social. That feels like work. It feels like going to a doctor’s office. It feels like going to meet with a lawyer. It’s not the immediate attention span of all the other things that you’re competing with, right? So, right above you, maybe a meme about your favorite football team. And right below that, maybe a funny video of a kid just falling and slipping on ice cream. You’re not winning that war for attention.

So, you have to, moving into my second branding tenet, you have to be human. Okay? It’s not B2B, it’s not B2C, it’s H2H, it’s human to human. People do business with people. So, who are you as a person? Do you love wearing Hawaiian shirts? Do you love walking the trail behind your house? Was there something that you thought about today or you came across in business that you’re like, or you had a conversation with your spouse, you’re like, “You know what? That was really interesting.” And you can just be in your space and talk about it as a human, not as an advisor, but as a human with the intention of connecting and maybe adding some value to other humans, you’re going to get way more traction there and you’re going to have a lot more fun doing it.

And then three, I want you to like double down. So, we’re in the attention economy, that’s one. Two, it’s not B2B, it’s not B2C, it’s H2H. But three, right now, and this touches on both, you have to be magnetic, right? And I think we’ve done this in our business because we are both attracting and repelling a lot of time when you think about a magnet. You think, okay, I need to be magnetic, I need to attract people. But what you forget is that magnets work both ways. They attract and they repel. And the stronger you are repelling, the stronger those attractions are, even if you’re pushing more people away.

Brad Johnson: It’s actually the easiest way to be as authentic and true to yourself if you’re brave enough to do it. And I’ll tell you, I don’t know that there’s a human on the planet that says, “I wish that person was faker. I wish they were a little more fake.” What people are attracted to, from my experience, is people that are real and true to themselves. Even if they disagree with who they are, they at least respect.

It goes back to Tim Tebow. What did he say? “I don’t care about being liked, but I do want to be respected.” And people will respect if you are, here’s what I stand for, here’s who I am. Might not necessarily be what you stand for, but here’s me. And so much of that, I go back to early podcasts. The imposter syndrome is real for everybody, if they’re honest. The little voice in your head of like, was that video good, was it bad?

But the moment you free yourself that maybe this is the stoic in me of like all I can do is try to add value out there to who I believe to be my audience and not overthink it. And like, guess what? At the end of the day, it’s the Internet. So, half the people are going to hate it, half the people might love it if you’re lucky. And then don’t get all caught up in like if somebody puts a negative comment because as long as you serve one or two people that are out there feeling your vibe, cool, that’s what being a human is. It’s like, can I serve others and help others? And guess what? If you do that enough, all of it comes back and all will be good in the world. So, I’m hearing a lot of similarities with just kind of that early journey.

Kristin Shea: Yeah, and you know, it’s interesting, like, tactically speaking, about content, you just reminded me of this, is you make it about others from a content point of view, from a business point of view, from a mission point of view that it’s always who not how. Yes, that applies to building a team, how do we bring this vision to life, who not how, but like who not how should also be your approach to marketing, branding, content, all of it. Who are we talking to? Because from an attention economy point of view, those are the things that get people to raise their hand and pay attention because they’re like, “Oh, you’re talking to me.”

So, I know you love this video. And I just pulled up the words. This was from Steve Jobs’ rollout, the MacBook commercial. And what he says is we’re going back to our brand, which is our values. And he plays the commercial and he says, “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in square holes, the ones who see things differently.” Ooh, that’s me, that’s me, that’s me. He doesn’t say a single thing about the computer, the mouse pad if they had them back then. Like, how fast the Internet was. What he’s saying is. “Hey. I’m calling you out. This is for you. And I see you and I understand you.” I think, one of the biggest gaps in opportunities for advisors would be to just start there in your content and in who you want to serve. And it’s not just the problems that they have, like Steve Jobs is not saying, “This one goes out to all the people who can’t get their gosh darn computer to charge.” You know what I mean? Or like, “Can’t stand the window’s noise when it opens.”

I think a lot of advisors lead with the problems that people have, right? So, the tax burden, by the way, nobody ever says tax burden, they’d call their brother and they’d say like, “Hey, I’m freaking out about taxes.” But about market and the volatility in the market, they’re baby boomers, they’re 55 to 65 years old. They’re concerned about health care costs. I think what we forget is that these people that you served, they lived a whole life up until the point that they got into your office.

So, imagine how much easier it is to capture the attention of the people that you love to serve and stand out and build a business that you love, that supports like a real mission. If you were to change it and even just start your messages and lead with a message in lines of like, this one goes out to the young at heart, down to earth people who are health-oriented and they’re financially, physically, spiritually, mentally, they center their lives around their family. And we’ll just say it because it’s top of mind and love to challenge the status quo. Who have these problems? Because it’s one thing to say, because then when you talk to the problems or the challenges that they may be facing, they’re like, yeah, that yeah, I’m totally into hell. Yes, I love my family. Yes, I am. Yeah, I challenge the status quo, and oh my gosh, I have those problems too. Advisors, we have to speak to the values of the people and it will help you capture the attention. It is as human as it can get. And it’s a first step without going full pledge into a niche, which I’m a big fan of. Not necessary. But the first step makes a huge difference towards being magnetic.

Brad Johnson: I wanted to just let you flow there. When we get on that topic, I just see the energy come out of you because you’re so passionate about it and you’ve actually workshopped this for years now and you’ve learned a lot and you’ve iterated. And so, here’s a little shout-out. Kristin did not ask me to do this. This is not a book launch podcast, but this book just became a year old not too many days ago, The Truth About Digital Marketing for Financial Advisors. You heard like 5 to 10 minutes of Kristin riffing on social, how to show up, how to be your authentic self, how to actually build a brand online that’s true to you. Her whole playbook’s here. So, you should go buy this if you’re an advisor and you haven’t yet. And that’s my endorsement of Kristin’s book. With that…

Kristin Shea: Thanks.

Brad Johnson: You’re welcome. And I know that was a love/hate project, which you loved it, you hated it. It was a big– I mean, hate it, I mean, like it was a lax. Like you had a lot going on, you poured your heart and soul into it. And I’m just proud that you did that because nobody can ever take that book away from you. And I know it’s helped a lot of advisors out there. I know many of them have hit you up already.

Kristin Shea: Can I share one with you? Because we just hit the one-year anniversary.

Brad Johnson: Please.

Kristin Shea: And I love that you’re always someone I can celebrate with. So, maybe we have other people to celebrate. I’m not usually good at this kind of thing. It was a one-year anniversary a couple of days ago. And I have reached a thousand advisors. I was thinking it would be a thousand copies sold. That’s hands down. I didn’t write the book to make money. I wrote the book because I was like, I had something to say. But a thousand people in 12 different countries. So, thank you for the shout-out. Thank you.

Brad Johnson: I hope after this conversation it’s a thousand more very quickly because here’s the thing, the Internet changed the game. Finance has been a little slower because there are so many hoops you have to jump through and regulations and all of that. But I’m actually like a third or a half of the way through Elon Musk’s new biography by Walter Isaacson.

Kristin Shea: I just got that.

Brad Johnson: Fascinating read. But here’s one thing Elon saw is the Internet changes the rules to the game. And obviously, he was early in that with what was X, then became PayPal, then became now X again when he bought Twitter. So, it’s funny to see how the whole evolution happened. But the Internet changed the game because what Kristin could do on LinkedIn today was not possible back in the day, but the reach that it creates back to– if you look at old school financial advising, I’ll just go on one little tangent, then I want to get to the cool products you’ve helped build.

Old school financial advising, and it’s still this mindset still exists in our industry today. Who’s my competition? And everybody looks like on their block, their city block or their zip codes that they market in and all of that. Yes, that’s important. But if that’s how you’re thinking, you’re not thinking big enough would be my challenge to you, because guess what? The ones starting to take over the industry, whether it’s asset management or safe money on the annuity front, life insurance, they’re utilizing the Internet now.

And back to what you stand for, what you’re for, and what you’re not for, back to Apple’s Think Differently commercial, the Internet now gives you reach to where you’re syndicated worldwide with the click of a button, whether it’s video, podcasts, whatever. And it is mind-blowing, like, I can’t believe people that hit me up on the podcast from different countries, it still blows my small-town Kansas mind. But it’s a different game now.

Kristin Shea: Big-town Brad.

Brad Johnson: Yeah, well, still small town in spirit. But as you start to understand it’s a different game, it actually gives you the freedom to be more your true, authentic self because you’re not just marketing to your tiny little geography that most of us grew up and thinking about. And it’s really cool. It unlocks all this potential for all of us. And so, I think that you have an abundance mindset. Like, I know Kristin and I do. It’s just really cool how that can play out if you put those messages out into the world to help others.

I want to get to a product you helped create. And by the way, this is not an infomercial for Triad. There’s lessons here. But I will say one of the things we try to do is stay member-obsessed, the Triad member-obsessed, which would be the advisors we work with and build things on their behalf and listen and be humble and all of that. But one of the things we saw was it’s really easy to talk about vision, but it’s really hard to slow down a super successful entrepreneur advisor that’s just cranking 110 miles an hour to say, “Hey, sit down and craft a vision, like write down under the apple tree,” right?

And sorry, that’s my best analogy there. And so, we saw this. We knew the importance of it. If you’re going to scale a business, attract great talent, get everybody aligned on a singular focus for the mission. You can’t go where you want to go unless you know where you’re headed, right?

Kristin Shea: Correct.

Brad Johnson: But it was painful. And so, we kept saying, “Okay, we’ll just write your vision. And nobody would do the homework.” And it was somewhere in this process as we were onboarding new members and we knew we couldn’t help them build something if we didn’t know where they were going, that the launch plan, which now has become this beautiful deliverable called Mission Control, which is a vision, the messaging around that vision, and the visual identity of the company, really three parts, and I’ll let you expand on that, we had to find a way to extract that. And I’m going to brag on you a little bit. This is one of your God-given talents.

You have like a voracious appetite for knowledge and data, so do a lot of other people, but they can’t curate it into something that actually is easy to digest and make sense and really simplify the complex. You have that gift. And I think you almost did it organically one time and were like, “Oh, wait, this could be something.” And it got to the level where it was so cool, Michael Hyatt, who does entrepreneurial coaching, we showed him an early prototype. He works with entrepreneurs in every vertical, every industry. And he’s like, “All of my entrepreneurs struggle with the same thing. They know they should do a vision, but they can’t actually extract it to a point where they can share it with their team.” So, big build-up, you built an incredible product. I know there are a lot of team members involved, but you really spearheaded what we call a product at Triad. Give me, just like wherever you want to take that, the ahas, the learnings, the difficulties. I’d love to get your thoughts on the purpose behind that, how it came to be.

Kristin Shea: Yeah. Okay. So, couple of things, we cannot serve advisors at the highest level without understanding their vision. It’s a horrible place to be. Quite frankly, I think we were in– along with many others, it was a problem that we needed to solve, where I think the way that we approached serving was fairly reactive because it was in a response to the idea of the day, right? Hey, I just talked to a friend and they just started doing educational workshops at libraries instead of seminars. So, even if I’m doing seminars for four months, I think I’m going to just start doing educational workshops now.

And it’s like, okay, well, you’re committed to it, so let me help you how I can, right? So, of course, as coaches and as a true business development company, that’s a conversation we’re happy to have. But having a vision, it serves as a filter for all of the distractions masquerading as opportunities, right?

So, on any given day, it gives us an objective piece of consensus on where we want to go that we can use together to say, “Okay, sounds like your friend killed it. That’s an awesome idea.” This is what we said we wanted to be in three years. These were the eight strategic priorities that we said we wanted to focus on this year. Is this more important? Do we want to take those off? Or you also said, part of your vision at seminars are everything, right?

It becomes almost a tool of accountability that I think all of us need. I mean, shoot, I suffer from shiny object syndrome every day. And God, I have you and my partner in crime. Danny, who is not a quick start, not a salmon, who’s going to say like, “You know, you did have this other thing that you wanted to do and you’ve been trying to do for months to be like, thank you.” I think it’s important and it’s important for not only you, for the founders, but for their teams, right? Because otherwise, you’re just kind of plant you, you get stuck in this game of playing daily Whac-A-Mole and you can’t see the forest for the trees. And if you’re going to run a mile looking at your feet, do you think you’re really going to make it the full mile?

Brad Johnson: Or end up where you wanted to end up.

Kristin Shea: Yeah. Without getting to a hospital or something. So, it’s important because it keeps you focused on the long term and it gives you the freedom, I mean, truly the freedom to say, “Not right now. It’s not in the vision.” To say no, sometimes, you’re like, “I don’t want to say no because I want to do it all.” But if you change your mindset around it, saying no is like incredibly liberating. So, that’s one. And I think the process around the vision is similar. I think we’ve spoken to it pretty in-depth. I think, we take inventory of where we are going through the vision and then we move into brand. If there’s one thing I think I’d note from a process point of view, it’s that there’s no homework, all of it is done through in a talking format.

I once heard the quote, “It’s really easy to get writing block, but nobody ever gets talker’s block.” So, whoever is helping you extract these ideas, ask them to ask you open-ended questions. Tell me more. tell me more, tell me more. And either use a transcription service or somebody who’s high on follow-through or can just simply help take notes to take inventory of it so that you don’t have to worry about that and you can just speak freely. Some people have talker’s block, but less people have talker’s block than they do writer’s block. And it doesn’t feel like homework when you’re engaging with somebody who’s as passionate as you are. You may be able to get a sense for the passion here and the whole team shares it.

From there we move on to the brand, and Chris has been on the show a couple of times. I think it’s one of my favorite episodes. Chris is an incredible leader and mentor to, I think, Triad in the same way that he is to our members as a strategic partner. But I think an aha that we made internally at Triad was to take those external-facing messages that you guys are probably familiar with if you’ve listened to Chris’ episode. If you haven’t, I’m not going to do him any justice. I would just go back and listen to them. But statements like what we are known for or the true outcome of our work, and turning them inward towards the business, right?

Like, a lot of times I think people think of a brand and they think of it as like a logo or a font or a color scheme. And that’s not a brand. Your brand is your core values. Your brand is your why. Your brand is the heart and soul of your business. So, in the exact same way that your brand, your values, your vision should attract clients who want to learn more, who want to become a part of it, it should also help you attract team members that want to be a part of it. In the exact same way that your brand should show up inside of your client experience, it should show up and inform your employee experience in the exact same way that it helps you. I mean, it’s a completely different conversation and it’s a mindset shift that helps you remove the jargon, right?

So, it’s not what we are known for is comprehensive planning. It’s what we are known for is making sure that every single client we serve knows that the best is yet to come. And you know what? What we’re known for is having a culture where every single person in our team knows that the best is yet to come. That’s a real brand. When you’re bleeding it and your whole team believes in it and it’s not just something that you say and you’ve got coasters in your office that say the best is yet to come, and milestones that every anniversary, you’re sending out a trophy that says Happy Anniversary, the best is yet to come. That’s a brand.

And that’s where you get into the third generation of talking, right? So, the first generation, it’s you saying it, you sharing it. What we’re known for is helping our clients know and our team know the best is yet to come. Second generation is your team telling your clients. Third generation, when they hear it enough, it’s real enough, and you go all in and you say no to everything else, that’s when other people start saying, “Hey, what they’re known for is helping people know that the best is yet to come.” And yeah, I now know that the best is yet to come. A brand is not a color logo, a font, any of that.

Brad Johnson: Yeah, but first off, episode that you talk about Chris Smith, Episode 5, for those wondering. So, check that one out. Chris has been an incredible strategic partner to Triad. We have experienced a lot of this accidentally. And I shouldn’t say accidentally. I should give us more credit than that. We were intentional about what we were building. But I know we’ve talked about this, Kristin, and for you advisors listening in there, when you create, as Kristin said, words create, well, guess what? When you create new words for your business, it feels weird, like almost inauthentic. Hey, we just kind of created this thing out of thin air. And so, now, we’re just supposed to start messaging it.

I was making a joke at Scale Summit. This will date me a little bit, but a popular movie when I was in college is called Super Troopers. And there’s a funny scene in there where they play the Meow game, like meow like a cat. And the game is how many times you can say meow in a conversation without the person noticing you’re saying meow. Like, meow, you know what I pulled you over for meow? Like that sort of game.

And I was joking. One of our firms out of Chicago, Vantage Point, they were actually on the show as well. They were in that stage where they had just kind of created the messaging in conjunction with you, Kristin. They’d gone through the launch plan. We’d created kind of their mission control that you’re describing, but then it was still a natural. It’s like we’ve never said this before and I’m like, “Guys, just play a little game. Just go in, it’s the Meow game.” And I went, there were three partners. I was like, “Hold each other accountable. How many times did you say your new proprietary process that you actually have verbiage behind the we believe statement, all of that?”

And it was funny when they kind of gamified it. The more they said it, the more they got comfortable with it, the more they saw across the table, the prospect go, “Oh, that makes sense.” So, then the belief was created and it was like this flywheel effect of, okay, they spoke it into existence, like what you’re talking about. And so, if there is that resistance, I just want to encourage all of you advisors out there, congratulations, you’re normal. That’s how it works for everyone. Do Business, Do Life, like we knew it’s what we are about. But saying it out of the gates, it kind of felt like, okay, is this just something we dreamed up? No, it’s true to our core. And now, we’ll have our clients hashtagging DBDL, obviously this podcast, that was born out of that whole concept. And so, it’s just kind of crazy how it works, Kristin. It kind of blows you away once you dedicate yourself to it.

Kristin Shea: The mindset shift, I think has been a game changer for all of us, is realizing that it’s not about what you say. It’s not about the words that you’re saying because they’re uncomfortable. You’ve never said them before or even how you’re saying it because that doesn’t matter. It’s who you are when you’re saying the words. You know what I mean? Like, it’s not about…

Brad Johnson: Who you become. It’s almost like you become as well.

Kristin Shea: Who are you when you say the words, are you a leader? Are you that inspiring person? Are you someone that can be trusted? Are you someone that’s worth respecting and admiring and believing in when you say it? It’s not like, you know what we’re known for is helping our clients know that the best is yet to come. Like you, that’s it. Like, it should be a whole body. Okay, maybe now, I may be an extreme, but put your body into it. Stand up until you get comfortable becoming the person that you need to become when you say those words, because who you are when you’re saying them makes or breaks the words that you’re saying in no matter what format, whether it’s content to your team, to a potential prospect, I think who you’re being you say it matters most.

Brad Johnson: Sales is a transfer of belief, and if you don’t start that belief in you, you sure can’t transfer it to others. It’s conviction. That’s really what it is. Okay. Sadly, I look up and here we are. So, we’ve got two fortune cookies to crack. And so, do you want to go into Kristin Shea’s– first off, it’s been really fun, Kristin. We’ve had a lot of fun conversations during the Triad run, but this was fun. So, thanks for coming on the show.

As always, your energy is infectious. I love who you are, how you show up. You just pour into our community. You love to serve others. So, thanks for all you’ve done. Thanks for going through the tough times, the storms, the craziness that it’s taken to get to here. I’m forever grateful. So, thank you. And Triad would not exist without Kristin Shea because you were right there helping us build it from the very get-go. So, thank you for that. Now, I better stop.

Kristin Shea: You’re welcome.

Brad Johnson: I’m going to get emotional here. So, with that, as we wrap here, I have to close with what is Kristin Shea’s definition of Do Business, Do Life. And then we can get to the fortune cookies or we can do the fortune cookies and get to that, your choice.

Kristin Shea: Wow.

Brad Johnson: Let’s do the fortune cookies and end with DBDL, your definition.

Kristin Shea: So, the one I started will be for us, you and me. And then this one will be for the audience.

Brad Johnson: Okay.

Kristin Shea: Because at first, it was like Kristin and Brad, but like us, audience, and all of us together. Okay. I would say, cheers to you. Cheers. What do you think it says? What do you think the animal is?

Brad Johnson: Stay true to yourself. That’s my guess.

Kristin Shea: I want to read them both, and then decide which one is for the audience because the first one is good. A bold adventure is in your near future.

Brad Johnson: Wow. Maybe we were supposed to do that, like three years ago.

Kristin Shea: Can we handle any more bold adventures?

Brad Johnson: Yeah, there’s probably more in store. Probably more in store.

Kristin Shea: Okay, cool. All right. And then the last one, this one’s for you guys. This one’s for you DBDL.

Brad Johnson: So, for you, DBDL listeners out there, this one goes out to you. Here’s your fortune. I hope it’s good.

Kristin Shea: I hope it’s good. Okay. Oh, okay, you’re not going to– a new book will change your perspective. I literally cannot even make this up. A new book will change your perspective.

Brad Johnson: Well, with that, here you go, go buy Kristin’s book, Truth About Digital Marketing for Financial Advisors. There you go.

Kristin Shea: And Joey Coleman from the last episode was pretty good, too. If you haven’t listened to that, that’s a fire episode.

Brad Johnson: Yeah.

Kristin Shea: And a bold adventure is in your near future as well. Let’s be real. All of our futures.

Brad Johnson: Love it. All right. What’s Kristin’s definition of Do Business, Do Life? I’d love to hear it.

Kristin Shea: I honestly kind of think this is it. Bold adventures in life, traveling, having a dog. Love her. Okay, I don’t know. Yeah, bold adventures and learning. Is that a good answer? I feel like most of my job is just learning and reading and taking in as much feedback and information as I can in a way that I can hopefully give back and create value. And then outside of that, in business and life, it’s all just adventures. In Enneagram’s 7 Land, world’s an amazing place as long as you let it be.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. You’re fortunate. We left a small piece of the story out. You’re married to a 7. His name’s Joe. He’s a great dude.

Kristin Shea: God bless him.

Brad Johnson: He actually served a season at Triad that I’m very grateful for. And what was really cool, like talk about a partner in life, supported you while you all were engaged to move to Kansas, half a country away, supported you coming out here because that really sucked after a while into it, right? And it’s just been awesome to see your evolution as a business person. But really, like as a human, you’ve just grown in so many ways since we first met. And it’s cool that I’ve really gotten to know Joe too who’s like DBDLing with you. So, here’s to all the adventures you all take together.

Kristin Shea: Yeah, cheers. Cheers, man.

Brad Johnson: All right.

Disclosure

These conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies, concepts and tools that could be incorporated into the advisory practice, advisors are responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed is in accordance with any and all regulatory and compliance responsibilities and obligations. TP09233133831

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