Brad Johnson: All right, guys. Well, to say I’ve been looking forward to this conversation is an understatement. So, Derek, Keith, Matt, welcome to the show. I’m excited for the conversation today.
Matthew Peck: Glad to be here, Brad. Happy to be on your show.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Absolutely. Thanks for having us.
Brad Johnson: Derek is even coming to us live from a second location in Florida. So, you guys have now gone worldwide at SHP. So, thanks for joining us, Derek. I think you carved out some time on vacation, right?
Derek Gregoire: Yeah. There’s a lot of talk of SHP in Florida, which is not happening. I think when we’re down here, it’s like chill and vacation and that’s that.
Brad Johnson: No picking up clients on the golf course. Not in the cards today?
Derek Gregoire: Nope. Golf course, yes.
Brad Johnson: Cool. Well, guys, one of the things on the new show format that I really want to do as I look back at podcasting and kind of the journey I’ve been on over the years, I’ve had a number of advisors just come up to me and say how much they’ve learned, and obviously, knowing you guys, I guess we’re getting old now because it’s been over a decade that I really worked along– yeah, Keith, you did not have that gray back in the day, that’s for sure. But seeing your guys’ transformation, how your business has evolved, and also seeing how much over the years just you surrounding yourselves with other great advisors, how much that impacted you, how much you’ve been able to give back to other advisors, and it’s just really the whole concept of iron sharpens iron, I thought I would absolutely be missing a huge opportunity if I didn’t create some version of that with the new show format.
So, the plan is this is one of the first episodes. I don’t know the exact order it’s going to come out, but at least once a month, we’re going to do a spotlight on a Triad office to where we really just deconstruct and just have a real conversation, good, bad, and ugly, all the trials and tribulations along the way and just see what we can share in your journey that can help other offices out there listening in. So, excited to have you guys as one of the first guests. And I don’t even know what we’re going to call this, call it Triad spotlight, but I thought we would start with where we met. And I know it was in a very nice hotel, Keith, if you remember up in Cleveland, Ohio.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yes, yes.
Brad Johnson: One of the classics.
Matthew Peck: Yeah, downtown Cleveland, is that where you guys met?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Something like that.
Brad Johnson: I don’t remember.
Matthew Peck: I do believe all great stories start in downtown Cleveland.
Brad Johnson: Well, the Christmas story started there, and that’s a great story. So, I remember meeting you, Keith, and we were all, I think, upper 20s at the time. You guys were young into your journey as a business, I mean, even though you started the SHP at a very young age, and from what I remember, correct any of this that’s wrong, four partners at the time, you guys, I think the prior year, so I think it was about 2012 when we met. I believe that the prior year between the four of you, you had captured about 8 to 10 million of new assets total. Is that about right?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: That’s a barrier, eight million.
Brad Johnson: Yep. So, if you do the division there divided by four, you guys were just popping trunks, grabbing brochures, making things happen, right?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yes. There was a lot of money.
Derek Gregoire: Two million a pop.
Brad Johnson: Yes. And you had a very different team than you had today. But I’ll tell you what I loved about you guys. You had great hearts. You still do. You were there to serve. You had no egos, whatsoever. And that’s not always common in this business.
And the biggest thing is you were students. You were like, “Hey, we know we don’t have this all figured out. We want to grow, get better, get in front of people that can help us level up.” And that was really where our kind of journey in this business started. So, if you guys look back and whoever wants to hop in, it’s kind of tough with three of you so maybe I don’t want to raise hands or anything like that, but if you guys want to hop in and just rewind back to 2012, what were the things, like if you were going to give yourselves advice back in, it was a four-partner business, I know. You now are down to three partners, one of them exited early in the game, a very small team, but you were going to say “Derek, Keith, Matt, guys, here’s what you need to do, here’s advice I would give you, either stop doing this or start doing that,” where would you have started back then?
Derek Gregoire: Oh, the list is long. The list is very long. I mean, it’s like I think, at that point, at the same time, we’ll get into this later. We hired our COO, Michelle, and that was in 2013, 2014. So, we were still kind of in that young stage. So, we started in 2003. From 2003 to 2013 was like a strange, like we all understood the financial side and financial planning and stat side, but we didn’t understand how to run a business. So, we had to learn through a lot of trials and error and a lot of bad mistakes, a lot of testing different things.
And everyone Michelle came on, she’s like, “Wait a minute, you guys,” we still, we never think we’re above any task or anything like that. She goes, “You guys should be focusing more on this and you’re answering phones and you’re ordering coffee paper and you’re dealing with the printer company because the printer broke down.” And she’s like, “Why are you doing all that?” So, I think, that’s when we really started. It started with small things like that, like making sure someone was answering the phone, but then it led to 5,000 other things that have allowed us to grow and scale our business.
So, more of a higher level now, it’s like, why are you going to do all the research and portfolios? Why don’t you have Matt heads up our investment committee? But then we have three really good analysts and portfolio traders that do all the work behind the scene because we can do that. So, you think of like get started with just not answering the phones, but now it’s grown to our sweet spot is dealing with some of our larger clients and really dealing with the company strategically as a whole where before we tried to do everything. So, that’s 10 years’ worth of a summary in 10 seconds.
Brad Johnson: So, what I’m hearing there, Derek, is just a lot of generalist activities where you were pulled in 50 different directions doing everything versus the stuff that actually drove revenue to the firm?
Derek Gregoire: Exactly.
Brad Johnson: And Matt, you were chiming in there. What do you have to add?
Matthew Peck: Yeah. What I was going to say, I think, certainly, couldn’t cosign enough or emphasize enough what Derek just mentioned. The other thing is that though the advice that I would give us back in the day was stop selling product, and I really think that we were so focused on, oh, well, what’s this cap or that cap or this bonus or whatever that may be because, at that time when we first met Brad, even though Derek mentioned where we are now, we were insurance only.
And so, we were not only insurance only, but we were sort of product only. We were sort of going in there trying to compare what we had versus what had been already offered to the client. So, we were offering a commodity rather than a process. And so, really, at that point, we started to develop the Retirement Road Map process. So, we sold the plan. We sold us, as the advisor, not just the product.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yeah, I was going to say that was– trying to go in and carve out a portion of someone’s assets is really difficult rather than going in and getting all of the assets and building a comprehensive plan and then really loving on that family and then leads to other, which we’re going to get into, referrals, business building, everything along those lines. So, yeah, definitely, it took us a long time in our careers for one of us to get license, and then for all three of us to get license. But ever since that point, it’s really been a rocket ship in our business and it’s really helped our clients, so.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, here’s the theme that I’ve seen, guys, and I hear you all three saying, you were kind of a product of the environment you grew up in. And I know the three of you, and there’ll probably be a lot of listeners that relate to this, you came from Bankers Life, which from my experience, most people in our space today started somewhere like that, kind of a captive group with somebody else’s name over the door. And my comparison I kind of make that is it’s kind of like, what’s the church you grew up in? What’s your religion when it comes to the business? And you only know what you were brought up in and what I think that was cool that is really like if you’re listening in, I think it’s always really important to think about your thinking. And if Bankers Life that their process was grabbed the brochure of the day, talk about the product, Matt, you’re like, yep, that really sounds pretty good. Talk about the latest about the product.
Derek Gregoire: I remember how they did describe the benefit. There was a brochure and a whole book that you flip through to describe the benefits of why someone needed long-term care, and then the story of a woman who needed long-term care but didn’t have it, it was ridiculous. Keith and Matt probably remember the name. What was the name, Keith?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Charlotte Perkins.
Derek Gregoire: I told you. I knew he would. That was the story from 20-something years ago that we had to tell about Charlotte Perkins, like break in our head.
Brad Johnson: Oh, wait, hold up. Oh, hold up. This was a scripted story you were trained to give.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yes.
Brad Johnson: Wow, wow. Keith was good, man. He was a good student all the way through.
Matthew Peck: It wasn’t even just a story. It was scripted where you literally would just flip page, then like, okay, here’s the next page. You would just show the client from this binder with the plastic thing with a sheet of paper inside it. I mean, you would just, again, flip page by page, and then that’s how you get to the close. It’s just…
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Good, better, best.
Matthew Peck: Yeah. That’s where we came from. It’s our religion, as you said.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, it’s really interesting because I think that’s just a good lesson in business is a lot of businesses have a set product. Product is already created, and then they’re like, okay, go sell this product to people or clients or prospects, where the flip if you really deconstruct what you guys did, is you removed yourself from being tied to a certain product. And by the way, I know we’re talking about old school, the insurance policies you guys were selling when you first got in the business, but it’s the exact same side. I’ve seen the whole other side of that story where people that grow up in the asset management, fiduciary fee-only world, their product is here’s the way we manage assets and this is why this way is better than the way you’re doing it now.
So, they’re still selling a product whether they know it or not, right? And what you guys did is you removed yourself from that and you said, “Hey, I’m going to sit down with an individual. I’m going to see what they actually need, what gaps in their planning or lack of planning they have.” Maybe they have a pension, so they don’t even need an insurance product that creates income, right? But let’s deconstruct and kind of goals-based planning and let’s now custom build versus give them a preconstructed home.
So, it’s kind of like the homes where everyone looks the same on the block versus, hey, I’m going to build a custom home based on what I actually need in my home. And the moment you did that and the moment you also– I want to get in the process, Matt, because you talked about that. The SHP Retirement Road Map for those that are unaware that aren’t familiar with the SHP guys, that is their proprietary trademarked process. I’ll let you guys share what it is kind of the five worlds. And I know you’ve done a ton of work with guys like Chris Smith in our community to really even message that better than you have in the past.
But what you did is it’s kind of like the McDonald’s version of the Big Mac. You can start a hamburger stand and guess what? There’s a hamburger stand on every corner in America where you’re a commoditized business. You guys created your version of the Big Mac. You can only get the Big Mac at McDonald’s. Well, you can only get the SHP Retirement Road Map at SHP. So, maybe deconstruct that, guys, I don’t know who wants to hop in and kind of share the inflection point that made.
Matthew Peck: Yeah. And Brad, I’ll let Derek and Keith talk about the actual process itself, but let me just talk a little bit about the philosophy behind that. And I think the keyword there that you mentioned is proprietary. I mean, we wanted to focus on what was proprietary, where could you only get SHP, right? Well, first is the process, but we’ll talk about what’s the planning process.
The other thing that really became part of our culture and our DNA from early on is the focus on us as people, as persons, not the savior by no means, but as the advisor that’s going to be with that client through thick and thin. And so, to talk about how, okay, yes, not only yeah, I mean think about that way, think about initially, we were all product. It’s like, yeah, you can get product anywhere. You can get a hamburger anywhere. But when you combine the process and the planning process, which we’ll talk about in a moment with us as people, well, you get that is truly proprietary, right? And so, now, really, you become more distinct. You really stand out because you can’t get that combination anywhere else.
Brad Johnson: Well, the thing I saw guys from the outside looking in. So, if you look at Sales 101, objection handling, back to the pre-made script that you guys were kind of had to memorize, if I get Product A put in front of me, whether that’s an annuity, whether that’s the latest greatest asset management model, whatever, if they’re not in on that or the school that they grew up in was anti that thing that you’re offering, now, the objection is, oh, well, annuities are bad, or oh well, I heard that’s too high of a fee for that asset management model. How can you object to this? Hey, I want to sit down. I want to get to know you. I want to figure out what’s working, what isn’t, where the gaps are in your plan, what your goals are.
And then I want to put as an independent advisor, the most efficient tool into your plan to accomplish the problem or fix the problem. And it’s like, wait, how do you object to I’m going to listen, I’m going to seek to understand? And then I have an entire toolbox of every product that exists as an independent advisor and as a fiduciary and I’m simply going to construct in the most efficient way a plan that does what you need it to do. It’s like, how do you object against that? Did the objections– I know a lot of what you guys do is educate or maybe reeducate on poor education once a prospect gets to you, but did you find it would just create a smoother process, a less like– I feel a lot of sales is like a boxing match where you’re ducking and jabbing and objecting. Like, how did that change the game for you guys, just high level philosophically when you went to that model?
Derek Gregoire: I think first, we started out like it was more describing like, how do you not like this annuity that pays, you can hit them. This bonus and this is like it was trying to sell that. And then, you said, all the objections can come up, and then it’d be back and forth where now it’s such more of a consultative-type situation where when we’re sitting down, well, we changed that framework. It was all about selling a plan, not a product. And we weren’t incentivized mentally. We’re going to go this direction or that direction and we let the clients know right away the prospect like, hey, we’re going to sit down, learn more about you and your situation. We’re going to see if we can help, and if we can be a fit, that’s great. And if not, no worries.
So, we want to take some of the pressure off, but then all of the questions we’re asking and still kind of get into the process, the Retirement Road Map process is five key areas. So, the whole differentiator at SHP is we have everyone else. Most times when you go to a firm, they either are an investment firm and they give you investments or an annuity firm and they sell you an annuity and that’s the end of it.
With us, we manage money, we charge a fee like everyone else. That’s the investment piece. But also, as part of this consultative process road map, we build you a full income plan, looking at Social Security, expenses, pension analysis, and then we look at investments as we just talked about, and we have a really good team that handles that and does a great job, and according to your risk and everything that goes into investments. Then we have what about taxes? Our taxes play a role. If you ignore taxes and your plan, I mean, you can have the best investment plan in the world if you’re not looking at taxes and they creep up down the road, that’s even just as bad or worse than losing money in the market because you lose money every year with various taxes when you take money out.
And so, we want to look at the Roth conversions make sense, tax loss harvesting, any opportunities, municipal bonds, whatever it is, how can we add value there? Can we look at health care, world number four, long-term care? We have a consultant that helps our clients with Medicare, supplements, all that prescription plans, and then finally, estate planning, legacy. We work with multiple attorneys that handle that side of it, and basically, that is one if you think of a plan and we always say that’s a full plan, and you can get a portfolio anywhere, but you can only get at SHP Retirement Road Map here.
And let’s say, like McDonald’s, you can get a hamburger anywhere. You can only get a Big Mac here at McDonald’s. And since we change that, it’s a lot of work because, behind the scenes, we have a trading team, we have a portfolio team, we have a new business team, we have an ops team, we have a client development team, we have a planning team. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, but if you take the steps to do it right, build a process, and build the right team over time, I mean, the numbers speak, the business takes off. It’s almost hard to have enough.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: And I would say with that comprehensive process, what Derek just described, as our clients have got to know us in our process over the years, we’ve experienced a major inflection in referrals because a lot of times, people ask us why we have such a big team, and this isn’t a sales team. This is more of a support team to follow up and complete all the promises we make. And I would also say what we’ve also experienced is, from a client standpoint, the client’s size or the amount of assets that clients are bringing in are significantly higher than they were three, four, or five years ago. So, that’s the reason, that proprietary process, and using that proprietary process and actually following through, not just saying you’re going to do something actually doing it and doing it extremely well that can lead to massive explosion in business as well.
Derek Gregoire: And Brad, just to throw it in here because I almost forget it if I don’t say it now, like just about the process in the work we do, we’ve had two referrals in the last month. And I’m just thinking because one of the guys call me yesterday. Matt and I were taking care of a woman. She had lost her husband, had a ton of money from insurance sales, and so forth. And we set her up with a plan, and her brother, who’s a doctor, came in just to help her out. And he saw what he had. He has 20 million and he’s looking at what she has and he’s like, I don’t have any of this. My guy just tells me, here’s your investments because you guys do this for everyone. And I’m like, “Yeah, he’s in the process of moving assets over.” I think it’s 17 or 20 million and another one to 13 million, same thing. Referral based on all of that.
And they’re not all going to be that way, obviously. My point is we would have never sniffed that 10 years ago without having– people don’t want to invest in there. People are afraid to invest in their teams. And I’m not saying hire five traders and six new business people, but if you really want to build a good business, you have to build the support in the background that is going to take care of the clients and to execute on everything you say you’re going to do.
Brad Johnson: So, just to make sure I heard that right, a doctor comes in. Was it his sister?
Derek Gregoire: Yep.
Brad Johnson: Sister loses a husband. Brother comes in just to help. Obviously, she’s grieving. There’s a lot of financial stuff going around, kind of the comforting all of us would do for our siblings. And he’s like, “Wait, all this stuff you do for everyone.” And he’s got 20 mil and he’s like, “This is a no-brainer. I need to do this, too.”
Derek Gregoire: He was just trying to help his sister out. He was trying to help his sister go through situation. He’s a very smart guy, saw all the work that went into what we do. And he’s like, I can’t believe you put this much time into your clients. There are so many stories like that. I just shared some. Those are bigger, some are like a million, then 20 million or 50 million. But the point is, we would never have those results in taking care of your clients the right way.
Brad Johnson: That was about two times a year for you guys when I met you the first time. So, let’s bookmark that one and come back because I really do want to dive– last year, a third of your business was generated through referrals, correct? And I don’t think I heard the final December 31st number of total assets. Have you guys summed it all up yet?
Derek Gregoire: 250, I think. 250 something.
Brad Johnson: 250 million of assets gathered organically in 2022.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yeah.
Brad Johnson: That’s pretty awesome, guys. You should be proud of that. That’s a lot of Boston area retirees you guys have helped. And I know a lot of your clients have, or other places, too. But okay, so I want to hit a couple of things. And the problem is we don’t have enough time. This could be a four-hour podcast, but Derek has an engagement following this, so we better keep rolling.
So, one of the things that you guys did, because here’s the thing, 15 years now of talking with advisors all over the country and what’s working for them, what isn’t, where the gaps are, what’s holding them back, I think I did a pretty good job coaching the clients I worked with, like, hey, you need a process versus selling products. And I want to take that a notch deeper.
Back to the doctor’s story you guys shared, so my son the other day, we’re going to overuse this hamburger analogy. So, Nash, you guys know him, you’ve met him. He’s like a hamburger connoisseur. And so, he wants to try. He’s got this weird thing where depending on where he orders the burger from, it depends on what he gets on it.
So, at some places, he’ll get pickles and mustard. At other places, he’ll get cheese. And I know him and Keith have some similarities in how they order cheeseburgers. Anyway, so he’s a McDonald’s guy. That’s his place. We’re still working on that. But it started with just the two-cheeseburger meal. And then he’s like, here’s about the Big Mac so he wants to try that. And so, just the other day, he’s like, “Dad, how good is the Quarter Pounder with cheese?”
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Amazing.
Brad Johnson: I’m like, “Dude, it’s the best at McDonald’s. That’s at the top. They can talk about the Big Mac all day, but the Quarter Pounder with cheese is above the Big Mac.”
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Next level.
Brad Johnson: I see a lot of consensus here. And just that very simple story, here’s what McDonald’s did well if you deconstruct the business. They branded and named their products. And what you guys did, because I talk to so many advisors like, “Oh, I’ve got a proprietary process. It’s the X, Y, Z.” And you know how many times I’ve heard, yeah, so yours is the SHP Retirement Road Map. I know you guys have done a ton of coaching with a lot of advisors over the years. You know how many times I hear it’s the X, Y, Z, fill in firm name, Retirement Road Map to where all they did is they went to a website of another advisor that was maybe a little further down the road or more successful, and they copy/paste it.
And so, to take this further– yeah, so check this out. This is the test. So, if you’re out there listening in, advisor, and you think you have a proprietary process and you think you kind of have checked this box, you need to go to your team, next all-team meeting, and say, “Hey, what’s the name of our process again?” I’ve done that on so many coaching calls of a founder that says, “Hey, we’ve got a proprietary process.”
And then you ask their team and they’re like, “Oh, I think it’s called the something blueprint. I think it’s the compass. I think it’s the GPS.” And right there, you don’t have a process. You’ve got something you copy-pasted, you throw it on a website, it’s marketing, and you’re not actually doing the work to do that. And that’s pretty direct, I know. I’m not here to ruffle feathers, but I am here to help advisors level up.
And the difference between having a process and not having a process is doing the work and actually truly committing. I’ve seen you guys like you don’t sell annuities, you don’t sell asset management. Now you do, you put a lot of those products into different plans depending on the need. But you have one flagship product, it’s the SHP Retirement Road Map. And I think that’s like I wanted to take a little time because I think a lot of advisors check that box, but they don’t really. In their mind, they think they have, but they haven’t really. And so, I want to rewind. Let’s go back. When did you guys create? Because you trademarked it as well, when did this actually, you went from here’s annuities and AUM that we kind of meshed together to here is our trademarked process. Do you remember the year?
Matthew Peck: I mean, I would add up just– I probably go back to 2013, 2014, and just a couple of thoughts there. The first is that it took time. And as you mentioned, Keith, and I think, hopefully, all of us being learners, and so, we were always sort of adding to it to begin. So, right around 2013, 2014 is when we started to kind of really piece together. An example of that addition is that at that point in time, I embarked on getting my CFP, and the Certified Financial Planner Board has these five specific areas.
So, I remember just kind of running down the hall with all these papers in my hand, like, “Hey, guys, check this out. These are the five areas, right?” And then we were sort of getting that sort of reinforced with some of the other seminars and workshops that we’d been, other conferences that some of the other firms were kind of talking similar things. So, we just said, “All right, well, if I’m getting it from here and we’re getting it from other there, let’s kind of build our own system of it.”
And I always remember 2013 is my personal memory of it because that’s when Nolan, my third child, was born, and my wife was so happy because we have a newborn at home, plus probably a four-year-old and a two-year-old. And I’m like, “Hey, honey, I’m going to go up and study for five hours at night. Have a good night.” Diana was so happy I decided to do that. So, yes, 2013, exactly. Maybe it was. Maybe I was…
Brad Johnson: She’s happy now, Matt.
Matthew Peck: Correct. So, yeah, that ‘13, ‘14 time frame is when I kind of piece it as when we started to really build a foundation.
Derek Gregoire: But Brad, I’m not bashing anyone else for not because the reason I said I know they don’t really do it is because when we first learned, oh my gosh, we can call it our Retirement Road Map, we can do all these income investments, we didn’t have the ability in 2012 or 2013 when we adopted this process to fully execute on it, if that makes sense. So, we had the same thing. We had a nice pretty binder. We had the SHP Retirement Road Map and we did income planning. We were managing money. We didn’t really have the appropriate health care for natives. We didn’t have the appropriate estate planning attorneys. We didn’t have a planning team for tax strategies. So, that’s why I say I know to really go down this road, you have to start small. But now, I tell clients all the time, I was like, you don’t– and I remind clients, I think a lot of them, sometimes they think like I’m sitting there in front of a computer picking their holdings, you know what I mean? And I say, which thank God, I’m not for them.
And I say, “Listen, I know where I’m the one who meets with you or whoever it is in our office.” We always try to make this comment that I know we’re the ones that are meeting with you, but behind the scenes, like I’m just here as the face. There’s a whole trading team. That’s all they’re doing every day is looking at researching funds, doing analysis.
We have a planning team. We’re looking for opportunities for you and our clients for, hey, should we do 50,000 Roth conversion or 75? And why? And then should we make any adjustments to risk based on income changes or expenses? Like all this planning is being done and the new part is it’s being done by our team, which is also I’m going to tell you this and we’re going to get into it in the future, it’s allowed us to scale the business but not kill ourselves.
And to see– and I’m going to say this now, I’m sure we’ll go back to it, but to see others in the industry that we’ve worked with, like Anthony as one, there’s so many, seeing people that are close to burning out, hitting the business, and then just learning from mistakes that we made so many years ago and helping them shortcut a lot of these avenues, to see them being able to not just grow their business, which is awesome, but more importantly, spend more time with their family, travel, spend time with their children, which they didn’t have time to before, that’s more rewarding than anything in this business. Seeing the advice they go from burnout to freedom is kind of like what a lot of these steps, the process, everything that you help, it’s crazy, everything.
The more you help people, the more you help your clients, the more you actually help yourself and your family. It’s weird. It kind of all works together because the more successful your company is and the more freedom you have and the confidence, you don’t have to be involved in every single day-to-day operation because you have a team to help you out. That’s a lot of information I just threw out there, but I want to make sure it was hit because it’s an important part of what we do.
Matthew Peck: Yeah, and I’ll just really echo that point. And I don’t mean to interrupt, Keith, but the only thing I’m going to say, and Brad, you kind of alluded to it, and even Derek, you too, it’s like having a nice marketing slogan that you have a process, that’s kind of the easy part, frankly. The hard part is getting the attorneys to establish those relationships, establishing relationship with CPAs, establishing relationship with healthcare brokers if you don’t have them in place, hiring to the new business so things get processed, hiring members of the solutions team, getting them all trained up. All that other stuff takes so much more work than trademarking a cute little slogan that you have in process. So, I can’t emphasize enough how easy that part is and how hard the other part is.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: I’m just going to build on what Derek said. Some people here have 250 million in a year of new assets. And I think, those guys learn themselves ragged. I think I have more time now than I did when we were doing 12 million a year.
Derek Gregoire: 100%.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: It’s because, like Derek also said, what we did is we invested in our team, high-quality players, and invested in the parts of the team that we don’t want to do or we don’t like to do. And we focus on what we want to do and we really build our schedules that work for us when we want to do it. So, not only we’ve been able to grow the business, grow the client’s whole base, grow the assets under management, we’ve been able to grow our freedom and we’ve been able to grow our time with our families, which is the most important.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I mean, as you guys know with Triad, that’s what we’re all about. We talk about Do Business, Do Life. It’s really hard to do life if your business consumes your life, and then it’s like I remember when I transitioned to– I took about three months off when I left my prior gig. And I just needed to think and I’d been grinding and I just thought about going forward, what I wanted out of life. And you can make all the money in the world, but if you miss your kids growing up, if you’re not there for family dinners, if you’re not able to coach a game, if you want to coach a game when you’re 60 years old, because I talked to guys that had built big businesses and sold them and like, here’s what I regret. I was so busy grinding, making that money, I missed everything that mattered. I’d pay all the money in the world to buy it back right now, and I didn’t want to make that mistake, and I know you guys don’t either, which is why we’ve always connected on a really deep level.
But if you’re listening in, I think here’s a mindset shift for you. Growing your business is not a tug-of-war tradeoff. It doesn’t have to be, I should say. More business does not necessarily mean more time or more grind. Michael Hyatt, we’re going to be hanging out with him here in a couple of weeks, guys, down in Austin at the launch event. He’s going to do a three-hour session with this. One of my favorite quotes he ever shared with me is it’s not a big enough dream if it doesn’t require a team.
And no business has ever scaled in the history of America or any other place without some form of a team. The one-man team doesn’t exist in any sort of business of substance. And so, I love what you’re sharing there, guys. I couldn’t align more with what we believe here at Triad. And I call it instead of the either/or, it’s the and, it’s the and approach to life and business.
Derek Gregoire: I’ll just say, Brad, that’s what I love about Triad too for a little plug for you guys is that like a lot of other firms that handle what you do, just focus on the main advisor. And that’s impossible because when you have a team of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 people, out of one or two people that are the owners, your advisor is going to be able to relay that back to the teams, which I love all about you guys, how you have the ability to get everyone together so that they know, like I notice our operations team is on a bunch of operations calls with all different offices from Triad and they’re learning best practices. COOs are learning from each other. So, advisors that maybe aren’t owners but that work as advisors for the firms are all communicating with each other and planning teams.
So, I love how you’re able to help build the entire infrastructure, not just to pump up the head guy or the head girl who is running it because that’s not going to really– it helps, but it’s impossible for that person to come back and relay everything to a team. So, I love that aspect of just building it from the foundation up across the board.
Brad Johnson: I appreciate that, Derek. And it’s actually one of the biggest fallacies I see in our industry. And I’m not taking any shots, anybody. I’m just observing what I’ve seen over the years. Unfortunately, a lot of our industry, because our industry is built on sales, just like what we talked about your early days or even the script, here’s the script to get the sale. And a lot of salespeople are high achievers and it’s built on the ego of here I am and I get a parade across the stage and get recognized as this amount of production. And then, I talk to those guys when they got off the stage, like, “Dude, I mean, we have this conversation.” I’ll tell a real-life story. I mean, I didn’t ask permission so we can cut this out after if you’re not cool with it, but I remember– all right. Well, you haven’t heard the story yet. Be careful.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: You leave the characters in the story.
Brad Johnson: We have Emily on here if we need to edit this out after. So, I think it was 2014 or 2015. Obviously, you guys were my clients. We were doing a coaching call, and one of my kind of rhythms in coaching was– we’re right here at the beginning of the year recording this. It was kind of the New Year’s resolution for your business, the goal-setting conversation. And you guys– yeah, well, I mean, this is going to help people. Yeah, so I think you would just hit right around 60 mil of new assets gathered the prior year, which was like a landmark year. I think you’d grown by 20 million over the prior year. Your business was not that big at the time, maybe team of 10. And we did a goal-setting call and it was the three of you guys. I don’t even know if we’re on Zoom, I don’t know if we had Zoom back then, but I said, “Hey guys, congrats. Great year. What do you want to do next year?” You guys remember what your answer was?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Like 40.
Derek Gregoire: 40.
Matthew Peck: Like less.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, it was less for sure. I remember it being 50. So, I remember it being 10 million less than your prior year. And I’m like. “Hey, guys, your business, set your goals however you want them,” but I’m like, “I don’t typically see groups that set a goal lower than the prior year. Help me understand.” Do you guys remember what you told me? Because I can sure share my recollection, but.
Derek Gregoire: Brad, in traditional Brad fashion, Keith and Matt know, he’s like, “Well, guys, traditionally, most firms don’t go backwards with their goals. And I’m just thinking is, what caused you to come to that conclusion that you wanted to do less next year?”
Keith Ellis, Jr.: We’re waving the white flag.
Brad Johnson: That sounds very proper.
Derek Gregoire: Help me understand.
Brad Johnson: It’s super inspiring to teams when you set goals less than the prior year.
Derek Gregoire: The thing is we said the same thing. We said, “You know what? We hit our goals and we made plenty of money. We did everything we wanted to do. But at the end of the day, it just wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth the sacrifice to hit those numbers to miss my kid’s baseball games, to miss my wife’s Friday night being home late.” So, every night, it was just scrappy grinding to hit these goals. We didn’t have the right team in place. Everything was on our shoulders. So, we’re trying to get new business and take client calls. Everything was on us. So, we hadn’t built the infrastructure properly and we were starting to, but that was the whole thing.
And I remember other colleagues in the industry would always say, “You don’t want to do that crazy production because if you get to that point, you’re never going to see your family again.” I remember clearly a few people that had been older than me kind of guided me with that wrong belief of, if I’m going to hit 100 million or 200 million, I’ll never even be able to breathe or travel to do anything or see my family because I’ll be working. And that’s the biggest myth there is if you set your business up the right way. So, that’s the whole thing, Brad. It wasn’t worth. We didn’t want to run it back. That makes sense. It’s like you go through a huge, like a big ordeal. You come out on top, you get to the top of the mountain, and it’s like, you know what? I’m glad we did it, but I’m never doing that again.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, it’s like running back marathon. It’s like, oh, I just got done with 26.2 or whatever. Like, ah, I don’t think I want to run that marathon again next year. And that’s what I saw on your guys’, that’s what I remember hearing in your voices. But I remember another key piece of that conversation. It was the life side. It wasn’t the business side. It was like we’ve sacrificed the life side last year, the time away from kids, missing family dinners in this pursuit of business and revenue and profit, and recognition probably was a piece of it, too. And that’s it.
First off, what I love about you guys is you’ve always kind of kept things in perspective because it’s really easy to lose perspective in this business and chase the wrong things. And I also remember that as a point and inflection point in your business where a new door opened, and we had a real conversation. I said, “Guys, it sounds like we need to start to–” because you were three sales guys at the time. Let’s just be honest. You were three great sales guys. Now, you were building the best plans you could to help people. You were not business owners.
Derek Gregoire: No.
Brad Johnson: Technically, you are, but you just weren’t acting as a business owner would act, right? And I think that’s the big thing I see a lot from very successful advisors. You’re almost like a victim of your own success. What got you to that? 20, 30, 40 million of new assets, and then you’re running on that treadmill as fast as you can, and then end of the year, you’re completely exhausted and burned out. You’re like, “Man, I’m not sure I can do that again.”
If that’s anybody listening at the end of the year, there is another way and these guys are a great example of it because what they started to do, the three visionaries, the three founders’ vision, you invested in Michelle, who at the time was director of OPS, has since grown into your COO. That was the execution piece, right? But you also deconstructed as an advisor, hey, there’s actually a way to invest in the next generation.
And what’s really cool, it wasn’t what I see create a lot of frustration for founders in this business where you hire some advisor and you throw them into appointments. Day one, you’re like, “Oh, they can’t close anybody. What the heck, what are they doing? We need to let them go.” It was you truly invested in that next generation, a lot of shadowing, a lot of training, which by the way, takes time. But that was what opened the door and the cool– this has a happy ending, the story. We actually spent a lot of time deconstructing the three of your guys’ day-to-day as advisors, and how do we free up the service work that new guys alive? How do we free up the planning? Because you guys were doing a ton of the work on actually building out and you were doing very little. It was taking away your time to do revenue-producing sales like face-to-face.
So, really, the three– we’re like triangles around here, sales, service, planning. We really started step one of removing the service work and the planning work to where all you guys had to do was build relationships and help people. And as that happened, you still did more the next year because I remember you did grow the next year, but you started to also create more freedom to run a business and actually do the things as the business scaled that it needed to do to take care of the people and get the right talent on the team. So, sorry, I just wanted to deconstruct it because I saw it all happen. But what other thoughts do you guys have during that journey of kind of bringing up? You guys have been the three solo revenue producers in the firm. Everything was on your shoulders.
Matthew Peck: I mean, one thing I would add to it, and that’s what I was saying earlier about how difficult it is, and sometimes I feel that advisors don’t want to put in that time to become sort of business owners because sometimes, it blows up in your face. I mean, there are plenty of people that we hired, trained, spent a lot of time on, and they walked out the door. And that’s frustrating, very, very frustrating.
But at the same time, a majority of the people that we have hired, trained, invested our blood, sweat, and tears into are now extremely valuable members of the team like we talked about that deconstructed with service and planning and whatnot. Nick Nelson, who I think we hired, is like, I don’t know, probably 24 or 25, but I think he looked like he was 16 when we hired him. I mean, it’s like he started off, again, very young. He’d been in the business a little bit, but sort of, I would say we took a chance on him, per se, but more so that, all right, you’re the relatively young guy. And now, five, six years later, he is critical to how we operate because we trained him. And again, this is also a tribute to him, of course. But we trained him the right way. And now, he’s training the next generation the right way. And that’s kind of how the scale and then the cumulative nature happens to it, but certainly, it takes time, and again, it’s hard.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, yeah. Well, here’s a fun story. I saw this unfold the last 12 months at Triad. You guys know Tom from Michigan. He was very much the guy that you guys were when you said, I want to go from 60 million to 50. And his wife actually said, when we met them the first time, Tom is going to kill himself if he keeps running at this pace. He was red line and out, like that car that was constantly a red lining.
And one simple thing, like this is so simple back to your point, Matt, on training and investing in the next generation. He created a rule. He said no appointment done alone ever again for Tom. He was doing 22 appointments a week when we met him. He’s now down to less than five because basically, he had an advisor riding shotgun in every appointment he did, absorbing the conversations, really leveling up, not just throwing them in the fire. But what that allows is like the baton pass, we call it the baton pass versus the baton throw that typically happens in our industry.
And so, by having that advisor ride shotgun and really absorb the language, now you can flip it to where the other advisors now are running most of it, but you’re still there to help if they get in over their head. That was like three to six months for Tom. And now, it’s like, oh my gosh, where was this three years ago? And so, he’s averaging less than five appointments. And I think his business doubled this year from the prior year.
Matthew Peck: Well, it’s interesting about that. And I’m curious what Darren and Keith think, but I mean, right now, having another advisor, like a young advisor in an appointment is like, I don’t think twice about it. I remember the first time doing it, being like, this is weird. The clients could think this is weird. What’s he or she going to say? That’s going to mess it up. Don’t mess it up, buddy. And like, I remember being freaked out about bringing on anyone else into the meeting, and now, It’s like, this is exactly how you do it. Of course, you do it this way. Again, I don’t know if Derek and Keith had that same fear.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Secondhand, no. You know it’s so easy, I don’t think about it, just let’s go, or Kyle, let’s go, and then off we go. It makes our lives so much easier. Our process is very intensive after and in between meetings, and that elite advisor not having to execute on that intensive process, it frees up hours of our time so we can focus on everything else, so.
Matthew Peck: But were you worried the first time doing it? Are you like where did you embrace it from day one?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: It’s like you’re performing in front of somebody new.
Derek Gregoire: Yeah, it’s like do you mind if I bring this person in?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yeah, right. It’s interesting. Yeah.
Derek Gregoire: But Brad, I think a lot of times too, in the industry, everyone’s looking for the– and we were too looking for the silver bullet or the shiny object. Like, we’re going to hit this, we’re going to run this one campaign, and we’re going to get referrals forever. I think the truth of it is and I think the most important aspect of running the business is if you have– we can break it down, but if you have the right culture, which do not bring you a good COO to help us build a good culture here where everyone kind of cares about each other, cares about our clients. As Michelle says, our COO’s clients are our team members. That’s who she serves, just like our advisors serve our clients as the clients that we manage money and build plans for.
So, to me, it’s like the culture is one aspect. The other aspect is building the plan, having a true plan, like even just having a portal our clients go on, see all their plan, working every day, doing all the tax planning, everything we say we’re going to do, right? So, the culture, the planning, and then you have the loving on the clients, basically getting high level, to us, having more time to think about the business. We were able to spend more time, okay, let’s come up with different campaigns to make sure we love on our clients.
One of our campaigns is our team members have to send a small little gift every quarter for 10 bucks. But like every client is going away to Hawaii, you might send a little book on Hawaii or something just to let them know we care and that we’re listening. Or someone loses a family member, something to– hey, we’re so sorry for your loss.
So, all these little touch points, loving the clients, client events, and so forth, doing what you’re saying you’re going to do with the plan, being genuine people, and having that culture, that is what leads to referrals that you could market, you could spend 2 million in marketing and probably not replicate the referral aspect you get from doing things the right way. So, everyone’s looking for that extra marketing idea, the actual silver bullet, the best way as everyone else is referrals and the best client you can get, easiest to bring on. They already have that trust and it doesn’t just happen automatically. And by the way, we never asked for them. We probably should. We never ask referrals whenever, like, hey, make sure you think about us. And we should do a better job of it, to be honest.
But if you have these raving fans that really love what you do then, and you treat them right and do everything you say you’re going to do and they’re going to want to send as many people as they can to you. So, that can never be– it’s a lot of work to get to that point. How are you going to satisfy clients and a lot of referrals?
Brad Johnson: Well, I mean, to give you guys at least a little bit of credit, and I like to give you a hard time, but I’m going to give you some credit here, approximately a third of your business was referrals last year.
Matthew Peck: And if you have professional referrals, it’s probably two-thirds, right?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: I would say half of this.
Derek Gregoire: No, not that way.
Matthew Peck: Okay.
Brad Johnson: So, call it 80 million plus of assets last year from referrals, I think you’re doing okay. I’ll tell you the thing that I see, like just really simplifying this because I know sometimes this stuff can get complicated. I’ve had enough conversations with advisors. Oh, well, they got this team member and that team member, and then the next thing you know, if it gets complicated, everybody’s just like ah, I’m throwing in the towel, I’m not going to do it.
When this started, guys, this was very simple. It’s evolved. We’re seeing a decade of evolution of a model. But I think the biggest thing, like if you’re an advisor out there, back to the very simple like there’s actually three advisor roles in one. It’s the selling, the relationship, the building trust. Think of that like at McDonald’s, that’s the person at the cash register looking the customer eye to eye. That is how revenue flows into a company.
Then if you look at the planning side, that would be like if that person at McDonald’s at the cash register, as soon as they made a sale said, “Just a second, sir,” ran to the back and made the Big Mac themselves, you’d be like, “This is the least efficient business model I’ve ever seen in my life.” But we do it all the time, I see it done all the time in financial services. And so, what you guys did is you just simply deconstructed and you said, hey, we should probably have somebody that specializes in just building incredible plans because guess what? When that’s their full-time job, they can do that 10x better than you guys, any of the three of you could ever do as a part-time job, right?
And so, now, your customers, your clients, like, oh my gosh, these guys don’t miss anything. Here’s this tax planning opportunity that was uncovered. And so, if you really deconstruct kind of the referral magic, for lack of a better term, having two advisors in one meeting, that’s actually a benefit. A team-based benefit is better than any solo advisor could ever be because now, guess what? Matt, we were just in Disney with the fam for a while.
If literally you have no communication with clients for the four or five days we were down there, now the client on the other side, where’s Matt? We’ve got year-end tax planning stuff. What the heck? To your credit, I didn’t see you take one client phone call in five days down there. You were not the guy over on the side, fire enough texts, hopping on the phone. So, if you are that advisor that can’t truly take a vacation, all that tells you is there are a few things broken in your business when it comes to processes.
And so, that’s what I love, guys, is you just simply deconstruct it. And because you poured in and created resources, it’s a better client experience, it’s a better planning process. And by the way, it’s a better founder experience because you can actually create freedom in your life. That’s how I’ve seen it play out.
Matthew Peck: Yeah. And that’s why when I say it’s a difficult process for taking time and that’s why I say, it’s your own evolution, too. I mean, what I was saying about the whole bringing another advisor that took as sort of like controlling whatever you want to call it, type of person, it’s like, okay, oh no, no, no, no. I’m giving up a little control here, but then you realize, okay, that’s the way to do it. Same idea, like I was very reluctant to give up the planning aspect of it, but then eventually, the light bulb goes off and everything you just said, Brad, is absolutely true.
So, I just think if any advisors out there that are listening, that’s part of the process too, not just hiring and training, but just growing yourself to say, okay, that’s part of the evolution of you becoming a business owner, of delegating. And again, that’s also not easy because you built it to that level, and sometimes, it’s like, well, if I hand it off, what’s going to happen? And it’s like no, handing it off just actually would set you free.
Brad Johnson: Very much a learned habit to your point from my experience because I think our industry might be the worst at this. I mean, if you look at a doctor, they go to medical school, and I mean, it’s a very similar business, right? They have to interact face-to-face with their clients or their patients. The difference is most doctors step into a practice where they’re not the one filling out the paperwork at the front desk.
In our business, most advisors step into a business of one where you’re everything. You’re the new business person. You’re the receptionist. You’re the marketing coordinator, cold calling, knocking on doors, however you got in the business. And so, when you reach that level of complexity where it’s like, wow, there’s too much here for me to do, I’m drowning is you have zero model to follow. You actually have to reinvent yourself completely and break all these old habits that actually led to that level of success.
It’s like when Tiger Woods, here’s your golf analogy, Derek. Tiger Woods, you guys remember in his career where he had won many majors, but he actually completely deconstructed his swing and rebuilt the swing. Really, really hard work. But that was what opened up the door to the next chapter in his career for more success even after that. And that’s the hard part, is you have to break all these habits that are just ingrained into you that got you to that point. And so, well guys…
Derek Gregoire: I say it’s hard to give up control because you’re used to doing things a certain way so you have to rely on others to do things that you did yourself. So, it’s a learning curve, even for me, especially back in the day, to give up some control and let people, even if they have to fail to learn, it’s okay. It’s part of like Matt said, the evolution of being a good business owner.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Here’s just another tip if you’re listening in, like, we’re kind of deconstructing a lot of stuff here. One of the things, we actually took this from you guys in our coaching process, I’ll give you guys full credit, you have a 24-hour recap rule. So, any client meeting, correct, whether an existing client or a new prospect, you do a meeting. Within 24 hours in their inbox, there is a very detailed recap email of each of those five worlds – income, investments, taxes, health care, legacy estate in their inbox that basically says, here’s what we heard. Here’s a couple of opportunities or gaps we uncovered and here’s the next step we recommend.
I will tell you that level of professionalism, we say speed equals trust around here a lot. I’ve universally told every advisor I’ve ever crossed paths with, this is a no-brainer. You should 100% always do a recap email. And all of them also are like, yup, that is a no-brainer. We should do that. And then about 20% of them do it. And why is that? Because it’s still on them. It’s still on them, right? They do five or six appointments for the day. They go home exhausted. They’ve got seven pages of notes. Oh, when am I going to do the mobile assistant on this? Oh, I’ve got to type these into my phone, just a paperwork that stacks, right? How do you guys do them? How do you make sure they happen?
Derek Gregoire: Whoever is in the meeting with us takes them. Basically, whoever is in the meeting takes them. That’s their responsibility is when we’re doing the talking, they’re kind of taking notes usually or they’re interacting, or whatever the case may be, the person who’s in the meeting with the advisor, whether it’s either of us, they’re our advisors, they’re responsible for getting the recap out.
And same thing, if someone calls the office, 24 hours, you have to get back to them, or even before that if you don’t know the answer, hey, we don’t know the answer. We’re still going to communicate with them along the way. So, communication in our industry is horrible, in a lot of industries, it’s horrible. I mean, you look at building and construction, it’s hard to get people to call you back on time and so forth. And when you think about that, it’s like the easiest thing is just to communicate. And that’s one of the things we always remind everyone on our team to make sure they do that. We don’t get to that much, but if you don’t get back to someone or don’t communicate, that’s going to get us pretty fired up. So, that’s something we make a big priority at SHP.
Matthew Peck: And interestingly enough, Brad, to talk about how like something that you implement at top level, and then how you kind of work it into the DNA and whatnot and that’s now part of our hiring process. So, when we interview somebody for the solutions team, which is kind of our internal or external way of what we call our service team, if you’re applying for the solutions team, you have to submit just a mock summary email, like all right, buddy, we’d go home and you sound like a good dude, good gal, whatever that may be. Please write me up a pretend summary email. Just make it up and say how would you do it, right? And then that’s part of the ultimate decision about whether or not they get hired is looking at their sort of mock summary email.
Brad Johnson: That’s awesome. I love that. And by the way, one other thing I don’t want anybody to miss, words matter. And Matt, we have this conversation in Disney. You’re like, we renamed our service team because, from my experience, nobody gets excited about service. Like, I’ve got to go get my car serviced or whatever you do in your real life. People actually want solutions when they call. So, you literally change the word internally that I believe changes the culture and how people show up and what they’re trying to actually do. Did you see an inflection point when you made that change of how your team started to look at these incoming what we would call service requests in our industry?
Matthew Peck: I mean, I would say yes. I mean, my opinion, obviously, I’m a little bit biased because I sort of help drove that home, but more so that I believe the incoming movement, people take the calls, right? Let’s say it’s the front desk or receptionist or however you want to call him or her or that position, I think they felt a lot stronger handing the call over because they knew that, okay, hey, this is what this person wants and this is what this person’s going to get, as well as from the people themselves. We actually remove the term service advisor because it’s like we didn’t want them to feel like they were– the people actually on the team, we didn’t want them to feel like they were lesser or, again, less important, whatever that may be, and so, kind of build them up a little bit, like this is what you do every day. I mean, that’s a good feeling to go home with.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yeah. If I’m a client, I don’t want to work with a service advisor. I just want to work with an advisor. So, just simple as that.
Brad Johnson: That is a stellar point, Keith. That is one way. We’re talking about a lot of delegation here and how to take the weight off your shoulders. If you want to put the weight back on your shoulders, start creating hierarchies in your advisors. Oh, you don’t know how many times I’ve heard subadvisor, associate advisor. If I’ve got $20 million, like the doctor you were talking about, there’s absolutely no way in the world I’m working with the subadvisor or associate advisor. I mean, I’m working with the guy or the girl, like, let me work with them.
And back to your team-based approach, this is the other way that’s really cool is when you incorporate that on the front end, the hard part, guys, is moving to this model, right? Like if Derek is my guy, Keith’s my guy, Matt’s my guy, and you’ve trained all your clients I’ve got one person to go to, now you need to– it’s not the baton throw, it’s the baton pass. You need to bring that next advisor into the next review appointment and slowly introduce them. That’s the mistake I’ve seen made a lot. We’re just like, boom, here’s your 50 new clients. They’re like, where Derek go. Is he too good for me now?
But with the doctor, I’m guessing, you do an appointment. Here’s the team member that technically internally is the service advisor, but externally is just another advisor on the team. Now, it’s like, hey, we bring a team-based approach here. I can’t be all things to everyone. I’m the founder. I got a lot of things going on. We don’t want to miss anything. That person that’s in there, they’re hammering out the recap on demand, and like how freeing is that is number one, the client served in a way higher level, but number two, you guys aren’t going home with eight pages of recaps to type into your CRM that night. And it’s actually like it’s a win-win where I come from, like it’s a no-brainer once you actually deconstruct the model, just it takes some thought to get there, you know what I mean?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Right.
Derek Gregoire: Exactly.
Brad Johnson: Okay, we’ve got two minutes. I see Derek checking his watch over here. So, we better wrap this up. Guys, now, there’s so much more. We’re probably going to have to do round two guys. So, we’ll see after this goes live to the world, but I know we haven’t spent near enough time on vision and culture, which has been a huge part of your guys’ growth. I know we kind of danced around some of the referrals, but I just want to let the conversation go where it went. So, well, you guys, like, would you be cool enough to come back for round two if we get some good feedback on this conversation?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Sure.
Matthew Peck: Absolutely.
Derek Gregoire: 100%.
Brad Johnson: I love to twist some arms. Cool. The time went really fast.
Matthew Peck: Can we bring hamburgers with us next time, though, because we probably said hamburger so often that we might need to…
Keith Ellis, Jr.: I’m starving.
Derek Gregoire: Eat hamburger and deconstruct a battle of words.
Brad Johnson: We can. I know Keith has a special strategy with hamburgers, so we can cover that on the next episode, but.
Derek Gregoire: That’s, actually, if we’re going to get to weight loss programs…
Keith Ellis, Jr.: It is January.
Matthew Peck: Yeah, we’re not doing the toss. We got to have the hamburger toss. It’s a completely different…
Derek Gregoire: Bookmark that.
Brad Johnson: We’ll bookmark it. Okay. So, guys, I want to wrap with this on a serious note. It’s been an incredible journey that I’ve been able to take, besides you guys as I’ve seen your business evolve and what started is just like, honestly, a business relationship. It’s been really cool to form real friendships. I know we’ve been able to travel the world together. Our kids have hung out and we’ve actually been able to actually do life together.
And so, as we say around here a lot, it’s not just about the production, although we’ve got some of the most elite advisors in the country if you looked at that. It’s not just about being a student and growth mindset. We’ve really worked very hard to create a community of just people that want to do business and do life together and just create some really cool experiences, which obviously, we’re going to be hanging in Austin here in a few weeks.
But I want to flip the script to you guys, and I’d love to hear each of your answers. And Derek, we’ll start with you in case you need to hop. But if you said, hey, here’s what Do Business, Do Life means to me, how would you guys define that?
Derek Gregoire: I think, like, the best way I can see it is like it’s obviously a business, right? And the relationship started with us as a business. But as you can see, we’re all each other’s like there’s a good friendship between all of us here, like best friends, friendships for life. We’ve dug deep in a lot of things, but we’re still, like, I think if you’re doing business with people and you’re spending a lot of time with those people, I’ve been at places in the past where I like the people, I just didn’t have that really strong bond.
So, Do Business, Do Life is like to me having that community where you’re going to be with these people, you might as well do it with people that you really love and trust and want to be with and have fun with. At the same time, you can joke around and bust each other’s chops and so forth. So, to me, it’s like the community you built, DBDL, Do Business, Do Life is that. It’s built that for us where we have this amazing business we love. And even as we share ideas and help see these other businesses grow, seeing them have freedom and doing more life with their families and getting the joy that we see as a result. It’s kind of that whole community aspect and feeling of like, these are our crew, as Anthony says this is our path. So, that’s my answer. I do have to run, but Brad, appreciate you, buddy.
Brad Johnson: Thanks, my man. Really appreciate you carving out some time on the vacation. We’ll see you, Derek.
Derek Gregoire: Any time. See you. Bye.
Brad Johnson: Keith, Matt, what are your thoughts on Do Business, Do Life?
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Well, I think doing business should lead to doing life. And one of the coolest experiences that I had because growing up, my parents were very similar to not what we do in a way, but they get a trip for what they did and they go out the door and we wouldn’t see them for a week or two and they’d come back and talk to us about these amazing experiences. And for us to be able to do what we did in South Carolina this past year where our kids got to be part of it and grow and experience life and also meet kids from around the country and become close with them. And then they’ll all grow together. And to me, that just adds so much to what we pour into our business to be able to create something better for them. That’s all.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Now, that was magical. That was one of the proudest moments in my business career was being able to form an experience where I saw our children connecting. And I remember Nelly came back, our youngest, seven years old, She’s like, “I’ve got friends.” And like this state and that state and one other not to go too far down this path, but we, of course, both developed a sports card addiction here recently. I’m trying to get Matt in the game. He’s close. He’s close so keep working on him, Keith. But kind of look at, obviously, we’re all sports fans and many of us grew up going to card shows, and now, it’s like legitimately becoming an alternative investment. So, I’m like, hey, Keith, there’s this really big card show in Dallas and you brought your two boys out.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: That was awesome.
Brad Johnson: And seeing our two boys– yeah, that was the coolest thing, just seeing them with their little Pokemon cards set up, like cutting deals with 40-year-olds, it was like the coolest thing in my life. We were like, when you’re with Dad, there is no bedtime. It’s cool. But yeah, it’s been really, really cool. So, I love that you brought in just the whole family aspect and families connecting, and that obviously, yeah, yeah. Well, Matt, what are your thoughts on that?
Matthew Peck: So, I mean, the first thing that came to my mind is that old saying that I would much rather work to live than live to work, right? And when you first came up with DBDL, that really would kind of– again, that’s what I went back to is the fact that all right, that’s how I want my life to be lived. I do not want work to define my life. Now, work obviously has to be part of your life. It has to. We’re not going to be beach bums.
And also, you want to set a good example and you want to develop that work ethic, but at the same time, you can’t let that work ethic, that grind blind you from life, from your family, from your friends, from your parents, and everyone else. And if it is, if work is dominating, then you are in at imbalance and that is not healthy. And so, I truly hope that whether you’re with Triad or whether you are just listening to this podcast, that is the goal for you and for all of us.
Brad Johnson: And Matt, on that point, by the way, guilty. I think all of us on here have been guilty of that in the past where business did take over our lives. And that’s one thing I remember we were talking down in Florida, like one of my biggest learnings these last two years, and I think I told you this and you laughed. I’m like, it’s a hell of a lot easier to coach entrepreneurs than it is to be one. And just the grind and the getting pulled in 50 different directions, hearing Derek talk about ordering copy paper or whatever he was talking about earlier, that’s what it takes oftentimes to get a business off the ground. But if you don’t change those habits over time, and like we’ve talked a lot about building a team out around you, if you don’t do that, this business will eat you alive because it never turns off. Your day is never done. You go home, and there are 15 things you could have done.
Matthew Peck: Well, I remember the first time I saw Keith since the new year, and I’m like, this is three days in, he’s been straight out since he got back. And it’s like, good. Okay, no break. No rest for the weary. I mean, it absolutely can grind you down if you don’t have that support.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, yeah. And I think what’s really cool about that is it’s all about the intention you set, and I know our community, we’ve had a number of advisors that joined. They’re like, “Dude, all I had to hear was Do Business, Do Life.” And I knew I was saying, it’s cool. Like we didn’t get to culture today. The last three hires we made, we’re up to over 40 employees now in two years, which is insane. The last three hires we made, they said, what actually is my favorite one? He goes, I thought I was going to retire at the place I’m at right now. But there’s just something about Do Business, Do Life that brought me in. It just spoke to me.
And I think it’s because at the deepest desire, we all know we need to work. Like, I took two months off after I left my last gig and I was like, I was a worse husband and I was a worse dad because I was stir-crazy. So, I think, like as humans, all of us have that. Like, we got to be working towards something to make sure we’re contributing to society. But if you’re working somewhere and hating every day of it, or you’re doing your business somewhere and hating every day of it, that other side, I think, gets completely neglected oftentimes if you let it.
And so, it’s been really cool to see how it’s attracted a great community of advisors, and some people to fit, some people it’s not. And that’s cool. But also, like the talent on our team, it’s attracted, it’s been really cool to see it play out. So, I appreciate you guys sharing your take on that. And I just want to say thanks. It’s so much fun to do business and life with you guys because we’ve been able to do a lot of both and really challenge each other, grow together, see families grow up together. So, thanks so much for just being along this ride with us, and thanks for showing up with who you guys are because it’s fun to surround yourself with great humans and your whole crew there is. So, thank you guys for carving out the time. Super appreciative. And I know you brought a lot of value to advisors listening in today.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Thanks, Brad.
Matthew Peck: Thanks, Brad.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Appreciate it.
Matthew Peck: Be well, my friend.
Brad Johnson: All right, guys, We’ll see you in a few weeks.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: See you, man.