Ep 012

Doubling Business by Letting Go, Empowering Your Team, and MASTERING Seminars


Triad Member: Tom Jacobs

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Inside This Episode

For many advisors, the idea of running a seminar conjures up images of wasted time, low ROI and an audience just there for a free dinner.

But for Triad member Tom Jacobs, seminars have been the key to growing by more than 11x in just six years

In today’s episode, I talk with Tom about how he’s embraced seminars to create a wave of momentum for his practice. In addition to tips about how you can do the same, you’ll hear Tom discuss his mindset for giving presentations, how he leans on his team for the seminar follow-up process, and his strategies for continuing to improve his seminars.

You’ll also hear about the benefits that come from investing financially in your team, how advisors can grow their practices by running fewer meetings, and how Tom bounced back from a $4M bankruptcy during The Great Recession—and his tips for moving forward from low points.

3 of the biggest insights from Tom Jacobs

  • #1  How Tom’s philosophy of “If you love seminars, they’ll love you back” has helped him grow total assets from $7.7M in 2016 to more than $91M through 2022, along with tips for effectively running your own seminars.

  • #2  The idea of “who, not how” and how advisors can use it to build out new revenue-generating branches of their businesses without adding significantly more work to their own plates.

  • #3 Strengthening personal relationships with both your team and your clients to indirectly lead not just to more financial success for your business, but more personal fulfillment for yourself.


  • 00:00 Tom’s exposure to the real estate market during the Great Recession that led to a $4M bankruptcy filing.
  • 02:43 How do you push forward when you hit rock bottom professionally?
  • 05:47 Embracing the concept of giving generously to multiply the benefits you receive.
  • 10:48 How looking at team member compensation as an investment — not an expense — can lead to strong returns for your business.
  • 14:40 Why Tom loves seminars — and how he used them to grow his AUM by more than 1,000% in 6 years.
  • 24:42 Why running fewer meetings can help advisors avoid burnout while growing AUM.
  • 30:01 Why Tom has a team member sit in on every client appointment he runs.
  • 34:11 How adopting the concept of “who, not how” can help advisors both serve clients better and boost the growth of their practice.
  • 47:39 The Do Business, Do Life lesson around having a successful business vs. having a significant business.
  • 54:03 Tom’s “controversial” belief about selling strictly insurance products and not selling securities.





  • What I have found is the more I give people, the more I empower people, the more I help people, whether that’s employees, teammates, clients, it comes back not twofold, but it’s tenfold.” – Tom Jacobs

  • I think seminars are an important component of a business if you’re trying to grow and you want to grow quickly. I don’t know a better way to do that.” – Tom Jacobs

  • “I attribute 100% of what’s happening in our life, in our business, just to that philosophy of freely giving. No strings attached.” – Tom Jacobs

  • “You can’t spend too much on good people.”  – Tom Jacobs

  • “Our business isn’t that much rocket science. It’s monkey see, monkey do. The top producers — the successful people — run workshops of some kind.” – Tom Jacobs

  • “My clients are not consumers. My clients are my team. And my job is to build my team and empower them and help them to be successful so that their dreams come true.” – Tom Jacobs

  • “Be humble, open up your heart, be a giver, empower your people, get out of their way, take care of them. Take care of them financially, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s not all about the money and the benefits. It’s the pat on the back and ‘Hey, you’re doing a great job and I’m so glad that I get to work with you every day.’” – Tom Jacobs

  • “You’ve got to do what is right for you and your business. And then you’ve got to explain that vision to your team. And then you’ve got to get your team to buy into that vision. And then the rest is history.” – Tom Jacobs

Brad Johnson: Welcome to another episode of the Do Business Do Life Podcast. Super excited and humbled to have my friend, Tom Jacobs, here with us today. Welcome, Tom, to the show.

Tom Jacobs: Thank you so much. And I am humbled to be on the show.

Brad Johnson: Well, this is what’s fun about this next chapter for me, Tom, is as we were kind of thinking through kind of relaunching and what could add even more value to financial advisors out there, I’d say in the US, but honestly, all over the world, who knows where people are tuning in from? And one of the things that it’s always where I learned and where I know you learned was you just get awesome people, awesome advisors doing big things and you surround yourself with them, and that’s where the magic happens. In fact, I’m stealing that quote from you because I got it from you. You said, “This is where the magic happened.” So, I’m excited about today and I love just how you show up every time we’re around each other. You’re a giver, you’re a straight shooter, and so I’m excited for the value we can bring to advisors out there today. So, with that, I know there’s probably a lot of listeners that actually have probably crossed paths with you. You’re a top performer. You’ve been in a lot of awesome circles when it comes to advisors, but I thought what would be interesting is I got to know you. You have a really cool back story that I think even a lot of your close friends, advisor friends probably haven’t heard. It’s really a redemption story to me.

And so, would you mind kind of getting into you had a lot of success in another space and then, unfortunately, that didn’t hold up and that’s kind of what led to kind of the entry into financial services? And I just love to hear kind of your take on how that all played out.

Tom Jacobs: Yeah. So, I was in the mortgage business for a couple of decades prior to this business. And really when things unwound in 2008 during the real estate crisis at that time, my wife’s a real estate broker, I’m a mortgage broker, 100% of our investments were tied to real estate rental properties, and everything just absolutely imploded. I was highly leveraged in all of our real estate as our tenants stopped paying. It’s just a complete disaster. Lowest point of my career, lowest point personally, filed a massive $4 million bankruptcy. I mean, that was the only way out. As I was working my way through that, I was introduced to this business, introduced to the idea of annuities, and that’s kind of what prompted me to be looking to make a change. And, gosh, thank goodness that I did.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, let’s go. One of the things and we’ve had some pretty deep conversations, I mean, and that’s what I like about you. I like to surround myself with people that are not surface-level people but they’ll go deep and be real. And for a lot of advisors because from my experience, even top-performing advisors over the years that I’ve connected with, they’ve all got like that low point where it’s like, “Man, it’s like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.” And then you go into just like, “How did you battle through that? What was the psychology like?” I’m guessing some days you didn’t even want to get out of bed during that time period. Like, what tips would you give advisors out there if they’re in a tough spot like that?

Tom Jacobs: It was a tough time, man. And just the uncertainty and the unknowing is probably the hardest thing. But what I really did is just trying to stay focused on the fact that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I just don’t know which tunnel I’m going to be in. Explored lots of opportunities. I mean, when you’re broke and you’re struggling, you’re just grabbing for straws and you’re looking at any opportunity that there might be. You know, my marriage was coming apart because of this, the relationship with my kids, just that whole feeling of am I doing what I’m designed to do? And I’m just second-guessing everything. I’m so thankful that a friend of mine reached out and said, “Hey, Tom. You need to come check out this opportunity. We’re going to fly you to Las Vegas, show you a system to help you sell annuity products if that’s what you decide to do.” And that really changed my life to be able to firsthand see another opportunity, get really excited about something, and then try and figure out how am I going to do this with no money, no confidence, and just kind of a broken back.

Brad Johnson: Wow. So, it’s kind of like what I’m picturing when you said that it’s like a hand reached down and kind of pulled you up out of that is really what I’m taking from that.

Tom Jacobs: That’s exactly right. And it was a hand that I didn’t know existed. I mean, I was recruited. I was a licensed life insurance agent. I wasn’t doing any life. So, I’m sure a marketer or someone just was dialing off a list and they hit me and they hit me at the right time. And I think that’s so true with everything in life. I mean, it’s all about timing and hitting people when their window is open. If this guy would have called me a year ago I’d be like, “Listen, dude, I’m making hundreds of thousands of bucks in the mortgage business. Leave me alone.” But my window was open, I was ripe, and the opportunity presented itself.

Brad Johnson: Man, that hits home to me because you know my journey and I was in a really good spot and just made the decision that the next chapter, it was time for that, and left a lot of friends behind, left a lot of income behind. And what I’ve learned very similar to you in those last two years is you will be surprised who shows up and is like they’re beside you and really helps you through maybe a transition or a tough time. So, that’s cool, man. That’s cool to hear that. Well, let’s go to one of the things and I’m just going to stay on this topic because you’ve always struck me, I’ve been around a lot of top performers. And for context, for those that aren’t familiar with Tom, like when you say top performer, like the number one producer at one of the top insurance carriers in the entire world last year. And so, one of the just absolute top performers and what I love is it’s like he comes from a place of serving, not just like selling. It’s like, hey, how can we protect people’s retirements? And I’ve met a lot of top performers that, unfortunately, they didn’t have a lot of gratitude. There was maybe a lot of ego. And you’ve been the most humble-giving person in our community and you have this concept of the open hand. Because I feel like it’s a mindset for you, it’s like a philosophy of how you live your life, and I’d love for you to just share your thoughts on that.

Tom Jacobs: Well, I learned this a long time ago growing up in a Bible-based Christian church. And one of the biggest concepts that I struggled with and didn’t understand was tithing. And it just didn’t make sense to me how I could give away money and in doing so, be increased. I just couldn’t make that connection. And what I noticed is so many people, not just in our business but in the world, they operate with a closed fist. They’re not givers at all and they’re just tight and they want to bring people into their organization and pay them as little as possible. Our philosophy is the exact opposite. And here’s what I know. If you have an open hand and you’re a free giver, because you’re open to give, that also allows you to be open to receive. And what I have found and you’ve heard this a million times, the more you give, the more you get. Well, that doesn’t become a reality until you actually practice and walk that. And that was hard for me because, A, I was broke. I didn’t have money to give. But what I have found is the more I give people, the more I empower people, the more I help people, whether that’s employees, teammates, clients, it comes back not twofold, but it’s tenfold. And I would just encourage people to understand that concept.

And I tell people, look, if you walk into a dark room, the room remains dark. All you have to do is flip the switch and the lights go on. If you’re living in fear and you’re driven by greed and you’ve got a tight fist and you’re closed off and you’re not a giver, all you have to do is open your hand and become a giver. And the light switch goes on. And now you set yourself up to receive all of the blessings that are available to you.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. What’s cool is I try to live my life that same way, and I’ve definitely screwed that up over the years. I’ve never like held true to that but I just love surrounding myself with people that are givers, not takers. And we’ve all been in a room of takers. That’s no fun. A room full of givers, it’s like it’s the exponential effect like everybody gets better in that room.

Tom Jacobs: And I think just human nature, we’re all about ourselves and taking care of ourselves and protecting ourselves. And that’s just, I think, how most people are wired. But if you can get past that natural into the supernatural not to get too weird on you, just change and they can change very, very quickly. But I attribute maybe 100% of what’s happening in our life, in our business, just to that philosophy of freely giving. No strings attached. You know, there’s all sorts of examples of that. People will call you, they’ll ask you to borrow money or do things. And listen, we don’t lend money to friends. If someone needs money, we give that to them. No strings attached. So, I’ll give you a quick story. So, my now COO, her name is Amber. Amber is awesome. When Amber came to Jacobs Financial, she started out as our receptionist, and Amber was really struggling financially and she was driving a car that I can’t even believe could drive up and down the road. It was just awful. And today she’s gone from our receptionist to the COO of our company because I trusted her and gave to her and just opened up to her, it has come back to me tenfold. So, I’m sitting here in my condo in Florida and Amber is back in Grandville, Michigan running my business. There’s an example.

Brad Johnson: Yeah, I hadn’t heard that one.

Tom Jacobs: That’s a true, genuine story that kind of helps people understand where we’re at.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you what’s really cool, my side of that story because I met Amber a little over a year ago when you joined the Triad community. And very quickly, I mean, I’ve been 15 years now, so I guess I’m getting kind of old in financial services but I’ve been around a lot of advisors over the years. I’ve been around a lot of their teams over the years. And really quickly, I can see this girl have the “it” factor. And what was cool like in that last year as you’ve been exposed to different ideas of scaling and growing your business, I’ve seen you in power and I’ve seen her just step in and crush a role as a COO. And what’s cool is when you look way back, when you believed in her and you invested in her. And I think that’s one of those things I see oftentimes that holds advisors back where like, “I can’t grow a team. I can’t find anybody good to hire.” That’s like we hear this all the time. It’s really feeling like these advisors have this big weight on their shoulders and we call it red line, red line behavior kind of burnout, and it’s the philosophy of investing in people and team versus an expense.

And I think a lot of advisors in our space think, “Oh, well, that’s a $40,000 expense for that hire. That’s 50,000. What’s the least I can pay?” And as you know, Tom, you kind of get what you pay for whether it’s in life or in people and they wonder, “Why I can’t build a great team?” It’s like, well, you’re not investing in a great team. So, I’d love to hear your thoughts because I see you as like that very much mentality of them investing in people and empowering people and growing people. Any additional thoughts or takes on that concept?

Tom Jacobs: Well, I mean, that’s well said. I mean, it’s not an expense. It’s an investment. And good investments give great returns. The two biggest things that we spend money on as a company is our people and the systems that the people need to be successful. So, you can’t spend too much on good people. You can’t do too much for good people. And it’s something I learned from our community, we went to unlimited PTO and the thought is, “Oh my gosh, people are going to use wildly abuse that,” and really what happens is the opposite. You show people, “I trust you guys. If you need to take a couple of extra days for your honeymoon or you got to run off to your kid’s sporting events,” that’s way more important than processing another annuity application. So, what I find is people don’t abuse it and they appreciate it and it empowers them. It makes them feel part of the entity. This isn’t to check the clock from 9 to 5. It’s, hey, I’m part of something bigger and I’ve got flexibility when I need to do things for my family that are important. That’s a priority. What you give comes back and that’s what we found.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. You just triggered a memory when Sean and I, this was the early days of Triad, and one of the things we’ve always tried to do is just surround ourselves with just great people we can learn from and just be humble students. And there was a guy named Nathaniel that runs a very large industrial warehouse company. In fact, they build all of Amazon’s industrial warehouses all across the country. And we ask them about the concept of clocking in and clocking out, and his exact answer was, “If you need your team or your employees to clock in and clock out, you got the wrong team.” And that’s where I was just like, “A 100%.”

Tom Jacobs: Yeah. That makes a lightbulb go off. I mean, that’s exactly right. You have the wrong people on the bus if you’re worried about someone coming in 10 minutes late.

Brad Johnson: Yeah, 100%. Man, there are so many places to go and not enough time. Let’s dive into marketing and seminars because we would be doing the listeners a massive disservice if we didn’t. And just for context, I didn’t hit this, but I’ve got the numbers in front of me. So, Tom kind of shared his backstory but total assets, total premium on an annual basis. I just want the listeners to hear how quickly this has scaled. So, 2016, 7.7 million; 2017, 13.1; 2018, 23.2; 2019, 27.5; 2020, obviously, the year of COVID kind of a flat year, 27.6. But then it’s like the rocket ship took off 51.7 in 2021, 91 in 2022, and I know you’ve got big goals for 2023. So, I know a lot of that. You are one of the most prolific marketers I’ve seen ever in financial services and I haven’t yet been able to see your seminar live. It’s on my list, but I’ve got friends like Shawn and others that have seen it, who have seen a ton of live experiences and events over the years. They’ve said, “I’ll put Tom in the top five I’ve ever seen.” And so, let’s talk about seminar marketing, and if you don’t mind, I’ve got a favorite quote from you on seminars, if you don’t mind sharing it. And then let’s just kind of go through your thought process on just connection in a live experience and how you view seminar marketing.

Tom Jacobs: So, is the quote, “If you love seminars, they’ll love you back?”

Brad Johnson: That’s the quote.

Tom Jacobs: Yeah. You know where that came from, I got so frustrated being at industry events, talking to other advisors, and just listen to them complain about how they hate seminars and it’s just a bunch of plate lickers and ROI and I just turn to them and say, “Well, then don’t do them.” My philosophy is the exact opposite. I love seminars and seminars love me back, and we can’t do enough seminars. You show me a top producer and they do live events. Our business isn’t that much rocket science. It’s monkey see, monkey do. The top producers, the successful people, they run workshops of some kind. I think I agree, seminars are time intensive. They’re labor intensive. It can be very frustrating when you’ve got a room full of plate lickers and unqualified people, but at the end of the day, I can do a seminar tonight, have appointments on the calendar tomorrow, and write business right now. We’re gearing up right now to run a campaign, something I’ve never done before, but I’m excited. We’re going to do four seminars a week for four months, four seminars a week for four months, back-to-back-to-back. And I am so excited about the momentum, the wave of business.

I mean, we will generate more opportunities for our advisors than we physically have time to do. I don’t know any other way to turn the switch like that. Radio, TV, billboards, we’re doing all of it but like I said, I can do a seminar tonight and I can be writing some business tomorrow. And let’s face it. If you’re writing $100,000, $200,000, $300,000, $400,000 cases, you don’t need to write too much business to pay for the seminar. And then just a little bit more and all of a sudden you’re in the profit zone.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. What I’ve always appreciated about you, which is really fun because I think oftentimes and this is just me being real and honest, which I will always be on this show, oftentimes the biggest thing in the way of an advisor success is their own mindset, and it’s the story they’re telling themselves, such as seminars aren’t any good or plate lickers or whatever. And I’ve always loved having you in the room because you’re like, “I’m going to go ahead and call B.S. on any lies or stories, and let’s just be honest and truthful.” And one of the things I see for the people like I don’t like seminars, well, yeah, it’s apparent because when you go up and present, the audience can tell and you’re sure, to me, sales is a transfer of belief where you help somebody. And if you’re up there and don’t want to be there, the audience doesn’t want to be there either. And I just see the energy that you put into a presentation and you go up there and you truly do love it. You’re like, “I’m here to help people. I’m here to serve people.” And I think that’s one of the biggest things that get in the way because if you don’t want to be there, guess what? Neither does the audience and they’re obviously not going to take any action from there.

So, because you’ve done a lot of them over the years, are there ways that you mentally get ready before you go on a stage just to say, “Hey, I’m going to make an impact on these people?” Any acts you have or routines you have there?

Tom Jacobs: Yeah, there are. And before I hit that, if the house three doors down from you was on fire right now, I mean, flames, I mean, well, I promise you, you would leave your house and go down there to watch the fire. Okay. Before I do a seminar, I set myself on fire. I mean, I am on fire. I am excited. I am exploding. There’s tons of energy, borderlines screaming at people. But you can’t leave my seminar and have any question that I believe with every fiber in my body what I’m telling you is to your benefit, and it’s at least worth coming in and having a conversation with our team. And I agree, I don’t think it matters what you say. I think it matters how you say it, how you present it, and to your point, it’s just that energy, that passion that conveys to the people. And I find that that converts at seminars. That gets people to check yes and they want to see, “What did that guy have for breakfast? I mean, I gotta go talk to him.” Along those lines, it’s really important to have your energy level up for a seminar. So, an hour before a seminar, I’m slamming protein, I’m eating nuts. On my way to the seminar, I’m listening to music, things that get me jacked up and excited. And it’s so important to mindset.

When I do a seminar, I’m Frank Sinatra, okay? I’m not going there setting up the banner stands and getting everything ready to go and registering guests. I walk in, I go on stage, I explode on these people and I leave and then my team books the appointments, breaks down the stage, does everything. So, seminar day is game day. It is absolutely game day. And Sean taught me this. The value of my time for those 45, 50 minutes, it is the highest and best use of my time 25 times over. There’s nothing I can do to make that kind of return. So, for those 50 minutes, I got to be, A, I got to be on my A-game and that’s how I think about it. A lot of times on seminar days, I used to grind, grind, grind, do appointments all day, all day, all day, all day, then go do a seminar. And I found a way to get the energy to do the seminar but what I’m doing now on seminar days, I don’t take appointments at all. I mean, I might get a massage that day. I mean, I’m getting myself mentally right to do that seminar because I know the return I’m going to get if I do a great job.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, there’s a couple of places I want to go from here, but let’s stick on this. Well, he’s in our community, Michael Hyatt. He has a question that I love. He says, “What does this make possible?” And I just knew when you said four weeks, four seminars a week, there were advisors listening that like literally something clicked off and I thought, “That’s too much.” But you just hit something right there. And I know you started to grow your team so this isn’t all on Tom either as far as the live presentations. But what you did is you said, “Hey, if I back into…” and one of the skills you have is you look at your business as an entrepreneur, not just through a financial advisor lens. And one of the things I saw you deconstruct and play out is like, “Wait, where is the highest and best use of my time that drives the maximum revenue to the firm?” And if you know when you’re in front of a roomful of people, your hours are worth thousands and thousands of dollars per hour, then that is the highest and best use. Now, how do I retrofit the rest of the day so that I’ve got the energy and you’re like, “Hey, what if I look…” I think you got this from Anthony, our mutual friend, “What if I looked forward to speaking days and like did a spa morning or something like that?”

So, what I saw you do is like retrofit based on the end result you were trying to achieve and then you design your day around that. And that’s just really cool to watch because that’s just been even in the last year, year-and-a-half.

Tom Jacobs: Totally. And even to take it to the next level, now we’re empowering other people on our team to do seminars which will allow us to expand our footprint. Because my mindset was, look, there’s only so many places Tom can be at any given time and my growth is limited to me and I’m part of the giving and empowering. Now, we’ve empowered other people to do seminars allowing us, if I want to, I can be doing a seminar at one market, one of my other guys in another market. Maybe a year from now, we’ve got five people presenting. So, there are ways to scale the seminar business, and that’s what we’re learning and trying to perfect right now. So, last night, one of my guys did a seminar. I’m sitting here in Saint Petersburg, Florida, and there was a seminar happening up in Michigan last night. I think seminars are really an important component of a business if you’re trying to grow and you want to grow quickly. I don’t know a better way to do that.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. And you’ve become a student of the game too, and that’s one of the things I would just make sure that the disclaimer on this conversation, Tom didn’t just walk up to the stage and say, “Hey, I’m going to have a lot of energy and wing it.” You truly become a student of the craft and continue to be a student of the craft. I want to flip to one other thing here. Because this has been really cool to watch play out because I kind of share the maps of growth numbers. And I see a lot in finance that we talk about red line and that is seminar, seminar, seminar, appointment, appointment, appointment, more production, more production, more production. And I, unfortunately, wasn’t there at this experience but I heard secondhand the first time that really connected at Triad and your wife, Shelly, was there. I think her exact words were if Tom keeps running at this pace, he is going to kill himself. And at that point, by sheer exhaustion and I think at that point, which was not much over a year ago, you were seeing 20 plus appointments a week, 20 to 24, like a massive amount of appointments, and running all the seminars yourself and running the business.

And so, would you take me through that journey? Because that’s the thing. I want to make sure that the listeners have the before and after because what’s cool is now they’re getting the after of like how you’ve evolved and how you’ve expanded. But just even a year ago, a lot of this was on your shoulders and you were hitting burnout and it was like in a really tough spot.

Tom Jacobs: So, I was a control freak and I was under the false mindset that if things are going to happen, it has to happen through me and I have to be the guy doing the seminars. And if I’m doing the seminars, then the people are all going to want to meet with me. I had a very strong misconception of reality. And the reality is people really don’t want to meet with me or they don’t have a problem meeting with someone other than me and just have to change the language in the seminars too. This isn’t the Tom Jacobs Show, this is the team, and everything we say is involving the team. But to your point, yeah, not too long ago I was that far from totally burning out. I told Ryan one time, I said, “Ryan, if I could get my life back and never have to sell another annuity again, I would do it,” because I was really on the verge physically, health, mental, getting ready to snap. Everybody talks about balance and how do you have the right balance. I was as far out of balance as you can possibly be. And again, we’re not talking five years ago, we’re talking a year ago or two years ago where to your point, yeah, I was doing the majority of the appointments and doing all of the seminars and it all gets back to really empowering other people and letting them grow and develop.

And so, today, rarely do I do an appointment. I would say maybe two a week and that would be a big week as far as appointments. But it’s not like I don’t have anything to do. Right now, it’s about talking about vision and culture and what can we do to make this an even better experience for our team. My clients are not consumers. My clients are my team. And my job is to build my team and empower them and help them to be successful so that their dreams come true. And again, when that light bulb went off and I understood it and realized this isn’t the Tom Jacobs Show, things started to take off. And that’s where we went from 20 to 50 to almost 100. The less I do and the more I can get out of the way and let my team do it, the faster it goes.

Brad Johnson: You just shared a simple lesson like that wasn’t that long of a lesson, but it’s so hard and I see so many advisors really struggle with that.

Tom Jacobs: Guys have a hard time getting out of their own way because they believe that it’s all about them. Someone told me that kind of hit me. It’s like, look, when people go into an Edward Jones office, they’re not going there to see Edward or Jones. And very rarely does someone come into my office and they’re sideways or disappointed or upset that they’re not meeting with me. I mean, it’s almost like they didn’t think they were going to meet with me anyway. No big deal. And when we’re calling to confirm the appointment, we let them know, “Hey, you’ll be meeting with Mike today or you’ll be meeting with Elise.” I mean, I can’t think of a time when that has caused any sort of an issue whatsoever. But prior to actually doing it, it’s like, “Hey, these guys aren’t going to come in and talk to Mike. They’re coming to see me because I’m the man.” I’m not the man at all.

Brad Johnson: But what that takes is a humbleness. And I know one of the things we say at Triad a lot, it’s a mantra, it’s actually one of our core values is, “Check your ego at the door.” And that’s what allowed you to do that, Tom. Like you said, it was the Tom Jacobs Show and the moment you realize it doesn’t have to be the Tom Jacobs Show, that’s what unlocked all of this growth, which is awesome. I mean, literally like double in a year and you went from 20 plus appointments to two. And most people would say that’s absolutely impossible. You know, how does that math even work? And so, if you deconstruct it if you go back a year ago and you had a couple of great advisors on the team, was it simply just like, get the heck out of the way? Or was there any sort of a bridge to like kind of get them up to speed where you could step out of appointments?

Tom Jacobs: So, the first advisor that I hired was one of my best friends that we were in the mortgage business for 20 years together, and Mike for a year-and-a-half sat in on every single appointment I did, 100%. If I was going to a satellite office, he was going to. I mean, he was literally my shadow for a year-and-a-half on every appointment, every policy delivery, every annual review, every everything. So, that’s how we brought him up to speed and that was a long, slow process. And then we started him handling the lower asset level appointments to work his way up to now I’ll put Mike in front of anybody. So, when I do an appointment now, someone is with me in that appointment. Otherwise, I feel like I shouldn’t even be doing this appointment unless there’s an advisor sitting here learning. So, that’s the only reason I even take appointments right now is because it’s a training opportunity for our new advisors. So, if I were to hire someone today, I would have them shadow Mike for six months or eight months sitting in on every one of his appointments.

I think you learn the business by doing it. You don’t learn it by reading the workbook or memorizing a sales process. I think you’ve got to have a framework and know what’s important and then it’s just really being very relational with people. And people’s bullsh*t meter is pretty quick. I mean, they know if you’re full of sh*t pretty quick. So, if you’re not full of sh*t and you’re just very genuine and, “Hey, here’s what we do, here’s how we do it, I think we’d be a great fit. Did you bring your driver’s license? Let’s get this thing going.” There you go.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. You actually invented a rule that we coach on a lot now and it’s the no-advisor-does-an-appointment-alone rule. And I think that’s one of the biggest disconnects I’ve seen a lot in finance where I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Tom or it’s like a founding advisor like yourself hires great young talent that’s really hungry and wants to go get it. And then just we call it throwing the baton versus passing the baton, and they just throw them straight into appointments, like two weeks into the job, and then they fall flat on their face. They burn a lot of leads, they burn a lot of marketing dollars. And then founding advisors are just super upset, like, I can’t believe it. This guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. Dude, you’ve been doing this for 30 years and you expect this individual just to hop into appointments.

And so, this whole shadowing and riding shotgun, I love it. It’s just like this is how we do it. And now, Tom literally will not be in an appointment alone because that’s a missed opportunity for training. And by the way, you don’t want to do the follow-up stuff. So, it’s like the best of both worlds.

Tom Jacobs: Exactly. So, it’s selfish that I don’t do appointments by myself because, yeah, I don’t want to write the follow-up email. I don’t want to go do the income plan and it’s kind of like having a service advisor in every appointment, doing the follow-up and taking the notes and cleaning up any mess that I might create, but that’s also world-class training. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. And you’re serving the client at a higher level because, I mean, back in the day, I’m guessing when you were doing 22, you’re like, oh, my gosh, you’re going home to a stack a paperwork. You’re not following up in time. And now, there’s somebody that’s– we could say speed equals trust. And I know you’ve really adopted that in your business as well. And it’s like, boom, they’ve got to recap emails not too long after the visit, and it’s like you’ve actually elevated the service by bringing another team member in. So, it’s like a win on so many fronts.

Tom Jacobs: And in our process, typically, once the advisor writes the business, they’re out of the loop. So, by having that person in the room appointment one, they don’t feel like this is a cold handoff. I mean, who is this person? I’ve never seen them. Oh, yeah, you’re in the meeting, and blah, blah, blah. It’s just very natural, all part of the team, blah, blah, blah.

Brad Johnson: Love it. Okay, I’ve got another. Dude, we’ve only known each other for a year, and I’m just like, when you’re in the room, I just write down little lessons I learned from Tom. So, here’s another one.

Tom Jacobs: It goes both ways, man. It goes both ways.

Brad Johnson: So, we were having breakfast. This was actually just a few months ago, and we were talking about your business and we were talking about the vision for your business. And that’s one of the things I’ve just seen you embrace, one of the things we talk a lot about at Triad is like, if you don’t have a vision and culture and good luck, you can kiss the dream goodbye because your team’s not going to stay and they’re sure as heck not going to know where you’re going. And you’ve just embraced that. And I’ve seen just you be one of the leaders inside of Triad as far as how you craft the vision, empower the team, and all of you running in the same direction.

So, we’re having one of these conversations and we said, “Tom, with the volume of people you’re helping, and obviously, the demographics, they’ve got tax issues, they’ve got legacy and estate issues.” And we’re like, “There is a huge opportunity to open up a life division inside your company.” And so, we kind of shared a couple of stories with a couple of other advisors in the community that had done something similar.

That was, I think, our breakfast at seven or eight, then we were on a flight not too long after that. And I see you just kind of tilt your head to the side. You’re thinking, I land in Kansas City and I’ve got a couple of texts from you, like two interviews set up for the guy that’s going to lead our life division and what you said and we were kind of having this conversation, it’s the who, not the how. A lot of advisors get stuck in the how. How am I going to do that? Wait, what am I– you’re like, I need a who.

So, two lessons from that story, number one, the who versus how, and I’d love to hear your words how you think about that, and then, number two, action, like you were one of the quickest implementers I’ve ever been around. And you don’t sit there and say, what if. You’re like, you’re running, not like it– and what I mean, there are people that do that and don’t think, like you’ve thought it out that you’re taking action quickly, so who not how and quick action. What are your thoughts on that? How do you view that as an entrepreneur?

Tom Jacobs: In just about any area of our business, there’s somebody that can do it better than me. So, I need to find who is that person, not me trying to figure out how to do all of these things. I need to go find the person, let them figure out or implement, and do all of those things. And that was a long lesson to learn because I thought the who had to be me for everything. And again, realizing that there are other people that can do things better, faster, more professional, it’s about finding the right people.

So, regarding this life thing, I mean, you guys opened my eyes to a massive opportunity that I kind of maybe knew was there kind of in the background, but you brought it to the front and said, look out, with the practice that you have and the clients that you have and the number of new families that you’re bringing on each year, if you could just get a small percentage of those people to turn into a life case, just look at what the numbers could potentially be. And then you start playing around with the numbers and it’s like, it’s not if I’m going to do this, it’s how quickly can I do this. I mean, this is a massive opportunity.

So, I don’t need to think about that for too long. I need to start thinking about who can help me do this and how am I going to get this implemented. And so, immediately, we’re posting jobs and talking to our staff, who do you know, blah, blah, blah. So, we recently hired a guy that started yesterday, actually.

Brad Johnson: Awesome.

Tom Jacobs: It’s going to run our life division and used all the resources of Triad to vet this person and had just involved and just really making sure it’s a great fit, which I’m confident that it’s going to be. So, we’ve just bolted that onto our process. I mean, our process is exactly the same, but once we’re done with that first process, the next step, Mr. Jones, in our process is to really make sure your family is well protected and you have an estate plan in place. We’re going to set up a meeting now to meet with Jim. And that next meeting is all estate planning, which leads to IUL sales and maybe even more annuity business because estate planning, you got to fund it. And if it’s not properly funded, you might as well not even go through the exercise of doing it. So, we’re opening that whole new division and super optimistic as far as what that’s going to do for us from a revenue standpoint.

Brad Johnson: Yeah, yeah, I’m so excited for you because there is no question in my mind every year that you’re going to continue to grow at a great rate because you really view this as a business owner, and obviously, you’re building great financial plans that protect retirees when it comes to income and legacy and tax. And so, I already know the trajectory, I’ve just seen it and witnessed it, but what’s really cool is now you just expanded how you can serve your clients, so you’re going to build better plans for them. It’s going to drive more revenue to the company. You’re going to hire more people that you can help in your local marketplace. And it’s just awesome to see it play out.

For those listening, if who not how, it’s kind of a new concept to you. Dan Sullivan wrote a great book. It’s super skinny. So, that’s kind of at least where I heard the concept first. And this is a perfect example. If I deconstruct Tom’s thought process as an entrepreneur, where most advisors get stuck is like, if Tom was trying to figure out how to build out a life division, he’d still be doing it six months later because you haven’t grown up in life. It’s more complicated. There are all kinds of different moving parts. So, why not just bring the expert over, plant them in your office, and walk your clients across the hallway to somebody that’s going to know the stuff inside out, be able to serve them at a higher level? And I just love that. Dude, that’s just like ripped out of your playbook. I feel like you just keep going back to it every day.

Tom Jacobs: Well, I mean, the who not how is such a big thing. And again, it’s getting out of your own way and recognizing that there are other people that can do things better than you because the old Tom would have been trying to figure out what’s the best IUL policy. What carriers do we need to use? What process? I don’t know, life insurance. I don’t particularly like selling life insurance. I don’t like the process of life insurance and the medical underwriting and the long– but I found someone that’s great at it, and they’ll be able to build out a team within our organization that’s great at it and our company will be great at it. But that’s because we got the right people, the Who. I don’t have to worry about the how. I got to go find the who and let them figure out how.

Brad Johnson: All right. So, I’m going to throw this out there and feel free not to answer because this is going to go out on the Internet so you don’t know who is going to listen. But back to the who not how, well, you just said, hey, you’re going to run four seminars a week for four weeks and that’s not going to be you, but I also see you now exploring, not going to be all you, I should say. But now, I see you exploring how to take that same life insurance concept to not how and apply that to the similar world. Only share what you want to put out on the internet, Tom. That’s the disclaimer. But what thoughts do you have around that that you’re willing to share?

Tom Jacobs: There are great people out there that can present a great seminar. They don’t need a financial background. They don’t need college degrees. They need to be great people-people, great connectors, great presenters. So, we are looking now for the who, who is that? And I’ve identified some people in my market that are absolute rock stars. One of which is a lady that’s been doing the weather in my market on TV for 30 years. Unbelievable as far as credibility, professionalism. So, we’re trying to hire this gal.

And if we do, her role is going to be my media director, and her primary responsibility is going to be to do a couple of seminars every week and then help manage some of our other campaigns, but co-host a radio show, co-host a television show, deliver these live seminars. Once that stuff’s done, now I’ve got, say, 60 seminars a year covered by somebody other than me, and if this gal ends up being the one, now we’re opening up another market which is single women, widowed women, divorced women. And we can do a whole ‘nother series, wealth and women, or whatever we call it, in addition to what we’re doing.

Michael, I mentioned a second ago, my number one guy, we just got him doing seminars this year. So, he did one last night. So, between this new hire, we’re going to have Mike, myself. It’s going to allow us to really expand the capacity of seminars we can do, and again, expand geographically, expand our footprint, more frequency because we really want to do some damage this year. And I know one way that I can predictably make sure that that happens is by delivering live events, lots of them, generating lots of people that then get plugged into my sales process. Now, they own fixed indexed annuities, and now, they own life insurance because we got them to come in the door.

Brad Johnson: Yeah, and disclaimer because we’ve got all kinds of different licensed people listening to this, securities, non-securities, different states, different actually countries. So, what I would say my big takeaway in learning from that is these presentation skills that often financial advisors struggle with because that’s not how you come up in the business. It’s like how does this product work or how do we build a financial plan, but there are people that literally trained to pretend in front of people and on media. And as Tom expands his media exposure, it’s like, who would be the who not how in that area?

And by the way, if it takes, like I know we’ve got Clayton, they hired a guy named Ethan, very similar situation, and if it in your scenario says, hey, here’s Clayton with these incredible connection presentation skills, and if he does need to go get a license to present or whatever, then you have them in the first month or whatever, go get licensed to make sure you’re covered there. So, I love the thought process.

Tom Jacobs: So, let me interrupt you just a second on that point, the who not how, this is so important. So, I was on a conference call yesterday with Clayton, trying to figure out what he’s doing. We’re getting ready to engage with one of the top public speaking presenter coaches on planet Earth. And I’m going to invest tens of thousands of dollars to have this person sharpen up, level up our seminar game, not just what I’m delivering but these new people, and empowering them, giving them the tools and the resources so that they can be awesome, costs money, takes time, but that’s okay because if I open up my checkbook and I give my team the resources that they need to be successful, they will be.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. And to echo that, one of the things that Triad, our viewpoint, like if you really oversimplify, we talk about a lot of different things, but it’s the advisor obsessed and if we look at our community, which I’m proud to say is the best of the best when it looks it, I mean, I feel like it’s the movie 300. It’s like our small group is doing numbers that hundreds and thousands of advisors and other organizations don’t do. And what’s cool is they’re serving a lot of retired families out there.

But one of the things we heard over and over was this was a gap. And many of the businesses were, hey, right now, all of the presenting is on me. How do I start to train the team and empower the team? And so, Tom, I haven’t even told you this, I’ll just tell you now. We’ve got a small group. I’m not going to share publicly who the trainer is. Let’s just say he’s a world-class speaking trainer who’s trained New York Times bestsellers, Olympic athletes, like very, very good.

And it’s going to be you in the room. It’s going to be a guy named Anthony, that’s one of the best seminar presenters, our mutual friend. So, by the way, he’s in the small group. We talked yesterday. And then we’ve got, I think, Clayton’s joined in that one and Zach. And so, if I look at the caliber of advisors combined with the caliber of the coach, as you say, that’s where the magic happens because we’ve got four of the best financial advising public presenters I’ve ever seen in my life, combined with one of the world-class coaches in the world on public speaking, and combined that, there’s no way that formula doesn’t work, in my opinion, so.

Tom Jacobs: I’ll put those four offices up against any four offices on planet Earth and we will crush them.

Brad Johnson: What I love is your competitiveness that’s coming out. And that’s what I love about you, Tom. It’s like all of us, I think, in this space, we want to serve people at our heart, but also we’re competitive and we like to see where we stack up. So, as we kind of come into the tail end of this conversation, you shared a really cool, and I hope I’m cool to go here, but I really felt humbled to be in the room. And your dad passed away not too long ago. And one of the things I got to watch while you just gave an incredible tribute on a tough day for you and what was cool was we talked about Do Business, Do Life a lot at Triad, and we talk about how not to just do numbers for numbers’ sake, but how do you build a business that blesses your life doesn’t become your life.

And I think your dad, my takeaway, I think he was a Do Business, Do Life sort of guy from the stories you shared. And you guys spent a lot of time on a fishing boat together. And I would love for you just as we kind of go into the tail end of this, like, what does Do Business, Do Life mean to you? I know you had a hell of an example in your life that kind of modeled it right in front of you, but I just love to hear your thoughts because it just really hit home with me, super impactful when I heard you share. And so, sorry, I hope you don’t mind talking. I’m kind of putting you on the spot there, but…

Tom Jacobs: No, no, not at all. So, I had a really unique opportunity to watch my dad’s life and career firsthand. And my dad was in the sales business, medical device sales, and stuff like that. But all growing up, we fished and we had fishing boats out on Lake Michigan, eventually got into the charter fishing business and would take out hundreds of clients every year. But my dad would always take his sales guys and then their clients on charters. And I’m running the boat just kind of doing my thing. And over the years, what my dad was doing just kind of seeped into me.

And what my dad was doing, and I didn’t realize it at the time, was really building relationships, I mean, just unbelievable relationships. And most of the time, when they’re out on the boat, they’re not talking about product and trying to sell stuff. It’s just having a good time and getting to know people on a whole different level. And as those relationships get stronger, so does the business relationship get stronger. And that was an invaluable lesson that I learned from my dad. And I don’t even think I learned it or realized I was learning it until my dad passed away. And I’m looking back and I walk into the room where my dad is. He passed away and he’s just laying there. And the only thing that could come to my mind was, thank you. Dad, thank you. Thank you so much for the lessons that you taught me. And bam.

And it’s just, my dad, my best friend, my hero, my mentor. It’s incredibly tough not having my dad here. But at the same time, it’s such a blessing because he was sick and had Alzheimer’s and dementia. He’s in a much better spot. And I’m so comforted and grateful for that. But you learn lessons along the way. Sometimes, you don’t know you’re learning them when they are. But I would just tell the people on the call today, be humble, open up your heart, be a giver, empower your people, get out of their way, take care of them. Take care of them financially, emotionally, spiritually. It’s not all about the money and the benefits. It’s the pat on the back. And hey, you’re doing a great job and I’m so glad that I get to work with you every day.

And I think sometimes people think maybe that’s just cheesy or corny, but it’s not. I mean, it’s from my heart. I am so grateful for my team because they have allowed my dreams to come true and because they have been able to do that for me, I feel like it’s my obligation, it’s my fiduciary responsibility to make their dreams come true. And if you keep that in the forefront of your brain. It becomes natural and crazy things start to happen. You go from 50 to 100 million in a year. That’s not normal, but it’s certainly doable and it doesn’t have to take the next 10 years. Get out of your way and get after it.

Brad Johnson: Man, I just want to let that sit because that’s just good life advice, in general. And yeah, how fortunate were you to see it modeled like a guy that just loved people? And by the way, I’m guessing he did pretty well in business along the way, too.

Tom Jacobs: You bet.

Brad Johnson: And there’s a way to, as we say here, Do Business, Do Life. We believe in the yes, and versus the either, or. And it doesn’t have to be this trade-off. And that’s one of the things that is our mission here at Triad is just like it is possible. This oftentimes, a lot of advisors out there haven’t been seeing it shown like the proper framework to do it. And so, that’s why we’re so dang passionate about the mission that we’re on here, Tom, it’s stories like yours, it’s awesome to watch play out, so.

Tom Jacobs: You guys gave me this and it’s probably hard for people to see, but on the side here, DBDL reminds me every second of every day what it’s all about. It’s not all about breaking every record that was ever set. It’s about the journey. And we’re all getting a little bit older every single day. Hopefully, we all get where we need to get to financially. But once you get there, unless you brought some people with you, I’m not sure how fulfilling it would actually be. And you’re on that durable wheel for the rest of your life mentally.

But if you build something pretty special and you bring a whole bunch of people with you and you change the family tree, not for the Jacobs family, but for the Bouma family and the Underwood family and the Nussbaum family, that’s the difference between having a really successful business and having a really significant business.

Brad Johnson: Man. I’m just going to get the heck out of your way and just let you keep going here, buddy. Well, one other thing and we’ll end it with this because I’m proud of you, man. And it hasn’t been easy, but you were committed and you put in the work. And that’s the thing. Now, this stuff is like I remember one time, Darren Hardy when I was in a room with him, he’s like, “You know, the thing with success, it’s hard work, and that’s why most people don’t do it. And then guess what? Now, go to significance, that’s even harder work because you’ve got to empower and lead to get that.” But you’ve been really open with kind of your struggles of business kind of own in your life.

And the last time I connected with Amber, who’s running your calendar and everything, she pulled up your calendar for 2023 and there were multiple extended, weeklong-plus trips to Florida with your family. And a year ago, I mean, I wasn’t looking at your calendar a year ago, but I don’t think any of those were really blocked on your calendar a year ago. So, you grew, and you’ve also created freedom for you and your family to create experiences because, like you said, every day we’re getting a little older and empowered a team on career trajectory. So, it’s just a beautiful thing when it all comes together.

Tom Jacobs: It’s cool, man. Before our call, I was looking at my calendar as well. I’ve worked four days in the last month, four days, and business is still happening. One more thing that might be helpful before we go, one of the biggest challenges I’ve had is people encouraging me to sell securities and become AUL. And I have always fought that and gone this way as the rest of the world is going this way. And I would just encourage people that are listening, you can build your business in any way that you want. And the most important thing is you’re doing what you believe in. And I believe in the insurance-only space. And that is contrary to almost everybody I talked to. And I understand that I’m leaving money on the table in the renewals and the residual and the compounding over time.

But I’ve got a very simple business. I’ve got a very simple business model. We sell fixed indexed annuities. I don’t try and sell tacos. I’m in the annuity business. That is scalable. It’s duplicatable. It allows me to say things that other people can’t say. I don’t have to deal with SCC audits. I don’t have to deal with certain compliance issues. I’ve got a very simple business model. And I think that has been also a pretty big key in allowing us to expand.

But the challenge I have is I see the assets other advisors are bringing in and the revenue, but at the end of the day, that’s not me. I don’t believe in securities products for my clients. If my clients were 20 and 30 and 40, all day long, but that’s not who my clients are. My clients are approaching retirement. They’re already retired. They’re between 55 and 80. And I just simply believe at that stage of the game, you just don’t want to lose your money because you may not get it back.

And with the products that are available in the annuity space today, the accumulation products, I don’t think you need to sell security. So, I know that’s really a controversial thing to say, but I want people to understand where I’m coming from. And the point I’m trying to make is you got to do what is right for you and your business, and then you’ve got to explain that vision to your team and then you’ve got to get your team to buy into that vision. And then the rest is history.

Brad Johnson: Yeah, I’ll piggyback on that. It was cool in Austin where we were all hanging out in January. And here’s what I would say because, in the seat that I’ve sat in, in finance the last 15 years now, I would compare kind of the financial advisor space to almost like religion. It’s like, you grew up in this church, so here’s my belief. So, I grew up in this different church, so I have this slightly different belief.

And one of the things I’ve seen is sometimes, I can get– well, not sometimes, a lot of the time I can get an advisor’s way to really building the business that they want to build. And I’ll tell you, one of the things I love about the independent advisor space, it is a true entrepreneurial space. It’s like it is your business, you decide what business you want to build and how you want to serve clients, to what aspects you want to serve them. And I’ll tell you what was really cool because I was observing this down in Austin. I loved your stance.

And by the way, there was a bunch of Series 65 licensed guys in the room. There was a bunch of guys that were licensed with PDs in the room. And so, let’s just kind of compare that. It’s like a church with a bunch of different religions sitting there, right? And you said, “This is Tom and this is what I believe. And I believe my company wants to serve income plans for retirees.” Obviously, we talked about life insurance today and how you’re going to expand that in 2023. And you say, “Hey, you’re an entrepreneur. You build the business how you want to build it. Here’s our focus. And we’re going to be the best in the country at focusing on that for our clients and serving them at the highest level.”

And you know, what’s interesting, Tom, I’m kind of going on around here, but I think it’s really important for advisors to hear this because I see this oftentimes, this is like talking politics on Facebook. You go to a conference, like, “Oh, no, you’re doing it wrong.” “No, you’re doing it wrong.” And I see the exact same thing on a Series 65 guy. It’s not insurance license. And they’re like, “I’m fee-based only.” It’s the exact same conversation. And what’s crazy is neither side sees it. It’s like, that’s how you’ve chosen to run your business. And great. Go get it. If that’s your belief system and you want to do that, awesome. And guess what? There are a lot of retirees out there that need safe income plans.

So, I just love the way you framed it. You said, “I’m going to be the world’s best at this and we’re going to focus on that because that’s true to my beliefs and my core.” And you didn’t judge others. You’re not like, you guys are wrong. You’re like, this is just me, you guys do you. And so, anyway, I think that’s just a good place to leave it because that’s what I’m trying to create on this show. I’m trying to create all kinds of different perspectives, all types of different viewpoints that we can all learn from each other.

So, Tom, thanks so much. I’ve loved having you on here. Love every time we get together and get to have a conversation. I always learn something new. So, thanks for carving out a little time in Florida to share here with everyone.

Tom Jacobs: My pleasure, bro. Awesome. DBDL, man.

Brad Johnson: All right, baby. Let’s keep doing it.

Tom Jacobs: Talk to you later.

Brad Johnson: See you, Tom.


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.

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

Copyright ©️ 2023 Triad Partners. All rights reserved. TP05232907511


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