048: Greg McKeown on the Art of Essentialism and How Financial Advisors Can Achieve More with the Disciplined Pursuit of Less

048: Greg McKeown on the Art of Essentialism and How Financial Advisors Can Achieve More with the Disciplined Pursuit of Less

In today’s conversation, I’m thrilled to speak with New York Times bestselling author Greg McKeown. He’s the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, in which he draws on experience and insight from working with leaders of the most innovative companies in the world, to show how to achieve the disciplined pursuit of less. Special thanks to my buddy Jon Vroman for helping make this conversation happen, however it was my friend Michael Hyatt, first introduced me to the concept of Essentialism when he shared Greg’s book with me a few years back. It quickly became one of my top reads of all-time as it truly spoke to me with something I’ve struggled with and I’m sure many of you have as well, balancing everything we want to do in business with the things that truly matter in life. I highlighted passage after passage, then I realized something… As financial advisors, if there’s one thing we need, it’s a book on what NOT to do and a framework to focus on the things that truly matter – and Greg has written just that book.

Greg has also spoken on NBC, NPR, and at countless companies across a variety of industries including Apple, Google, NFP Securities, and Goldman Sachs. He definitely knows a thing or two about helping financial advisors, as well as high net worth individuals – and his advice extends to almost anyone who has ever caught themselves struggling to make time for both their work and their personal life.

Today, we discuss why we trade off incredibly important things for less important ones. We explore why our world prioritizes working constantly and our obsession with the idea that you need to always be ON in order to be successful – and how you can have a fuller, happier life by focusing on what truly matters.


Here are a just a handful of the things that you’ll learn:
  • [08:05] Why essentialism matters so much to financial advisors. We dig into why we have so much emotional attachment to our clients – and the fool’s bargain that we’re prone to falling for.
  • [10:43] Greg’s “Aha!” moment that led to his book Essentialism – and why you simply don’t have to sacrifice essential moments of your life to grow a successful business.
  • [13:04] From there, Greg introduces the concept of the Undisciplined Pursuit of More and how our initial wins early on don’t set us up for future success, but rather, for a framework that ultimately leads to burnout.
  • [14:26] Then Greg introduces the 3 E’s – Explore, Eliminate, and Execute – which are at the heart of practicing Essentialism – and practical strategies that financial advisors can use to achieve more in less time.
  • [29:07] Greg then shares a powerful example of what happens if you continue to neglect and borrow time from other places in your life – and what happened to a very talented entrepreneur who stretched himself too thin.
  • [57:46] Finally, Greg and I get into why financial advisors need to focus on WHY when building out a plan for prospective clients, in order to build meaningful connections. HINT: If you’re focusing on specific details and not the big picture vision, you likely aren’t relating to your clients in the way you think you may be! Greg reveals exactly where so many financial advisors go wrong when presenting to prospects – and it’s something you can easily correct!



  • [05:54] The incredibly powerful story that opens Greg’s book.
  • [14:29] Greg’s strategy for moving away from chasing success – and instead prioritizing and pursuing what’s essential.
  • [19:37] Why almost anything we do has the potential to possibly be useful – and why Greg instead organizes his life based on what’s vital, what’s good, and what would simply be nice to have to keep his life (and calendar) decluttered.
  • [26:32] Why highly productive people, including the best financial advisors, would prefer to spend an hour of their time training someone to do something instead of spending an hour on it themselves.
  • [33:58] The reasons Greg believes that exhausted financial advisors are bad financial advisors.
  • [38:42] Why finding essential work that drives the success of your business for other people to do can be hugely useful – and taking a $20 pay cut in order to free up an hour of your time is worth it if you’re still earning $780, $880, or $980 an hour.
  • [40:20] Greg shares a story from early in Nora Ephron’s life about finding hidden stories – and how this applies to being an essentialist and a financial advisor.
  • [01:00:43] Greg explains why being competent leads so many people to take on so many inessential activities – and the number one mistake Greg sees so many people make, even when taking on big-picture work like writing books.
  • [1:07:46] Greg tells the true story of a 12-year-old girl on a business trip with her father, and how he made her feel essential – and how it proved he lived by his word.
  • [1:13:18] Why Greg’s wife and her wisdom is so essential to his success.




Thanks for checking out the latest show! I really appreciate the couple of minutes you all have taken to share your thoughts as the reviews help our show get found and rank on iTunes! Also special thanks to those of you who left reviews since our last show as we are now closing in on 125 5-Star reviews – THANK YOU!

Here are 4 more recent reviews, the first one comes to us from user Kyle12345678900 who says:

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Thanks for the review and so glad you found the Chris Smith episode on listen #2 as that’s one of my favorites in our show’s history. Also love the fact you are going back and re-listening again. Don’t forget, in order to make it as easy as possible to apply all the ideas shared on the show, we make sure to have a transcription done for each one, you can find it at the bottom of the show notes. For Chris’s episode specifically, it should help you take advantage of the language he shared on how to create an over-the-top 1st impression, that episode’s available at bradleyjohnson.com/41 for those of you who haven’t given it a listen yet. Hope you’ve caught a few more episodes since leaving your review Kyle and don’t hesitate to reach out through the website if anything else I or my team can do to help!

The next review comes to us from Mandy Andrei who says:

mandy andrei elite advisor blueprint itunes review

Mandy, thanks for the kind words and the review! I’m doing my very best to make sure every episode features an amazing person that we can all learn from and ask questions I think that can serve our financial advisor audience, so glad it’s resonating with you! I’ll keep the episodes coming for you.

Next up is user Mlewis7804 who says:

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You are welcome and thanks for the review. It’s reviews like this that make me want to keep these episodes coming, and I’m incredibly grateful for those of you who have taken a few minutes to share your thoughts. It helps me know what type of guests can serve you all and I also love that you are seeing value from both those inside our industry as well as those outside of it. Part of what keeps it fun for me as well! Thanks for listening in Mlewis7804!

And the last featured review for the week comes to us from user mccomasknows who says:

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For those of you that have interest in diving deeper or figuring out how you may be able to have our team help you implement many of the ideas shared on the show, my day job happens to be consulting financial advisors from all over the US on how to grow their business and design a practice that serves them, versus them serving it. Yes it’s possible to grow your business and work less, this is a model we’ve replicated over and over in markets all over the country… So, if you’d like to apply to see if it makes sense for us to have a 1-on-1 conversation on how to overcome what may be getting in your way, you can do that at bradleyjohnson.com/apply. It takes about 5 minutes to fill out the application so we can understand what your business looks like, what challenges you may be facing and how myself and my team may be able to help. We then dive into a Discovery session where we ask a lot of questions based on your survey. We do a lot of listening, and take a lot of notes to build a rough draft of our proprietary Elite Advisor Blueprint – 90 Day Plan™. Taking the first step is as simple as applying at bradleyjohnson.com/apply 🙂


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This is provided for informational purposes only. Producers are ultimately responsible for the use or implementation of these concepts and should be aware of any and all applicable compliance requirements​. When incorporating other services into your practice, whether tax, legal or other, clients must fully understand who provides which service and that producers cannot hold themselves out as being able to provide services they are not qualified to perform. Please keep in mind that no amount of experience as a financial professional or designation qualifies a producer/advisor to provide legal or tax advice. Consumers should always be encouraged to consult with qualified professionals before making any decisions about their personal situation. Results from the use of these concepts are no guarantee of your future success.


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