Get an Accountability Buddy and Set Up the Relationship for Winning Results

Accountability is one of the keys to supporting your desired results.  If you would like to find a colleague who is inspired to create a win/win accountability buddy structure, there are a few keys to setting up the relationship for winning results for both you and your buddy:

  1. Choose an accountability buddy that you respect to give you objective feedback.
  2. Have a goal-setting session together to support the results that you want to see happen over the course of the year.
  3. Determine the time frames (or deadline dates) that you want to see actions and results.
  4. Agree upon the level and frequency of accountability you want.  Determine when and where you will you meet or connect by phone, the length of the meetings, and the type of support you want and are comfortable committing to for your accountability buddy.
  5. Honor the model that you set up.  That means be on time to the meetings, give each person adequate time to be supported and take action consistent to the goals that you set.
  6. Plan to revisit the relationship periodically, either quarterly, semi-annually, or once a year. If something isn’t working for either of you, be willing to address it and make adjustments.

If all that seems like a lot of work, but you love the idea of a supercharged accountability system, I am starting an Advisor Mastery Program in January. Let me help you take the work out of the planning part so you can simply enjoy the benefits of being in a mastermind and having that regular accountability process managed for you and so much more.

5 Steps to Running a Mastermind to Empower Your Dreams

The concept of masterminding has been around since even before Napoleon Hill introduced the concept in Think and Grow Rich in the 1930s. Essentially, it’s a like-minded group of people getting together to help support each other to greater levels of success. It’s a powerful concept and something most of the financial planners who have reached the highest levels of success participate in.

If you’d like to give masterminding a try, here are the steps to starting your own:

1. Invite 5-7 other financial services business professionals to join you. They should be people you respect, and who have unique perspectives. They don’t have to be people who always agree with you, but they should have attained a certain level of success.

2. Choose a date for your first meeting.

3. Choose a location for your meetings. Will they be face-to-face in person at your office? Will each member of the mastermind take turns in hosting the meeting? Or is your network broader and based across the country? If so, then a virtual meeting or conference call may be the best option. Some mastermind groups travel to exotic locations and mix business with pleasure, using some of the time to meet with their mastermind partners and some of the time to golf, enjoy boating or water activities, and relax in paradise.

4. Set your agenda. The best masterminds allow each member to have equal time presenting to the group and asking for help from the group. Have a timer or some other visible means to keep each member on time and on task as they take turns. Will there be a common topic to discuss or will the members bring whatever they want to the table? Communicate the rules and agenda in advance so everyone can adequately prepare.

5. About every 6-12 months evaluate the members of your group. Is there anyone in the group who doesn’t fully contribute anything of value? Then don’t invite them back. Is there someone new you met who would be a perfect fit for the group? Invite them, and their fresh perspectives to join.

When you join a mastermind, here’s what you get:

  • Impartial advice and Excellent Brainstorming: Instead of sitting around by yourself trying to come up with ideas to move your business forward, or surfing podcasts or the internet, you’re getting ideas from people who know you and your business and can give you the needed outside perspective.
  • Motivation and accountability:  Looking for a way to be motivated? Tell a group of your trusted peers that you promise to get something done before the next meeting. If it’s not done by the night before, if you’re like most people, you’ll do whatever it takes to report you’ve done what you promised and that you are a person of integrity.
  • Support to Succeed: If you’ve ever had one of those days, you know how powerful moral support can be. You don’t have to paint everything as rosy for your mastermind partners, because life and business sometimes will throw a curve ball your way. A good mastermind group will be there to help you dust off and remind you how awesome you are and to get you back into positive action.
The way to truly set yourself up to win with off the charts results is to surround yourself with an empowering environment of support and structure to eliminate the chance of not taking action.

Strategic Planning for Strategic Success

Strategic planning sounds so high-level corporate, it may feel like the individual financial services professional may not need to engage in a strategic planning process, but nothing could be further from the truth. Businesses and organizations of all sizes need a plan. Although I run my own business I regularly focus on developing and implementing a strategic plan. If you aren’t sure how to do that for yourself, here are the exact steps I follow. If it resonates with you, go ahead and use it!

Step 1: Carve out time on the calendar for a full day away from the office at a location that inspires me.  (A new or different environment usually inspires different productive ideas.)  I usually find myself someplace with a view of the beach or in the mountains for this process.

Step 2: Gather supplies and arrive the night before to get settled, have a great night’s sleep and start my retreat refreshed. I use a large Post It pad with color sharpies to write out my notes during the day.

Step 3: Wake up early, go for a walk and have a wonderful breakfast that includes a hot cup of very good coffee.

Step 4: Create an intention for my Strategic Planning Retreat.  Here I look at and clarify what I want as the outcome for the day.  

Step 5: Examine my existing goals, what I achieved and have yet to achieve, and set new goals for a specific time period.

Step 6: Determine a plan for how to reach my new goals:  looking at what I need to do differently to reach my new goals and how I will implement the new strategy.  I look at whatever it is that I want to make happen over the course of the next year and plan for it happening.

Step 7: Focus on the details that need to unfold to accomplish the desired results. I look at what I need to start implementing and create a list of what can be delegated.

Step 8: Next, I look at potential challenges I might experience on my way to reaching my goals and determine a game plan to eliminate them.

Step 9: Lastly, I tune into my mindset.  Am I feeling confident about the goals that I have set and the strategies that I have created?  I look at what needs to happen to turn up the volume so to speak on my level of confidence about the overall plan and make those adjustments as well, using Neurolinguisitic Programming or NLP, a study of how the brain works. (I am a Master Certified NLP Practitioner and use it often for myself and my clients.)

Time Out Equals More Money In

silent, pause or break time hand gestureHow long is your to-do list right now? If it’s anything like mine, it’s a mile long and getting longer. So it’s likely that one of the most difficult things to imagine as you’re watching that to-do list grow by the second, is sitting at your desk and NOT doing a single thing on it, yet having THAT benefit you more than if you could cross everything off your list today.

Wait… what?!

According to Forbes.com, there was a fascinating study conducted on the 1979 Harvard MBA program where graduate students were asked “have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” The result, only 3% had written goals and plans, 13% had goals but they weren’t in writing and 84% had no goals at all. Ten years later, the same group was interviewed again and the result was absolutely mind-blowing.

The 13% of the class who had goals, but did not write them down was earning twice the amount of the 84% who had no goals. The 3% who had written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the class combined!Not only that but, taking time off work actually can increase your productivity. In fact, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, taking time off away from your day-to-day is the secret to increased productivity at work. Why? Because that time away supports creativity, clarity and inspired strategic planning.

So here are the steps you can follow to take time away from the day to day of your work to ultimately make more money from your time out:

  1. Block out an uninterrupted day in your calendar to look at where you are at in your game at this point in the year.
  2. Determine, based on your current numbers if you are on track for reaching your goals, exceeding your goals or are you short of desired goals to date?
  3. Take an opportunity to celebrate what is working, look and see what you need to do differently, and where you can capitalize on opportunities.
  4. Develop a new game plan to overcome existing challenges so that you can finish the second part of the year strong.
If you don’t want to go through this process on your own and want some help from an experienced professional who has guided hundreds of financial services professionals like you, call me today and let’s talk about getting you a chance to take a time out to support more money ultimately coming in your door.

How to Determine, Describe, and Discover Your Ideal Clients for a Win-Win Relationship

One of the scariest things for financial planners to do is to narrow their target market, or niche. You may wonder how on earth you could possibly make more money by only appealing to a smaller segment of the population. The truth is, by narrowing your niche you have the opportunity to set yourself up to win by simplifying your marketing efforts and effectively attracting more of your ideal clients. Does this mean you don’t accept people as clients who don’t fit your niche? That’s certainly up to you, but when you narrow your focus in terms of who you want to work with, your marketing efforts get much easier and clients begin to seek you out.Your niche or your target market speaks to the WHO you want to provide your services to, the specific group of people or businesses that you want to focus your marketing efforts around.Now in order to clarify WHO your ideal client might be, I ALSO want you to think about YOUR desired income. As long as you have chosen an ideal client that will ultimately support you in reaching your financial and professional goals, you will be in a position to fine-tune your branding and your systems to serve more of your ideal clients to create the win/win experience that you are truly looking for.

With that in mind, here are 3 Ds to clarify your niche: Determine, Describe, and Discover:

  1. Determine the demographics of the type of client that would support YOUR financial goals. How would you describe that group? The more focused your market, the easier it will be for you to establish yourself as a credible expert amongst that group.  Are they business professionals?  Bay Area surgeons? Affluent families?  High tech companies?  Entrepreneurs or start ups? Or even more narrow such as employees of a specific company like Google, for instance?
  2. Describe the top 3 characteristics of your ideal client whether it is their net worth, their profession or the geographic region where they are located.
  3. Discover what their life looks like. What is their net worth? Where do they live? If they work, which industry are they in?  What is the value of the car that they drive?  What types of  vacations do they take? Do they contribute to a particular charity or support their alma mater? Think about those people, that one ideal client.
Take some time to dig into these three “Ds” and in the next article, we will discuss what to do after you have narrowed your niche and how you can determine your area of specialization for that specific group.

4 Steps to Successful Specialization in Your Financial Services Business

IBusinessman drawing steps conceptn last month’s newsletter, we discussed how you can determine, describe, and discover your ideal clients for a win-win relationship. In this month’s article, now that you are clear on your ideal clients, it’s time to figure out exactly what YOU bring to the table that will attract your ideal clients to you.Step 1: Consider your background and experience. What kind of work have you done during the time you have been in the industry and even if you were in another career before, what did you do before entering the financial services industry? Showcase your current and any relevant prior experience in building your credibility for what you do today. Your professional work experiences combined will give you insight into the areas you could specialize.

Step 2: Review Your Education: What degrees and certifications do you have? Your education can help you not only differentiate yourself, but also help you determine an area of specialization.

Step 3: Look at Best Client Results: In what areas have your clients seen the best results? Has it been in wealth acquisition? Investment management? Retirement planning?  Employee benefits? Or something else? When you can show many successes in a particular area, that’s a key to where you might choose to specialize.

Step 4: Remember Your Favorite Clients: This is a personal issue, but an important one. No one wants to work with people that they don’t resonate with. Life is more fun and a lot less stressful when you actually enjoy spending time with your clients. So look at the clients you have appreciated working with the most and what it was they needed, and that will also help you determine where to specialize.

Pull each of these four aspects together and you’ll be on your way to highlighting your specialization for your business!

Branding Your Business Series: Communicating Your Area of Expertise

When branding your business it is essential to have clarity about your target market and your area of specialization. You want to maintain this focus as you go about creating your plan so that you are limiting your activity to where you will have the most opportunity to create results within your target market. Branding includes several elements that all require a clear message to those you most want to work with, about who you are and how you can best help them.

One client I worked with specialized in providing financial planning for women. After his father passed away, his mother had worked with a financial advisor and the result was a significant loss. Because of the impact of his mother’s financial loss on his own life, he is now focused on serving women and helping them make conservative decisions with regard to their overall financial picture. His expertise was well defined and communicated to the niche market of women he wanted to serve. I have other clients who specialize in serving women simply because they have good rapport and simply like working with women. I have had a client who specialized in being a financial advisor for attorneys. Because his father was an attorney, he grew up around the legal conversation and had a comfort level as well as an appreciation for attorneys as professionals.

Going through these simple steps listed below can assist you with strengthening your marketing focus and ultimately your brand:

  • Write down your target market and your area of expertise
  • Now look at what you enjoy doing/providing and make a list:

(For example, helping people to see how they can retire comfortably on their desired retirement date, helping them to create income from their investments, creating financial plans, monitoring portfolios, working with pension plans, whatever it is).

  • Next, make a list of those areas where you most enjoy serving your clients.
  • Now write a list of the problems that they want solved.

Take some time answering each of these questions thoroughly. You may surprise yourself!

If you want to create a powerful branded system for your business, you will need to have a focused target market, with a focused area of specialization. This requires alignment between you and the group that you serve. Given who you are, your experience, your personality and your values, the more aligned you are with your target market the more natural the attraction they will have for working with you.



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