In this Episode of the Perfect RIA Podcast:
Matt and Micah dissect their recent call with Coach Joe Lukacs to accentuate the finer points of everything discussed.
Joe Lukacs was the guest of the last episode, and what he said carries over into this newest talk between Matthew Jarvis and Micah Shilanski. Some of the episode is a reiteration of what was said prior: the importance of mastermind groups, the need to reinvest revenue into one’ self for self-development purposes, and the fact that there isn’t a single panacea for marketing success–just because a podcast worked for Joe Schmo, doesn’t mean it will for you. These aspects are talked about, sure, but the crux of the whole message, the linchpin of the talk, is that every RIA needs a coach.
Plain and simple, there are no excuses for an advisor. If you don’t have the money, take out a loan. If you are serious about your place in the industry, invest in a coach. Matthew talks about how he actually maxed out a credit card just to attend Tom Gau’s Academy of Preferred Advisors program. He did everything in his power to attend workshops and programs which bolstered his position in the industry, in addition to having a coach he could set up weekly meetings for. And Coach Joe Lukacs, Micah Shilanski’s coach for the last 12+ years, has increased the value of Micah’s practice exponentially. To briefly touch on some of the key points of why one should work with a coach, let’s dive deeper into the details of this episode.
There are three key facets of why one should hire a coach that needs to be addressed. And to learn more and get a more in-depth profile, listen to this and the previous episode, and take in all Coach Joe has to say. But to start, the first facet that one should consider when hiring a coach is this:
- A coach is a sort of spiritual/health/financial advisor who is also more than just a coach, but a friend as well. Matt and Micah both let listeners know that your coach has to be your friend. And this enriching relationship is rewarding–like many friendships are–but the coach also functions as an impartial guide who isn’t afraid to bring the hammer down when necessary. And when you are led astray, your coach brings things back into focus, letting you know where to redirect your energy and breaking up any systems in place that detract from the overall value of your practice.
- In addition, one should get a coach because they can provide the right connections for programs, masterminds, and seminars which will bring inestimable amounts of value to your practice. In essence, coaches bring you considerable resources for your success. They can also teach you the importance of reinvesting in yourself. If you invest in a coach, you already care enough about your professional live to want to bolster it, but a coach will also focus on your personal life as well, enriching in whatever way they can. Matt jokes about how his wife likens his relationship with his coach to a therapist/patient dynamic, but there is a bit of truth to the notion that an advisor functions like a counselor. Sometimes we just need a helping hand to right the ship.
- And lastly, they can simplify things for you. Joe Lukacs himself says that one shouldn’t hop around from one thing to the next, falling victim to the latest widget or platform; What works for one person doesn’t guarantee success for you .Instead, the answer is in consistency and patience, and a coach can remind you when you are getting cold feet. They will show you how important it is to have a slow-and-steady mentality when it comes to business–to play the long game.
These points and more are addressed in this episode of the Perfect RIA podcast. Please tune in! If you want to read along, as always, the transcript is below. Take care.
Announcer: 00:01 Welcome to the Perfect RIA Podcast, the only show dedicated to helping you build a highly effective financial planning practice that delivers both an amazing client experience and an amazing lifestyle for you and your family. What you will hear today is not theory, but rather real world, tested in the trenches systems that your hosts, Micah Shilanski and Matthew Jarvis, have developed in their own respective practices, which have been recognized as some of the best in our industry.
Announcer: 00:40 Before we get started, a quick reminder from our attorneys. This podcast is intended only for a professional audience and should not be considered as tax, legal, financial, investing, or even cooking advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and you alone are responsible for you.
Announcer: 01:04 And now, lean forward and let Micah and Matthew show you how to build the perfect RIA.
Matthew: 01:15 Good morning everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Micah and Matt podcast, officially known as the Perfect RIA Podcast. In this episode, we want to dissect, if you will, the call or the podcast that we did with Coach Joe Lucas recently, and really we both got so much information from that call. And we wanted to let Joe have as much time as we needed, that we thought it would be a good idea to kind of go back through the high points and really talk about how what Coach Joe talked about applies in our own practices, and how we almost wish we would applied it earlier in our lives. As always, I’ve got my good friend Micah Shilanski on the call with us today, and we’re really excited to go through this.
Matthew: 01:57 Micah, why don’t you kick us off by reminding the listeners how long you’ve known Coach Joe. I know we talked about that fun story about how he and your dad started working together.
Micah: 02:06 Yeah, I have personally worked with Coach Joe about 12 years, 12 or 13 years now. I got to say, he has made a huge impact. And I like to say this now that he’s not on the line, not to build up his ego too much, right? No, but he’s made a huge impact in our practice, in our lives, in our clients’ lives. Just like the importance of a coach, they don’t always tell you things you don’t know, but they tell you things that you already know but you should be doing. And he is really good about that, and let’s not reinvent the wheel for the sake of reinventing the wheel. Keep to the basics, do what you’re supposed to do and really move that needle and become, you know, create a better impact for your clients, really add that massive value, changing your clients’ lives. And that really happens first with yourself, changing a little bit about yourself.
Micah: 02:56 Now, I’m going to say, as we went through Joe’s podcast previously and then we’re about to go through this, we’re going to hopefully go through less information on this one and really dive in deeper into a lot of [inaudible 00:03:06]. But I’m going to say, probably a lot of people get overwhelmed when you go through all of these things that you have to do. So I’d really encourage our listeners, Matt, and let me know if you disagree, but as we’re talking about this, just get one thing that we talk about that you’re not doing well or that you haven’t done, and just go do one thing. Then come back and fix something else up. If you try to go through all the stuff we talked about on Joe’s podcast, the things we’re going to go through today, I think it’d almost be too overwhelming. And it’s going to be too much to do, then you’re not going to do anything, and you’re not going to make progress.
Micah: 03:37 So that would say for our listeners, that’s what I want them to do today is really focus on that one thing that we’re going to talk about that they could implement. What do you think?
Matthew: 03:46 You know, Micah, I completely agree with that. And it reminds of that old saying about, “What’s the best kind of workout? The one that you’ll actually do.”
Micah: 03:54 Right.
Matthew: 03:55 So I mean, when we’re talking about working out, ideally you would work out five days a week, right? That would be great. But four days is better than no days. One day is better than no day. So I completely agree with Micah. Find the one thing that stands out to you the most, or even the one thing that you think would be easiest to implement in your career, in your practice, and start there. Start getting victories.
Micah: 04:13 Sure. Yeah.
Matthew: 04:15 Now Micah, before we jump in to kind of the bullet points that you and I had selected, could you tell everybody just a little bit more about how coaching works with Coach Joe? If they were intrigued by him, you know, especially people that don’t have a coach, they’re not really sure how that whole world works. So maybe you could talk just briefly about specifically how Joe works with you, with your family, with other advisors.
Micah: 04:34 Yeah, absolutely. Well, Joe has a couple of different ways that you can work with him. So I’ll speak about how we work together. One of the things that you can do with Joe … is the first thing that I did is you just go on his website, and you sign up for an introductory call, right? You fill out a couple of informations, he has a 30-minute call with you. One of things that I like about Coach Joe is it’s a 30-minute call, not a two-hour call. He [inaudible 00:04:56] respects our time, and he wants to get right to the point during the meetings, and not kind of B.S. around stuff. So it’s a 30-minute introductory call, and he sees that if he can add value to your relationship and if you’re open in making changes. That’s there.
Micah: 05:09 His big focus is, you know, he used to work with Tony Robbins years and years ago.
Matthew: 05:14 Wow.
Micah: 05:14 So he knows Tony personally, and he made a transition from Tony Robbins into coaching financial advisors. So he really takes a lot of that “why” concept from Tony Robbins and applies it down. So it’s great stuff, and a lot of it has some Tony roots, which I think is phenomenal. I think Tony Robbins does a great job in so many areas.
Matthew: 05:33 Yeah, he really does.
Micah: 05:35 Joe only works with financial advisors, though. So he knows the industry. He knows the in and outs, and he knows a lot of the stuff we can do, we can’t do. So we don’t get a lot of that. Sometimes you hire other business coaches to tell you to do stuff we can’t do, like go get testimonials, right?
Matthew: 05:51 Sure.
Micah: 05:51 Yeah.
Matthew: 05:52 “How come you don’t put testimonials on your website?” “Well … let me tell you what.”
Micah: 05:55 Good question. Yeah.
Matthew: 05:55 Good question.
Micah: 05:58 So you do the introductory call with him. He’s going to go through your practice. He’s going to go through you, see what changes that you want to make. And then, what I set up with him is just a monthly call. You know, we kind of determined that’s all that we needed.
Micah: 06:08 Now some other advisors do weekly calls with him. Sometimes they need a little bit more handholding, and I’m not saying that as a negative. But, you know, kind of the way that Joe and I first went into this, is just monthly phone calls work. I pay him X amount per month, and then I get access to that. And then I see him about two or three times in person a year.
Micah: 06:27 And so, he has a mastermind called Magellan. There’s about 15 or 20 members, of which I’m one of the founders of. Myself, my father, and Joe kind of cooked up this idea of this [i-advisor 00:06:39], and now it’s called the Magellan Group. But it’s a pure lifestyle advisor, Matt, that we cooked this up before I met you, right?
Matthew: 06:45 Sure.
Micah: 06:45 The same concept of what we’re doing here is that having a lifestyle practice, a highly productive, highly profitable lifestyle practice. So he has a mastermind that helps people go towards that as well. And so, I’ll meet with them. And then he has a business planning retreat, which I think is phenomenal, in November. And I know you and I are going to go to that in November.
Matthew: 07:03 Yeah, we are. Yep.
Micah: 07:04 Yeah.
Matthew: 07:04 No, that’s really interesting. Now, it’s interesting that you coach with him once a month. Most of the coaches I’ve worked with, and for all of those of you listening, you know that both Micah and I are huge advocates of having a personal coach. I’ve always done weekly calls with coaches. Though as I joked, Micah, with your wife, Kelly, it’s really just my alterative to therapy. So maybe guys that are more well-rounded like yourself just need it once a month.
Micah: 07:29 And this is one of the things that, you know, take what works for you. For me, talking about things on a weekly basis, I’m like, “Well look, I need the time to get stuff done, you know? I need to be able to implement.” So talking once a week, I find is pointless. Give me the crap that needs to get done, let me go to work, then let me circle back in a reasonable amount of time. So for me, that was monthly.
Matthew: 07:46 Sure.
Micah: 07:47 Now for you, maybe you’re just a rock star, Matt, and you can get things done weekly, and it takes me more time.
Matthew: 07:52 You’re such a nice guy. Appreciate that. Maybe it just has to get beat into my head more often.
Matthew: 07:57 But again to your point, you’ve got to find a coach and a routine that works for you, really to the point where you’re always looking forward to those calls. And I think Micah makes a good point, right? If weekly you start dreading, “Oh, I’ve got another call,” then that’s too frequent, right? And if you’re thinking it’s too long, right, you can adjust that. It’s really, it’s your relationship. You’re the one who gets to dictate those terms.
Micah: 08:17 And one thing that’s really interesting, though, Kelly my wife, she will tell you the days that I meet with Joe without looking at my calendar. She notices a change in my attitude, my behavior, my forward thinking- ness on days that I’ve had conversations with Joe. So from the spousal side, I mean, she also picks up on it that it’s a great relationship. And she’s a huge advocate of Joe, because she sees that positive change in my behavior.
Matthew: 08:44 Yeah, that’s funny that you would mention that Kelly could notice that. I know my wife, [Jackie 00:08:48], she’ll always say … we always joke about those things. Like the right way and then the wrong way, and the wrong way’s my way, kind of a thing. And we’re just sort of joking there. But Jackie will gracefully say, “Maybe that’s something you should talk to your coach about.”
Micah: 09:03 That’s awesome. She’s texting your coach right now, “Okay, bring this up to Matt.”
Matthew: 09:07 “Hey you might want to mention this to Matt.” But especially as small business owners, as entrepreneurs, right? Set aside being a financial advisor, there are not clean lines between work and family, and work and personal life. As much as we want to put those in there, we don’t ever punch off the clock, right?
Micah: 09:22 Right.
Matthew: 09:23 You’re always an entrepreneur. You’re always a business owner. So it does impact all areas of your life.
Matthew: 09:28 To transition just a little bit, or on a related note, one of the things that Joe mentioned in our call … and I know, Micah, you’re really good at this, is having a personal development budget. Joe, I believe, suggested … did he say 5% to 10% of your gross, was that the number he said?
Micah: 09:43 Yeah, ideal, 5% of your gross or 10% of your net.
Matthew: 09:47 Okay.
Micah: 09:48 And the PD budget, I think, is huge. This is what I think about it. Well actually, I think it’s sort of like science too, Matt, when I’m working with them.
Matthew: 09:57 Really?
Micah: 09:57 Yeah, I mean, think about it. If you have some entrepreneur or client [inaudible 00:10:01] answer stuff, have them doing their own PD budget, you know, the personal development side. And while finance, you know, financial planning is a personal development industry, so is being an entrepreneur. And getting their head in the right space and doing these things, whether it’s a doctor that’s opening up his own clinic, his own hospital, whether it’s any type of entrepreneur, we’re definitely trying to get them to do PD budgets.
Matthew: 10:24 No, that’s really a good point. I have never carved it out that way. I had never set up a budget for that. I’m curious, I’m going to go and look to see what my personal budget has been, right? How much my spending has been as a percentage of my income? But it’s always been a pretty high number. Early on, I realized the value of having coaching, either group coaching or personal coaching. And boy, it’s really transformative to your practice.
Matthew: 10:47 I don’t know about you, Mike, I think I started doing it long before I could really afford it.
Micah: 10:51 Yes, God bless Aunt Visa, right? Not the best financial advice.
Matthew: 10:54 No.
Micah: 10:54 But yeah, we all … now, I didn’t have a number on it until I went to Joe. I think that was the big difference, is he puts a number on those things. But we would always spend money on the PD side. And what we do now, as soon as we get income coming in, we have a separate account, which is a PD account. And 5% of what our gross deposit was, goes in that account. That’s burn money. It should not be left over at the end of the year. That should be reinvested in you.
Matthew: 11:22 It’s interesting to me, Micah, that you put that in a separate account, right? I mean, you’re a smart guy with money, you’re a financial advisor, you’re advising a lot of clients. But yet you put that in a totally separate account. Could you elaborate on that just a little bit?
Micah: 11:34 Sure, and actually I do this a lot with clients as well, encouraging them. For one, we have a small family business, right? So we have family members that are a part of that. We have employees that are there, so we got a few mixed parts. And then I have my own family, my wife and all. So we have finances on multiple levels.
Micah: 11:54 One of the things we wish to be clear with everybody is what money is for. And sometimes, if you have all the money in one account, it becomes very confusing what that money’s for. Even by yourself, you start playing mental games with it. “Oh well, my credit card’s higher, because I did X.” Or, “You know what? It’s really because this,” and you’re pointing the finger somewhere else.
Matthew: 12:14 Or look how much cash is sitting in my business account. I might as well pull some of that out.
Micah: 12:18 Exactly. “Look at all that money. I can go do X with it,” when that’s not what it was designed for. So I like physically separate accounts. I don’t want that accounting B.S. where it’s in QuickBooks, and say, “Oh look, it’s journaled.” No, because when you look online, you look at your statement, you have that financial thermostat, right? And if it’s between X and Y, you’re fine. If it’s a little bit more, you start spending it. And if it’s two less, you start freaking out.
Micah: 12:40 So I like to have that money compartmentalized in an entirely separate, different account. And it’s nicknamed “PD account.” So we know exactly what that’s for.
Matthew: 12:50 I guess that makes sense. I mean, it’s the same advice that we give clients, right, the pay yourself first, right? Put money in your retirement accounts first. This is really invest in yourself first, right? Set that money aside right off the top, put it in a separate account. I think that makes a lot of sense.
Micah: 13:03 And if you have teams as well, we haven’t gone to the point of separating this out for leaders versus team members and have different accounts. Right now, it’s just one big account that’s there. But we have talked about that as well, ’cause we allow our team members a personal development budget as well, where they can go to conferences, they can do training, etc. That just comes out of that one PD account. But you could set it up many different ways, depending on how your organization’s structured.
Matthew: 13:28 Yeah, and we could have an entire podcast just on team development, Mike. I know you invest very heavily in your team, as do I. In fact, just in two weeks I know that Colleen, my office manager, is going to the Ritz-Carlton training program, which I know some of your teams members have done. That is at not a small expense.
Micah: 13:45 No.
Matthew: 13:45 It’s a great investment.
Micah: 13:47 It’s phenomenal training. Yeah, we need to have her on the podcast when she’s done with it.
Matthew: 13:50 Yeah, we really should. That’d be a lot of fun. Well, let’s shift gears just a little bit. Let’s for advisors that are newer, that have smaller practices, that say, “Boy, if I carve out 5% of my gross, that’s still not enough to do anything.” Joe-
PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:14:04]
Matthew: 14:00 … Percent of my growth. That’s still not enough to do anything. Joe talked for a minute about Masterminds, which is a timeless business tool, right? Dale Carnegie must’ve talked about it 100 years ago, but Joe had some interesting points on Mastermind, which when I reflected on them, they resonated as very true, and it is that Masterminds are very difficult to keep running, I think especially as a younger advisor or a smaller practice before you really have credibility to draw in bigger practices. What have been your experiences there, Micah, and what are kind of your recommendations to advisors?
Micah: 14:32 I like Masterminds. The concept of the Mastermind is a small group of like-minded people that you can help each other build your business. One of the things is you may not want to get a Mastermind with local people that are local financial advisors. Maybe you’re gonna feel there’s some competition there. Maybe they will, so you want to spread your wings out a little bit and to get different people in there. I would say one of the best advices I got on a Mastermind was … It was I got rejected from a Mastermind. It was really nice. It was, you know, it’s not me, it’s you was the rejection, but-
Matthew: 15:04 Really?
Micah: 15:04 Yeah. It was at Next Gen. They were going through and setting up Masterminds. I said, “Well, I’d love to … I am not in a Mastermind right now. I’d love to join one.” They had just found out that in a room, I took over six months of the year out of the office. This was several years ago. Allen Moore was really nice. He goes, “Look, Micah. I don’t know if you can really join any of our Masterminds because you would just be coaching all of us. Really, you need someone at your level that you can join your Masterminds with. You don’t need to be out there coaching full-time in a Mastermind.” So that was some nice insight that was there. When you’re thinking about a Mastermind, you want people around your peer level. You don’t want to go too far above. You don’t want to go too far below.
Matthew: 15:46 Yeah.
Micah: 15:46 Because you’re not gonna get value out of that all around. Everyone in the group needs to add value, otherwise you’re not gonna move forward and it’s gonna disperse and not stay together.
Matthew: 15:55 Yeah. I would agree. I have tried to form several Masterminds over the years, and of course, Micah, you and I and a few other advisors are in one right now. What I often discovered is that they were a lot of work to keep running. Joe mentioned this. He said, “You really gotta have skin in the game. You don’t want your job to become running a Mastermind,” just as Allen said to you, right? You don’t want your job to become coaching advisors in your Mastermind. I like what you, and Joe, and Floyd set up as far as the Magellan group, a paid Mastermind group, but I would really suggest that if you’re gonna do a Mastermind, there has to be skin in the game. It’s almost like everybody … In fact, we’ve done this with our own Mastermind. Everybody has to contribute towards … And we would have, like, paid coaches come in to the Mastermind group, either in person or over the phone, but you have got to have skin in the game. It can’t be a matter of you doing accountability for everybody else in your group.
Micah: 16:43 Yeah, you’re probably gonna have one person that takes most point, but you have to come up with the financial commitments, I think, to begin with, whether it’s you’re gonna commit to meet in-person so many times a year and people need to be there or approximately how much the budget is gonna be, especially if you’re more of a starting outside and money is a little bit of concern. Air those things upfront so everyone is on the same page so you can have that successful meeting. Then I know, Matt, one thing that’s worked really well on our Mastermind that we have is every Mastermind meeting, so we only get together a couple times a year, but we bring in a third party presenter or speaker, whether it’s digitally or in-person, to really kind of kick us off in that meeting for a focus on a particular topic. I think that’s worked out really well for ours.
Matthew: 17:23 Yeah, and if you split that person, if you’re splitting them three, or four, or five ways the cost, you could really bring in a real A-lister person. I mean, really, even for not much money, you could get Michael Kitsis if you’re splitting that five ways to call you for an hour. You could really get almost anybody you wanted if you’re splitting that five or six ways.
Micah: 17:39 And again, that goes back on your PD budget, right?
Matthew: 17:42 Yeah.
Micah: 17:42 You should have that money ’cause you should be putting every single month, every single pay period, however you’re paid, of course unless it’s quarterly, right? All of that, you should be putting money inside of that PD budget, whether it’s 5% or smaller, start feeding that PD budget, and that’s where this comes from.
Matthew: 17:57 And really, we just can’t emphasize enough the importance of having that personal development. It’s easy, especially with independent advisors, but I think … And I guess I can only speak anecdotally for advisors that are plugged into a bigger network. Training is really lacking in our industry. It’s very lonely. It’s kind of like, all right, go out and hunt and kill, and good luck to you, right? Some of us make it, and most of us don’t. You’ve got to have more of a support network end than just that.
Micah: 18:21 Yeah, totally agreed.
Matthew: 18:22 Let’s shift gears a little bit. One of the things that Joe talked about that I really enjoyed, and you and I have talked about this, as well, was he said that any kind of marketing can work, but that doesn’t mean that you should do any marketing. He specifically gave the example of workshops, and we talked briefly about cold-calling. A gentleman in our Mastermind group still cold-calls, and successfully, as far as we understand. He has blocked out every week to call a handful of local executives. He just cold-calls them, and since hardly anyone is doing that anymore, he actually has a pretty good success ratio. I think there’s an interesting thing to pick up there that is any form of marketing can work as long as you work it long enough, but at the same point, just because you hear rumor of marketing working doesn’t mean that you should then run out and do it.
Micah: 19:06 Yeah, it’s that shiny new widget somewhere else, right, that the grass is greener on the other side. Actually, so many advisors out there doing this, they’ll put money into a marketing system. They’ll put X amount of time into a marketing system, like three, six, nine months, and then it’s not panning out for them. Then they see a new flyer for something else. Then they’ll switch gears and go to something else entirely, and you just wasted all that time, and money, and energy you put in. From what my experience is, especially when you’re getting them to a niche when you’re getting into a new marketing area, it takes a while to really learn to optimize how to do that correctly. If you keep switching marketing plans all the time, for me, it didn’t work.
Micah: 19:46 Of course, I was guilty of that when I started out. I mean, I bounced between all sorts of different things ’cause I wasn’t getting results. In reality, it wasn’t the program. It was me not understanding what I was doing ’cause I didn’t give it enough time to figure out what works and what doesn’t to make it there. So, pick a marketing strategy that you are passionate about, that you believe in, and then make it work, ’cause everything works anywhere, any location. I don’t think there’s any restrictions on that. What do you think?
Matthew: 20:14 I agree, though I have to compliment your attention span if you made it three, six, or nine months on things. I think I might’ve made it like two or three attempts. I would do two public seminars and nobody would show up, and so I would give up, or yeah. I was jumping around throwing money that I didn’t have at everything.
Micah: 20:32 Yeah.
Matthew: 20:34 Correct me if you think I’m wrong here, Micah. I would add a caveat on marketing, and that is if you are trying to do some sort of marketing that’s not putting you in front of people, that is a long, long road to go down, and not that it can’t work, right? There are advisors that have successful digital marketing platforms and so forth. I don’t know many of them, but there are those, but I think there are far more advisors that think, boy, if I just buy a Facebook ad, if I just put an ad in our local business journal, then business will flock to me, never mind that Fidelity, or Merrill Lynch, or whomever spends billions of dollars a year on marketing, my $1,000 that I drop in the business journal, that will turn into leads.
Micah: 21:11 Yeah, no. I completely agree. Now, the caveat I’m gonna throw on that one … I’ll put a caveat on your caveat if that’s all right.
Matthew: 21:19 That’s all right, double asterisk on there.
Micah: 21:21 That’s right. A lot of our firm’s new clients come in online from digital advertisement that we do, so our website, plan-your-federal-retirement.com, with dashes in between, it’s a long name, but most of our clients are federal employees. All over the world, we have federal employees contact us. Now, that niche took a long time to get into. Their federal benefits are fairly complex, so you had to learn them, then had to seem as an expert in that industry, and that was all done virtually. Now, we get about half of our new clients contact us online, and most of them are not in the state of Alaska that contact us, so we have clients all over the lower 48 because of a digital online presence, but it wasn’t just putting an ad out there. We had to have a backbone.
Micah: 22:11 We had to have the digital infrastructure in place that was a lot of knowledge and information. So, people saw something somewhere, went to our website and said, holy moly, look at all this great content. This person really does know federal employees, and it builds an email list. It’s a lot of work to do that digital presence. I think it is easier to do an in-person because you can show up, you can build relationships, you can meet with people, you can demonstrate your expertise. It’s a lot harder to demonstrate that expertise online, still can be done, but I think it’s a lot longer lead time online, or maybe I just didn’t know what I was doing for so long and it took me even longer. I guess that’s probably a lot of it.
Matthew: 22:47 When you said a long time, are we talking weeks? Are we talking months?
Micah: 22:50 Why don’t you add that up to yours and we’ll be good? I would say that we first launch our website, plan-your-federal-retirement.com around 2008, so perfect timing, right?
Matthew: 23:01 Yeah.
Micah: 23:02 To launch a website, launched it in ’08-
Matthew: 23:05 You had already been in the industry for five years, six years at the time?
Micah: 23:09 Yeah, first started in 2000, and then I wasn’t-
Matthew: 23:13 [crosstalk 00:23:13].
Micah: 23:12 Yeah. I wasn’t licensed for a year or so after that, so I had been in the business for several years, and tried several different things, and didn’t work out, and we came across this online website building concept, and so we decided to put it to work with federal benefits ’cause I had taken a federal employee class, federal benefits class and realized that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about federal benefits, so we started writing content. It took years in order for that to really produce, and there was a lot of new struggle in the firm about, are we gonna keep feeding this thing? I was spending a decent amount of time putting stuff online, spending a decent amount of time building up this content, and it wasn’t turning around and bringing in new clients. [inaudible 00:23:56] this is a long-term play. We’re building up a highly value content site. We’re doing these things. Now we get 30-35,000 people a month on our website, just from Google traffic-
Matthew: 24:05 Wow.
Micah: 24:06 That non-paid advertising because we built that. Now, that’s taken a long time to get there, but then again, think about the time. Are you gonna be in the business the next five years? I mean, if you are, well, that could be a really great return on time. The long-term, I think it’s worked. I think, more importantly, it’s not just work for our firm. I truly think this has made an impact for thousands and thousands of federal employees that have hit our website that have never contacted us that have gleamed great information about their finances, so I love that aspect of it ’cause we’re making such an awesome impact in their life, and those that need help know that we have the expertise and can contact us to get that help.
Matthew: 24:44 Maybe a takeaway from that is you’ve got to be realistic about the timeline on marketing strategies. If you had launched that and said, all right, I’m gonna get 10 new clients a month starting day one, you probably would’ve quickly abandoned it.
Micah: 24:56 Oh, yeah, would abandon it, yes. There’s no way that would’ve happened. I don’t think, and again, this could be my limited think, I don’t think throwing advertising money at it does it the same way. It doesn’t directly turn into new clients. That takes longer to develop those relationships online. I think your timeline idea is right, really understanding what that is, and then once you create your timeline, you should probably double it, right? ‘Cause you’re probably wrong.
Matthew: 25:18 Yeah, you’re probably … And you’ve probably hit somebody outside of just your office to say, all right, what’s realistically a timeline here? We could really get down a rabbit hole through here, but I think one of the more maddening parts about our industry is there is not a direct correlation between time and money spent on any marketing channel and the result. We can’t say, hey, if I spend another $10,000 here, I will get five new clients. It really just doesn’t work that way until, Micah, to your point, you get a really proven system, but those take a long time to develop, be it electronically or in-person, anything.
Micah: 25:51 But, I’m gonna throw it out there, and I think you agree with this, is yes, they take a long time to develop, but they’re invaluable to have.
Matthew: 26:00 Yeah.
Micah: 26:01 ‘Cause you’re gonna be in this business the next 5 or 10 years. You need to have a good high-value process for helping clients, and helping prospects, and determining if someone is a good fit for you, if you’re a good fit for them, how you’re gonna work, how you’re gonna build your plan. A lot of advisors do it half-ass, and they don’t really focus on what they need to do. So, I really think that investing in some type of process like that makes a ton of sense.
Matthew: 26:28 Interesting. I completely agree. Again, since so many advisors marketing is more of a, pick me, sort of mentality, right?
Micah: 26:35 Right.
Matthew: 26:35 I’m here. Pick me. My mom thinks I’m special. You need to think I’m special. Pick me.
Micah: 26:39 Right.
Matthew: 26:40 Of course, the prospect is left bewildered, right? The, well, how do I pick one advisor from the next? But anyway, we could go a long ways down that channel. I want to hit, if you’re okay with it, hit a couple more things that Coach Joe talked about. In fact, I want to hit one that kind of hits home for me ’cause I’m notoriously bad at this, and that is morning rituals. Joe, when we asked him, hey, if you have any parting advice for our group, he stressed the importance of having a morning ritual. Micah, I know that you’re really good at that, and I’m gonna confess that I’m really bad at that. In fact, my morning ritual is sort of get out of bed in time to get the kids off to school during the school year, have breakfast. I usually have a healthy breakfast, and then I sort of kind meander into work when I get there, and so it’s really not something I’m proud of, but you run this really well. Give everybody an example of a good morning ritual.
Micah: 27:30 Well, when you think about the morning success ritual, really, when you talk about it, and so many people have talked about this. It’s like the morning power hour, right?
Matthew: 27:38 Yep.
Micah: 27:39 You’re kind of [inaudible 00:27:40]. Now, you do one thing really well, which is you have a good, healthy breakfast.
Matthew: 27:43 Yes.
Micah: 27:44 I kind of equate the morning success ritual as our mental diet, and what are we doing mentally to get our body ready, just like you do physically. For example, I would assume that when you wake up, your diet in the morning that’s good for you isn’t the shot of whiskey, right, and then maybe a couple Pop-Tarts, and just some white bread, and some other stuff, and-
PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:28:04]
Micah: 28:00 … that may be like a couple Pop Tarts and just some white bread and some other stuff, and you’re walking out the door. Just some alcohol and carbs and you’re good for the day, right? No. This is horrible. But so much of our mental diet, that’s what advisors do. They don’t do it physically, but they do it mentally. They turn on the TV, and they get CNBC, or they open up their email first thing in the morning, right? They get inundated with junk that they shouldn’t be focusing on and it steers the direction of their day, where you have the power to set the direction of your day but you have to set it. That’s the concept of that morning success ritual.
Micah: 28:37 For me, I get up in the morning. We homeschool our kids, so you know, they get up much later. So at least I don’t have to worry about the bus thing. But I get up in the morning, I get ready, and then I generally read from the Bible, the first thing. Kinda do daily readings, I got that from another guy in the mastermind. It’s kind of a great thing to do. Then I write my daily goals. Not a daily to do list, but what are my big goals that I want to accomplish?
Micah: 29:02 Another thing you could do is review your business plan. What I found is I used to review my business plan, a one pager. I was saying, “Where do I wanna go?” But that was less impactful to me. Now I turn around and I write, “Thank you Jesus, now that,” and I put in there what I’m happy to have accomplished for that year. Or if you wanna do a little bit less on the religious side you could say, “I’m so happy and grateful now that …” you know, picture yourself being happy. Picture yourself having gratitude for achieving X in your life. There’s something that happens when you write this down, versus, I don’t want it typed.
Micah: 29:37 Now, I do it most of the time on my iPad when I’m traveling, or I got a nice Levenger binder that, you know, when I’m at home that I write this in. But write it down every single day. Just, you know, “I’m so happy and grateful now that I’ve been able to do X in my life. I’ve spent Y time with my family, I’ve grown my practice by this, I helped this many clients.” Right? Start write-
Matthew: 29:57 I don’t mean to interrupt you here, but are you writing down things that have already accomplished, or are you writing down things you, as if you have accomplished them? Like kind of looking forward? I wanna make sure we’re clear on which one [crosstalk 00:30:06].
Micah: 30:05 Oh, thank you. No, future, as in as if I’ve already accomplished those.
Matthew: 30:10 Okay, sure. So if your goal was to get 10 new clients for the year and it’s January, that’s a really low number for you, but you would write it, you know, “I’m so grateful that I’ve gotten 10 new clients,” even though that hasn’t yet happened.
Micah: 30:21 Yep, “I’m so happy and grateful now that I’ve been able to help 10 new people.” Now, what I write is, let’s go with the 10, “I’m so happy and grateful now that I’ve brought on 10 ideal clients who are personal, productive, and profitable.” So I clarify when I’m writing out that monthly, that daily statement on my new clients that I want to bring on who I want to bring on. I don’t want to bring on 10 new clients, I want to bring on 10 new ideal clients.
Micah: 30:50 Now, what is ideal? I write it down. Personal, productive, and profitable. Those are my three requirements for clients. I gotta like them. This is another thing that Joe hit on, which was really, really important. Work with clients that you love. You know, if you don’t love ’em, if you don’t like ’em, get rid of ’em ’cause you’re not really gonna help them because you are gonna avoid their situation. That’s our first requirement is we gotta have [inaudible 00:31:13] the clients like us, we really like them.
Micah: 31:16 Productive, we have to be able to help them and improve their situation. They have to be coachable and willing to accept help and want our help. And profitable, the relationship has to be profitable to the client. We must be able to add enough value that justifies our fees and that the client has to be willing to pay our fees. So this is a two way test on those three points that we have. We write those down, “I’m so happy and grateful now that I have 10 ideal clients this year who are personal, productive, and profitable.”
Micah: 31:48 Or you could say, “I’m so happy now that I’ve brought in $15 million of new assets this year.” Right? So any one of those goals that you could write down. “I’m so happy and grateful now that,” you know, “I took my wife on a getaway just the two of us for a weekend.” It doesn’t just have to be business. Throw little personal goals in there as well, ’cause that’s why we’re doing this is for the personal side as well. Not only to help clients, but to help our family.
Matthew: 32:16 No, I think that’s a great example of a morning ritual. Again, I’ll confess I haven’t had much doing those. I’m a big believer in it, it’s just there’s something about it, it doesn’t ever stick for me. But I will confess to doing something that’s a little more passive. I always keep on my bathroom mirror and on my computer monitor, in fact, I’m looking at it right now as I sit at my desk. I keep pictures of what I’m trying to accomplish for that year. I try to do it in something more than just a dollar sign and a number, though those work as well.
Matthew: 32:42 In fact, I have here on my monitor a picture of a catamaran that we’ve now bought that we’re leaving on, actually four days from when we’re recording this podcast. That was something that a year ago I would’ve thought is impossible. There was no way that was gonna happen, and here we are leaving on that.
Matthew: 32:58 I think your point is really good, Micah. I think a proactive morning strategy is really the best. But a couple of points that you highlighted were, you know, don’t start your day off on the wrong foot. If you can’t commit to journaling every day, or meditating every day, those would be really great. If you can’t commit to those proactive things, at least don’t start your day reactively. Don’t start your day by checking email, don’t start your day by turning on the television. At least start by removing those toxins, if you will, from your morning.
Micah: 33:27 Yeah, and I could also say this could start a little bit the day beforehand, right? When you’re finishing up a tactical day, especially, so a tactical day is a day in the office. When you’re finishing it up, write down, and I actually use sticky notes when I’m in the office ’cause I like to limit it just to a small size, what needs to get done the next day? I like having that to do list that’s gonna be there, ’cause this now makes me pro-active in the morning because now I know exactly what has to get done that day. But I don’t, my mind doesn’t worry about thinking about that in the morning now. It allows me to do my morning success ritual because I know I’ve already outlined what has to get done.
Micah: 34:05 If I wake up in the morning and I haven’t got figured out what needs to get done today, my head can’t get in that morning success ritual because I’m like, “[inaudible 00:34:12] appointments coming up, I need to look at this and I gotta think about these other things,” and I can’t get in there. So do that the night before. Outline what needs to get done, allow your brain to say, “I’ve already checked that box,” go into that morning success ritual.
Micah: 34:24 You won’t do it all the time. At least I don’t. You gotta just, when you stop doing it, start doing it again. One little step at a time.
Matthew: 34:32 I think that’s really powerful. I think that’s really a takeaway for anyone who’s listening. Just look for one step that you can take. One thing that you can do to improve your morning ritual.
Matthew: 34:42 Well, Micah, I think this has been really great dissecting Coach Joe’s work with us yesterday. I’ve got one other point that I wanna cover that he brought up and then I’d love to hear what your kind of big takeaway was from that. But one thing that he talked about that really resonated with me is he talks about that, and I had never thought about this, that an advisor, as a financial advisor, we are part of a trifecta, if you will. Joe says that everyone in their life needs a spiritual advisor, a health advisor, right, a doctor, and a financial advisor. That those are the three most important people in a person’s life.
Matthew: 35:16 Even if you’re not a religious person, even if you just look at the idea that a financial advisor is on par with their health advisor, I think it really speaks to how important our role is in this industry. How important our role is in a client’s life. We sort of discount that, we say, “Well, we’re just another professional, we’re just like the CPA, like the attorney,” and those people all have value. But really, as a financial advisor, as a good financial advisor, we are one of the most important people in our client’s life and I think it’s important that we remember that.
Micah: 35:45 I completely agree. One of the things that, and maybe you can remind me, Jarvis, on who said this. I’m gonna say it was Nick Murray. But it’s an aspect that says, you know, a doctor’s viewed so good but at the end of the day a doctor loses the battle. A doctor’s job is to keep someone alive, and eventually they’re going to lose. Versus a financial advisor’s job is to help someone achieve their goals, and we can win that, right? At the end of the day, we can have the greatest impact in our clients’ life.
Micah: 36:13 As we see these other three elements that are there, I encourage you as advisors to make sure clients have all three of these. If they’re engaging you as a financial advisor, who’s their fitness advisor, right? Do they have a doctor that’s really doing things? Do they need a personal trainer? Maybe this comes out of the client’s PD budget, ’cause personal development can be fitness as well, right? So sometimes as an advisor you need to push that space a little bit and do that with your clients to see, do they have that spiritual guidance they want?
Micah: 36:42 What’s their higher purpose they want to achieve? What’s their physical fitness they wanna have in order so they can have that long, healthy lifestyle. We’re part of the three, but it’s your job as an advisor to make sure clients have the three, as well.
Matthew: 36:54 That’s interesting, I had never thought of it that way but that’s a really important distinction. How about yourself, Micah? Any other big takeaways that you got? I know, like you said, you worked with Coach Joe for a long time and I have to kind of point out here, for those of you who that listened to the Coach Joe podcast, and maybe it wasn’t apparent, but I know Micah really well. We’ve had a lot of fun together. Even as we’re on the call, I could tell that Micah was still just soaking in this information even though he’s heard Coach Joe hundreds of times, thousands of times, maybe, over the last decade. That willingness to always be learning I think is a key element that I see in every really successful advisor.
Matthew: 37:26 So Micah, I just wanted to … not to stroke your ego, as we joke about, but to point out to people that that’s a core element of successful advisors. They’re always absorbing, even things that they’ve heard before.
Micah: 37:38 Absolutely, because none of us are perfect. Behind the curtain it’s always a little bit of a circus going on somewhere in our lives, guaranteed with everybody. How do you focus on that? That’s one of the things that I really like about Joe is he keeps bringing back things. Sometimes it’s the basics we get away from. Maybe it’s something we’ve done and we need to re-do. I felt a little bad on the previous podcast, I got so much [inaudible 00:38:01] listening I wasn’t thinking about talking and asking the next question.
Micah: 38:04 But a takeaway for everyone here, if you don’t have a coach, go get one. It doesn’t have to be Joe Lucas, there’s tons of good coaches out there. Find one.
Micah: 38:13 Now, Matt, I’m gonna ask one question if I can, before we leave, to you.
Matthew: 38:15 Yeah, please.
Micah: 38:16 So one question I get from advisors frequently is, “Well, Micah, you have a coach now because you can afford one, but I can’t afford one.” So when do you get a coach?
Matthew: 38:25 Yeah, you know what, I should pull up … I don’t know if I can get it right in front of me. Like you, Micah, I track all of my personal finances. I have several measurements that I track. Obviously I have all my income and expenses in QuickBooks, but I track things like my personal revenue, my days out of the office, my net worth, and I graph those over time.
Matthew: 38:44 I went back and looked at that graph on a couple of, where it sort of hockey stick-ed, where it really took off. The two big spots where it really catapulted is the first one was when I joined a group coaching program which was at the time called Million Dollar Producer, now it’s Academy of Preferred Financial Advisors, Tom Gau and Ken Unger, it’s a phenomenal program. That was a huge taking off point, and I, actually, I explained this on the [inaudible 00:39:07] podcast. I used the last bit of my credit card limit to pay for that program. I didn’t even have the money in the bank to pay for it, and I maxed out my credit card signing up for that program.
Matthew: 39:17 It was really kind of an all or nothing. A long answer to a short question, you’ve gotta do it long before you can afford it, otherwise you’ll probably never be able to afford it.
Micah: 39:26 Yep, I completely agree. You have to put that first, right? Would you ever tell a client not to make the right financial decision right now, or to … let’s say a client is maxed out in credit card debt. Do you tell them to put all of the money paying off debt and nothing into savings? Absolutely not, it’s a stupid idea, right? We always tell them to put money in savings and pay down that debt. You gotta do it at the same time.
Micah: 39:48 Same thing with you as an advisor. I don’t care what financial situation you’re in. If you’re gonna be in this industry, you gotta have a coach.
Matthew: 39:54 Yeah, the industry, it’s too difficult of an industry to just go it alone, to go without a coach. This isn’t a pull a lever industry, right, where your job is to pull the lever. It’s too mentally demanding, it’s too … cut throat’s not the right word, but it’s just too demanding of an industry to just go it alone.
Micah: 40:10 We’ve been saying that while the market’s going up. When this thing pivots and goes the other direction, yes, it’s gonna become extremely challenging mentally as we work with our clients if you don’t have things set up correct.
Matthew: 40:20 Yep, it really is. So I completely agree. If you don’t, if that’s your one takeaway from this call as a listener of this podcast, get a coach. Be it a monthly basis, a weekly basis, a group coaching program, a paid mastermind group, get something that you’re investing in that will improve your abilities as an advisory.
Micah: 40:39 Yeah, fully agree.
Matthew: 40:41 Very good. Well, Micah, any other takeaways from our call with Coach Joe Lucas? We could spend days or weeks on this topic.
Micah: 40:47 Yeah, I could keep going, but no, I think that really is the key. That personal development budget. I think I said it last time is start that, I don’t care what dollar amount, and then that morning success ritual. Start something in that, those are just so huge in advisors’ lives.
Matthew: 41:01 Very good. Well, Micah, as always it was a real pleasure talking with you, doing this podcast together. For those of you listening, if you have any questions or comments about this subject or any other subject, please go ahead and send those to us and we will look forward to incorporating those in future podcasts.
Micah: 41:17 Great, until next time.
Matthew: 41:19 Thanks a lot guys, take care.
Announcer: 41:23 You have been listening to The Perfect RIA Podcast. For more information on how you can build a highly effective financial planning practice, please visit ThePerfectRIA.com.