There is an enormous amount of societal pressure to be available to answer emails every second of every day. However, for most busy entrepreneurs or firm owners, that amount of time spent on emails is simply not possible. So, in this episode, Matt and Micah will be discussing how to create communication standards with your clients in order to create boundaries and set expectations for you and your team.
Listen in as they explain how to phase out of constant contact through email. You will learn the importance of clearing your own head trash before responding to angry clients, how to implement time-blocking into your practice, and what you should never do over email.
Email is not designed for instant response. If you need an instant response, pick up the phone. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet
If you have a 911 emergency, that is what telephones are for, not emails. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet
Matthew Jarvis: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Perfect RIA podcast. I’m your co-host Matthew Jarvis. And with me as always the man, the myth, the legend, Micah Shilanski. Come on down.
Micah Shilanski: Hey guys. Man, just so wonderful to be back doing pods. I know these come out weekly, but we did have a little bit of a break, and Jarvis, you were actually just in our office, which was just outstanding. A lot of time to hang out in person, rejuvenate ourselves, a little mini mastermind as well. It was a great time in your office, was up here.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, we had a great time learning some new technology systems, having our teams learn from each other, and Micah, you and I were saying before we hit record on this episode, it was amazing and it has been amazing the whole time we’ve known each other, the similarities between our practices, things that we both learned completely independently. This goes to when Jocko had talked about this at one point that all successful leaders follow the same pattern regardless of where they learned it from, like it’s the rules of the universe or something. So it’s always a fun reminder to see what we do the same, but of course also to see, all right, what are you doing differently that we can adapt, that we can improve on in our own practice?
Micah Shilanski: You know, and this is so good, right, to have our offices together learning, and because what this is, is sometimes us as advisors, we come down with an edict about saying, “Perfect. This is the way we have to do something.” I mean it’s our firm, our shop, our rules. I mean, I get that aspect of it 100%. However, there’s the stranger in a uniform effect, which is so important.
And that’s what we call when, and I’ll use my wife has an example with this, and she knows about it by the way and she laughs at it. She thinks it’s hilarious. But if I go and tell her to do something or my kids, there will be 50 million reasons why that won’t work. But if a stranger comes up and says they should do it, it’s like, “Oh my gosh, this is a great idea. Have you ever thought about doing this?” I’ve been telling you that for four years, those things.
Well, our team is no different. So having our teams get together in this environment and learn from another successful office, we pick up these little details that really just help us make things more proficient. And one of the things we set the stage with our teams and we’ll get into this email thing in just a second, but this wasn’t about the Shilanski way or the Jarvis way, this is about the perfect way, right?
What is that striving that we have in order to get perfection? And it’s more of a journey than a destination, but how do we come together and take the best out of both practices? So leave the ego aside, leave the territory aside, and just say, “Great, oh my gosh, Jarvis does this. It’s a brilliant idea. We should do this, this way. Awesome. Let’s implement that.”
Matthew Jarvis: I like that. You know, Micah, it reminded me of our good friend, Benjamin the talent Brant, good advisor friend of ours. And he gave presentation for us at TPR live recently. He started his presentation by saying, “What if such and such were true? Nevermind if it is true or not. What if it were true? How would you run your practice accordingly?” And for today, and this goes to our team thing, what if like Micah’s team, like my team, what if you could not do email any longer? What if there was an edict from on high, a new SEC rule, come up with whatever scenario you want and they say, “Great. What if advisors can no longer do email?” What would happen?
Would you go through incredible withdrawals as the advisor not being able to check your email on your phone? Would your clients all leave you? What would happen if you had to give up email?
Micah Shilanski: Well, of course all of your clients would leave you because the only way you deliver value is sitting in front of your computer, waiting for an email to come in so you can instantly respond, right? When we talk about like delivering massive value, that’s what we’re talking about, right?
Matthew Jarvis: That’s right. That’s what’s on your sales page for your website. “Hey, don’t worry. We will email you back at a second’s notice.” Oh wait.
Micah Shilanski: It’s not what it says.
Matthew Jarvis: It’s not. It says comprehensive financial planning or some other industry jargon. Right? We get hung up on this idea and there’s all sorts of societal pressures that we’ll ignore for today that have us want to immediately respond. So many advisors we meet with, and in fact, Micah, you and I will be on calls with them and we can hear their email dinging while we’re on the Zoom call. They’re checking their phone constantly. It’s vibrating constantly. Those are destroying your productivity and it’s not delivering value to clients, which is ultimately our goal.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. So number one thing, we’ll get into action items. You’ve got to remove all of that stuff, all those notifications, everything that’s there has got to go. There’s so many things. I forget the guy’s name who wrote Deep Work, but he wrote a great book that talks about-
Matthew Jarvis: Cal Newport, I think?
Micah Shilanski: Cal Newport. Yeah. Good job. Thank you. Yeah, Cal Newport goes in this whole thing about it takes a while to get in a highly productive zone and you can be bumped out of that zone really quickly, but it takes a while to get back into it. And the email alerts is just one of those things. Now, one of the things that I tell people, Jarvis, time and time again about email, it’s mail. Right? Let’s look at the word, E-mail. It’s mail. When I got letters in the mail, when I get letters in the mail, I do not instantly respond to them, right? I’m not waiting by the post box, waiting for the mailman to come by. And then as soon as he gets me the letters I’m ripping through them so I can instantly respond to see what’s going to happen. An email should be no different.
It’s a different form of a mail communication. Now, we actually communicate it this way to clients, slightly less sarcastically, when we go through this, but if you’re saying, “Look, let’s understand this type of communication. Email is not designed for instant response. If you need an instant response, pick up the phone.” But setting these communication standards with your office, with your team and with yourself are so, so important.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s right. And Micah, this goes to expectations in everything in your practice.
Micah Shilanski: Sure.
Matthew Jarvis: So if we allow things to go to the default expectations, two things will happen. One, it will probably be the least efficient way possible. Two is if we’re going to just default expectations, the odds are very low that the expectations that you’ve imagined as the advisor and the expectations that the client has imagined, it’s very rare that those will align.
And so as with email and everything else, we need to be proactive in establishing expectations. When will I respond to emails? When should you email me versus calling me? All of these things are expectations that you can set and great news you can reset. So if you’re currently in the habit of your email dings and you immediately shoot back a reply, you’re going to need to reset that expectation. Great news, it can be done.
Micah Shilanski: And just like you can reset an expectation, if you used to meet with clients five or six days a week and you had to reset that expectation down, it’s the same way. If you worked outside of traditional office hours, you’re working 7:00, 8:00 at night, and now you’re going to reset those expectations down. All of these things can be done successfully while delivering massive value. Now, one of the things that we want to talk about is delegating the emails entirely And Jarvis, before we jump into that how concept of it, I guess two things.
Number one, we’re holding a webinar in a couple of days that’s just talking for a backstage pass members about the detailed systems in order to run this successfully. So our backstage pass members, make sure you tune into that on Wednesday, because we’re not only going to go to the highlights that we have here, but we’re going to get way into the details to make it successful and delivering massive value to your clients.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s right. And for our Invictus members, our premier members, we will also have an upcoming webinar with our teams, right? Because so often when Micah and I go to events, people, they want to talk to you and I, right, which is fun, it’s a nice ego stroke, but they’re so excited when Victoria from Micah’s office or Colleen from my office, is there.
And really the first question they always ask is, “Are Matt and Micah really not in their email?” And the ladies will say, “Yeah, they’re not, that’s a true story.” So yeah, we’ve got some great content coming, but Micah, what are some ways, if you’re an advisor who is saying, “Yes, I get that this is a productivity killer. I get that there’s a better way, but I’ve been responding to clients from my phone constantly whenever I’m awake,” thoughts on how to start resetting that expectation? Where would you begin if you were … or where did you begin?
Micah Shilanski: Perfect. Yeah. So the first thing that I would do is let clients know there’s going to be a change. What you don’t want to do is quit responding. Right? And then later say, “Oh yeah, well, I changed that policy three months ago,” and now you’re just pissing clients off because they’re used to … you set this expectation that you’re going to respond in a certain time.
So we need to be proactive with this communication. The first thing I would do is come up with a calendar and say, “Great, what’s my communication plan?” This is what I would do internally. So if I was an email-aholic and I was checking my email multiple times a day, then I would say, “Great. How do I phase down out of this?” Now I’m a bandaid ripper kind of guy, right? Rip that thing and yank the whole thing off and let’s move on with it. Quick example, Jarvis, in our office, at one point in time when we were debating about going paperless or not, I came in over the weekend and I yanked out all of the stuff and I made us go paperless on Monday morning. I changed out our entire systems and I put stickies on everyone’s computer on what it was.
Maybe not the best way to build friends and influence people, by the way, so I like ripping that bandaid off. So I would say, “Great, I’m going to go to two times a week.” Now, if you can’t do that, you need to go to once a day. Fine, go to once a day and set a time on your calendar, no more than 20 or 30 minutes, that you’re going to go through email and have a team member with you to go through that email so you can instantly delegate things off. And it will hold you to that 30 minutes, and you’re not going to violate that. So I would say first thing, I’d set a calendar. When are you going to start responding to emails? Okay, get that outline first. Then I would go proactively to your clients with some awesome value ads that says, “Great.”
One of the things that I realized is that when I do my best work is when I can focus on your individual situation and I can get through the entire thing. And I have let myself get pulled into my inbox as we all have, right? Clients are the same way. They get pulled into inbox, just like we do. I get pulled into my inbox and then I’m not able to add massive value when I’m looking at taxes or investments or et cetera, et cetera. So what I’m going to do is have scheduled times to make sure your communication is a priority to our office and we’re able to get back to you. These are the times that I’m going to be checking emails and I will get back to you. Good news, if you need an immediate response, please pick up the phone and call our office, because we’re always here to help you, right?
Give them an outlet for that emergency that’s A, not going to happen, but if it does, what’s the number they can call?
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, I really like that. So I want to pull out this idea so that I can serve you better. Right? That’s what we’re talking about, whenever we’re changing expectations, so that I can serve you better. We’re doing serve meaning. So that I can serve you better with doing email once a day. However, that expectation has to be set and reset again and again and again, because it’s ingrained in their mind that if I have a question for Micah, I can just hit Micah Shilanski, hit send, and he will immediately respond. I’ve got to remind them several times. This is why I’m a big fan, and Tim Ferris is a big advocate of this, when, not if, when you do this, set up an autoresponder.
“Mr. and Mrs. Client, so glad that you emailed. Just as a reminder to deliver massive value to clients, I’m only checking my emails once a day at 2:00 in the afternoon. And if this is something urgent, please call our office at telephone number.” So have that there to set that expectation. In my office, I’ve gone so far as turning off my email account so that people can’t email me. And when you email that, you get this auto response saying, “Hey, this email is not being monitored. If you’re a vendor go away. If you’re a wholesaler, go away. If you’re a client, you know how to get a hold of us directly or call our office.” What I don’t want, Micah, to your point, is this to go into a black hole or for them to think, “Well, Matt always responded to me in 37 seconds and now I haven’t heard from him in 24 hours. What’s going on?”
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And if you want a sample of that, just email firstname.lastname@example.org and it’ll hit back with an autoresponder for you have an exact example of what that is. So Jarvis, again, this is setting standards. Now, when you did this, how many clients got pissed at you when you closed your email account and fired you and transferred all their accounts and said you were a horrible person and the spawn of Satan because you don’t check email instantly?
Matthew Jarvis: None went quite that far. I did have a client, Micah, just a few weeks ago, that pushed back, got a little testy about how quickly we would respond to emails. He had sent an email to our designated client account. The team said, “Hey, Matthew will get back to you on that in a couple of days.” And I did get back to him in a couple of days. And he said, “Hey, listen, hey, when I was working, if I didn’t respond to an email right away, there would have been problems.”
My initial response was like, “You know what? You can go pound sand, right? I have processed my own head trash.”
Micah Shilanski: Sure, sure.
Matthew Jarvis: So I gave the client a call because again, you never resolve conflict over email, never, ever, ever. I said, “Hey Dave, here’s the deal.” And I explained to him my job is my goal is to deliver massive value to clients and me sitting and watching my email accounts does not let me do that. If you ever have an urgent issue, please call Colleen right away and we’ll get that taken care of. Otherwise, I take care of my emails every few days, especially when I’m out traveling with my family. Is that okay with you? And he’s like, “Yeah, Matthew, I’m sorry I sent that email. That’s not really what I meant to say.” “Okay, perfect. No problem.”
Micah Shilanski: And allow our clients a win. Right? I mean, how many times do clients just all of a sudden will just send something a little snarky to you because it’s a safe, I hate using that term, because it’s a space they know they can come out with and be a little snarky.
Matthew Jarvis: It’s faceless.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, it’s faceless. And then you call them. You’re like, “You know what? I was just angry at the time. I was so sorry about that. I shouldn’t have sent that.” So those phone calls are just so, so important. Jarvis, I had a long-time client come back to me and they told me in person, they said, “Micah, look, I know you’re growing and I know all these things are happening, but it used to be, we could instantly get a hold of you now when things come up and now it takes a couple of days, and I really preferred it when we could instantly get ahold of you. But I understand that things change.”
And I asked him, I said, “Look, do you feel that except for the instant communication, do you feel like our value has dropped?” And they said, “No, you’re doing more things. You’re doing these things, which are great.” I said, “Okay, perfect.” Because that’s what I want to focus on. Right? I want to pivot that conversation to a win. I’m not going to win the game of instant communication. Can I pivot this to a win of saying great, our value has been there. They said it was nice when you were smaller. It was nice when it was this, because there’s more access to you. I get that. But they also know that we’re growing, but if they can see that our value is adding to them more and more over time, that’s going to be a positive conversation.
And I said, “Look, and you always have the ability to call me and to get a hold of me if it’s an emergency.” And I always want to end with that one, Jarvis, because then the clients were like, “Yep, you’re right. If something big comes up, I can use the telephone.”
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, I like that example. And I’ve used that several times when introducing changes to clients. I would say, “Thanks to all of the referrals that you’ve been sending us. We need to be more efficient with how we deliver value to clients, especially to you.” Or I’ll also use, “As my kids are growing up, I’m trying to be more and more intentional about the time I spend in the office and the time that I spend with my kids. And instead of spending the afternoon checking emails, I’ve delegated that to Colleen. She’ll let me know anything important. That way I can spend the afternoon at the park with my kids.”
Again, it’s all about this communicating why. We’re not just changing things in a vacuum for no reason. Here’s why it’s a better way. And Micah, to your example, yes, clients are going to say, “Well, I miss the old way.” I get that. I miss that too. That was a lot of fun then. This is the new way and still a better way than before.
Micah Shilanski: I had another client, sorry it’s a off of our pre-game here, but I had another client email in with a lot of personals, right, because our client relationships are pretty personal. We know more about our clients than most of their family does, especially when we’ve been working together for years and years. I had a client email in and my inbox is set up. Victoria monitors it. She responds to it or she moves it to the client account. She handles that. So the client emailed a pretty personal email in and Victoria responded and said, “Thanks so much for this. I’m going to make sure Micah sees it on X day. And we’ll get back to you with a response.”
The client wasn’t thrilled with that. Now totally my fault because I failed to set good expectations with that client that was there. Now we had been using a client email box for two years by the time this had happened and the client just didn’t use the client account. She emailed me personally thinking it was going to be different and it wasn’t. So I failed in setting those expectations. So she emailed in. I gave her a call. It was kind of those same things. She’s like, “Micah, sorry. I was just a little irritated because it’s so personal. And if I have things, can I still email them direct to you?”
I said, “Sue, you’re welcome to email this account. But I got to say, I don’t monitor it. Unfortunately my email address has got out there. There’s a lot of people that have it. I need someone else to watch it so your communication doesn’t get missed. That’s what Victoria is and that’s why we have a separate client email account.” She’s like, “Okay, that makes sense. That’s fine.” So again, if we give them a why this is going to add value to them, “I’m meeting with clients when I’m in the office or I’m out with my family. Neither of those solutions give me the opportunity to check my inbox. I want to make sure your communication didn’t get missed. Here’s why we have a special account. Here’s why my assistant is going to be in this email to make sure we’re on top of it.”
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, could you, and this is pivoting, I guess, a little bit to logistics. Could you talk a little bit more about how Victoria, who is your executive assistant, relationship manager in your team, how she actually manages that email? So some nuts and bolts behind that.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. I made her turn on all the alerts on her phone. She checks it every 30 seconds. No, I’m just teasing. I’m just teasing.
Matthew Jarvis: You know what? You make that joke. I have a client. She is an executive assistant for a vice-president at a major tech firm in the area whose name you would recognize. And from the moment she wakes up every day to the moment she goes to sleep, she is in her executive’s email clearing out emails. That’s that’s almost her entire job is clearing out his emails nonstop. It’s insane. So yeah. Joking aside though.
Micah Shilanski: You could install SaneBox for him, take all the credit and just move on with life. No, I’m sure it’s more complicated than that. So, with Victoria, for our Invictus members, we’re going to do team training. Victoria has been running this for a while, so I’m sure I’m going to get these details slightly off. Victoria checks my email every single day. It’s time-blocking like anything else. Generally it’s in the mornings. She’s on the East Coast time, by the way, so it’s mid morning for her. She’s going to go through and say, “Is there any client communication that comes up?” During surge she checks my email twice a day because sometimes clients are going to email in right before a meeting or something else. We still get that, even though we asked for things in advance. They’re still going to email right before they come into the office.
So the team checks the client email during surge four times a day. Victoria checks my email two times a day during surge. Outside of surge it’s once a day. And then she’s going to respond to the client. Nine times out of 10 they’re handling all the communications internally. I’m not even seeing them, right. It’s something that the client would like, “Hey, I saw this. You emailed Micah. He’s happy to help with this. To make it easier, I chatted with him and here’s the form to do A, B and C,” or, “I’m going to get this with Sharnell for distribution,” or, “Hey, Sierra is going to set this appointment for you.” Nine times out of 10, the team is enabled to do that.
If the team can’t answer that question, so let’s say it’s a planning question. That’s how we delineate it. If it’s a planning question, then it’s going to come to me. Now, before it comes to me, we get Christian, who is my junior. He’s going to come in and he’s going to review it first. He’s going to come up with a response. Then him and I get together twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That’s when I go through and I look at desk. I look at any email communications that I need to. I have it scheduled. I used to try to do this, Jarvis, without a team member on the call. I was not good with my time because it was outside office hours. I didn’t really have any time for it. Sometimes I wouldn’t get around to it. Sometimes I’d dink off and play office with it. I just wasn’t very good.
Now, if I have a team member meeting, it’s says, “Great, I’m going to check this for 15 minutes and the next 15 minutes I’m going to call you real quick and delegate.” Boom, all of a sudden I’m hyper efficient in that inbox. So I’ve got to have another team member there to really make me accountable, but then I can instantly fire things off to them and then they can do all the responses to the client. So I’m very rarely writing email responses to client. Nine times out of 10 I’m reviewing them. I’m telling Victoria what needs to happen and it’s getting done.
Matthew Jarvis: Boy, I like that. Couple of things I want to pull out from that, Micah. One is for advisors who are trying to kick the habit, borderline addiction of checking emails, scheduling a daily time with your team and having the email account not even be on your computer. You have to go into your team member’s office or virtually, and he or she can pull up your email and you can go through them. That forcing mechanism, because that will force you to go through it quickly, because you’re not going to want to have them sit on the phone while you’re reading some random email you got from a wholesaler. You’re going to clear that through very quickly. Very powerful tool.
Also want to pull out this idea that Victoria responds and says, “Hey, Micah wanted me to tell you this,” or, “Micah said we could take care of it this way.” So she’s not ever responding as you, but she’s definitely responding. Yeah. I just want to clarify this for everybody. She’s definitely responding from your account. She’s monitoring your account. “Hey, it’s Victoria. Micah asked that I give you this or schedule this time.” So those are a couple of important distinctions to make.
Micah Shilanski: And one of the things that we use, and we’ll talk about some more for Invictus members, but we have a desk tool support ticketing tool, which is one email account, but now we can see who’s responding to things. So it’s not some ambiguous everyone has one email account who’s in it. Because we have a larger team, we like to delineate that a little bit more detailed. That works out pretty well. The other thing that I did, I had to be responsive to my team as well. So when I kicked it again, I ripped the bandaid off. I said, “I’m going to go to once a week checking my email.” The team came back and said, “You know what, Micah? This isn’t enough. We need better client communication. We don’t want to tell a client who emails Wednesday, ‘Guess what? We’re not going to get back to you until next week.’ We don’t feel that’s good client value.” Whether that is or it isn’t, I needed to listen to my team. So we said, “Great, twice a week.” I just cut the time in half and said, “Great. Tuesdays and Thursdays for a very small time. Let’s jump on a chat real fast and let’s make sure all of this is pounded out.”
Matthew Jarvis: I like that. We, in my office, Micah. So Colleen, similar things, she monitors all of my email accounts. And then there’s a folder in Outlook that’s called Action Matt. That’s the name of the folder. She drags into there any emails that I need to take care of that aren’t time sensitive. So if it is time sensitive, the client’s expecting to call or email back by Thursday, that’s taken care of in our one-on-one meetings with her. But if there’s things that I need to take care of, it goes in this Action Matt folder and maybe five emails a week go into that. There might be an email from my CPA who says, “Hey, I need you to sign this document so that we can get your tax return filed.”
Okay, perfect. That can go in the Action Matt folder. Colleen still watches that. So if in a week it hasn’t been taken care of, during our next one-on-one she’ll pull that up and say, “Hey, you’re going to take care of these three right now. What do you want me to do with them?”
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. All right. So let’s talk about those 911 emails that come in. So what happened? Because this is what we’re all scared about, right? Clients can email in. It’s something that’s hyper time sensitive and we missed the deadline on it. Matt, what are you going to do? Or do you have an example of that?
Matthew Jarvis: I was trying to think if I had an example of that. The first time we really worked through this is when I went to China with my family for three weeks pre Rona. We were in Wuhan, China. It was great. We did a tour of the chemical factory. Anyway, there was no email internet reception there. One, because we didn’t trust the Chinese government. I wonder why. Two, because it didn’t work anyway. So I really went through this and we’re getting ready to do this again because I’m headed to the Grand Canyon for two weeks, zero email reception.
So client emails and something that’s super time sensitive, we handle it the same way that we handle a phone call. And in fact, in this case, if it was that time sensitive, we would get on the call with them and say, “Wow, I’m really sorry that Dave passed away.” There’s one we’ve had. “Really sorry to hear your husband’s passed away.” I’m not going to email that back. “Oh dear Jane, I’m really sorry.” I’m going to get on the phone. Someone from the team is going to get on the phone and say, “Really sorry that your spouse passed away. We’re going to be taking care of things. There’s nothing you need to do right now. Matthew will schedule a time with you in two weeks or here’s the time and we’ll take care of it then.”
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And it really goes to our three rules of communication that we have with a client that we spell out, right? It says, number one, and I always lead with this, right, what’s the 911 emergency. If you’ve got a 911 emergency, that’s what telephones are for, not emails, right? Pick up the phone, call the office, say, “Hey, it’s an emergency. I’ve got to talk to Micah today.” Guess what? They’re going to bend whatever and we’re going to make that happen, if it’s an emergency. Now, if it’s not an emergency, but you say, “You know what? I need to talk to Micah in the next couple of days.” We’ll great. We can schedule a time for him to give you a call back. So to make sure, and then there’s times blocked on our calendar for returning client calls when those things come up.
And then the third thing is just, “Hey, it’s just something I need a response for in the next few days. Really nothing super time-sensitive emails, just fine.” Then we use email and we always break that communication down, Jarvis. Again, setting expectations again and again and again with clients. Look, the first two levels of communication are telephone. Then it’s email. And what we’re doing with that is saying, “This is great. Email is not an instant response.” As long as we’re setting that communication and they know that, it’s going to be good. And rarely do things come up via email that we have to respond to right away. And again, we need a little bit of help with the client. Those are telephone calls.
Matthew Jarvis: Couple of other things that should not be done by email, because we’re bouncing around a little bit, should never be doing scheduling back and forth with a client. You’re like, “Hey, does Thursday at two work?” “No, that doesn’t work.” “How about Tuesday at one?” Give them a link to your calendar or get on the phone with them. Same for all other scheduling. Either send them a link to your calendar or get on the phone with them. There’s nothing more frustrating and time-wasting than sending emails back and forth, trying to figure out times.
Micah Shilanski: Another thing on our office that we have on this, Matt, is we have a two email limit. You are not allowed to email a client two times about the same issue. That’s a telephone call. So if you cannot explain it within two email communications, it is too complex for email. Jump on the phone, because everybody hates going back and forth with questions about that. Just nope, jump on the phone. Let’s go through this and let’s make sure everyone’s on the same page. Again, what’s our goal? To deliver massive value. And if a client’s getting an email and they don’t understand it and they keep emailing you back, is that massive value? I’m going to say no, I don’t think it is. Schedule a time for our team to talk with them and get on the phone. Schedule a time for me to talk with them to go through this. Let’s make sure they’re happy. Let’s make sure we’re adding value at every time.
Matthew Jarvis: Another thing on email, no one on our team is allowed to email me. On occasion there will be an email that I need to forward to the team. Very rare because I’m not in my email hardly at all, but no one is allowed to email me. That is not how we do team communications. Now our good friend, Adam Shamila, also known as Felipe, you can ask him that story sometime when you see him. We were talking about this and he says, “Hey, turning off your email and then being in your Slack or instant message channel instantly, that is not winning the game. That’s not an improvement.”
Micah Shilanski: 200%.
Matthew Jarvis: So again, same thing. The team does not instant message me unless there’s something that’s very, very time sensitive. Otherwise, it goes on our weekly or twice weekly agenda to check in on. These are all ways to get out of email. Don’t email with your team. That’s not an effective medium, if you will.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And you need some type of project management system for the things you have going on in the office where you can jump in there at your time and be able to put things in there. Now, one of the ways that we’ve kind of broke the team email, not email me, I just don’t respond.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s a really important point, Micah. We’ve used this analogy, right? You tell your kids not to eat candy, then handing them candy. Right? So if your team emails you or they instant message you and you respond, which is tempting to do, you’ve just blown the whole thing up. You’ve got to own I will not respond to emails from my team. I will not respond to instant messages from my team. I have to set the gold standard.
Micah Shilanski: One of the things my sister does, which I think is great, is she hits reply. She’s like, “Hey, this isn’t the proper place for this communication. Put it in the right place and I’ll respond.” And so she throws a little line in there that just kind of slaps the hand. It says, “Go do this.” I’m just like not responding. And they’re like, “You didn’t respond to my email.” I’m like, “Well that’s because it wasn’t the proper channel. You sent me a smoke message. I missed that one too. Right? I don’t know what to tell you. Put it in the right spot.” We’ve got to lead our teams, but it’s amazing how efficient they can become when we start moving things over that way.
Matthew Jarvis: I love that. Another quick email tool. We’ve talked about this before. There is a software program called SaneBox, S-A-N-E-B-O-X, SaneBox, an incredible tool for managing your email and even having your team using it. This helps with the endless number of spam emails and junk emails and vendor emails and newsletters, all those things that can be auto sorted. I would also add related to that you need to set up a spam email account for your office. We have info at. That’s what goes on all of our SEC registrations and so forth, because while it’s illegal to pull email addresses off of SEC stuff, everybody’s doing it and they’re spamming the holy heck out of that stuff. So I never use any team email accounts for that.
Now somebody still has to monitor that so that when the SEC does email, we respond to them eventually. But there’s that.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. Most of the time they just call. The other thing that comes up conferences, by the way, what email address are you signing up for conferences at? They sell all of those things. Then again, you’re inundated with all of these things. So that could be an info ad account. That could be something else. It could be your assistant’s email account. Victoria loves it when I sign her up for stuff. But what other accounts are you putting on there? Really trying to get you out of it. It’s another kind of fun thing, by the way, when people ask you for your email and you’re just like, “No.”
I go into being uncomfortable, right? Like Tim Ferris just laying down in the middle of a store, right. Get used to being uncomfortable. It’s a great space to be in. People ask you for email. “I don’t have email.” “What do you mean you don’t have email?” “I don’t do email.” “What’s your email?” “No, I don’t do email.” Just don’t give them an email address. Just say no. Just like when they ask you to fill out forms. I was on it for a kick for a year. I just wouldn’t fill out any forms that weren’t client related. And it’s amazing all the stuff you don’t have to fill out, if you’re just willing to be slightly uncomfortable in those instances.
But it’s amazing how that little bit of being uncomfortable makes you dramatically more efficient in everything else that you’re doing.
Matthew Jarvis: I have to confess, Micah, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. It gives me like a little bit of guilty pleasure. Because people ask me for your contact information. They’re like, “What’s Micah’s email?” “Micah doesn’t do email.” “Wait, what? What’s his email?” “He doesn’t have email.” “Well what’s his telephone number?” “I’m absolutely not giving you that. You can Google whatever number he’s got out there. There’s no way you’re getting that number from me.”
Micah Shilanski: Black hole at Shilanski.com. Yeah.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s right. 867-2309. Yeah. Perfect. All right, Micah. This podcast is about taking action. Before we get too far into our little side desk squirrels on this on Micah’s lack of email, let’s jump into some action items. I will go first. Action item number one, turn off all email alerts. These are dings, chimes, vibrations, popups, buzzes, anything that lets you know that an email has come in, all needs to be permanently disabled. There cannot be any icons on your desktop showing you that you have mail, not on your phone, nothing, nothing, nothing because our brains are just not wired to ignore those distractions. I have debates with advisors on this. “Oh, I see that and I ignore it.” No you don’t. No you don’t. The book Deep Work proves that that distraction destroys your productivity. You’re kidding yourself otherwise. So turn off all email alerts.
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. Remove emailing from your phone would be fan frigging tastic by the way, deleting that.
Matthew Jarvis: The second action item I’m going to say, create a system for email and lead with the why. This is super important. Anytime we’re bringing up something new to clients, it’s something new to our team members, our family, et cetera, what’s the why? And the why needs to be DMV, delivering massive value. In order to provide more benefit for you, I need undistracted time to focus on your planning. To make sure your email communication doesn’t get missed, I need to bring in my assistant to go through because we’re just getting all of our accounts spammed and I want to make sure I’m not missing your email communication, right? Lead with the why that’s going to be there and create a system.
Do a little bit of fear setting with your team and check in with them and go with that. What if it works? Let’s give this a shot for a couple of weeks, right? Let’s try it and then let’s get feedback and let’s pivot from there. And it’s amazing with our teams when we lead with a little bit of fear setting, we lead with a little bit of why that’s in there, how much our teams are actually willing to embrace it to help us out.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. 100% do that fear setting with your team. And I would encourage you to get away from hypotheticals. Find actual email correspondence. So they say, “What if aliens come on a Tuesday followed by an earthquake and the Great Depression?” I don’t know. Let’s look at actual email correspondence. If that had happened when I’m not using my email, how would we have handled that specific scenario?
Third action item is for our backstage pass and Invictus members, there is a webinar this Wednesday at 8:00 AM, Alaska time where we’re going to dive more into the details, show you some actual scripts and systems on how we’re delegating emails. We will also be scheduling a team training webinar where your team can learn from our team. If you are not a backstage pass or Invictus member, what’s happening, right? What’s going on here? Email Shelby at the perfect RIA and she can get you put on the wait list. If you’re really nice to her, she can get you put on the wait list. Otherwise, Shelby, let’s see what you get.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s perfect. Guys, this is all about delivering massive value and that’s the lens in which we’re looking through anything. So take action on the items, go out, deliver massive value to your clients and your team. And until next time, happy planning.
Micah Shilanski: Happy planning.
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