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Micah Shilanski: Welcome to another amazing episode of The Perfect RIA Podcast. I’m your co-host, and co-founder Micah Shilanski. And with me as usual, the amazing Matthew Jarvis. What’s going on, Jarvis?
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, it’s great to have you back on the show. I’ve been recording a series of guest episodes, and so I’m never really sure how to introduce them. I say like “And welcome, and this is Micah Shilanski … I mean, Benjamin Brandt.” So, it’s bad as with my kids.
Micah Shilanski: I know. Well, it is great. I always enjoy doing our podcast. The guest podcasts are nice because it’s a nice little mix, nice little variety to our members. And people or our listeners get to see this doesn’t just work in our practices. This works very successfully in practices all across the United States and even globally.
Got a guy in South Africa, we have other people that are out there that are following this model of Delivering Massive Value. We jokingly say pick on those people that pride themselves only on being fee-only.
Well, guess what, we’re value-only. This is our focus, is to be value-only to our advisors and that’s the message that we’re sending out. And that’s what our goal is, to really help transform this industry to delivering more value, because we are just barely scratching the surface of the value financial advisors can truly deliver to their clients.
Matthew Jarvis: Wow, I love that, Micah. And of course, part of our conviction with delivering massive value is to do it with maximum effectiveness. What we call, or what Michael Kitces called hyper efficiency or hyper effectiveness.
And part of the reason that is, is A, of course, so we can deliver massive value to clients. But B, is so that we can take the time off that we need to be the best advisor possible, the best spouse, the best parent, the best friend possible.
And Micah, that’s really what we’re going to talk about today is this … I don’t know if I want to call it a dichotomy, but the struggle of how do I effectively prioritize my business and my clients while also prioritizing my family and my personal life.
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, I’m going to say it’s a misconception versus a dichotomy. If I may push back just a little bit on this one. And people are coming back, other advisors I’m talking to and going through different things, here’s a quick example of saying, “Oh, well, my family’s first, therefore I’m not going to take care of something for our client because I got to go take or pick up my kids from school or I have to go do A, B and C, et cetera.”
And it’s like whoa, that’s a giant red flag that’s there. Now, you could be saying, well, Micah, this person’s putting the family first. No, they’re not. Because if you are choosing not to take care of clients when you know you have stuff to do, you are not putting your business interest taken care of, which means you are not putting your family first. Because if your family’s homeless, because you chose not to take care of your clients, this isn’t putting your family first.
Now, you could say that’s a very extreme example, but that’s how head trash works. In our head trash, as soon as something doesn’t go wrong, instantly, we’re homeless the next second.
And so, we have to balance this thing out and Jarvis, when I’m seeing this working with other advisors is a huge red flag that goes off in my mind because they haven’t clearly set expectations, set value, set priorities. However, we want to say this, with their family and with clients as to how are we going to balance these two?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, and Micah to not make too strand of a connection, this can be viewed similarly to how people manage email. So, we’re very big advocates of your email is important, but it has to be very well contained.
Your family time is incredibly important. It’s perhaps the most important thing, but it cannot be used as an excuse for playing office or for an excuse of not taking care of your clients.
Micah, you and I spend more time with our families respectfully than most people on the earth. But we are still very intentional with clients. So, if I told my client, “Hey, I’m going to take care of this thing this week,” then I’m going to take care of it this week.
If I said, “Hey, we’re going to meet Thursday at two o’clock during surge” then we’re going to meet Thursday at two o’clock pending a child in the emergency room. Pending that, I’m going to honor that commitment. Why? Because I know that I’ve got this other time, the next week, whatever it is, blocked out with my family.
So, it’s about being intentional, but watch yourself that you’re not using this as an excuse to avoid what needs to be done.
Micah Shilanski: Now, here’s where I see this really coming to play Jarvis, is working at home. Because with COVID, with all this other stuff, with working remote, it’s so easy to get in the great, I’m just going to work from the house today versus having a dedicated time.
So, this is really about family dynamics and choosing where you work from. I actually don’t think everybody should work from home. Because guess what? Not everybody’s the same. And some people really can’t work from home and they can’t balance out when’s the family life versus when’s the work life.
So, the problem that happens is saying, “Okay, well, I’m going to work for a little bit.” Then something happens with the family, you stop work, you go help with the family … no, not emergency, just family life stuff. You go help with family life stuff, then you come back to work.
Well, really, you’re doing a disservice to both, because you are not focused in either one of those activities. You’re not adding massive value to clients because your mind is not focused inside of that. And you’re not truly spending quality time with your family, because your mind is focused on other things.
And so, you, by saying, I have “prioritized” family first, you’re robbing both from the true value experience of you being there. If you are going to be there, then you need to be there. That means you need to set priorities.
Now, sometimes … and Jarvis, I had to do this for a long time and I’m not going to say it’s like boundaries between Kelly and I, but it was more, how do we work through things? When we would travel a whole bunch and we were in a hotel room like I am right now, or doing other things, I couldn’t work from that location with young kids there.
So, if I had to get work done because we’re gone for months at a time, great. I’d have to go to a coffee shop, I’d have to go rent an office. I’d have to go somewhere. I’d have to physically change my location to make sure I could have dedicated work time, get my work done, get that massive value.
Then I could unplug and go spend time with the family. And that’s putting family first. Because if I’m not taking care of my clients, then I can’t take care of my family. Sorry, that’s all rant-y.
Matthew Jarvis: No, I’m with you, Micah. It’s a good point you bring up. Not all of us can work from home. I know just for me personally, I can work from home really well when the kids are at school. But as soon as the kids come home at two or three in the afternoon, whenever they get home, I just know that that’s kind of the end of my day. Because I can hear what they’re doing, I can hear what’s going on. Sometimes I can put on noise canceling headphones and block that out.
But yeah, it burns up a lot of my focus trying to stay focused. So, in those cases, yeah, I need to find somewhere else to work. It could be a coffee shop, it could be a Regus office, whatever it is. I just know I don’t want to burn up my willpower, if you will, my decision-making by being at home when I’m working.
Now, Micah, the flip side of that is — and it seems to be the same group of advisors say, “Well, I need to be home with my family,” but when they’re home, what are they doing? They’re on their phone, they’re checking email, they’re watching TV by themselves.
So, don’t kid yourself that you’re leaving the office because you need family time and your family time is you watching TV by yourself. So, everything we talk about Micah is about being intentional. Nowhere is that more important than here?
Micah Shilanski: Hyper intentional. Now, this intentionality goes beyond just yourself. This really needs to be a conversation with your family. So, in my case, if I’m going to do extended travel, six weeks, two months, somewhere like this, then it’s a conversation we have as a family.
Now, they’re really good about it, but saying, hey, the price that we pay for me being able to take this much time off is there will be some … and I always preface it with my family; there will be something that comes up on this trip that I’m going to have to step away, from either schedule the time or I’m going to have to step away from a family event to deal with something in the office. Why? Because that’s the way the universe works. I have no other reason besides that. That’s just kind of what happens.
So, I had the talk with my family about it, I was saying, hey, great, this is kind of the price. Now, great news is Kelly’s on board with that. She understands that this value we provide to clients takes care of everything.
Now, does that mean my cell phone’s ringing off the hook? Absolutely not. Does that mean I’m checking email all the time? Absolutely not. I’m really staying plugged in, but inevitably, being gone for a period in time; a client needs to chit chat, something’s going to need to come up that we need to schedule a time or I’m going to need available. And my family has to be flexible enough to do with that and not cause me grief for taking care of my clients.
And that’s another thing that I see advisors make a mistake of, is not having this clear communication: “Hey, our clients take care of this, that means I need to have some availability.”
Now, some will take this to extreme and say, “Well, Micah, that’s why you shouldn’t do surge meetings because you need to be always available for your clients. That’s why you should never sleep because you need to be available for your clients.” I mean, how far are we going to go with that?
But the reality is we need to set those boundaries up and those expectations with our family so we can deliver our massive value to our clients.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, this makes me think of course, one of the exercises that we do in almost every Invictus Mastermind, which we have another one coming up December 1st and 2nd in Las Vegas for our Invictus members, is we have people do this time exercise to look and say, how much time do I need to be in the office?
And I don’t want to go into this here. This is a really good exercise to do with your spouse, to do with your children that are age-appropriate and say, if we want X lifestyle, as measured by income or timeout, then I need this many hours to work.
And Micah, I know you do this with Kelly when you’re doing your scheduling for the year.
Micah Shilanski: That’s right.
Matthew Jarvis: I need this many weeks of surge to have this lifestyle. And if we want a different lifestyle up or down, there’s a tradeoff there.
Now, those aren’t perfectly correlated, but it’s a discussion to have. I think where people get in trouble is their unclear where their spouse is — this is where I’ve gotten in trouble and just said, “Well, Jackie, I’m going to work when I need to work.”
Well, that that’s a mystery to her. She’s left to wonder; do I really need to work or am I hiding out of the office? Or am I just being lazy at the office? Am I just watching TV there? They’re important decisions or discussions to have with your family.
Micah Shilanski: Super important, and Jarvis, yeah, that time blocking exercise that we do, at least for me, is super critical because we’ll start taking time off and I start freaking out. Even though I’ve done this for years saying, no, I got to be in the office, I got to take care of clients. I got to do this stuff until my head trash immediately comes in.
And Kelly’s so patient you with me. She’s like, “Okay, great. Let’s look at your surge calendar. Let’s block it out. You take as …” And she’s great. She’s like, “You take as much time as you need for the office, how much is it?”
And she knows the answer to it. But she allows me to work through this and we’re allowed to pencil out what that time is to deliver massive value, it’s great. This now allows us to go into it.
So, Jarvis, let’s change this around a little bit and let’s talk about avoiding these behaviors. Because really, I think this is the bigger issue that comes up. So, it’s not so much being available to take care of a client issue when it comes up. It’s when you’re spending time in the office, but you’re not actually delivering value.
Matthew Jarvis: Boy, and Micah avoidance behaviors are so pervasive. Steven Pressfield in his legendary book, The War of Art, not to be confused with The Art of War; the War of Art, he talks about this. He calls it resistance and he says this is this all powerful force of evil that keeps us from accomplishing our true potential.
Now, you can call it whatever you want, but he says it’s very seductive, it’s very persuasive. It’s “You know what, I can’t do this. I can’t call my clients like I need to do to let them know that we’re going to stick to our plan. Instead, I’m going to go home and I’m going to just reorganize the bookshelf at home.”
Well, that may seem like a noble cause, but you’re avoiding the more important thing. And family is a very seductive version of resistance, because it’s easy to justify. I’m going to go home and spend family time.
Now, that means I’m just going to sit on the couch and watch TV or yell at my kids or be upset, because I know that I should be at the office working. Be very careful. But Micah, tell us your experience or experience you’ve seen with other advisors when it comes to using family as an avoidance behavior.
Micah Shilanski: Sure. So, like on both ends, one of the things that I like to do first is kind off pick on the office because it’s easier for me to pick on that, then I see the correlation to the family side.
Matthew Jarvis: It is.
Micah Shilanski: So, one of the things that gets advisors into trouble, in my opinion in playing office, is research time. There’s like “Oh, I have to research this.” That’s one that they always throw out there, says, “Okay, look, that research should be 15 minutes, maybe 16.” But it’s definitely not six hours.
Even you go through and pencil it out. But we get caught up in this research time. We don’t create these forcing mechanism and that has us play office.
Now, one of the things that I need to be really good at in order for me to have good family quality time … now, you could pick on me, which is totally fair game, but it’s just my own head trash, I have to deal with. I have to make sure I’ve made progress in the day, and I have my day cleared of what needs to be before I can have family time.
So, if I’m going off into a week of family time or an afternoon or whatever that time commitment is, and I don’t have my work stuff done because I haven’t prioritized it, I am not fun to be with in the family time. I’m irritated, I’m fussy, got these other things that are there.
So, I have to be super intentional about what is success in my workday, be able to clarify what those are. So, now, I can go with a clean conscience to my family and really be there and be connected with my family.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, when you mention that, what comes to mind is of course Dan Sullivan with Strategic Coach and his concept of Free Days. And Dan is so diligent with Free Days. And I don’t want to speak for Dan, but I speculate that he’s so easily distracted by this amazing business that he’s built that he actually has two different distinct cell phones.
And on work days, he carries his work cell phone and on Free Days, what he calls Free Days, his work cell phone is locked up or turned off so that he cannot access the office. He cannot check his email. He cannot check his voicemail, his team cannot get a hold of him.
Part of that is to stay true to his conviction. Part of that is probably just know yourself. If I have access to my email and there’s a lull at the kids’ game or whatever, I’m going to pull out my phone and start scrolling out the email.
That’s why I can’t have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Because if there’s a lull, I’ll pull up, I’ll start reading the Wall Street Journal. Two hours later, I’m still doing research on the Wall Street Journal.
So, know yourself, be intentional, create forcing mechanisms.
Micah Shilanski: And one of the things that happens with Kelly and I, which we both have to work on is the aspect of saying, okay, we’ll say, alright, we want to go do XYZ in the afternoon.
Well, I’ll look and it looks like she’s busy. So, I’ll pull up my phone or my device and I’ll start doing something so I can be productive with my time. Then she sees I’m doing something so, she does something else. But I see she’s doing something else. Now, two hours have passed.
Okay. It’s not that extreme, but that’s the concept that’s there and it like, no, no, no, we have to be hyper intentional. I love that aspect, Jarvis. I was a big … for a long time saying, you don’t need two phones, you could have one blah, blah, blah.
But it’s really, our own self-discipline and solving for what works. And if that means you need to throw your stuff away … I mean, that’s the reason I’ve deleted a lot of apps. For a long time, I had no email, I had no this other stuff on my phone because I wasn’t good about not checking it. I would live in it.
So, I had to remove those things from my reach so to speak, to make sure I was installing those good habits.
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Matthew Jarvis: Micah, this goes back to intentionality. Well, you mentioned about research. The research needs to be contained in a specific time. It cannot be, “Hey, I’m going to spend two hours a day on the Kitces site every single day of the week.”
Nope. For me, it was always Monday’s afternoon. That was my research time. And that’s my only research time. And if there was anything I wanted to read or research, that went to Monday afternoons.
Micah, also time blocking, family time. Our good friend, Benjamin Brandt, who’s doing our July webinar on Raising Fees to Raise Value, even during surge, his surge meeting doesn’t start until after he’s dropped his kids off at school. And his last surge meeting ends such that he can pick his kids up from school.
Now, this adds probably two weeks to Ben’s surge calendar, but it’s him being intentional. That way he knows, hey, I’ve been the dad I want to be in the morning. I work, work, work, work, work. And then I’m the dad I want to be in the evening.
He’s 100% intentional. He’s not sitting there during the day thinking “Maybe I should cut out early and stop by the kid’s school.” No for him, his family time exists in these windows.
Now, of course, if there was a legitimate emergency and people, Micah, use this all the time — it’s very rare. If one of his six kids was headed to the hospital, I’m sure Ben would take care of that. I know he would.
Short of that, he and his wife have agreed, this is the system. From these hours to these hours, I’m at work and I am heads down at work.
Micah Shilanski: I love it. And that time … we could talk about Cal Newport. We talk about him often in Deep Work that … we should have him on the podcast.
But he talks about that Deep Work concept and really getting involved inside of this. And that’s what allows us to do … I have freedom to focus on my work and my behavior. Now, the opposite is also true. Then I can be with family and I have freedom to focus on that stuff.
Jarvis, another thing that I want to talk about on that freedom aspect of it … and again, this needs to be a nice coordination with you and your spouse, when you go through this, is if an issue develops in the office, good or bad — well, no bad, because good ones I’m fine with. But if a bad issue happens, one of the things that I’m very guilty of is I cannot get it off my mind until I’ve taken time to address it.
So, I will push it aside. I’ll say I shouldn’t do this right now dah-dah-dah, and really, I’m not a good husband, I’m not a good father. I’m not focused on the things that are going to be there. And Kelly’s super supportive of this, she’s … and I was like, you know what, I need to step away and I have to deal with this, because I need it off my plate. And if I can’t get it off my mental plate, then I’m really not going to be focused with the rest of the family time.
So, you could pick on me and say, alright, well, I have boundary issues or other things. Sure, go for it. But we’ve found a system that works for us. And that’s the biggest thing here. Be intentional, what system works for you? And if something’s not working, you got to fix it. How do you tweak it? How do you change it to make sure you’re making the best advisor and the best father, mother, et cetera?
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, I love that you have that … I’m going to call it an escape valve. There’s something different there. But just to know, like hey, I’m not present here with my family. So, instead of trying to pretend like I’m doing both, hey, I need to step away for … and I would imagine, I know you do this really well with Kelly. I need to step away for 30 minutes, I need to step away for 60 minutes.
And for some of us, it’s as really as literal, as setting a time, Alexa set a timer for 60 minutes, and that’s the time I have to get that knocked out. And then I’m back.
And one of the safety valves Micah, that I keep is, at Jarvis Financial, we use a Sauna for tracking notes for our meeting. So, if there’s something like oh, I need to talk to Colleen about this: “Jackie, let me just take one minute.”
And I just log into Sauna, I type in “For our next meeting, let’s talk about XYZ.” And then I can set that aside and I’ve given it a place to live and get it out of my mind.
Same Micah is true, and I know this is true for you; when my team reaches out to me, immediately I triage, does this in fact have to happen right now? The answer 99 times out of 99 is no. Perfect, please put this on our next meeting, which is Tuesday, Thursday, whenever that is. So, have those in place.
Micah Shilanski: And Jarvis, I got to say, that’s hard for me. I know it sounds silly. But I don’t want the team bothering me because it’s not a high-value thing and they’re also not focused on their job.
So, it’s not just a my-time thing, they’re not doing deep work on their side. If they’re reaching out to me and pinging me with these questions, they’re not figuring out, and now, I’m the easy button. So, that bothers me.
But I like being the easy button and I like having the answers, and I like doing that. So, this is interesting dichotomy that’s there. But you got to think about this in the bigger picture; what’s better for your team growth in that standpoint?
And you know what, it’s better for team if they can focus on things, they can self-solve issues and they can put things on the agenda versus randomly sprinkling a dozen people with different questions throughout the day. That’s not productive.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, I know we’re soap-boxing a little on this because that’s what we do, it’s our podcast. I’d be curious your experience — in my experience, every single advisor I’ve talked to that I can recall that has said, “Hey, I can’t get that done because I need more family time,” I peel back the curtain they’re spending most of their day, if not their entire day at the office playing office.
And so, really this is like you’re not getting your … done at the office. And so, to make yourself feel better about it, you’re going to leave. You’re going to leave all these things undone: “Well, the reason I didn’t do them is not because I was playing office.” (Hint, that is why), “But I need family time.”
So, this goes back to, odds are if you’re not getting enough family time, it’s because you’re just not getting your … done at the office. Quit playing office. Get your alerts turned off, get your emails turned off. Do surge meetings, time block, put your research in a set time. We could go all day on this Micah.
Micah Shilanski: One of the things Jarvis I love to say is time is the great equalizer. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. No one has more, no one has less. This is our equalizer. Every single day, it’s the decisions you make that day, which decide are you going to be highly productive with that day or not productive in that day?
It’s your choice. And guess what? Every day you’re going to make that choice again, which is perfect. Every day you can get back on that bandwagon and make a really good choice. But the question is, what are you doing?
Now, to your point, we know hundreds of highly successful advisors that spend a lot of quality time with their family that run phenomenal rock star practices. And none of them have said, “Well, I can’t do my business because my family time.” But all of them have good family time. They’re able to do both. So, if they can, what’s your excuse?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. Micah, I think part of this goes back to anchoring. What are you anchoring off of? Now, we can look at how anchoring works and Bill Voss, the FBI negotiator guy, he wrote this amazing book, talked about negotiating and anchoring.
But anchoring applies for time management as well. If you were anchored on, I have to spend eight hours at the office because that’s what good people do, that creates a problem. If you’re anchored on all these industry studies that say like each client takes 32 hours a year to manage — if you’re anchored on stuff like that … and by the way, if you’re anchored on anything written by basically anyone because they’re just spending their time writing this stuff, that’s going to be a problem.
Where I saw real transformation in my practice is when I started anchoring on advisors that were crushing it. This is why Micah, I love our masterminds, our Invictus Masterminds. And I’ve talked about our good friend, Jamie Dawson who’s in one of our masterminds.
I never thought about taking extended time off until Jamie says, “Yeah, I take six weeks off every summer to spend with my family. Why wouldn’t I?” And I had never thought about that. I had always anchored on well, you get two weeks off a year. That’s how it is.
Micah Shilanski: That’s how it works.
Matthew Jarvis: Six weeks off every summer, that became my anchor. So, watch your anchors and surround yourself with people that have the anchors you want, not the anchors you’re supposed to have.
Micah Shilanski: I love it. Well, Jarvis, as you know, this podcast is all about action items. So, let’s talk about some action items for our listeners to take and to implement right away.
And I’m going to say the number one thing is be intentional with what you’re doing. Now, if you’re going to play office, okay, great. Then just admit what you’re doing and be intentional and play your freaking office.
But if you want to truly spend quality time, what do you have to do to be intentional to make that happen? And also, understand that this isn’t a tomorrow I make the decision and I get there. This is something I am constantly working on. How do I improve? How do I get better, et cetera. I’m sure Kelly has a long list of ways that I can improve in this area.
So, I just take it one day at a time trying to get there to be the better person. So, it’s the journey that I’m on to be here, but it’s all about being intentional.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, speaking of action items, can our action item be to always have action items? I was just at the AICPA conference down in Las Vegas, and you could pull up the slide decks for the presentations before you go to them and I would look … I’d go right to the end and see if there was action items.
And if there wasn’t and none of them had action items, I just would skip the presentation. Like have action items on everything. Every time you talk to a client, every presentation, every podcast, please have action items in that-
Micah Shilanski: How do we trademark that? TPR action items required for everything.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s right. Love that. But speaking of conferences that we’ll have action items, Micah, you and I will be at XYPN Live doing a pre-conference on October 8th. You and I and our power team and a hundred of our favorite friends to talk about our panel of success, what it takes to double your effectiveness while working less.
So, you can sign up for that by visiting theperfectria.com or you can go to XYPNLive and sign up for that pre-conference. It’s going to be spectacular as always.
Micah Shilanski: I love it. Third action item or fourth, I guess, is really going to be focused on masterminds. You need masterminds. You need to get them set up, you need to get them in place.
Great news if you’re an Invictus member, we have our next two. So, kind of that … or the next 12 months of masterminds are already booked on the calendar, to make sure you get those. Our next one is going to be in December 1st and 2nd in Las Vegas.
And so, we’re going to go down there, we’re going to crush it. Everyone who has been to one of these masterminds has said it has transformed their practice hands down. So, you have to be involved in masterminds. Hopefully you’re involved in The Perfect RIA Mastermind because you know what, it’s perfect.
But if you’re not, you need to get your own mastermind set up and be in place for that because these can truly transform your practice.
Matthew Jarvis: Wow, Micah, I love it. It’s always so great to do these. Remember advisors, family time is critical, but do not confuse quality family time with avoidance with playing office. And until next time, happy planning.
Micah Shilanski: Happy planning.
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