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This is The Perfect RIA, in case you didn’t know. Bringing you all the strategies to help your business grow. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Sit back and listen in while you feel the beat. Another myth bites the dust…
Micah Shilanski: Welcome back to another amazing episode of The Perfect RIA podcast. I am your cohost, Micah Shilanski and with me, as usual, is the amazing Matthew Jarvis. What’s going on, Jarvis?
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, just living the dream, just enjoying summer with the family, and getting a lot of great adventures done.
Micah Shilanski: It is. We’ve been hanging out a bunch, which has been outstanding— doing a lot of stuff while delivering massive value to clients. Something came up a little bit recently that we wanted to focus on, Jarvis. It’s really this mindset, no matter what we’re doing, but what mindset do you have in your activities?
Now, we can talk about this from personal activities. What mindset do you have in your family activities, right as well? Are you being intentional? One of the main rules of success is being intentional about things. But when we talk about it in the work environment, when you’re delivering massive value, you’re meeting with clients, prospects, and your team. What mindset do you have? And as arrogant as this is going to sound, we have a pretty unique mindset. And basically it’s summed up in, “We’re the best.”
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. A lot of people get put off by that. I think, Micah, it’s because they misunderstand it, but it could just be that we’ve lost the rough of wrench. But I was talking to, and this has come up a lot, talking to one of our industry’s premier thought leaders. You may or may not hear it aired on some future date. And he says, “My goodness, you charge a very high fee, premium fee. How can you possibly justify that to prospects?”
I said, “Sure, Dave.” We’ll call him Dave. Listen, I’ll tell you the same thing that I tell prospects, “It only makes sense to hire me if the value I deliver is worth some multiple of my fee. If you can find an advisor, who does a better job than me that delivers more value than I do for a lower price, please give me their name because I will hire them.” Micah, that’s not said facetiously. That’s not some sales script.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. This is the thing that’s out there about really knowing how much value you can deliver to clients, right? When we go into a room, and we say, “Great, we are the best advisor.” Yes, you can look at that and say it’s a very egotistical mindset, or you could look at it, I think the way Jarvis and I do, that says, “You know what, I’ve put a lot of time, dedication, and thought into the exact processes, the steps we walk our clients through in financial planning, on how to deliver massive amounts of value in every single contact, every single step with our clients.”
And yes, sometimes we’re going to fall short. We’re going to pick ourselves up and move on. But 9 times out of 10, we’re going to deliver massive value. Well, what does that give me? That gives me a track record. That gives me history. That I’m consistently delivering massive value to clients, now, this becomes confidence. This isn’t an ego thing, this is a confidence thing. That I know when a client or prospect walks in in my niche, I am one of the best, if not the best advisor, they could be meeting with to help them achieve their goals.
Matthew Jarvis: Now, part of this, for our listeners, if you find yourself getting agitated or annoyed by this, I would examine some head trash there. But part of this is playing a game with rules that you can win. So I would never say that I am the best at federal employment benefits, right? Because I know Micah’s knowledge of federal employment benefits is far better than mine.
I would never say I’m the best at Cross-National Asset transfers. I have no expertise there, but when it comes to people wanting to retire with a $1 million to $5 million in my geographical area. I promise you there is no one better. Now, again, I framed this game in a niche that I can win. Now, I’m sincere when I say, “Hey if there’s someone better in that niche for my clients, I want to meet that person because I want to learn everything I can.”
Micah, if you’re an advisor listening and you don’t think that you’re the best, how does that discussion go with the prospect? Are you hoping that they won’t discover the guy across the street? Are you tricking them into hiring you?
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, or where’s your—drop that f word, right? Where’s your fiduciary requirement right here? If you know you’re a sucky advisor, yet you’re allowing people to hire you. Really?
Matthew Jarvis: But your fee is the lowest. Your fee is the lowest. Therefore, that justifies giving bad advice? Come on.
Micah Shilanski: But you’re going to give out your cell phone number? You’re available 24/7, right? None of this is actually adding value in the client’s situation. So what is it that’s adding value, and Jarvis, I’m going to pull back that thing you said a second ago. If you’re having head trash, you’re getting a little annoyed by this, you really need to examine what’s going on there. Because again, this is not an ego statement. This is a confidence statement that we are confident in delivering what we can do.
You know Olympic’s going on. You’ll think about from that aspect of it. Do the Olympians go in there say, “You know what? Well, I really hope I’m able to compete and to win and do this.” Or they’re saying, “You know what? I have a history of being the best in my country at this event. I’m going to compete, and I’m going to win.” Right? What mindset do you think the winners are taking to that race, taking to that event, to make sure they can dominate that event? We need to do that same thing on a daily basis when we’re meeting with our clients.
Matthew Jarvis: But there’s so many parallels we can draw to the Olympics, right? An Olympic athlete competes in one very, very narrow, very narrow, right? They would never say, “I’m the best Olympian of all Olympians.” But they’ll compete in one very narrow area. It’s the same for advisors.
Micah, I also want to do, kind of a word of caution or something out to our younger listeners. We have a lot of younger listeners. Do not think that because you’re young in the industry, you can’t be the best for your niche. Being the best doesn’t mean that you know everything. That’s not the definition of the best advisor. I would define it as “You’re delivering massive value to clients, and you’re able to get them the answer to the questions.”
So maybe that means you’re logging on to the backstage pass and posting to the forum, “Hey, I have a client with this issue. I don’t know how to solve it. Who can help me?” That’s still being the best. The best is delivering massive value; however, you get there.
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. In massive value, again, doesn’t matter the immediacy. That doesn’t matter about the aspect of all of a sudden, you have to have all answers at your fingertips because clients understand. But part of being the best is communication. I got to say, communication starts with listening.
This is so, so important. How empathetic can you be on the phone or in person? How well can you listen? Can you understand a client’s or prospect’s situation? You might think, “What does this have to do with the best?” It has everything to do with being the best because this is a foundation in communication.
If your client doesn’t think you are listening to them, they don’t want to talk to you. They have no intention of opening up. They have no intention of listening to what you have to say. It is 100% about their feelings. Do they feel they can connect with you? Do they feel that you’re listening? Then, based on that, can you give them good advice?
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, so much of this goes back to what you said earlier about being intentional. So, on our industry were bombarded with things like fees, performance numbers, fiduciary standard. We think we’re sort of distorted into thinking that that is what matters, that’s what makes the best. Yes, those things have some importance somewhere.
But Micah, your point, when that prospect comes in when that client comes in. I had 1 just last week. Prospect comes in, says, “Matthew, I want to retire because I was just diagnosed with Leukemia. But the other advisors I talked to, they weren’t sure if the numbers would work.” I said, “Sue…” Again, prospects are always Dave and Sue. “Sue, you’re going to retire this month. In fact, we’re going to run the numbers this week so you can give your notice at the end of the week.” She says, “Matthew, that’s exactly what I wanted.”
Micah, I kind of launched into my normal, “Hey, take the one-page financial plan compared to other advisors.” I said, “No, hard stop. You’ve already given us what is we want. We want to hire you.”
Now, I won’t short-circuit my process. They still have to go through them, but me being the best in that moment, wasn’t understanding how the railroad pension work. It wasn’t understanding how incentive stock options work. It was me saying, “Wait a second. There’s a bigger issue here that’s prompting this discussion.” That’s what allows me to charge a premium fee.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. In that case, I wasn’t in that prospect meeting, so please correct me. But her thing wasn’t, “Great. How do I maximize my social security benefit?” Her thing is, “Holy crap. I have this wake-up call that my life may not be as long as I think it is. I want to leave my job and get on to the next thing as quickly as possible to spend time with the ones that I love.” That was the direct pivot that you needed to move to in your communication. I’m just assuming, right?
Matthew Jarvis: Yep, 100%. As we were preparing for this episode, Micah, you and I were talking about that it’s not just having some kind of clever language. That’s not what these are about. We have terminology that we use like, “Make an educated informed decision. We want you to sleep on it.”
These kinds of things make this process easier. But if I had come in dressed sloppily, if I’d been late, if the team hadn’t confirmed the call, if my office looked like garbage, all of those things would have killed it. If I just walked in and said, “Hey, listen, I charge one and a half percent.” That’s not delivering massive value. Instead, I’m going to lead with massive value. Tell me what’s on your mind. Tell me what’s on your soul. I’m going to pivot from there into things like, “Hey, here’s what we charge to do this kind of work.”
Micah Shilanski: We talked about some of this in another podcast too. Two things I want to pull out of that, Jarvis. If I could: number 1, you said you’re always leading with delivering massive value. In absolutely, right? That’s where our focus needs to be. It’s all about delivering massive value, regardless of if you’re hired or not.
The minute they become a prospect, the minute you’re on the phone with them. They’re in your office, whatever that environment is, your job is to deliver massive value regardless of the outcome of that meeting. So it doesn’t matter if they’re not an ideal fit. Sometimes I meet with people because we charge an upfront $500 fee for our initial consultation.
Sometimes I meet people that aren’t ideal clients. That this meeting isn’t going to go anywhere, that doesn’t mean I say, “You know what? I’m done. You’re not going to become lifelong clients. It’s not really worth my time.” Absolutely not. They are on my calendar. I’m going to deliver massive value. And Jarvis, I know you’re the same way. So it starts with regards to, “Who cares what the outcome is going to be? You are going to deliver massive value.”
The second thing I really wanted to pull out of there, Jarvis, you had said this in passing, is you didn’t bypass your process. This is really, really important. Talk about delivering massive value, is going through a process of success in making sure it’s a repeatable process and that all of your clients and prospects, everyone goes through that same process. Why? Because the more we grow, the more clients we bring on, it’s easier to have one-offs, to drop the ball, and not deliver massive value.
And we already have a process of success. Rules of success, right? Number 3: Do what works. If all of a sudden, “Do what works, rule of success.” Why would I change my process? My process works. Clients love it. Prospects love it. They come in. They hire us. They get massive value. Why would I short circuit that just because someone said, “Today, I want to hire you right now.” The answer is, “No. Follow that process of success.”
Matthew Jarvis: But, Micah, how do you frame that with a prospect? How do you let a prospect know that you’re the best without coming off as really arrogant? Or as I assume here because no one, by the way, is going to go into that meeting and say, “You know, I just want to know. I’m the worst advisor in the area, and you probably should hire me.” It’s like saying, “You know, we act with integrity and honesty.” Great. Who is leading with, “I’m probably going to steal your money.”
So, Micah, how do you frame that discussion with prospects? Because you’re leading in saying, “Hey, I’m probably the most expensive advisor you’ll ever meet.” Which you would think would be an automatic deal killer.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. I don’t normally lead with that statement. I do state that, but I don’t lead with that “price-out-of-place” kind of thing. So, when we’re meeting with prospects and clients, one of the things that we want to do is number one, we’ve already talked about this, is we asked them what are the most important things they want to cover today.
Now, you think that’s a subtle thing, and it’s not. This is a very intentional thing. Because, what did we say about delivering massive value? It leads with listening. It doesn’t matter if I have found them a $100,000 plus in tax savings. And this has happened to me a couple of weeks ago, on a business owner. It was like killing me in the meeting because I’d found him 6 figures of tax savings, and they could care less because they had this other issue to deal with.
So I kind of mention the tax savings, in almost in passing, but we had to focus on other issues. So it doesn’t really matter what I find most valuable in that meeting. It doesn’t matter what I can quantify as most valuable in that meeting. This is subjective. It is subjective based on our clients and prospects.
So, number one: we’re going to listen. We’re going to find out what do they need? What are their goals and outcomes for this particular meeting? What are their top concerns? We address those. Then we’re able to move on with the rest of the agenda.
Matthew Jarvis: I love that. I want to make a quick note for our listeners. If you’re listening to this and you’re saying, “Oh yeah, I do that. I’d listen to my clients. I lead with that question.” Perfect. Here’s a thing that the best are doing. The best are always saying, “How do I get better?” So I recently had an interview with someone that I was nervous about. I had 6 pages of notes ready for this interview. I practice for a week, getting ready for this interview.
I got off the interview. I’m like, “Man. I did a great job. That was a great interview.” Now, let me go back and listen to the recording and say, “Alright, where can I improve?” So don’t ever dismiss, out of hand. “Oh yeah, I give 1-page financial plans. Oh yeah, I talked about my fee. I tell them to sleep on it.” Look at it and say, “How do I do that better? How do I listen even better than I was listening before?”
That’s what the best does. Michael Jordan or whomever, they’re not coming off the court saying, “Well, that was the best game I’ve ever played. I’m not going to worry about it.” They’re coming off the court, and they’re watching the tapes, and they’re saying, “Alright, how do we improve?”
Micah Shilanski: What you just said, though, is practice. This is so key. I don’t know why our industry doesn’t do it. I guess it’s probably, like everyone else, nobody wants to put in the hard work. Everyone just wants the glory. But this is something where you need to practice time and time again. Whether you’re going to give a podcast, whether you’re going to do an interview, whether it’s a seminar, whether it’s a prospect meeting, that goes on. You need to practice in front of the camera.
And spoiler alert, yes, you will look like an idiot.
Matthew Jarvis: It hurts.
Micah Shilanski: You will feel completely stupid. That’s just when you are recording it. The pain really sets in when you watch it. You go back and see all of these things that you do that you never thought you did in a meeting. Now, all of a sudden, those video cameras are on you, and you can see what’s happening from the prospects and clients’ eyes. But if you want to be a lead, if you want to be the best, it comes with practice, practice, practice. Perfect practice makes for perfection.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, we worked as an advisor in the backstage pass in Invictus. He was in a very competitive market. Literally across the street from his office was a very premier RA firm. His advisor was kind of convinced that the solution was he needed to move his office. Because prospects would come to his office, they would see Global Advisor across the street. In his mind, he was losing them all to Global Advisor.
He was like, “Matthew, what I got to do is I have to move. That’s the problem.” And I said, “No,” again, we call everybody Dave and Sue. “Dave, you need to actually go over to Global Advisor and figure out what makes them better than you, why prospects are going to them and then beat them at that game or pick a different game to play.”
This goes back to being the best. Micah, if I’m hiding behind, if I’m hoping that no one discovers Micah, I better either move to a different niche or I better figure out how to be as good or better than Micah. So you’ve got to just say, “Hey, I’m going to play this game to win.” It’s like going to the Olympics and hoping the other athletes don’t show up. Like, “I’m going to win.”
Micah Shilanski: Well, I can win the Olympics too if that was the case.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s right, that’s right. I’m going to win the marathon run if no one else shows up. That’s how so many advisers play. Or Micah, to your point, “I’m not going to practice. I’ll just stretch a little bit before the game. I’ll run. It’ll be good.”
Micah Shilanski: “It’ll be fine, right? I’ll just drink a six-pack before the game. It’ll be fine. I’m sure that won’t have any impact on my performance whatsoever.” So, these are really key things. Another thing that I want to pick up inside of this, Jarvis is, being the best is not about asking all the right questions. Sometimes, it’s about knowing what not to ask, right? What are the pin points for clients that really do not deliver value in the long run?
Here’s an easy one, a budget. How many times do you bring up the budget in a conversation? Everyone’s like, “Oh my gosh, I am so excited you said budget! We couldn’t talk about the budget!” They’re just jumping up and down. Or is it a painful conversation that now, all of a sudden, you’re a referee in a marital dispute?
So what do those words bring in? If that’s something that’s happening in our meetings, maybe it’s your fault. Maybe you should quit bringing up the b-word. We don’t talk about budgets for a couple of different reasons. So Jarvis, push back on me if you do it differently.
Matthew Jarvis: No.
Micah Shilanski: But number one, it creates marital disputes. I will tell this to prospects. Well, let’s talk about our budget. I don’t want to talk about our budget. Because of all budget’s going to do is number one: give a fairground for marital dispute. It allows us going to justify all of our previous purchases that we’ve done. That’s all we’re going to do, is to justify all of the money that we spent. Number three: we can’t do a bloody thing about it.
So it doesn’t matter to get into all of this budget detail. You’d be amazed at how relieved clients are that we don’t want them to line item 72 million different things to know where their money goes. We have a simple casual conversation about how we’re going to spend money in the future. We don’t go into this whole history of the last 20-30 years about where do they spend money.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, this brings up a good point. How attentive are you to the prospect or client’s reaction to whatever the discussion is? You might be thinking, “Oh, my prospects and clients, they never have an issue talking about budgets.” Maybe you’re not attuned to it, right? That’s part of being the best. Part of that is, Micah, you and I are recording this podcast, right? We can see each other when we’re recording this video. We’re both super animated. Our hands are moving, our expressions are really big.
Alex that works in my office as an advisory says, “Jarvis, how did you learn all of your body language for a prospect meeting?” “Well, like Micah said, I would record these things. I would practice some. I would notice that I would rub my face all the time. Well, that’s not helping. I would notice that I would start to scowl.” That’s not helping, right? So it’s all of these things about being just so intentional about what you do.
Micah Shilanski: That other aspect of it too is if you’re paying attention to your client and prospect, you’re going to know when they’re engaged when they’re neutral, which doesn’t happen, and when they’re disengaged, right? It’s really engaged or disengaged in that meeting. Is it the subject that you’re talking about? Okay. Well, that’s just really blaming something else, right? Quite frankly, no one gets excited about estate planning. Really? Maybe that’s just because you suck at presenting it.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. They don’t get excited about leaving a legacy for their family? Hmm.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. Taking care of their family, right? I mean, no one’s happy about making sure that’s done correctly? So maybe it’s just you in the presenting side of it. We can’t control their emotions. Therefore, the only one to blame is you, the advisor. What do you need to do in order to be better? You’re going to watch that by paying attention to the prospect.
Now, if you’re new to this game and you have an agenda, I would put little hash marks by something. So, Jarvis, let me know if this is odd. But if you have your agenda of everything supposed to cover, and when the prospect is disengaged, I will put a little mark on your notes that they were disengaged. And that’s when, as you’re reviewing this, you need to go back and say, “Great. Where did I lose them? How did I do a bad job in presenting this? Was I not listening to what they were saying? Did I go off on a different track that I wanted to talk about, and it really wasn’t a focus that they wanted to talk on?”
Matthew Jarvis: Boy, there are so many things you could hash. You could hash, “How much are they talking versus you talking?” The more you’re talking, the less they’re talking, the more you’re losing. There’s so many. How many questions are you asking versus statements that you’re making? How many questions are they asking? How quickly are you answering their questions? How often are you using their words, their terminology versus yours?
Micah, where do you model this? So right, if I say I’m watching, and I see that I’m doing a bad job with the budget discussion, just to pick one, don’t have the budget discussion. But, you see, I’m doing a bad job. So, how would you improve that? Who can you mirror? How do you model success there?
Micah Shilanski: Well, number one, I would say, “Go. Who is your role model? Who do you want to emulate in this industry?” That’s where I would go to, right? Do what works. One of the 4 rules of success: Find someone who is just crushing it in this area and don’t go in with the arrogance. This is where your ego comes in. This is, “Oh, I do it just like they do.” Clearly not. If they are better than you at this, you are not doing it the exact same way. They must be doing something different. So, find that area that they’re crushing it, go in and learn from them.
Now, even if you don’t believe in, “Their planning is the same model that you have.” I’m not looking for identical things. I’m looking for someone that has a phenomenal conversation. Life insurance salesman, the top ones, are phenomenal communicators. I do not agree with their product placement and solving everything with life insurance. This isn’t what I do.
But I have learned a tremendous amount on how to ask the right questions from life insurance. The top life insurance salesman. So, again, who is phenomenal at this in your industry? Backstage pass. Who is phenomenal about this in your industry? That’s where you need to go and learn.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, I would expand that out. Even people outside your industry, anybody who’s a master communicator. So, for example, and a lot of people scoff at this, I love watching Dave Ramsey at work. I love watching his movies, his books, his website because he’s a master communicator. Now, do I agree that you get a 14% rate of return as an assumption? No, I don’t. But that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m not going to him for projected rates of return.
I’m saying, well, he’s a master communicator. How does his voice inflection work? How does he move around the stage? All of that is so intentional versus- Micah, like you said a lot of advisors are just showing up thinking, “Well, I’ll just wing it.” I want to learn from experts, stand-up comics. I love going to stand-up comedy. One, I love to laugh, but I love watching how intentional they are. Even with the emphasis of different syllables when they’re telling a joke. They say “Karen.” instead of “Dave.” I mean, these things are all intentional. You’ve got to learn from the masters.
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. Draw that back into one area in your practice and say, “Great. How can I improve this?” We all need to be improving. This gets into another aspect of being the best. How do you hold yourself accountable? This is one of the things that we kind of know, hands down, is that the people that are the best are the ones that can get so many things done. Now, how is that possible? Can people that are the best get so many things done because they have more time in the day?
Matthew Jarvis: No. No. I don’t think so?
Micah Shilanski: No? It’s all the same amount of time. It’s one of the things that I love about time, by the way, Jarvis. Time is our great equalizer. We all have the same hours in a day. The question is, how effective are you going to be with that time? People who are the best, no time is limited. They will hold themselves accountable to get things done. So, are you practicing? Do you hold yourself accountable? Man, those are the top 2 things that will set an elite, the best advisor apart from 99% of their peers.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, an example that comes to mind, we just recently did a webinar for our backstage pass in Invictus members on breaking the chains of email. We shared a study that’s been widely publicized that the average office worker in America spends 3 to 5 hours a day. Three to five hours a day in email.
Holy smokes! So we started doing the math. Micah, you and I were doing the math that says the average advisor is spending more time doing email a year than we spend in the office in total. So when an advisor says, “Wait a second. How can you be the best? How can you claim to deliver massive value? How can you charge a premium fee? You’re not even in the office half the year.”
You’re right. But when I’m in the office, I’m getting more done than 10 advisors combined. Now, again you can dismiss that as arrogance, or you can say, “Hey, that’s going to be my benchmark. I want to be as productive as 10 advisors combined because that’s the only way I can systematically deliver massive value.”
Micah Shilanski: I love it. So, Jarvis, this podcast is all about action items. So let’s make sure we have some great action items this week that we’re able to get into. I’m going to say, number one, in order to be the best, you either have to be the best or you have to find the best. Now, if you’re at the top of the pinnacle and you’re saying, “I’m the best. There’s nobody even close to me.” You’re on your way down. You have to find someone else who is always pushing that envelope.
Sometimes, that means going, as you said earlier, Jarvis, going outside of our industry, finding out other things. Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton experience. That’s right. What are other things that are going on, they’re crushing that we need to learn from?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, that’s right. This I think, speaks to masterminds. We’re going to talk more about this. We have several scheduled. One of the real benefits of masterminds is surrounding yourself with people that are trying to push to the next levels. Great. How did you handle this situation? How did you handle that? Micah, there’s so many little things that I’ve picked up. How you run your practice and other Mastermind members run their practice, in casual discussion?
Your joke about, “Hey, you’re welcome to pay us anything more than our stated fee.” Like, that’s a funny thing. Like, “Oh. That’s clever. I need to remember that and use that in my thing.” So, not just “find the best.” But you have to surround yourself with the best as often as you can.
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. The last thing, third action item for you, is going to manage expectations for prospects and clients. If you want the key to having happy clients and happy prospects, it’s managing their expectations. Because it’s not generally, “Did you do or not do something normally?” We all do things. But did you do it within the same expectations that that prospect or client has?
If you said, “I will call you right back,” and the prospect is thinking in 15 minutes and you’re thinking in 6 hours, you have failed. But in your mind, you just called them right back. But you failed to set clear expectations on when that return phone call will be. That could be as simple as a return phone call, the next meeting, when you’re going to follow up, how a tax projection is going to be done, how you’re going to deliver their state planning. I mean, all of these things across the board, you need to define and set those expectations of success for that client and prospect.
Matthew Jarvis: I love it. Also, I would recommend and kindly ask you to go ahead and post one of these episodes to your social media feeds, along with a note about how you’re going to deliver more value to your clients. I just listened to this episode about being the best there is, and here are the 3 things I’m doing to make sure that I always stay at the top of the pinnacle. So, again, deliver massive value everywhere you go.
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, until next time. Happy planning.
Matthew Jarvis: Happy planning.
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