Select Page

The Secret to More Success

[youtube id=”eE2QxuFDLrg”]

I want to encourage you today with this quick thought exercise that could radically shift where you are spending your time and how much revenue you are producing.

Click on the video above to check it out.

New Financial Advisors – Numbers Game or Emotional Game?

New Financial Advisors – Numbers Game or Emotional Game?

Are New Financial Advisors Led Astray by the “Numbers Game” hype?

By this point in your career you’ve heard it a million times – this job is a numbers game. As a new financial advisor all you need to do is see enough people and everything will work out, right?  I disagree.  This is a mental game long before it is a numbers game.

To see just how far emotions rule the day, just turn on nearly any reality TV show. Contestants strive to do their best under situations that are designed to be pressure cookers. Invariably some break down in tears or fits of rage. After a decade of reality TV we recognize that these outbursts have been created for our viewing pleasure, but does this mean the pain is not real? No. It hurts to lose. It hurts to put your dreams on the line and then be told that you don’t make the cut. Your world as a financial advisor is not so different, is it?

No, you are under a great deal of pressure. Clients are not predictable. Prospects bail half way through a large case. Even when you get a deal the home office can misplace paperwork or ask for extra signatures which can jeopardize all of your hard work. When you are behind on your quota and your contract is in jeopardy, the “numbers game” theory goes down the tubes.

Frustration is real.

Under trying circumstances that are common in this career it is perfectly normal to get upset, so give yourself some time to vent. However, as advisors we get into trouble when we allow this frustration to rule us. Frustration can turn into dwelling, second guessing and doubting our career choice. This is a dangerous place to be. Spend too much time here and you will be calling it quits in no time.

It takes practice to back away from the edge. For me, I had to get my head out of the doldrums. Moving on — to the next project, the next client, the next piece of analysis, the next cold call — worked for me. It provided me with the pattern interrupt that I needed. Before too long my thoughts were back in the land of possibility rather than dwelling on impossibility.

For me I have seen that the emotional game comes before the numbers game. It is like the foundation to a house — you can’t afford to get it wrong. If you are going to invest your time or money anywhere invest in your ability to bounce back from defeat. The good news is that you will invariably build this muscle more and more the longer you are in the business.


So what is burnout, anyway?

Burnout consists of three terms:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Depersonalization
  • Diminished personal accomplishment (Maslach & Jackson, 1986).

Emotional exhaustion is by far the most researched and reported facet of burnout.  Now watch how it interacts with people and situations.

We all have the ability to choose how we react to a situation.  People with a higher sense of self-awareness are said to have higher emotional intelligence.  Can’t people with higher emotional intelligence just simply choose to react differently to a given situation?  Can’t they just get over it?

Researchers have found a definitive link between a person’s emotional intelligence and his or her overall level of job satisfaction.  But this is not a direct relationship.  Emotional exhaustion plays a role between the two (Moon & Hur, 2011).

Emotional Intelligence —>  Emotional Exhaustion —>  Job Satisfaction

What has surprised researchers about this arrangement is that people with high degrees of emotional intelligence are not always immune to burnout (Moon & Hur, 2011).


Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1986). Maslach Burnout Inventory manual (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Moon, T., & Hur, W. (2011). Emotional intelligence, emotional exhaustion, and job performance. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 39(8), 1087-1096. doi:org/10.2224/sbp.2011.39.8.1087

5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do to Boost Confidence

Ways to Boost Your Confidence

  1. Do something.  The worst part about telecommuting or working from home is that it is far too easy to lose momentum.  Get out of the house.  Most importantly, do some prospecting.  Do a few walk-ins to local businesses.  Pick up the phone and make 4 or 5 calls to previous clients with whom you have lost touch.  Send the email campaign that you have been procrastinating on for weeks.
  2. Do the unpleasant stuff first.  If you tend to procrastinate on tasks that you don’t like, just do them first and get it over with.
  3. Grab a quick coffee with a colleague.  I’m not talking about time wasting idle chit-chat or rehashing the big game last weekend.  Meet with a purpose.  Take 3 conversation starters with you.  Confide.  Be vulnerable.  “What 2 or 3 things do you do to get new clients?”  “What was your longest dry spell?”  “How did you overcome the difficult times?”  You may find out that you are not alone.
  4. Get to bed early.  Sometimes fatigue can lead to all sorts of performance issues.
  5. I know this last one is tired, but I mention it because it bears repeating — exercise.  Your endorphins kick in after about 20 minutes and everything starts looking up.

Team or Solo – Which Agents Produce More?

How Network Range Affects a New Agent’s Success Rate

There is a fair amount of drama involved In the age-old debate on team production versus individual producers.  Clients reportedly prefer the feeling and security of a team of advisors.  It gives the client the feeling that the advisors are specialists who know more and are able to help offer the best care.  The home office has long held the opposite view.  Teams are more expensive and less productive — 10 individual producers will out sell a team of 10 any day.

Developing nations are a hotbed for research these days.  There are masses of people in India and China who are coming into the middle class and now have disposable income.  Life insurance sales are on the rise and this is a ripe stage to study in these developing markets.

Many of the lessons learned may be useful here in the US.

Chen, Zhang and Fey (2011) recently published significant findings that may alter the course of the team/solo debate.

Take the example of an agent joining a team.  Simply being in a team environment does not mean that the individual stands any better chance of surviving in the business.  Common thought holds that a team will rally around an individual to provide training and mentoring.  This isn’t always the case. The researchers found that teamwork by itself does not do the trick.  It has far more to do with the social capital — the new agents network.  The counter-intuitive piece to their observation hinges on what type of natural market this individual brings.

The key distinction is what is known as network range.  Just because a person brings a large network to the practice does not mean that the new advisor will be successful.  The new advisor is more successful if the range of his or her network spans different types of people.  The researchers explained that range deals with groups of people who are heterogeneous.  Range is defined as “the number of occupations in which more than one contact existed for the insurance agents” (Chen, et. al., 2011, p. 445).  By this definition a person with a network of 2 lawyers, 2 carpenters and 6 brick masons has a greater range than a person who knows 1 lawyer and 9 teachers.  Same network size, far different network range.

The reasoning is that dealing with a homogenous population, no matter how high or how low their associated income, the agent learns only the products that they need for that one population; therefore, they grow less reliant on team members.  A heterogeneous network requires knowledge of many different types of products, which lends to the agent’s seeking help from team members.


Chen, Y. Y., Zhang, Y., & Fey, C. F. (2011). When collaborative HR practices may not work well: The moderating role of social capital in the Chinese life insurance industry. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22(2), 433–456. doi:10.1080/09585192.2011.540164.

Entrepreneur = Sales

To be an entrepreneur is to be involved in sales.

You must sell your work.

It won’t sell itself.

Some of my work deals with entrepreneurs who have chosen to work as captive sales agents for a company.  These individuals are prominent in financial services, real estate and home-based selling organizations.

These individuals typically have unlimited earning potential and have the support of a home office.

Being a salesperson isn’t a bad thing, so don’t let it have a negative connotation.  To be passionate about making a difference in your own life or in the lives of others takes a certain degree of sales skills.

Take control of your future.  Learn how to sell.

New Financial Advisors – Fail, Observe, Recover

How New Financial Advisors Can Recover from Failure

In my previous post on What to do with Failure?, I mentioned that new financial advisors tend either to internalize their failures (it is always my fault) or to externalize their failures (it is always the prospect’s fault).  We move toward one of these two extremes naturally; however, you stand to learn a ton by just taking a moment to carefully examine what led to the failure.

Consider the list below.  At one end is self-blame, and at the other end is blaming everyone else.  The sweet spot is right in the middle.  You stand to gain the most from the failure by pausing for a moment to take stock of what happened — observe and recover.

  • Internalize & overwhelm
  • Observe & recover
  • Blame & avoid

As a New Financial Advisor, How Do I Recover From Failure?

There are several age-old formulas that can be used to take stock of the situation.  Here are just two:

  • Start, Stop, Continue.
  • What went well? What didn’t? What would you change?
  • Phase by Phase postmortem

Start, Stop, Continue

This one is most common in performance evaluations.  For your latest prospect meeting, seminar or other client facing moment, simply write down what actions or behaviors you would like to see yourself starting, stopping or continuing for the next time you perform this activity.

What went well? What didn’t? What would you change?

This is quite similar to start, stop, continue from above, and is most commonly performed with a coach or any person who has an outside perspective.

Phase by phase

The phase by phase postmortem is perhaps the most thorough.  This method is often used when you are critiquing a client facing meeting and you are using at least one step in your sales funnel.  What you do here is simply to document what you learned at every step of your sales process.

  • Did you transition well between your opening small talk and your initial discussion?
  • Did you transition into your fact finding segment well?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • Did you find enough emotion when drilling down into what the client wants to achieve in their future?


When you encounter your next failure, don’t blame yourself.  Don’t blame others.  Just take a minute to assess what happened.  No matter what path you choose, at least do something to write down and capture what you experienced.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can hold all of this in your head.  You must write it down.  I have known new financial advisors who have a bit of a library of lessons they have learned.  It takes a bit of discipline, but the paybacks are well worth the investment.

You Were Not Created for Drudgery

You Were Not Created for Drudgery

The Real World

Somewhere between adolescence and our mid-20’s we get the message — life isn’t easy.

We aren’t kids any more.  School ends and we have bills to pay. We gradually get the message that we are finally in “the real world”, and we don’t expect things to always go our way.

The vital thing that we don’t realize until years later, and this is so subtle that it is practically evil, is the gradual erosion of what we tolerate.

We get into some situation at work and things get a little difficult. Perhaps there are some budget cuts that affect you.

You were counting on more tools to do your job, a new computer this year (finally) to replace the 5-year old model now on your desk.  You tighten the belt and continue on.

You get used to it.

This is the new normal.  Things are inconvenient but doable.

Then things at work get a little tighter.  One of your co-workers leaves for greener pastures and the company decides not to rehire.

That workload now gets shared between the remaining people in your department, including you.

You work a little harder and continue on.

You get used to it.

This is the new normal.  This is the way of things, isn’t it?   Companies are always looking for ways to be more efficient.  Work isn’t supposed to get easier, is it?  It’s supposed to get more productive.

Slowly, over time, you notice that any joy that you had for your work is slowly being squeezed away into the push to churn out more units.  Something inside seems wrong, but we can’t quite put our finger on it.

You Notice the Tension

You start to develop this groaning sense that work should be different some how.  You remember when you used to have time to do quality work, something that you were proud of.

Now, because of workload you just are not comfortable with half of what you have to pass off as “done”.  You want things to be just a little bit, and I struggle to find the right word here, better.

Secretly you wish that you just had more time, or more budget. You want the freedom to create. You don’t want to feel like a cog in a machine. You start to feel that life happens to you instead of the other way around.

There has to be a better way somewhere, somehow, right?

Yet, and here is where the tension starts, you feel that sharing these thoughts with your coworkers is dangerous, that you would be derided for being too idealistic, too Pollyanna.

You get visions of some old-school boss saying, “We don’t always get what we want.  Work is hard.  That’s just the way things are! By the way, the department is going to be working Saturdays for the next few months.”

Choose to Shine!

Some part of us needs to be reminded that you were not created to trudge through life, living small.

You were created to shine.

That tension you are feeling between the work you are doing and the work that you wish you could do probably won’t go away any time soon.

Press into it.  See where that desire takes you.

This doesn’t mean that you should quit your job tomorrow, but you should start paying attention to those desires.  You were not created to be continually pushed and pressed into a more efficient human machine.

The Surest Way to Triple Your Productivity

The Surest Way to Triple Your Productivity

How Managing Your Emotions Can Put You Ahead

This Means You

For some of my male readers out there, this article might seem easy to dismiss. The topic of emotions seems just too touchy-feely. Rest assured — this article is for all of us. We are all creatures of emotion. Just look at some of the things that our emotions affect:

  • the relationships we form
  • the car we choose to drive
  • how we feel when someone cuts us off
  • the clothes we wear
  • what neighborhood we live in
  • the employer we choose to work for
  • the kind of business we start
  • the relationships we choose to end

Emotions and Small Business Owners

Emotions can cause us small business owners to quit long before we should. It is a form of self-sabotage. Unless we break out of these endless circles we’ve created, we are bound to keep our light from the world. We won’t be able to create more jobs, and we won’t be able to help clients with our unique contributions. Here are just a few examples of self-defeating behavior I have witnessed in small business owners:

  • You don’t go to the business networking function because they “never amount to anything.”  Instead you sit at home under some level of anxiety as you wonder how you are ever going to find the “one thing” that is going to make a difference in your marketing efforts.
  • You compare your 2-year old business to Rebecca’s 6-month old business and get the impression she is doing better than you.  Afterwords you sulk at home for the rest of the evening wondering why you “just aren’t any good at this.”
  • Your competitor’s website makes you feel like you are using finger paint and crayons when you do yours. Then you beat yourself up for not hiring it done.  This beating session causes you lost time from wanting to start on the speech you have to give next week.

How to Break the Cycle

Addressing this could take an entire book.  Here I’m going to focus only on breaking the cycle of negative self-talk.  It takes a certain level of self-awareness to begin the process of keeping yourself in good head space.  Here’s the simple test I use.

Pick a thought or a feeling you are having right now about your business.  Ask yourself this question:

Is what I am thinking right now making me feel better or worse about myself?

Just follow the thought for a moment and you will become very aware of where it is leading you.  If the thought is building you up and making you feel more confident about where you are, then you are in good shape.  If the thought is wearing you down and making you feel diminished, then it is time to get it out of your head.  Time to give yourself a mental reboot.  I have literally developed the habit of not dwelling on things.

No Longer a Dweller

In the past I used to get really worked up about things that were not going according to my plan, which means I was worked up most of the time.  I spent so much time on “if only”, “what if”, and “woulda, shoulda, coulda” that I nearly dwelled myself into exhaustion.  I was spinning my wheels yet going nowhere.  It took me a LONG time to realize how much time I was wasting.  What’s worse is that dwelling is a double whammy.  Dwelling usually puts you in an emotional hole that you have to climb from, AND it keeps you from spending time on reaching your goals.

The Payoff

Managing your emotions means that you stop losing time.  You are not digging your self a hole that takes time to fill. Managing your emotions means that you believe in yourself.  You care enough about yourself to invest only the best thoughts and feelings.

Remember this:  If you wouldn’t let someone else treat you badly, then don’t treat yourself badly.