You know, teaching the same old tired stuff we’ve always heard about pricing, segmentation, service models...
Then I had three experiences that changed everything.
It taught me a lot about how to truly motivate people to commit to discipline and get it done.
There's nothing like getting your arse handed to you with a faceful of sand three times a week before dawn to teach you the difference between real limits and imposed limits.
When you're being taught it all by two of Australia's finest when it comes to the business of getting results at scale, achieving more with sixty people in one class than any trainer could 1:1, and mastering the marketing behind it, it gets you thinking fast about the methodology behind it...
The best way to describe it was an investment - financial and personal - that became an education.
In 2013, seeking to solve a problem that seemed inescapable (more about that later), I invested in a startup "incubator" called Corporate to Freedom, which would expose me to the business philosophies behind tech startups.
Oh boy. Did it ever.
Like many coaches, I wanted to be able to work with more practices, more easily and for it to be less about my time. I wanted to make enough money where I wasn’t butting against the capacity ceiling that many of my clients also felt.
Equally, I wanted the solutions I was bringing to the table to be easier to implement and have a bigger impact.
But the way I was doing it didn't allow any of this, and those around me (other than the clients who'd been working with me and seeing the results of combining these three worlds) hadn't had the experience I had. They didn't "get" it.
The photo is taken at a bar down in Circular Quay in Sydney. That's my daughter Hermione in my lap.
I'd arrived at a Christmas catch up with friends (late, as was usual at the time), and absolutely spent.
I'd just got back from yet another round of trips away from home. Another week spent in hotels. Another sequence of hopping on and off planes. In between, I was the bottleneck to my clients getting it done because the whole model only worked through me.
I don't know if you've had the experience of knowing deep down, in that part of your gut that only communicates with you in feelings, that you're on the wrong path?
The feeling that your business is heading in the wrong direction, guided by forces that you know aren't right for you or your clients?
Knowing there's a decision you need to make, but worried what might be on the other side of that decision.
Internally I was wondering whether tech + advice thing would ever quite come together, wondering whether I was chasing a stupid idea.
Worried whether starting again from scratch, wiping the slate clean and reinventing it all was the right choice with a newborn child and brand new Sydney mortgage.
Then, in July 2014, events took a turn, the Universe stepped in, I took the step, and Audere was born.
I was finally free to take that hunch and run with it.
In truth, that day back in July 2014 was forced me to follow my own path, listen to what I already knew to be the truth and to take action to change things.
The fact that every single client I'd been working with, introducing them to these things, chose to come with me is something I'll always be hugely grateful for.
The hunch became a book. Then a small working group that met upstairs at a place a friend owned in Stanley Street, Sydney.
Then, finally it became the coaching program/ community that has been my life for the last five years - The Leveraged Advice Firm - and working with advice firms like yours in a new way.
The opportunity I uncovered was advisers were ready to explore new ways of doing things, and the kinds of firms I loved to work with - confident, future focused, smart people - were very, very willing to be part of it.
So I launched the program.
At first, it was super slow. Our first workshop had three attendees. I had no members site. Very little content, but slowly it began to grow.
As it grew, I found myself working with more businesses in a more impactful way than I had before, because what I was coaching changed.
My way of coaching had changed. I'd changed.
Compliance became more important, and the rate of evolution sped up. New service models. New pricing. New marketing methodologies. The old ways of engaging clients were no longer effective. Greater reliance on tech.
Each month, I simply sat down and created new ways to solve the problems, tested them with clients and, when they worked, shared them with other clients via live training and gave them the tools, templates etc to help them implement.
I recorded everything and put it into our members site where people could use it over and over and over.
Today, that body of works includes 140 live training sessions, covering 9 core topic areas, 300+ supporting tools, all designed for advice firms.
Over 200 people have been part of the program, covering firms large and small etc, and clients in Australia, New Zealand, UK, US, Italy, Holland and elsewhere.
My daughter is now six and I have a son, now three, and I’m pleased to say that it’s provided me with the opportunity to not just do work I love, but also to live the life we want to.
My office is five minutes from home and I haven’t done a morning commute in at least 12 months.
A big part of what I’ve learned is the importance of being able to communicate ideas and concepts so clearly that they get traction and drives action...
....because without that, without moving people to understand and care, you don’t get engagement, you don’t get them to see the value and you don’t get the outcome.
In most cases, I know the things I teach to clients work because I test them on my own business first. If it doesn’t work for me, then it doesn’t make it through.
I imagine just like me, you may have a similar desire that clients understand what you do and why it matters more easily.
To have them buy into it and commit. To be are more than happy to pay your fees without question, and put you into a place where you can do more of what you love more of the time.
I'm driven and compelled to fix businesses, and my business that allows me to do it the best ways I know how.
Because at the end of the day, if you've taken the decision as I did to run your own path, why would you accept a business that doesn't enable that?
When my Father and I moved back to the UK at the age of 13, there were a few subjects that hasn't been taught in Australia. French, English history, Latin.
I had to learn them all, and fast. In the end, Latin was the one that never really took, which make it ironic that it's ended up being such a key part of my life.
It’s about taking action, not being scared to change things and being open to the idea that what lies on the other side is better.
And it's also about going after it for the right reasons, in the right way and armed with the knowledge, insight and confidence
I love what I do, and I have a business that enables me to do it.
PS. If you'd like a sample copy of the book, it's here