If part of the value of your advice lies in having an objective third party look at things without the emotion, and you don’t follow that advice yourself, why should your clients?
At a recent workshop, in front of a room of the kind of smart advisers you’d refer your friend to see, I asked 3 questions.
(By the way, I didn’t invent this line of questioning, and I wasn’t the first to put it out there. I’d heard it asked by others, and it’s a cracker.)
First, I asked, “Put up your hand if you have a financial plan.” It was a room mostly full of financial planners, so pretty much every hand went up.
The second request was simply, “Leave your hand up if it’s documented in a formal SOA or something very similar“. About half the hands went down.
Request was simply, “Leave your hand up if that fully documented financial plan was produced by someone other than you.”
With the exception of two people in the room, all hands went down.
It’s interesting to me that becoming an “expert” sometimes means we stop looking to others to teach us more, yet the those who achieve greatness often do so by starting by assuming there is still everything to learn.
In 1990, Honda car designer Kunimichi Odagaki traveled to the US on a research mission.
Been given the unenviable task of designing a concept for a new car. This new car had to fulfill some rather tricky criteria:
- Avoid the 25% import tariffs on Japanese cars that were threatened to come into existence any moment.
- Use all existing parts and production facilities with minimal modification.
- Sell a lot of units..
First thing, he chose to do was to assemble a team, head to the US, buy a mini-van and travel across the country. This they did for some time.
His goal was to work out what car to build, by experiencing how the average American used theirs. He didn’t undertake an e-survey or take a guess at it, he went and immersed himself in the problem and went to experience it.
The trip was a success. The Honda Odyssey he designed become Honda’s fastest-selling new car, breaking all records.
I can’t help but wonder about those who give advice but don’t seek it or take it.
A business coach, consultant or whatever you like to call it, I have at every stage in my development relied on other experts who knew more than I did to fill me full of their ideas, their accountability, and frankly get me to think differently about what I do. It’s become an non-negotiable part of becoming better at what I do and something I invested in even when money was tight.
When I speak to those who are happy to sell what they do – their expert advice, keeping people accountable, encouraging clients to outsource or any one of the countless reasons for using a specialist adviser – yet them themselves don’t actually use those kind of services, it’s like watching the Hollywood star selling a product they love and use, only to get caught on camera using a competitor product.
If you have never sat in the clients seat, never been in a situation where you’re having a conversation with an adviser as a client, how can you really know what it feels like?
Even if you have done it years ago perhaps, if you haven’t done it in the last 12 months how can you be sure that the experience from where they’re sitting is the same with now as it you remember it?
When I talk at our workshops, one of the first things I say when I open the day is this.
“You’ll experience today in two ways. First way is you’ll hear information you’re not heard before. “New” stuff is good, because it means you’re in the right room.”
“You may however hear things you already “knew” This is also really good, because if I’m saying it and twenty other people you’ve heard before have said it, there’s a good chance there’s a reason it’s been repeated so often.”
“Just because you’ve heard it before though doesn’t mean you’ve learnt it. It doesn’t mean you’ve applied it. It doesn’t mean there is no further benefit to be had from that insight.”
“Learning is not linear. Learning is a spiral. Mastery doesn’t come from hearing something once, skimming a book, or attending one workshop“
Stops when you assume you know it already, that there is no further benefit to come.
Mastery comes from continuing to look for learnings, even when it seems you’re learnt all there is to learn.
Learning stops when practice ceases.
Mastery comes through continued application, practice and refinement.
Martial artists know this. Sports people know this. That’s why even world champions, gold medalists, and those at the top of their craft will continue to surround themselves with the very best experts and coaches even when they’ve reached the pinnacle.
There’s obviously a dual line to this opinion. As a coach, nothing winds me up more than this line, “I’ve just got to get a few things sorted, then I’ll get some help“
It’s the Experts Trap. Thinking because you are an expert in one thing, you can get it done faster on your own, then get help. I’ve been there myself, made that error. It’s like cleaning the house before the cleaner comes in. Like taking the test then doing the class.
Here’s my challenge to you.
You’re a professional advisor and you don’t have a financial plan and you’re not getting advice, go see an adviser. Maybe do a contra deal with someone you know.
If you’re a professional business owner, and the only person you’re relying on for input is you, go talk to someone who knows how to build the business you’re trying to build or solve the issue you’re battling with.
If you’re attempting to become truly word class in the field of your advice and you don’t have a mentor or access to someone who is already showing signs of knowing how to do it, reach out to 3 people via LinkedIn during the next two weeks and ask a question you’d like the answer to. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get help once you start to ask.
Or you can continue to do it way, way too hard.
Giving advice and getting advice are not two different things, and if you’d like to fast track your own journey, wherever you’re headed, what I found myself is this “is the first step to mastering your own expertise”.
In doing so, you might find yourself armed with the same kind of insight that allows you to do a Kunimichi Odagaki on your own business.
Want a next step?