The Gap Between Intention and Execution

Some Advisors spend their entire careers practicing, yet they never become “Masters”.

I’ve rarely met a novice Advisor that does not have big intentions. As a matter of fact, I would say that ours is an industry that tend to attract big dreamers.

The day to day toil of this business, especially in the early years can certainly weaken these big dreamers. Those hefty ambitions and innovative new techniques slowly recede and can get lost in the grind.

One of the most daunting challenges lies around an Advisor’s ability to create formidable strategies that are achievable and their ability to effectively execute to attain small but meaningful milestones to make success a possibility.

The Ideal Scenario - Well Executed Intentions

Measurable mess from the inception should be an acceptable approach.

Inadequacy and frustration is a common occurrence when the dreamer Advisors chase after ill conceived strategies, some routinely based on the perceived easy success of another Advisor’s strategy without fulling understanding the inner workings of the other Advisors approach.

The challenge for the majority is predominantly their execution, but its important to appreciate that conception of strategy and execution are vastly different exercises. There’s is a distinction that is important, but execution is also fluid, there’s really no start and end to this exercise, but it should be improved over time.

Strategy and execution must be in balance.

In strategy, its important to start with the idea that nothing should be set in stone. To achieve success, Advisors that have an ability to regularly examine their approach and pursue small improvement or fine tune their strategies based on new learnings have an upper hand.

Others get frustrated when they don’t see results and might abandon ship too early in what could otherwise be lucrative approaches, but poor execution leads to poor results and frustration.

Why? - well most big plans are conceived as back of the napkin ideas, or based on seeing others grow and trying to replicate their methodology, but without knowing all of the inner workings of the strategy. These idea cannot be fully realized without having the patience to improve or even really knowing where things are going wrong along the way.

In reality if your strategy is unsound, unsuitable or poorly conceived, even impeccable execution will not yield the desired outcome.

On the other hand if your blueprint is precise, but your execution is substandard, it will lead to frustration, your outcome will be mediocre.

Inadequate efforts to execute can have a lasting impression, it undermines your own strategic planning abilities and can inhibit all of the positive residual benefits of a good blueprint.

To achieve a well executed intentions, well… you have to be invested in the outcome, and its the small steps along the way that needs to be flawless.

What are you reaching for vs. What you are doing

I believe that many successful Advisors approach various aspect of their days with a certain intent to be better and this approach is very noticeable. I would also go as far to say that Advisors that approach their activities with intent are more likely to make improvements along the way, which then leads to improved execution as well.

What does that mean, well they are cognizant of the use of their time, how they present to clients and prospects, they carefully steer conversations and listen, they purposely curate their days to be efficient with activities that are geared towards achieving small but meaningful milestones. These little changes tend to become habitual, which leads to better outcomes and more consistency in execution.

“Excellence is not an aspiration. Excellence is the next five minutes. Excellence is not a goal. It is a way of life.

Excellence is your next conversation. Excellence is your next meeting. Excellence is shutting up and listening - really listening. Excellence is your next customer contact. Excellence is turning 'insignificant' tasks into models of ... Excellence."

- Tom Peters, book titled The Excellence Dividend.

Are you the obstacle to greatness?

and

Are you aware of your limitations?

What most Advisors fail to realize is that sloppy execution is cumulative, it becomes habitual. As an example if you’ve done 100 unstructured client meetings in a year, a lot of time is wasted because there’s little accomplished in these no agenda meetings, what they end up being are casual catch up conversations, but it sends the wrong message to your clients.

Whereas, an Advisors that carefully creates an agenda and controls the conversations to achieve certain objectives in every meeting, easily has an upper hand. Their client meetings are much more efficient, and the clients also walk away feeling that it was time well spent, the agenda was accomplished.

Some Advisors spend their entire careers practicing, yet they never become “masters”.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book - Outliers, introduced the 10,000 hour rule i.e. the concept of Mastery that was based on the work of Anders Ericson. According to Gladwell, “Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” In other words, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any given field, while many question this approach, logically anyone who has spent 10,000 hours practicing anything should be really good at it. Yet, there are so many Advisors, who never achieve greatness in their work, why is that?

To master something you’ve already done thousands of time in a substandard way, takes a conscious effort to improve.

This is true for almost anything in life, and this is effective where the gap between intentions and execution exists. Stop approaching your days with the idea of doing menial tasks for the sake of getting things done. Instead take a fresh look at your approach to every activity and refine your approach to make each more effective and align with achieving the small milestones along the way.

Delivering High Quality Service is Contagious

Reducing the gap in execution is what most Advisors fail to pursue.

But bridging this gap between strategy/planning/intention and the outcome does not have to be an impossible task, it is not as challenging as it seems.

One place to start improving execution is in Service Quality to clients, but before you set off to deliver the highest quality service, you need to figure out whether you have the right clients, those are a good fit for your practice and appropriate for what you have to offer. Having alignment with every client increases your probability of achieving better outcomes for all parties.

Understanding the smaller elements of your blueprint that can be achieved more easily by incremental improvements in your processes, is where you can get big gains.

Aim to achieve these smaller milestones, by focusing your efforts on the small improvements in everything you do.

Individuals Who Scale Without Permission.

Success = 80% Mindset + 20% Method

It’s ok to challenge the norms, challenges the proven models, if you have avenues to grow faster, earn more revenues or create more efficiencies in your practice, that is your responsibility.

This difference in mindset is a unique separating characteristic embraced by fast growing Advisors.

The change in mindset in your practice comes down to packaging and execution of your own institutive ideal business model. You must be able to capture and articulate your ideas, theories and vision in a way that will work.

Start by thinking about how you can bring your ideas to life, and what is required, i.e. the right framework, the right people, some necessary process and maybe some technology or even outside help.

While this will not always lead to 100% success in every case, it will drive you to get better results in different areas of your practice.

  • What if the marketing approach you’ve envisioned results in 50% better results than the current approach?

  • What if some of your improvements around client reporting and client outreach result in 35% more referrals because clients feel that their needs are being addressed or they can clearly understand the path you’ve put them on.

This form of constructive rethinking can drive some interesting efficiencies, what is often overlooked by many is the advantage of using your own experiences or intellectual reasoning to grow.

The reality is that successful Advisors tend to have more consistency and efficiencies in their practice, because they tend to outgrow the methodology of the firm quite easily.


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June 15, 2021

The Fantasy Cycle

Why group think and poor industry axioms influence our outcomes as Advisors.

Our industry breeds a certain abundance of arrogance that is uncommon in other places. While it may be seen by some as a necessary factor for success, is arrogance really a vital element for success, I’d argue that it’s not.

When the layers are pealed back a bit, I’ve realized that arrogance is rooted by an idea that success in our industry is related to achieving wealth and status - the image of the stereotypical Wall Street broker, with the fast cars, cigar collection, big personality…

Is this really what success is like or isn’t this the cliché image that actually sets in motion the fantasy cycle for many Advisors.

“One of the mistakes people generally make, and I’m guilty of it too, is wishful thinking.

You want something to be true, even if it isn’t true, so you ignore the things that are real, the real truth, because of what you want to be true.

This is a very difficult trap to avoid and certain one that I’ve found myself having problems with.

But if you just take that approach of - you’re always some degree wrong and your goal is to be less wrong and solicit critical feedback particularly from friends.

If somebody loves you they want the best for you, they don’t want to tell you the bad things, so you have to ask them carefully, say you really do want to know, then they will tell you.”

Elon Musk - CEO, and Chief Engineer at SpaceX; early stage investor, CEO, and Product Architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; and co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI. A centibillionaire, Musk is one of the richest people in the world.

The Fantasy Cycle

Interestingly the “Act as if” attitude in our industry is actually supported by the so called “storytelling” approach to marketing i.e. a technique to build empathy with your audience and gain emotional access.

But sometimes storytelling pushes the envelope a bit… continue reading


June 9, 2021

Be the Advisor Your Clients Need to Simplify their Lives.

Forget about Imposter Syndrome

Over the my career, I’ve found that some of the most successful Advisors within my circle share an interesting attribute, they are introverts and sometimes reclusive. Unlike the big personalities in our industry, these individuals tend to shy away from the spotlight, to others they may appear to be modest, however, in reality they are constantly in doubt of their own contributions to the success they’ve achieved.

Rather than linking success to their competencies, abilities, intelligence, qualifications, talent, skill, capabilities, knowledge etc., they often credit personal success to - “just luck” or “being at the right place at the right time”

I’ve realized that modesty is sometimes confused with self doubt, many of these individuals miscalculate their value and capabilities. Despite achieving success, at some point in their career, they struggle to quantify their values and constantly try to measure their abilities against others who may simple be better talkers, salespeople, or big personalities - but actually lacking real skills.

Incidentally this phenomenon is not unique to this particular group, many high achievers from other industries share this trait as well, there’s even psychological research that has explored this extensively.

Psychologists refer to this sense of feeling fake or scared of being unmasked, unable to take a compliment etc. as Imposter Syndrome.

What is Impostor Syndrome?1
Impostor Syndrome is a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  It strikes smart, successful individuals.  It often rears its head after an especially notable accomplishment, like admission to a prestigious university, public acclaim, winning an award, or earning a promotion. 

Impostor Syndrome doesn’t discriminate: people of every demographic suffer from feeling like a fraud, though minorities and women are hardest-hit. 

I’ve heard of this term thrown around a lot in recent times, mostly around social media or even in reference to some individuals in venture and startups, highly intelligent and capable professionals that have gained notoriety in short timelines due their contribution to certain crucial breakthrough. Or young entrepreneurs that have achieved incredible milestones at an early age.

Overly concerned about your public Image!

The persona that we as Advisors portray to our audience is important for our business, but this is exactly where confusion may exist… continue reading


June 1st, 2021

Only One in Ten Advisors actually Pre-Plan their Succession, this Complacency leads to No Exit Value.

An early succession plan can mitigate the value destruction of your practice and create a lucrative exit or even an insurance policy if you get hit by a bus!

Most Advisors build a book of business that is solely dependent on their own efforts and every element of the practice is tied to the success or failure, of their work and abilities i.e. the total input of a single Advisor = their income and the value of their business.

This Advisor is central to the business, if they get hit by a bus, have a major illness or cannot perform for any reason, the clients disperse and quickly find their way to other Advisors, subsequently revenues also vanishes, and soon nothing is left, the business simply collapses and comes to an end.

Effectively, for the single Advisor business, simple unfortunate events are not just disruptions, they can be cataclysmic and quickly lead to complete catastrophe or disintegration of the business. I’ve seen this happen to colleagues, where major illnesses led to unwinding of their practices and by the time they recovered, there was very little left.

Clients are less empathetic and patient around these matters, they themselves are ultimately concerned about the viability of their own personal financial situations and will seek reliability in their Advisor.

At this point many clients are therefore more likely to move quickly to secure their financial assets and pursue a relationship with an Advisors that is accessible and perceived to be reliable. This is less to do with their loyalty and commitment to the Advisor, clients simply do not embrace uncertainty around their financial situations in any form.

This single Advisor business model is common place in the industry but logically it is quite unstable and even transient in nature, over the long haul any appearance of instability or circumstances that causes the Advisor’s efforts to be reduced can lead to a slow or inevitable decline or complete downfall of their business.

But regardless, this approach of a Advisor pursuing growth singularly has always been and continues to be the most common model in the industry and most Advisors don’t really think of the adverse consequences of this model, why - because it’s just how the industry has always operated… continue reading

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