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Ditch Your Annual Plan

Steve Seid & Kurt Dupuis
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The Whole Truth Podcast Episode 27

Kurt Dupuis:
Welcome to the Whole Truth, where two wholesalers help financial professionals build great practices and thrive in a rapidly changing industry. We bring you the stories and voices from those on the front lines of this change. And we'll have some fun along the way.

Steve Seid:
This is more than a podcast. We're building a community of financial professionals who are growing, forward-thinking and want to get better. Thanks for listening and contributing to the discussion.

Disclosure:
The views expressed herein are those of the participants and not those of Touchstone Investments.

Steve Seid:
Welcome everybody to the Whole Truth from the Bay Area, California. I am Steve Seid.

Kurt Dupuis:
Still with a strong, "I am." I love it. And from Atlanta, Georgia, I am Kurt Dupuis. So, welcome to the Whole Truth everybody. We have a “two-fer” today, two great guests. We kick things off with our colleague, John O'Neal, which is one of our most tenured and successful colleagues. John's going to talk about business planning, specifically getting out of the trap of ineffective annual planning. He has a great planning method he's developed over the years, and it should be very helpful to most of you.

Steve Seid:
Then for the second interview, we have Daxs Stadjuhar on for his second appearance. You guys loved him the first time around. Just to remind for those who don't know, Daxs is a partner at an organization called the Network, which encompasses a large group of financial professionals in the LPL ecosystem. He's involved with practice management and he's been spending a lot of time talking to his folks about effectively working remotely. Even though things are normalizing now, we know remote working is going to remain to different degrees. A few episodes ago, we had Jason Zawalich to give his ideas around remote working. Daxs will provide us with a very robust part 2 of this discussion.

Kurt Dupuis:
And a quick reminder, if you're listening to this on your PC or your spouse's PC or your kid's iPad, make sure to subscribe on whatever podcasting platform you're listening to us. And as always reach out to us at thewholetruth@touchstonefunds.com. If you have any questions, comments, or criticisms.

Steve Seid:
Now let's kick things off with our interview with John O'Neal.

Kurt Dupuis:
We're very pleased to welcome our colleague and friend Johnny O. welcome.

John O'Neal:
Thank you guys for having me. Pleasure to be here, finally. I kept waiting and waiting for my invitation and it never really came so I just came to you guys.

Kurt Dupuis:
You have an open invitation, John. John, are you the most senior wholesaler in our organization? Is it you?

John O'Neal:
Well, length of service at the company as a wholesaler, yes. Nugent's been here longer as an employee, but not longer as a wholesaler. Jeff Brian came in right after me. 

Kurt Dupuis:
So, he's the OG.

John O'Neal:
I’m the OG man.

Steve Seid:
You know what's interesting about the way that you approach the job, John, which I always... I just really admire. There's a lot of wholesalers that really grip the stick really tight. They live and die by every year and every sale. And what I admire about you is you seem to always enjoy it. That's why you have longevity in the business - is you've found a way to be successful and also balanced. Let me ask you this, that's how you appear, is that how it really is?

John O'Neal:
I'd say so. To me, if you're not having fun wholesaling, you're doing something wrong. Because, I mean, let's face it, we have goals, we have to hit, more accountable for and all that, but we can do that and also have a good time. At the end of the day, I mean, that's what advisors want too.

Kurt Dupuis:
Absolutely. We were just talking before we started recording actually about fishing. And I mean, the fact that we can even entertain the idea of fishing with financial professionals that... And that sometimes also become friends and buddies. It's a pretty nice gig if we're honest about it.

John O'Neal:
It is. I think my son thinks all I do is take people out to lunch and go fishing and shooting.

Kurt Dupuis:
You have a particular way of approaching business planning that we wanted to talk about. I think it's something like 77%. It's a very high number of financial professionals don't even write an annual business plan. And it wouldn't shock you sort of the divide, but those that are million dollar producers and up tend to have a plan. Those that are on the lower end of the revenue scale do not have a plan. So, let's just emphasize business planning is important, but you've got a really unique take on this and don't really like the annual plan. What’s the story there?

John O'Neal:
No. I think the story there started with the fact that I know myself and I know that I'm a procrastinator. So, if I make myself an annual business plan, I'm going to say, "It's only January. I've got all year to hit that goal. Why rush now?" So, I read a book several years ago that put the idea into my head of making a quarterly business plan. And luckily for my purposes, it was a very short book with really wide margins. So, I was able to read it but the idea was to make a quarterly business plan as opposed to an annual plan. Think quarterly as opposed to thinking annually. One for the reason that I just gave, that an annual plan can easily set you up to fail.

There's just too much time in the year. There's too much time to procrastinate. And next thing you know, it's all of a sudden September. The kids are going back to school and you're like, "Oh my God, I'm not even halfway to my goal, but I'm more than halfway through the year. What am I going to do?" So, if you take your annual goal, break it up into quarters, to me, it just makes a lot more sense. And I'm able to hold myself much more accountable to that and then, just go have some fun with it.

Steve Seid:
I've heard you talk about a trap. Is it that you have the full year, so it's easy to both kick it off to the future and never think about it? And then it's also easy towards the end and say, "Yeah, I'm close to the end of the year." So, is that the trap you've described where it's never really the right time to take the action?

John O'Neal:
Yeah. There's a couple of traps with it. I'd say that's certainly one of them. That's the biggest one. The other trap too, is just why put all that time into an annual plan only to have something like, I don't know COVID happen in March and completely blow that plan out of the water and then you've got to completely make a new plan. So, in other words, things change in our business incredibly fast. So, to me, it's just doesn't even make sense to make an annual plan. You've got to have a quarterly plan.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. And we see it all the time with financial professionals who do it once a year and they don't even look at it again. So, we definitely are in agreement. Annual is not right. So, what actually is the right frequency? Have you tried different frequencies and what makes sense to you?

John O'Neal:
No, once I read that book, which was called Periodization, I jumped on that concept of the quarterly plan. And I've stuck with it ever since. And I'll read that book about once a year.

Kurt Dupuis:
Can you actually send that to me? Like, can we trade that back every six months because I looked for it on Amazon and it's like $3,000 because apparently they didn’t print a lot of them.

Steve Seid:
Is that right?

Kurt Dupuis:
So, can we have a book sharing club?

John O'Neal:
We can do that. I might even have a couple extra copies around. I'll take a look.

Kurt Dupuis:
Oh, ok good. Nice guy.

John O'Neal:
My favorite part of it is, think about what you do at the end of the year. What do you do at the end of the year? It's the end of the year? It's the holidays, take a vacation, take some time off, relax. What I do now is at the end of every quarter, I take a nice long weekend. I take a four day weekend. I think about my successes from the previous quarter, make my plan. Actually, I kind of already had my plan made for the next quarter by then, but I just put the final touches on it and I get ready to put it into action. But I take that long weekend. I take that four day weekend and just relax, check out. I might tie that in with a week vacation if the timing's right but you've got to have your time off to refresh.

Steve Seid:
This is what I'm talking about with him, Kurt. That's OG stuff he's just slipping in there. He's got the four day at the end of the quarter. He's the least stressed out wholesaler I know. I love it. I'm taking notes, John. I just want you to know that. You think this is an approach that financial professionals should take as well?

John O'Neal:
I do. Yeah. We've spent so much time at Touchstone on the practice management side of things, helping advisors segment their business, things like that. The most successful advisors I see, they have their business segmented. They knew who their A and B clients are and they have typically a quarterly call rotation set up or call it a quarterly touch. You know if you walk through an office you can tell who the advisors are that are being controlled by their business versus the advisors who are in control of their business. The advisors who are in control, they have a plan, they've built out their practice, so they know who their A and B clients are, and they know when they're going to touch those clients. And that allows them time to prospect and not feel like they're constantly behind the eight ball and trying to play catch up.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. So, when you're talking about quarterly planning, is it the type of thing where you're starting a brand new plan, like a full process? Are you editing the original plan? Like how do you approach each quarter, is it brand new or edit?

John O'Neal:
Yes. It's a little bit of both. Here's a good example. We're closing on our fourth acquisition in the 10 years that I've been at Touchstone, and so, that gives us a different activity set for that quarter once that gets finished. And so, it just seems like there's always something different to do quarter by quarter.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. And what goes into your plan? Like how do you structure it?

John O'Neal:
There's things we have to do that don't generate business. It's just a part of life. It's a part of what we do. So, we have to separate those things out that do generate us business and those critical objectives I call them. And we have to make sure we're spending time doing those critical objectives, or we're not going to hit our goal. It's easy to sit down and do an expense report, do my activity report, do my quarterly compliance things and feel like I worked really hard today, but I didn't do a thing that's going to impact my goals. You know what I mean?

Kurt Dupuis:
You didn't take anybody fishing?

John O'Neal:
I didn't take anybody fishing, I didn't see an advisor for lunch. I didn't bust an advisor's chops for anything. So, you've got to have those critical objectives built into the plan and make sure that you're spending time on those. And then I think part of that too is... For me, I've got, a lot of kids as you know and everything's about my kids right now. So, I think if you make that emotional connection to your critical objectives, like what matters to me is making money for my kids. So, I can put them through school, saving for college, club sports, clothes, all the things that they need and that's what keeps me going and focused on my critical objectives every quarter.

Kurt Dupuis:
So, keep in mind those critical objectives, but also recognize that those aren't going to change a lot, but the tactics maybe for accomplishing those might, which is why you kind of get the quarterly reset. I think there's a lot of really good, kind of synergies of thought with what we do and what financial professionals do for this. Thinking about the next three months seems a lot less daunting than thinking about the next 12 months because there's timidity right, "What if we establish this marketing plan and it goes nowhere for 12 whole months?" So, there's some freedom in that.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. I would add one thing because I do a lot of team coaching. I love the idea of quarterly planning. And if you can add an element of accountability within your plan, even better. So, for the teams that I'm working with, it's recurring meetings and me coming in and saying, "Hey, you said you were going to do this so whether you work with an outside partner or whether you have someone on the team that does it, just bringing some accountability to that process, I think will really enhance it."

Kurt Dupuis:
And also a reward because a thing I use is like, "Look, if we get through this quarter, we hit those objectives." And I tell clients all the time, "What's your flavor? What kind of bottle can I bring to our next meetup?"

John O'Neal:
Yeah. And that way, if you're having a great quarter like I had a great quarter this year, so, that was going to be normally just a four day weekend at home, but it was such a good quarter that my wife and I decided to go to Delray Beach.

Steve Seid:
Nice. So, there's a legendary story about you, just starting in the company you come in, you don't really know those people and you decide to... What is it? Stand on a chair and do an Irish toast in front of everybody. So, I wonder if you could tell that story.

John O'Neal:
I was a new wholesaler at a new company and it was our first divisional meeting. I had only been on board a couple of weeks, first time meeting everybody. And I just felt like we jelled. I felt like we clicked and it was just a great group of people that we were working with. And so, that toast I did was where you stand up on a chair, you hold your glass up. And I think the toast was, "May the roof above never fall in and may the friendships below never fall out."

Kurt Dupuis:
And it's become a staple at sales meetings now. I always look forward to it, to the toast that we're going to get.

John O'Neal:
Yeah. I've become required to give a toast now at our national sales meeting.

Steve Seid:
So, you have to prep for each one to find a new Irish toast at each one, that's part of the prep?

John O'Neal:
And I think after 10 years now, I've kind of exhausted all the Irish toasts that were safe to use at one of our annual meetings and I just had to make up some of my own along the way.

Steve Seid:
I used to go to irishtoast.com. Now, we're doing Johnny O originals, which I love. Well, thanks, man. We really appreciate it. We think it's a fantastic topic, business planning. It's something everybody could get better at, even if you're doing it now. John we'd love to have you back again in the future.

John O'Neal:
I'd love to be back.

Steve Seid:
Thanks so much.

John O'Neal:
Thank you guys for having me. I appreciate it.

Steve Seid:
Coming up next is our interview with Daxs Stadjuhar. This is the Whole Truth, stick with us.

Steve Seid:
So, we are thrilled to have our good friend Daxs Stadjuhar back. Daxs, thanks so much for coming back, second time. We appreciate it.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
No, pleasure's mine. Thank you so very much. I appreciate it.

Steve Seid:
If you haven't listened to the episode that Daxs did before with us, go back and listen. It was fantastic. We got really good feedback on that episode, but great to have you back on, we want to get a catch up on what's going on with The Network. We'll refresh everybody on that. We want to get to know you a little bit better right up front. Last time you had mentioned you were in the Army for... What was it? A better part of 10 years?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Just over eight years in the Army.

Steve Seid:
So, tell us about that. 

Daxs Stadjuhar:
I was Army officer, which some people, they don't know the difference between being “enlisted” and an “officer”. One of the differences is you have to have a college degree to be an officer and across any of the military service, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. So, both my grandfathers were in the military, Air Force, Army. My dad went through the Air Force Academy. My uncle was in the Air Force. I mean, everybody's been in the military at all generational levels, so it's something I wanted to do. So, I went to college, I got commissioned as an Army Officer in the Infantry. I had an incredible time. I couldn't believe I got paid. I didn't get paid well, but I couldn't believe I got paid to do it.

And I had some incredible leaders. I think ultimately I always tell people we're products of maybe five people, in our lifetime, it could be you're Dojo, if you're in karate, it could be your parents, it could be a coach, it could be your religion. And I always tell people, the Army definitely was one of those. It has influenced me the rest of my life and I had an incredible time. I actually met my wife in the Army in South Korea. She was a Military Intelligence Officer.

Steve Seid:
No kidding.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
So, I feel bad for my kids being raised by two Army Officers. It's pretty tough in our household.

Steve Seid:
They can't get away with anything, man.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
No. And daily, they hear from me just be a leader today. Be a leader because leadership sometimes is in short supply in our world. But I had a great time it was-

As an Infantry guy I had some opportunities to go to some really cool schools like Ranger School. I was in Korea for three years, up on the DMZ. I got to deploy a Rifle Company to Kosovo. I just got to lead some incredible soldiers. I had some incredible non-commissioned officers. I never regret anything because you always moved forward. But, I never regretted anything about the Military, it was awesome.

Kurt Dupuis:
And I have always found that folks with a Military background, they tend to be really good storytellers and they often have a treasure trove of really good stories. Does anything come to mind with a cool story from your time in the military?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Well, you guys know what the difference between a fairytale and a war story is right?

Steve Seid:
No.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
So, a fairytale starts, “Once upon a time” and a war story starts, “no “blank” there I was”. So, I will say that sometimes your best experiences in the Military are those that are very dangerous and almost gets you killed. And I had a couple of times, actually, I volunteered to be a General's Aide in Korea for a one-star General, for 10 months. And we flew around a Korean helicopter all day long. That's all we did to go visit units. We had two very, very near misses in helicopters…

Steve Seid:
Wow.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
…with some mechanical failures, which were very close, twice, one, back to back, like weekly back-to-back one on a Friday and another one on the next Wednesday.

I could not believe I'm like, "Okay. Lord, what are you telling me here?" And then just being in Kosovo with some great soldiers and there was just a lot of conflict going on at the time, back when we were there. But, I will say, honestly, I've never directly been shot at, I haven't been in war. I'm not going to do that compared to what our soldiers and airmen and Marines and Navy folks have been through the last two decades. I got out right before the Second Gulf War. So, believe me, those guys and gals out there that have been directly shot at are doing some incredible stuff, I would never compare myself to them at all.

Steve Seid:
Did you let out a high pitch squeal when your helicopter... Like were you down… was everyone super tough because you guys are Military and you would never show that kind of thing?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
I think for me, because we had a hydraulic failure on the helicopter and we were getting ready to land and of course you hear the gears and everything in the back make that high pitch squeal. I didn't have to make that high pitch squeal because all the gearing and everything was, but we pulled off a mountain. We actually did a run-on landing, if you know what a Huey Cobra or a Huey helicopter is? It's got the skids. And when you have a hydraulic failure, you can't land normally up and down like you normally do, you have to land like a plane. So, you literally do what's called a run-on landing because-

Kurt Dupuis:
Like you're sliding into home?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Yeah, literally you slide.

Steve Seid:
Oh my God!

Daxs Stadjuhar:
So, you're coming in and you land a helicopter, sliding like a plate. But we had a very experienced Warrant Officer, you had either Officers or Warrant Officers as your pilots your CP's (commanding pilot) and the guy was incredible. He did some really good work.

Kurt Dupuis:
I knew there would be something.

Steve Seid:
We could do a podcast on that alone, but we're here to have you talk about a few different things. So, why don't we start, just give an overview of The Network again. You did it last time, do it again. Fantastic organization. Every person that I've interacted from The Network has just been unbelievable. So, you're doing something right over there. 

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Well, off that comment, I think every interview is a two-way street. We love advisors that want to be part of the organization, have just a great attitude, love their clients. It's always just make sure you're bringing the right people in, but The Network as of today, roughly about 350 advisors where you might call us a professional OSJ or enterprise office, RIA firm. A majority of our advisors are duly affiliated with LPL. Many of them on LPL's corporate RIA. Also about 110 on an RIA firm that we own and manage. Ultimately, advisors are attracted to us for several different reasons. One, obviously the compliance support, the operational support. We have now worked out 14 person virtual admin team, or what I like to say sometimes employee leasing.

So, this is our folks out there who don't want to have a full-time assistant or they already do, but that person's a little bit overwhelmed and they don't have enough hours to hire another full-time person so they can hire us to do really anything they want us to do minus on that side, make a trade. But we do have a portfolio of consulting team that is now 10 people strong. We hired eight individuals last year through the pandemic, four for our portfolio consulting team, four for our virtual admin team. And ultimately the folks that are coming there are asking and saying, "Listen, I need a very dialed in institutional investment process that I want for my clients. I would like you to do all the trading, rebalance work, variance space rebalancing, tax efficiency work. And then lastly help me with new portfolios, new clients' portfolio, help me go after the larger clients, the high net worth clients."

And when you wrap all those three together, we literally bolt that team onto another advisor. So, literally at The Network, you might have a sole proprietor that their administrative staff is a member of The Network and their investment team is a team at The Network. And they literally are able to do everything else themselves, have conversations with clients, write those financial plans. We have technology resources and then we also help people acquire businesses through partnerships with firms like Truelytics, LPL financial, organizations that can loan money. We had 15 acquisitions in The Network last year.

Steve Seid:
Wow.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Gosh, it's just a matter of sitting down with good advisors who are entrepreneurs and knowing that they don't want or need to do it all themselves, that they can bolt our teams on to take care of that work for them.

Kurt Dupuis:
Well, and you specifically, based off our previous conversation, talked a lot about practice management, which is true and dear to our hearts. What have you been doing? What have you been spending your time on? Like what has, practice management, I'm using air quotes, meant the last 12 months?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Firstly, as the pandemic hit and there were a lot of unknowns, I will say early on, it was a lot of education around, "Okay. We have the market dropping, how do clients react? What should you be doing in a crisis situation? What should you be documenting?" You've got to be over communicative with your clients. You need to be listening. And that's what we were talking to our clients about. At the same time, when I say our clients, our advisors at the same time, Jeremy, my business partner, I've got two business partners, Christopher Mercado and Jeremy Olin. Jeremy was doing a Friday call with everybody and just breaking the whole playbook down saying, "Hey, listen, remember here's our process. You've got to continue to analyze your investment holdings. What's your de-risk protocol? What's your de-risk protocol at the individual asset class level as well as at the overall holdings level?" And I think we carried that over into probably June 1st.

I won't say we were out of the woods, but the market had rebounded a little bit. And we had been pushing so much content and so many calls and helping people through the markets, that we took a pause. We literally said, "I think we've overwhelmed everybody." We've had some incredible guest speakers. We had the CEO of the Institute for Supply Management on. We had Kevin O'Leary from Shark Tank on. We had people who were pandemic and doctors, specialists talking about COVID and therapies and everything else. I was like, "We have overwhelmed everybody. We've got to just do a hard stop and let people relax."

I mean, we literally let everybody take the summer off when we knew everyone else was slamming stuff at them. And we just said, "Hey, we gave you enough content. And we were just... The way we communicated was, "Hey, if you need to talk, just call we'll be here." And we had a lot of one-on-one conversations and then we picked it back up in October and we started talking about things that were going well, we were talking of course about the election. "Okay, now that we've been in this six months and we've all been working out of our basements and maybe we haven't shaved and maybe we haven't taken care of ourselves, we're going to have to get back to work," because it's all been fun doing a video call with somebody when you haven't shaved, you've got your hoodie on for a while.

Steve Seid:
Guilty.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
And everybody's cool with it because of what's happening in the world. But then it was like, hey, January 1, New Year's resolution, everybody's back to work, whether you're virtual or not. Wear the tie, wear the sport coat. And there were some folks that would call and they said, "Yeah, I just moved my computer from home to my dining room table or from my office to my dining room table and it hasn't moved in six or seven months." I'm like, "Holy moly. Like no lighting, no camera, nothing." So, we focused on equipment. And we've been focusing with people on, "Okay, how do you present yourself? And I've got Zoom fatigue like everybody else. I redid the lighting in my office and a bunch of other things, but I tell people, "Do you mind if I get off the camera, pick up my phone and just my AirPods and go sit in a comfortable chair?"

Kurt Dupuis:
That's happened so much, hasn't it? Like, why can't we just use the phone now. People could schedule Zoom calls for everything and you don't need to look at each other all day. You could just talk.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
What do you want to do that you feel comfortable with? Do you want to talk over the phone? Do you want to be on video? Or do you now want to come back in the office or meet at a coffee shop? And one really fun webinar we did is we actually had Joe Navarro, who's a former FBI agent and a nonverbal communication specialist. And I asked him to do a call because nonverbal communication you hear all this statistics whether it's 90%, 93% of all communication is nonverbal. But I said, "Joe, ultimately, we get that, but what if I can only see somebody's face? What if I only have them from the neck up or the waist up? What should I be focusing on?"

And the cool thing was, is even though 93% of communication is non-verbal, 80% of that nonverbal is all in the face. So, that's actually one of the cool things about even Zoom, the tough part about being on a camera is I tell people, "Would you ever go into a conference room and sit there with a mirror in front of you on yourself and then their client over off to the side?" And that's what sucks about Zoom and I don't care how humble you are. You're still vain at heart and you can’t not stop focusing on yourself and go, "Do I look like a moron? Am I looking at Steve? Am I looking at Kurt? What am I doing here?"

So, that's, I think, been the tough thing is it's hard to get off yourself and focus on your clients on that Zoom call and see that nonverbal communication. So, between equipment and attitude and now looking at nonverbal communication and looking at somebody in the face over the camera, it's been tough. And we've just been trying to help people through that whole process.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. You're starting to get into what we're dig into you, which is the virtual engagement. Because it's an interesting dynamic going on. We see the end. At the same point, what is normal is going to change. So what I've seen you and I've seen The Network start to do is say, "Okay, we are normal, but let's reflect on what we've done here and how to make it better because a new normal is going to emerge." So, what's your sense Daxs from like talking to your financial professionals, do you get the sense that most people are going to change the way that they work?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
I believe most people would say that they're going to adopt a hybrid model. I mean, you hear that all over the place, right. If there's one good thing that's come out of this, it's every advisor should know how to do what we're doing. They should know how to have a camera and lighting and talk to their clients on a screen. Whether they go back to everything they were doing before, whether this has just been a fad and they go back to meeting everybody in the office, they know how to do it.

And the kicker with that is, it's now there's no excuse if you totally go back to everything in the office, the kicker is there's no excuse now not to have a family meeting with your clients in the office and the kids across the country.

Steve Seid:
Yeah, good point.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
There's no excuse not to bring in the CPA or attorney on video conference from their office. There's no excuse that if there is... Maybe you've always engaged with the wife or you've always engaged with the husband and the other one is disinterested, there, potentially, is no excuse not to dial that other party in from the house just to say, "Hey, I'm trying to make this as convenient as possible for you because I want you to be informed." And to continue to break down barriers to the family meeting knowing both spouses, the professional relationships. If we do nothing else coming out of this, I think that's the best thing. And I do think a lot of people will just go back to working in the office if they can, but some people have also moved out of their community. And I know a lot of people have moved out of California. I know a lot of people have moved out of the cities. So, now you're have to reach out and engage those clients. So, I think a lot of barriers and walls have been broken down to communicate effectively or just communicate efficiently and conveniently.

Steve Seid:
So, when you look at virtual engagement, there's five things that you think about, and here's the five, equipment, attitude, awareness, focus points, and reassess. So, let's take those one at a time. And let's start with equipment.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Sure. We were fortunate to have a consultant come on a call with me. He had a great story when it comes to equipment. He actually had sold a company and then moved, I think it was to Thailand and started another software company. So, he was a... He called himself a digital nomad. And this was like 10 years ago. He was like, there were all these digital nomads that were leaving the US and going to work overseas. And he said, "I had this great pad. And I started the software company, and I'm talking to people back in the US and UK and everywhere else and I realized that I'm sitting there and my background is a blank wall and I tell them I'm in Thailand. And I'm asking them to invest millions of dollars into new software."

And he goes, "It was completely oblivious to me that if I wasn't closing them it's probably because like, why are we giving this guy millions of dollars? He's in Thailand and he’s living in a hut! 

Kurt Dupuis:
That’s not suspicious at all.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Right! So, he realized, "Oh my God, I've got to build a presence. I've got to look the part." So, when it comes to equipment, I think it's just a matter of saying everything. It's your computer. It's your camera. It's your lighting. It's your background. What do you want to show as your background? Do you want personal effects in your background? I've had a lot of calls with advisors with great family pictures in the background and it sparks great conversation. And just having someone tell you how you sound, how you look, how you present yourself, ultimately, it could be a half the battle. So, I'll just say, just good equipment is the most important thing.

Steve Seid:
And the second thing you get into is attitude. And when I was reading through what you talked about here, this resonates with me. It's like some days I feel like, "Man, I'm knocking it out. I'm not commuting the way that I used to so I'm hammering out all this stuff." And then other days I feel like I drop my daughter off, I do the dishes and it's five o'clock and I'm like, "What in the world just happened to today?" So, how do you talk about attitude and the approach to just day to day?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Well, you guys know we're big fans of Kolbe, which is a assessment that tells you pretty much your core strengths. And if some of you haven’t listened to his podcast or never heard of Kolbe, it's K-O-L-B-E. But there are many critical personality tests. This is called the KOLBE assessment. So, I think sometimes within The Network, when we're talking about attitude, it lends itself to really know yourself and then how you want to problem solve or what's your environment. And for some people, this is a really tough environment to be in. It is completely against their grain to operate in this environment. Many of our advisors in The Network are what we call initiating Quick Starts. They speak verbals their best, engaging personally is what's really important to them.

Having really good client interaction is like oxygen. So, I think one of the things when I think of attitude is whether you have to self motivate or you really have to tell yourself, "This isn't a good environment for me and I'm going to have to figure out whether I just do phone or I'm on the camera, or I've got to sneak coffee with somebody, or I've got to get out of the office." Whatever you've got to do, you've got to know what's affecting your attitude because your clients need you more than ever right now and whether it'd be health, or your mental attitude, it's pretty important.

Kurt Dupuis:
I'll tell you. I've never had fewer weeds in my flower beds because that's one of my things to walk around-

Steve Seid:
Is that what you do?

Kurt Dupuis:
... get on the phone, put in the earbuds, make some calls and just pick weeds. It's neurotic but a small window into my warped world. So, awareness is on your list. That's the third thing. And I love talking about emotional intelligence, self-awareness and that kind of bleeds into the Kolbe stuff. Is that what you're talking about? Is it just being self aware?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
I threw that on there as an idea of also saying aware of your clients and going back to what Joe talked about in the nonverbal communication. Obviously many, many people have been affected by this, in this pandemic. People were fearful about their money. People were fearful about their health. They were fearful about their children, their parents, what they could and couldn't do. Heck, we had an election as well. So, I think that the non-verbal aspect, I’ve been worried about if people have been, I hate to say self-medicating throughout this whole process and maybe you're not, but what if your clients are and can you see that?

And then, of course, how far do we go as advisors? But my Gosh, many of us, we are the first call for people. And if we can identify those and feel comfortable enough to go far enough to say, "Hey, listen, you need to take care of yourself." If you're watching people over the camera add pounds or beneath the eyes, they're bloodshot, whatever it is. I think, once again, it goes back to just being aware of what your clients are going through and be able to read it whether they're saying it or not.

Steve Seid:
If you look at sales for alcoholic like beverages like beer wine, they're doing really well in this pandemic. They really are. Okay. Next one on the list we're plowing right through is focus points. I'm very much a proponent of a focus strategy with anything. I honestly don't know how you have a strategy without some kind of focus, but talk to me about that. Why is that on your list as being one of the important things?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
So, the reason I put that on there was because in this environment, if you're doing a Zoom or GoToMeeting call, I think a lot of the feedback that were coming back from folks was I can go about 15 minutes and then we're just not talking about anything. Because we know why Ted Talks are so popular, right? I mean, it's a short amount of stuff and it gets it across. It's why it's sitcoms. I mean, we know all this, why stuff, is getting shorter and shorter.

So, I started talking to advisors and saying, "Listen, if you're talking about a complex product or a complex financial plan or anything complex, maybe you need to schedule three calls that are all 15 minutes because you're not be able to get through three points, you're going to have one point, agree on it and say, "Okay, our action item is now move to step two," and then set that up for a couple of days later or next Monday or whatever. So, that's why I put that in my graphic of saying, if we do nothing else now... I'm not going to say don't have the call and talk about the weather and the kids and who's gone back to school and who hasn't. But if you're doing business for the client, in my opinion, with this virtual environment, you may need to take that 15 minutes and only cover one thing rather than covering three or four things. I don't know anybody who possibly can hold a two hour meeting, maybe like they used to. After 15 minutes, I think people are zoned out.

Kurt Dupuis:
I'm sure there's a leadership principle in there and psychologists would probably back it up, two hour meetings are just brutal.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Yeah.

Kurt Dupuis:
So, your last point, and I'm really curious where this goes, Reassess. And you strike me as a person who's always trying to kind of sharpen the sword, get better. And it seems like you do that constantly, reassess. It's like you do something, analyze it, reassess, then repeat. But what's the message there, though, for financial professionals specifically as we approach this hybrid way of doing business.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Yeah. So, kind of the old “reassess” and “even remove” and we can get that as well. Companies go through these six Sigma lean engagements. What are we doing? Some people will say, "Hey, I want to do this, this, this."

And I go, "Great. Why don't we start with all the things you are doing that you shouldn't be doing anymore or no one cares about anymore?" And they go, "Wow. Okay." And I ask them hard questions like, "Hey, how many times do you prepare certain reports that you don't even use anymore for your clients or your clients don't even take them or care about them? How long did that take you? Because if you're going to add a bunch of new stuff, you better get rid of a lot of stuff. If you're going to add four hours of the work, you better find four hours of your work that isn't productive anymore."

So, I think the reassessment is a constant thing. And even in this environment, it could be the reassessment of which clients is this good for, the virtual meetings? Or even you, I mean, if you've been struggling through this and you're not passionate about it, what is the medium that you are comfortable with your clients and be honest with them and say, "Hey, I'd much rather do phone appointments. So, I think a reassessment is just always crucial. What's working? What's not working? Keep the good, shelvel the bad.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. So, this is a nice little framework of takeaways to go through with your team equipment, attitude, awareness, focus points, and reassess. So, Daxs, as you think about, and you sort of reflect on this past year, talk about the things you saw your financial professionals struggle with the most, what were those things? And then the ones that like really thrived and succeeded, why did they? What was it about them that allowed them to succeed? So, give us kind of both sides of that coin.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Sure. Yeah. And I may even split up into three because I've really seen three types of advisors. I have seen those that were very successful through the pandemic, and grew extensively and added a lot of relationships and solidified a lot of relationships. And the one thing that made them different was I think they were prepared for this. They had no idea a pandemic was coming but they had built a firm where they were the CEO and they had staff, they had support. And when the pandemic hit, they literally, all they had to do was pick up the phone and talk to their clients and be responsive. 

They had built a model where they literally were free enough to just pick up the phone, call their clients, check on people and be present. There were also a group of clients, or advisors that weren't at that level. Their returns for the year were market-based returns, so their growth rate was the market. They added some clients and lost some clients. They struggled with doing everything themselves and trying to help their clients through a crisis. And maybe I mentioned it earlier, it's very tough to manage a crisis and be in a crisis yourself at the same time. It's very difficult. And I'll give you an example. If a client comes to you and they're having a divorce, well, you're not having a divorce, so you can be present for them. And then another client comes to you and they've got a sick child and you don't have a sick child and you're not freaking out, so you're present for them.

But when everybody's in a crisis mode and you're dealing with it as well, then your household is very tough to be able to lead. I mean, you're just swimming with the masses. There's nothing you can do to save other people. So, that was difficult for that group of advisors. Many of them rose above it. Many of them have realized they needed to transition their business in the middle of it and hire other people and hire other resources.

And then, unfortunately, there were probably about 10% of folks out there that were dealing with a very personal crisis themselves, whether it be COVID or a very sick parent or a sick spouse. And they were literally taken out of commission and the unfortunate thing about that is when their clients needed them most, they weren't there. And the perception then was, "If you're not there for me now, I'm going to have to find somebody who's there for me." And money was in motion. And that was very difficult to watch that for some of those folks we even reached out to them and said, "Hey, how can we help? Can we trade your accounts? Can we do this? Can our virtual admin... But unfortunately when you're in a very emotional or stressful point, it is almost impossible to make sound decisions.

Steve Seid:
Absolutely.

Kurt Dupuis:
I think it's really good framework and really beneficial, I think to everyone in the audience, everyone in the community to listen to a guy that's running a shop like yours just to sort of put some human elements to it, that everyone was dealing with this. Some were successful, some weren't, but at the core, a really good framework to move forward into this post-pandemic hybrid world we're living in. So, we want to kind of transition to a semi-lightning round sort of thing, where we throw some questions at you.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Sure. 

Steve Seid:
Quick questions, quick answers. So, first question for you Daxs, you mentioned Kolbe as I was doing my research, I typically do before this, I noticed that you were involved with... Is it Kolbe youth specialist? I've heard of Kolbe, I've not heard of that.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
So, Kathy Kolbe, who founded Kolbe Corp. She loves education. She loves working with kids. She's always felt that one of the worst things that can happen is a kid can be branded a certain way in a traditional school environment when they could learn better in a different environment. And, unfortunately, school systems are set up to benefit actually certain types of Kolbe assessments. What we call Initiating Fact Finders Initiating Follow-Throughs, which are people that love data and follow rules really well. Where a lot of kids, they may be what we call Counteractive. So, where I'm going with this is Kathy started the youth certification program. My wife and I have homeschooled our kids for over a decade now.

And when I knew she was bringing this out, the last thing I wanted to do was build a homeschool program that was perfect for me and my wife, but was not good for our four kids. It's a worst thing I could do. So, be able to do assessments on my children, as well as running in homeschool communities and talking to families about their children, because naturally parents and kids butt heads no matter what. But when you don't listen and really know how your kids learn, then that can affect them the rest of their lives.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. That's fantastic. So, again, we're just going to hit a variety of different topics. You've interacted with consulted with really thousands of FAS. What in your mind separates that elite financial professional from the pack?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
I think the person that does think like a CEO, they know they can't and shouldn't do it all. They shouldn't be the one doing the operational work. They shouldn't be trading the portfolios. That they have to do one or two things really, really well. One thing strategic coach taught me was there are levels of tasks and there's a thing called a level five task. And I'm going to start with level four. I'll give you a perfect example. I'm trained as a compliance officer. I'm a really, really good compliance officer. I've done it for a long time. But to me, that's a level four task. I'm the smartest guy in the room when it comes to compliance, the problem is I've lost my passion for it.

And to go from a level four task to a level five task is, you are the smartest person in the room doing it, but you love doing it, you can do it all day long and you don't even break a sweat. And you talked about it earlier, you said something like I get to six o'clock it's like, "Where did the day go?" People that are doing level five tasks, literally get to five o'clock and they're not even tired. They literally were swimming downstream, not upstream. So, I think the most successful advisors are those that understand they have to find their level five tasks. What they're massively passionate about and massively good at and that's all they do. And then they delegate everything else.

Kurt Dupuis:
I want to go back to your Military service. Is there anything you particularly miss about your life of being in the Military and what kind of takeaway do you think your Military experience really helped set you up for financial services just broadly?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Well, it was really easy, what you were going to wear every day. So, that was really simple. You had one uniform. The tough thing is I don't know if I could go back in the military because you pretty much had to ask for weekend passes and you had to ask when you could take time off and everything else. And so  now I’m an independent business owner…

Kurt Dupuis:
So, you do not miss that.

Daxs Stadjuhar:
I could never go back to taking orders from anyone. But you know what I loved? Just good peers, great Officers, people that... We used to do professional developments in the Military, and those were where Senior Officers would give you tests to do, whether it be study a battle, or write a report. I mean, you had homework in the Military.

There was a thing called an Officer Efficiency Report, which was kind of your annual employee review so to say, but you, as an Officer, you read a lot of books, especially in the infantry, tactical books, war books, you did professional developments where you were tasked or recreate battle scenes. I mean, heck we would go out in the field and we would literally... We'd make a sandbox so to say, and we had to recreate a battle on the ground in the sand with little green army soldiers. And we would have little different color tape out there to recreate everything that went on, and move those little green army soldiers around and recreate the whole battle. And we would talk about what happened.

Because we know history repeats itself and battles and tactics, it's the same battle sometimes just fought either in the desert or in the jungle or the mountains by two very capable people and a lot of soldiers and different artillery and everything else. Maybe the machines change, but the tactics never change. And I think that, that, if I carried over into corporate business, it is the same thing. Being able to look back and say, "When have we been in this situation before?" Whether it'd be the market or an experience with a client or an experience with a product, it's being able to sit back from a leadership level and dissect something and then make a very informed decision, I think are the best things that I took from the military. 

Steve Seid:
I could talk to you about that forever. Where can people get in touch with you if they want to?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Anyone can email me. I mean, I love talking to anybody. I love to chat with anybody. Even if I can't help you, I'm probably going to get you in touch with somebody that can. So my first initial D and then my last name S-T-A-D-J-U-H-A-R@fsnweb.com. And FSN stands for financial services network WEB, like the web.com.

Steve Seid:
We'll close on this. As you think about our industry, the financial services network, the future, what's on your mind? I know that's a very broad question, but what are you thinking about as you think about the next 5, 10 years?

Daxs Stadjuhar:
Short term... I think the rest of this year... Maybe I'll answer it this way. I think a lot of folks, I reaffirm the fact, I don't think anyone's missed the boat if you're worried about the whole virtual engagement with your clients at all. I think it's just a great time to survey your clients, a great time to talk to them and ask them what they want and need from you.

Ultimately, the clients will always drive this industry, right. I think the whole, if we were talking over the long-term just convenience, everything has to become more convenient for individuals. And if that's engagement through technology, if that's engagement through electronic signature systems, if it's an engagement through virtual meetings, I think that's a consistent theme we're going to see. We should always err on the side of making it as convenient as possible, and if it's convenient as possible, that means we have more time to have the deeper conversations. So, that's probably it. If I were to put all my money on black or red, I would just say convenience versus inconvenience.

Steve Seid:
Thanks to our good friend Daxs Stadjuhar. We'll be back in a moment. This is the Whole Truth, stick with us.

Kurt Dupuis:
And welcome back to the Costanza Corner, where we end the show on a high note. Mr. Seid, what've you got up your sleeve today?

Steve Seid:
Many of you have probably heard this, but I'm very fortunate that I just got a promotion. Kind of, sort of, maybe a little bit management. Don't worry, everyone who's on my-

Kurt Dupuis:
He's a suit now.

Steve Seid:
Don't worry anyone in my territory. I still have the same job, but I'm going to be managing a few folks across the pac coast in Hawaii. I'm very thankful for that opportunity. Our good friend who was on the show a couple of times, Mary Mock, I'm very thankful for her for giving me that opportunity. But importantly, thanks to you all because a big reason that I got chosen for this role was the things I do with practice management and this show. So, thanks to everyone.

Kurt Dupuis:
So, you're one step closer to world domination, I love it.

Steve Seid:
I think this is probably maybe as close as I'm going to get.

Kurt Dupuis:
You're already close enough to the sun.

Steve Seid:
If I came closer Kurt, I would just... You know how it goes. You know the saying.

Kurt Dupuis:
Well, congrats, buddy.

Steve Seid:
Thank you.

Kurt Dupuis:
I'm very happy for you.

Steve Seid:
I'm delighted for the opportunity. Thanks everyone. We'll see you next time.

Kurt Dupuis:
You can find the Whole Truth and subscribe for free on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. We'd love it if you took the time to rate and review the show on Apple podcasts, it helps others find the show. And for more episodes of the Whole Truth, go to www.touchstoneinvestments.com/thewholetruth. That's touchstoneinvestments.com/thewholetruth, all one word.

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