Sunday, December 04, 2016

So You Think You Know LinkedIn?

Whether you’re a sole practitioner or a partner in a global firm, it’s no secret that your online presence matters more than ever today. And since most of you are experienced professionals, nowhere else does your online presence matter more than LinkedIn. It’s not just for job seekers and recruiters.

According to Sandra Long, a longtime Pitney Bowes executive and now a trainer, entrepreneur and author of the new book, LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide, many professionals make the common mistakes of:

  • Taking a set-it and forget-it approach to their LinkedIn profiles.
  • Having too many endorsements for their less-than-core skills.
  • Listing their job title at the top of their profile rather their personal brand and unique value proposition.
  • Not synching their personal brand with their firm’s or company’s brand.
  • Not having a professional headshot—“If you don’t have a headshot, you’re not in the game.”
  • Listing every single job and responsibility they’ve had during their career, rather than “weaving together common themes.”
  • Repurposing their resume online rather than being a “story teller.”
I spoke with Long after her presentation last week at the Fairfield County, CT chapter of the American Marketing Association. She told me that for experienced professionals, one of the most important things you can use the platform for is establishing yourself as a thought leader. Sharing content, uploading presentations to Slideshare (now owned by LinkedIn) and publishing articles and blog posts on LinkedIn’s new publishing tool will give you “very high authority” on Google and other search engines.

“Your business is all about your career, your brand and your network,” said Long. “The No. 1 activity on LinkedIn is look at profiles. Take the time to think about what’s unique about you professionally, personally and what makes you a thought leader.”

Long's book provides a comprehensive view of personal branding using LinkedIn's profile, content sharing, and thought leadership capabilities. Additionally, Long has assembled a useful set of "How To" advice links that are available on a companion website. The website provides many resource pages and links related to each chapter.

Our blog has more as well as the FREE Resources page of our website.


Many of you preach the importance of regularly updating your portfolio, estate plan, business plan and IT procedures. Those are not one-and-done exercises. Same goes for your online presence, particularly your LinkedIn profile (and your organization’s).


Tags: LinkedIn tips, Sandra Long, LinkedIn for Personal Branding, Slideshare, thought leadership

Friday, November 18, 2016

Now Is the Time for You (and Clients) to Test Out New Year’s Resolutions

I spent most of Wednesday in midtown Manhattan meeting with clients and strategic partners. It was the first time I felt like a 1 Percenter—i.e. in the small minority of people actually trying to work. It was an unseasonably warm work day in mid-November, but you would have thought it was the week before Christmas based on the frantic energy and size of the crowds perusing the display windows at Macy’s, skating at Bryant Park or clogging the rails of Rockefeller Center.

If you think the Holiday ads and catalogs are hitting you earlier than ever, you’re not alone. Even my subway shuttle between Grand Central and Times Square was already decked out in Christmas gift wrapping. If we’re going to keep pushing the envelope on when the Holiday season officially starts, I don’t have a problem with it as long as it’s good for the economy and help’s people people’s psyche. But if we’re going to push up the start of  the Holiday’s we should also push up the start of your New Year’s resolutions because now is an excellent time to “pilot test” your 2017 resolutions to see what you can realistically stick with and what’s just a pipe dream.

Research suggests that approximately half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions yet only one out of twelve of them (8%) actually achieve them. We all know behavior modification is hard, whether you’re trying to lose weight, get organized, get published, revamp your IT processes or make your website mobile friendly. Experts say we also tend to set the bar too high and then beat ourselves up when we don’t reach it. But there has to be more to the high rate of Resolution Failure.

Dr. Paul Marciano, author of Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work specializes in the area of behavior modification and motivation. Marciano’s book offers seven key pieces of advice.

1. Clearly define your goals. Many people in the spirit of New Year’s loudly proclaim, “This is the year I’m going to finally get in shape.” But what does that mean? Do you intend to lose a certain number of pounds? Reach a body-fat percentage goal? Run three miles without rest? Bang out 10 pull-ups? Marciano advocates SMART goals—objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. In other words “own it” and be accountable.

2. Track your progress. Countless studies show that individuals, teams and organizations are much more likely to reach a goal (and stay with it) if progress can be measured along the way. Experts such as Marciano say measurement can also help you and your team identify bottlenecks in your progress.

3. Have patience. OK. I admit this isn’t my strong suit, but experts say must set realistic goals and realize that progress is never linear. Sometimes you experience rapid gains only to hit resistance later. Other times, initial progress may be painfully slow but then they suddenly achieve rapid breakthroughs. Making lasting changes takes time.

4. Publicize your goals to friends, family and co-workers. This is about “owning it.” High performing sports teams, companies and military units understand this. You can too. Don’t be shy about announcing your specific resolution to the world, but support from colleagues, friends and family members is key.

5. Put resolutions on your schedule. That’s another flavor of “owning it.” How often do you hear people say they can’t “find the time” to do something? Experts argue that nobody finds time to do something. We all choose to spend our time the way we do—whether that’s eating junk food, binging on NetFlix shows or hitting the gym. Make your new goals a priority and actually schedule them into your calendar. If you want to declutter you office, schedule time to clean out your files, desk and online calendar in the evening or on weekends when you’re not at the beck and call of clients. Think of these “time blocks” as important appointments with yourself—and make sure you’re penalized for cancelling on short notice.

6. Stop “all or nothing” thinking; it’s better do something than nothing. I admit I’m often guilty of “all or nothing” thinking? For instance, “I didn’t get my proposal in on time, so I might as well forget about landing that client.” Or, “I might as well have a couple more beers and some fries since I blew my diet last night.” The difference between doing something rather than nothing is huge. If you don’t have a full hour to workout at the gym, just decide to make it the best 20-minutes you can. If you have a slight cold or minor injury, decide to just walk the track for a couple miles. If a client has a financial emergency and can’t save the usual 10 percent this month, just tell them to save what you can. Any effort towards your goal is better than no effort.

7. Get up, when you slip up. None of us are perfect. As the football coaching legend Vince Lombardi famously said, “It isn’t whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” Resiliency is the key. Don’t turn relapses or temporary failures into total meltdowns or excuses for giving up. Instead, just acknowledge the mistake and recommit to the path.

Our blog has more as well as the FREE Resources page of our website.


Dr. Marciano and other experts believe achieving our goals isn’t about willpower. It’s about developing the right skills and strategies that, with patience, will lead to success. Use this time between now and January 1, 2017 to test out your planned resolutions—both the type of resolution and the degree to which you’re hoping to change your behavior. Make adjustments and then re-commit. Read points #6 and #7 above.

You’re already in the 1-percent who were working last Wednesday.  Join the Elite 8 percent who will be celebrating their success later in the year.

Wishing you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving.

Best HB


Tags: Making New Year’s Resolutions stick, Dr. Paul Marciano

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Read This First if You (or Key Clients) Are Considering Cashing Out

So many of you with successful businesses or practices dream of the day you can cash out. Wouldn’t it be great to sell the enterprise you worked so hard to build for a ton of dough and then sit back and travel, play golf, serve on a few boards and support a few of your favorite charitable causes? Not so fast.

If you haven’t taken the time to prepare properly for a liquidity event, you could find yourself financially and emotionally disrupted to the point that you aren’t enjoying life and you aren’t preserving your hard-earned wealth.

Before you move on to your next venture or to a life away from the daily grind, here are five key principles that one of our clients advises his clients to follow and they’re likely to work for you:

1. Ignore what made you successful.
2. Take a household view.
3. Understand different forms of risk.
4. Don’t gamble. Invest.
5. Control what you can control.

Read here for more about these five principles. As we have discussed in recent posts, writing a relevant eBook, blog or regular column can position you as a thought leader in your niche and garner you national media attention. Last week, another of our clients Blake Christian, CPA, a tax partner of Long Beach, CA-based HCVT was featured in a US News & World Report story How to Create a Foolproof Withdrawal Plan for Retirement Assets.

We typically our outreach efforts at least three months prior to release date and several of our clients have landed new business just by sending out pre-release chapters to their centers of influence for review.
Our blog and website has more.


While it may not be in your DNA to take your foot off the gas pedal, capital preservation, not growth is your primary concern in the new chapter of your life. And the same goes for your next book, presentation or article. Begin with the end in mind or you may find yourself sharing all your accumulated smarts and expertise with the world without being ready for Act 2, or getting anything of value in return.


TAGS: Blake Christian, preparing for liquidity events, cashing out

Friday, October 28, 2016

Todya's Markets Are a Zoo. Which Exhibits Are Worth Checking Out?

As we discussed last week, writing a relevant eBook, blog or regular column can position you as a thought leader in your niche and garner you national media attention. Last week, our client Blake Christian, CPA, a tax partner of Long Beach, CA-based HCVT was featured in a US News & World Report story How to Create a Foolproof Withdrawal Plan for Retirement Assets. Earlier this month, Anthony Glomski, founder of Los Angeles-based AG Asset Advisors was featured in a Yahoo Tech story How to Invest in the App Market also picked up in US News. We’re helping both Christian and Glomski finish their books this year—but we’re not waiting until the manuscripts are finished to get the pre-publication buzz started.

We typically our outreach efforts at least three months prior to release date and several of our clients have landed new business just by sending out pre-release chapters to their centers of influence for review.

To that end, my friend Andrew Berkin, Director of Research for Houston-based Bridgeway Capital Management, has received tremendous advance publicity for his now-released book Your Complete Guide to Factor Based Investing that he co-authored with the legendary Larry Swedroe of Buckingham Asset Management (BAM). We didn’t help Andy with this particular book, but we’ve edited many of his articles and we know he always writes with the marketing end goal in mind. Andy’s a “quant” but he has a knack for taking the wonky math, science and jargon out of evidence-based investing and helps everyone from individual stock players to large-scale institutional investors isolate the true factors you need to make intelligent and repeatable investment decisions.

While some advisors tend to have “smartest kid in the class syndrome,” Berkin, Christian and Glomski do the opposite. They work very hard to make difficult concepts simple for clients, prospects (and journalists) to understand—and that’s why they have the following they do.

A zoo of factors

I caught up with Berkin last week and he told me the term “zoo of factors” comes from a speech that University of Chicago’s John Cochrane gave at the American Finance Association. His point: only a small handful of investment factors, from among the mountains of data, are really required to make highly impactful investment decisions and that the rest is just noise.

Berkin said much of the book is based on long-term analysis that he and Swedroe did on a myriad of investment performance factors—both individually and in combination. The key was taking that analysis from “academic research to practical benefits.”

When asked what investors, including professionals and wealth managers still don’t get about today’s markets Berkin said he is still surprised at how many fail to realize that markets go through cycles. “What has worked in the very recent past may continue to work for a while as other investors pile in,” Berkin said. “But, following the latest fad all too often ends badly as folks buy high and subsequently sell low,” he added. Instead, he said you should set a long-term plan and look for factors that are “persistent over long time periods, pervasive across geographies and sectors, robust to various definitions, investable and intuitive.”
Berkin said many investors are worried about uncertainty in what they view as a very volatile and fragile environment. But, he said there will always be uncertainty with investing; “we don’t have laws in investing like we do in science. And that is one way that an evidence-based factor approach to investing proves invaluable.” Berkin added that there are no guarantees, but by applying the scientific method to investing, “we can better understand what drives the returns of securities, how those returns interact, what their likelihood of success will be and how to combine them into an overall portfolio. “

Our blog and website has more.

Advisors seemed to be scared too. Why? “For some advisors,” said Berkin, “there is a feeling that the lowest hanging fruit has been picked. Getting new clients and growing is tougher. There is a need to spend more on everything. And there is pressure on fees. Clients want more for less. It won’t be easy. But keep staying nimble and things will turn up,” he added for good measure.


TAGS: Andrew Berkin, Larry Swedroe, Blake Christian, market factors

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

HB Publishing eBook Authors Gain National Exposure (pre-publish)

As many of you know, we help wealth advisors, estate planners, CPAs and other professionals build their thought leadership status through a variety of channels, including eBooks. Sure, there is some blood, sweat and tears involved in the process, but you don’t have to wait until your book is completed to start building the buzz and reaping the benefits.

Today, Blake Christian, CPA, a tax partner of Long Beach, CA-based HCVT was featured in a US News & World Report story How to Create a Foolproof Withdrawal Plan for Retirement Assets. Earlier this month, another client was featured in a Yahoo Tech story about investing in the app market--also picked up in US News. Our outreach efforts to the national media are working, because journalists know that HB authors (a) know their stuff and (b) come to interviews well-prepared to deliver comments in a concise, media-friendly format. We’re not talking superficial soundbites, but economical, carefully crafted responses that invite future discussion.

Christian’s book, which is focused on helping professional service providers become more entrepreneurial without being reckless is due to be released in January 2017. Another of our clients, who prefers to remain anonymous due to her work with recent widows and divorcees, picked up at least one new client last year (before publication) with each new chapter she sent out to her trusted network for review.


As with investing, past performance does not guarantee future results. But by starting with your end goals in mind, you’ll significantly increase your chances of attracting the right kinds of clients and media exposure—and keep your supply closet free of boxes full of dusty, unread copies of your book.

Our blog and website has more.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Performing Under Pressure.

Lessons from Joe Maddon, Carson Wentz and Christopher Columbus

Last week, we talked about the benefits of worrying productively. Here we’ll talk about preparation and staying cool under pressure. Global explorer Christopher Columbus wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries of what was possible 500 years ago--and he had less navigational technology than you have in your car today. “By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions,” he famously said, “one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.”

Speaking of breaking barriers, we know a number of you on this distribution list hail from Chicago and Philadelphia. Go to any game in those towns—or listen to local talk radio—and you’ll experience both the vitriol and eternal optimism of each city’s diehard sports fans.

Let’s start with the 2016 Chicago Cubs who put together the best regular season record in Major League Baseball this season. They’ve won each of their playoff games so far and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, putting  them in prime position to win the World Series for the first time in 108 years.

Meanwhile in the National Football League, the surprising Philadelphia Eagles, a long struggling franchise that’s NEVER won the Super Bowl and which was widely expected to go nowhere fast this year, is off to a 3-1 start (one point away from 4-0), led by a brand new head coach, a brand new offensive coordinator and a rookie quarterback out of North Dakota State. That’s right, North Dakota State—not exactly an NFL breeding ground for talent.

What do Chicago and Philly fans have in common? They know not to get their hopes up too high, no matter what the stats, odds makers and TV pundits indicate about the strength of their teams.
Wentz became the only rookie ever to win his first three regular season games without throwing an interception. He finally allowed a pick in his fourth professional game last weekend, but still managed to rally the team from deep deficits several times, before falling short by a point. He has become so popular in the Philadelphia metro area that there is already a clothing brand bearing his name and billboards all over the tri-state area announcing, “Welcome to Wentzylvania!”
Maddon, the bearded, heavily be-speckled 62 year-old manager of the Cubs, is no fluke, either. Earlier in his career he guided the usually woeful Tampa Bay Rays to the 2008 World Series—where they lost to guess who? The Philadelphia Phillies, That right, the Fightin’ Phils, who won only the second world title in their 134 year history.
In Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Maddon placed a sign on the wall between the team’s clubhouse and the dugout that reads—“Don’t let the pressure exceed the pleasure.” Unlike most head coaches, Maddon doesn’t impose dress codes, penalize players for being late or issue military-issue rule books about how to conduct themselves or manage their time—“What can you really be late for in the grand scheme of things” he once famously said. “All that stuff is nonsensical.” As he told The New York Times last weekend, he has only two rules—batters must always run hard to first base and pitchers must do more than simply throw—they need to field their positions too. “The word pressure should be an absolute positive and not a negative.” Why does he say that? “Because if people are throwing that pressure at you, that means there’s really something good attached to whatever you’re trying to accomplish.”

Different approaches; same goal

Maddon’s seemingly laid-back approach to winning disguises his decades of experience and his obsessive attention to the nuances of the game. Wentz is a 23 year-old, whose intelligence and single-minded preparation make him seem abnormally mature for his age. In a
recent interview Wentz said it’s easy to block out all the distractions and media attention because he has to work so hard just to learn the new system. He and his coaches, break Wentz’s day into tiny micro-assignments and tasks, with the single goal of getting ready for just one thing—the next game. “Have a routine, get involved in the process. Commit to the process,” said new offensive coordinator, Frank Reich, who brought in a precise weekly routine to follow in which every scenario is covered separately, in the film room and on the practice field. They even gave Wentz precise times of day for arriving at practice and eating his meals.

Wentz, who didn’t have the same kind of routine in high school or college, welcomed the regimen according to reports. Rather than feeling micromanaged, Wentz believes the regimen helps him avoid feeling overwhelmed, which is what has ruined so many highly drafted college quarterbacks trying to succeed in the high-pressure NFL.

Maddon and Wentz each have different ways of dealing with the relentless pressure of their “win or else” professions. They each have different ways of shouldering the burden of their sports obsessed cities’ hopes and dreams.

blog and website has more


“Pressure lives in the future, not the present tense,” Maddon quipped. “If you can live in the moment, then you can enjoy the pleasure of it.” Wentz said he’s simply too busy preparing to worry about the pressure. It works for them.

Keep that in mind the next time you get ready to deliver a big presentation, speak to the national media or pitch a very large client. It’s far better to try and occasionally fail than to continue down the straight and narrow where your horizon remains perpetually flat.
Happy Columbus Day.


Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Not Worried? Maybe You Should Be

As our firm’s CWO (Chief Worry Officer), I tend to obsess about worst-case scenarios. Will our computer network go down during crunch time? Will we miss our flights? Will a big client merge and drop us? Will our rent go way up when the building renovations are completed? Is Client B having trouble paying its bills? Will a key person leave us to accept a new job?

It might sound like paranoia to some of you, but I’d rather “hope for the best, plan for the worst,” to borrow a maxim from British novelist Lee Child. Based on the number of you scaling back, hunkering down or putting projects on hold before the dark cloud of Presidential election uncertainty is lifted, I’m guessing we’re not alone. A new white paper released by Liberty Mutual Insurance found that two out of five Americans are worried about something every day. Sometimes worrying can help solve your problems — and sometimes it just leads to more worry, researchers concluded.

Or, as former heavyweight boxing champ, Mike Tyson famously said, “Everybody has a plan until they get a punch in the mouth!” If you’re not worried about keeping pace with technology, robo-advisors, new fiduciary rules and relevance with the millennial generation, etc. then maybe you should get fitted for a mouth guard and some 12-oz. gloves. Hopefully, you won’t need ‘em, but why not have them on hand.

“People have a love-hate relationship with worry,” said Michelle Newman, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Pennsylvania State University, in a recent New York Times interview. “They think at some level that it helps them,” Newman added.

The belief that worrying helps to prevent bad things from happening is more common than you might think. Researchers say this thought process is bolstered by the fact that we tend to worry about rare events, like plane crashes, and are reassured when they don’t happen--but we worry less about common events, like car accidents.

OK. So, is worrying futile? “Some worry is actually good for you,” argued Simon A. Rego, a cognitive behavioral psychologist also interviewed in the aforementioned Times article. Rego, who specializes in anxiety disorders and who has analyzed decades of research on worrying said it’s what we call “productive or instructive worry,” which can help us take steps toward solving a problem.
That kind of proactive approach to worrying is a lot more empowering than simply buying insurance with a “better safe than sorry” attitude.

I help coach one of the best 13-and-under baseball teams in southern New England. We’re not big. We don’t have any future Major Leaguers on this team. But, we’ve got 13 kids who can play a variety of positions, keep their egos in check, their parents in the stands and work together when the pressure is most intense. We’ve won about 120 out of 145 games together and numerous local, state and regional titles. Sunday, we were riding a 17 game win-streak. Our ace pitcher was on the mound, throwing a no-hitter with a 3-run lead in the last inning. Were we packing up the bags ready to go home? Nope! We’ve got two relievers warming up in the bullpen just our stud on the mound got into trouble. I can assure you, our other three coaches make me seem like a laid back hippy by comparison. Turns out we didn’t need the relievers, but if not for a diving catch by the center fielder and a great backup by the shortstop, it could have easily been bases loaded with the cleanup hitter at the plate.

As a former boxer and wrestler, I’d rather have my guard up all the time than take a haymaker to the chin from seemingly out of nowhere. That’s not negativity or pessimism—that’s good old fashioned pragmatism and one of the most important ingredients for business survival.

Our blog and website has more.


Have a Happy New year. Enjoy the MLB playoffs and remember the 3rd week of October is National Estate Planning Awareness Week, courtesy of our good friend Val Sabuco, Executive Director of The Financial Awareness Association.


TAGS:  Productive worry, Lee Child, Michelle Newman, Simon Rego, Mike Tyson