Monday, January 20, 2020

Imagine Giving Employees Time Off to Sit and Think


I got to thinking the other day. It seems like all I do all day long do is “do”—I never have time to think. I’m not proud of it, but I suspect I’m not alone.

As our client Anthony Glomski, founder of AG Asset Advisory, told Medium.com and Authority Magazine recently, your employee’s minds are like computers. They can do amazing things, but you have to give them time to cool off and reboot occasionally, otherwise they start to wear down. “I’m not suggesting that you treat your people like computers,” Glomski said, “but rather, acknowledge the benefit that meditation would have for you and for them.”
Approaching an Exit, he was heavily influenced by early 20th century author and entrepreneur, W. Clement Stone, who Glomski came to admire greatly after auditing Stone’s foundation early in his career. When Stone was faced with a problem he couldn’t resolve, he would lock himself in a room for 30 minutes and simply meditate. “His reliance on the subconscious would ultimately manifest the answer,” explained Glomski.
Clear the head for mindfulness

Glomski said the core of Stone’s philosophy is based on mindfulness. “It’s about having good character and believing you can achieve anything as long as it doesn’t violate the laws of man. The philosophy is also about the power of the mind and the power of action and teaching the mind how to take action,” he added.

Glomski, was also influenced by Napoleon Hill, author of the book Think and Grow Rich
, originally published during the Great Depression. While researching his book, Hill interviewed hundreds of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs of his era and most credited meditation, mindfulness, and spirituality as the keys to their success.

Are you seeing a pattern?

As Glomski told Authority Magazine: “Nearly every one of the successful entrepreneurs I work with practices some form of meditation, spiritual practice or quiet thinking time. And the more progressive leaders I’ve encountered tend to pass that philosophy along within their companies and advocate for it.
This is something that’s especially important in today’s always-connect wired age.

“Technology is an amazing asset,” related Glomski, “but sometimes it can be a liability. Speaking both for myself as a business owner and as one who works closely with other business owners and entrepreneurs, I’ve found that common traits shared by so many of these high achievers are meditation, mindfulness, thoughtfulness, and setting aside time for deep, uninterrupted thought.”

It’s no surprise those high achievers are the ones most likely to give employees time to think. In my next post, I’ll explain how to
incorporate employee thinking time into your work culture and why Warren Buffet spent 80 percent of his remarkable career thinking.

Conclusion


My Uncle Carl was a highly successful securities lawyer and no stranger to long hours and high stress. He liked to get up every day at 4am to jog. Afterward, he’d take a shower, eat some breakfast and then go back to bed for a pre-work power nap before heading off to the office completely recharged. I’m not recommending Uncle Carl’s morning routine, but he knew what got him into the flow state for work and he’s still fit and razor sharp in his late 80s. Carl used to remind me at family gatherings: “Hank, even if you win the rat race someday, you’re still a rat.”

I’ve always been good about unplugging my devices and staying away from texts and emails during family time and off hours. Now I’m working on unplugging my mind. I’ll let you know how I do in 2020. Better yet, ping me and let me know how you find time just to sit and think. I’ll drop what I’m doing to read it over and contemplate.

#Mindfulness #Glomski #W. Clement Stone  #Productivity #Napoleon Hill

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Power of Content Calendars


With a little bit of planning, you’ll never lose sleep about “What Am I Going to Write About Next?!?” One simple formula can save you lots of headaches.

It’s no secret that credibility marketing is one of the most effective ways to position yourself as an expert in your niche. Research shows it’s one of the best ways to stay top of mind with clients, prospects, influencers and followers. Bylined blogs, e-newsletters, white papers, webinars, published articles, social media posts and podcasts are all proven forms of thought leadership marketing. In fact, more than half of advisors responding to the annual CPA/ Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™ found those tactics “Very” or “Extremely” valuable.
We know you have the expertise in house, but how do you keep coming up with great topics when you don’t have a full-time writing staff?
Start with a plan. It’s as easy as 1-7-30-4-2-1

You wouldn’t allow clients to put their money into the market without an invest plan, would you? You wouldn’t hire an architect to build your dream house if he or she didn’t use blueprints, right? So, why would you start pushing out content to your universe of followers without a plan? As the old saying goes: “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Getting started and sticking to it

Editorial calendars (aka content calendars) are what we typically recommend to help you get your thoughts organized for the short-term, intermediate term and long-term. You can start with a simple spreadsheet showing the months, types of content, topics covered and who’s responsible for each piece of content. DON’T OVERTHINK IT.
You don’t need to invest in expensive or sophisticated marketing automation software in the early going. The main objective is to have a simple snapshot of the year ahead and to try your best to stick to the plan. It’s OK to make adjustments as important new topics rise to the surface during the course of the year. But you want to maintain a consistent schedule—we call it a “cadence.” Consistency is just as important for a healthy publishing schedule as it is for your diet, exercise routine or personal enrichment initiatives.
When you think about it, content calendars are like New Year’s Resolutions. They tend to fail for the same reasons--you set your initial goals too high and then got overwhelmed. How many professional services websites have you seen in which there are eight blog posts and four bylined articles in January, then maybe two of each in February, then nothing in March? Sound familiar? Instead of giving up on your content marketing plans, as four out of five people do with their resolutions, make a plan that works for your organization.

To help you stick to your content plan, here are 6 key steps to follow:

1. Map out all the content your organization produces. 
There’s probably more than you think. In addition to blogs, write down all forms of content, including videos, photos, presentations, webinars, social media posts, marketing materials, press releases, industry and business articles, white papers, FAQs and events.

2. Sort this content into categories or types. 
Creating content categories ensures that your organization covers a broad range of topics, not just marketing. Categories can include: How/to best practices, industry trends, company news, marketing, events and more.

3. Identify who is creating your content. 
Your organization has plenty of experts even if they don’t think of themselves as “authors.” Anyone with hands-on experience within the company has a story to tell and can contribute to your content marketing effort. This includes employees from different areas of your company (marketing, IT, legal) as well as external authors (customers, partners, industry thought leaders).
4. Determine how much and how often your “experts” can contribute. Some authors can easily provide a steady stream of content (social media managers, public relations, customers), while others may be more sporadic (event planners, video producers).
5. Think rows and columns. Once you’ve completed these steps, develop a simple spreadsheet that includes all this information. From this spreadsheet, you can begin to create a content calendar. We like using a traditional monthly calendar because I can easily see what content is planned and when.

6. Be realistic about what your organization can accomplish. 
It might be helpful to think about frequency using a technique pioneered by content strategist Russell Sparkman/FusionSpark Media called the “1-7-30-4-2-1” method. Here’s how it works:


·         1 represents the content your organization can commit to publishing daily. This might be something as easy as sharing industry news via Twitter or Facebook.
·         refers to weekly content, such as a blog post.
·         30 is what your organization can publish monthly. These might be more extensive content pieces, such as an e-newsletter or video.
·         4 refers to a quarterly content commitment, such as a white paper, e-book or contest.
·         2 is biannual content, such as an event, new brochure or webcast.
·         1 is annual content, such as an event, conference or app.

Don’t get painted into a corner

We advise our clients to think three to six assignments ahead at all times. Start setting up little folders for each upcoming post or article now (paper or digital is fine). You never know when you’ll come across a great nugget or factoid in July that will be perfect for the assignment that’s not due until November.

Conclusion

Approaching content marketing in these manageable bite-sized steps prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and allows you to build a content calendar that’s manageable and sustainable. Best of all, this exercise is easier and less painful than dieting or going to the gym and you’ll have a “ripped” and “buff” reputation to show off for all your effort and discipline.

#Thought leadership   #Content management #content marketing

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Test Drive Your New Year’s Resolutions Now!


Same goes for your clients

Now is the time of year when it’s easy to lose your discipline and let everything slide. From your waistline to your credit line, you know there will be hell to pay in January. But, when everyone around you seems to be succumbing to Holiday temptations, it’s easy to give in to your weaker self.  


DON’T!

Tis the season to be even more disciplined

Ah, the Holidays! “Just get me through the next month,” you tell yourself, “and I’ll start hitting the gym again, lose 10 pounds, clean out my office, clean out my inbox and be back on track for 2020.

WRONG!

You have to start on those New Year’s resolutions right now—as in early December. Not to be a Holiday killjoy, but you can’t just aspire to stick to your resolutions. You need to WRITE THEM DOWN and display them publicly for extra accountability. Otherwise you won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of masking them stick.

The idea is to test out your resolutions now, before the calendar flips to 2020, so you have time to work the bugs and make adjustments to your goals before you hit the ground running in January. You need to be brutally honest with yourself about your willpower, your stamina and how reasonable your goals are. The key is to own your resolutions; don’t let them own you.

Realistic goals

Research shows that half of Americans set New Year’s resolutions, but only one out of eight are still sticking to them by March 1st.

Instead of declaring a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) on January 2nd, start small, reach it, and then build from there. When you set your goals too high, or too far off target, you’ll feel the crushing weight of defeat after you inevitably fail to reach those goals.

If you’re a couch potato, which resolution are you more likely to stick to—running a marathon in six weeks or walking/jogging for 20 minutes three times per week? If your goal is to be a published author in 2020, which plan are you more likely to stick to—having the first six chapters of your new book done by July 4, or starting a weekly blog that goes out each and every Thursday, even when you’re traveling?

Why resolutions don’t stick

Harvard Business School professor, Amy Cuddy believes resolutions don’t stick because too often we’re setting ourselves up for failure and self-loathing. “We tend to set unreasonable aims for ourselves and then experience negative emotions and a lack of motivation when we don’t reach them,” she observed. “Failing to meet the unreasonable goals we set for ourselves can in turn take a negative toll on our self-worth,” added Cuddy.

Sound familiar?

Researcher and author Richard Wiseman, agrees with Cuddy that we set goals that are too high or too audacious and that we also tend to be too impatient. He believes another big cause of resolution failure is that we tend to sprint out of the gate in search of immediate “returns” rather than taking “baby steps” that will take some time before they move the needle.

Beating the odds

Trying to get your clients to modify their financial behavior in the new year can be quite challenging, too. But it can be highly rewarding if true changes result, Dr. Glenn Freed told me. Freed, chief investment officer of Los Angeles-based LourdMurray believes you’ll further cement your status as a client’s most trusted advisor if you can “frame” your legal, charitable or financial planning discussions around New Year’s resolutions. “You can have discussions in person or through a client newsletter. The key is to use these resolutions as a way to check in with clients throughout the year,” added Freed.

The experts seem to agree on one thing: to make any resolution stick, it has to become an ingrained habit. For example:

  • Resolution: Quit smoking vs. Habit: Stop smoking that one cigarette you have every morning after breakfast.
  • Resolution: Eat healthy food vs. Habit: Start substituting that one daily morning pastry for a banana.
  • Resolution: Lose weight vs. Habit: Every evening after work, go for a two to three minute run or walk around the block.
  • Resolution: Manage stress vs. Habit: Meditate for two to three minutes every morning after you wake up.
  • Resolution: Improve finances vs. Habit: Save an extra 2 percent of each paycheck and put half into my 401(k)s low-cost index fund and the other half into a high-yield savings account at my bank.

By immediately breaking down each resolution and seeing what the smallest habit could be, experts say your chances of succeeding will be 50 percent higher. And if even these incremental habits are hard to stick to, don’t give up. Tweak them so they’re manageable.
Conclusion
High performing advisors help their clients follow up on resolutions not only in December, but throughout the year. Framing the financial planning discussion in this way at the start of the year and then following up consistently can be an effective way to help clients stay on the path to financial resolution success. Make 2020 a great year no matter what the markets, the economy and geopolitical factors throw at us.

But you’ve got to start NOW—when temptations and distraction abound--not after the Holidays. Why? Because there will always be temptations and distractions that are a breeding ground for excuses. C’mon. We’re better than that. One of the best gifts you can give yourself and your clients is the power to break bad habits and adopt healthier new ones. Go for it!



# resolutions #habits #behavior modification #practice management

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Hard Thing About Hard Things (and Then There’s Wrestling)


I attended a very unusual high school reunion last weekend near my hometown of Philadelphia. About 100 of us—aged 30 to 70-plus--gathered in a small high school auditorium to watch an advance screening of The Buckley Men, a documentary film about our beloved high school wrestling coach, Neil Buckley. “Neil” as everyone including his athletes called him, was the winningest high school wrestling coach in the U.S. when he passed away 25 years ago this week.

I certainly wasn’t the star of the team, but I was a four-year member of the program, won my share of matches and had a few brief cameos in the documentary. I also had the chance to reconnect with teammates including former Navy Seals, West Point grads, Air Force pilots, Pentagon anti-terrorism honchos, surgeons, Rhodes Scholars, a Major League Baseball team owner and scores of successful entrepreneurs and corporate CEOs.

Once theme kept coming up in the film—hard work. Most wrestlers agreed they never worked harder in their life than they did in Buckley’s 95-degree wrestling room, aka “The Pit.”

When you think about Buckley, you think about winning. True, he never had a losing season in 48 years as a head coach. His teams racked up 646 career wins along the way to numerous league, state and national championships, not to mention several Sports Illustrated profile stories. When you consider that high school wrestling teams didn’t have more than 15 to 18 matches per year at the time, Neil essentially went 15-2 every year for over 40 straight years! It’s even more remarkable that a 6th grade social studies teach who never wrestled could build such a powerhouse program at a tiny private high school with 80 kids per class and little or no recruiting help.

But the winning tradition was just a byproduct of the process.

If you know anything about high school wrestling in places like Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oklahoma, it’s a religion, not just a sport. Think football in Texas or basketball in New York City and you know what I mean. Wrestling is a violent, physically and mentally demanding sport that requires athletes to deprive themselves of food and fluids after grueling practices to “make weight” for the privilege of competing.

Why would anyone sign up for that, especially kids from mostly privileged backgrounds who could find easier and less painful ways to impress the Ivy League admissions officers?

Now, imagine a van full of mostly white preppies in jackets and ties rolling into a hostile gym at all-minority inner-city high school. Imagine the prepsters sauntering into a rural high school in the Pennsylvania hinterlands to take on jacked up farm boys, coal miner’s kids and steel worker’s sons hell-bent on taking their heads off. Imagine the shock when the hometown boys are the ones going home with the black eyes, bloody lips and bruised egos.

What was Neil’s secret?
He didn’t have many. But here are some clues.

Vision. Neil made wrestling cool. At how many other schools are wrestlers the big studs on campus? All the younger students looked up to the wrestling captains and wanted to be like them some day. He cultivated a deep pipeline of talent from the middle school and younger program he started at the school. Every kid wanted their name on one of the dozens of championship banners hanging from the rafters.

Delegation. Neil wasn’t a technical guru or a Machiavellian drill sergeant. He had scores of highly knowledgeable assistant coaches to run all aspects of the practices, match prep etc. He had scores of former wrestlers who came back to The Pit during college breaks to share tools of the trade they learned at the Division I level and beyond. Neil was the impeccably organized CEO and chief visionary officer who knew how to pull all the levers.

Accountability. Every wrestler had their full season results posted for all to see on a huge wooden board above the scoreboard. Every week, any wrestler in the program, regardless of age or ability could challenge any other for a spot on the varsity lineup. You never had to stop earning your spot.

Toughness. Neil was old school to say the least. There was no weight training, nutrition counseling or stretching in his program. Just an insane volume of jumping jacks, push-ups, rope climbing, wind-sprints, horizontal spinning and sparring. Match days were a welcome respite from practices. We knew we were in better shape than our opponents and never missed practices due to snow days, colds or injuries. You just knew that if you got into the third period of a tight match, you would always have more gas in the tank than your rival. Sooner or later he’d make a mistake and leave you open to execute a pinning combination, a reversal, or some valuable “back points.”

Simplicity. In a sport like wrestling, it’s easy to get caught up in the advance techniques preached at all the off-season clinics and recruiting camps. Neil’s motto was simple: “Just learn a few moves, and know them really, really well so you never have to think about what you’re doing on the mat. Just react, see.”

Team.
This word has become cliché today, but Neil created a special bond with every wrestler—from third string freshmen to varsity starters. Everyone mattered in The Pit and there was always a coach or teammate available to console a wrestler who just lost a match, or who was having a bad day at practice. He knew the team was only as strong as its weakest links and if too many athletes quit, the entire program would suffer. The team spent a week together every summer at an elite wrestling camp in the Pocono Mountains—training three times per day, getting tossed around by college and Olympic wrestlers and loving every minute of it.

Serenity. Neil never raised his voice or publicly humiliated an athlete for failing to perform. For each and every match, he would sit calmly on his stool, legs crossed, sunglasses always on, and give each athlete a firm handshake at the beginning of each match and the words: “Do your best. Get us some points.” His athletes didn’t always win, but they rarely lost their temper or choked under pressure.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur and VC icon, Ben Horowitz (Andreessen Horowitz) wrote a great book a few years ago entitled The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers. As you might expect, the book is chock full of anecdotes about overcoming insurmountable odds, never giving up and working harder than you ever thought possible. But there’s one passage that stuck with me: By far the most difficult skill I learned as a CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology,” wrote Horowitz. “Organizational design, process design, metrics, hiring and firing were all relatively straightforward skills to master compared with keeping my mind in check. I thought I was tough going into it, but I wasn’t tough. I was soft. In the end, this is the most personal and important battle that any CEO will face.”
As any athlete or entrepreneur will tell you, there’s no tougher competitor than the one who lives inside your head. Neil understood that. My teammates understood that. And slowly over the years, I’ve come to understand it. In this age of life hacks, DoorDash, Uber and Amazon convenience, it’s always tempting to take the easiest path. But you will never beat that rival inside your head unless you learn to get outside your comfort zone, fail publicly on occasion and do things that are really, really hard.

Conclusion
 

Nietzsche said: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”  Neil opened every practice with the slightly less elegant observation: “You guys are just a bunch of Main Line station-wagon pussies.” No one wanted to be on the first squad in the history of the storied program to have a losing season. That’s a pretty powerful motivator.



# wrestling #Neil Buckley #The Buckley Men #Mental toughness #Haverford

Thursday, October 24, 2019

HB and Clients Garner National Media Attention

From opportunity zones and international tax strategies to retirement investing and student credit cards, our clients shared their insights with millions of Americans in the national media this month.

In a widely read guest column, HCVT’s Blake Christian and Abi Yanke counseled Accounting Today readers about steps that investors and opportunity fund managers should be taking before year-end. They were book-ended in Accounting Today by Randy Fox, founder of Two Hawks Consulting, who offered alternatives to opportunity zone investing for your accomplishing year-end tax planning and capital gain deferral.

When it comes to planning, Dr. Guy Baker, Ph.D. (founder of Wealth Teams Alliance) was quoted in US News & World Report about  7 ways to use fractional shares for growing retirement Investments. Meanwhile, Mark Rioboli, Director of Wealth Management for Independence Advisors (Wayne, PA), explained to Opp U readers the pros and cons of giving credit cards to college students.

Meanwhile, Kyle Walters, (L&H CPAs) published a widely series of guest columns in Accounting Today about running better client meetings and Cecil Nazareth (Nazareth CPAs) was published a guest article in Tax Stringer about Corporate International Tax Issues 2.0. Tax Stringer is the official online publication of the New York State Society of CPAs.

Research from  our Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™ 2019 shows that the majority of high-performing advisors consider press mentions and bylined article “extremely” useful thought leadership tactics. But, most of you already know that as those tactics are already baked into your practice development assumptions.

Conclusion 

Speaking of baked in, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Marketing Sherpa recently about the origins of popular business buzz words (What Is Baking In?). While lexicography is not really in my wheelhouse, I can’t tell you how many inquiries I received after being mentioned in Marketing Sherpa, the bible for online marketers. Bottom line: Never turn down an opportunity for press attention even, if the media outlet is not directly aligned with your niche. As P.T. Barnum always said: “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”



#media hits #press attention #thought leadership

*** Take our latest InstaPoll: To what extent is the Inverted Yield Curve a reliable recession indicator?

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Using Buzzwords, Clichés and Corporate-Speak Hurts Your Personal Brand


I had the honor of contributing to a recent Marketing Sherpa series on corporate buzzwords and lazy jargon. Marketing 101: What is baking in?

We all get pressed for time, especially during the crazy Q4 run up to the Holidays. It’s easy to easy to fall back on clichés and corporate buzzwords when you need to send a fast response, fill in the blanks, add a last-minute slide to your presentation or turn in a report or guest article on deadline.

DON’T DO IT!
As with any diet or fitness regimen, once you start cheating and cutting corners, you’ll start to lose your edge and there’s almost no turning back.

Take the time to choose your words carefully whether you’re writing for publication, responding to an email or sending a text. Every word counts—it’s all part of your personal brand.

Happy New Year.
Best, HB


#buzzwords #jargon #corporate speak


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Benefits of Boredom


While researching a book about maximizing productivity, I stumbled across a Business Insider piece entitled: 6 Scientific Benefits of Being Bored. I didn’t think it was relevant at first, but since I was, uhm, “bored,” I decided to read on. Glad I did.

Being hyper-productive and constantly busy is a badge of honor in our always-connected society. But experts say we miss out on a lot if we’re never bored. Why?  Because being bored can lead to some of our most original thoughts. In fact, there are even conferences devoted to boredom, including the International Interdisciplinary Boredom Conference and London’s annual Boring Conference

Before booking your flights to “Mundania,” however, let’s take a look at some of the biggest benefits to being bored occasionally:

1. Boredom can make you more creative.
British psychologist Sandi Mann gave subjects various boring tasks to complete and then asked them to use their creative thinking. The subjects who had the most boring task — reading the phone book — came up with the most interesting uses for plastic cups, which is a standard test of divergent thinking. According to Mann, boredom encourages your mind to wander and helps you unlock more associative and creative ways of thinking. Hmmm.

2. Boredom lets you know when something is off. University of Louisville professor, Andreas Elpidorou, wrote in a psychology journal that boredom is a warning to ourselves that we are not doing what we want to be doing. When channeled properly, however, boredom can be great motivator that incents us to switch goals and projects, Elpidorou concluded.

3. Boredom makes you more goal oriented.
In a process known as "autobiographical planning," a team of European and American researchers found that people most frequently plan and anticipate their future goals while daydreaming.

4. Boredom can make you more productive. Boredom often stimulates a region of the brain that’s responsible for "thought controlling" mechanisms and "thought freeing" activity. Researchers at Bar-Ilan University discovered that daydreaming doesn't harm your ability to succeed at an appointed task, but rather helps it.

Dr. Guy Baker, Ph. D, founder of Wealth Teams Alliance (Irvine, CA) told me recently that a certain amount of repetition is essential for becoming highly skilled in any endeavor. “Being disciplined, following a strategic philosophy and a tactical strategy can be repetitive. But it produces results over the long run. What causes failure is jumping from idea to idea and trying to outguess the market,” Baker added.

5. Boredom can make you a better person. Researchers in Ireland found that when we're bored, we lack perceived meaning in our activities and circumstances. They concluded that this induces us to search elsewhere to re-establish our self-meaning.
“It may appear to an outsider that the lack of change and staying the course is boring, and on some level it is,” explained Baker. “But to stay sharp and to anticipate the big picture and to recognize long term trends that provide opportunities requires one being alert and focused on what is happening around them.” That takes time and repetitive effort.

6. Boredom could be an essential ingredient for happiness. Almost a century before social media and mobile phones came onto the scene, philosopher Bertrand Russell mused on the makings of a happy life. Much of what he concluded is still relevant today.
"A life too full of excitement is an exhausting life, in which continually stronger stimuli are needed to give the thrill that has come to be thought an essential part of pleasure,” wrote Russell.

Conclusion 

As Jude Stewart explained in the Atlantic, “In our always-connected world, boredom may be an elusive state, but it is a fertile one. Watch paint dry or water boil, or at least put away your smartphone for a while. You might unlock your next big idea.”

As anyone who has ever run, bicycled or swum for long distances can tell you, one of the best ways to get into a flow state is to engage in a repetitive activity that blocks out all the distractions. I’ve found it even works when mowing the lawn.


#benefits of boredom #flow state  #creativity