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Mastering Vision and Culture for an Advisor Transformation with Shawn Sparks

An advisor’s professional endeavors should never compromise their personal life. Instead their success in business should lead to success at home. My guest for this episode is Shawn Sparks who is on a mission to help the advisors achieve unlimited growth, freedom, and joy….in business and life.

Shawn has written a new book called The Advisor Transformation and in this episode we are going to learn his approach to creating an impactful vision for your business, optimizing operations and building a culture that sets you up for success

Shawn Sparks is the Co-Founder of Triad Partners.

Grab a FREE copy of the audio book and mention Jay Coulter sent you:

Grab a hard copy of the book here:


Jay Coulter (00:00.096)

An advisors professional endeavors should never compromise their personal life. Instead, success in business should lead to success at home. My guest today is Sean Sparks, co founder of triad partners. Sean is on a mission to help advisors achieve unlimited growth, freedom and find joy in business and life. Both he and his business partner Brad Johnson are professionals I have a tremendous amount of respect for. Sean has written a new book called

the advisor transformation. And in this episode, we're going to learn his approach to creating an impactful vision for your business, optimizing operations, and building a culture that sets you up for success. This is the resilient advisor show with Jay Coulter.

Jay Coulter (00:50.958)

Sean, thanks for taking the time for this interview. I've been enjoying your new book. Tell me, it releases March 22nd, 2024. What was it like writing a book? Well, I'll tell you, thanks for having me. I've been looking forward to talking with you on this show. To me, I think the book itself is based on the framework that we use to help advisors build a business of significance. And when we say significance, we believe that...

I think people pursue success too much and oftentimes the pursuit of success takes a toll on your personal life, your family, the things that are more important and you don't get that time back. So with the book, I, we've went down this mission. We've gone all in to help advisors build a business that becomes less dependent on them. It's better structured to where the team has more freedom. And it was so clear in my head that this needed to be out there for more people, need to be broader than just our coaching community. So.

I would say that the content within the book was all 100 % clear. For me to write the book was just putting those thoughts down on paper, making sure it flowed correctly and it was capturing the essence of what it takes to scale. Well, I got to tell you, before we dive into the book, I have been watching in awe over the last three years while you and Brad have built Triad Partners, both from a marketing perspective and the servant leadership mentality you guys have as it relates to growing your community.

It really, really is impressive. If you're not following Sean, Brad, and Triad Partners, make sure you are. They're doing it different. Let's dig into your book. So this is a big book with a lot of great information. I want to focus on three sections. So first, you have a unique view on how an advisor should look at vision. What are the sources of problems that advisors face when it comes to building a vision? Yeah, so if you...

If you're not clear on where you want to go and what you want to build, you may not end up where you want, where you want to be. And, um, I believe that we've honestly been trained, trained incorrectly about vision. I think, uh, people think like, Oh, one page vision or right, you know, go into the mountains and write down on three pages, four pages, what you want as far as a vision for your future. Vision is so much more than that. Uh, vision is the way at which you see the future that represents. What do you want your,

Jay Coulter (03:16.974)

company to be known for. How do you want to build your team? What do you want the culture to look like within your company? As a whole, we've got to say what are the stepping stones we plan to accomplish in the next few years? Most people don't, the big problem is they don't take the time to really understand what is the vision of the future that we would wake up every single day excited to be a part of and to build.

And I'll tell you, if you're not clear on the vision of your business, and if you don't wake up excited about what you're progressing towards in building, then as you look around at your office, your team's not excited either. And I believe that it takes a lot of deep soul searching on what you really wanna build, and that will increase the probability you end up in a place you love being at with your business. Yeah, hey Sean, in my experience working with advisors, it's not a 30 minute exercise.

I'm curious how you start the process of helping an advisor or team build their vision. What's the first step? Yeah, so the first step is kind of funny. I'll tell you a little bit of a story to answer it, but we will, we do an interview process with our advisors and we have a framework we use to make sure we encapsulate what's in their head and what excites them. So the first step, we have an advisor join us and they'll talk to us and we'll say, we're going to talk.

you know, the first step of the vision today, they get on the call. And I had a good friend, he's like, man, how am I going to get my way through this call? I have no clue what to do. And so the first step is to make time. And then consider all the categories that are really important. And I would say that we're too shallow in our thinking to say, Hey, what's your vision? It's like, Oh, I want to do 100 million in new assets per year. That's not a vision. That's a goal.

So the first thing is identify the key categories within your business. I think of them as what do we want our operations of our business to look like long -term? What do we want our value add for our clients to look like? Some people just sell products. Others really want to go upstream and get high net worth clients. Identifying who those avatar clients are that you serve. What is your unique value that you're going to provide people?

Jay Coulter (05:36.086)

So we want to go through with questions. What is it that we really want to become? And the truth is every advisors got a different, you know, vision of what they want. It's got to be unique to them and authentic. And then at the end of the process, what you do is you, I'll tell you, this is the thing that's most underrated Jay. Um, man, you've got to be excited about what you can see as far as a future. And I'll tell you that it's just so uncommon.

nowadays that, you know, people who are successful, who have made money, they almost are living in a state of reflection. Look what we've done and how we've done it. The moment that happens, as opposed to looking forward and saying, man, what can we become? That's the moment your career turns into a job. That's the moment the happiness and fulfillment you once had ends up being routine, boring and unexciting. So I would say that that's really,

a lot of it takes in soul searching and understanding how do we encapsulate and build a vision that we're all excited about. Yeah, Sean, you know, I tell advisors who are successful and they feel like they're stuck and they don't have some type of vision like this. I paraphrase a Tony Robbins quote, you really just have impotent goals. And that's why you don't you can't see a bigger future and you feel stuck. Yeah, I'm curious, giving given the success you've had helping advisors with vision. And this is from a practitioner standpoint.

What do you do when you have two partners and they're trying to build a vision together? There has to be some nuances to the framework. Yeah, so this is actually a really, really big problem. So partnerships are hard. And I'll tell you, partnerships, a good partnership will be the greatest blessing you could have ever had. Me and Brad have that. But partnerships never come without friction. So the source of, I would say, the large majority of problems with partnerships,

two people or three people actually falls back on the question. If we are not aligned on the future of the vision, the vision of what we want to build, every decision point in the future will be met with friction. What we've found is that a crystal clear vision that is constructed together with partnerships can be done. It's going to be a hybrid of two people's view, two people's perspective.

Jay Coulter (07:59.534)

But once that hard work is done to where we all have clarity on what we want to become, how we want to get there, that now becomes a line of accountability in all decisions going forward. 90 % of these problems we have in partnership, should we do this, should we do that, will now be answered based on this is what we agreed our vision is. And I'll tell you, this does not come without two different people have two different views.

The thing with partnership is we've got to realize our unique perspective, our differences are our greatest strength. But instead of focusing on those differences as problematic, because you're not going to find another Jay, you're not going to find another Sean. You've got to instead anchor back to what you have in common. And guess what you now have in common? A vision that's crystal clear. And I've done lots of work with partnerships. I will tell you, sometimes it seems like couples therapy.

but they don't have these conversations. What do we want to build? What's going to make, you know, and the other thing is each person's role will most likely be different in the vision. So it's two individuals building together as a team and dividing and conquering based on what they love and what they're good at. Rarely are both partners the same, same skill, same, same, uh, you know, things they enjoy. And you've got to be willing to let go and say, we don't have to make all these decisions. We need to find our clear role of what brings me fulfillment and what's,

best for the business for me to pour my time into, then we've got to marry those partnerships, that partnership together towards almost a divide and conquer method. And that's what me and Brad have done. I know what I love and I know what my gifts are. I know what his are. And as much as we've been close friends for a long time, it wasn't until we partnered together that we realized how different we are. And I will tell you, it's an exercise to embrace that, embrace those differences as a positive.

Then coming together and making sure we have clear alignment in the way we see the future and what we want to accomplish. Yeah, I'd say the most successful partnerships have they've identified their differences and they embrace them. Like you just said, one of the tools that I've used is the Colby A analysis as a starting point for that. What you're doing with this vision exercise is taking it to a whole new level. How do we go and take our differences, mesh them together to get into a situation where one plus one equals four? Is that fair? 100 % Yes.

Jay Coulter (10:19.854)

All right, so once you have defined the vision with an advisor or a partnership, what do you do? What's next? Yeah, so the first thing is, you've got to remember, if you've got an exciting vision that you want to accomplish, one of the greatest blessings in life is to wake up excited to go to work. Very few people have that. So number one is you need to have a big vision. You need to think big. If you're going to think big,

and you're going to do something amazing that's very special, which is what we all have as far as potential. You've got to realize you're not going to do this alone. It's going to take an incredible team to join you and say, let's do this. So the first thing is when you think your vision's done, it's not. What your vision is done is it's in your head and it's in your partner's head if you have a partnership, but now it's time to bring the team in, whether it's one person, whether it's three people, whether it's 10 people.

A vision that's exciting to me that is not shared to where everybody's a part of it and able to have a conversation around it. And oftentimes make it a lot better with their perspective. It's not going to work. So we've got to bring the team in. We've got to say, here's the vision of the future. It's an, and honestly, the way I see it is that's where you use your sales skills. Um, I believe selling is transferring belief. If I believe with complete conviction that we as a business can build this vision.

and it's exciting, then I want to transfer that belief to my team. And say, guys, we've got a very rare opportunity. I want to get them excited and they don't want to ask for their help. What perspective am I missing? What are some additional things? And then what we have is we've got the team in on it as well. And what's really cool is, and I'm going to be the first perfect example of this, as clear and as awesome as I thought the vision of Triad was, man, it's probably 10 times better than I ever could have thought of.

Why is that? Because I've had a whole bunch of amazing people come together and share, and they're in on it. It's their vision too. Now, this is what brings a team together and creates unity, which is going to be required for the vision to be accomplished. So I would say that when we think it's done, we're probably just getting started. Selling is a transfer of belief. We've got our first quote from the show for sure. I love it. Tell me, in the book, there's an example of an advisor who built a great vision.

Jay Coulter (12:49.998)

Could you walk viewers and listeners through what they experienced? Yeah, so I'll share a story. This one's personal to me. I have a good friend and by the way, his story is somewhat in here. But I want you to just consider a guy that's mid 40s. He has been amazing, very ambitious, just really wants to take over. You know, if you were to look in the

definition of relentless. It's like this guy was relentless and he would pursue with a narrow focus, the mission, and he would accomplish most of what he could. Now I'll tell you, the industry taught him that to be successful, you have to keep bringing in more AUM, more, more, more new business. And he was running full steam down this vision of production and he was building and building and building. And he got to about 80 million in new assets.

Now, for those that are listening, think about how many appointments you have to have with your current clients, new prospective clients. And he ended up getting to the point at 80 million new assets that he was like, man, this is like taking a toll, but it was almost like an addictive drug. He just kept going. And guess what? His vision kept pushing. Oh, I'm gonna do a hundred million. I'm gonna do this. Here's what's interesting. With him, he was a father, married to a beautiful,

wife is he's got three young boys and every time he was burnout and he was lacking present, you know, he wasn't present at home and he was missing the kids things every single time he told himself what you and I have told ourselves at one point in our career. I'm not doing it for me. I'm doing it for them. He told himself, um, man, just a little bit more and then we'll be able to live the life we want this.

addictive drug that we're on of productivity based vision. He was sure he was doing the right thing, but if you were to ask his wife or his three young boys, what do they want? They want their dad. And here's what happened. He ended up getting praised by the industry. Everybody's like, my goodness, 80 million a year in new business. He woke up in January. He said, man, I can't do this again. I've got to change. Now,

Jay Coulter (15:16.622)

This was just about three years ago. I'm gonna give you guys just a little bit of the end here. That same advisor who was working 60, 70 hours a week, 95 % of the business is no longer on his shoulders now. In fact, he took, a year and a half ago, he took like a six, I think it was six to eight week vacation in the summer with his family.

He completely changed the way he saw his business. He thought it was a production -based business, and he started thinking it based on how do I build a mature business, a well -oiled machine to where I'm no longer, the bigger the business begins, it becomes less dependent on me. For the first time in his mind, he started thinking of culture. How do I develop my team, give them responsibility and empower them to progress their own career here? How can I make my business,

be a conduit for their professional goals. And I will tell you the mission focused advisor, 80 million a year running full steam ahead on the hamster wheel, didn't even know those things existed. Then he started defining his business. He was able to build his business the way he got higher net worth clients. And today, 95 % of the business is not on his shoulders and he's tripled. In fact, as I speak with you, he's gonna do a hundred million in the first quarter of 2024.

And I will tell you, not only did his business grow, but everybody in his business grew, became better business people because he was able to let go. And then here's what's really cool. Now his wife and his kids will say, this business has been a blessing to our life. And I will tell you three years ago, they would say that business stole my dad. So his vision completely changed from how he wanted to build and how he equated growth within his business.

and how it wasn't based on his relentless effort. So it's amazing, the hard work, it's probably about a 90 day process. Next thing you know, nine months later, he sees a huge difference. Two years later, huge difference. And now he can get more production than he ever could have had it just been him in the past. Sean, that's an incredible story and really encapsulates the vision section of your book.

Jay Coulter (17:35.918)

viewers, listeners, if you would like a free audio version of Sean's book, they're going to make it available to you. Simply go to the advisor transformation .com forward slash friends. That's the advisor transformation forward slash friends. Sean, when you sent me an advanced copy of the book, I opened it up and I was expecting to see the chapters and framework that would be like most practice management, business development, business management books in our industry. And it wasn't.

a couple of things that stood out to me. One of them is a section on operations. And your view on operations I find fascinating. What is the best way at a high level to start thinking about operations? Yeah, so operations, the first thing we've got to remember is like the three main businesses that are required to grow is number one is you've got to have a marketing business. You got to have a way to get people in that you can help them. You've got to have a sales business.

When they come in, you've got to be able to demonstrate the value that you can provide them and to the point they have confidence and say, yeah, I want to be a part of this. But bringing more people in and bringing on more clients, we now have to fulfill the promises that we've made to them. And I will tell you most advisors and I have this, I'm wired the same way. Really good salespeople, good marketing people tend to not be great operations people. Operations represents process -driven details.

And we have got to have operations or what we're doing is bringing on more clients and then there's complete chaos. So operations to me represents everything else in the business besides marketing and the sales, but then making it a process driven approach as opposed to a people driven approach. My buddy Anthony, he told me, man, I used to just have a problem and throw people at it.

People need a framework to follow. The way that a team plays well together is they have a process and how do we communicate? What are the resources? What is the process for onboarding new clients to make them raving fans? It can't just be man and individuals in charge of the onboarding. Let's hope they're doing a good job. That's not the way it works. So the first thing with operations is we've got to stop thinking about our business from the advisor perspective. And we've got to think about our business as a

Jay Coulter (20:01.07)

from a business perspective. How do we build out a process within our company to where if somebody gets hit by the bus, the process is still written out, documented, and it's still able to run. And I think this is something that's kind of like a side of the desk job for most people because we're all focused on what? Bringing on more clients. Sean, I love that framework. I can hear the conversations with the advisors, particularly advisors that are great at sales.

marketing, business development. And this is kind of a, this is a painful topic for them. The question I normally get is, you know, Jay, can you help me with an org chart? How do you look at organizational charts? Yeah. So what we do is the first thing is an org chart represents a hierarchy. And I got to ask first, what is the purpose of an org chart? Because I think a lot of big corporations have an org chart. And what I want to know is why are we building it? How are we going to use it?

because for us to go through the exercise, it's gotta be, we've gotta be clear on how this is gonna serve our business. And I don't think like an org chart as a whole is gonna do much. So here's what I believe an org chart is required for. Number one is to have an org chart, it represents a leadership role. Every single person in your office deserves to have somebody who is a leader to them and that is developing them. I ask a,

offices all the time. And I knew you have these conversations too, Jay. They've got 15 employees, 12 employees. And I'll say, well, who does that person report to? Well, we all kind of just work as a team. And I'll tell you, if that person does not have a direct report, then it always falls back on who? Me as a leader. So we have to ask yourself who is in charge, whose job is to develop this team to communicate.

with the team. Communication is like the one thing that will kill any relationship. If you do not communicate well, you're in trouble. So often, if we don't have a org chart, which represents flow of information, communication, then whose responsibility is it to tell the team when we're making a business change? Who's going to inform them of how that change affects them? The why behind it, the thinking behind it. So what I see as an org chart, and we have one with around 80 employees today.

Jay Coulter (22:28.782)

It is a flow of communication. It is a role of leadership and development. And then it is accountability. So when somebody is like, what we look for is we reverse engineer, where's your business? What are the people you have? And we identify based on just our, you know, we've, we've seen a lot of these. Here's kind of the rules we have here, the rules we're missing. And then we start piecing it together. And then we arm the team with what this means. Cause I'll tell you like your team deserves a leader.

They don't need a manager. I don't believe they need a manager. They need a leader. And a lot of times great people leave companies because they don't have good communication. Change just happened and they're like, nobody ever told me whose job is it in your company to communicate. And it can't be the guy on the top. It can't be the CEO. It's like, oh yeah, you got to talk to 15 people now. Good luck. Um, in my office, I only have the ability to lead seven people. We've got 80.

Imagine me running around and trying to communicate and lead 80 people, it does not work. So this is the purpose of the org chart. And then we got to reverse engineer and understand like, who do we have? What are their skills? What roles do they play? And then we kind of do a comparison or model of like, here's another office similar to yours. Here's how the roles fit. Here are some pieces you might have missing that we should work towards. Or maybe they have the perfect recipe. They've got the right people, but they haven't informed those people what they own, what they're empowered to do.

how, you know, development opportunities. So I think there's a lot more meaning than the org chart itself behind, you know, why, why would we have one? So. Well, Sean, I love your thoughts on time optimization in the book. And I want to set this question up. Usually when an advisor or team reaches out to me, they have one of two pain points. They want to, they think they want to build some marketing system on social media like I have, which they don't, or they're overwhelmed by their business.

And one of the first steps in the process is to go do a business analysis. And almost all the time, they have too many clients to serve, and they're out of time. How do you approach time optimization when you're working with an advisor? Yeah, so great, great question, Jay. And that's a universal problem that entrepreneurs and business owners have. I share this in the book, but 89 % of small business owners work on the weekends.

Jay Coulter (24:56.526)

So think about that. And I would say that our advisor community is probably worse. So the first thing with time optimization we have to understand is our relationship with time needs to be super healthy. And when you start out in the business, you pretty much do everything. As your business grows, you've got to learn to fire yourself and trade your role to other people to then help you push the business forward.

So when I have somebody who works with me, you know, our team and what I put in the book is we cannot solve problems. We don't see so often, you know, you know, we'll work with somebody and they'll say like, Oh, they almost take coaching sound bites away, but the source of the problem has never been revealed. So what we do and what we put in the book there and that you read is that we need a snapshot of your current time.

Where is your time actually going? And I do a one to two week exercise with our people. We'll literally write down every single thing they do for a week or two weeks and we'll have it documented. Then we'll attack each one of those things at a time. Should we be doing this? Is it worth your hourly wage? Are you optimizing your productivity? Should nobody be doing this?

You'd be surprised how many times there's things that they're doing that literally should just be deleted. It's not a high leverage activity. Could technology do this is an interesting one. There's a lot of times we'll be like, my goodness, there's tech here that'll do that for you and you're wasting five hours a week doing it. And they're like, I never knew that. So we can be resourceful to solve it. And what's most common is we'll say who could do this. And you look around and I've had some amazing breakthroughs.

to where, you know, the right hand person says, I've been telling him for years to let me run that. I love doing it. He hasn't been willing to let go or she hasn't been willing to let go. So by doing it on a snapshot of where our time is actually going, that is the first step to optimizing our time. And I've seen people go from 60 hours a week to 30 within weeks. How this process. So that's how we, we do it. And we put a,

Jay Coulter (27:18.51)

couple of nice, really good stories in the book for people to read and how it can make an impact. But I think it's not that we don't have enough time, it's that we use our time very carelessly. And I think that that's what we need to figure out is we have to optimize our time in order to continue growing. Yeah, Dan Sullivan wrote a book called Who Not How, and I will send that to an advisor and tell them they don't even have to read it. It's just thinking through who should be doing a task, not how it needs to be done.

And that really, I think speaks to a concept that you have in the book called the delegation cycle. How do you approach teaching delegation to advisors and specifically those advisors that built that business from scratch and they're holding on to everything? Yeah, well, by the way, I totally agree with you on the book. The title is everything. I love the title. I've used that often as well. But to your question, so.

delegation, everybody who's ever tried delegating, um, has failed at some point when you, when you delegate to team, a team, team member, here's what we fear. And honestly, it's a learned fear because we've had it happen. The first one is, man, if I delegate this to somebody else, it's not going to be done as good as if I were to do it. The quality will be less. So fear number one is quality drops.

Fear number two is lack of follow through. Every one of the people on this that's listening has delegated something, woke up six weeks later and said, whatever happened with that? Nothing.

So this is why we are afraid to let go. We don't have confidence. The quality would be there and we don't have confidence it'll get done. The other quick one that's pretty common is they literally think, man, I could just do it myself in five minutes versus train somebody, which takes me an hour. But what they don't realize with delegation is if you do it once, you're signing up for it for the rest of your career. So I cover in the book permanent delegation.

Jay Coulter (29:27.)

which is to delegate a task today in five minutes, 10 minutes and say it takes you five hours, but to know that never comes up again to you for the rest of your career because it's been given away responsibilities no longer yours. That's the benefit. And that's the way we have to think. So with delegation, that's what we've got to understand. Now, how do we overcome that? The fear, the timing, the first thing is, um,

I learned this from Michael Hyatt, Jay. I don't know if you're familiar with Michael. Of course. So he'd be my mentor, my business coach, and I talked to him all the time. And years ago, he taught me a principle called the 1080 -10 rule. This completely solved my own fear, which we've all had it with delegation. The first problem with delegation is we've got this fast running entrepreneur. We'll call him Jay. He's

pushing hard, trying to build. And man, he's like, oh, I got to delegate. So he's like, it's like he's on the track and he throws the baton to his teammate quickly. Doesn't stop. Doesn't give them the communication. Doesn't give them the why. Next thing you know is the team runs with the baton and they start building it and it comes back completely off. That's not what he wanted. That's not what Jay wanted. Why is this? Because most of the time, delegation is a problem is because of how it was delegated.

not how it was received. So what we've got to do is we've got to, the first 10 % of delegation represents take the time to carefully give the vision and overview of what you need done. Give the receiving party the chance to talk, ask questions, to confirm communication, with communication, it is clear. Once that first 10 % has been transferred clearly and it takes time and patience,

Now the person you've delegated to, we've got three things that can happen. They can take action immediately and they do 80 % of the execution.

Jay Coulter (31:34.03)

Or they can actually disagree with you. In our business, I delegate to specialists, which in my opinion are better than me. That's why they're there. A lot of leaders don't like being challenged. For somebody to build something with conviction, they should be allowed to challenge it in a very healthy way. So execute, take action, challenge it, right? Or...

There's or if or you can ask questions to get more clarity. So there's three options. Now, once we've overcome the vision, the first 10%, they are now in charge of 80 80 % of the execution. And this is going to ensure that it gets done. We're going to identify a timeline of when this can be be done and when it's expected. The last 10 % of delegation is a quality control. I have delegated. They've built it. That last 10 % I'm going to review.

And maybe there'll be some little tweaks here or there, or maybe it's just heck yeah, let's go. Here's why this is cool. This is why we use it. It's a part of our culture now in our company. I am ensuring that it's followed through on with the date of when it's going to be done. It's all done. So the follow through fear is gone. I am increasing the quality, not ensuring it until the last 10%. That last 10%, it will not go out to the public. Let's think of marketing. It will not go out at all until I get the final check.

Check the box, I approve. But here's what's cool is after running through this exercise multiple times, eventually you realize you don't need to change anything, they completely got it. And it's probably better than I could have delegated or I could have done. And the next thing you know is now they own the responsibility going forward, not just the tasks. This is how we develop the team. This is how we ensure quality and execution occurs. And this is what we train and teach people. It's the 1080 10 rule.

I am sure that Michael Hyatt's 108010 rule will be one of my biggest takeaways from this podcast. That is a fantastic framework. Viewers, listeners, remember you can download an audio copy of this book, get that story and more by going to the advisortransformation .com forward slash friends. Let's move on to culture. So I have probably read every practice management book in our industry for the past 25 years.

Jay Coulter (34:01.422)

really have not seen one that goes deep on culture to the level that you do. When we were preparing for this podcast, it became very clear why it's so important to you. And you guys are eating your own cooking at Triad Partners. So how do you look at culture from a high level when you start? Yeah, so culture, I think, is one of those things that's not clearly defined by people as well. And here's what I did on my personal journey.

I had a big vision like we talked about. I knew that man, I wanted to fulfill my potential and maximize the difference I can make as a human. Big thinkers, big visions are going to require great people. There's no way we're getting around that. So I made a deal with me and Brad when we were just getting started and I was like, if the culture's right, success is inevitable.

If the culture is wrong, we can kiss this dream goodbye and we're going to live with regret. So the first thing we considered was not marketing, not sales, not operations. The main project was how do we build a great culture, which would then attract incredible people to help us build. And it would give them fulfillment and happiness within this mission because I knew it was required.

So culture can't be a side project. Culture is not a ping pong table and a beer keg in your office. Culture is a mutual understanding of how all of the people who join us, what they value, the environment they want, the attitude and humility that we want. And I'll tell you, so it is honestly a part of our DNA as people and it is a commitment each and every person at our company makes. I'll do...

I'll do trainings with, we'll bring a whole team in, a whole advisor team. We'll have 17 people in and we call it an intensive, but it's a way to really do like what I would say is a, a bootcamp to just really help improve all things. I'll ask them every single time. I'll say, how many of you here want to be a part of a company that's got an exciting, amazing future, a really exciting story, great potential. Everybody says they all do. Say how many people want to come into an office environment?

Jay Coulter (36:26.51)

to where the people around you care for you. They have a positive attitude towards you. When you're struggling, they're checking on you. They're not gossiping about you. How many of you want the culture to where you care for each other? Every single person. We're all humans. We all want the same thing. How many of you want to grow professionally? And you want to become better? Every single person. So,

Then I'll just ask him a question is I'll just say, well, if you want this, will you promise to create this for the person next to you? Can all of you make a commitment to each other? That's non -negotiable that you will create that culture among your group. You will lock arms and say, I will, I will treat these people despite our differences. I will treat them how they want to be treated. I will care for them. I will be there for them.

I will look out for them. I will step in and help them when they're overworked. I won't ever say that's not my job. I won't ever blame or give fault, but I'll give feedback. So what I believe with culture, it's a feeling every single person in your office has on the environment at which you've created. And we all want the same thing, but nobody takes the time to define it and to manufacture that.

And when I say manufacturer, I say it in the sense of arming your team, training your team on how to develop that. Because the truth is, Jay, you and I aren't going to create our culture. When me and you were in Florida, how does the team treat each other? What's the attitude they have toward each other? That's their choice. So what we do is we, and we teach this within the book, but,

don't leave culture to chance. By default, your culture is going to be terrible because people are dysfunctional. Train your team, arm them with the skills it takes to get what they want out of the career they have. And that's what I think is it needs to be the main thing if we have a big vision. Well, I tell you what, this is how I've seen that manifest on the outside.

Jay Coulter (38:48.014)

So watching you, Brad and the team build over the last three years, the culture that I see from the outside looking in is one of mutual respect, being advisor first, taking care of your employees, this construct around champagne moments and celebrating the wins, and the do business, do life framework in that you guys aren't just about business. And I believe, and you're gonna have to correct me if I'm wrong, I think your conferences include spouses and kids.

And you guys broadcast that everywhere. That's a culture that attracts the right type of people, I would imagine, for what you're trying to build it. Did I get that right? Looking? You've got it perfect, Jay. So the thing is, um, here's the truth.

It's for selfish reasons. When I decided what I wanted to build in the next 20 years of my career, I wanted to build a business like that. I wanted to include my family. You know how many work trips we go on and then as much fun as it is, you're half there. You feel guilty because it's another trip away from your family. And, um, or your spouse isn't welcome to go to the conference for whatever reason.

The truth is, I wanted to build a business, and this is the test for culture. I wanted to build a business to where my family was a part of it and was integrated, to where it was their experience too. You know, we don't do events, we do experiences. If it's not going to create a memory, it's not worth doing. So we sincerely say, wait a second, here's the test. What would your spouse say about your relationship with your job, your job?

What would your kids say about where mom works or dad works? That's the test. It's not what they're going to tell you. We said everybody who touches triad, whether it's our members, their families, whether it's our team, anybody who has an interaction with triad, we want them to say that business has been so good to us. That's been a blessing to our family. And we've had to build with our vision from a whole different lens than just how do we get more money?

Jay Coulter (41:02.222)

How do we become more successful? Do you see how the vision completely changes? So I would say that at first we probably thought it was gonna be more expensive. You gotta do all these kids activities and do all this stuff. Oh man, it's so much cheaper. And I say cheaper because we now have all of the kids and all the families, we've had spouses say, I made my husband or my wife promise never to take me to one these conferences again. But they're like, man, I can't wait till the next one. We've got kids saying, where are we going this summer?

So my point would be is how do we equate the cost there? I mean, we've got truthfully loyalty of the whole family, not loyalty of just the business guy or gal. And that's been one of the best decisions I think we've made is just with do business, do life is we really mean it. It's like, these are not our work friends. These are our friends. And we know the truth is you don't know me if you don't know the kind of father I am.

You don't know me if you don't know my spouse. You don't see me around them, my family. So we want authentic, real relationships with our people, which creates a level of care in working together that can't be faked. And I think a lot of business relationships are too surface level. Yeah, without a doubt. I want to stay on culture, but let's pivot away from triad and let's talk about some cultures that have failed.

So obviously without naming names, what are culture killers? What have you seen really bring down organizations as it relates to culture? Yeah, so the first one is divisive behavior. I will tell you that your team will find a way to divide. And divided, house divided cannot stand. Like you're not going to build this vision if you're divided.

I'll give you an example, true story of what happened. And by the way, it's like, it was a great lesson. There was an advisor where a staff member was upset with another team member. Let's just say the team member had a little bit of a tone, you know, they're in battle and maybe they were a little impatient. They didn't frame things correctly. So team member runs off and tells another team member, you wouldn't believe the way, you know, she talked to me.

Jay Coulter (43:24.75)

And then the other team members like, yeah, I've seen that with her too. And kind of like the pile on when you're frustrated, you want an ally human nature. Now we've got two people who are upset with one person too goes off and talks to somebody else. Next thing you know is you have three people as allies against one person who maybe was a little bit quick and direct and maybe the tone was off and maybe it should have been fixed.

But that's not fair to the first person to now have them teaming up on them. And here's what's interesting. They sat down with each person individually.

Person two, who was the second person to hear it.

had a good heart. He said, and I had a lot of pride that I was somebody that she needed somebody to talk to and she came to me. And I really wanted to be her friend and helper. And he said, I had no idea what I really did. So what he was thinking about was being a friend of the person who was frustrated. And in turn, he divided the company.

Had he been flipped around on the other side, he said, no way, I wouldn't want that. So here's the lesson. We have to, in our commitment with culture, we have to say what is best for the business first. We cannot put our personal friendships before that. We have to protect that company because we have committed to do it. And the appropriate plan of action there would have been simply having the person talk directly with them.

Jay Coulter (45:09.55)

and working it out and not creating gossip, which is very painful. And honestly, it kills. It kills. It kills businesses. So that one meeting changed their culture immediately because everybody saw the impact and nobody knew before. So guess what? They weren't armed with, Oh my goodness, I didn't even realize this. Didn't realize I was doing it. So there's one. Um, so teaching them and training and helping people to see, look as a pack, we have to,

Unify. You know, we've got to, we've got to be one that's protecting each other. We'll always have people we'd naturally gravitate to, but we need to make sure we keep it professional. We create boundaries around how we handle those things. The other one that is deadly and super common, and this happens with all the teams. It doesn't just happen with the founder, but I will tell you ego and arrogance is visible in everyday interaction. A lot of times people don't even know it.

It doesn't come from what I've seen as an egotistical standpoint. It might be not listening to your team's ideas, not being open to feedback. Falling in love with your own ideas represents ego. There are times with team members when they say like, man, no, no, no, I love doing this. I don't want somebody else as we expand to take that role. I love it. It's mine. I just enjoy it. We can't ask ourselves, what do we enjoy in this case? We say, what's the business need of us? Because we want to do what's best for the business. Think about sports.

I'm a big Michael Jordan fan. Imagine BJ Armstrong waking up and saying, I like shooting. Going forward, I'm going to try to score 30 points a game. Would they have won a championship? No, we all have to play our role, be clear on it, and we have to do what's best for the business. So I would say those are some things. And with our culture, that's one that I don't think you mentioned, but our first rule is leave your ego out the door. I titled myself the Chief Nothing Officer. I'm just like,

I'm here to serve and here to help. I don't need a title where I need to hire anything. I want to help everybody else become successful, which in turn will help our company become successful. So I think humility is a really big piece of it. Advisors, if you're only going to read one chapter of one book this year, make sure you read the chapter on culture in the advisor transformation. And Sean's going to give it to you for free.

Jay Coulter (47:33.678)

in the audio form if you go to the advisor transformation .com forward slash friends. Sean, I have five more questions. We're running up on time. But if it's all right with you, I'd like to run through them because I think your answers are to these will be really, really helpful to the audience. Let's keep it going. All right. What does and this is based on our pre call. And I think your framework around some of these questions is fantastic. What is the term business development mean to you? Yeah, so

to develop the business, which is the opposite of what I would say is a practitioner, just a doer. I believe that business development represents having the business grow beyond the individual's productivity. So we consider ourselves a business development company. We develop businesses, which represents all the aspects of the business and how to make this thing.

unattached to one person or individual. And that's what really the prize is, because the better your business is developed, the more freedom your team will have, the more they will do what they love, the more they will specialize, the better output you'll get. So it is really a way of maturing the business as a whole outside of just, you know, what advisors a lot of times think it's just, how do I become a better advisor? That's not, that's not the key here. There's so much more to it. It's a

broader sense of the term, which allows just building a better business overall. How should advisors measure success? I believe it should not be just based on production, which is where most people do. And it shouldn't be what your friends and family think of you as like, Oh man, you got number one in the company or whatever. That's, that's all status. Your, your measurement of success needs to be the terminology significance.

It's maximizing the impact you can make without taking a toll on yourself or your team that you're going to wake up with regret one day. I think there's a framework I've used in my life. It's just regret minimization. Why do most financial advisors fail? Most financial advisors fail. And I'm going to say the failure rates in the first year typically, meaning getting out of the business, correct? Correct.

Jay Coulter (50:02.222)

I study shows 70 to 90 % of financial advisors fail in 12 months. So the, the, the first thing I'll say on that is, uh, people get into the business first 12 months and they're expected to be very knowledgeable, uh, analytical, great with finance. They're expected to be great communicators and confident, have confidence to be able to get people to say, I want to work with you.

They need to be great relationship people to where once we get a client, we over serve them on the backend. So the recipe and what we're expecting from an advisor is to go chase, try to bring on clients and should have knew all this stuff in 12 months. A lot of people wake up and say, I don't like the business. They don't, they aren't cut out for the failure. A lot of them are really super smart and analytical, but they can't transfer that belief.

They're not, usually the analytical people aren't the best communicators. So I believe that the industry's got it wrong on what an advisor is because the attributes we're looking for are really hard to find in a kid or somebody coming in their first year. So this is where I would say what we do. So we've got 23 year old kids coming in and being successful, 30 million a year in new assets. And everybody's like, well, how do they do it? Well, the first one,

is be really clear on what that advisor's strengths are. If they're a great communicator, don't have them be the one that's putting the plan together. Who do you want to build a plan? Analytical people who are really good and they could just look at Excel spreadsheets and tweak everything. So we're trying to get this young advisor to go in and do everything. And I would say there are three types of advisors. There's a planner, who's really good with numbers and putting plans together. There's a great salesperson, who is the one that I would want transferring the belief of that plan to me.

And then there's relationship people. A lot of times the best sales people aren't the best in getting back to people with service. So there are three types, service advisor, planning advisor, sales advisor, all working together represents what we found it increased the probability of success. And unfortunately, new people coming into the business, they're expected too much as expected of them. And then the other piece is they lack training. You know, think about what you know in the business.

Jay Coulter (52:29.454)

and how much years it took. And just like imagine transferring 20 years of experience into a young advisor who's got the right heart. And you're trying to give them 20 years of experience in three months and hope they succeed for six months. It's impossible. So we believe in getting advisors into the business, you need a duplicatable model and it needs to be curriculum based training, not situational.

You can't just say, hey, come follow me around and shadow me for six months and you're going to be successful. It'd be like going to school and having a final and at the professors not giving you any notes or textbooks to study and just say, I'm going to test you on everything you should know because I told you it's impossible. There's a reason the school systems use curriculum. So what we do is we build a very careful curriculum exactly what to do and how to do it so they can get a PhD in the success track of what it takes and then they gain the other training as they go.

And I think a lot of people just underestimate that training piece. And that's where I've seen in six months, 23 year old kids knocking out of the park. Why? Because they have a process to follow. And that's a big part of this, you know, that's in the book. It's like, we got to set people up for success. Right person, wrong environment, wrong person. We've got to set that up. All right, Sean, I'm going to put you on the spot in 60 seconds or less. Why has your partner Brad Johnson's podcast,

grown so fast. You know what? I'll tell you Brad's got a gift man. I'll tell you like I don't I don't know. He's the genius genius behind all that, but I'll tell you he's one of the most authentic people I know. And I'll give you a quote that I learned years ago and I think I'll say this is part of it. What comes from your heart will enter the heart of others.

And I believe when Brad speaks on his podcast out of authentic curiosity, it's coming from his heart. And I think that enters the heart of others. And I think a lot of people in business, I mean, we're talking about financial advisors. Man, if you don't believe in what you're selling, if it's not in your heart, you're not going to transfer that belief. I've had advisors, literally that's the thing. It's like they're failing. And the next thing you know is they finally get it.

Jay Coulter (54:59.554)

that I can really make a difference for people. And then business tech goes off the charts. So my point would be is I believe his style is very, very authentic. It's real. It's not scripted. And I believe that's probably been a big part of it. That's my guess. I would add from my experience, he asked the best questions in the business. All right. Last question. You only have 60 seconds.

What is your number one piece of advice for financial advisors?

My number one piece of advice. Don't. Don't don't sacrifice things. You will never get back. I don't care what you're pursuing ambitious, like your ambition, your competitive side. Man, when it comes to your family, your kids regret and guilt is something it's one of the you don't want it. And I would say that take control of your business. Build your business like your life depends on it. Because I will tell you it does.

and you have complete control of the outcome of what you build. And I just think a lot of people just go through the flow with emotions and just day in and day out. And they're not intentional about what they really want to accomplish. And you got to pair up those things together, business and life. They're one of the same. So make sure you build it in a way that is a blessing to you and all of your loved ones and so on.

Sean, thank you for your time today. Advisors, make sure you check out Triad Partners and head over to theadvisortransformation .com forward slash friends and grab a free audio copy of Sean's book. Thanks, Sean. Thanks for having me.


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