Thursday, January 31, 2013

Experts Extra - Jim Rohrback: Success Skills Coach

You've been hearing the same news for so long now that you take it for granted. "This is a tough environment," the media drones. "People are working harder than ever with less to show for it." The doomsday drumbeat is never-ending. 

But surprisingly enough, if you take a walk outside, you'll see that the sky hasn't fallen. And until it does, you've got some work to do to counteract all the negative messages out there. 

High achievers know it's critical to maintain a positive mental outlook, no matter what's going on around them. So how do you develop and maintain a winning attitude? Here are some strategies I use personally to stay positive in a negative world:
  • Revisit your mission statement. The starting point of all high achievement is a clear sense of purpose. Your mission statement is your personal pledge of allegiance, a description of who you are and what you are all about. The first thing I do with all of my clients is have them develop a mission statement, then have them commit it to memory and recite it every morning. Why? Because that was the secret of success for the likes of Andrew Carnegie and Woodrow Wilson. Napoleon Hill, in his classic book Think and Grow Rich, stated, "Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.

  • Affirmations. Before you can become a "legend in your own time," you must first be a legend in your own mind. One way to do this is to use affirmations: repetition of positive statements in the present tense as if they were already a fact. A simple example is to affirm, "I am a top achiever!" You need to talk, dress, and act like a winner. Affirmations are a key strategy for many top performers. Many people are reluctant to use affirmations, thanks in part to Al Franken's character Stuart Smalley, who'd earnestly look into his mirror to do his "daily affirmations" on Saturday Night Live. The hilarious parody had the unfortunate side effect of making affirmations appear pretty silly and pathetic. Yet Brian Tracy, a world leader in personal development training, says that he personally uses affirmations on a daily basis. So who are you gonna believe on this matter: Stuart Smalley, a fictional underdog, or Brian Tracy, a real-life achiever?

  • Review your goals. There's a famous 20-year study of Harvard graduates that demonstrated the power of goal setting: researchers found that only 3% of a graduating class had clearly written goals. Twenty years later they documented that this group of goal-setters had accumulated more wealth than the other 97% combined. This link between goal setting and success is not lost on high achievers; they commit clear goals to writing and review them regularly.
  • Visualization. One of the important skills taught to professional athletes is mentally picturing specific successful outcomes (e.g., the perfect golf swing) while in a meditative state. If this skill improves performance for millionaire athletes, why wouldn't it work equally well for you? Visualize closing a big deal, seeing your name at the top of the production chart, being congratulated by the boss, etc. Remember, you need to "see" it before you can believe it. 
  • Positive mental input. Why not decide what gets into your own brain? Take on the challenge of a "media fast" for a week—shut off the TV, ignore the newspaper, avoid commercial radio, and so on. Most media is designed to "addict" you to without benefiting you. As an example, suppose you listen to talk radio in the morning—anybody from Rush Limbaugh to Howard Stern. Question: How much money has listening to them put in your pocket? (Answer: None!) So I suggest you replace this negative input with reading success books, listening to motivational audio programs or books on tape, and attending skill-building seminars. This will have a positive effect on your attitude and your bottom line. 
  • Physical exercise. High achievers understand the importance of staying in shape. Just like professional athletes, those who make it to the top know they must keep themselves fit. And a regular workout regimen has a multitude of benefits—it reduces stress, clears the mind, builds endurance, and provides that "look of a winner" for attracting and keeping business. It makes no difference what form of exercise you choose, just as long as you enjoy it enough to do it 4 or 5 times a week. 

  • Positive support group. When it comes to success, like-minded people attract. So if you want to be a top producer, start hanging out with them, not with the also-ran characters that lurk about the water cooler—you'll be guilty by association. One assignment I give my clients is to identify successful people in their company, then invite them to lunch to find out what they're doing. Most high achievers are flattered by invitations to share their success stories.
One final thought: if becoming a top producer were easy, everyone would do it, and then it would be worth the equivalent of flippin' burgers at your local fast food joint. The people who use the ideas I've described here know how to stay positive in a negative world—and they're the select few you're going to see at the top.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Experts Extra: Vestment Advisors

How We Brought On 100 Clients in 18 Months: 9 Key Strategies
By Katherine Vessenes, JD, CFP, RFC 

We just celebrated a great day—102 of our target market clients engaged us in just 18 months! No one was more surprised by these great results than me. Here is how we did it: 

1. We stuck to the PMS model 

There is only one way to get your business to the million-dollar mark and beyond. Advisors need to spend their time focusing on three things: (1) prospecting, (2) meeting with clients, and (3) securing the relationship—P-M-S. Everything else is delegated. I have a fantastic team, and these numbers would not be possible without a great deal of dedicated support. I spend about 80% to 90% of my time in front of clients. 

2. We treat the business like manufacturing 

I got some great advice from a million-dollar advisor a decade ago. After meeting with three to four new clients per day (and leaving absolutely exhausted), she reminded me: this is an assembly line. We took that advice and added another piece to it: it is a very high-touch assembly line. 

We have very defined processes and systems. These include a set meeting schedule, and we don't deviate from it. These processes are designed to provide a level of service to clients that they can't get anyplace else. We always do the same thing in a first meeting, second meeting, and so forth. That makes it much easier for staff to prepare, because we are not reinventing the wheel at every point in the process. Also, we are constantly looking for ways to make our processes more efficient and more effective. 

3. We found the perfect niche 

We like to work with young, educated clients who like us—and we also have to like them! When we started our practice in Providence, R.I., we started focusing on young professors at Brown University. We had experimented with a number of other niches and found that this one really clicked for us. 

There were a lot of reasons this niche worked: they appreciated my education and law degree, they were underserved, they didn't have deep relationships with other advisors, and then there was the water-cooler effect. I found niches work much better when the members are housed in the same building and see each other every day. They must run out of things to talk about over lunch, because sooner or later they bring up finances—and our name. 

4. We market through educational events 

Initially our marketing focused on educational events. We found it was important to have a topic that not only was of interest to our target market but also had a high pain factor. It is not my style to do teaser presentations. So I make sure each of these events has great content—content they can use to make their lives better. 

Even if attendees didn't want to come in and meet us later, I wanted them to have a great time and a good impression of us. Because the next time we did an event, they could still be good cheerleaders for us. These presentations allow the potential future client to get to know us in a nonthreatening setting and see if our philosophy will fix their pain.
5. We call back after the event 

You can have the best marketing event in the world, but if you are not good at converting event attendees into appointments, your system will never work. We have a proven system for following up with attendees. First, we never call folks who said they weren't interested in coming in for a meeting. In fact, we don't even put them on our e-zine list. For those who expressed interest and requested a call back, we call them within two days of the event and also send them a follow-up email. The email just reminds them there is no cost or obligation with the initial meeting, just a chance to answer their questions and get to know them. I don't want them to feel any pressure. I have found that the greater the time lapse between the educational event and the call back, the harder it is to secure the meeting—so it is important to do these as quickly as possible. We usually make these calls in the evenings or on Saturday mornings. 

6. We heed the Pareto principle 

Of course you know of the 80/20 rule: 80% of your income comes from 20% of your clients. Unfortunately, since we were just starting out, we couldn't afford to be that picky. There was one place where I drew the line, though: there were certain clients I just didn't want to take on. I knew they would be difficult, time consuming, or hard to please, or that they would put a lot of extra stress on our systems. 

It's like an inverse 80/20 rule: about 80% of your problems and stress come from 20% of your clients. As a result, we fire about 20% of interested potential clients. I try hard to assess in our first meeting if the prospect is a good fit for us and if we can keep them happy. If not, then we take a pass on them. 

7. We stopped asking for referrals 

For those who have been reading my articles for years, you are probably wondering if I have lost my mind. Yes, I have written a lot on this topic, but I decided to try something both easier and more effective: I stopped asking for referrals. Instead, we just give a "wow" level of service that is not available from other firms. The strategy definitely worked. We started getting referrals by the third month we were in business. Now over a one third of our new clients come from happy existing clients. 

8. We focus on saving taxes now and in the future 

Most of our clients had no idea that they were going to be paying more in taxes in the future. Although the recent legislation is waking a few more up, we spend time showing clients the importance of planning for tax-free distribution strategies in retirement. Once again, this sets us apart from other firms, but it also allows me to sleep better at night, knowing clients will be better off in retirement if some of their income is tax-free. 

9. We provide a "wow" experience 

I believe part of the key to getting more referrals is to provide your existing clients with a wow experience they can't get elsewhere. Here are a few of the things we have done in the last year that we don't see many other advisors doing:
  • A young professional had a chance to buy into his practice—but I didn't like the loan they were offering. Solution: one of our team members spent two days calling every bank and credit union in Rhode Island to see if we could find him a better rate. We found him a great HELOC at a local credit union, which allowed him to not only save in interest but deduct the payments. Result: thousands of dollars in savings every year.
  • A young lesbian couple wanted to adopt. We reviewed all the financial planning issues for same-sex couples and found there were a lot of gaps in their financial plan. Then I put my chief of staff on the phone to find an experienced attorney in Massachusetts who did adoptions for same-sex couples. The trick was finding an attorney who was experienced with same-sex adoptions. Result: very happy, satisfied clients who have sent me a lot of referrals.
  • A female Korean professional wanted a life insurance policy where the death benefit could go to her parents in Korea, and she could use the cash value for tax-free revenue in retirement. Unfortunately, Olde Fogey Insurance Co. didn't like the arrangement because our client didn't have a green card. They wanted her to set up a U.S. trust for the benefit of her parents. It would have cost our client $2,000 to $3,000. Solution: we went back to the insurance company and lobbied on her behalf. They relented and allowed her parents to be the direct beneficiaries. Result: happy client was saved thousands in legal bills and sent us about eight new clients in the last year.
In short, we found clients are hungry for the advisor who is willing to go above and beyond and provide service and solutions that they can't get elsewhere.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Recommended Reading - Concerning Widowhood: Insights for the Newly Widowed Christian Woman

I am neither widowed nor a woman, but I read "ConcerningWidowhood: Insights for the Newly Widowed Christian Woman" on the recommendation of a dear friend. I am so thankful that this book was brought to my attention. The lessons in this book are practical, powerful, insightful and inspirational. The path to healing that Mrs. Woods outlines in this book would serve as guideposts for any person trying to navigate their way through life while facing almost any loss or challenge.

The book is easy to read, yet thorough and comprehensive. She has identified "The Five F's" which are areas of concern that are crucial to focus on in the initial stages of widowhood. I found that these 5 areas are not just chosen randomly as some similar lists are, but are indeed vital areas a person must focus on to put their life on a solid footing. Also, the Biblical principles and Bible verses that are found throughout the book are both useful and serve to edify the mind and spirit.

I hope that this book which is specifically written for widows, is widely read by any person who may have suffered a loss, lost their way, or simply needs an inspirational reminder of what path to follow towards finding, spiritual and mental strength. Hopefully this is the first in a series of books directed towards other audiences who are also in search of a plan for establishing a firm spiritual foundation and practical wisdom to lead a purpose-filled life. I highly recommend this book to all and hope to hear more from this writer again in the very near future.  

Angela Lane Woods holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Professional Writing in creative and applied writing. She's done freelance commercial writing on a part-time basis for many years. Until now she had put her own personal writing projects on hold in order to accommodate a series of life challenges, not the least of which was the loss of her soulmate and beloved husband of 15 years, Danny, in 2004 to a massive hemorrhagic stroke. 

She founded DAP, Danny's Angel Publishing, in 2009 in loving memory of the span of life that they spent together. In 2012, she was blessed to marry George and together they continue a writing legacy both jointly and individually that they pray will bless generations to come. 

For more from this author: 

Danny’s Angel Writes (
Widow’s Ark (

Facebook Fan Page: 



Concerning Widowhood: Insights for the Newly Widowed Christian Woman 

is available @ and on the Kindle