On Becoming A “Scratch” Financial Services Professional


Have you dreamed of becoming a “scratch” financial advisor?  In golf a “scratch golfer” is someone who has a handicap of “zero.”  Effectively he/she is playing PAR golf.  In 1911 the US Golf Association (USGA) defined PAR as perfect play without flukes and under ordinary weather conditions, always allowing two strokes on each putting green.”

For example, a par-3 hole is short enough that one shot is expected to put you on the green, with two putts to follow; a par-4 hole requires two shots to reach the green.  PAR, as stated in the definition above is based on perfect play, in other words, it is someone who is an expert at the game.

In the financial services business, “scratch” or “PAR” would be defined as an advisor or agent who has $100,000,000 or more of Assets Under Management (AUM) or $1,000,000 or more in Annual Revenue.

I am not suggesting that every financial services professional strive to reach the “scratch” level.  There are more important things in life than production and money.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I would think that most golfers enjoy the game and the challenge; they do their best to compete effectively against themselves and with their peers.

I think the key word is plateau.  What happens when people hit a wall and reach a plateau?  Some would probably just cope with it because they enjoy the game, some might feel a little frustration and would try a driving range, or putting green to see is they could improve beyond the plateau; some might decide that they could benefit from a few lessons and at least have someone critique their swing and their game.  Others, who are more serious about the game, may hire a swing coach to help them get to the next level of golf.

If you are already at PAR, congratulations are in order.  If you are a handicap player in the financial services business, it may take time to get to PAR.  For some it will take a change in thinking and attitude.  It will also take discipline and perhaps a coach who can help you make the right adjustments and hold you accountable.  For others, it will also take some changes in systems and processes.  In this case, you may need a practice management consultant who can help you install the right systems, processes and procedures and help you build an effective support team.

There is an old saying that “practice makes perfect.”  This has always been a flawed statement because the reality is that only PERFECT practice makes perfect.  There is no sense in repeating the wrong behavior over and over.  Most sales people do not spend enough time on the practice field to really sharpen their skills.  Hiring a qualified coach will add a measure of accountability and ensure that you are doing the right things right at the right time.


A golfer who knows the game, but can’t perform at PAR would not be considered an expert.  To be considered an expert as a financial services professional, it is not just about how many professional designations you have after your name.  It not only requires knowledge, but it also requires a performance at the “PAR” level.

A financial services expert then is someone who has the knowledge, the skills and the mental toughness to play consistently at the PAR level or below.

There are a couple of old sayings to keep in mind: (1) the person at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there and (2) everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.  Are you really willing to do what it takes to perform at the PAR level?

The Million Dollar Question is: Do you really want to be a “Scratch” financial services professional?

The second and more important question is: why do you want to be a “Scratch” financial services professional?

When you have clarity about the answers to these two questions, you will be on your way to wearing your own green jacket.

From Bogey Advisor to Scratch

It all starts with your thinking.  First, you need to know who you are and assess your capabilities?  How clear is your vision of the person you could become?  Do you have a crystal clear vision for yourself and your family?  Do you have a vision of what your business will look like when everything is working perfectly?  Do you really know why your goals are important to you?  Do you have the mental toughness to reach your goals?  Are you paying too much attention to some things and ignoring others?  Do you have the right people around you who can help you get there?  Will you be able to live your dream?

Long-term change in behavior and results starts with your thinking.

  1. Do you know how you decide what is good for you?
  2. How sharp are your people skills? Are people naturally attracted to you?
  3. What kind of systems and processes do you have in place to manage a $100,000,000 practice?
  4. At what percentage of your capacity are you currently operating?

There are assessment tools that can help you answer the above questions.  If you give me a call, I can help you with each one of the assessments.

Depending on the findings, we can determine what needs to be done to reach PAR and set your priorities.  If you are currently a Bogey Advisor (under $250,000 of revenue), then you have a lot of work to do to get to scratch.  You will probably need to start with building systems and processes and improve your service capabilities.

If you are a mid handicap advisor (over $250,000 but under $750,000 of revenue), then you have a shorter trip than the bogey advisor towards a scratch practice.  You probably need to review your “short game” by working on a detail here and there.  You will also have to work on your concentration and do a better job of setting your daily priorities.

“Consistency thou art a jewel” is a quote that many attribute to William Shakespeare.  Consistency is the key.  In golf it is the money players who can stay out of the rough and the traps; they are the ones who avoid trouble with one hole on the course.  For many, it is the one double bogey or triple bogey that sneaks up and ruins their chance at scratch golf.

In order to play at the scratch level, you will need to make more birdies and pars than ever before.  The Birdies are the clients who have over $1,000,000 with you, or who can pay premiums of over $50,000 per year.  The scratch financial services professional knows how to clone his /her top 20 clients.  PAR is about your activity level; it is about the right mix of networking, new prospects, telephonics, face to face meetings closes, and service work.

Par is activity based, but par is not achieved by everyone.  Here are the activity levels that are necessary to get you to PAR:

  1. 60 Prospects. You should have 60 people in the mill.  These are referrals and other leads that you have received.  These are people who have not done any business with you.  They are basically the raw material of your practice
  2. 60 Phone Calls. Each week you should talk with 60 people on the phone.  These are actual two-way conversations (not voicemail messages) including requests for meetings and service work.
  3. 60 Appointments. Each month you should strive to have 60 face to face meetings.  These meetings include first time meetings, discovery meetings, presentations and closes as well as service work.
  4. 60 Cases in The Mill. These are situations where both you and the prospect/client have agreed that there is a specific problem that needs to be solved.  You expect that these cases can close within 60 days.
  5. 60 Appointments Booked Ahead. Getting 60 ahead is the hard part.  Maintaining it is easy: all you have to do is replace the appointments that have taken place or cancelled.

Just like in golf, you are not going to hit par very often, if at all, but it is something you shoot for.

Each day’s activity must be deliberate.  The sooner you focus and set your Daily Five Most Important Tasks, the sooner you will become a scratch advisor.  Make sure that you are practicing good habits and you are consistent with your routines.  Without a strong routine, you will never become a scratch advisor.

If you think 2017 is the year you want to achieve PAR and become a scratch advisor, give me a call and we can create the blueprint, break a few bad habits, get you out of your familiars and ruts, and then take the action steps to make it happen for you.

Receive a free MindScan profile and a 45-minute consultation.

The MindScan; an incredible assessment tool that measures how you think.  If you’ve ever wondered why you’re not reaching your potential, this assessment will give you clear insight as to why.  And better yet, reviewing your MindScan with me will provide you practical tips and strategies to break free and achieve more – NEVER LOOK BACK.

Imagine the advantage you’ll have with the awareness and strategies to leverage your thinking strengths and overcome your weakness.


Motivational seminars are wonderful, but after a few days, the enthusiasm wanes, the good intentions get crowded out by the urgencies of life and we find ourselves still wishing we could do it better!  Professional coaching picks up where the seminars leave off.  Founded on the principles of awareness, intentionality, accountability, synergy, commitment and momentum, coaching is about empowering individuals to achieve their greatest potential.

Potential to Actuality” is about understanding the gap between what could be and what actually happens.

Are you reaching your potential?  If not, then when and how?

Your outcomes are a result of your choices and your choices are the result of your thinking patterns.  So, in order to change your outcomes and circumstances, you have to change your thinking.  Albert Einstein said it well, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

How much longer are you prepared to work in your business without really understanding the way you think and why you “DO” or “DON’T DO” the things needed to achieve your desired outcomes?

To take the MindScan, go to: https://mindscanhvp.com/take_mindscan.php?usr=howate or

go to http://www;addiewoods.com/mindscan  for more information.


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I’ll Meet you at the Beach


D-Day (June 6, 1944) was one of the major turning point in World War II. In spite of all the planning that took place, everything did not go as smoothly as hoped.  There were over 10,000 estimated allied casualties including about 2500 deaths.  The weather was bad; many of the landing crafts didn’t make it to shore because of the rough water; soldiers drowned before they had a chance to reach the beach.  And some of them that did make it, landed at the wrong beach.

Shore bombing that preceded the invasion missed the target.  The holes that the bombs were supposed to make for the invading troops to take cover in did not exist, subsequently many German defense positions were left intact, leaving the allied troops unprotected.  It was a combination of circumstances and execution that caused most of the problems.  The plan was good.

But, how bad would things have been if there was no plan and everything was left to chance?  General Eisenhower did not just call up a few allied commanders on Friday, June 2nd and say: “hey, would you guys like to meet me at the beach on Tuesday, we are going to take on the Germans.”

A plan that doesn’t work is better than no plan at all.  General Eisenhower did say: “The plan is useless; it’s the planning that’s important.”  So herein lies the lesson for today…Develop a plan.  Some things will go great and other will not, just like the D-Day Plan.  You will learn many things during the process.  You will be further ahead with a plan than without one.

Planning is about the conversation and the learning that takes place during the planning.  It’s about people, their feelings and thinking.  It is about building trust and relationships.  It is about possibilities, about finding the best alternatives and planning for contingencies.  It is about focus and practice to make sure the plan will work. It is about thinking and believing that you can do better on purpose.  It is about team building.

Real success is not an accident; for many it starts with a defining moment; a moment when a decision is made to change.  Something finally clicks that triggers a change in thinking and a belief that goals can be achieved.  It may be a point in time when you just say to yourself: “I can do this!”  Greatness is not an event; it is a thinking process.

Greatness starts with thinking; you have to think it before you realize it.  A clear, focused vision of greatness leads to deliberate actions that create the need to plan, which creates the habits, systems, processes and procedures to make it real.  It is taking deliberate action.

The number one word for today is “INTENTIONALITY.”  Is everything you do deliberate?  Do you have a vision and a plan; are you tracking what you do every day?  Do you have the right systems, the right processes, and the right people to execute your plan?  How are you spending your time?

What may be missing is your clarity about who you could be and the desire to be and do your best.  What most likely is missing is a clear vision, motivation to be better, a practical plan, a coach and accountability.  General Eisenhower believed in his plan, it didn’t all work out the way it was planned, but they took the beach.

Action Plan.

  • Decide that your next 12 weeks are going to be your best 12 weeks.
  • Make a short plan for 12 weeks. Buy a copy of the 12 Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington at www.12weekyear.com.  Follow the plan.
  • Hire a coach to guide you and help you take ownership of your decisions.  be accountable.
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The Initial Interview (Part 4 of 4)


The Initial Interview (Part 4 of 4)

So far in this series we discussed scripting your story, networking and your brain.  In Part IV the topic is building trust and stronger more durable relationships.

The main goal of the Initial Interview is to earn the right to a second appointment, if you choose to do so.  It is about deciding if there is a value alignment.

The first meeting is usually about 30 -45 minutes; it is kinda like a first date.  The initial interview is not a sales meeting; the intent is not to sell a product or a specific service.  Fundamentally the outcome is to determine if there should be a next meeting.

Connecting mentally with the prospect means that you are aligning with topics that are important to the prospect.  What is more important to the prospect than him/herself, their business and their family?  To avoid sounding like an interrogation session, you need to create a conversation, a smooth exchange of information that focuses on the prospect and allows them to tell their story.  You also need to tell your own story as the conversation progresses.

  • It’s about preparation and sharing information.
  • The topics for discussion are to learn about the history, current transitions, values and goals of the prospect.
  • It’s about connecting at the human being level and differentiating yourself from every other person who has ever called on them.

The first meeting is the compatibility interview.  It is a two-way evaluation.  Does the prospect have the characteristics of your Ideal Client?  Does he/she have the capacity to be one of your AAA Clients?  Is this a transactional buyer, or someone looking for a long-term relationship?

Are you the right match for this prospect?  Are you the type of person that they can trust and work with?

Morrie Shechtman, author of Working Without a Net and Fifth Wave Leadership, refers to this meeting as a “Value Dance.”  It is a meeting where each party is matching their value system with the other.  Do both parties have similar views of the world?  Do they share some of the same concerns?  The closer the value match, the better the chances for a long-term durable, meaningful relationship.

In the last Part, we talked about the brain.  The amygdala is the oldest part of the brain.  Its function is to protect you.  It monitors variances in the environment to determine whether a situation is friendly or a threat.  Your first task is to reduce the relationship tension and put the prospect at ease.  Being likeable is one way to reduce the tension.

There are two great books on the subject, the first is called The Likeability Factor by Tim Sanders and the second is called The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey.

The Agenda for the initial meeting is short.  It is designed to answer three basic questions about the advisor and three basic questions about the prospect:

About the Sales Person:

  1. Does this person have similar values? Will he or she deliver on his/her promises?  Is he/she trustworthy?
  2. Does he/she have the necessary education, training, skills and wisdom to be helpful?
  3. Does this sales representative have my best interests in mind?

About the Prospect:

  1. Does this person have many of the characteristics of the Ideal Client?
  2. Is there a good chance that this relationship can build into a long term, mutually, beneficial relationship?
  3. Based on this prospect’s prior experiences, how difficult or easy will it be to work with this individual?

Initial Interview Techniques

Your initial task is to begin establishing your credibility.  Credibility is not something you have; it is given to you by the prospect after you earn it.

Three Components of Credibility

  1. Propriety/Candor is about how you conduct yourself socially; how you look from the prospect’s point of view; your speech and mannerisms. Do you appear professional?  Do you appear honest and straightforward?
  2. Competence is about what you know. Do you understand the business; your products and services?  Do you know what is going on in the financial services world?  Are you viewed as a knowledgeable person?  Are you a solution provider and do you really have the capability to help the prospect?
  3. Intent is about whose problem you are trying to solve – yours or the prospect’s. Are you there to uncover needs and provide solution that will really help the prospect?  Are you asking the right questions?  Are you a win/win person?

When all is said and done, does the prospect trust you?  Are you trustworthy?

Mirror what you see and hear

Try to match the pace of the prospect relative to yourself.  If the prospect appears to talk faster than you, then you should speed up.  If he/she is slower than you, slow down.

Should you jump right into business or should you socialize first?

  • Here are a couple of clues.
  • People who are more monotone (not much voice inflection), formal, and have few gestures are more likely to want to discuss business first.
  • People who appear to be more relaxed, causal, open, friendly and with more gestures would prefer to get to know you first and then get to business later.

Whatever you do, watch your prospect’s body language.  Whether you socialize too long or get to business too soon, their body language will tell you.  Stay alert.

Have a conversation

As you gain more experience with the process, you will get into a routine and the questions will just flow during the interview and you will be able to spend more time observing and thinking about the prospect rather than your response or next question.  The key is to have a written plan, practice it, and then rehearse it in front of someone.

Here are some general questions that can keep a conversation fluid for an extended period of time.  In some sales training circles, this technique is referred to as “Testing the Extremes.”

  • What do you like most about…?
  • What do you like least about…?
  • What would you change….?

If the response is going in a direction that you feel is positive, a good listening statement is:

“That’s interesting, tell me more…”

If the response is not going in a direction that you feel is positive, a good listening statement is:

I am not sure I understand what you mean…

Keep in mind that you may not be able to get into a deep personal conversation at the first meeting.  Moving toward that level depends on both the trust level and your willingness to share information about yourself.

Getting the Prospect’s Story[1]

Stories are one of the best ways to engage people.  Stories reveal what facts cannot:  Who your prospect is, what matters most to them, what and whom they love, where they would like to be.  By getting their story, you will find out if you have a value match.  You want to hear about their “movie”, the story of their life.

You are looking for alignment with the prospect:

  1. Alignment brings daily/hourly affirmation
  2. Alignment causes a sense of purpose to flourish and multiply (the opposite is also true)
  3. Alignment creates enthusiasm for the tasks and mission of each day
  4. People are fully energized because of the people they work with. YOU WANT TO BE INCLUDED IN THIS ALIGNMENT.  (This is called affirmative association.)

The Story Outline – hearing about the prospect’s “movie.”

Your questions should address each of the four areas to the left.  You want to hear the prospect’s story – the movie of their life.  You want learn about the cast of characters, the plots and subplots.  You want to hear the story from the beginning.

History:  Where has the prospect been?  What has been their experience?  How did they get where they are?

Current Situation and Transitions:  What is going on today?  What’s working?  What’s not?  What transitions are taking place?

Goals:  Where are they headed in the short run?  In the long run?

Values:  What is the driver behind all of their actions?  What is their purpose in life and in their business?

The Future Story – how do you visualize working with this prospect?

  • What is the win/win payoff for both of you? How will you win if you get involved in this “movie?”  How will your prospect win if they include you in their “movie?”
  • Value Proposition – is it tailored to the prospect’s values, wants and needs? If you are going to spend your time with this prospect, what will be the reward/payoff for both of you?  The most effective value propositions are created at the point of sale.

Here are some interview questions that will help with the story

  1. Where are you from?
  2. What was it like growing up?
  3. What did your parents do?
  4. What schools did you attend? What were your major fields of study?
  5. (If meeting with a couple) How did the two of you meet? Or how did you meet your spouse?
  6. How did you meet the most important people in your life?
  7. How did you end up doing what you are doing today?
  8. (If meeting with a woman) Do you have family in the area? (this is better than asking them if they are married or single)
  9. Tell me about your work history. What would you like to be doing at work in five years?
  10. What part of your day do you enjoy the most?
  11. What is important to you about money?
  12. What did you learn about money as a child?
  13. What is your first memory about money?
  14. What was your first opportunity to make and manage your own money?
  15. What is the best and worst experience you have had with money or investing?
  16. Who have been your chief sources of information/advice when making financial decisions?
  17. Have you had any experiences with other financial services providers good or bad, that you think would be worth your time to tell me about?
  18. What is your biggest accomplishment in life so far?
  19. What do you like to do when you are not at work?
  20. What concerns you most right now?
  21. What is your biggest concern or roadblock you face today?
  22. What would you like to accomplish in the next ten years? How will you get it done?
  23. What would you like to be doing twenty years from now?
  24. How do you visualize your life when you are in your 70’s and 80’s?
  25. How important is nutrition and exercise to you?
  26. Based on all the things we just talked about what matter most to you?
  27. Is there anything particular that you want to discuss with me?

To improve the conversation, script out your own answers to the questions.  Put yourself in the prospects chair and feel what it is like to answer these questions.

The first interview is an exchange of information.  At the end of the meeting does the prospect know as much about you as you know about them?  If both parties are comfortable, set up the second meeting.  The second meeting is about learning about what the prospect has and what they want.  You job will be to help them get there.

Ed Howat 651.405.6644

[1] Used with permission and adapted from Your Clients for Life and Your Client’s Story by Mitch Anthony.

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Getting Out of Your Own Way (Part 3 of 4)


Several years ago I read an article that summarized the ten reasons why people don’t perform:

  1. They don’t know why they should do it.
  2. They don’t know when to begin and end.
  3. They don’t know what they are supposed to do.
  4. They don’t know how to do it.
  5. They think they are doing it.
  6. They think your way won’t work, or their way is better.
  7. Something else is more important.
  8. They aren’t rewarded for doing it – punished for not doing it.
  9. They are rewarded for not doing it – punished for doing it.
  • They think they can’t do it

What do these statements have in common?  They all are about maintaining the status quo. I guess I would classify them as “excuses” not “reasons.”  Excuses are about blame and not taking accountability for what happened; it was not my fault.  A reason is a fact for which you take accountability, learn from it and make changes.

Why is the first response to a new situation usually negative?  Why do people resist change?  Why do we use the above excuses so often?  Part of the answer is our desire to keep things the same and minimize risk.  To understand why it is so difficult to change, we have to take a look at how our brain works.

Your brain

Your brain is pre-programmed to resist change.  You have an inner voice that discourages you from doing anything different.  You are programmed to defend and protect your positions and viewpoints. It’s logical; if you can’t defend what you are doing, you probably should think about changing something.

Do you ever find yourself arguing with yourself?

Your brain has two parts that conflict with each other, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.  One part of your brain, the amygdala, which is part of the limbic system, is determined to maintain the status quo; it will do everything it can to resist change, growth, and action. It triggers a fear response as soon as it encounters any variances or interferences with the status quo.  It will fight flee, freeze or appease.  It will do whatever it can to deal with fear.  This resistance part of your brain protects you and as a result, in many situations, prevents you from doing the things you should do.

The other part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, sometimes referred to as the Executive Brain, is the thinking part of your brain.  It has the ability to differentiate among conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, better and best, same and different, future consequences of current activities, working toward a defined goal, prediction of outcomes, expectation based on actions, and social control.

The amygdala has two companion resistance mechanisms: procrastination and rationalization.  Procrastination is about moving things or ideas forward so that they don’t have to be dealt with now and rationalization, a form of logic that provides us with reasons why we shouldn’t do something now.

How many things do you move forward or ignore so that you don’t have to deal with them now? How many times has your gut told you that something is good and then you rationalize your way out of it?  We are victimized by our habits, our familiars and our natural resistance to change.  Your prospects and clients are going through the same process as you.  If you learn how to deal with change, you can help your clients do it too.

The need to maintain

The need to maintain is so much stronger than the need to gain.  Your brain is instantly ready to resist and secure the status quo.  Your brain does not like change; it likes things just way they are. If the amygdala is draining your energy, there is less fuel to engage your prefrontal cortex to think and change.

Resistance is what keeps you from growing and becoming the person you could become. Resistance keeps you in the world of the familiar, it prevents you from moving forward.

The status quo is a familiar place, although it may not be as comfortable as you would like. You probably are familiar with the phrase about insanity: “doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.”  In actuality, if you keep doing the same things you are not going to maintain, you are going to go backwards.  The only way you can get ahead is to make changes in what you are doing.

What could your life be like if you dusted off your vision and added some clarity and focus to it?  What if you were to engage your prefrontal cortex and start thinking more about the life you could have.  What if you went on the offense and starting thinking in terms of what life could be like it I did ______?

What are your unfulfilled dreams, what is the alternate life that you never adopted?  My good friend, Morrie Shechtman said:  “It’s comforting to believe that success is just something that happens to the lucky few.  If we believe this, then we don’t have to deal with the painful realities of why we are not among them.”  If you deal with resistance and make better choices, you will enjoy a higher quality of life for a longer period of time.

Understand that your brain is going to resists change and fight with you.  Resistance has won many of the battles over the years and resistance is used to winning.  It will take mental strength, determination and clarity of purpose to override resistance and get out of your own way.

When you are faced with a choice, have an open mind, think about the outcome you really want and make the growth choice.  Practice overcoming resistance; face the fear and status quo; turn your dreams and aspirations into reality.  You will have to choose pleasing results over pleasing methods.  Keep asking yourself:  “Why am I saying no to growth and a better life?”  Why should I settle for so much less than I deserve?  Another thought from Morrie Shechtman: “Mediocrity is choosing to live with disappointment?  Morrie had it right when he said it’s about accountability, responsibility and need payoff.

The Achievement formulas:

Change = awareness + effort + commitment to action.

Overcome your fear, become aware of the possibilities, build a plan, make the effort, realize that it won’t be easy and take action.  Overcome your fears, create new habits, keep raising your “status quo” to new heights.  Don’t live in the past; make your dreams a reality by being more intentional in all you do and take action.

Give me a shout and let’s talk about what’s on your mind and make some changes for the better.  You may be in the way of your own success.

Ed Howat 651.405.6644

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Part II – Networking & The Planning BluePrint


In the last blog I talked about the Seven Questions that you should answer for a prospect. In Part II we are going to discuss building a visual aid of your services and developing a network that will provide you with high quality prospects.

Most restaurant customers are given a menu prior to selecting their meal. The menu describes the food and beverages that can be ordered. The menu may be the most important internal advertising device used to sell the customer once they are inside the restaurant. It is the only piece of printed advertising that you are practically 100% sure will be read by the guest. The menu directly influences what they will order and how much they will spend.

Do you have a menu of services? Do your clients know how you can help them? Click here to view The Planning BluePrint. The BluePrint could be your version of a menu. The chart is divided into nine categories and 72 topics.

You can request a Microsoft Excel version of the chart so that you can manipulate it to meet your needs (send me an email). After you revise the chart, the next step is to determine which items will be managed by you and your team and which ones will be outsourced.

Here is where some strategic planning must take place. Who are the outsiders, such as attorneys, accountants and bankers who will work with you and your clients? These outside professionals should become close friends and understand the scope and detail of your work. This is your opportunity to use the seven questions as the framework for your initial meeting with them. As you answer the questions, ask them for their answers to the seven questions.  You are attempting to create a mutually beneficial relationship.  You will need to be comfortable recommending these professionals to your clients and they must be comfortable with you.

Your network prospects are more likely to refer you to others if they are comfortable with you and know what you do. You are looking for professionals who match up with your philosophy and who will add value to your practice. The needs of the client must always be the primary focus.

It is suggested that you have two or three people in place for each topic in the BluePrint. When inviting professionals to your network, keep in mind that you are looking for people who have all of the following qualities and characteristics: Integrity, Objectivity, Competence, Fairness, Confidentiality, Professionalism and Diligence.

Positioning the BluePrint with client prospects and network prospects will take some thought. When working with other advisors, discuss who “owns” the client. If you are controlling the BluePrint, the clients are always yours. You are kinda like a general contractor; you are responsible for getting the structure built. The subcontractors work with you to complete the building according to a plan and they work on your timeline. For some clients you may want to set up a Client Board of Directors for them and use the BluePrint as a discussion tool.

Many attorneys and accountants receive new client referrals from financial advisors and insurance people. In some cases, it will be unlikely that these “subcontractors” will refer you to any of these clients. For this reason, you should develop an expanded network of “subcontractors.” Review the BluePrint to identify people who may become good sources of new clients.

On a regular basis you should host client events and invite two or three of your network members to speak.

Ideally, you want to sell the other advisors on using the BluePrint with their clients. In this way you become one of their subcontractors. You are effectively building a network that should generate a continuous flow of new clients in both directions.

In addition to the BluePrint categories and topics, there are a few other areas where you might find people to cultivate for your network:

  • Business Succession Brokers/Appraisers.
  • Marketing/ad agencies
  • Management consultants
  • Trade associations/professional organizations
  • Travel agents
  • Fund raisers/charitable foundation professionals
  • Recruiters/career counselors
  • Sports agents
  • TV anchors/Newspaper columnists/magazine editors



Get to know your client’s other advisors; find out how excited they are to work with these individuals.  Sometime you may be able to invite their advisors into your network and other times you may be in a position to recommend someone from your network to your clients.

So far we have covered getting your story right and finding people who can help you acquire new clients. In the next segment, we will talk about why you and your clients haven’t taken any steps to implement anything we have talked about so far.

Ed Howat  651.405.6644 


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What do you plan to change this year? (Part 1 of 4)


You can change without growing, but you can’t grow without changing.”- Larry Wilson


  • You have the ability to provide expertise and service consistently at the highest levels to your clients.
  • You want to insulate your clients from competitors.
  • You want to convert a steady flow of prospects to new clients.
  • You want to differentiate your practice in a meaningful way.
  • You want to free up your time to have a better blended life.

The first step is to make sure you agree with the above assumptions, or have you own list of objectives and secondly, that you can articulate your story to your various audiences so that you can emotionally and effectively connect with them.

Leo Pusateri in his book, mirror mirror on the wall, am I the most valued of them all, suggests that you develop clear articulate answers to seven questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do?
  3. Why do you do it?
  4. How do you do it?
  5. Who have you done it for?
  6. What makes you different?
  7. Why should I do business with you?

The next time you see a friend or colleague, ask them: “what do you do?” The odds that they have a clear, articulate, differentiating response is very low. Their response should reinforce the need for you to work on your own answer.

Spend some time making sure your practice is attractive, functional and focused on delivering the highest quality products and services and then make sure you can convey your story to others. We call this Strategic Planning. According to the authors of the 12 Week Year, Brian Moran and Mike Lennington, you should spend a couple of hours a week working on your business. We will talk more about this in a future article.

Jim Rohn said: “To attract attractive people, you must be attractive. To attract powerful people, you must be powerful. To attract committed people, you must be committed. Instead of going to work on them, you go to work on yourself. If you become, you can attract.”

You must be able to tell your story in a way that “wows” your audience. If you aren’t impressing people, you need to make changes either in the way you do things or by improving your story; maybe both.

Tom Stanley author of The Millionaire Next Door, said: ‘You can’t be an expert unless somebody knows it.”

Between now and the next blog, validate your assumptions and then work on your seven questions. This is no easy task; it is kinda like writing the script for a movie.  It will take a few rewrites before you are satisfied with the answers.

Give me a shout if you would like some help with this. It would be a good idea to buy a copy of Mirror, Mirror too.

Ed Howat

In part ll we will talk more about what you do. 

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The Beneficiary Book – A Gift of Answers


The Beneficiary Book

Have you ever given thought to how important you are to your family?  Consider all of the knowledge and answers you provide on a daily basis.  Now imagine they no longer had access to your knowledge or gift of answers.  What about the big questions like, where is the will?  How are we doing on finances?  What is our tax attorney’s phone number?  Even questions like, how do we shut off the water to our house in case of an emergency?  Now imagine they need these answers during the emotional time of your passing.

Unless you provide your heirs with a list of instructions and answers to questions they generally ask — but often too late — you leave those you care about most with the needless burden of helplessness, frustration and anxiety — and sometimes anger.  It doesn’t have to be that way… The chaos surrounding death or incapacity can be avoided by using The Beneficiary Book.

A book of questions only you can answer for your loved ones…

Professionals tell us that The Beneficiary Book represents the completing link to estate planning and family wealth management in that it incorporates strategic planning with their client’s personal wisdom.  They have found that in giving this book to their clients it not only says, “I care” but has shown to help them maintain long-term relationships with them.  Individual users tell us that the book has allowed them to face their own mortality by invitingly giving them to write down important information that may otherwise evaporate when they are gone.

Right now, The Beneficiary Book, Digital Download Edition is available for only $10.  Consider this gift for your clients. It is a great book which will give them peace of mind… for just $10.

I am so certain the value you will see in this gift for your clients, I am giving you your own personal book with this email for FREE. Open it, read it, fill it out… you will see its immense value.  http://beneficiarybook.com/free-gift.html

To discuss how we could make this happen for you and your clients, please contact me directly at (512) 931-1822 or email bob@beneficiarybook.com.

Bob Grant

The Gift of Answers Workshop

The purpose of The Gift of Answers® Workshop is to attract new clients and provide valuable information to existing clients.  The Workshop’s objective is to help people do the things they haven’t done.

The Workshop is not about investments or economic conditions; it is about life and helping your clients package up their thoughts, wishes and documents to provide the information their loved ones will need and cherish after they have gone.  As soon as you get into the Workshop content, the audience will immediately see and understand the relevance of what you are talking about.  They will see that you are really interested in helping them do something that they just haven’t taken the time to do.

The Workshop is a story about life and the issues that can arise after someone dies.  It is a chance for your audience to relate to and connect with your stories and experiences.  Most of the attendees have experienced a death in the family, such as a parent or grandparent and they know how much work goes into wrapping up financial affairs: from paying bills, canceling credit cards, ending leases, distributing property and heirlooms, filing documents with the probate court and collecting benefits.  The Workshop is an opportunity to help people sort out their own thoughts and wishes, and organize their important papers so that the people who are left behind have the vital information and resources to move on with their lives.

Your attendees will help you recruit new prospects to future meetings.  It is so much easier for your attendees to refer others to your Workshops rather than to an “insurance agent” or “investment advisor.”  People are motivated to help others more than they are motivated to help you.  This Workshop will differentiate you from everyone else and will bring people to you.

For more information about the workshop contact:

Ed Howat, Jr., CLU, ChFC, LUTCF, RCC





Addie Woods Consulting Co. LLC▪2065 Kings Rd▪ Eagan, MN  55122

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Making Better Decisions


Every minute of the day you are making choices?  It is estimated that an adult has between 50,000 and 65,000 thoughts per day and makes about 35,000 decisions.  Some decisions are good; some not so good.  About 90% of our thoughts and choices are the same every day.  Whether a choice is good or bad depends on your goals, values, morals and ethics.  Some decisions are based solely of whether it will produce pleasure or pain.  Some decisions are a matter of habit (“I always do it this way; it works for me”).  Some decisions are distractions which take you off your intended path and others will move you closer to where you really want to be.  Making better choices is about being more intentional and more focused and aware of desired outcomes.

Poor decision making is a bad habit.  How many of your daily choices are the best choices?  Where could you improve?  Making better choices should be a goal.  Just like exercise, making good decisions. is a habit.  It takes willpower to avoid taking sidetrips; it takes discipline to say “no.”

Learn and practice how to control yourself.  Stop sabotaging yourself.  How many times a day do you find yourself doing things that are distracting you from your objectives, or maybe you are not deciding to do the things that will move you toward your goals?  No decision is a decision.  Procrastination is just a sidetrip that keeps you from doing the right things at the right time in the right way.  It is just a bad, bad habit.

For more on this subject take a look at an article about willpower and self-sabotage: http://tinyurl.com/zm7ndhf.

Give me a shout and let’s talk about making better choices.

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How Many Working Days on Your Calendar?


What would your schedule look like if you were able to deliberately manage more of your daily activities?  By developing a time-blocked calendar, your day would have more structure and balance.  You would have a greater sense of accomplishment with less fatigue.

The school book answer to the question: “how many days in a year” is 365.  But not so when you are in business.  It would be a mistake to divide your annual activity goals by 52 or 50 weeks to arrive at average weekly activity required.  Your weekly number would be far short of what you actually have to do.  In the example (chart) below there are only 165 working days which is the equivalent of 33 weeks.  Rethink what you have to do each week to reach your goals.  Use this template to calculate how many days you will work in the next year; then break them down to the next twelve weeks and then weekly.  Consider setting up your goals and monitoring them using the 12 Week Year website.

Click on the chart below to open it.

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Do you have a compelling vision that drives your life?


What are you willing to do?

When I first started working with a personal trainer, she asked me what I wanted to accomplish. I told her that I wanted to be able to do the things I enjoy in life well into my 80’s. I wanted to physically be able to function effectively in my world. She asked me why that was important and what kinds of activities I envisioned doing as I grew older.  I told her about my vision and what activities were important to me.

We subsequently set up a routine to train six days a week – three with her, working on activating muscles. We alternated working on arms, legs and balance.  The other three days I worked on my own doing cardio, which involved either walking or using a treadmill.

She also told me that I needed to do pushups as part of my routine. To have the strength I want, I should work my way up to 60 pushups in 60 seconds.

It is the sustainable repetition that is creating the improvement; it is a work in progress. But it is the vision of being in shape for my environment that keeps me going.  For example, I love to fish and I want to be agile enough to get in and out of the boat for many years to come.  I have to stay in shape to do that.

The real question is: “Why after all these years of doing some exercise and having intermittent success with diets, have I decided to engage a personal trainer and create a plan that is more detailed than I imagined I would ever do?   I have a heart rate monitor and a smartwatch to measure my heart rate zones during my cardio workouts.  I have a program on my phone to measure my calories (fat, carbs and protein). I know exactly how many calories I need each day to lose weight.  I have another program that measures how much I walk each day, how much deep sleep I get and my weight.

In the past I thought it was a good idea to take walks, do a little exercise, go on a diet once in a while to stay at a level that I have been used to most of my life. Being average was ok. In the past I would just change my behavior and have some success for a while, but eventually I would revert back to my old weight and shape.  This is rather common for many people.  I finally decided that it would take a more consistent effort on my part if I really wanted to realize my vision.  I had to decide what I really wanted and then set up a plan to do the things I need to do to get there.

Good Intentions aren’t enough

I recently read an article that suggested that after about 3 weeks of new behavior, about 60% of the people who make a behavior change revert back to old habits and discontinue the new behavior.   New Year’s Resolutions are a good example; how many people give up on the goal before the end of January?

So what prevents people from achieving long-term success?  Think about it – literally.  How many of us have spent any time thinking about thinking?  Do you know how you decide what is good for you?  Do you know how your thinking patterns, attitudes and beliefs affects your decision process?  Until you get a handle on how you think, you will struggle and not have the long-term success you want.

Without a change in thinking, you will continue to have short-term successes.  For example, to realize a sustainable weight or state of health, it takes a change in thinking about lifestyle and what you want out of life.  It is about being able to function effectively in the world physically.  It is about living to a ripe old age and being able to do the things you want to do in life and not letting yourself deteriorate slowly over time and die.  One person I used to work with told me: “If I knew I was gonna live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.

What would it be like if you could continue to do most of the things you like to do well into your 80s? This is the thinking part; what do you want?  What really matters?  When you get your thinking sorted out, the next step is to analyze your attitudes and beliefs. What do you believe about good health?  Does it really matter; you are going to get sick and die anyway, or get hit and killed by a bus.  Do you believe that you should count calories, measure your sleep effectiveness, and get more exercise in order to get the results you want?  Is your life organized so that you can fit in all the things you want to do?

Once you have your attitudes and beliefs sorted out, you can then work on your behavior and align it with your thinking, attitudes and beliefs.  These three elements are the difference between short term success and long term results.  They are the drivers that will sustain you when you don’t feel like doing it.

Start with your thinking, then work on attitudes and beliefs, and finally change your behavior to realize long-term, sustainable results.

If I have started you thinking about what matters to you, give me a shout and we can talk about it.

Ed Howat 651.405.6644


Posted in 12 Week Year, Coaching, Fitness Health, Uncategorized | Leave a comment