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Focus: The Resource That Makes You Better

Three things you need to focus on to achieve even higher results in 2013.

Allyson Lewis, 12/27/2012

One of the best parts of my work as a financial advisor, speaker, and writer is the quality of people I am able to meet. Author and executive coach Jason Womack is one of those people--and a personal friend.

He is the CEO and founder of The Jason Womack Company and works with top corporate performers (including financial advisors), increasing their effectiveness and efficiency. He teaches a "success mindset," including strategies and productivity habits used by successful advisors worldwide.

His book, Your Best Just Got Better (Wiley, 2012), is used as a manual to understand and practice the most productive habits of knowledgeable workers today. It teaches that success as a financial advisor is magnified by your ability to strategically think about the needs and positions of your expanding network, execute on your defined priorities, and work collaboratively and effectively in a volatile market. The most important resource--more than time even--is your attention. The fact is, there are just three things (not dozens!) that you need to focus on to achieve even higher results.

Focus on Your Thinking
As an advisor,you're accountable to engage in three very different kinds of work. Throughout any 24-hour period, you will have to think (about all you're working on), manage (the specific projects you're responsible for), and do (the tasks, actions, and follow-ups that need to be handled).

Weekly, focus first on the kind of work that you have--the work to think about. Consider the success factors that are a part of helping you thinking more (and less!) effectively. Here are just two things to consider:

Your Context: "Where" you work influences "what" you think about. Where can you go for about an hour a week to do deeper, bigger, and more holistic thinking? A conference room in the office? A coffee shop in your local community? Your basement/den/home office? It's possible, by putting yourself in the right context, to focus in smaller chunks of "time," but think about more because there are fewer things to distract you.

Your Network: "Who" you're around influences "what" you think about. Once a month, make an appointment (coffee or lunch) with someone "just outside" your current social network--that group of people that you spend the most time with. When you meet, learn what you can about how they see the world, what they notice when they think of your industry, and what they're concerned about. Many times, you'll find they let you see a problem or opportunity from a new perspective--one that you can take advantage of and utilize in your own business plan.

Focus on Full Engagement
How do you work effectively and efficiently when it's time to sit down and get things done? Here's the first suggestion Jason makes when he's working one-on-one with his clients: Know when you are at your best. Make sure you're doing the appropriate "kind" of work at the appropriate time of the day/week/month.

"I know when I'm 'At My Best,'" says Brad Wasserman, a Wealth Manager in Farmington Hills, Mich. "I am more productive, focused, and less stressed, which has contributed to the continued growth of my practice. 'Being at my best' means I recognized, then have taken steps I need to be well-rested, prepared for my meetings (which reduces stress), more organized, and even arriving early for meetings that are away from my office."

Make a list of the kinds of work you do, such as: analysis, research, client meetings, prospecting, follow-up, etc. Next to each, describe in detail a) what you need to do your best; b) when you do your best (a.m./p.m., early in the week, etc.); and c) the indicators that you are indeed working on (and benefitting from) the important things.

Clients who've implemented this tactic (taken from Chapter 1 of Jason's book, Your Best Just Got Better) have noticed incredible returns on their effort: less hard work, more significant results.

Focus on Acknowledging
Even though we all know it's important, when work piles up and the schedule gets packed, acknowledging success (what we've achieved and those round us) often is one of the first things to fall off the to-do list.

Keep a few stamped notecards with you in your desk, or in your suitcase if you travel as often as I do. In a world as plugged-in as ours, it's too simple to send an e-mail, make a phone call, or type a quick text. A handwritten note is an unexpected way of saying, "Thank you." It's a task that takes about 5 minutes to complete, but it can make a lifetime memory for someone who reads it.

A year or so ago, I was working with a client in San Diego who decided to write two handwritten thank-you notes a week, for five weeks. Each week he found himself on the hunt for a client, vendor, or staff member who deserved praise for what they had done. At the end of the week, this manager would take about 10 minutes to write the note of thanks.

Each time he did this, he noticed a huge boost in his own energy; he had anticipated that. What he was not ready for, however, was the impact it had! His staff was more responsive after getting a thank-you. His clients picked up the phone when he called. The vendors he worked with seemed a bit "kinder" when he needed something. It was incredible! All by investing 10 minutes of time, and a bit of focus on acknowledging others! 

Preparing ahead of time and taking a moment to acknowledge the successes of the people around you doesn't have to be done in a dramatic or over-the-top way. A simple handwritten thank-you can have an enormous impact. Whose contributions can you acknowledge this week?

This week, this special time of the year, offers a unique opportunity to "think about how you think about things." Take advantage of the opportunities ahead, and begin by utilizing--and maximizing--that most important, limited resource: Your attention.

Happy holidays, happy New Year, and may your next year be better than ever!

Jason W. Womack is founder and CEO of The Jason Womack Company, a productivity-training firm based in Ojai, Calif. He is author of Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More (Wiley, 2012). He works with financial advisors worldwide, coaching them to their next level of success. Please connect with him via email at Jason@WomackCompany.com or at www.LinkedIn.com/in/jasonwomack

Time strategy expert and best-selling author Allyson Lewis has spent the last 30 years developing and teaching concrete, actionable business ideas all over the country. Her latest book, The 7 Minute Solution: Time Strategies to Prioritize, Organize and Simplify Your Life at Work & at Home, was released in paperback on Jan. 1, 2013. Take advantage of the worksheets, webinars, and more--subscribe to the FREE Member Tools area of our website http://www.The7MinuteLife.com and follow Allyson on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AllysonLewis.SevenMinutes and Twitter: @allyson7minutes

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