My Next Big Dream


Would you Rather Be Tim Horton or Ron Joyce?

The hard thing isn’t dreaming big.  The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.  – Ben Horowitz; The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

I have not had an easy life. 

I don’t mean to make it seem like I’ve had a hard life.  I was born into a typical middle-class family and even in my worst moments I’ve never gone hungry.  Yes, I’ve had my gas turned off.  Yes, I’ve received more than my fair share of “final notices”.  I haven’t had a vacation in over 10 years.  I’ve stretched the definition of a “3-month oil change”.  I’ve even visited the odd payday lender.   At the end of the day however, I’ve always had food on the table and a roof over my head.  I’ve never had a major health issue.  And other than these minor annoyances, I really can’t say that I’ve known anything close to extreme hardship. 

But I still haven’t had an easy life.  When you are an entrepreneur there is no such thing as easy. 

Entrepreneurs are by nature dreamers.  The bigger the dream, the deeper the passion, the harder it is to come to terms with difficulty and set backs. 

I say “difficulty and set backs” instead of failure because when you carry a big dream backed up by deep passion, failure only happens when you give up.  I’ve never failed at anything.    I’ve worked through some difficulty, had my fair share of set backs and I’ve even had to completely rethink my plan, but I haven’t yet failed.  As long as I am breathing – I will never fail!

In 2019 I’ve begun to evolve my financial services practice to include a coaching division for individuals and entrepreneurs. 

I love entrepreneurship.  Building your own business from nothing, starting with a bold vision scratched out on a napkin, so to speak, and working to make that vision a reality, is the closest thing many of us will ever come to winning an athletic championship. 

Entrepreneurs have a lot in common with athletes.  We are like prize fighters who step into the ring everyday and go 10 rounds with the world, or marathon runners who pound out mile after mile with no finish line in sight.  The sports analogies are endless.  No two groups of people are more dedicated to their dreams than athletes and entrepreneurs.  Maybe that’s why so many retired athletes end up starting businesses when their playing days are over. 

My coaching arm is focused on helping individuals and entrepreneurs realize their dreams of financial security. I will teach you to develop systems that transform your life from simply working and owning a job that is 100% dependent on your daily grind to owning a business that can run without you.  And then finally owning something that someone else will pay top dollar to purchase. 

Tim Horton owned a single donut shop, Ron Joyce built and then sold an empire.  While Tim Horton created a brand, it was Ron Joyce who turned that brand into a household name, one of the most recognizable in Canada.  My business consulting arm will help you grow from being Tim Horton, to Ron Joyce.     

Check out the new website I’m developing for my consulting business and get in on the ground floor of what I predict could become one of the most successful firms of it’s kind in Canada.  That’s right – I’m thinking like Ron Joyce for my own business too.

See you soon – Lauren

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Three Cups of Tea


Building Relationships and Becoming a Trusted Advisor

“The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family.”  – Haji Ali; Village Elder – Korphe, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan  

K2 – The world’s second highest mountain peak, located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan

In the spring of 1993, American adventurer Greg Mortenson was part of an expedition to climb K2, the world’s second highest mountain, located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of North Eastern Pakistan. 

While making his descent in blinding snow he got separated from his group.  Instead of arriving in the village of Askole, where base camp was located and the rest of his party had been headed, he ended up 3 kilometres off course in the remote village of Korphe. 

Although only 3 km as the crow flies, Korphe is located on the opposite side of a deep chasm from Askole and due to heavy snow and the spring melt, inaccessible for over half the year.  Mortenson was stranded in Korphe for several weeks while he waited for the snow to melt.    

During his stay he noticed that the village was exceedingly poor and had no local school.  During the winter months children would either leave their families and stay with relatives in neighboring villages or more often than not, simply stay home when they couldn’t get across the chasm to Korphe.  Once the snow melted, out of gratitude for their hospitality, Mortenson pledged to return to Korphe and help them build a school of their own. 

Fast forward twenty-five years and Greg Mortenson, through the Central Asia Institute that he founded, has built over 171 schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The full story of how it all started can be found in Mortenson’s autobiographical; “Three Cups of Tea; One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time.”  Although some of Mortenson’s claims are suspect and he has been accused of financial mismanagement the fact remains that there are now dozens of schools providing education to thousands of children across the remote mountain regions of Central Asia, where there were none before. 

I was reminded of Mortenson’s story recently while contemplating the often long and drawn out sales process in my business.    More specifically, I remembered the way in which Haji Ali had explained to Mortenson how to go about building long lasting relationships with the Balti people – Slowly, over tea.

There are as many different approaches to sales as there are sales people and clients.  There is no one-size-fits all approach.  But over the years I have observed that most new sales follow a path that roughly correlates to Ali’s three cups of tea theory. 

Meeting One – You are a stranger.

It is the sales person’s job in this first meeting to put the prospect’s mind at ease.  Listen to the prospect’s needs, wants, goals, dreams, and fears.  Do not interrupt.  Remember, no one trusts you at this point, offering grandiose advice without a full understanding the problem will only reinforce that distrust. Speak only when necessary, asking clarifying questions, or answering questions directed at you. 

Once the prospect has told you everything now is your turn to speak.   Resist the temptation to offer a solution.  Your job is to simply leave the prospect wanting to see you again.  Give them the impression that you are the only person in the world who can help them.  But don’t tell them how. 

I often leave these meetings by saying something like, “You’ve given me a lot to think about.  I know I can help you with this but it’s going to take me a few days to get my head around all this.  Can I call you on Tuesday?” 

When I call back on Tuesday like I promised I simply say; “I have found a solution to your problem, when can we get together so I can explain it to you?”

Meeting Two – You Are An Honored Guest

I’ve already told them that I have the answer.  They are happy to see me and eager to hear what I have to say.  They put on the charm and roll out the read carpet.  It’s as if The Pope himself or some other wise guru has come to visit with a special word of wisdom just for them. 

I begin by repeating back to them as verbatim as I can remember, the exact concerns they had the last time we spoke.  I ask them for feedback and confirmation that I understood them correctly.  When we are both in agreement that I understand the problem.  I lay out the solution being careful to link it back to their specific needs every chance I get. 

Some prospects will be so excited and happy about the solution that they will want to sign the contract right then and there.  Unless you want to make a one-off sale and forever cement yourself in the prospect’s mind as a one problem solution, resist that temptation.  Tell the prospect that they need to sleep on this.  You are trying to go from honored guest to trusted family member.  Family doesn’t rush into things.  By telling the prospect to sleep on it you are simultaneously giving them an out and elevating your status to as the kind of person who has their best interests in mind, like family. 

At this point I leave the meeting by saying, “Take your time with this, read it over, do your own research.  If there is anything you don’t understand, call me.  I’ll check back next Thursday and see how you’re doing.” 

When I call back on Thursday I ask if they have any questions and then tell them when I am available to come by and implement the plan. 

Meeting Three – You Are A Trusted Family Member

Now it’s time to do business.  This time when I come, the prospects tend to greet me like an old friend or relative.  The formality is gone, the red carpet has been replaced by a dusty floor mat.  I am no longer the wise guru with all the answers, I’m the kind uncle, or brother who’s looking out for the family.  There is no need to put on airs, I’ve already seen their dirty laundry, there is no point hiding it anymore.

At the start of the meeting I take a quick minute to reconfirm their needs and remind the prospect how my proposal solves their problems.  At this point there are very few questions left to be answered. This meeting is light, conversation centers around general life and personal matters.  Signing the contracts is just a formality and it’s done almost as an afterthought. 

Once contracts are signed, I reinforce the family image but reminding the clients that I am in their corner.  They can call me any time, day or night, there are no questions they cannot ask.  I promise to stay in touch and set a reminder in my calendar to call them twice a year, once on the anniversary of the signing of the contracts and once on their birthday, just like family. 

This process has worked for me consistently for 7 years.  My best clients have become friends.  Review meetings are more like reunions.  Without even realizing what I was doing, I’ve been following the ancient Balti tradition of three cups of tea since I started in this business. 

It works.  But more than just being a tactic for making more sales, if you’re genuine it’s a great way to make friends.  Most of my clients I think would agree, I’ve got a lot of friends. 

What’s Next?


If you have ever read about training for U.S. Navy SEALs or other elite military units, you are probably familiar with the advice that is given to those entering basic training: “Don’t look ahead: simply focus on the task at hand.” Sounds like process, right? – Matt Dixon; The Well-Built Triathlete, Turning Potential into Performance

At this point in the New Year everyone is still talking about New Year’s Resolutions and making goal setting a priority. But somewhere in the hustle and bustle of everyday life a huge percentage of people are going to fail at their goals and simply give up. You might be doing great so far but once the kids go back to school and life goes back to “normal” those changes you promised to make to your eating and spending habits are going to start getting harder.

According to the Huffington Post only 8% of people keep their New Year’s Resolutions with most falling off the wagon within the first 3 weeks. People who set both short and longer-term goals at other times throughout the year tend not to fair much better.

The problem seems lie in the area of planning and the prevalence of an all or nothing attitude. Personally, I want to try and cut down on the carbohydrates and sugar in my diet, but it was my neighbor’s birthday yesterday and he insisted that I eat a piece of his double chocolate birthday cake. Well, there goes the New Year’s Resolution, I may as well forget it!

A better approach is to take the advice of the Navy SEALs, just focus on the task at hand, or look at the famous 12 step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous and take it one day at a time. Hardly anybody hits a home run in their first at bat, loses 20lbs in a week or wins an Oscar the first time they step in front of a camera. Life is a process and incremental change is far more sustainable than going for the big splash all or nothing game changer.

To say that 2018 was a challenging year for my business would be an understatement. One of my stated goals was to increase sales 20%. Sales decreased, and I missed my goal by a whopping 37%. There were lots of things that went wrong last year that contributed to this huge miss but at the end of the day a lot of it had to do with my inability to hit the smaller, day to day markers that would have led to a better chance of success. I lost focus on the task at hand.

Goal setting is not the problem. Stephen Covey famously told us to begin with the end in mind, that’s goal setting but he also told us to put first things first, break-down each task to a series of simple steps and just keep doing the next thing.

So, before you give up on your New Year’s Resolutions or say that your goals are unrealistic or just too hard, take a breath. Achieving your goals is a process, break it down and ask yourself – what’s next?

Athletes and Business Leaders


10 Common Traits

The Well-Built Triathlete by Matt Dixon purplepatch fitness

Business leaders and professional athletes share similar mind-sets.  This isn’t surprising because elite performance requires plenty of determination.  The gift of physical talent is certainly the ticket to get into the room, but it is these characteristics of performance that help drive the talent toward real and lasting success.  – Matt Dixon; The Well-Built Triathlete, Turning Potential Into Performance

I’m a triathlete.  Why?  Because it’s hard. 

When I first started going to the gym, I got bored.  There is nothing more boring to me than getting up at 5:30 in the morning, putting on shorts and a t-shirt to going to lift weights or run on a treadmill for an hour.  When my Dr. told me that I needed to lose weight I joined the gym, but I was so bored after just 3 weeks I almost quit. 

It was then that I realized something about myself.  I need a goal.  Not just any goal.  For me to stay interested and motivated over a long period of time I need a specific, measurable and most importantly a lofty goal.  In short, I need what Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great” and other business case studies calls a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).

So, I decided I was going to run a half-ironman triathlon before I’m 50.  I’m 47 now so I’ve got about 2 and half years to go.  After that I just might shoot for a full ironman but one BHAG at a time. 

As part of my triathlon journey I’ve been studying up on the science and technology of athletic training.  Reading a lot and listening to podcasts.  One of the surprising things I’ve noticed is that there are an incredible number of parallels between athletes and business leaders.    

With the help of Matt Dixon’s book, I have identified at least 10 common traits.  Here they are in no particular order:

1 – Be goal-oriented

All top performers, be they athletes or business leaders, have a clear and distinct vision.  Goals may evolve over a career or a lifetime but you can’t achieve positive results without creating and then chasing a vision or set of goals.

2 – Commit to ongoing assessment

Staying on track is key and the best performers are great at personal reflection and self-assessment.  But they also aren’t afraid to look for outside guidance and advice.  It takes courage to regularly assess yourself and let others give you advice.  It takes even more courage to make the necessary changes to your approach. 

3 – Train for specificity

Great athletes have the ability to develop laser-like focus and carve through the noise to execute their plan.  Great business leaders do the same.

4 – Be resistant to adversity

Managing and overcoming adversity is a major shared trait between business leaders and athletes.  It’s not going to be a smooth ride, things will come up that threaten to derail your journey and navigation through hard times is the price of admission.

5 – Have patience

You have noticed I’ve been using the word “journey” to describe the path to success?  I do that because it doesn’t happen instantaneously.  Behind every overnight success is many, many years of hard work.  Patience is a key attribute of every elite performer.

6 – Feed the passion

Achieving good results leads to a high that is unparalleled, but the high doesn’t last long and it won’t create the will to embrace the struggle.  You have to fall in love with the process as much as the results to excel.

7 – Embrace support

No athlete or business leader can go it alone.  No one has all the answers, the best performers are humble and spend time building an inner circle of experts who help drive the bus and maximize performance.  Mentors, guides and a strong support team are common to elite performers across all disciplines.

8 – Achieve balance

Avoid dwelling on either failure or success.  Celebrate victories but keep your emotions in check – yesterday’s achievement can quickly disappear and be forgotten in the face of new challenges.  Life goes on, tomorrow always dawns with a clean slate regardless of what was written yesterday.

 

9 – Take calculated risks

A willingness to take risks comes in many forms.  It most often involves a willingness to expose your weaknesses and being unafraid of failure.  The best performers are willing to take risks with a purpose to strive for the next level. 

10 – Make time for recovery

Establish a strong platform of health and recovery.  You only have one body and if you don’t take care of it, it will fail you.  Learn to appreciate the value of recovery and recuperation, get enough sleep, eat right, and don’t neglect your family and fiends, they are the people who will be there for you long after you have achieved everything you set out to do and are enjoying the fruits of your labors. 

 

I’d like to hear from any other athletes/business leaders out there if there are any other common traits I may have missed, let me know in the comments. 

Thanks, see you at the finish line – Lauren

A Tale of Two Financial Advisors


Once upon a time there were a lot of people who bought Life Insurance and opened Small Investment Accounts from an independent financial advisor.  Unfortunately, this advisor never stayed in touch once the policy was delivered and the premium cheques were cashed.

Every day, these people wondered what had happened to the friendly advisor who seemed to genuinely care about their needs one minute and had disappeared from their lives the next.  As their life circumstances changed and their needs evolved, they wondered if they had done the right thing, if they were adequately protected, and if they would ever be able to retire.

One day they decided to take matters into their own hands, but they didn’t know where to turn, who to trust, or what questions to ask.

Because of that, they felt confused, let down, worried and distrustful of independent experts.

Because of that, they gravitated toward simple and easy solutions offered by banks and store-front brokers that gave limited advice and parked their money in simple, low risk and low return investments.

Until finally their greatest fears came true, they realized they hadn’t saved enough for retirement or someone died prematurely without adequate life insurance and it was too late to change anything.

As a result, these people had to make radical decisions just to survive.  They delayed retirement until they could no longer physically do their jobs, remortgaged or sold their homes and used the money to live on.  They lived out their golden years in a general state of stress and eventually died leaving behind little to no legacy for their loved ones.

But…

On the other side of town their lived another financial advisor who valued customer service above everything else.

Every day, he called a subset of his clients to ask if anything in their lives had changed since the last time they’d talked.  Everyone got a call at least twice a year, once on their birthday and once again throughout the year.  As their life circumstanced changed and their needs evolved, these clients knew that their advisor would make sure that they were adequately protected and were putting enough money away to eventually retire.

One day these clients decided to see if they were getting close to being able to retire and they knew exactly who to call because they trusted their advisor to always take their best interests to heart while he answered their questions and made recommendations.

Because of that, they took his advice and felt confident, calm and cared for.

Because of that, they invested their money wisely, made strong returns over a long time and carried just a little bit more Life Insurance in-case something bad and unexpected happened.

Until finally their dreams came true, they were able to retire with confidence and not worry about what might happen if someone died too soon.

As a result, these clients retired on their own terms and had the energy and time to live out their golden years in stress free comfort.  They too eventually died but they left behind a significant monetary legacy for their loved ones and many sweet memories of a life well lived.

Which advisor’s client would you like to be?  Reach out in the comments below for a no obligation consultation…

Top 4 Reasons Why CashFlow Management is The New Gold Standard in Financial Planning


When was the last time your Financial Planner or Banker asked you anything about your cash flow plan or personal budget?

Nearly 80% of Canadians surveyed have said that managing day to day cash flow is their top financial concern yet less than 5% of financial service professionals are equipped to help in any way.   Independent Financial Planners make most of their money advising semi-wealthy and wealthy individuals on long term investment strategies and tax effective income planning for retirement.  And Banks?  They are primarily in the business of lending money, not helping you save it.

The sad fact is that middle class individuals and average Joes just don’t have a large enough asset base to get the attention of most commission based Financial Planners, while the banks make more profit lending money than they do advising you on how to save.

For most people the fastest way to build wealth is to get control of your debt.  Independent Financial Planners tend not be interested in your debt because they have access to very few products that can help you.  Banks tend to be too quick to lend even more money in order to keep you beholden to them longer.  Both have a built-in conflict of interest which keeps them looking at just one side of your balance sheet and prevents average people from making any significant progress.  A true Financial Plan needs to take into consideration both sides of the balance sheet to really help.

Here are the top 4 Reasons Why CashFlow Management is the new gold standard in Financial Planning.

1 – Get More Life From Your Money – When banks lend you money they calculate a number called your Total Debt Service Ratio, (TDSR).  If your income verses the amount of money you spend just to service your debt is less than 35% most banks won’t hesitate to lend you more.  What they are essentially saying is that you don’t need up to 35% of your income to live on.  What if you had that extra 35% in your pocket?  How much more “life” could you afford?

2 – Find Money to Fund Your Dreams – How many times have you stifled your dreams because you thought you didn’t have the cash?  Getting control of your cashflow is step one in finding that needed money and starting to save for your future dreams.  Maybe you want to buy that dream home, start a business or take a trip around the world.  What’s stopping you is likely nothing more than a poorly managed cashflow plan.

3 – Stop “Money Leaks” on Stuff That Doesn’t Matter – When you take a close look at your cashflow you will almost always find places to trim without even noticing a change in your lifestyle.  How many of those premium cable channels do you really watch?  Is your car insured for more than it’s worth?  And be honest, when was the last time you went to the gym?  Plugging these money leaks could account for as much as a 10-15% gain on your bottom line.

4 – Finally Telling Your Money What To Do, Not Just Wondering What it’s Done – Once you’ve stopped the money leaks, reorganized your debt and started to save for the future, life can get really fun!  Now you have money left over and you get to decide what to do with it.

 

I am a Financial Security Advisor and CashFlow Specialist.  I will work with you to help you reorganize your debt and increase your savings.  I work both sides of the balance sheet and raise the bottom line.  Most of my clients are on track to be debt free seven years sooner while saving tens of thousands of dollars in inefficient interest payments and leaked money.

Get in touch today for a free CashFlow Analysis and Personal Financial Plan.

 Do you have a plan to sustainably grow your savings?


 Vlog Episode Two

According to the latest census data, 65% of Canadians say they are saving for retirement.

That’s good right?  But the same census showed that average the rate of savings is only 4.6% of household income.

The average household income in Canada is $70,336.  So that means we are saving just $3,235.46 per year.

Now most of us are pretty conservative with our investors.

We stick with medium and low risk mutual funds, bonds and so called “Blue Chip” stocks, those are the world’s biggest companies with the longest and most stable track records.  After we consider things like inflation, taxes and fees most of our investment portfolios are giving us a real rate of return somewhere in the 3% range.

So if you’re an average Canadian and you invest $3235 per year and get a 3% return in 40 years you’ll have amassed a Grant-Total of just $215,156.

Can you retire on that?

Is that sustainable?

I can hear you already – “But we can’t afford more right now”.  “I have a pension so I’ll be okay”. “What about the government programs like CPP? Won’t they support me?”  “Maybe we can increase our savings once the kids are grown up”.

Those are all valid points and one of these days I intend to address them all.  For now, if you have a company pension I just of one word for you – “Nortel”.  And CPP is great but it won’t be enough, you still need to supplement it with your own savings.

But let’s do the math on that last one.

What if you stuck with the average savings for 20 years while you were raising your family and then doubled or even tripled your it for the next 20 years?

Well in that case, if you double your savings you would end up with $260,777, tripled – about $356,000.

Better, but still not really enough.

We clearly need a different strategy.  One that starts with taking a more wholistic approach to things like lifestyle goals, takes into consideration your age and stage, and most importantly your debt ratios.

So let me ask you one more question.

If I could show you a way to sustainably grow your savings for the future – without significantly changing your lifestyle now – would that be a conversation worth having?

Write to me in the comments below or send an email at the address on your screen and let’s talk.