If the entertainment value is excluded, most self-help books and seminars are complete failures. People almost never make meaningful changes in their lives or businesses because they attend or read this or that seminar or book. Many reasons exist for this failure including how complicated some of the recommendations are to actually execute, how worthless some are, how much self-discipline is required, how real life takes over and as a result the program or book is quickly forgotten.
The entertainment value and the value of thinking you learned something or accomplished something may be worth the price, but rarely does the coaching actually generate a positive ROI. Here are some recommendations to increase the ROI on whichever programs you attend or books you read.
1. When you find a really, really good book/program, focus on that program. Implement the goals you create from the program. Do not let any other programs or books distract you. Too much dilution and distraction are huge enemies to your success. Also, if you focus on one program until you are done, and then move on to the next, you will get more out of both as the second one will add value to the first.
2. Create an execution plan. Just listening to a program will result in failure. Adults and leaders must physically execute a plan in order to improve within this space. It is the only way to change your behavior, your actions, your goals, and your leadership. Goals are best achieved if your execution plan requires you to do something daily or at least weekly. This is because if you are reading this article, you are already on some level set in your ways and to achieve the goals you set requires change.
Think of it as exercise. To build muscles you must exercise daily. To change that huge muscle sitting atop your shoulders, you must exercise it faithfully every day.
3. Identify what does not fit your personality and ignore trying to make that change. So many coaches and books and what have you require people to focus on doing things that are just not their strengths. Trying to do this is pointless. If something needs to be done that is not your strength, then if at all possible, give it to someone else to do.
This does not create an excuse to ignore responsibilities, accountability, or good behavior. If someone advises you need to learn financials and you really dislike reading financials, then you should probably hire an extremely trustworthy person to do this task for you with the requirement that they bring issues to your attention quickly.
4. Set your priorities by what you like to do rather than in order of importance. This is important because no matter how important something is, save a dire emergency, if a person really does not like working within that space, they will procrastinate. Setting priorities by what you like to do first helps you identify what others should do for you. You are then more likely to have the energy to focus on what you will actually get done without much procrastination (by procrastination I mean the putting off what needs to be done because you do not want to do it versus the extremely valuable creative procrastination).
As an owner, the realization and acceptance that you only want to work with clients and not manage people, or perhaps not even lead people is an obstacle to success and creates stress as you feel you must do both. In some ways you "must" but other options may exist if we break down the process and this will reduce stress and create success.
5. Vet the coach/program. In all my years of consulting, I have seen so many agency owners taken in by "coaches" selling advice using data that is designed to make you think they are on to something. The data is either not real (a banking/insurance consulting firm used to do this causing many banks to buy agencies with completely unrealistic expectations) or is not checked. The coach knows this and is hoping no one looks too closely.
6. Understand that most programs are based on bad data, false assumptions, and confidence games. Not all purveyors of these programs are bad people. They sincerely believe in what they are doing but the facts do not always align so they rationalize their message and data in such a way that they can believe their own story and thereby, be more convincing to you. Not that any one of these books gets exactly to my point, but read "The Confidence Game," "Everybody Lies," and "Animal Spirts" for great fun and a better understanding of how regular people get taken.
7. Create Alignment. One of the best books I have read is "True Alignment." The reason alignment is so critical is that better alignment internally, with vendors and clients, means less drama, less expense, and less friction. Alignment with your natural tendencies generates better productivity and less procrastination. Alignment with carriers that actually want to write what you are writing creates joy!
8. Focus on others instead of yourself. To this end, I find that my clients who focus on truly solving their clients' needs and working with clients with whom they align, have more fun and make more money at the producer level than anyone else. Focusing on helping others, and getting paid well for doing so, makes life more rewarding.
Do understand and accept to the extent possible, that quite often your clients will not do what is best for them. It is just like you going to a life coaching program or a business coaching program and nodding your head "yes" throughout, but not following through the next day. We have all done that. When you are really dedicated to helping people, this will be a point of frustration, but also a good challenge to improve your communication skills.
9. Do not be too self-reliant. Dean Martin used to sing, “Everybody loves somebody”. Change the words to, “Everybody needs somebody” to help them. The prior eight items are rock solid advice. Following them will result in real improvements in your life. But, doing them on your own is next to impossible. You will need a partner or a true advisor to assist.
10. Create accountability for your actions, your employees' actions, vendors' actions, and even your clients' actions. Many agency owners are awful at creating accountability. This is not a natural tendency they have, yet who else has the authority? This is why producer accountability is almost non-existent at most agencies. Create alignment with your skills and hire someone to help you. Break down what accountability means into bite sized pieces and assign different pieces to different people. Done well, most people find that managing parts of accountability is actually pretty easy versus trying to manage the entirety which is not.
These ten items all go together so you'll find them easier to work through than a typical program, especially if you get help with those items you dislike doing.
NOTE: The information provided herein is intended for educational and informational purposes only and it represents only the views of the authors. It is not a recommendation that a particular course of action be followed. Burand & Associates, LLC and Chris Burand assume, and will have, no responsibility for liability or damage which may result from the use of any of this information.