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Scale Up Series #7 – Michael Back – Transcript

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Scale Up Series

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Michael Back

XY ADVISER

Podcast

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

business, people, shiny objects, client, implement, idea, week, implementation, meetings, day, months, achieve, advisor, bit, team, milestones, fraser, focus, coaching, process

SPEAKERS

Michael Back, Fraser Jack

 

Fraser Jack 

Welcome to the x y advisor podcast. A global community of financial advisors sharing and learning with one another to drive the positive evolution of financial advice. To get involved, go to x y advisor.com. Or simply download the XY advisor.

 

 

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Fraser Jack 

Welcome back to another episode of The X Y advisor podcast I’m your host Fraser Jack and today I am joined by one of my favorite humans in the world, Michael back

 

Michael Back 

are very kind words. Thank you, Fraser it is lovely to be back.

 

Fraser Jack 

I always get really energized after I’ve been talking to you. We used to have these conversations that sort of go into weird and wonderful places, but it’s always really positive. And, and it has great outcomes as to Yeah, that’s a great idea. Want to check that out?

 

Michael Back 

Very nice of you to say no, I yeah, I think I all the podcasts that I really love listening to are more conversational than I suppose prescriptive or like just kind of question answer question answer. So I always love talking to you in this format, because it feels very natural. And yeah, hopefully it hopefully that comes across to the people listening as well.

 

Fraser Jack 

Now very, very good. Now, for those who don’t know, you’ve got a business where you help financial planners and planning practices, essentially, you know, coaching slash ideas, getting stuff done. All those are those great, amazing things. And I’m sure I haven’t done it any sort of justice by describing it that way. But I’m sure we’ll get to how you help people along the way. But today, we want to talk about scale and business, you know, scanning business through the idea of scale doesn’t actually happen until things are implemented. And often. In often things are great ideas, but just sitting as ideas, they don’t necessarily make a difference.

 

Michael Back 

Hmm, yeah. And I suppose when I started my coaching business, having seen a lot of coaching businesses, and being part of them in my life, I’d seen a very heavy focus towards ideas. And, you know, some of the, the businesses that I witnessed just had the best ideas in the world. But it always really frustrated me that there wasn’t really a clear path to implementation. And so, you know, you’d see people leave an event or some sort of a workshop, and they’re all jacked and buzzed and, you know, screaming from the rooftops, and they’d run back to their team and be like, Oh, my gosh, I heard the most amazing things. We’ve got so much that we need to do. And then two weeks later, when you go, oh, how you going with that stuff? They’ll be like, Ah, yeah, look, we’ve been a bit busy, I will get on to it. And then two weeks after that, it’s like God, and I will conduct going to another workshop next week, or go to another event, are you guys gonna be better than that one. And, you know, that there’s nothing wrong with that. But I, when I started my business, I was very adamant that I wasn’t in the IDS game I was in the implementation game. The way that I chose to solve that initially was to actually help deliver the implementation to clients, which has worked really well. I’ve been very challenged by that model at times, though, because I have seen situations where businesses have got the same results for their clients without doing all of the doing, and creating an environment and a community where people feel more responsibility and accountability to implementing and so I’m starting to bring a lot more elements of that into what I’m doing. But yeah, at the end of the day, you know, ideas of show and the implementation is for dough so to speak. And yeah, I think any little 1% of that you can take that helps you implement more. If you compound that over a long period of time, it’s almost going to guarantee you going to be far more successful than had you not have adopted it so yeah, it’s it is the challenging bit. It is the hardest bit for anyone in any business to nail but any progress you can make is worth fighting for.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah. I like the I like The fact that you do go into the implementation phase or part of the process with the people that you’re looking after, is obviously to me, it’s been like the the shift that you started washing dishes, you know, that, you know, knows not to make a mess, because someone’s good, or just knows that if you’re suggesting or recommending something, how much work is involved in that action into fruition?

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, absolutely. Like, I think I’ve learned so much about how to implement better through being like an active rather than a passive participant in that process. But you know, it’s, it’s similar to advice that I give all of my clients when they bring on a new team member. Because Yeah, my business is really all about lifting the client experience of advisors. And, you know, the advice I would give to them when they got new team members, if they don’t have a financial advisor, take them through your process and become their financial advisor. If they do have a financial advisor, at least take them through the first few steps in your process. So they can empathize with what they are delivering, so they can be on the receiving end of it. And I think any time in your business where you can be on the receiving end of something, you see things that you wouldn’t ordinarily see if you’re just talking about it or doing it. So yeah, the more you can get immersed in something in general, I think it gives you a new perspective and gives you new ideas for how you’re going to improve it. So I think that’s absolutely critical.

 

Fraser Jack 

It’s also a good idea for not just for the new staff in but to go through that. But for the I guess, the business business owner to get some really attractive feedback on how they can make things better.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, that’s it, those fresh eyes are just just so valuable. You know that once we’ve been in any business for six months, we kind of have all drunk the same Kool Aid. But at that starting point, people say things that the rest of you can’t see. So yeah, I think they’ve taken a little bit of a data. But I think building that empathy and having as many fresh eyes on what you’re doing through not just looking at it and reading stuff, and watching a live video on the process, but actually being in the middle of the process, it adds so much dimension to what they’re experiencing.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yep. Now let’s, let’s jump back up a little bit, because I want to get back to this conversation around the idea of seeing things at a conference or a workshop and, and in the shiny object syndrome. We all get distracted by stuff all the time. Quite often, there’s, there’s great ideas, there’s those shiny objects, and there’s a lot of them. And there is a fire hose of more coming down the track all the time, especially when you love technology as we do about how you then can work out or manage that, that concept of shiny object syndrome, and then how you can work out what to prioritize?

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, look, there’s a there’s a lot to that question. to kind of bring it into like a central focus, I’ll I’ll tell a story about when I was a kid. So I was one of those. You know, I’ve heard of people who get to a point where they’re like 15, and they realize that they’re not going to be a professional sports person. So they decide that they’re going to be the funny one. I probably worked out I wasn’t going to be a professional sports person. When I was about five. I was just always like really challenged that anything athletic. But I started playing cricket. And I went to cricket training one day, and I came back home. And I was in tears because I got a new nickname, which was duck. And for those of you who know, cricket, you know why I got that nickname. But for those of you don’t, it’s because I couldn’t swing a bat to save my life. And yeah, basically, I just got out first ball every time. And it was Yeah, it was really starting to eat me up. And fortunately now back in the day, I would say Unfortunately, my dad was a management consultant. And so anytime I had a problem, he always attacked it from a really like corporatized. Kind of like a business II way. Yeah, a little bit wonky. But like, in retrospect, you look at this stuff, and it was like IP, and you like that stuff. So valuable. And I do use it with all of my clients now, you know, hope, hopefully, that’s not breaching any sort of copyright. But he sat me down when I was crying and said, Look, mate, I’m going to introduce you to the success triangle. And the success triangle says in order to achieve anything you want to in life, you need three things, you need to be clear, you need to be capable, and you need to be motivated. So clear means you’ve got to know what you want. And you’ve got to know the steps that are involved in getting there. And then capable means you need the skill and the time to achieve it. And you got to be motivated, you’ve got to want to do it. So he then kind of ran me through the triangle and said, so are you motivated, right? Yeah. I’ve never been more motivated. Like, I don’t want my nickname to be duck. So yes, I’m motivated. He’s like, Okay, cool. Are you clear? And I’m like, Well, I know the hold of that. But I don’t really know what I’m doing. I don’t really have a process for what I do. When the ball is running towards me. He’s like, okay, so we need a bit of clarity. Like, what about capability? He didn’t even let me answer like I think we all know that that’s probably a challenge. So why don’t I get you some training. And so you sent me to the Kings Grove cricket Academy for some batting training with a man by the name of Hamish Solomon’s. Still remember the name because of the torturous period that that was. And after about two or three lessons, I worked out that while I did have a clarity and a capability problem, motivation was actually my biggest issue. Because I didn’t care enough about cricket, I didn’t really want to be that good at cricket, I just didn’t want to be called duck anymore. So it’s probably easy for me to just stop playing cricket, and then I’ll never get called duck again. But that principle around or those principles around in order to achieve anything, you need to be clear, you got to be capable, you’ve got to be motivated, there is a wisdom in that that I have used with dozens of businesses over the years with great success. And so I think in terms of answering your question, I think that’s going to be a really good frame up for, I suppose, how I believe businesses need to implement more effectively. But before you get into that, because that’s kind of the nitty gritty, I really think that there are three things that if you don’t have them, it’s not even worth starting to implement something. And we were talking about this before the recording started. But I think having call it a North Star, call it a vision, call it a towards state, something that is highly desirable for you, it has to start there. And this is where instead of saying I should do something, it’s when you move into the territory saying I want to do something. And I can’t tell you how many times people have, you know, seen that their mates are doing something in their business, and they’re like, Oh, you know, I’m gonna, I should start doing that. And they’ll do it for two or three weeks. But because it doesn’t have that bigger context, or that like real drive towards something which people really want. At the other day, nothing gets implemented. And it’s just been a big waste of time and energy. So I think before anything else, if you want to implement something, you’ve got to link it to something bigger, more exciting, that isn’t, you know, if it could be about business growth, but if you don’t want to grow your business, if you don’t want more money, that thing isn’t going to motivate you. So you’re really behind the eight ball unless you’ve got something that excites the absolute hell out of you that you can attach the implementation to.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, this is a really interesting point, in a clear example of the way that you phrased your motivation in that story, around not wanting something negative in a wave, I don’t want to be called darker to negative rather than I want to be this thing, and I achieve this outcome. And really good point about the show Dakota and want to and those sorts of things, not just star but actually achieve the outcome and focus on them. Stone of it’s now in place, it’s doing its job, it’s working. And you know, all those other things, those obstacles in the way they were nothing because I was on a mission to solve thing. And to get to this this gain point.

 

Michael Back 

That’s exactly right. Yeah. So I think, you know, I kind of alluded to this at the start that implementation is hard. And so any little edge that you can get to make it easier, you need to take it, I’d say having a vision or something in the future that you want, it isn’t a small thing, it is a huge thing. If you don’t have that, you’re almost guaranteed to set yourself up for failure. So that would be one of the first things.

 

 

The second thing I think

 

 

we’re sorry, I was just gonna

 

Fraser Jack 

interrupt. It’s kind of having that Northstar that, you know why that’s that then determines, I guess it all of the strategies that come underneath that right, you know, then saying, I want to have this outcome, this thing, all the other things that aren’t going to all the decisions are going to make from here on strategic decisions are based on that one thing.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, we’ll move on to this probably when we talk about being clear, but often saying yes to something requires you saying no to a lot of other things. And, you know, it’s easy to say yes. But when you have that Northstar, you can actually start ruling out ideas. And that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea means it’s a great idea that’s currently mistimed, and in the future might be perfectly timed. And, you know, I still say that most shiny objects aren’t terrible ideas. I mean, every now and then, I’ll hear some from a business owner. I’m like, Well, you know that that’s a pretty wacky idea. How do I politely tell you, I don’t really think it’s gonna work. That’s very rare. Most of the time, people come to me with an idea. It’s an absolutely awesome idea. Based on what you want in the next six months or the next three months, I don’t think this is the best time for us to be talking about that idea. But one thing I do think is really important, and particularly for those of you listening out there who aren’t in, I suppose, entrepreneurial positions in your business, often when someone is in that entrepreneurial mindset, being distracted by shiny objects is kind of part of their genius as well. Now, changing Entire businesses direction and putting all this time and energy into it, that’s a different story. But if you kill that part of an entrepreneurs brain that sees shiny objects and gets excited by them, you kind of kill him part of the magic that makes them who they are. And so what I found through my coaching is often when I get a shiny object thrown at me, I’ll say, Yeah, that’s it, that’s actually a really good idea. I’ve seen this work in other businesses, based on where we’re at. Now, we probably need to do this first. But I reckon in three months time, let’s come back to that idea, and then assess whether it’s good. And you can just see in the person’s eyes who shared it, that that’s kind of like mission accomplished for them, they don’t need to see it implemented, they just need to know that that idea is not going to disappear, that it still exists. And I think the interesting thing is, all those shiny objects do end up kind of gluing together and informing part of our vision. So if you’re in a business that has an evolving vision, and wants to change things, you need those shiny objects and those external stimulus to kind of stress test what you’re working towards, and seeing if it’s on track or not. But you know, if you’re someone in your business, who just gets, you know, you’re the entrepreneurial thinking, you got all the ideas, and you get shut down all the time, I think it’s important that people, you have some mechanism in your business where you can document that stuff, just so it’s there. And you know, to me, it’s, it’s the analogy, I like to use it, it’s like when you want to get a tattoo, and the classic advice is, look, draw it on a bit of paper, put it in a drawer, then in three months time, pull it out. And if you still want to get that taboo, it’s probably a good idea. Most of the time you pull that and go, Oh, you know what, I probably don’t need that I can live without that tighter. So but as long as you’re drawing it and putting it in the drawer, that’s the main thing, particularly when it comes to a shiny object. But I think

 

Fraser Jack 

you’re gonna say then that you’ll get a sharpie and draw it on yourself, and then say, how much you like,

 

 

I think that’ll make you one of more women.

 

Fraser Jack 

I don’t know.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah. But yeah, so and it probably is a good time to then introduce this concept, which is that if you don’t have a mechanism through which you have a clear view of what your priorities are, and what your priorities are, it is very hard for your team to be able to filter things in and out as well. So

 

Fraser Jack 

before we get into that mechanism, and, and structure, I know, I know, you’re very good at, I kind of I kind of also just want to throw the idea in there, that sort of, to me, the three parts are that, perhaps the head and the hands. And then, you know, we’ve mentioned the idea of having a Northstar and wanting to do this thing, because it’s congruent with our values. And that’s the outcomes we want. I feel like we’re getting into that now gonna be talking about the idea of brand, the head, the practical, you know, the the numbers of the whether they work, brain works, all those things that we’d be looking at when we’re planning something out, and then we’ll probably get on to the idea of the hands, which is the actual implementation part

 

Michael Back 

of the framework. Yeah. And, yeah, it’s that the heart, it can be quite a black and white business outcome you’re trying to achieve. So, you know, I, I, when I run through business planning, usually, like 95% of the time, the targets that we’re shooting towards will fit into one of three categories. The one would be business growth. So that’s all about revenue, profit, leads, conversions. The other one would be client experience. So really, that’s about retention, surprise, and delight, happy, happy clients who are going to build our business for us. And then the third one is very much around the back office. And so these are largely the three areas that businesses tend to have pain in that they want to achieve. But I suppose when I when people think of vision, and when they think of North Stars and stuff like that, it always, you know, has this kind of grandiose feel that, you know, sometimes takes it away from the practicalities of business. You know, we want to impact 1 million people in 10 years. Like that stuff’s great that that is a really great North Star. But there’s nothing wrong with having a North Star or a vision, or a direction for what you’re trying to do, which is we just want a really efficient back office, I want to be able to go away for two weeks on holiday and not have to worry about the business. I want to know that anyone in my team can go away for six weeks, and the business could still operate. So that doesn’t have that same heart like that same Oh my god, like what a grand vision, I’m going to jump on the bloody Ted stage and present that as an ID for people. But that’s just as noble of vision for your business as anything else. So it doesn’t it whatever you want to achieve in your business. It’s really just about having a clear vision of what that is, and

 

Fraser Jack 

can have all three at once. You can

 

Michael Back 

say do you mean your business great client experience back office, have

 

Fraser Jack 

some clear vision or any growth, have some clear vision about your client experience and have some clear vision of any back office efficiencies?

 

Michael Back 

I think we can It would reflect. So a situation where you had all of those imbalances would reflect a consistent period of time where you’d focused on them. And I think of the analogy of spinning plates. If you think of the old circus performer spinning plates and one slows down, you got to keep spinning, spinning it, you can have periods in that week, actually, I can rest for five seconds, because all of these plates are spinning pretty well, right now. As a business grows, though, you know, it’s like new, new level new devil, there was an advisor that I once worked with, who said, I never want to stop having problems, I just want the problems to get more interesting every year. Now, I absolutely love that as a quote that I think sometimes, you know, we all sit in our seat and go, Oh, once this SLA is out of the way, then I’ll be happy. Or once I’ve finished that presentation, I’m going to be so relaxed, I’m going to be the best husband in the world. And then by the time that presentation comes along, you’ve got your next one lined up. And I mean, that’s life, that’s the journey of life. So I think you need to get comfortable with the fact that there’s always going to be something to improve. Even if you just think of something as simple as the client experience. And I talk about this a lot that if your clients expectations are here, and then you raise the bar, and all of a sudden, you’ve you’ve exceeded their expectations, what happens the next year, their expectations are here. So you’re going to say, you know, there’s plenty of room to sit down. Sorry, there’s plenty of room at the top. But there’s no room to sit down, you know that there’s you can’t be complacent. So I don’t think you’ll ever get to a situation where everything’s in balance. Back to your question, though, about, could you have a situation where you’re focused on all three, you could, but I would always recommend focusing as narrowly as possible when it comes to implementing. I read a really great book many years ago called essentialism, which you know, the subtext of it was the the disciplined pursuit of less. And I presented a really, I’ve never actually looked into it, but let’s just assume it’s true, said that the word priority never had a plural until like the 70s. Like before the 70s there was no documented evidence of the word priorities existing and in our crazy chaotic, overstimulated lives, we’ve just all of a sudden decided that you can have more than one priority, because the the definition of priority is, you know, sole focus without any other. So by definition, you can’t have more than one, I would say that the best implementers that I work with narrow their focus, and they’re not looking to shoot the lights out. They would far prefer to be smart, like, tackle something small, but do it in a meaningful and disciplined way rather than tackle a lot of things. And you know, become that renovator who has a bunch of home handyman projects that are 80% done, but none of them ever get finished. So I think you can have focused on all three areas. And there are other areas like team culture, and you know, if you’re acquiring a business and things like that, like there’s, there’s a whole bunch of things you could bring into that. But I think you could have focus in multiple areas, if different people were responsible for different areas. But that’s when we’re moving into probably a bigger team. But if you’re quite a small team with very limited resources, I would advise against that.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, it’s interesting, you know, that that priority stories are really great when it resonated with me on the idea of you know, when you are a small team, and just you know, I mentioned before growth, my client experience and back office three, airing, an idea of maybe you come into my mind about doing sprints around right for the next three months, we’re just doing back office, right? Yeah, we Yes, we know, we need to do the other ones, but they’re just not now. Yes, we’re going to nail this outcome. First, we’re gonna get to this finish line, we’re going to test and you know, test them improve whatever. And then after that, when it’s all running smoothly, we’ll move on to the next one.

 

Michael Back 

Yes, I was working with the guys at advice revolution, shout out to Adrian and Sean. And I ran my classic business planning process with them. And this was a couple of years ago, when they were very much startup mode, had an idea that they wanted to build and bring to market. And I ran my business planning process. And it was a it was a great process. And we came up with some great clarity and a really good sense of direction out the other end. But what was interesting was I checked in with them six months later, and they’re like, do you know what i what we decided that what we’re building, it’s there’s so many different paths that this could take, like there’s so much of a lack of clarity over how this plays out. But setting targets for three months or six months or 12 months is kind of futile, because everything just changes so rapidly every two weeks. So what we decided instead was in rather than going through this process of trying to predict the future and then create it, we’ve just gone What is the one thing we should be doing now. And then we do that and then we look around and see what’s happening and then decide what the next thing is and it’s just a rinse and repeat process. And that really made me reflect because I do think for people who have had either a poor record of implementation, which wasn’t these guys, or if they’re in a situation where they’re really starting their business, they don’t know what’s going to happen, that the variability of possibilities to where the business is, in six months or so wild, you’re probably better off not going down that path of business planning, and instead just going, what’s the one thing we should do now, and let’s just have a two week sprint. And then we’ll just rinse and repeat which, you know, funnily enough was how Carl Richards discussed financial advice on their x y on to our event in 2020, which was, you know, having some beautiful 30 year retirement plan is a noble pursuit, and then in three months time you throw it out, because all of the underlying assumptions have changed. So that’s kind of how he goes about financial advice. I think there’s a real truth and a wisdom to that as well.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, I relate to that story with the with the the map analogy, you know, a B paper map or a book of maps is, is great. But what happens if you get off get off track or off the off the map, you know, you need the GPS to kick in and automatically recalculate where you’re apt to present now I rudely interrupted you earlier, we’re talking to that head structure around, you know, structures and ways of planning and creating businesses, and you’re gonna sort of talk about some systems.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, so I use what’s called the OKR system with my clients. This is the way Google set and manage their progress towards goals. That makes it sound kind of boring. But the bit that excites me the most is, it is business planning that can be done in half a day, and involves all of your team members. So you’re simultaneously drawing ideas from across your business, at the same time as spreading the responsibility for implementation. So for businesses who are in that situation where the the leaders of the business, everything falls on their shoulders, and they tend to be the ones that are the busiest, and then nothing gets done, it’s a really great way of changing the culture of a business and going, I’m going to involve involve you in understanding the numbers and where we are and where we want to be. So I’m going to treat you like a business owner. But that means you need to start implementing as well. Now, I use the OKR system for that I know, a whole bunch of other variants. There’s like the Rockefeller habits, which is all about your rocks and your pebbles. And, you know, basically, it’s a similar concept.

 

Fraser Jack 

Rocks.

 

Michael Back 

Yes, that’s right. Yes. And you know, you have only certain big rocks, you’re focusing on for a set period of time, and then, you know, all of the actions, you know, feed into that. And then at the end of that period, you reassess what your rocks are, that the, the, the mechanism is irrelevant. But if you don’t have that mechanism in your business, where you can constantly remind yourself of the North Star, and constantly measure your progress towards it, and align all the things that people are doing towards that clarity and that clear direction, you’re going to find that you go off track. So this is just as important for making sure you and everyone around you as accountable to implementing as it is to say no to things. So if we go back to your question around the shiny objects, if we’ve been through a process like that, and we go, you know, we’ve grown really significantly in the last 12 months. And I think our client experience is struggling, I don’t think we really want to grow for the next three months. But we really need to get back on track with making our client experience home. So that’s, you know, combination of client experience and back office that we need to focus on to do that. That then means when Mrs. CEO, comes back from a conference has some wonderful idea about a social media strategy that’s bringing in leads for one of our financial advice, friends, you go, Well, that’s a great idea. But is it going to improve our current client experience? No. Is it going to improve our back office? No. Great idea when we’re ready to grow. Let’s pick that one back up. That’s that’s the tattoo that gets put in the drawer for three months. Yeah, fantastic. Now

 

Fraser Jack 

for those who are lacrosse, what OKR stands for joining quickly explain that.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, it stands for objectives and key results. So objectives are that exciting future vision. So if we were to talk about improving your back office, a very common phrase, that would be a good objective for that would be we want to become a well oiled machine. So this is the idea of a desirable future state, which means something to the team, your key results or the way you measure it. So you might go, Okay, well, the way we do that is, we’re going to reduce the time between our strategy meeting and our SLA presentation from five weeks to two weeks. Okay, cool. Well, that’s already giving the team some clarity as to the types of actions and tweaks that they need to make in the back office in order to make that a reality. And so they’re your actions. So the three layers of the OKR system are exciting future vision, how are you going to measure whether you’re getting closer or further from that vision? And what actions are going to help you move the needle on those measurements? Like I said, though, that’s just one way of doing it. I love the Google get, there’s a guy in the state called Felipe Castro, who has a fabulous free ebook on his website on the introduction to this system. So if you are interested in rolling this out yourself, I would highly recommend reading that book, because Google have a certain way of doing it. But it’s probably a bit more complex than it needs to be for small business. So it really the idea is, let’s have a shared view of what what’s important, let’s agree to how we’re going to measure that in a way that pushes us as a team. But it’s realistic at the same time, it’s not overly ambitious, and demotivating. And then we have some really clear actions, which we’re going to spread across the team in order to feed back to that. But I’ve seen a lot of wonderful OKR sessions, which, you know, particularly this business owners and senior team members often get involved in discussions like this. But for the junior back office, yeah, other people in the team, often they don’t get involved in conversations like this. So it can be an incredibly empowering moment for a team. But we’re back into there, you know, where we started around, you can have these great experiences, and everyone’s so pumped, and then all of a sudden, a month, I know, we haven’t really done much there. It’s been busy. You know, we’ve been really busy. And a lot of clients, a lot of this has happened to review season. But there’s all these excuses. And so that system is great. But if it doesn’t have a really nice accountability measurement built in, you’re almost guaranteed that it won’t work. So you need to keep topping up the clarity topping up the motivation over time through a meeting or ritual in your team where you keep refocusing on it and reprioritizing things.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, that’s really interesting. Thanks for going through that. Now. You mentioned team in this and as you as you said, something this is a great structure to will contain through i like i like the thing that Simon Sinek that says a team is not people that work together, a team is a group of people who trust each other. And, and this, this really just comes back to putting a structural going through a process where you actually are focusing on the okrs. And the key results in the back of it. And I’m assuming key results also include timeframes or milestones for those Yeah, results. And then allowing your team to come up with the the the action items that need to get us there as it is it sort of building the team of trust.

 

Michael Back 

That’s 100% correct. And this magical thing happens like some some businesses who are really in the swing of this module fortnightly check in, but usually I’d recommend a monthly one. So it’s pretty, you know, rather than have this 90 day plan, just break it down to a month ago, what are what are we doing over the next four weeks, let’s sprint it that often, you will find that 90% of the work is done in the week, or sometimes two or three days before that meeting. And that’s okay, that’s completely fine. We are highly emotional beings who struggle to find consistent motivation. There are some people who are amazing at that, you know, those people who have been to the gym four times every week for the last seven years, I am not one of those people. But that, you know, sometimes people have to, you know, they need a deadline. And they need that kind of fear of I don’t want to stand in front of my colleagues at this meeting and say I haven’t done anything. And sometimes that puts the fear of God into people. And they implement what they said they were going to do in far less time than they thought it would take. And that’s completely fine. I mean, I say this in all my coaching meetings, a lot of my clients do their bits in the day or the night before the meeting. But as long as things are getting done consistently, that’s actually a perfectly fine way to implement.

 

Fraser Jack 

Hey, what do you what do you think just going down a rabbit hole? The idea around milestones rather than deadlines is that I mean, deadline sort of creates this negative fear that you have to get it done. And fear is a very, very powerful motivator. But what do you think that deadlines? deadlines change into milestones?

 

Michael Back 

Now, I haven’t used the term milestones before, is there something fundamentally different about it? Or is it just giving it different language?

 

Fraser Jack 

It’s more it’s towards it goes back to that motivation? Is it towards or away from motivation?

 

Michael Back 

Gotcha. I would get after you saying it that way. I think milestones are a much nicer, more exciting way. People talk about homework after a coaching meeting as well. And I think if you say here’s your projects, here’s your action items. It has a little bit more enthusiasm than homework, which we have a negative connotation with. So yeah, I love the idea of milestones. I’d never thought about it that way before. But hey, that’s

 

Fraser Jack 

really cool. I’m just thinking also from the you know, the little bit of dopamine into the brain scenario that, you know, you can actually celebrate milestones, but you don’t tend to celebrate deadlines.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, that’s exactly right. Yeah, you kind of hit a deadline. But you celebrate a milestone, right?

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, exactly. Right now any grant No, I’ve got that off, off track there. Take us back to the the hands part like the actual moment that we sort of mentioned it in the okrs. The action items Talk us through that concept because sometimes, skill sets can be outside existing skill sets, necessarily, they don’t know how to build an online course or something like that. Talk us through how you work with people in that way we help them find ways of getting stuff done that they might not otherwise get done.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah. So this is where they’re clear, capable, motivated, comes into play. This overarching system that sits on top of everything is going to give you clarity, but that’s not going to give you enough clarity. So there’s two things that I think if I look at all the businesses that implement well, and the ones who struggle, the ones who struggle, acknowledge that emails are coming in, I’ve got meetings and my my work life is pretty hectic. But when I’m not busy, then I’m going to find the time to do this important stuff. And that time never comes. So I think acknowledging how important client work is client meetings I made that they are what keep our business going. But also acknowledging that we can’t be better for our clients, we can’t grow the business week on resource up to make this business better for everyone. Unless we focus on the on the business stuff. You need to honor the importance of the business work by setting time aside for it. And it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how few people do it. And I’ve seen variations of this that work for different businesses in different ways. So for some businesses, it’s okay guys, every Thursday morning, we don’t open email, we have someone who’s answering the phone, but we are doing three hours of OKR stuff, or we’re doing three hours of important implementation stuff for the business. That is great. Some people find though, that the cadence of a week spirals out of control that things are all calm and in control at the start of the week. And then by Thursday, and Friday, it’s mayhem, and they can always find an urgent excuse not to do it. So a lot of people I know do that on a Monday before the week gets the better of them, when they’ve got their maximum energy, they’re not tired, they don’t do that on a Monday, you’ve got to try a few different ways to see what works for you. But if you’re not dedicating time to this stuff, and even something as simple as there’s a guy called Matt church, who talks about how the brain impacts our performance, and I saw him in the presentation once and he said that we have three hours of self control a day, which astounded me but it is so true. And this is why a lot of the time people go I’m going to go to the gym after work. And then by the end of the day that I’m so tired, I’m just going to go home and grab beer. So the things you do at the start of the day should you if with your you’ve got your full self control the start of the day, so you should deploy that towards things that are a little bit harder and more taxing, because by the end of the day, you’re not going to have the energy to do that. So ideally, if you could be focusing on this stuff earlier in the week, and in the mornings, rather than the afternoons, I think you’re setting yourself up for success. But people work differently, some people ease into the morning and they’re a bit tired. And then they peak energy’s like, 4pm when the meetings are over, and they’ve got this kind of oxygen, So play around with a few variants. But the two things that you got to do first one, you’ve got to set the time aside, you need to your team to know that nothing gets booked here, you need to honor that time and not make excuses. You need to mentally commit to how important that is, and therefore follow through on that. But then the second most important thing is, before you walk into that period of time, you need to very specifically know exactly what you’re working on. So if you’ve had one of the meetings with your team, and you go cool, here’s the five things that I’m going to be doing for the next month, I don’t recommend going into that period of time where you’re focusing on this going cool. So I’ve got those five things, what am I going to do, I would go I’m only going to focus on this one thing. And in fact, out of that one thing, I’m going to break it into 10 sub tasks and I’m going to do these three so the more specific you can be with exactly what you’re trying to achieve during that session, the better chance to achieve it.

 

Fraser Jack 

Oh back in my mind was going so many places when you were saying that it’s just so many great great things that willpower conversation isn’t great stuff on you know, willpower and energy credits bespoked daikon energy understanding when is your time of day understanding your hours of power? I guess you can call them? Yeah, I really want to bring this back down to you know spending time on your business. And as you were talking, I was thinking about a conversation that you might also be having with a client around or somebody advisor will be having with a client around cash flow and budgeting. right because this time, you know, organizing your time is classic budgeting right and we often talk about the concept of you know, budgeting pay yourself first, you know 5030 20% 50% on your bills. study on your spending and 20% saving, but pay yourself first right? Take the first 20% of when you earn and save that. And if you can do that, you know that you’re on a winner. But this is probably the exactly the same thing with budgeting your time, right? So you take the first 20% of or allow 20% or look back could be a day away could be half day by any of what you’re doing. But, and focus that time then to say, this is the first part of my diary I fill out. This is the piling of pay my pay myself first in that way. And then I’m going to extend you know, maybe 50% with client facing time and then on what it is requires me after that, you know, like using that, that the bills and spending idea of budgeting? Oh, yes, sorry.

 

Michael Back 

I absolutely. Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s so, so important. And, you know, when we’re talking about these types of things, and really what we’re talking about is we’ve all got a set amount of time how you’re going to make the most out of it, right? A lot of people look, no, I think the whole software world is full of tools that help you do things more efficiently. I recently started working with a business coach who said, getting more efficient is one way of saving time, but it’s far more effective to eliminate things. And the best way to you know, create this space where you can focus on this stuff is literally to like ruthlessly call things from your list that someone else could do. And, you know, I, I would say my entire life changed when I got more into this mindset of don’t improve your weaknesses, just double down on your strengths and get someone else to plug your weaknesses. And so in your business, if there’s 10 things that are getting in the way of you implementing, I think you’ve got to sit, you know, sit down on your own or sit down with your ops manager and realistically go, do I actually have to do all of these 10 things? Or is there a way that someone else in the team or someone else external to our team could be doing those things? So I think if you’re in this stage where you go, I can’t even imagine a situation of having one or two hours a week to focus on this stuff. And I’m not talking about doing a whole day on implementing on the business improvements, that would be glorious, but half a day consistently over a year is game changing like that. That is that is a huge amount of stuff you’re going to be building. So you know to find an extra one or two hours a week is probably not that hard. It just requires some fresh eyes. And for you to step back from the doing and the grind and to go Hold on a sec, do I need to be doing this? Could someone else be doing this? No, it’s probably a good point just about implementing in general that I see. A lot of the time people get stuck on bits of the implementation that there is someone out there, yeah, because it’s their weakness. And then there’s someone out there who would say absolute strength. And the amount of times I’ve been able to unstuck a project of my own by just going onto Fiverr and finding someone who does one little bit of the process that then means I can do the rest. It’s like, why didn’t I think of this earlier? So yeah, stepping back and really ruthlessly going, I’m only going to do the things that I absolutely am the best person to do both holistically in terms of looking at your weight, but also at the micro project level. That’s a really important step to implementing

 

Fraser Jack 

that absolutely resonates. I was I was just speaking to a planner this week, who wants to start our own podcast and the same thing. I was just saying, look, you know, yes, you can do them yourself. But why would you? Why would you get somebody else to do it? And you can you can do the part that really lights you up, which is the interviewing part. So yeah, absolutely right, you know, stepping back and going, you know, I can I can do all these 10 moving parts. But why would I? Why should I do it?

 

Michael Back 

Yes. And you know, there’s a very high chance that there are things you’re doing in your business, that there are people in your team who, who would do it way easier and better, because it’s more of a natural skill for them. But I don’t think there’s a problem with skill across the industry. I think there is a problem with leaders not letting go of things and letting people explore their skill and letting other people in the team rise to the occasion to actually prove to themselves into the business that they’re capable of more than they think they are. So you know, unless you try these things and give people a shot. How do you know whether they can do it or not?

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, fantastic. Now, Michael, we talked about the idea of, you know, spending time on your business now you’re a business coach is is very much similar to the idea of, well, you know, you work with clients the same way a financial planner works with clients. Tell us about your process in your diary D. Is that what you do?

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, this has been a really, really big focus for me. Over the last six months, I all of the things that I’ve spoken about in this podcast are things that I’ve struggled with personally and have had to overcome my process. And this was introduced to me by a previous business coach, and it’s something that I’ve really started to nail is the idea of an ideal week. Aiming different times of the week for different things. So in my case, I do Tuesdays and Thursdays in meetings. So if anyone’s trying to book a meeting with me, and you wonder why they’re the only times available, that’s because that is my dedicated meeting time, then Wednesdays, for me is doing the kind of doing the client work often that involves, like deep thinking and getting in a certain zone. And if I’m in and out of meetings, I don’t get to get into those creative zones. But Monday is dedicated for me to work on my business, whether that is all of the stuff we’re talking about here, like, you know, how do I work out what’s important to me? And how do I build the bits to implement improvements to human to human, but also writing articles and things like that, which recording videos stuff that I really want to do. And I know that if I leave it till the end of the week, I’m going to find an excuse not to do Friday is a combination of doing the client work as well, because you know, often you got your meetings on the Tuesday, and then there’s gonna be stuff on the Wednesday, same with the Thursday, but I also leave half a day on Friday to do whatever I want to do. And so sometimes that’s a case of cool, I got a workshop coming up next week, I need to get ready for that. Or it could be a case of, I’ve just had an idea for an article, I want to do that as well. I’ll tell you that I’ve had this idea and this structure for probably a year and I never implemented it. The two biggest changes that I made, and it’s very relevant to this discussion. The first is I set up my calendly. So people could only book in on Tuesday and Thursday. So I had this ideal week. Like I just would love the idea of people booking on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And then as soon as Fraser Jack goes make can we catch up to do this podcast, which we’re recording on a Thursday? I would go Yeah, mate, I’m free Wednesday, are they and then once I go, that’s right. I’m not supposed to be doing stuff on when doing meetings on Wednesdays. So having calendly kind of enforced that and be stricter and more accountable to the system than I would be was important. But I also have an operations manager Katie, who is responsible for managing my diary. And that was painful mate like to let go of that and let someone else do that was really scary for me. But it’s just been an absolute no brainer, and a game changer. So I think, you know, this is where we come into accountability, like having other people around you who their goal is your goal. It’s pretty powerful. Because you don’t have to hold on to it and manage it. Someone else is going to help you do that.

 

Fraser Jack 

Yeah, well, I love it. I love that you put your money where your mouth is. And you’ve actually, like you said struggled with this, implemented it. And it’s the implementation that’s made the difference. I think that’s a really good story in itself. Now, Michael, if somebody wants to continue the conversation with you in chat, do you maybe on Tuesday or Thursday, what’s the best way for them to get hold of you.

 

Michael Back 

So just go to my website, human to human Comdata, you there’s actually a button there where you can book an appointment straight into the diary. If we’re not connected on LinkedIn, I love sharing ideas on there. And I also love seeing other people in the industry’s ideas. So we’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn if we’re not connected already. And yeah, I say most of the work that I do is one on one. But I the next few months are going to be launching group based programs to work on this type of stuff around business planning, but also to help businesses improve their client experience in more of a bootcamp style structure. So if you’re interested in that, as well, reach out through the website, there’ll be a call to action on the website to do that. And I’ll make sure you get the details as soon as they’re launched.

 

Fraser Jack 

You think group coaching is a really great thing we’ve always learned really well through peer groups. And you know, sometimes, you know, a facilitator, obviously, has great, great ideas and great opinions. But sometimes the real goal comes from within the group as well and what people have tried, what they’ve failed us and failed, where they’ve used and worked. All those types of conversations and the relationships that come out of them are amazing.

 

Michael Back 

Yeah, I remember talking to you about this a few weeks ago. And I call it the one minute mile and you correct me and so as the four minute mile, but that concept of you think something’s not possible until you see that it is possible and then mentally, you accept that it is possible and then all of a sudden, and you start achieving it. So for those of you don’t know, the four minute mile had never been broken before, was broken by, you know the guy’s name crazy.

 

Fraser Jack 

No, I don’t remember the guy’s name. But let’s

 

Michael Back 

say it was Fraser Jack,

 

Fraser Jack 

I remember him. So the glass ceiling was broken.

 

Michael Back 

That’s right. And as soon as as soon as that one person did it, there was like a whole line of people who broke it in the months after that. So it wasn’t a fit everyone until then thought it was a physical barrier, but they realized it was actually just a mental barrier for a lot of people.

 

Fraser Jack 

I’ll give you really crap stat though. I know the guy that the first guy that ran 100 sub four minute mile, so his name was john Walker,

 

Michael Back 

john Walker. There you go.

 

 

Well,

 

Michael Back 

why why I think that’s relevant to group based coaching is that often When you see other people around you implementing things that you’re making excuses for not being able to implement, or that you want to do within your mind, you’re like, does this stuff actually work? As soon as you say that it does work, you won’t believe how much more motivation it gives you to implement. So something that slows down people on implementation is deep down this faith that you know what, I don’t know if the juice is worth the squeeze, am I going to spend all this time doing video in my business, and it’s going to be a complete waste of time and money and I’m just, you know, maybe I’ll do something else. If you see someone in your peer group, who is nailing video and getting leads and their clients are raving, all of a sudden, you’ve removed that barrier to doing it, which was I’m not sure this is gonna work. And you’ve got a lot more focus and, and energy towards achieving it. So yeah, I think there’s, I think there’s a lot to be said, by surrounding yourself with people who have either achieved what you want to achieve. So you know, it’s possible or on a similar journey to you and can not just push you but pull you towards what you want to achieve as well.

 

Fraser Jack 

Wonderful. Well said, Michael. Now, we might leave this one there. But let’s get you back on as often as we can, because I really really love these catch ups and conversations and you always add so much value.

 

Michael Back 

Thank you very much, Fraser. I

 

Fraser Jack 

really enjoyed the chat. They have it another episode of the Expert Advisor podcast. I’m Fraser Jack, and I’m joined by Emily Blanche. Welcome, Emily.

 

 

Hey, Fraser, how are you? tremendous.

 

Fraser Jack 

Thank you for asking. And now this is the part of the podcast where we do a quick shout out. So who you think we should share that to today?

 

 

Oh, all right. Today, I want to give a big shout out to a quiet legend and advisor Ben Nielsen, he jumped on that recording to learn video and did a screen share to walk the rest of the community through exactly how he’s doing. He’s literally engagement within his business. It was a real look under the bonnet of behind the scenes insight into how he’s doing it with the hope that there’ll be some golden nuggets in there that other advisors can take and use as inspiration or be able to weave that into how they’re doing their process. I should also give a little shout out to Michael curry, Adam Woodhouse, Sophie McClelland, Mark rhadigan and Peter Campbell, who have been have given a shout out to to say you guys all helped create this. So thanks, guys, team effort and super great to be able to share that with the rest of the community for a good old dose of advisor to advisor learning.

 

Fraser Jack 

Wow, they love it when a plan comes together. You love it when people just share little bits and pieces put together and shit on she is well done being but only mate. Thanks for thanks for being involved in that. And also, so that’s still on the main platform where people can find it.

 

 

Yeah, yeah. So you can jump onto the main wall. It’s under the practice management topic. You can jump in by that video and yeah, take all the value.

 

Fraser Jack 

Love it. I love a good community when it works well together. So thanks, guys. We will see you in the next episode of the XY advisor podcast.

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