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August 26, 2022

The addition of E. F. Heagan & Associates and Mandichak Investment Retirement & Estate Planning brings more than 500 new clients.

Trilogy Financial Services, a Huntington Beach, California-based hybrid managing $3 billion, has acquired E. F. Heagan & Associates of San Juan Capistrano, California, and Mandichak Investment Retirement & Estate Planning, of Laguna Niguel, California.

Terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed.

The two firms add $160 million in assets under management to Trilogy’s total and brings more than 500 new clients. Read More.



By Authority Magazine
June 9, 2022

An Interview with Karen Mangia.

The pandemic pause brought us to a moment of collective reckoning about what it means to live well and to work well. As a result, employees are sending employers an urgent signal that they are no longer willing to choose one — life or work — at the cost of the other. Working from home brought life literally into our work. And as the world now goes hybrid, employees are drawing firmer boundaries about how much of their work comes into their life. Where does this leave employers? And which perspectives and programs contribute most to progress? In our newest interview series, Working Well: How Companies Are Creating Cultures That Support & Sustain Mental, Emotional, Social, Physical & Financial Wellness, we are talking to successful executives, entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, and thought leaders across all industries to share ideas about how to shift company cultures in light of this new expectation. We’re discovering strategies and steps employers and employees can take together to live well and to work well.

As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Broker.

Mike Broker is the Chief Strategy Officer at Trilogy Financial and a leader in the financial planning and investing space. He understands the need to work diligently in the moment to build something great for the future and is dedicated to helping his clients recover from hard times, get ahead with their finances, and develop a Life Plan. He is also highly focused on helping his team succeed. He authored the book Fit Financial Approach and utilized his background as a Certified Personal Trainer to coach his clients and team members to great success. Mike’s desire to help others pursue their goals runs through all that he does, which is why he’s quickly risen through management levels at Trilogy to lead this great team. Culture and wellness for the team is something that is at the forefront of Mike’s everyday operations. He wants to help cultivate the best and most effective team of Financial Advisors and support staff so they can be their best in helping everyday Americans get a handle on their finances.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you better. Tell us about a formative experience that prompted you to change your relationship with work and how work shows up in your life.

You know that saying, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life?” It’s complete crap. I love what I do. It has been a passion of mine for well over a decade, and it has still been hard at times and definitely felt like work! The saying should be, “If you love what you do, you will be willing to do the hard work.” When you know that the next phone call to a prospective client could help them answer a financial concern that has kept them awake at night for months, you’ll make that next call even when you’re ready to go home and call it a day. I can’t pinpoint a specific example, but every time I have a client become emotional in my office, because I have helped them overcome a hurdle in their life, I am invigorated to get to work helping more people.

Harvard Business Review predicts that wellness will become the newest metric employers will use to analyze and to assess their employees’ mental, physical and financial health. How does your organization define wellness, and how does your organization measure wellness?

For several years, Trilogy has completed a full 360-degree review of our staff. We have an outside, third-party complete surveys and interviews with every employee of the firm to gauge their employee satisfaction and engagement with their work. Our executive and leadership teams receive a report with scores and insights from across the company to support a positive work environment.

Based on your experience or research, how do you correlate and quantify the impact of a well workforce on your organization’s productivity and profitability?

In my recent studies for my Executive MBA at the University of Denver, I actually studied the cost of presenteeism on American businesses. Presenteeism is represented by workers who go to their jobs, but due to illness, injury, or a basic lack of wellness, they are not as productive and focused as they could be. While many illnesses or injuries are unavoidable, I would argue that some forms of lower back pain, arthritis, diabetes, and hypertension could be at least mitigated with a healthy lifestyle. I won’t go into a ton of detail here, but lower back pain is experienced by 25.7% of Americans in a given three-month period of time! Based on a study from Lockheed Martin in 2004, they found that back pain causes a 5.5% loss of productivity throughout the year. If you multiply that by a quarter of your workforce and their productive output, it is not a small amount of profit we are talking about for any business, and that’s just one malady!

Wellness is not just a benefit that Millennials and Gen Z would like to see offered by their employer as if it were a ping pong table or nap room. It effects a businesses bottom line and should be taken seriously.

Even though most leaders have good intentions when it comes to employee wellness, programs that require funding are beholden to business cases like any other initiative. The World Health Organization estimates for every $1 invested into treatment for common mental health disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. That sounds like a great ROI. And, yet many employers struggle to fund wellness programs that seem to come “at the cost of the business.” What advice do you have to offer to other organizations and leaders who feel stuck between intention and impact?

I would ask them to try it. Take the leap. The worst that happens is you spend some money building good will among your staff and increase your recruiting capabilities. The best-case scenario is you see a meaningful bump in productivity and revenues. The WHO study is the tip of the iceberg for anyone who looks for research on the subject. Mental, physical, and emotional wellness all have studies showing their financial benefit if you’re willing to look.

Speaking of money matters, a recent Gallup study reveals employees of all generations rank wellbeing as one of their top three employer search criteria. How are you incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?

Our CEO, Jeff Motske, has also repeatedly pushed his company team members to focus on work-life balance. He understands and values the fact that we have families and lives outside of work

As our CSO, I wrote the Fit Financial Approach which is intended to be a book that helps people see the correlation between your financial health and your physical health. I believe strongly in wellness, and my book is available at no cost to our employees to support their wellness journeys.

We also have a recognition points system where you can recognize other employees for living our core values. We can gain extra points through living a healthy lifestyle by reaching a certain number of steps per day. We also have access to discounts on fitness and wellness services across the country. Our team members can use their points for certain rewards — one of which is a fitness consultation and planning with a personal trainer.

We’ve all heard of the four-day work week, unlimited PTO, mental health days, and on demand mental health services. What innovative new programs and pilots are you launching to address employee wellness? And, what are you discovering? We would benefit from an example in each of these areas.

A lot of the innovative and new programs we’re offering our team members overlap across multiple categories of wellness. We want our team to perform at their best, and we know it requires a balance to do so. America isn’t like European work standards, where they can have long breaks throughout the day, shorter work weeks, and long vacations in the summer or winter. But it’s important that we find ways to help our employees find balance so they can be their best.

  • Mental Wellness: One of the standards we’ve always maintained is unlimited PTO for our salary employees. We know it’s important to have that flexibility and not have the anxiety of eating up your PTO if you need to stay home with a sick child or take time for oneself. We are also finalizing a hybrid work operating process with the purpose of providing flexibility for our team members to take care of personal needs while also remaining collaborative with their team members. Over the last few years, we’ve found that this flexibility is critical to mental wellness, productivity and a feeling of personal success.
  • Emotional Wellness: We have launched a book club where we will regularly select business-related books to read and discuss. Not only is this a way for us to come together socially to discuss ideas and concepts, but it’s an opportunity for personal growth for each of our team members who join us. The book we’re reading now is Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why', which is one of my favorite books. Every time I read it, I learn something new. Separately, we launched the Trilogy Leadership University for any of our employees who are seeking personal growth and self-improvement opportunities. It’s for employees of all roles, skillsets and experience levels where they can learn leadership skills from top business leaders from inside and outside the organization. This 12-week course is giving our team a new sense of pride in the work they do, their fellow team members they support, and it’s generally uplifting and empowering them to grow and achieve their dreams.
  • Social Wellness: The book club and Trilogy Leadership University I mentioned earlier are both great examples of social wellness at Trilogy Financial. Another program we have is a real-time recognition platform where employees can earn redeemable points. Some of those points include special social outings with company leadership, like a day of golf with our CEO Jeff Motske. We want to be able to give all of our employees recognition, access to leadership, mental breaks, reasons to celebrate and more.
  • Physical Wellness: The real-time recognition platform I mentioned earlier has a lot of aspects to it. One of the ways our team can earn points is by walking 10,000 steps a day. And those points can be redeemed for a number of different things, it can be books or apparel, these experiences with leadership I mentioned, or even other physical wellness things like a personal training package with me (since I’m also a fitness coach).
  • Financial Wellness: The current state of the nation in 2022 has us all feeling the impact of inflation, rising gas and food prices, and more. We have committed to provide monthly gas cards of $50 for the foreseeable future for each of our hourly employees to offset the cost burden of gas.

Generally, there are more things that we’re working on at Trilogy to help our team across these wellness categories. I’m excited to continue to launch more impactful wellness offerings to our team.

Can you please tell us more about a couple of specific ways workplaces would benefit from investing in your ideas above to improve employee wellness?

Turnover is one of the biggest cost burdens to businesses. Providing benefits to your team members for professional growth, wellness and flexibility will help improve productivity, help them achieve their goals, support their needs and keep them working hard with you for longer.

One of the other reasons why I’m personally passionate about wellness in the workplace is because if someone on your team is in need, and we can alleviate that need through some of these offerings. It’s the mentorship, the coaching, the support, and ultimate the impact that I want to provide to our team members. If we can support them in their overall wellness, they can do their job better, live their life better, recharge better, learn better, grow better and more. Like I mentioned before, we’re the only country who expects people to work as long as they do without substantial breaks. And it’s proven to be not sustainable.

How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?

We are helping our leaders (and all employees) learn new skills to support a work well culture through our Trilogy Leadership University. It’s a 12-week program where we bring in some of the best leaders from notable companies to teach on topics such as the importance of gratitude and how to lead with empathy. Our team hears from great leaders with real stories, examples, problem solving and more. We often refer to it as a mini MBA course because we provide a real professorship environment where people can learn the real-life business skills needed in today’s work culture.

Our Leadership Book Club is also more than simply reading a book and talking about it together. It’s a conversation starter that gives permission to team members to create a dialogue around leaders and leadership. We want our team to know that it’s ok to be a leader, in fact we want them to and this is one way we’re giving them the skills to cultivate that. Humility is one of the pillars of our company and we invite everyone on our team to be their real, authentic selves in every environment we create. And book club meetings like this give everyone the power of a voice.

We’ve been working hard for a long time to focus on wellness in the workplace and building a culture that both embraces it and thrives in it. I’m proud to share the average years our employees have been with us is 9.4 years. That’s great tenure! It tells me we’re doing it right.

Ideas take time to implement. What is one small step every individual, team or organization can take to get started on these ideas — to get well?

We are social animals, and we make improvements in our lives together. Chances are, if our friends are doing it, so are we (sorry, mom!). So, get together and prioritize your wellness. Do some yoga during your morning standup zoom meeting. Take a moment to breathe between meetings instead of going back-to-back all day. If you have a one-on-one weekly meeting, go on what I call my walkabout meetings and take it outside around the block a few times. Some of my most productive meetings have been on the move.

There are simple ways you can incorporate wellness into your team or organizational culture to motivate those around you.

What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”

  1. Individualized Health Insurance — discounts based on healthy habits — When I was studying abroad in South Africa in 2004, there was a company we met with doing this. The fact that it is 2022, and the practice of rewarding Americans for healthy habits is not yet mainstream is baffling to me.
  2. Measuring productivity rather than time — I believe in a results-oriented work environment (ROWE). If you can get the job done in 35 hours, I don’t need you to watch the clock to punch your time, and if you wait around, chances are you’ll distract those who need the full 40 hours while waiting for your time.
  3. Workers will demand more flexibility and support from their employers — When possible, hybrid work arrangements will become commonplace. Work that previously needed to be completed in an office can now be far more flexible, and employees will demand that. Support from an employer can take many forms, which we’ve spoken about previously. It could be personal or professional growth, physical and emotional wellness, or even a gesture that says you care about your employees. Money will only be one part of a decision to stay or go when it comes to employment in the future.
  4. Wellness is contagious — Let’s be honest, lifestyles are contagious. Whether positive or negative habits, they are generative. When I was in college, I picked up smoking, unfortunately. It was one of the most challenging habits to break, and there is no way I would have been able to quit without my wife supporting me and quitting with me. After we had quit and modeled the way, our parents and others close to us quit smoking as well. Smoking is a bad habit that hurts your health and your wealth, so although embarrassing, I am proud that we were able to quit and influence others to do the same. We can turn the downward trends around if enough people subscribe to a healthy life and convince others to join in.
  5. You cannot replace lousy management with wellness benefits — As usual, the pendulum will swing too far, and we will most likely have to learn the hard way. Employers will create these elaborate and unique benefit packages only to see their people quit anyway. These benefits may keep employees for a bit longer than they would have stayed otherwise, but a bad boss is a bad boss. Eventually, poor leadership will drive people away, no matter what benefits you provide.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?

A few years ago, the companies that offered wellness benefits were few and far between. They were seen by their competitors as gimmicks and useless. Today, the conversation is changing. Workers are already asking for benefits like this, and soon they will be demanding these benefits. Most Americans know they should eat a banana rather than a candy bar, but receiving a discount on their health insurance for choosing the former more often will go a long way. Most Americans know they should save for retirement, but making employees opt out rather than opt into a retirement plan will help create good habits. We can become more healthy together, and it will benefit all of us.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

Absolutely, people can follow our journey on Trilogy Financial’s LinkedIn page!

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.

Click here to read the full story. 

By Authority Magazine
April 8, 2022

By: Jason Hartman |

As a part of my series about The 5 Essentials of Smart Investing, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Broker.

Mike Broker is a leader in the financial planning and investing space and understands the need to work diligently in the moment to build something great for the future. He began his fiduciary focused and financial advisory career in the beginning stages of the Great Recession of 2008. Mike quickly gained great experience working with clients as they strived to recover and get ahead during a difficult time. He’s also the author of the book Fit Financial Approach. To write the book, Broker utilized his background as a Certified Personal Trainer to coach his clients and team members to great success, paving the way to grow quickly into the role of Chief Strategy Officer at Trilogy Financial. As an Investment Advisor Representative with Trilogy Capital, Inc., in which he holds his Series 65 Registration. He holds his Series 6, 7, 24, and 63 Registrations with LPL Financial and his Life and Health Insurance License. Mike leverages his expertise every day to help Trilogy clients build the path to saving, investing, and pursuing their dreams. It would be a great asset to share his five things essential to smart investing.

Thank you for doing this with us! Our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

Hi! I’m happy to. With the last name Broker, it’s hard to say my path to finance wasn’t fate. My path to the financial planning industry actually started with a car accident when I was twelve years old. It was a bad accident that resulted in piecing my face back together and a bit of money for the trouble. Being a good steward of the funds awarded, my dad introduced me to his financial advisor, and I fell in love with the profession. All I wanted to do was help people live better, and at a very young age I realized that financial planners could do just that.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I started in this business as a financial advisor who only wanted to help clients improve their lives; I didn’t want to lead anyone or manage people. As I was improving my skills and growing as a planner, I found that sharing what I had learned personally and professionally was a way that I could impact more and more Americans. I went from running a small team, to managing a larger team, to an office, to becoming an executive for a national firm — kicking and screaming the whole way. As a sole advisor, you can only comprehensively help 150 to 200 families before running out of time and capacity. In my current role, I have the opportunity to impact far more families nationwide. I’ve learned not to shy away from risk and challenges. Don’t let your prior judgments and expectations hold you back from trying something new. You never know — it could become your new passion, or an opportunity to create real change in your corner of the world.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

At Trilogy Financial, we are working on helping everyday Americans feel confident about their future. We’re working to build a scalable, yet individualized approach to financial planning and coaching that may help people make critical financial decisions — ones most Americans feel ill-equipped to handle on their own. We are building a movement that should help those in our country who really need it and have been continually overlooked in financial planning. In an industry known for selling products and lacking integrity, we are working towards becoming a brand that Americans can turn to when they have questions and concerns about their money.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers?

Financial literacy is not a set of concepts you can tell someone, and they may remember for the rest of their lives. You cannot memorize a list of facts and regurgitate them on a test. Financial concepts are also intimidating for most Americans, and they can seem overwhelming and complex.

The truth is that financial literacy is a set of information that all works together, and it can be easy to learn if you’re willing to take it one step at a time and apply the knowledge gained as you learn.

Some of the basics are dollar-cost averaging, diversification, asset allocation, inflation, and compound interest. You can learn investment strategies, investment tools, financial products, taxes, and the like. You could also hire a financial advisor to educate you and use their extensive knowledge of all of these concepts to guide you in building a plan, just as you would hire a personal trainer to show you how to use the machines and utilize proper form while working toward good fitness.

If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

  1. I would add a personal finance curriculum in schools early and often. My wife works in education, supporting schools and districts with math curriculum and implementation. Kids learn math by building little by little, understanding and mastering the last skill before adding the next. They build this knowledge and skill over years before using math every day as an adult. In the majority of America, we don’t teach kids about personal finances. Many parents don’t feel confident enough to teach their kids what they know, so kids are left to trial and error.
  2. Consistent titles in the financial planning industry. I’d love to see some consistency and enforcement around the titles in financial planning. Someone who provides comprehensive financial planning, sells insurance, sells mortgages, and isn’t licensed could be called a financial advisor. I think the title of financial professional should be for those who are not licensed; “advisor” reserved for those who are licensed but do not do full planning; “financial planner” should be reserved for those who offer planning to clients.
  3. Amnesia from past public opinion. The financial planning industry has had a poor reputation for some time, and rightfully so because the American consumer often starts at a place of distrust with financial advisors. However, studies have shown that having a financial advisor helps Americans make better decisions with their money over time. I would love to see more people willing to seek out a planner’s advice when they have money issues or goals, rather than not engaging because they are afraid of being lied to or sold a product with no merit.

Ok, thank you! Now to the main question of our interview: You are a “finance insider.” If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

  1. Don’t watch the market day-to-day. Financial plans are built over a long time. The day-to-day market is unpredictable at best, and making emotional changes to your long-term plan based on short-term changes can be detrimental to your future.
  2. The news sells ads, not information. The news reports that the market drops far more than the market gains because people will stay glued to the television when the market is going down. They are not giving you all the facts; instead, they give you the information you need to stay tuned during the commercials. My advice: just turn it off.
  3. Ask yourself “when is the best time to plant a tree?” The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, because it would be big and fruitful today. If you didn’t do that, the second-best time to plant a tree is now! Get started as soon as you can, as the most valuable resource you have is time, no matter how old you are.
  4. Remain “risky” in retirement. A portion of your investments should be set aside to keep up with inflation. Many people think you should retire and move your investments to cash or bonds, and the problem is inflation could eat away at the value of those investments. Living a long time could strain a too-conservative plan.
  5. Boring wins. If you see someone telling you to get on the next get-rich-quick scheme or invest in something that will “hit it big,” run in the opposite direction as fast as you can. Planning is about habits and long-term discipline and getting rich quick happens to very few lucky people. If you’re reading this article, it’s probably not you. Investments that are tried and true can be risky, but you know the risk you are taking for the relative reward you could receive. Stick to investments that make sense to you, and stay away from the flashy, enticing ideas.

What are your thoughts about investing in cryptocurrency? Can you explain what you mean?

I’m not going to go in-depth on what cryptocurrencies are, but it’s important to understand that they are highly speculative and are subject to many unique types of risk. The technology behind it, blockchain technology, is rapidly evolving with the possibility of impacting businesses way beyond just digital currency. I suggest you do your own research on blockchains and their role in cryptocurrency systems.

What are your thoughts about day trading using apps like Robinhood? Can you explain what you mean?

Day trading is essentially gambling, as the short-term markets respond to emotions, news, fear and greed. No one knows what will happen, and even if you have the best resources in the industry, an unexpected world event can instantly unravel your plans. Markets over the long-term respond to fundamental economics and trends, so when planning for the future you want, you could produce results if you stick to your plan over a long period.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am very fortunate to have the upbringing that I had. My dad taught me the importance of having a financial advisor and saving my money. He helped me open a Roth IRA to begin funding when I had my first job at 16 years old. Then, despite my being brand new when I became a financial advisor, he was my second client who trusted me from the beginning. Thankfully, it has worked out for us both, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the start he provided.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Esse quam videri” is a Latin phrase that means “to be rather than to appear.” When I was coming up in the business and learning my way around financial planning, I was struggling with having clients trust my recommendations. I went into my manager’s office and complained, “I just want to be seen as someone they can trust!” His advice has been burned in my memory, and I have repeated it many times to those who look to me for advice — “If you want to be seen a certain way, don’t wish to be seen that way. Just BE it. If you want to be seen as trustworthy, work to become trustworthy. Make good recommendations. Become a better planner. Then, and only then, will you be seen as trustworthy because you will be.” Sage advice.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Health and wealth! Many Americans are unhealthy and unprepared for their financial future. If I could create a movement to impact people the most, it would be to have Americans take a Fit Financial Approach to life!

Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!

Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advice offered through Trilogy Capital, a registered investment advisor. Trilogy Financial and Trilogy Capital are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!

Click here to read the full story.

By Authority Magazine
March 20, 2022

By: Authority Magazine |

As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Windus Fernandez Brinkkord.

Windus is an senior vice president at Trilogy Financial, a national financial advisory firm. One of the things that sets Trilogy Financial apart from other firms is the dedication to cultivating a team that can best serve and advise everyday Americans. To Windus and her team, the term “everyday Americans” means everyone from hardworking employees to business owners and savvy investors, to new couples and more who want to build the businesses and lifestyles they dream. What Trilogy recognized was that in order to be a true fiduciary to its clients, they needed to be able to relate to them. And how better to relate to them than to build multi-generational teams that could relate to every family member, life event, dream and experience? Windus helped develop these teams within each Trilogy office while leading her local San Diego office to be one of the most successful offices in the company. Her dedication to her team has led to the success of her clients.

Windus Fernandez Brinkkord is a Registered Representative with, and securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through TC, a Registered Investment Advisor. TC markets advisory services under the name of Trilogy Financial (TF), an affiliated but separate legal entity. TC and TF are separate entities from LPL.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’m a third generation Californian and second generation San Diegan. I was raised in the community of Ocean Beach, which attributed to my love of the water. My husband is a cancer survivor and after his remission we adopted two babies, a brother and sister, and they are the joy of our lives.

My family has always been in property management, and after I spent some time in the industry, I realized I wanted to help build, create and foster an awesome culture for other professionals to grow their business. So I joined Trilogy Financial in 2003, and paired my determination with my commitment to relationships in my life.

I grew up at Trilogy and have really grown through management changes, industry changes and a company restructure that have all led me to the success I have today. Over that time, I went from being mentored to being the mentor. I used to reach out to so many of Trilogy’s top producers for help and bread crumbs on how best to succeed and then eventually, with their help, my career became the career I had always wanted. I couldn’t have done it without the guidance of so many people at Trilogy.

Today, I work with clients to visualize the pathways to their success so they can decide which route is better for them and help them change gears should their chosen pathway not be as productive as anticipated. Ultimately, I strive to help clients understand that success isn’t achieved with the first plan, but with their long-term relationship and commitment to work together.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I had met a person at a bazaar at their company, and they told me they were really interested in financial planning. So I called, left a message. Heard nothing. I called again and then again, and for 8 months I called to check in with them. Finally, they answered!

They had been in Africa for work and were so impressed with my follow through they became clients. Today, they are one of my largest clients and a tremendous referral source.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I don’t know that mistakes in financial planning are particularly funny, but I can look back on this one and giggle. I once asked me to wire them money for a trip, and I mixed it up. They then left on this trip! Instead of wiring it to them, I wired it out of their bank account. It was complete chaos, I had to reverse wires and chase them down while they were in the Bahamas on vacation. Lucky for me they are the nicest people and I was able to quickly correct it once I reached them. I learned that slowing down and doing things right the first time is critical, and it has made me a better advisor over time.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?

I think one of the best ways to retain talent today is to be transparent and a good communicator. If you are transparent with challenges on the team and you’re proactive with an annual strategic plan, you are more likely to ensure everyone on the team is rowing the same direction. I believe that even in the best of circumstances “thinking things are fine” is definitely going to bite you in the toosh, so you should always be proactive. Often times, there are issues lurking within team. By having everyone aligned on the direction, goals and roles, you are more likely to see issues as they arise and can then proactively respond — instead of reacting after someone is disgruntled and leaving.

How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?

My experience is mostly with a team of 15 and below, though I have overseen much larger teams as well. Which is not very large, but I believe if you have a good strategy and process, it can be evolved for larger teams. The best way to get a team moving is to give your attention to the best workers — which is contrary to what we believe is natural. We often spend more time with the people who are under performing and work on improving them. However, I believe we need lift up and put attention on the top performers who will carry the team. It’s important to still give the underperformers guidance, but be aware of the pressure they cause the better performers when they can’t keep up.

Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)

The 5 things I think everyone needs to successfully manage a team are:

  1. Have a Strategic Plan: Everyone needs to know the rules of the game and what they are playing for. If the goal of the team is to increase revenue by 25%, you need to deep dive and break down how are you going to get there. For example, what weekly and monthly activities can you do as a team to make sure you stay on track? What type of revenue is going to best get you to the goal? It’s about defining the game they are playing and the rules of this game, so that your team can stay motivated and on point.
  2. Conduct a SWOT Analysis: The Strength–Weakness–Opportunity–Threat Grid is a good way for the team to acknowledge the positive while also being aware of any lurking negatives. When you run this exercise as a team, you get to know more about what the team is worried about. Once you discover what is keeping them up at night, you can often learn more about how to keep people on point and moving forward together. Also, it allows everyone to voice what they view as their own strength and weakness for the year. This should be redone at the start of each year after the Strategic Plan.
  3. Run With Your Winners: It’s so easy to get focused on the team members who are less productive. As a team manager, they rent space in your head, make you upset and keep you up at night. And allowing them to distract you is a dangerous game. Reward your winners and they will keep their eye on the ball and pushing forward. With that confidence, you can focus on those who need to catch up and if not, then know a performance improvement plan is needed.
  4. Keep Meetings Short and To The Point: Each Monday we have a standing team meeting where we assess what’s going on for the week and make sure there aren’t issues lurking. This meeting should be short, but productive. And it should including goals that people are working on weekly and monthly. This is very helpful in keeping people engaged with the Strategic Plan and what they need to focus on in order to contribute to that plan.
  5. Trust Your Team: People need to feel like they have the autonomy to work on their goals without worrying that someone is looking over their shoulder. I believe the new generation wants freedom to excel and independence over micromanagers and if you don’t, they will vote with their feet.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

The best piece of advice I have is to avoid being a control freak. Many of us feel that no one can do what we do as good as we do it…and that will be 100% accurate if you never give your team the chance to learn. Learning sometimes means mistakes and cleaning up their own messes, but then they become stronger and more capable faster.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Our mission statement as a company is to provide opportunities for people to live their best lives. When people know what they need to save, they know what they can spend and then they can spend with the freedom from guilt. That is the feeling of satisfaction that more people need, especially with money. This is a small but growing movement, and I’d love to make it much larger!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is “do or do not…there is no try.” I hear this from my daughter all the time. And I tell her she will fail at 100% of the goals she never works toward. I believe people will eventually succeed when they put their mind to something. My old boss used to say “leave the word hope at church and when you come to work, get it done,” and it’s that same philosophy that I live and mentor by today.

Thank you for these great insights!

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