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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!