You're listening to Financial Advisor Marketing. The best show on the planet for financial advisors who want to get more clients without all the stress. You're about to get the real scoop on everything from lead generation to closing the deal. James is the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com where you can find an entire suite of products designed to help financial advisors grow their businesses more rapidly than ever before. Now here is your host, James Pollard.
James: Welcome to Financial Advisor Marketing podcast, podcast for financial advisors, and things are going to be different this week because producer Jonathan isn't here. He's out skiing in Utah or surfing the waves in Florida where he's living. I don't know what he's doing this week, but what I do know is that I have an amazing guest today, and this gentleman's work has definitely influenced my thinking when it comes to stress and stress management. He's got more than 180 published articles, so he's giving me a run for my money. He's also the author of one of my favorite books, which is The Financial Advisor's Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide, which we're going to talk about that today and I'd like to introduce to the show the one and only, Dr. Jack Singer. Dr. Jack, welcome to the show. [0:01:14.2]
Dr. Jack: James, thank you so much for having me, and it's certainly my treat to be exposed to your audience and be able to explain to them some of the ways that they can make their lives a lot simpler and more productive using the techniques that I've perfected with Olympic gold medal winners.
James: Oh, absolutely. And speaking of the Olympians, I'm sure you've probably told this story 100 times, but what got you working with financial advisors specifically?
Dr. Jack: It's very interesting. I was very happy in my little niche working as a sports psychologist with professional athletes, living in California where you can do this year round because of the weather, and then in 2008, I received a random call from the head of the Australian Financial Advisors Association and he said he had read some of my articles online that I had written about stress mastery and he asked if I knew what was happening to the world economy in 2008, and I said, "Well, I'm not really familiar with it. I'm not following it," and he said, well, for financial advisors, it's a disaster what's going on and he said at the same time the government of Australia has decided that it's a good time to mandate fee for service, so no more hidden commissions and the combination of the two events is causing his advisors to want to jump off cliffs like lemmings. [0:02:29.6]
They're all thinking they need to get out of the business and can I help him with the stress. So, I was fascinated by that and started doing research in the financial services industry and I actually pivoted my career at that point, and that's what lead to writing the book, The Financial Advisor's Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide, and I concluded, you know, I had an epiphany that financial professionals are pretty much like elite athletes. They have to go through all of their exams and take the series tests and so forth and they have to deal with competition and they have to deal with stress and they have to overcome failure, very much like athletes do, so why couldn’t I teach them the same blueprint to develop the mindset of a champion that I've done with so many athletes. So, in 2008, that's the short version - I pivoted my career, kept a few athletes I was still working with but mainly focused on financial services professionals. [0:03:25.8]
James: Oh, absolutely. And I 100% agree with the thinking that financial services professionals are like professional athletes, and in a lot of ways, I mean, some of the best ideas and biggest innovations come from other industries. I mean, the stuff that I do, a lot of the systems-based thinking, it comes from the fast food industry, the customer service comes from the hotel industry. A lot of that stuff can apply to financial advisors, but I definitely see the parallels with professional athletes. With stress specifically, though, with the financial advisors and you're talking about dealing with the recession and financial advisors who have to talk their clients off the ledge, it seems like you're the one who is talking the financial advisors off the ledge, but more like in the day-to-day life dealing with the business, what are some of the ways that you've seen stress negatively impact advisors and how do you…[0:04:12.1]
Dr. Jack: Okay. So let me give you an example because I do, with the amount of time I have, I do have some private coaching that I do. So let me give you some examples from cases that I've worked with. So, a financial advisor who is very successfully financially calls me up. He said, "It's not a question of how much I am making. I'm making plenty of money, but my wife says I'm very difficult to live with, especially on Sunday because I have to go to work the next day and I can't even sleep on Sunday evening and on Friday's, I can't wait to get out of the office and people in the office are beginning to notice that I'm anxious all the time and I'm taking anti-anxiety medication and I'm not sleeping well." So that would be a typical example of someone who's successful as a financial advisor, but the side effects are dramatically impacting his life. [0:05:04.7]
So you know, we did, you know, several things and by the time I was done with him, about a month and a half later, it was that quick, he was taking Fridays off and going golfing with his brother. He looked forward to coming in to the office on Monday. He delegated responsibility, which he was always afraid to do, thinking he'd lose control. So we had to deal with his control issues. So that's an example of the kinds of things I get into with financial professionals.
James: Yeah, I mean, I think people call that the Sunday Scaries, and I see that quite a bit too with financial advisors on Sunday night. They're a little worried and you hit the nail directly on the head with the control thing. A lot of financial advisors tend to be control freaks for lack of a better word. They want to control everything and that's a positive thing and a negative thing as well. Are there any specific strategies that financial advisors can put into place right away, maybe breathing technique, meditation? I know in your book, you give 77 different ways, but for the listeners, is there anything that, you know, maybe you want to …[0:06:04.9]
Dr. Jack: Yeah. I would…yeah, there are plenty of things I can share with your listeners and one thing is to wear a rubber band and the kind of rubber band I recommend is a number 64 rubber band. That sounds fancy, but it's the thick rubber bands that come in the mail and you can go to… if you don’t have them from your mail, you can go to the store and buy a packet of #64 rubber bands, very inexpensive and it's really a technique that really is powerful. Even elite athletes have told me this technique has worked wonders for them in their sport. You put that rubber band on your wrist, so it sits loosely on your wrist and then every time you catch yourself thinking something negative and that means words that start with "what if" or "I hope I don’t" or "Oh boy, I screwed this up" or anything like that, or "this toxic client is on the phone - I don’t know what to do" anything that's negative, self-defeating like that, the first thing, step #1 is you snap the rubber band, which gets your attention and it stops the thought dead in its tracks. [0:07:07.1]
Step number two is you take a series of deep breaths, in through your nose to the count of 4, then you hold it for 4 seconds, then a big exhale to the count of 7 out through your mouth. Repeat that a couple of times, which will immediately calm you down. And then the most important step is you find a different way to think about that situation that is not negative and not self-defeating. You know, in my book I talk about the 10 most common ways that people have negative, distorted, self-defeating thoughts so you can recognize those trigger thoughts. We don’t have time to really deal with all of that here, but once you understand what your habits are, what your negative thinking habits are, you can learn to identify them quickly and using the rubber band stops those thoughts dead in their tracks and revise those thoughts after you've calmed yourself down. [0:07:59.2]
James: Yeah. I love that from your book, and I think it was page 138, it's where you talk about how people have, they look for a quick fix to their issues, but they don’t examine their own self-defeating habits, and I found that to be true as well. They try to charge through. They try to barrel through, if they take control, take charge and there are certain things that you just can't will yourself through. You can't necessarily will yourself to defeat some of the demons inside your business without addressing your own thoughts first. I mean, people come to me and say…
Dr. Jack: Well, people don’t generally….
James: …direct mail doesn’t work… like well…
Dr. Jack: Yeah.
James: Yeah. You can believe what you want…
Dr. Jack: Let me just explain, James, that what people don’t usually know is that everything starts with their thinking. The thoughts that go on in your mind control everything in your body. That's why it works to change your thoughts for athletes because their whole body language changes if their thinking changes and it's the same for financial professionals. It's not events that take place in a person's life that causes their emotions and their moods and their behaviors. So let's take an event, for example. [0:09:03.9]
An advisor's secretary says that client X is on the phone and is demanding to speak to you right away. That's an event, but it's a neutral event. Events don’t cause emotions. What causes emotions and reactions are the thoughts that go on inside your head about the event. So for example, if the thought that goes on in your head about client X demanding to speak to you is something like this, "Oh great - this guy's a real pain in my rear end and he's always calling to complain about his portfolio when the market dips and he's looking for answers. I don’t really want to talk to this guy." Those kinds of internal conversations will raise your anxiety level, will tense you up and could even cause headaches and all kinds of other physical things, could cause a mood change, could do all kinds of things, but it's not the event. It's the conversation you had about the event because you could have had the following conversation about the same event: "Okay, Mr. X is on the phone. I know the demands he makes. I know what his agenda is going to be. I will tell my secretary to tell him that I have an opening at 3 o'clock. I will call him then. He's not going to come in and shoot me because I didn't get on the phone now. And by 3 o'clock, I will have looked over his portfolio and come up with another strategy to make him feel better." [0:10:28.6]
So you see, it's the same event, but it's a different internal conversation. James, it's always the internal conversation that determines the attitudes, the moods, and the reactions we take to difficult situations.
James: Yeah, and I mean, I must admit that I've struggled with that in my own life as well, trying to think about situations a certain way and events that happen and it… thinking like that and trying to take a step back and realize that I can choose that outcome, it's changed my life. [0:10:57.9]
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James: Another thing that you mentioned that really struck a chord with me is you talk about being assertive, but you also say that being assertive means that you have the freedom to choose whether assertive behavior is appropriate in a particular situation and that makes a lot of sense. Could you expand on that a little bit more about how financial advisors can ….
Dr. Jack: Yeah. You really did read the book.
James: No, I did. I know. [0:12:04.1]
Dr. Jack: That's a nuance in the book, yeah. Assertiveness means standing up for yourself without offending anyone else, and that's important to understand the last part of that because aggressive people are not what I call "assertive." They stand up for themselves by offending other people. You know, they insult them, embarrass them - take a situation in a restaurant -your food doesn’t come prepared correctly and when the waiter or waitress comes over and asks you if everything is okay, you cause a scene, saying, "No, not… everything is not okay. I asked for this this way. I don’t want it. Take it back." You know, you're loud. That's aggressiveness. We're not talking about developing aggressive behaviors. On the other hand, we don’t want non-assertive behaviors, which is where you made yourself intimated - you avoid confrontations at all cost and you will accept things that are not acceptable because you don’t want to cause a problem, so you nod your head, everything's fine, but you can't even eat the salad because it didn't come prepared the way you asked for it. [0:13:03.4]
Assertive behavior is calmly standing up for yourself if you've decided it's an appropriate time to do it. So, when the waiter or waitress comes over and says, "Is everything okay?" it's very assertive to say, "Well, I'm glad you came over because I think they made a mistake in the kitchen; here's the problem." Or "Could you have the manager come over because I have had this here many times before and something is different about it." That's being assertive. You're not offending anybody. You're simply not willing to pay for something that isn't what you ordered. But there are many situations, as you started eluding to, James, where it may not be appropriate at that time to be assertive. So for example, let's say that you've convinced yourself that you want to ask your boss for a raise and you've decided that today is the day that I'm going to assert myself and ask my boss for a raise, but when you come into the office, you notice that the boss or manager is already in a negative mood, probably because of something that happened before he or she even got there. [0:14:06.4]
That's a case where you say to yourself, it doesn’t make sense for me to assert myself right now because the probability of me getting what I need when he's in this mood is slim. I need to wait until there's a good day or I've done something that is particularly good that he's happy about and that's when I will be assertive and raise this question.
James: It is absolute gold. Financial advisors, I hope you are taking notes and if you read between the lines, you can see there's a lot of stuff there that you can apply directly to your own business and to your clients and even your prospects because I know some of you have written in talking about how people treat you poorly and you're afraid to fire your clients or you're afraid to implement your own policies in your business. This is something you need to take directly to heart. Well, Dr. Jack, is there such a thing as positive stress, and if there is, how can advisors harness the positive stress? [0:14:58.7]
Dr. Jack: Well, there is. And the person who invented the whole theory of stress, a gentleman named Dr. Han Selye, talked about negative stress and eustress, which he said was positive stress. So for example, if you're an advisor and you've been invited to do a seminar for school administrators and your goal is to be able to take the entire school system on as a client, you might be very excited. You may call it "nervous" before that meeting, but that's a positive excitement, a positive nervousness. It's like I can't wait to do this because there's an amazing outcome that could come out of this, so anticipatory anxiety that way is a positive kind of stress. But with any stress, if you have too much of it, it can start to subtract from what you're doing. So you have to monitor how much stress you have and if you're feeling overstressed, the same as an athlete who is getting ready for a match or a game, if they're feeling too much stress, if they're too amped up, even though they're looking forward to it, then you might call this positive stress, then that could detract from their behavior. [0:16:13.5]
You've probably seen important games and the say the quarterback must be too amped up because he's missing his targets and he's not used to doing that and as the game goes on, he gets more comfortable with what's going on and he starts improving. So, we have to always monitor how much stress we have and in my book, I talk about multiple ways to calm stress down, but this positive stress you're talking about, there's something people need to understand so they can differentiate it. For example, you know, the fear of speaking in public is one of the strongest fears there is. People aren’t born with it. They develop it either because a parent had it and they learned it or they tried it once and they had a problem and they were afraid to do it again. So when I give speeches, which is one of the things I do a lot, I speak you know, at conferences and so forth and sometimes do training programs in offices of financial professionals, I can feel anxiety before I go in to do the speech, but I always label it correctly that I can't wait to get there because I have so much important information to share and I know that some of the people are going to hear me today or going to come out of this saying, "Am I glad I went to see that workshop or that seminar because this is something I can apply to my life right away." [0:17:30.4]
So I talk to myself in very positive ways about that anxiety, labeling it as a positive, I can't wait to do this kind of anxiety as opposed to, oh no, what if I make a mistake or what if they don’t like me. Again, it's all about the conversations you have in your head.
James: So what I'm getting is that stress is like, I guess like a surgeon's scalpel. In the same way that it could be used to save a life, it can also be used to destroy one or take one.
Dr. Jack: What a wonderful metaphor.
James: Well, thank you.
Dr. Jack: In fact, I've had, in my career, several surgeons as patients because their stress level in the operating room has caused them problems and I, exactly what we just talked about, I talk about looking at their hands and the instruments in their hands as the ability to save a life or make a life a lot better instead of worrying about what could happen. [0:18:23.3]
James: Oh yeah. I can't imagine the stress that they deal with, especially if they're in their own head, like we talked about earlier in the show and telling themselves certain things about the surgery they're about to perform. Yeah, I can't even imagine. So we're going to wrap up the show but on a selfish note, I do have a little question that's more for me than anyone else. For the long-time listeners, you know that one of the things that has helped me personally in my own life is tracking my sleep. I mean, I have the fancy gadgets and the nice bed and all that. It's helped me tremendously. So I want to ask Dr. Jack, how important is self-care when it comes to performing at a higher level as a financial advisor and how can advisors take better physical care of themselves? [0:19:02.5]
Dr. Jack: Incredible question because it's an incredibly important issue, James. Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies because it affects inflammation and inflammation causes many diseases, especially chronic diseases. So if you're not getting quality sleep, you're introducing inflammation, which affects your brain, your ability to concentrate, your moods - everything. So there is sleep hygiene - people can look up sleep hygiene - make sure the room is dark. You don’t want to fall asleep with the TV set on. You don’t want to have a computer light shining nearby. Things of that nature. But it's important to get to sleep early and people have trouble falling asleep are people who are going over what happened during the day that maybe they're not happy about or they're thinking about what tomorrow has in store for them that maybe they're worried about. So the best sleep hygiene is to put all of that away. It's not going to make any difference to think about it now. It's not going to change anything. [0:20:02.6]
Give yourself permission to focus on something very positive when you're falling asleep and when I make hypnotic recordings for advisors, I have them tell me the most relaxing place they've ever been to on vacation or maybe from their childhood, and I put these in the beginning of the hypnotic recordings to help them go to sleep so they can visualize themselves at the beach or skiing or on a boat or whatever the case may be. That is much more important to put in your head when you're falling asleep than worried about the what ifs that could happen tomorrow on the job.
James: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more and that's actually what I do sometimes. Well, I want to say thank you for coming on the show. This has been an absolute pleasure. If anyone wants to get in touch with you or learn more about what you do, where can they go and how can they contact you?
Dr. Jack: Well, they can contact me at the following phone number, and I don’t even use an answering service. I answer it myself or there's voice mail if I'm not available and they can leave their number slowly and I will call them back. It's 949 area code 510-5660. You can go to my website, www.AdvisingTheAdvisors.com. [0:21:14.3]
You can email me at email@example.com and if they would like to get a free copy of my 5-Minute Mental Toughness Routine or my Five Steps to Building Self-Confidence for Financial Professionals, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will let them have it. They can also email me and get a free chapter from my book to see what that's like or they can get information about the 12 continuing education, an online course I have, six module course that's the only one of its kind on developing the mindset of a champion financial professional.
James: Alright, financial advisors. You heard the man and if you're dealing with stress of any kind or if you're having emotional difficulties and struggling with your business or you have the "Sunday scaries" that we talked about earlier in the show, don’t hesitate to reach out to him. [0:22:07.1]
Like he's here to help you and he wants to improve your life and improve your business, and I personally encourage you to get The Financial Advisor's Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide. It's got 77 proven prescriptions to build your resilience and it's one of the best books I've read on the subject. I mean, not just for financial services professionals. I mean, if you're dealing with stress at all, it's a great book to get. So, thank you again. It's been a pleasure having you on the show and I hope you get to help more advisors as a result of this.
Dr. Jack: Thanks, and James, you were a wonderful interviewer and I'd be happy to come back any time.
James: Thank you.
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