Have a podcast in 30 days

Without headaches or hassles

We’re officially in the future. Certain marketing mediums let you bypass space and time itself, grant you celebrity status to your ideal audience, and add an extra zero to your bank account faster than ever before.

But how do you best leverage your time, so you can reap the benefits of futuristic marketing and get the maximum results in the least amount of time?

Today’s guest, Mark Willis, knows how to do this. Besides building a thriving 700+ member community, he also serves over 1,000 clients in his financial advising business.

In today’s show, Mark shares his best-kept secrets with you, so you can double your wealth, impact, and legacy by this time next year.

Listen now.

Show highlights include:

  • The “SCORE” secret for growing your financial business faster by borrowing wisdom from retired executives (5:33)
  • How to leverage what Mark refers to as “the best form of marketing he can possibly imagine” (7:24)
  • How you can bypass both space and time with this coveted marketing medium and only meet with prospects who are already pre-sold on working with you (9:18)
  • The “SAM” method for creating addictive content that primes your audience to only want to work with you (11:42)
  • Why this “MSS” framework helps you create content for prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey (without boring any one person) (14:31)
  • The ultimate cheat code for generating content, being a thought leader, building a following, strengthening your client relationships, and building the best SEO in the universe (15:53)
  • How to give someone the chance to hang out with you for 50 hours before they ever meet you (and how this fast tracks your business’s growth) (20:36)
  • The “Halo Effect” that gives you celebrity-like influence in your niche (23:23)
  • How to become a better and wealthier financial advisor by hanging out in your garage (40:16)

Need help launching and growing your podcast and getting interviewed on other people’s podcasts? Head to https://LGassociates.mn.co

Want to join Mark’s membership community and discover his not-so-average financial advising techniques? Join here: https://NotYourAverage.mn.co

Like what Mark was putting down in today’s show. Check out his show at https://notyouraveragefinancialpodcast.com

Need a dose of inspiration, or have a mission and a message that the world needs to hear? Then head to https://ThePodcastFactory.com.

Want to make your emails more persuasive, profitable, and fun to write? Join my 7-Day Email Marketing Challenge here: https://www.theadvisorcoach.com/challenge

Want to become an expert at niche marketing and put growing your business on “easy mode?” Then join my niche marketing program here: https://www.theadvisorcoach.com/niche.html

Need help getting more clients as a financial advisor? I created a free, 53-minute video outlining the steps to my “CLIENT Method,” which helps financial advisors land more clients. Watch the video before I take it down here: https://www.theadvisorcoach.com/theclientmethod.html

If you’re looking for a way to set more appointments with qualified prospects, sign up for James’ brand new webinar about how financial advisors can get more clients with email marketing.

Go to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar to register today.

Go to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/Coaching and pick up your free 90 minute download called “5 Keys to Success for Financial Advisors” when you join The James Pollard Inner Circle.

Want to transform your website into a client-getting machine? Go to https://www.theadvisorcoach.com/website to get The Client-Getting Website Guide.

Want a masterclass training in running effective Facebook Ads? Head to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/ads-training.

Discover how to get even better at marketing yourself with these resources:





Read Full Transcript

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: Financial advisors, welcome to another fantastic episode of the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast. I try to bring special guests to the show who have unique vantage points and I am delivering on that this week with Mark Willis. He is an amazing guy. I've actually known him for a couple years now. He does the summits called the Not Your Average Financial Summit. I was a guest at the 2021 one. We have a lot in common with financial strategies in the way that we think and not being average. That's the title of his podcast also. It’s the Not Your Average Financial Podcast. [01:06.5]

What's interesting about Mark is that he is super consistent. He has a membership community. His clients love him, so I'm sure that we will talk about some strategies that he has all of the above. But, Mark, please take it away. Can you give the listeners a brief introduction of who you are and what you're all about?

Mark: Sure, James. Thanks for having me on, and it's an honor. I am a subscriber to your show. I've been listening for years, so it's great to be here with you today. And, yeah, I can give a bit about what we're up to and where, I guess, this whole thing started.

My wife and I certainly had no intentions of starting a financial firm. It was mainly out of sort of like one blind beggar finding a little bread and sharing it with somebody else. We were in debt up to our eyeballs, or I was in debt, I should say. I brought it into the marriage. We had about six figures of student loan debt, 120 grand to be precise. [01:58.3]

We graduated from our nice private school degrees in the middle of the Great Recession with no plan and no job, and I always emphasize the “no plan” part because that's actually worse than no job. To not have a job is fixable. To not have a plan, I think it's terminable, so you've got to have a plan. Like Dwight D. Eisenhower said, it's not so much the plan; it's the planning that saves us.

The consistent ongoing, regular, recurring review, and determination to take one more step to live one more day was all that we had at the time. Man, we finally got our head screwed on straight. I think it was when Sallie Mae just kept wanting money every month, go figure, back when they wanted us to pay those loans off, so that was sort of what got me focused on money and on our budget. Then we stumbled across Dave Ramsey stuff, so we followed him like zealots for a year or two or three and we were throwing money, big money, toward our debts. [03:02.7]

Then a friend and a colleague—actually, he was a professor of mine—shared with me this strategy that helped us really get laser-focused on our finances and wiped out the rest of our debt. We got so excited, we started a financial firm to help show other people just exactly how you could be better than debt-free and live a life with purpose and to hit all of your financial milestones without taking all this unnecessary risk, which is how so many Americans live their lives. I'm cool with risk. I'm a business owner. I'm a real estate investor. But I don't necessarily have to take unnecessary risk. Unnecessary risk becomes something that we try to get rid of as much as possible.

Anyway, that's what kick started Lake Growth Financial Services, and fast forward to today, we now serve a little over 1,000 clients all across all 50 states, many of whom are now living abroad as well, so that's a lot of fun. And we just love getting to work with folks with not-so-average financial strategies, because we believe, where is it written on some sort of three-by-five card of allowable opinion that we have to have all these right answers checked on our boxes, like 401(k) or IRA, or any other government-sponsored retirement plan, or put all of our money, all of our money, in the markets? [04:20.7]

Where is any of that written for us to be able to achieve our goals? I don't see it on the tablets coming down the mountain, let's say. So, what else could we do to help us reach our financial goals? That's kind of our raison d'etre for Lake Growth Financial Services and what we're all about.

James: Absolutely, and I think that one of the things I like about you is that you will find a way to get in front of the clients who could use these strategies, and you don't really push it as hard as some of the people on TikTok, for example, because they get kind of annoying.

If people don't know what we're talking about, it's just like whole life insurance and that kind of deal, and I know that a lot of people who are listening to this do the 401(k) thing, and I do, too. I have a solo 401(k). I used to have a SEP IRA, but then I got smarter. That kind of thing. I love that, but I also understand that as a business owner as well, and as a real estate investor as well, I love that you're pointing out that you don't take unnecessary risk, and that is very important. [05:15.5]

When you were starting Lake Growth—the reason I bring that up is because I want to know how you got your first initial clients—how did that work? What was the process for you?

Mark: At first and foremost, it was out of just blunt swinging of the axe against a tree to see what would happen, really, no marketing project, no awareness of a business plan. I had, thankfully, sat down with a group in Chicago and they have them all across the country. It's called SCORE, and SCORE was great because you got to sit down with these retired executives who had been in your industry and just glean drops of honey from their lips, basically. [05:57.2]

The wisdom that came from those sessions, I will never forget, and sitting down with things like a balance sheet and figuring out what is a revenue forecast, and understanding, How do you do a marketing plan? How do you figure out an ideal client avatar? and these sorts of things. It was just invaluable. Anybody just getting started, check out your local SCORE chapter, if you have one. There may be some online as well.

James: I haven't heard of SCORE in a long time. That's actually what I did, too, when I was first starting businesses like affiliate businesses and some of the commercial businesses. We talked about one of them off air, but there's no need to get into it now. I’d definitely use SCORE, and I thought, I mean, obviously, I'm not the only one, but I just haven't heard that in a long time.

I wanted to have you on the show specifically because I admire some of the big marketing strategies that you're doing, and the very first one I’ve already mentioned is the Not Your Average Financial Podcast, and as of last week—we're recording this in June—you hit 300 episodes, which is incredible, because something like 80%, don't quote me on this, financial advisors, but 80%, don't make it past three episodes, some crazy number like that, and then 90% don't make it past 10 or 20 or something.
So, your 300 seems insane for people who have never started a podcast or people who have a podcast and just aren't committing the way that you are. What keeps you going every single week to put these episodes out? [07:21.4]

Mark: Maybe it's out of sheer stupidity, I don't know. I think it honestly is the best form of marketing I can possibly imagine and we live in the future that we have this, and I certainly want to say I think it's in some ways the community that helps me produce this every week—and by “community,” I mean my producer and the woman who really runs the show, which is my wife, who is also the CEO of the business, Katrina, and like I mentioned, my producer, also. Her name is Julia.

They just keep me on task and we just make sure, if it's Friday morning, there's going to be another episode in everyone's podcast player, and that's just the way it's been since 2017. It's just crazy to think about. I feel like a great grandparent in the podcast space. [08:10.7]

But there are millions of podcasts out there now. I mean, there's 167 million episodes, just looking at Listen Notes right now. Do you have any clue how many actual podcast shows there are in the whole podcast landscape? It’s in the millions now.

James: I mean, based on statistics, I would say, less than 2 million maybe, less than a million even?

Mark: Yep. Yeah, there's so much that you can do when you have a platform to speak freely, directly into the ears—and eyes, if you're on a video platform—of your potential clients and your clients. I mean, it's a beautiful thing. We could not even imagine this. I mean, we have about 10,000 downloads a month, which is wonderful. And who cares, right? It doesn't-- I hope to have another zero on that someday. That'd be a lot of fun. [09:00.8]

But the best part is, imagine, just the reason why I say that number is because what if we had to do that with a direct mail piece every week? What would that cost? Would there be any response? Could you leave it out there forever for folks to go find it later? I was just on the phone before this interview, talking to someone in Canada about an episode that I dropped back in 2018 and he's been listening to it in another country from years ago. We've bypassed time and space with these futuristic tools we get to use.

So, you ask, what is it that helps me keep so consistent? It's the results that we're seeing as a result, and it's the feedback we're getting from my clients and potential clients that we're seeing the impact that it's having. Some weeks and months, it's harder than others, as you know, being a very consistent podcaster yourself. I’m going to turn the tables on you, James. Why do you keep doing this? [10:03.8]

James: I enjoy it. It is a lot of work. It's a lot of effort. I do have the systems in place through the Podcast Factory, so that's something that we have in common. I’ve never had to have them kick me in the pants or anything, but I know that if I stumble, they're there to do it, and that's a good feeling. It's just I have so much content that comes up, and if people ask questions, I make a note of those questions. If a question comes up 10 times and it's a big flashing light here, “Hey, James, make a podcast episode about this,” so that is really cool.

As a marketer, the way that I think is that podcasting is leverageable, meaning, it takes no more effort to get 10,000 downloads, as far as your time investment and past a certain point, to get 10,000 downloads as it does to get one, because you're recording the episode, you've created a little script, whatever your process is, you're still putting in the effort. It's disproportionate results from your input or disproportionate output from your input, and that's really awesome. [11:02.7]

The second reason why I love it is because it's scalable, meaning, this is very closely related to leverage in this case, but you can scale it by just getting more listeners. If people go to your website and they see that you have a podcast, they can listen. If they get to your email list, they see you have a podcast, they can listen. It just scales very well.

From your perspective, though, when you're making these episodes, you have a way of telling cool stories. If people have listened to your podcasts, they’ve heard you talk about the Price Is Right, the Plinko board. You've talked about the-- I don't even remember the name, but you flip it over the distribution.

Mark: Yeah, I’ll go see if I can remember what the name of that board is, but I hear you. What you're asking is metaphors and stories and analogies.

James: Yeah. Are those some of your secrets? What I'm getting at is what do you think makes a podcast truly engaging? Do you have any recipe that you're trying to follow? [11:56.0]

Mark: As far as keeping it engaging, yes, I think the human mind really wants something unique to hang on to, something novel to be engaged in, and if you're just reaming them with spreadsheets over the airwaves, you're going to check people out pretty quick, and so about every three minutes or so, you really need some kind of switch up, change up. You need images, something that they can visualize in their mind while driving down the street.

Honestly, I think it’s better than YouTube in many ways, only if folks are truly listening, because you can satisfy their imaginations by giving them something to hang their hat on, and I believe in going up the ladder and down the ladder when it comes to helping people with practical financial strategies. If you just talk about how IRA rollovers work, and we do tens of millions of dollars with that every year with IRA rollovers, but all you talk about is the government laws of IRA rollovers, you're really going to lose people. [13:00.0]

But if you can help them engage it with a story, a client story or an image, or an alternative metaphor or analogy, you really get a little more engagement in that regard. I would say that that really can be a differentiator for you, because your stories are going to be different from your competitors’, other financial advisors that might be talking about the exact same topic, but no one will have your perspective or your story.

James: You mentioned going up and down the ladder. What does that mean?

Mark: Up the ladder would be more esoteric concepts, theory, things like the efficient market frontier, let's say, and talking about the portfolio, diversification of using different asset classes that have different risk pools and that sort of thing.

But then bringing it down the ladder would be more practical, hands on, direct. If you only talk at the bottom rung, you're going to lose people who won't take you seriously. If you never come down the ladder, you're always up in the clouds; you're going to really lose people who just need you to talk straight to them in a way that they can understand. [14:06.6]

James: That is a really good point. I've never thought about it that way. I have sometimes been doing that unconsciously.

Mark: Exactly.

James: And I’ve never realized that that's what I’ve been doing, and it's just because I get the results, I get the feedback, and if people like that and they understand that and that sort of thing. But I’ve never really thought that that's what I'm doing. That makes a lot of sense.

Mark: And I would even put another layer on that. Here's that image of a layer, right? And the ladder is an image, too. But at the top rung, you might have mindset, and then come down about halfway, you have skill sets.

James: Oh, absolutely.

Mark: And then down on the baseline, you need systems that help you engage those skill sets and ultimately your mindset as well. So, mindset, skill set, system. I think it’s part of the genius model of anybody who-- and I think somebody taught me that, I don't remember who it was. Like they say, creativity is just forgetting your sources. But at the top level, you need a mindset, something to really build your philosophy or first principles around. Skill sets, things that you can engage in. Then, systems, something that you can regularly produce over and over again. [15:06.6]

James: That is brilliant. Whoever came up with that, I mean, shout out to him.

Mark: Yeah.

James: That's some good stuff. You mentioned that you get about 10,000 downloads. Is it per month or per …?

Mark: Per month, yeah. Yep, approximately, and it'll wane and wax as the year goes on, but it's in that ballpark.
We track it every so often. We don't pay close attention to it.

James: Are you doing anything specific to get those downloads? What is the source? Where are they coming from?

Mark: Honestly, some of the best pieces to this are not in the heavy lifting of having your own show, but it’s in going on and being a guest on other people's shows. That's really the secret sauce. I mean, if folks want to really know the secret here, you can be as lazy as you-- or as easy as it can get. It’s just skip having your own show. I mean, that's even better. [15:53.1]

But if you must, all you have to do for an easy win in terms of generating content, being a thought leader, increasing your visibility and your reach, building a following, creating a platform, repurposing your content, building a voice, strengthening your client relationships, I mean, having the best SEO in the universe, all you need to do is go on other people's shows—and thank you again for having me on yours today, James.

James: No, I actually wrote about that in a newsletter issue, I think one or two issues ago, where I said everybody and their mother wants to start a podcast. And I’ve got nothing against people who want to start podcasts, because it is awesome. You have one. I have one. Obviously, it'd be kind of hypocritical for me to say, “No, don't start a podcast.” But to get maximum results in minimum time, it is so much better to use other people's audiences.

Mark: Yeah.

James: And what's cool is I know for a fact—you mentioned the SEO thing—I know people are going to find you, whether it's six days from now, six months from now, whatever, and they're going to be a little skeptical and they're going to think, Uh . . . I don't know, I kind of want to reach out to Mark Willis, but I'm not sure. Some of the stuff he's saying sounds good. Let me type him into a search engine. Maybe they do that because they know that you're a podcaster, but everything you say on your own podcast they're going to take with a grain of salt. [17:13.4]

They'll go to the general search engine, like Spotify or Overcast, and they'll type in “Mark Willis CFP” or something similar. They'll find this episode, and I'm probably describing the process and people who are listening to this in the future are going to be like, Wow, that's exactly what I did. But that is an awesome strategy and I couldn't agree more, because it's just so much easier and it's so much less hassle, and it's a benefit for the host, because as a host right now acting in that regard, I don't have to do as much work, so that is really, really cool.

What advice would you give to advisors who are thinking of starting a podcast, though?

Mark: Yeah, I'd say, first and foremost, if you want to start a podcast, again, the pieces to this, the best marketing benefits are, you're going to have-- Hang tight, I'm going to back up. [18:03.8]If you've already gotten this far into the podcast, you've already been convinced, hopefully, that either being a guest on a show or starting a show is worth it. I mentioned some of the benefits, thought leadership, SEO is out of this world. It's almost free to do this. The leads keep coming even during your sleep, so I think we can set that aside. Your question is, really, what advice would I give to advisors? Don't expect overnight results, and stick with it for at least six months -

James: Oh, yeah.

Mark: - before you really even evaluate whether it's going to work or not. I have a coach that can guide you. If you're going on as a guest, I have someone who can pitch you and knows how to pitch you. This is a shameless plug, but we have a whole course that I’ve designed for financial advisors who want to be a guest on other shows. The course is called Podcast Guesting Success. Folks, shameless plug and then I’m going to get back to your question. Folks can check it out and you can see if it's the right fit for you at LGAssociates.mn.co. It’s “lg” “associates” plural [dot] “m” as in Mike, “n” as in November [dot] “co”. [19:17.2]

Anyway, the course is part of, I think, what advice I would give. You need somebody holding your hand to launch a podcast, to grow your podcast, to be a guest on other people's podcasts. If you just make this one more thing you're doing, you'll get distracted with the next shiny object and you'll be back to your Facebook ads that may be working. Maybe they are. I have personally not had much success with direct mail or Facebook ads, but for me, it’s working pretty well and the ROI is incredible for kind of organic lead generation through building a platform that they can't cancel or take away from you. [19:57.1]

James: Yes, you're speaking my language. Absolutely. One of the other things I try to tell advisors, because so many people, it’s like “many are called, few are chosen,” right?

Mark: Right.

James: Many ask. Few do.

Mark: That's right.

James: Lots of people ask about the podcast and I’ve just started cutting right to the chase, perhaps rather brusquely, I don't know, and maybe that reflects on my personality. But I’ll just say don't do it unless you're willing to commit, like you said, for six for six months, but I say 100 episodes. The reason is, and I can speak from experience and I’ve talked to other podcasters through the company, the Podcast Factory, because there's dozens there, and they all say something similar.

They say something magical happens around that 100-episode mark, where you now have more credibility, more authority, more trust, because, think about this—at 100 episodes, let's just say an average of 30 minutes just to make that math easy so I can do math in public, that's 50 hours, 50 hours that someone has at least the opportunity to hang out with you, to listen to you, to get to know you, to build rapport with you, because if you talk about your stories of growing up, like you say, in Illinois, I believe, you have stories from your guests where you will relate to them. People will pick up on that. [21:16.8]

Even me, if I talk about a certain book that I'm reading, people say, “Wow, I read that book not too long ago. I can't believe he's reading that book,” or “He's watching that TV show. I watch this.” It just builds a connection that, and I love Facebook ads and I love LinkedIn, and I love webinars and I like networking, and I love all this stuff.

Mark: You teach me a lot, too, on especially LinkedIn, but you’ve got a lot to teach us in terms of things beyond our little worlds of marketing. I'm sorry to interrupt you there, but, yeah, there's some value in all sorts or all channels of marketing.

James: But they don't build that same connection. If I connect with someone on LinkedIn, which is awesome and LinkedIn is great, I just can't physically spend 50 hours with someone and there's no way that someone is going to spend 50 hours reading my content. I mean, how long does it take to read a little status update or to read a message or something? It just doesn't happen, even with a webinar 40 minutes or 50 minutes or an hour. It's not the same. [22:09.7]

Mark: Yeah.

James: That's why when people complain, “Oh, I'm not getting any results at 10 episodes,” that's really just five hours-ish, and that's great and it is nice to build that relationship, but you don't have that consistency. At 100 episodes, let's just say you do it once a week, people have set aside, they’ve carved out a time of their day, which is valuable—it’s time we'd never get back—to spend with you for two years and you're not going to get that anywhere else.

Mark: Oh, it's huge, yeah. [22:40.4]

Hey, financial advisors. If you'd like even more help building your business, I invite you to subscribe to James' monthly paper-and-ink newsletter, “The James Pollard Inner Circle”. When you join today, you'll get more than $1,000 worth of bonuses, including exclusive interviews that aren't available anywhere else. Head on over to TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching to learn more.

James: I don't want to make this a podcast show, because you have something that I’ve never talked about before on the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast. I'm not sure, maybe my memory is failing me, but I believe you're the only person who has a membership community. Can you talk a little bit about that, how that came to be and what you're doing?

Mark: Sure, yeah. I think you're right. There's a fascinating halo effect that starts to build around you when you have a platform, whether it's a YouTube channel or a podcast, and folks will get on my calendar, and then the first words out of their mouth are “I can't believe it's really you,” and I'm kind of still dumbfounded when folks say things like that, because I'm just like, Okay, fine, hi, nice to meet you, too. But there is that kind of weird, strange celebrity effect that starts to happen as you get that momentum going around your podcasts. Not that I'm seeking that out, I don't need that, but it's a strange thing and folks do take you on their dog walk with them or it's an intimate thing to be that close inside your ears. [24:05.5]

A lot of people started asking me, “Mark, who else besides me is doing these not-so-average financial strategies? I feel like I'm a loner out there. Hey, Mark, if this was so good, these strategies like you talk about on your podcast, who else is doing it? Why haven't I heard of this before?” So, I thought to myself that that's a need that needs to be solved.

Simultaneously, there were all of these-- I regularly have six-month reviews with my clients and we were getting to a point where we were bringing in advisors to help out with some of the clients. But we have more clients that want more attention than we can possibly give them in a one-hour meeting twice a year. [24:53.6]

So, the choices were to change the business model to be more of a commodity shop, which I did not want to do as a certified financial planner. I really dig the deep conversations and the journeying that you get to do as an advisor or a guide with somebody along a long period of time in their life. It's so rewarding to me, so I did not want to just be an order-taker so to speak.

James: Right.

Mark: And yet, how could I multiply my time, so to speak, in a way where I would have one-on-one engagements with folks? Part of that and many other reasons is why we started the membership site, where we have multiple levels where people can join. Anyone can join for free if they're just listening to our podcast and want to see people discuss the concepts that were mentioned in that episode for the day. [25:47.5]

Yeah, it's a great place to park that discussion off the creepiness off Facebook and in a private, sort of walled garden, where we can really build a discussion, and an exploration space for folks to really understand and learn that they're not alone, and they can dig deeper into the questions that they might be having beyond just waiting for me to reply to their email. Now they can ask a question like, How do you use the bank-on-yourself concept for college? Okay, there's a whole group of people already talking about that on the membership side. They can find out and not just hear from me.


Mark: Yeah, exactly. There's years now of content on there on not just bank on yourself, but we call it the periodic table of abundance where you can learn everything from estate planning to tax strategies, to investing, to retirement, planning, to mindset and money stuff, to budgeting, to, really, leaving a legacy, too.

We've really been able to spend more time with our clients, using the membership model, and so we have a client section. We've got a public section. It's almost like different little rooms in the English walled garden. That's the best analogy I can give you here, because you can go to one spot and go to another spot, and there's different things happening in this membership site. [27:14.5]

We've got a lot of growth and development we can do there. There's about 700–750 members on there, and I love that, because that's like a little party happening all the time on the membership site.

James: What’s the URL for the membership?

Mark: It's NotYourAverage.mn.co. “Not your average” [dot] “mn” [dot] “co”.

James: People who are listening will notice the “mn” again. For those of you who don't know, that's Mighty Networks. Why did you choose them over Facebook? Because I’ve had various assistants, VAs and contractors within the Advisor Coach, and I will sit them down because this is just how I roll. I will say, “What are some ways that the business can make more money?” because, I mean, at the end of the day, it's an entrepreneurial enterprise and for them to bring maximum value to me as a person who's employing them, that's kind of what they need to do. [28:01.7]

A suggestion that has come up to me many times has been to start a Facebook group, and I just can never get myself to do it because I really don't want to. Why did you not do it?

Mark: There's a couple of reasons, and you're exactly right, and you are right. The keen listener will notice that I also have a community for advisors that I'm training and mentoring and partnering with, and that's the LGAssociates.mn.co that I mentioned earlier, so you're exactly right.

I really believe in them rather than the spoke-and-wheel metaphor of one advisor in the middle, and every client is going to be directly connected to that one advisor. Eventually, that advisor will burn out and/or he or she will have to hire a bunch of sub-advisors that are less than perfect and never have his or her halo and so the clients get dissatisfied. I never wanted that model. Instead, what we're doing is we're creating a network that connects each member, if they want to be, to as many other connections as possible. [29:02.8]

I was just thinking, I was writing an episode on the power of the dollar as the largest network effect in the entire known universe, and check this out, this is crazy. Some crazy math, okay? How many grains of sand are there on planet Earth? It's about 5.7 quintillion. How many subatomic particles are there in the entire universe, the known universe? It's something like 10 to the 90th power. Okay? How many connections are there in a 100-person Facebook group or any kind of online network? It's more than double the entire collection of subatomic particles in the known universe. It's like 9.3 to the 10 to the 158th power. That's how many possible connections there are in a 100-person Facebook group.

James: Because with each person going back and forth, and, one, I can go to you and then you and you, and then then back to me, and, yeah, that's crazy. [30:00.4]

Mark: Anyway, it's just mind boggling for a little fun math magic there for the show. It is a financial show after all. I would say the biggest piece to your question is I chose to go off Facebook because I didn't want to rent my audience. I wanted to be really connected to them. I wanted to be able to export the data, if I ever needed to leave Mighty Networks or Facebook or whatever, if I ever just could not.

It's the same reason why I think we all need to really be building our email list. But the email list, once again, makes it about you in the center, spoke and wheel. The email list is a great asset for every business, but it is the spoke and wheel metaphor all over again. The network, which is exportable and you can take your client data with you if you ever need to go, is an incredible way to build loyalty beyond what Facebook could offer, and again, exportable data was a big part for me. [30:54.7]

I’ll just mention this one quickly, too, that when you've got yourself as one of the trusted authorities, but I'm not the only financial advisor on this community site that we built, where we're creating colleagues’ relationships, where they're hearing similar strategies coming from other financial professionals that are colleagues of mine, it's a better, I guess, experience that I could feel like we would be able to have on Facebook where they're bouncing from our financial crew and our financial community over to their underwater basket-weaving with their poodles and dog memes getting in the way. I just wanted something where they could have a better experience and I felt like we had a bit more control over the data and what clients were seeing as well.

James: What are some of the challenges that you faced while building that online community?

Mark: The biggest one is attention and engagement. You really have to do daily drips where you're putting something there for folks to discuss, and that's, honestly, the biggest piece. I think we've talked about how currencies in our lives are not just money, but we have attention as a specific currency. You pay attention. You invest your time. Time is a currency. [32:13.8]
James: It stipulates.

Mark: Yeah, and it appreciates. The more you pay attention, you appreciate, which has a double meaning in finances as well. Appreciate, right? But you appreciate what you pay attention to, so there's a whole rabbit trail we could go down there. But that's the biggest challenge. It’s just regular engagement, showing up, even when it's hard, even when it's tricky, and dealing with the regular consistency of it and bringing consistent value to folks where they can't wait to see what you're going to say next.

James: That's very interesting, because that's something that I think about quite a bit. You’re kind of inspiring me to start a community. When you're talking to your clients, would you say that more of them come to you from the podcast or from the community, or I guess both in some weird way where they hop from one to the other? Where are they coming from when they get to you? [33:06.3]

Mark: If I could follow the journey of most of them, it's going to be they heard me on another show or on a webinar I was doing with a group or whatever, but another platform. I'm renting that audience for a minute and saying, “Hi, thanks for spending time,” and then I’ll mention our podcast.

They'll listen to my show for a while, date me, so to speak, and they'll hear about our community on the podcast. Or after they've had a 15-minute meeting with me are one of my advisors, at the bottom of every one of our emails when they first get to know us, there's going to be a little note saying, “Join our community,” “Join our online community,” and so that's typically the funnel that they might go down.

James: Just like an ascension funnel, as marketers call it, where you start with something and you ascend to the community. That’s actually really cool, and I'm glad I had you on, because I know financial advisors are going to benefit from this. [34:02.2]

Even if they don't start a community and I'm not necessarily saying go out and start an online network or community, because it is a lot of work—and believe me, I’ve looked into it and I, personally, haven't done it yet simply because there are other things that I'm focused on and other aspects of business—but I can tell you that it is beneficial. It is really cool, and I am glad that I’ve had you on here.

I have two selfish questions. Number one is, what are you reading right now?

Mark: Okay, I get to show off my fun books that I'm getting through right now. This is so good. I'm reading this nerd book right now.

James: Oh, Wade Pfau. Is it Wade Pfau?

Mark: Yeah.

James: Shout out to Wade. Yeah, I love that.

Mark: Wade Pfau. It’s the second edition of Retirement Planning Guidebook by Wade Pfau, some great visualizations in here. You're probably going to hear me talking about some of this in upcoming episodes. Where are we here? Here we go.

James: That’s some good stuff.

Mark: Great stuff.

James: He’s got some awesome, awesome content.

Nark: Definitely. [35:00.2]

James: Now, I will say, for normal people, it gets very dry very quickly.

Mark: Absolutely.

James: But for people, CFPs and whatnot, they love it, and if you just go through that book, I mean, you get a lot of knowledge really fast and that's the kind of stuff that I like.

Mark: Then I'm reading a book called Paychecks and Playchecks by Tom Hegna.

James: Tom Hegna. There you go.

Mark: He's a great guy. He's been on my podcast, so, yeah, Tom Hagna’s book. Then the last one I just finished is a book called Perpetual Wealth by Kim Butler. You can only see a few of these.

James: Oh my goodness, I have that book on audiobook or on Audible.

Mark: Oh, yeah. There's just a few notes that I’ve taken on this one, so lots of great content.

James: He’s got the book crammed full of notes. Yeah, Kim Butler has a couple books I think. She’s got a couple, too.

Mark: Just a few.

James: Yeah.

Mark: You should have her on. She's got a great marketing strategy in book writing.

James: I listened to that audiobook. I think it was a year and a half ago or two years ago and I did think about having her on. There's no excuse. I just haven't done it, period. But I was really impressed with the way that she approached legacy, and the way that she was thinking about having family meetings and having a family motto and a mission statement and setting all that together. [36:06.4]

That's what really impressed me and that's what made an impression more than anything else about the specifics of the financial planning and then the mechanisms or whatever, because that's what I pay attention to. For example, with marketing, I take a lot of courses. I'm subscribed to a lot of newsletters. I pay a lot of money for personal development. But it's almost never the content of the courses that really changes my life. It's always like an “oh, by the way.”

Mark: Yeah.

James: Little sentence just dropped. For example, I'm going through a book called Tactics right now, which is about explaining Christian convictions and things like that. One of the things he talks about is just putting, instead of trying to go full bore and explaining things to people and go have an all-out assault, just put a pebble. The metaphor he has is to put a pebble in someone's shoe.

Mark: Yeah. [36:53.8]

James: And I think that's your marketing strategy. You’re just on someone else's show, or on a webinar or something. You just present an idea and someone starts thinking about it, and over the course of a week or two weeks, in a month, or it took me a while to embrace certain financial strategies, but it's the pebble in the shoe, because you're not grabbing them and shaking them and saying, “Do this.” You're just having a little bit of an annoyance, and maybe that's not the right word, but just a reminder -

Mark: Yeah.

James: - they can't get rid of and they can't shake, which is awesome.

Mark: You know what? Nothing is more powerful than a well-asked question at the right time and, I would say, that is the pebble in the shoe. It’s the question. The brain cannot let go of a really good question, so I agree with you on that. I don't mind annoyance. I think a good question should annoy us until we get the answer. It's like a dog with a bone. I'm the same way, man. There's one non-financial book I’ll just mention.

James: He's going to his bookshelf.

Mark: I think I’ve got it in my other room there. It's called Becoming a King by Morgan Snyder, and if you like Tactics, you're going to love Becoming a King by Morgan Snyder. A great book on walking the Christian walk and figuring out what it means to be a man in this day and age, which is heavily under assault, I think, in many ways, so check out Becoming a King. [38:13.6]

James: I'm actually really nervous. By the time this episode comes out, I will have an episode that came out called “My Advice for Weak Financial Advisors,” and I told Producer Jonathan, I'm kind of nervous to put this episode out. There have been times where I’ve said some crazy things and I've gotten absolute crickets. I’ve sent some crazy emails, because that's part of the gimmick and it's part of the character in the marketing view and all that, because it does attract attention. But in this episode, I basically talk about how a lot of men, particularly, are just weak now.

Not to get off topic, but this is really fun and I'm enjoying talking with you, and I hope that you have time to talk about this. I have a grandfather. I mean, I had. He's gone now. But he had 10 kids, worked a job, had a side hustle and was going hard. I have uncles who served in Vietnam. I had one who came back and was a prison warden. The other came back and started a farm. One had a trucking company. [39:08.0]

The kids loved them. They didn't have these marriage problems. They didn't say, “Oh, the barista at Starbucks got my order wrong.” There was personal tragedy in there, stuff that I don't even really want to talk about on the show. But let me just say stuff is crazy, nuts, stuff that people don't even really think about with family members and debilitating illness, and they just didn't complain and they just were so tough and rugged.

I don't know what has happened in that, because I don't think I hold a candle to them at all and I don't think I could lace their boots. Now, I'm obviously more financially successful than they have ever been and that says something. I am more committed and persistent. I have good qualities, right? But I'm talking about that innate something where they are just strong and tough. [40:01.0]

Mark: Yeah.

James: I don't know where that has gone.

Mark: I don't know either. I think we can all probably postulate and guess on a lot of this and I’ll leave it to your listeners. That's the pebble in the shoe for maybe your listeners there. But I will say that one thing that I learned from this book, Becoming a King: be a generalist. I think we're taught, I'm taught, maybe you were, too, to be a specialist, and you're paid well as a specialist.

The heart surgeon is paid more than the family doctor for this reason, and I am a specialist. I know my lane in the financial universe. I know that if you need to talk to me about stock derivatives or stock options, or if you need to talk to me about mortgage-backed securities, I'm probably not your guy. If you need to talk about--

James: But in life.

Mark: Yeah, in life, though, yeah, away from the desk, I'm holding this pocket knife right now as a reminder to myself to be a generalist and it sticks in my pocket every single day. And guess what? My daughter says, “Dad, can I borrow your knife?” She knows now that Dad's going to be there with a pocket knife if she needs something, and I'm learning to do my best to do a little bit more work in the yard and in the garage, and having fun doing that and breaking stuff. It's kind of rewarding. [41:17.8]

I think we, in many ways, are rightfully taught to be specialists in many parts of our life, but try being a generalist. Could you catch your own food? Could you grow a garden? Could you do anything? Just for fun, see how it feels. It's very satisfying. Anyway, that's our rant for the day.

James: That's something I think people need to or can do. Learn how to change a tire. Learn how to change your oil.

Mark: And I'll tell you, it works great in your financial practice. How many metaphors are waiting for you in your garage?

James: Yeah. And when I think about the uncle, for example, the one that went back and started the farm, he could deliver a calf in the morning, water horses in the afternoon, and put bandages on his children at night if they hurt themselves, and still love his wife and all the other things. It's not necessarily-- [42:08.1]

I told Producer Jonathan and I actually told Brandon Neely when we recorded the episode that came or is going to come out in June, I believe. I mean, by this point, it's already out. But I told him I’ve just been irritable, because I'm just so sick of the complaining. I don't know what it is. It’s something in the air. I just feel like a lot of people are just complaining, like, Life is so hard.

Look, it's not that hard. I've never been in the jungles of Vietnam, watching people get slaughtered in front of me. I've never had children die or whatever. I've never had my house burn down. I've never had any of this stuff happen to me. I'm extremely fortunate. I'm blessed. Do I think I have hard days? Kind of, but it's nothing. It’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. But people will complain about the tiniest things. “Oh, a prospect ghosted me.” So what? So what?

Mark: Right.

James: Do you know how lucky you are? You have a fridge, a bed, a roof.

Mark: Yeah.

James: Stop complaining. [42:55.8]

Mark: James, I’ll even hard-right-turn back to our topics with this, which is we are living in incredible times where you and I can have this conversation on a podcast. The fact that you can do what you do on LinkedIn and on your podcast, on my podcast, on these things like community sites, we have nothing to complain about. We're living in the future and how hard would it be to be running the practice that you run today without some of the tools and technologies that we all have access to for basically free or at least low cost?

So, yeah, nothing to complain about here, man. We're moving into bigger and brighter times, and if we know how to leverage these little tools and they'll be gone someday—one day, the last episode of the last podcast will be aired and it'll be done, and it's a wave that's going to crest someday—but now is your chance to take advantage of it before your competitors do.

James: I haven't forgotten about that last question. I said I had two.

Mark: All right. [44:00.0]

James: The last one is, generally speaking, what advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time and talk to yourself on day one of Lake Growth Financial, your company?

Mark: I've been asked this question before and I know that I hit that dull axe against the tree for several years. We started in early 2012. We didn't start our podcast until 2017. That's five full years. I was beating my head against the wall. I was driving hours to go see people. I was heading in blizzards out to a little workshop where there might be two people and no one is going to remember it as soon as they leave, you know? I would say, I'm glad that I learned those good lessons of what was inefficient or ineffective.

But, man, as soon as you're able to learn that lesson, move on, and if you can learn it from me so you don't have to do it yourself, please do, and find for yourself some way to leverage your time and to be in more than one set of ears at once, if possible. [45:08.8]

Take good care of yourself and find ways to be, I guess, counter-cultural. If you're just one more mutual fund picker, it's going to be really hard for you to distinguish yourself, so have some bold opinions. Figure out what you truly believe. Don't just repeat what your boss told you to say.

I’ll counteract myself by saying learn the box first. Learn that box, man. The more you can learn your box, the more authority you'll have when you can confidently step outside the box. But don't pretend that you're a renegade when you don't even know what the box is yet, and also have bold opinions and begin to really expound on what we all need to hear, which is something beyond the typical financial advice, because what's typical is just not working, from my perspective.

James: That's absolutely amazing. I'm so glad that I had you on the show. If people want to get in touch with you, how can they do so? [46:05.0]

Mark: If you're a financial advisor that wants to dig into some of these counterintuitive ways to be a not-so-average financial advisor, reach me at LGAssociates.mn.co. Just fill out the little brief form there. I'd be happy to chat. If on the other hand, you're wanting to just dig into some of these concepts for the first time, go to NotYourAverageFinancialPodcast.com and check us out.

James: That's a good website, too, NotYourAverageFinancialPodcast.com. Financial advisors, I hope you have enjoyed this episode as much as I have, and with that, I will catch you next week. [46:42.0]

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