This week I’m excited to introduce the first of our Guest Blogs From Around The World; an international series featuring articles from some of the world’s leading financial services consultants.
Working as a business consultant, I’m fortunate to meet other consultants from around the world at conferences and events. No one has a mortgage on good ideas and I find in sharing concepts and information from different markets we all have an opportunity to spark off each other. I’m also of the view that ‘business is business’ wherever it’s performed, so, our international guest bloggers will often be writing about issues that are the same for all of us, no matter where we practise.
Sometimes the concepts they write about will be simple. At other times they might have a very different take on a topic. Seeing some different views is always good regardless of whether it reinforces your own view, or changes it.
So here we go with our first one from Julie Littlechild in the USA…and keep an eye out for future blogs from around the world as we introduce them into the mix.
Julie Littlechild in the USA
I’ve known Julie Littlechild for many years. She is CEO of Advisor Impact and one of the leading consultants in the US marketplace. She contributes to a wide range of publications there including Financial Planning, Investment Advisor, Horsesmouth and Financial Advisor.
In this week’s post Julie talks about how she was reminded of the importance of having quality goals when she decided to get fit. There are some simple but powerful business lessons here for all of us.
Three Things Fitbit Can Teach You About Goal Setting
It was time to get serious about getting healthy. Armed with the right knowledge and right equipment, I did what most do in this situation…nothing. “Get a Fitbit.” That was the suggestion of my coach and it had a profound impact, personally and professionally.
It probably took me six months before I took action. After all I thought, the pedometer is not exactly a fitness revolution. I’m reasonably sure my husband uses one he got out of a Special K cereal box in 1994 and that doesn’t seem to have changed his life. I was wrong. It turns out this simple, inexpensive tool not only put me on the right track toward a healthier lifestyle, it taught me a thing or two about goal setting.
The premise is simple enough. You need to walk at least 10,000 steps in a day, but the genius of the product is the online dashboard. Once you get there, it becomes clear that it’s not just 10,000 steps but 10,000 steps with a defined level of intensity, flights of stairs and distance. In a nutshell, you can’t stand in one place and walk at a snail’s pace and hit the goal. It’s not just the steps, but the intensity and the way in which you do them. And it works.
Lessons From Your Pedometer
So what does this mean to us in our business lives? From where I sit, it’s one of the best lessons on goal setting that money can buy. More specifically, it highlights the three things that will light a fire under the goals you set.
1. Align your business goals with specific, measurable activity goals.
It’s likely that you have set some form of goal for growth in your business; perhaps assets, revenue or new client relationships. You’ve defined the ‘outcome’. The key, however, is to define the inputs and craft defined goals around the specific activities that will allow you to achieve your goals. If it’s growth, what is the one primary activity that will help you achieve that goal? Is it meetings with centres of influence, referral conversations or building a database of prospective clients? Focus on the key activity, first and foremost and trust that it will get you where you want to go. For Fitbit, the ultimate goal is health and the activity goal is steps, something we all do but rarely measure.
2. Make it a stretch.
Ensure your activity goal requires some level of effort above and beyond what you do in a normal day. It should demand that you invest time specifically devoted to achieving that goal. If generating more referrals is your goal and you only measure the number you receive “naturally”, you need to set the bar above the current level and ask what you need to do to get more. You may want to set a goal for a defined number of proactive referral conversations each week. With Fitbit, if your life is similar to many, you can’t get to 10,000 steps without making a conscious effort to do so; typically that means scheduling those activities into your day
3. Focus on the quality of the activity.
Perhaps the hardest thing is to acknowledge that there is a difference between an ‘activity’ and a ‘quality activity’. Sticking with the theme of referral conversations, you may want to make your goal that at least one is with a top client, for example, or with a centre of influence. Fitbit recognises that not every step is equal. In order to maximise the benefit, some need to be uphill and some need to be faster.So while we might start with a goal such as wanting to add 24 new clients in the next 12 months, we end up with the following goal.
“I will focus on having proactive referral discussions. I will have at least three discussions per week and track that activity. At least one conversation will be with an ‘A’ client and one will be with a centre of influence. On Sunday night I will identify the clients or COIs with whom I will speak.”
If you are anything like me, you probably have more than enough goals for yourself, your team and your clients. Just as with getting healthy, fitness is only one goal among others including nutrition, sleep or time off. Pick one; it’s a place to start.
What Are Your ‘Steps’?
- Take one goal that you have set for your business and do the following.
- Identify the one primary activity that will have the greatest chance of moving the needle toward your goal.
- Identify your current level of activity with that one thing and set a higher goal.
- Break the goal down to define the quality of the activity.
- Schedule the time you need to execute
- Get to work.
Funny how a simple thing like measuring a basic input, like steps, can change how we feel and even how we think. Thanks Fitbit!