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Outside voices and views for advisers

What top Olympians and top advisers have in common

No, it's not a list of million-dollar endorsement deals. It's something much easier to obtain.

Feb 14, 2014 @ 9:57 am

By Robert Sofia

+ Zoom
(Bloomberg News)

The Olympians at Sochi have this. Peyton Manning has this. Top performers from around the world in sports, music, and even business have this. Most financial advisers should have this, but they do not. What is it?

No, it's not a list of million-dollar endorsement deals. It's something much easier to obtain. The answer is: great coaching.

Atul Gawande, surgeon and New York Times best-selling author, shares a revelation he had in this piece for The New Yorker:

“I watched Rafael Nadal play a tournament match on the Tennis Channel. The camera flashed to his coach, and the obvious struck me as interesting: even Rafael Nadal has a coach. Nearly every élite tennis player in the world does.

Advising athletes can be difficult, especially Olympic Athletes, check out the story

Professional athletes use coaches to make sure they are as good as they can be. But doctors don't. I'd paid to have a kid just out of college look at my serve. So why did I find it inconceivable to pay someone to come into my operating room and coach me on my surgical technique?”

This is an interesting point. Coaching is prevalent among athletes and other performers, but it's not as common as it should be in other areas. It's likely you don't have a business coach. Why not? Perhaps because it's easy to get defensive and come up with excuses:

• "I already know what I need to do."

• "I'm not at that level yet."

• "Sounds good, but maybe later."

Are these reasons valid?

THE MISSING LINK WITH KNOWLEDGE

It's true, a lot of people know what to do. There is an abundance of great information out there. However, information isn't enough.

"Guerrilla Marketing" author Jay Conrad Levinson touches on one of the missing elements in knowledge. In his travels, speaking and running business workshops around the world, he noticed a common thread.

"I make a presentation and watch as the audience takes careful notes, nods in agreement with what I say, then rises to its feet with applause. But deep in my heart, I know that only 5 percent of the people in the audience will actually take action based upon what they have learned. These are bright people, motivated people, but the vast majority of them are just too busy or too overwhelmed by day-to-day business matters to implement the changes they know they must make. They have everything it takes to succeed except for one thing – follow-up."

There is magic in follow-up. It creates accountability. And accountability leads to making things happen for your business. Robert Kiyosaki ("Rich Dad, Poor Dad" book series) recently wrote, "A coach is there to push you beyond what you thought was possible or what you wouldn't do on your own."

Take two people who resolve to lose 30 pounds after the new year. They both get gym memberships on the first of January. They both get subscriptions to the same fitness magazines. Only one hires a personal trainer. Whom do you think will have better results after 90 days?

KNOWLEDGE AND ACCOUNTABILITY MAKE A POWERFUL COMBINATION

Imagine you're speaking with a young professional. She's got a great job, and she's starting a family. When the topic of investing comes up, she tells you: "I'll start investing when I'm rich." Is this line of thinking harmful? Absolutely. The same goes for coaching or improvement in business. It's like saying, "I'll improve my business when I'm better at it." It will never be the right time with this approach.

Coaching can keep top performers from stagnating or falling behind. It can also take average performers from good to great.

It's a new year. 2013 is now behind us. What will you do this year to improve your practice in 2014? It's OK to have a fantastic collection of books, programs, and conference notes. And it's a move in the right direction to be thinking about creating processes for your team, or putting together systems for client relationships. At some point though, good intentions need to turn into actions.

How will you commit to improvement?

• What will you put in place?

• Who will hold you accountable?

When it comes to improving your financial practice, you have to think objectively, pore over detail, and make the right decisions. It's easy to get bogged down by the details and put things off indefinitely. Those who try to go it alone can become overwhelmed and burn out. Or they can leverage the advice and accountability of a coach.

Hiring a coach is a good investment, and it just might yield the biggest return for you this year.

Watch Robert Sofia in "InvestmentNews' Practice Makeover"

Robert Sofia is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Platinum Advisor Strategies, a web-based marketing and consulting firm to financial advisers.

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