If you're a successful financial adviser, odds are good you go to your share of industry conferences each year. You go because you know that at every conference, you're going to get great ideas to grow and improve your business. But the truth is, if you are like most conference attendees, many of those game-changing ideas never get put into action.
Here's an approach that helps you cut through the clutter of pages of notes to make sure the most important ideas get implemented every time.
It goes something like this: You attend a conference and scribble down dozens of great ideas in your notebook. When you return home, you're excited and eager to start putting these new ideas to work. You wake up the next morning, drive down to your office, and settle in for a productive day.
• Except you've got client phone calls to return, emails to answer.
• A transfer got messed up while you were gone and now you've got to fix it.
• Your staff has questions and they need answers.
Not even an hour back at your office and you're sucked right back into the daily grind.
Those ideas you wanted to implement? They get shelved for a day, then a week, then a month. Next thing you know, a year has passed and you haven't really implemented any of those great ideas you picked up. Binders and notepads begin to collect, lingering reminders of your inaction.
“An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” – Jack Welch
How can you break this pattern of procrastination and start getting some mileage out of all the ideas you've collected? Here's a highly effective technique that I first learned in a private mastermind group from Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine.
The next time you go to a conference or big event, buy a pack of 3x5 notecards and take them with you. Whenever you hear an idea you believe is worth implementing, write it down on one of them. On the front side of the notecard, write the idea. On the back, note any steps needed to put the idea into action, such as key consultants to hire.
By the end of the conference, you might have anywhere from five to 50 notecards sitting in a stack. On the flight home, make sure you review them. As you do, start to prioritize them and eliminate any that don't seem to make sense.
Continue prioritizing until you have a notecard on top that represents the single most important idea for you to implement when you get home. The second notecard should be the next most important idea, and so on.
The top card with your No. 1 idea now becomes the only focus for you and your staff until it is fully implemented.
Notecards, you say? Really? Can we possibly be more old-school? Why should I trust this?
Simple. There are three keys to effective implementation:
The notecards provide clarity and simplicity. Next comes speed.
In my experience, any idea not implemented within 72 hours of returning home typically never will be. So as soon as you get home, you should gather your staff and begin the implementation of your No. 1 idea.
What about all the other ideas in your stack of notecards? Should you work on them? Don't even think about it.
When legendary investor Warren Buffett walked a friend through his goal setting process, he put it this way:
“Everything you didn't circle just became your 'avoid at all costs list.' No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you've succeeded with your top [idea].”
In other words, your No. 1 thing remains your No. 1 thing until it's implemented. Then and only then can you move to the next idea in your stack. This might require some self-discipline, but believe me: You will get 10 times as much accomplished with this approach than if you had used a shotgun approach, working on whatever you were excited about in the moment.
Good luck and here's to putting those ideas into action.
Brad Johnson is a vice president at Advisors Excel. Follow him on Twitter @Brad_Johnson or connect with his team at firstname.lastname@example.org.