Outside voices and views for advisers

What Ron Carson learned from a billionaire client

The billionaire's "secret to success" has guided Carson Wealth's CEO throughout his career

Mar 9, 2016 @ 10:48 am

By Brad Johnson

Ron Carson
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Ron Carson

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Ron Carson. In case you haven't heard of Mr. Carson, you should know a couple of important things about him.

Not only is he the co-author of "The Sustainable Edge," he's also the founder and CEO of Carson Wealth, a $6 billion wealth management firm.

Naturally, Mr. Carson didn't start at the top. Just like everybody else, he started at the bottom — in a dorm room no less!

Back when Mr. Carson was in the early years of his business, he started a series of interviews called “Habits of Top Achievers.” Because of these interviews, he had the good fortune of meeting a self-made billionaire and getting a valuable piece of advice from him.

During the interview, Mr. Carson asked this billionaire what the secret to his success was. His exact words were: “Hire the best people you can and get the hell out of the way.”

Mr. Carson took this brilliant advice to heart and applied it to his own business. As fate would have it, the billionaire ended up becoming one of Mr. Carson's clients.

Mr. Carson shared a lot of great advice during my interview with him. Here are four of his best tips:

1. Piggyback on other large events where you know your target market will be.

Mr. Carson didn't have much money early on in his business, so he would look for big events he could piggyback on. That way, he could reach a large audience already assembled, tie in his services and get exposure to a much bigger group of people.

The best part was that he didn't even have to pay to bring all these people together. Somebody else was already doing that. He simply leveraged the work other people had already done to start growing his own business.

2. Make your clients happy and ask them for referrals.

One of the things that really drove Mr. Carson's business in the beginning was asking for referrals.

Mr. Carson learned to ask for referrals, but only after he had made many deposits in the emotional bucket. This made his clients predisposed to want to give back to Mr. Carson in the form of quality referrals.

Now about 50% of Mr. Carson's new clients come from referrals.

3. Create systems and processes for your business.

One of the things that really accelerated Mr. Carson's business was systemization. He invested time creating repeatable processes so that nothing fell through the cracks.

He had to do this because he always promises his clients “a Four Seasons experience with FedEx efficiency.” The only way he could possibly deliver on this promise was by having rock-solid systems in place to make sure everything happened as they were supposed to.

This also made it easier for Mr. Carson to train people as his business grew. As Mr. Carson points out, “If your firm is not great without you, then you don't have a firm. You've got a job.”

4. Hire the best people you can and get the hell out of the way.

Remember the billionaire's advice to “hire the best people and get the hell out of the way?” This advice is so valuable it's worth expanding on here.

Mr. Carson will advise you to invest in the best people you can find who are a good fit with your company's culture. He doesn't call them employees, he calls them “internal stakeholders.”

“Don't think of human capital as an expense, but rather as an investment to serve your clients better,” he said. This is perhaps the single biggest reason Mr. Carson has been able to grow his wealth management firm to $6 billion.

During my hour-long interview with Mr. Carson, he shared a bunch of valuable tips and insights that I've not been able to include here. Make sure you listen to the entire interview.

Brad Johnson is a vice president at Advisors Excel. Follow him on Twitter @Brad_Johnson or connect with his team at info@bradj.net.


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