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4 questions every adviser should be able to answer

Ready or not, the future is coming. What are you doing to disrupt yourself before you get disrupted?

Nov 1, 2017 @ 2:26 pm

By Ron Carson

Greek philosopher Heraclitus introduced the world to a fundamental doctrine that governs us to this day: change is the only constant. Last week, as an attendee at Singularity University, I was fortunate enough to fully understand the gravity of that doctrine and why we, as advisers, are in the midst of a once-in-a-mankind era. As one of only 16 Americans, I was joined by fellow entrepreneurs, chief executives, and thought leaders from 24 countries. Yet, I found myself wondering how to translate the universe-shattering ideas shared into practical, "what can I do tomorrow?" suggestions for advisers looking to evolve.

Here are four questions that will help you wrap your mind around your future:

How will I use information to innovate?

The 20th century business model is effectively going the way of the dodo bird. From Amazon to Airbnb, we're realizing that information, as well as how you use it, is a growth engine. These companies produce an exponential output compared to their competitors, which makes them 10X better, faster, and cheaper. They do it because they understand how data can be scaled.

Blockchain, for example, has only been around for a few years. But it already shows promise to eliminate the gatekeepers so peer-to-peer security can actually happen. By 2029, the computer will have more processing power than the human brain. Apple's trusted Siri will know you better than your own assistant does today.

5G data is being tested through 2019 and is predicted to connect 4.2 billion more people. That's the rest of the planet. While it's hard to comprehend, it should encourage you to start thinking about how outside forces will affect the very value you bring to the tables.

Is cost preventing me from investing in my business?

It's not going to stop your competitors. Kodak refined the original concept and introduced the world's first professional digital camera in 1991 for $13,000. But, Kodak wasn't impressed with the quality of its pictures, and it prematurely abandoned the space without exploring more of the product's potential. This complacency by one of the world's best known brands at the time was all the room its competitors needed to enter the market and eventually put Kodak out of business. Recognizing opportunity is only the first step in leveraging innovation.

More: Ric Edelman's 8 bold prediction about the future of financial advice

The lesson for advisers? Commit your business and yourself to the constant pursuit of enhancing the client experience and reinventing your value. If you think you've perfected a business model, you're too late. Bankruptcy is the cost of complacency.

How do I maximize my time as CEO?

We drastically overestimate the amount of things we can accomplish in the short-term but grossly underestimate our abilities in the long-term. Amazon's Alexa has been in the marketplace for only a few yes and was programmed to do 115 tasks. Now, just three years later, it can do 15,000. We need to be reminded of our potential. Singularity's own Peter Diamandis mentioned, "We all have the same 24 hours in a day. It's what you decide to do with it that matters."

Are you making the most of your time each day as a CEO and a leader?

How can I channel human energy?

Just last week, Sophia, a humanoid developed by Hanson Robotics, was the first to receive citizenship of a country. Writing that statement alone gives me goosebumps. But, it raises another very relevant topic discussed at Singularity. The world is moving toward a "workcloud" environment. We're discovering what it means to combine human interaction with technology. The more our workforce evolves, the more skills will change dramatically, as well as how we use people to get that work done.

Talent is one of the biggest factors in determining the success of your firm and its ability to compete. Expand your definition of "team" and the resources available. The walls of your office are no longer the boundary of your workforce.

Mr. Diamandis said something I feel encapsulated our entire time together when he said, "We're reinventing what it means to be human."

Challenge the status quo. Disrupt yourself. As someone who was voted the most optimistic attendee of this conference, I can tell you it's okay to be intimidated by what the world will demand of us. As long as we're willing to pay attention.

What will you do each and every day to keep a mindful eye to the future — and disrupt yourself before the world disrupts you?

Ron Carson is CEO and founder of the Carson Group, which serves advisers and investors through its businesses: Carson Group Coaching, Carson Group Partners and Carson Wealth. Follow him @RCHusker

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