How did a Nebraska farm boy become the one of the most successful financial planners in the nation? This is the story of Ron Carson and his evolution from insurance agent to highly successful independent advisor.
Carson’s success is rooted in early influences, and sustained by three key components that have shaped his life. Now his unique way of working and living has become a model for others.
As the son of two farmers, Ron was surrounded by the trappings of agricultural life. But alongside the farming tools and animals there was something else: financial charts–lots of them. His mother, in an effort to hedge the family’s farming risks, had become an avid trader in commodities futures. The financial charts and graphs fascinated Ron, and though he didn’t know it at the time, the seeds of his future career as a financial advisor were sown.
Ron’s mother had another influence. “She was extremely nurturing,” says Ron. “I grew up in a very caring, supportive environment that has directly impacted the way I treat my clients today.”
Eventually, Ron left the family farm to attend the University of Nebraska. In need of extra money, he started selling life insurance out of his dorm, cold call after cold call. Within a short period of time, he was pulling in substantially more money than he ever had. Though this infusion of money inspired him for some time, eventually the cold-calling took its toll. Ron burned out.
“I decided to go back and start calling some of my very best clients,” he says. “I didn’t call them for any business. I was just so sick of cold-calling, I wanted to hear a friendly voice.”
As Ron called each client, he began to realize something: They truly appreciated that he had taken the time to call, especially since he was calling without a specific agenda. He decided to make it a policy to continue calling his clients just to say hello.
Fast-forward several years. By 2000, Ron had earned his securities license and founded a business that had grown into a marketing machine. During that year alone, he earned nearly $6 million in gross revenues.
Today, Ron manages over $600 million on a fee basis for clients who have at least $5 million each. His company, called Carson Wealth Management Group, has a strong support structure, including a CPA, a paralegal, a long-term care specialist, and strategic alliances with other professionals in his area.
Even in the face of difficult market conditions, his achievements have been impressive. In 2001 he grossed $4.7 million, and he is on track to gross between $4.4 million and $4.5 million in 2002. About 65% of his revenue is derived from recurring fees.
What lies at the heart of this success? Ron cites three key components:
1. A burning desire for success
2. “Love Affair Marketing”
3. A high level of systemization
A Certain Definition of Success
For Ron, “success” means leaving the world a better place by helping people find meaningful purpose in their lives. His personal mission, he says, is to “take the time to help family, friends, staff, and clients reach their goals; set and achieve the goals I commit to; and live each day with purpose.
“When I approach people with this frame of mind, it makes everything simple,” he says. “I do things because I love to do them, and I genuinely enjoy the people I’m working with.”
Defining success–and then living out that definition–also means learning to say “no.”
“I learned that you don’t really need to do it all, and you don’t need to have a good reason for saying no,” says Ron. “All you really have to do is to just say, ‘No, thank you.’”
It’s not just talk. Ron recently took an entire summer off to spend time with his family–a move that surprised his business associates and friends. “I made a commitment,” he says simply. “I kept it.”
Ron took another step once he clarified his mission: He simplified his life. Now he only belongs to organizations that share his goals. Furthermore, he surrounds himself with people who help him achieve his personal mission, and he slowly weeds out the people who are roadblocks to this mission.