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4 things you can learn from a billionaire client

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I recently had the privilege of interviewing Ron Carson. In case you haven’t heard of Ron (learn more on LinkedIn), you should know a couple of important things about him. Not only is he the co-author of The Sustainable Edge — a recently released New York Times bestseller — he’s also the founder and CEO of Carson Wealth, a $6 billion wealth management firm.

If that sounds like a big number, that’s because it is. Caron Wealth is one of the largest wealth management firms in the U.S. In fact, it is a Top 10 Barron’s Independent Wealth Advisor firm.

Naturally, Ron didn’t start at the top and, just like everybody else, he started at the bottom, in a dorm room, no less!

So, you might be wondering (as I was): “How in the world do you turn a dorm room startup into a $6 billion wealth management firm?”

Obviously, this question can’t be fully answered in a single article like this one, but you’re going to learn some extremely valuable information that could catapult your business to the next level and beyond.

Back when Ron 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, Ron asked this billionaire what the secret to his success was, to which he responded: “Hire the best people you can and get the hell out of the way!”

Ron took this brilliant advice to heart and applied it in his own business. Obviously, it paid off. Here are four of Ron’s best tips for hiring an incredible team and growing your business:

Tip No. 1: How to network with a low budget

Ron didn’t have much money early on in his business, so one of the things he would do is look for big events that he could piggyback on. That way, he could reach a large audience that was already being assembled, tie-in his services and get exposure to a much bigger group of people.

The best part was that he didn’t 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.

Tip No. 2: Ask for referrals

One of the things that really drove Ron’s business in the beginning was asking for referrals.

Here are two shocking facts about referrals: About 50 percent of Ron’s new clients come from referrals, but only about 11 percent of financial advisors ask for them. Isn’t that crazy?

Ron 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 Ron in the form of quality referrals.

Tip No. 3: Invest in systemization

One of the things that really accelerated Ron’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 is by having rock-solid systems in place to make sure everything happens as it’s supposed to.

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

Tip No. 4: Hire “internal stakeholders”

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.

Ron will advise you to invest in the best people you can find who are a good fit with your company 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 says. This is perhaps the single biggest reason Ron has been able to grow his wealth management firm to $6 billion.

A lesson on hiring talent from Steve Jobs

Back in 1995, Steve Jobs gave an interview as part of a PBS documentary. The video footage was literally lost for almost a decade, and then republished in 2011 as The Lost Interview.

The reason I mention this is because besides predicting the future of where technology was headed — this was before the iPod, iPhone, and iPad existed — Jobs shares some incredible insights into how he built a high-performing team. In The Lost Interview, Jobs talks about the famous team that designed and built the first Macintosh computer. He says the secret to his success was that he only hired “‘A’ players.” He didn’t try to save money by hiring average employees. He always tried to find the best people he could find.

When you do the math, “‘A’ players” are free. They pay for themselves many times over with the growth they drive in your business. You will ultimately cost yourself more in the long run if you’re “cheap” when it comes to hiring. One reason for this — besides the fact that you’ll have to go through a lot of employees just to find a few good ones — is because the number one “de-motivator” for “‘A’ players” is to pair them up with unmotivated low-performing employees. Imagine the frustration of constantly having to go back and fix another employee’s work.

How to substantially grow your business:

As fate would have it, the billionaire who gave Ron that piece of advice about hiring the best talent ended up becoming one of Ron’s clients. It’s truly amazing what can happen when you surround yourself with others who are smarter and more successful than you are — and then apply the advice and lessons they share with you.

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