The first time I visited Las Vegas was after my senior year of high-school. My father was exploring real estate ideas and took me along as a senior gift. While he discovered the next great piece of land, I wanted nothing more than to visit every major casino property on the strip. The landscape, size and intricacies of each resort was fascinating. It was also the first time a mirage became reality. Each property appeared a hundred yards away, but by the pure mass and scale it took forever to reach the next set of front doors.
As our businesses expand we seek new employees and advisors to sustain momentum. These associates enter our businesses at a time of growth, and in some cases explosion like the volcano at the Mirage Las Vegas. Often we are in the best years of our lives and desire a team to roll the dice even further.
Unlike major corporate structures, our small businesses do not immediately display the map to future success. In manufacturing for example; often times employees can witness the path from maintenance man to CEO. The chain of command and route to climb the chain is provided. Associates have guidance from inception on how to reach the top – if desired. They have a chance to see the lifestyle, pain and glory, from the bottom to the top. Associates experience the budgeted lifestyle and many strive to never look back.
When we expand and hire a next-gen advisor in the growth and momentum stage of our business, they immediately see the founder and senior advisors in the CEO stage of their careers. They have made it and are now eating the buffet. The next-gen advisor is fresh and determined to make it, but often believes they can jump from the beginning of the game to the finish line without any losses in the middle. They have Advisor Mirage.
Advisor mirage for many can be like my walk from casino to casino. They quickly realize what is happening, adjust and come back to reality. In manufacturing terms they recalibrate and construct a plan. For these types of next-gen advisors it is actually healthy for them to see the end-game because it becomes pure motivation from the first step in the office. For others not so simple. They want to take the air conditioned tram from one end of the strip to the other, and look out the window along the way. It causes failure within the first three years and creates losses for the enterprise deeper than just losing an employee. There is financial, time, mentorship and optical risk to the firm in losing an advisor.
So how do we construct a plan for success for our next-gen advisers whereby the house and player win? It is quite simple consisting of three parts. First; create a journal. One page or 30 pages, summarizing your path to where you are now. Include your humble failures, business sins as we call them at Surge, and other learning moments. Also include your successes such as your first year crossing $100,000 in net rev or first $250,000 client. This journal will be read by each incoming advisor. Second; communicate. Before you hire, sit down with the candidate and explain to them the principle of Advisor Mirage and that every adviser faces it. Discuss how to combat it and make sure they understand the journey to the other end of the strip may be quite long. Third; create a goal structure that is attainable and allows them to reach milestones along the way. This should be reviewed at least annually, and may be adjusted along the way. The advisor should accomplish every goal, but may advance faster with your mentorship.
After I made it to the end of the strip that first time I was exhausted. I looked back realizing just how far I had walked. I took in all that I had seen and realized the beauty and awe along the way. It was time to meet for dinner. I got in an air conditioned cab and rode to dinner peacefully looking at the sites. I had made it, and so too will your best advisors.