Study Groups: Because You Can't Go It Alone... And You Shouldn't Have To! - What Would Arlene Say?

4 min read
September 28, 2017

Knowing Your Worth and Finding Your People

Study groups are a key ingredient for success. They provide a place for truth & honesty, positive feedback, accountability, not to mention cross pollinating your skills. I don’t have trouble convincing clients of the value of a study group, but I do run into people who discount the value they add to a study group. After being invited to a study group this winter, even I couldn’t help but ask, “Why me?” as in, “Are you sure you really want me?” Yep – it’s that old imposter syndrome rearing its ugly head again! I discounted the value I can bring to the group rather than realizing my own unique skills and insight that will add to the group dialog. My clients do the same thing time and again.

Today I spoke with a client who had assembled, after carefully overcoming their reticence, a study group of her favorite advisors. All of the women she contacted were hesitant because they discounted their value! I happen to know all of the women in this group and I can assure you they are a kick butt bunch of advisors. They are not identical and don’t have identical needs from the group, but that is what makes the group so dynamic. Each brings her expertise and style to the table and everyone benefit. Each member will have a time to bring wisdom and time to be the sponge. It is all about balance, not perfection or being in identical places on the path.

Get your own study group started!

Assess your own strengths and weaknesses. Or to put it more powerfully, your weaknesses AND YOUR STRENGTHS. Don’t focus on your weaknesses. Look at what you bring as well as what you need from others.

  1. Create a list of what you are looking for from the group. Some items may be:
    • Accountability
    • Confidentiality
    • Expertise in specific areas you are weak in
    • Comradery – solo entrepreneurs especially need collegial connections. It can be lonely on your own.
    • Honesty
    • Ego boosts – it’s nice to have people to remind you when you are awesome! It’s not as rare as you think!
  2. Create a list of what you bring to the table, such as:
    • Positive attitude
    • Marketing Expertise
    • Expertise in a specific area of your business
    • Business Acumen
    • Humor
    • Empathy
    • What else? You know there’s more! Just allow yourself to acknowledge it.
  3. Take time to think about who you want to work with. I findfour to six is an ideal number. Below four and you run the risk of losing critical mass. Above six and you start to lose ability to really connect. Aim for a well-rounded group with similar goals, but diversity in skills and temperaments.

Approach those people with your list and ask them to join you. Be prepared for them to discount their value in a group. Have your sales pitch ready to convince them of their value. Run your list by them and see if they have suggestions as well. Keeping in mind your vision of the purpose and tone of the group.

Time to meet!

Decide as a group what is a good schedule for your meetings. Monthly or semimonthly is a nice rate, more frequently can be a bit too much – you need to work with your clients, too! Less frequently hinders your connections and comradery. I love annual face-to-face meetings or retreats. You can plan this around conferences you all already plan to attend or rotate from office to office over the years. Having that in-person connection helps cement the bond of the group. It also allows for a chance for that extended deep dive into industry or business issues you can’t get to as easily on your phone calls.

Go ahead and put the ground rules for your meetings in place, so that everyone is on the same page. In the unlikely chance that you have disagreements or someone isn’t adhering to the expectations you will be able to refer back and easily remind everyone of what they agreed to.

There is no rule on the perfect meeting structure. Your group can design it to best fit your needs. Some common topics include:

  • Quick check-ins – Taking the pulse of the members is a nice way to see if there are urgent issues or you need some high fives or a brief commiseration session to start the meeting
  • Homework & Accountability Items – Members can report back on any homework they committed to doing between calls or special tasks to be completed.
  • Focus / Education time – Members can take turns leading the meeting in a focused learning time. This can vary from presenting on a technology item all members need to understand to throwing out business management tips from which the group can benefit.
  • Hot seat – A single member brings their challenge to the group to spend a block of time brainstorming solutions together.
  • Challenges – Let the group know what struggles you are having in your business or life and let the group work to find ideas for solutions or dealing with the issues. Also known as the Abbreviated Hot Seat.
  • Successes – Don’t forget to take time to celebrate the wins!

    Remarkable progress can come from a strong group dynamic. Get started thinking of your ideal combination of skills and colleagues to help all of you end up in a better position than if you traveled your business path alone.

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About Arlene Moss, Executive Coach

Arlene gets a kick out of helping financial advisors get over being overwhelmed and take on their frustrations so their businesses soar. Arlene works to ensure XYPN members are able to help their clients prosper while creating a sustainable business model. Through XYPN Academy and one-on-one coaching, members get the support they need to grow their businesses and overcome the challenges that come their way.

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