Balancing Motherhood and Management While Scaling an RIA

With Rebecca Conner, CFP®

Episode No. 387 | May 15, 2024

Featuring

Rebecca Conner Headshot
Rebecca Conner

In this episode of XYPN Radio, we welcome back Rebecca Conner, CFP®, founder of SeedSafe Financial. Since launching her firm in 2016, Rebecca has navigated the complexities of growing and scaling a successful business while also embracing the joys and challenges of parenthood.

Rebecca shares how she has evolved SeedSafe from a lifestyle practice into a firm that now serves over 90 ongoing clients with a team of five. She provides insights into her management philosophy, including how she inspires and empowers her team while also maintaining a manageable work-life balance. We also dive into her strategies for sustaining a 25-30 hour work week, and giving her team the same flexibility.

Join us as we discuss Rebecca’s approach to building a niche practice, conceptualizing time, and her mindfulness routine that plays a key role in her professional and personal success. This episode is a must-listen for anyone looking to gain actionable insights into juggling a thriving business, a team, and family life. Grab your notepad and prepare to be inspired! 


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What You'll Learn from This Episode:

  1. Managing employees in a firm and providing them with opportunities to grow within the firm
  2. How prioritizing sleep and personal health will promote a healthy business
  3. When and how to niche your clientele
  4. Mindfulness and best practices for planning your work week
  5. How to thrive on a 25-30 hour work
  6. How to approach interviews with potential employees when expanding your firm
  7. How growing your firm can help fuel your passion of helping more people

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This Episode Is Sponsored By:

Read the Transcript Below:

Maddy Roche: Hello and welcome to XYPN Radio. I am Maddy Roche your host. I'm honored to have XYPN member Rebecca Conner, founder of SeedSafe Financial, return to the show with me today. Rebecca launched her firm part time in 2016 and went full time in 2018. After having over a hundred interviews with her ideal clients and prospects, individuals and executives at Big Tech.

During today's episode, Rebecca recounts her original vision, which was a lifestyle practice and how SeedSafe over the past eight years has evolved into the firm that it is today. One that employs five teammates and serves over 90 ongoing clients. We dive into Rebecca's management philosophy for her team, how she inspires them, how she manages the day to day work, and most importantly, how she relinquishes control and stays organized.

She shares the books that she has read, the life plan that she's created for herself, and some of her secrets to how she's able to live her 25 to 30 hour work week and allow her teammates to do so too. Rebecca has sage advice about what new advisors should consider when thinking about a niche, their ideal firm, and how to even conceptualize time as a new business owner.

Rebecca offers us insight into her mindfulness practice, a practice that she has found vital to her success and that has allowed her to be present both with her clients, but most importantly, her family. Rebecca talks about what it's like to balance motherhood and the demands of a business. And although I say this often about these episodes, I encourage our listeners to pull out a pen and paper and to jot down the ideas that inspire you as you listen to Rebecca navigate and discuss her past eight years. Without further ado, here's my interview with Rebecca Conner.

Hello, Rebecca Conner. Welcome to XYPN Radio. It is so nice to see you today.

Rebecca Conner: Good to see you as well.

Maddy Roche: Rebecca you run SeedSafe Financial, and I'm so excited to have you on the podcast. You are a long time member of XYPN. You're celebrating your eighth birthday or just did, of your firm.

And so I'd love you, Rebecca, to introduce yourself a bit to the listeners so we can dive into this, what will be a very, important and good podcast.

Rebecca Conner: So first and foremost, I am a mom of two beautiful girls. I'm also a tax nerd, which is why I've gotten into the business I have. SeedSafe Financial is primarily focused on tech executives and those that are going through M&A, IPOs like all those weird little tax situations that pop up and we get to have a blast helping make money fun for them.

Maddy Roche: Incredible. And let's go back eight years. What were you, who were you before SeedSafe?

Rebecca Conner: Definitely way more nerdy. This has had to, becoming a business owner has really forced me to come out of my shell a lot more than I think I ever would have otherwise. But I was in Seattle, commuting to and from an island, listening to XYPN's own podcast, really mulling over what kind of wealth management experience that I thought was really best for the world.

I like to be a little bit of a rebel. And so the main catalyst of starting my own business was just, I didn't see a lot of people at that time focusing on individuals in their thirties and forties that could have super complicated situations, but just aren't getting the help they need because they don't already have the 2 million minimum, or they don't already have X Y Z done and so we wanted to be able to bring some sort of flexible engagement that allowed people to get help where they needed it and grow their wealth no matter where they're starting from

Maddy Roche: Yeah. Eight years ago, there were thousands and thousands less advisors who were independent and running their own RIAs. So at that time, what, gave you the courage to actually go out on your own?

Rebecca Conner: Yeah, great question. One it was having a huge safety net saved up. So I saved up two years worth of what I would need to bring in income wise, because I am a planner and very risk averse. So that really helped. And then I also did a ton of interviewing people before I launched. So I still had a job that I was working and I just started meeting with people over coffee chats, asking them, if you could have a financial advisor today, what would that be for you? You work at Amazon. What are your biggest questions around your stock compensation or your benefits? what do you feel you don't know, what is it all for? Like really trying to understand where those individuals who I thought of as prospective clients in the future. Like where their pain points were,

and was there really something I felt like I could put together firm wise that would speak to those individuals and have a good shot of making it longer term. And that ended up really helping because not only did I validate the fact that it's yes, this list of services, how I'm thinking about how I want to come forward is really something that seems like people need, but it also gave me the language they used.

To be able to then start building content and build a website and really have something beautiful in place. So I had a two year non compete. So the first two years, technically I wasn't soliciting business. I really was passively allowing people to find me and work with them mostly outside of the Seattle area since I didn't want to get into trouble with my non compete.

But over time, I just realized that it was like, Yeah, this is 100 percent where I need to be. And then one day my beautiful tiny little baby, went to the doctor and the doctor was like, you've got to stop working these 60 hour work weeks. It's not affecting her well, she is losing weight. She is not sleeping.

And I had to make a decision, and that's when I said, you know what, it's time to finally get up, get out of this job and go ahead and start this business full time. So January 2018, I just went full fledged into the business and said, okay, great, like I'm cutting the cord. It's time because even though I'd prepared as a financial planner.

It still took something to motivate me and get me to actually take that first step.

Maddy Roche: Wow. So were you working while you were running your firm? You were doing half and half. Is that what I heard?

Rebecca Conner: Yeah. So I quit wealth management, started my two year non compete. I worked as a director of investment for the west half of the US for a venture debt firm. So I've always been around like either the tech space or the financial space. And so it's been a very easy moment for me. So as a Techstars Mentor, stuff like that.

And then the second year when I started getting a lot of motion sickness and such and couldn't fly anymore because I was so pregnant, then I started working for a friend as their controller of their series B startup to help them get to the point where they could. Raise their series C and really fix a bunch of revenue issues and departmental issues.

And so that was a lot of fun, but it was definitely one of those moments where it was like I could see myself doing these different things. But when my daughter and the doctor told me that, I was like, okay, I need to live my values. Why am pretending that I can do it all? I cannot. How can I create the best situation that supports.

My values of family, joy, making a difference, having meaningful work and sustainability. And where can I go with that? 

Maddy Roche: I'm already taking notes listeners, and I hope you are too. you've, brought two things up about being a mom that we are going to dive into deeply. But I want to go back to something you said at the start of that around the interviews you were having with people, as you were conceptualizing your firm and getting the language down for your brand, who were these people?

How did you meet them? And that's brave, even for an extrovert and then you are too but what did that look like? How did it feel? Tell us about it.

Rebecca Conner: I say I'm very extroverted one on one, not great in groups. So for my strategy was LinkedIning as many people as I could, cause I was already in the tech space. My husband's in the tech space. He had started at Amazon. Whenever questions came up from his friends, I was answering them. Like I was helping as a Techstars Mentor because of all the accounting stuff.

So it was like, I took those little connections, found all the secondary connections, and then I was like, Hey can you connect me with this person? Or I'm going to do a cold email and I've got a template so I can make it as emotionless as possible and out of my head as possible and just start doing as much as I can.

And the whole promise was like, I really just want to understand what's on your mind. If I can help you, I will give you some free advice. And I guess. advice as a friend and I will never come back to you Trying to get you to be a client and I think that was the major point was that a lot of people say oh, let's just have a coffee chat. Let's just you know get to know one another and then they make a sale of you should definitely be a client and I wanted them to understand that wasn't where I was coming from.

And this was more about research and really being able to put together something beautiful that then could help so many more people.

Maddy Roche: I imagine you were able to hit the ground running. Could you talk just a bit about, what the first couple of years were like in terms of growth, either revenue or client number, just what folks could expect if they do the kind of due diligence you did.

Rebecca Conner: I feel like I was very lucky, right? The space was not as big as it was. There weren't thousands of advisors people could choose from. And It was very easy once I had the website together and started putting content up there to get the right SEO and the right eyes on it. I don't know if that would have worked now, right?

So I want to be 100 percent honest that a lot of it is luck where it's great, you prepared the heck out of it, the opportunity arose, and then it was magical, right? So there's certainly a degree of that, but I do believe it helps anyone to prepare this way because the, in the first three months I brought on 14 clients in 2018.

And I think that really speaks to just like understanding what you want to bring forward, knowing who those individuals you are talking to, and then creating the content and the message and the process that maps to expectations and hopes and desires and being able to get them the information that they need.

Maddy Roche: I work with a lot of new members as they join the network through some of our launch programs. And I hear a lot of people say, I'm just not ready to niche and I'm not comfortable with diving in. Do you have any thoughts or advice for them?

Rebecca Conner: I would say we all niche, but it's a question of on what way, because all of us want to take on clients that we truly enjoy working with. So it might be the way that they want to come at the world. It might be the area of expertise that they have. There's so many ways to think about it.

And in the end, you really want to have the clients that make your heart sing, right? Like, why are you getting into financial planning? Why do you want to have your own business? One it's for yourself, probably family, friends, other things in mind, but a lot of it has to do with who you want to work with.

And that is something where I came to the saying, I never want to work with somebody that isn't fun and exciting and makes me excited to be in this position and feel so grateful and joyful to be here. And from my perspective, I say even if you don't have a traditional niche, I think that you still are going to find even through the first 10, 15 clients that there are certain ones that you just jive with. And you realize there is a tribe out there for you. And so you will start to develop that whether you think you are or not. And so from my standpoint, it's really about know who you are, know what you really want to speak to.

Maybe it's even I they can be in any industry, but fire, like I want to work with people and help them be successful in the next 10 years, like just pick something you're passionate about because that passion shows through. Whereas when you're trying to take different clients with different backgrounds and different purposes, you're all over the map.

You don't get to really focus and bring your full joy and passion into those relationships. And I think that's the biggest part for it.

Maddy Roche: I'm wondering, so 14 clients in the first three months, that sounds crazy, but anyone that knows Rebecca knows she can absolutely handle it. So talk a bit about in the past few years, where you've really invested in terms of marketing and where you feel like your new clients are coming from.

Rebecca Conner: Yeah, great question. So first and foremost, to talk about the last few years, I have to talk about my team because I could not do this alone. I may be a little crazy and that might be why everyone's Oh, yeah, that sounds like Rebecca. But. In the end, it's really my team that allows me the freedom to do these things and focus where I feel like I need to as a business owner.

So that third month, March 2018, a paraplanner, part time paraplanner reached out to me and wanted to see if maybe I could be in use of his services. We get on the phone. Ends up I'm in the hospital with my child with RSV and I'm like, yes, I'm trying to bring up 14 clients and I'm here in the hospital with my child.

I would love to have your help. And so from my standpoint, when I think about my journey over the last few years it's about having the right people on the boat of support. And also thinking about with this new support, where can I start to go that I'm really in that wonderful quadrant where I'm focusing on what I love, what I'm good at, and being able to lean into that as much as possible. And so from the very early days, I think over time, we've had 900, 000 views on one blog post. So from the very early days I was very focused on having technical blog posts that really spoke to specific situations. Every time I had an introductory meeting with prospects.

I was taking their feedback as to what their questions were, usually turning it into a blog post, using their words and how it made them feel, and like what their concerns were, and then trying to outline like generally, here's how we would look at it, like here are the things you should be thinking about, etc.

So we had a lot of content available and we started getting some web traffic from that perspective but that also was used as a trust building source as well. So that when somebody referred someone or early on I got a lot of referrals from the XYPN website, the Find an Advisor website, when those came in, they could look at our website and go, Oh yeah, she definitely understands me.

And so then I was able to walk into those interim meetings and have a really wonderful dialogue. And so we've continued to build on that over time where it's been like, okay, great, like, Where can we be doing things better? The world has changed over eight years. There are many more advisors doing this and many advisors can do things way better than me.

So it's about taking best practices, listening to other XYPN podcasts or Kitces or webinars and trying to decide how we can continue to evolve our offering. That really speaks to those that want to be here. And then what is the content that we can provide that allows them to build that trust and be able to opt in when they say, I feel ready now.

So that's the content journey. This year I'm starting with YouTube and it's going to be a journey, but it's about making money fun. So we're going to make it a little bit silly and we'll see where it goes.

Maddy Roche: Oh, what fun! That's wonderful. I think that's such a good reminder for our listeners that a lot of folks are thinking about AI and how to leverage it and create this content that, it's just easy so we can say we have a content calendar, but that's not really the point. And especially as the internet gets louder and louder with more and more content, it's so important to have your own voice that's educated by your ideal client.

So when people land there, they are able to read it, get a sense of who SeedSafe is and who Rebecca is, so that when they meet you they know what to expect. And I think that is something really important for folks to remember that when people are reading and digesting your content, you need to be very similar in how you also show up on the other end there's a consistency that we owe the audience as they sign up for things.

Thanks for sharing that. What, are the plans for YouTube? Tell us a bit about that.

Rebecca Conner: I have always had a life plan, I wouldn't say always, but it's probably been like six years that I've been through the life planning framework. And this life plan has the little boxes that are like, here are the things I want to accomplish and how I want to be feeling over time. And one of those boxes for five years in was, I wanted to be able to create courses for those that could not afford a full time financial advisor.

That then would allow them to get little nuggets of information where there's just too much you can find out there and it's super complicated and confusing. And so YouTube for us is gonna be a mix of little tax tidbits, so questions that come up from prospective clients, where it's hey, does it matter if I track my Roth and IRA basis on my tax return?

Oh, yes it does, and here's why, and here's how you can make sure you track it. So we're gonna start adding videos like that. There should be four or five up there now that are speaking to some of those kinds of things. And then we're just going to inject other stuff that comes up, like estate planning for young families and why it's important, and talking about the stories around money and how our, I say 30s and 40s, how when we're bringing up our children our own stories around money are going to come up in those relationships.

So how can we be the role model and the teacher for our kids if we haven't even explored our own stories and understand why we do what we do? And so a lot of it is going to be around like thinking about kids and how we can set them up for success and then those next level things where we reach some financial flexibility.

We want to know, should I buy that beach house? Should I do this? Should I do that? And it's just a lot of things to think about and ponder with a few antics involved of me swinging from my indoor playhouse and playing with little toys of my kids and stuff like that. So we're trying to make it as fun as possible.

Maddy Roche: I can't wait. We will, we will try to link to your YouTube channel in the resources section of this

podcast. Just out of selfish curiosity, what was in that box on your life plan to get you to the YouTube channel? What was jotted down for you?

Rebecca Conner: Yeah. It was of course make a meaningful impact and I can only do so much when it is just me. And that's actually why when I started I thought I was just going to be one advisor, doing my own thing. I guess they call it a lifestyle business. I have my own reservations about that, but a lifestyle business where it's just me and I'm just helping a few people, but the further I get into my business, the more I'm like, Oh my gosh, there's still so much we can do.

And so many people we can impact. And over time that has led me to bring on other employees, team members. It's led me to think about how can we scale this bigger? It's led me to think about this YouTube channel. there are so many ways we can be helping people and how can we really bring that to the forefront?

Maddy Roche: Let's dive into that pivot to go from lifestyle to essentially running a large boutique enterprise firm. What does that look like for you to have not known you were going to be wearing the hat of not just entrepreneur, but team lead, manager, visionary, good, stuff, of what it means to run a big firm.

So what was that like?

Rebecca Conner: For me, when I started the firm it was about flexibility for my family. It was about being able to make impact in the way that I thought I could best make an impact. But then over time I realized it's really lonely to be the only person, right? And that's why masterminds are wonderful. Having groups of people you can depend on is wonderful but it's not the day to day for me.

And I realized that I bring a better version of myself when I have a team. I want to be able to provide a place where other team members who also have kids or can only work 30 hours a week, like me, I work around 25 to 30 hours a week. Like they have a place that they can land as well because it's really hard to find a place that you can join and thrive while still having these reduced hours.

Just because we're parents doesn't mean we don't use our brain, right? And so from my perspective, it was really about as I brought others on this journey, I was like this is so much fun. We could be doing this for more people. And so now we do the BLX internship where it's great. Like how do we offer others in more disadvantaged communities a chance to see how it can be different and they can decide how they want to go forward in this industry because this industry feels very limiting at times.

And so that has really been my reason for continuing this journey from what I thought was just going to be a lifestyle business to, wow we could go so much further. But the thing is, I still don't know where it's going to go. For me, it's about how happy are my teammates? How happy are our clients?

What kind of impact are we making? Do I feel like we could do a little bit more? Do I feel like, I got a little more in me? Fantastic. Let's keep going. But I recognize that journey is going to be different for everyone. And even my future self in five years.

Maddy Roche: Giving yourself room to grow and change. I love that. Not everyone who manages people in a team describe it as fun. I'm wondering, what makes it fun? Like how did you know that this was the route that you wanted to go after the first or second hire? what was fun about it that you seemed addicted to?

Rebecca Conner: That's a really good question. For me, the thing that got me into financial planning itself is because I love helping people become the best version of themselves, right? I'm like, let's change those habits that you feel like are holding you back or giving you anxiety, let's empower you.

And this was another way of me being able to empower others. And it's like, how beautiful is it that I can help empower a team member to feel a part of a mission, to be excited about their work, and then they can go forward and impact another 50 lives or another 100 lives, right? So for me, it's really come out of passion and then a lot of learning and reading.

So I do all of the Adam Grant, all of the understanding of Radical Candor, I have read so much and listened to so many podcasts where I can understand how are others doing it, grab those best practices and bring them in as much as possible. I even have a little kind of five question here's what I ask on every one on one that I can how do I make sure everyone is feeling good about the work they're doing? How can I push them a little bit better? it's a journey and I can't say that I'm perfect at it but it's something that it's as long as I think about why I'm doing it and how joyful that is for me that's all the energy I need to continue.

Maddy Roche: Wow, the positivity that's just like radiating from what you're building is incredible because what I'm not hearing is the fear that comes along with management of the, Oh crap, they could leave. I need a non compete on them the scarcity mindset so many people have around employees.

How do you balance that?

Rebecca Conner: Yeah, that's a great question. So I can't say I haven't been burned before I have been burned. And it took a little, rebuilding of myself to be able to say okay, I'm going to try this again. But I think it's a fact that we all want to lead happy lives. And so even in the interview process I do a little life planning to be able to see is this really a good fit?

So I think how I did the research before going and launching the practice, I like to do a little bit of life planning in the interview process to really make sure that this is the right place for them because I think that's part of it, it's not coming from the zone of I just need somebody to do these tasks, do it the best that they can.

Okay, great. Like I've interviewed people that oh my god, they're a rock star, but they feel like they need to have two jobs My whole purpose in life is to help people have 25 to 30 hour work weeks. That's not going to be a fit they're going to burn out i'm going to feel terrible or it could be you, know, a different situation of Oh, I want to test this out but I don't know what I want to do.

Okay. Let's do a little life planning to see where do you want to be in five years? Like how are you feeling about your most fulfilled life? what does that look like? And then if they go, I've decided maybe financial planning isn't for me in this interview process. It's fantastic.

You've learned one more thing that now you know what you want to do or not do. So I look at it more as a coaching and mentorship opportunity than I do as we're getting these tasks done and this is just a role and this is what it's going to look like. So I think that might have a little bit more to do with it as well.

As if we can think of it more as coaching, mentoring, helping others come into this place where they are doing their best work, why am I worried that they're going to leave? Maybe that sounds crazy, but I'm like, I don't think I should be worried about that if I'm really trying to help them and they feel like they're part of this in that way.

Maddy Roche: I'm really glad you bring up reading and research and I'm just amazed every book I read. It's like, how did I live these years without the understanding that I now have? You mentioned Radical Candor, which when I was a team lead and a manager was one of my favorite books. What other books did you find to be like those life changing? I could not do it without the advice in there.

Rebecca Conner: Oh, see, I'm really great at reading books, terrible at remembering the names of books. But Dan Sullivan's 10 times easier than 2 times 

Maddy Roche: 10x Is Easier Than 2x.

Rebecca Conner: Yes, The Song of Significance by Seth Godin really got me excited for building a team, if you, want to get excited, it's like ooh, we are building something significant and we can build something that everyone enjoys, and this is how we can think about it.

So I like some things out of the industry as well. Adam Grant is always great about just thinking about how other people learn and what the research shows is really like the most effective way because a lot of times we want to show things or help someone through a process by how we would do it and how we would learn from it.

And that's not necessarily how everyone else works. And so being able to take on others perspectives, I think is very important and helpful in this process as well.

Maddy Roche: It does sound like you really created. Your own philosophy around management. Thanks very much to the research you've done, but also the lived experience of this team.

So how do you follow a system for team management? Are you working on the EOS platform? What's the secret Rebecca?

Rebecca Conner: I was going to name Gino Wickman next and you just reached right there. yeah, I love Traction. I love the EOS system because even though I'm an ideas person, like I love marketing, but my God, if you don't give me a process, I'm going to be up here wondering what the heck I'm supposed to do next.

And reading Gina Wickman's book on Traction was really helpful for being like, okay, I have this idea. I want to be able to do something. How do I put it in place? And we do that. We have a weekly WBR, our weekly business review, where everyone gets to see the numbers, how we're doing against our own internal scorecard. Like we really make sure that we understand what are the meetings that are coming up over the next week.

Does somebody need help on something? So as a team we have conversations each week. We also have one on ones and so I do a weekly one on one with all of my team members and it's really about checking in on what they need and how they need to be supported. So I have five main questions I ask every time and it's really about like I'm not here to micromanage you.

I am here to support you. What is the best way that I can do that? And then we have Slack for all of the memes and all of the fun and the checking in on stuff. 

Maddy Roche: My mind goes to how folks delineate accountabilities in a firm like yours. I have a lot of members that I work with and clients who are like, I just need someone to get shit done, which is a title that I moved into when I first started at XY. But how do you go about planning the accountability chart for a firm like yours?

Rebecca Conner: Yeah. Great question. So from my perspective, part of empowering team members and allowing to see them succeed is knowing where they want to go and where they want to be. And then understanding what it takes to get there and mapping out, okay, like here are the things it takes to get there. This is probably what a role would look like.

So we have paraplaner associate advisor, and then that associate advisor can become a financial planner and then a senior financial planner, or it can become more of like a advisor. So we think of it as like more internal versus external. And so we've tried to create what these roles would look like and then what does it mean to get to that next level so you can know when you're succeeding and here are the next things you're going to be taking on.

And so even when somebody just joins, it's like talking about, okay, I know this is where you want to go. Here's what we need to learn to know we've got the foundation. Here's what you're going to be doing next. Once we master this. And then we're checking in on those weekly one on ones on how those things are going and what they feel ready for do you feel ready to email a client on your own?

Let's talk about what the best standard is for that. Let's talk about how we're slowly getting through this pipeline. if somebody wanted to stay in a role forever, fantastic. But I assume everybody has their own journey and so we need to be prepared with what that task list as well as that art list looks like as well.

Maddy Roche: Wow. You really do give them room to grow at the firm. A lot of people have, they're able to get over the first hurdle of, okay, I can delineate the accountabilities I need right now for the business looking at it through a vacuum. But you've looked at it through the long term play of how do we develop these people?

Rebecca Conner: Yeah, we've been very blessed that we probably get somewhere between 8 to 15, prospects a month. And so I don't need to focus so much on what the next thing is, we've gotten enough that we've got that momentum going. So now it's really about if we keep, bringing on those number of people, then it needs somebody that's got that next step in place.

So I think of it as they're growing with the firm. 

Maddy Roche: How do you relinquish that feeling of wanting to do it all, be that technician that like Michael Gerber in E-Myth talks about of I'm just in it and I'm the one who does it. Like, how do you give that power over to someone else?

Rebecca Conner: I think again it's about vision, right? Being able to say I want to grow other people it means I have to give them opportunities, right? If I'm not willing to give them opportunities, why am I hiring someone? And so for me, it is hard at first, but as I see the positive reinforcement of it's so nice not to have to send those follow up emails or it's so nice not to build that spreadsheet this time.

Now I get to do this. I get more excited about sweet. I get to do more of this. They're learning and progressing and this is an important point in that journey for them. But it's we're all actually getting raised up in the process. And that just feels really good. So I think it's part of how you think about it.

Part of, can you see enough positive reinforcement that you're like, yes, I am willing to do this and here's what it's allowing me to do. But that first step is the hardest.

Maddy Roche: Yeah, it absolutely is. If you're willing to share, I'm interested in comp structure, do you provide equity? What's the incentive here outside of the very clear and beautiful vision that you've painted for your employees?

Rebecca Conner: Oh, here's the part where I'm pretty sure Kitces and Alan would be like, Oh my God, you gotta be kidding me. But, for me, this is how I thought about it. I never wanted a big firm. So I didn't really think about equity. And from my standpoint, coming from the accounting world, equity tied you to a place when you didn't want to be there. And so we do more of a profit share model right now. I'm going to be putting together criteria for a partnership. So as individuals continue in their journey, if they meet the ideals of a business owner, as well as a star employee, then there should be a partnership track for them.

But for now it's more of a profit share of okay, great. You basically have X percent of any profit we make. And X percent, if I sold this company, I would be giving you that as your bonus basically. So from my perspective it's not that I'm afraid to give it away. It's more of I'm afraid to put business ownership on someone that may feel like they are supposed to be a partner, but aren't quite ready for that.

And then we also use some studies from like the CFP® board and New Planner Recruiting. To see where salaries are and so we base our salaries based off of trying to be at like the 90th percentile in those job descriptions and what's happening. But remember they also work 25 to 30 hours a week. So we're really trying to see how can we push that and, make that a good thing? But everything's a journey at this point. So that's why I say it's, something I think probably one of the places I'm going to be working on in the next year or two to put together that partnership track but this is at least worked for us for now.

Maddy Roche: Yeah. Incredible. Okay. Let's talk about what every listener wants to know about this 25 to 30 hour work week, my friend. Incredible. How do you do it, Rebecca? Of all the one on ones and the management, 

Rebecca Conner: I just do it all, of course Maddy, I do it all.

Maddy Roche: You do just do all. You do it all. and Sheryl Sandberg, I'm sure would be quite proud of it.

OK tell me what an average week looks like in terms of just like the pie chart, does it match what Kitces always says in terms of how business development management, things like that, or break down our week for you or your week for us, please.

Rebecca Conner: Yeah, I would definitely say I don't do it all. I would say it is very focused, intentional hours that are worked, right? So I think that is the trade off. And when I talk to, others that are like I want to get to the 25, 30 hour work week. Like you, Rebecca. I'm like, there are trade offs where it is very like, excuse my language balls to the walls during those five hours in the day and you have to be okay with that. And so from my perspective on Mondays and Wednesdays, from the moment I sit down at my chair to when I get my kids, I usually have five to seven meetings. And so I am going from meeting to meeting to meeting. Today, no different than any other day. On Tuesdays, I do all of my one on ones and that's when I do my, internal business work of how do I make sure team members have what they need?

How do I make sure they know expectations for the next week? Like really about thinking and planning as to, okay, what does this look like for our team over the next week, next month, et cetera. Most Fridays are marketing focused. It may or may not come to total fruition because somehow my kids like to get sick on Fridays, but, Fridays it's yeah. They're like, I'm done with school. so Fridays are usually going to be more marketing focused and Thursdays are going to be where it's like more intensive to our client projects and then some business stuff as to these are the things that just have to stay on the bus. Get those wheels turning from that perspective.

So that's an average week for me.

Maddy Roche: Wow. I love that though. That the moment you sit down you begin, and then you're able to pick up the kiddos and move on. Any advice for advisors who may find themselves working more than that 40 hours, to be able to reduce some of their workload?

Rebecca Conner: From my perspective, it's you got to be getting the sleep first and foremost, trying to cram work doesn't work. It really doesn't. if you're not getting the sleep, you're not freshest to be able to come at the day the way that you need to, you're not going to have the brain power to get through the day.

So for me, sleep is number one. Second is not wasting time just sitting there staring at a screen. So if I find my energy slumping, I'm up out of my chair and I'm taking a walk for maybe 15 minutes outside. So like I come from a you have to be healthy first individually to be able to help and have a healthy business.

And so from my perspective, it's like you need to start with those basics in order to be able to get it more maintainable. Cause I promise you when you are walking around you will work things out in your brain that you were sitting there trying to figure out. A lot of times what I like to do is have this 80, 20 rule, right?

Where it's okay, 80 percent of the time, how much am I, how much work am I really getting done, what's happening, but that 20 percent is so critical. And so if I feel like I'm stuck in this 80 percent where it's I'm moving the ball. I don't know if I really am. I will walk away from it, totally change the scenario where I am, what I'm focused on and then come back.

And it's so much faster. And so I think it's about learning about your brain, learning about how you can come and show up to work. And then being able to say, I can't do it all. And what does that mean? If I put priorities together of what's most important for clients, what's most important for the business.

And I choose only three priorities or less to focus on a day. What would that be? And how do I start to get through that list? Because I live and die by my task list. And every evening after I put the kids to bed, I take a look at it and I say, what are the three things I'm going to get done tomorrow? If I get nothing else done, what are those three things?

It feels like I get nothing done. Three things. That should be so easy to get three things or more done a day, but over time you're getting that consistency of building it up and you see how far you've come, and that's so important. So I don't know if I directly answered your question, but when I think about the most important things to get to that point, that's how you've got to start changing your day.

Maddy Roche: Yeah, no, you absolutely did. For our listeners, many of our listeners are still employed at the W2 jobs or the wire houses or the broker dealers, working that grind. And we know from surveys and experience that so many advisors come into this interested in time flexibility and then working with the people they love.

Both Arlene, my counterpart is a coach here at XY. We're both always just amazed by the amount of commitment people still feel almost as a hangover of, I have to work 40 hours as I begin to launch this firm because otherwise I'm not working. And so we try to coach on this, Definition and concepts of time change when you become an entrepreneur and you have to be ready for that shift.

And I love that you say, when you feel like your energy slumping, you get up and walk away. But we see people feel like they can't walk away because then they're not doing work. So how would you coach them to understand that time changes when you begin to be a business owner?

Rebecca Conner: I look at business ownership almost as retirement. So business ownership, you go through this sense of loss where you are no longer the person you were. It's a little bit of vacation where you're like, I could be doing anything today, so I guess I should be doing everything today. Like I can do anything, right?

So you've got this juxtaposition of having this loss, having this like kind of vacation feeling. But what it really is about is purpose. And being able to outline what your ideal days and weeks would look like. Honestly, when you first start a business, Oh my God, if you can set that standard then and hold to that, you are flexing those muscles that then allow you to make sure that you are treating your business the right way the whole way through.

I used to love 60 hour work week. I used to love coming home from work and then going ahead and typing around on my computer, watching TV all through the night in previous jobs when I became a business owner. I had a very clear reason why, and I needed that flexibility. I also had clear values as to what is it that's most important to me.

And then what would ideally would my week look like? And I held to that and it was very hard at first. I felt a lot of guilt. I felt some regret. I felt like I wasn't doing enough. I listened to XYPN podcasts and people are just doing amazing things and saying they're working 40 and 50 hours. So there's a lot of noise out there, but in the end, you're a business owner because You want this business to be amazing for you so you can show up as your best self to make an impact on the world.

But knowing yourself and being able to put together that framework of what is my purpose and what is that ideal day and week. How can I structure that now when I feel like I have a lot of time, but I feel like I should also be doing all the things, how can I structure it now so that I can feel that sense of accomplishment that I'm working towards my purpose, but that I'm giving myself the downtime to be able to focus on the business the way that I need to, when I do show up.

Maddy Roche: Again, very well said and listeners, I really want you to take this lesson from Rebecca as one to practice, because here we have an advisor in her eighth year of business with five teammates, and a huge amount of clients. It's working 25 to 30 hours a week because she started early on setting those boundaries for herself.

And one of the reasons you set up boundaries for yourself, Rebecca, is because you are an incredible mother. And I can say that, listeners, because I witnessed at the 2016 conference, XYPN Live, we started a, we had daycare provided and we really wanted to be inclusive for mothers and at the time I had no concept for what the industry provided for moms otherwise, but here comes Rebecca into the keynote speech with her stroller and her baby and she was the first mother I ever witnessed, bring her children to a conference and be taking notes. And she was probably on stage herself that year, but you brought your kid to XYPN Live, and I would love to hear a bit about how being a mom and running this business has been able to be doable for you.

Rebecca Conner: Yeah. It's still insanity, right? Again, I can't do it all, but again, it's about prioritizing what is valuable to me and most meaningful to me and my girls. I was like, if I'm going to have kids I'm going to actually see them. A lot of joyous time with them because I am their role model and their mentor, whether I want to be or not.

And I need to be able to see how I can show up. There are years when I haven't been the best, right? The guilt comes in the regret, the feeling that not doing enough. But one of my big things a few years ago was presence. And presence was important to me in the fact that it was like, I need to be able to be present with my clients.

I need to be able to be present with my kids. I need to be able to be present with my husband. And so I went on a year long journey of reading all the books on presence because I really wanted to be able to do this for my family and for my clients. And so I started meditating, 15 minutes every morning.

I started journaling. And that hope of presence and really practice of presence has made it so much better for me and my kids because I don't bring the stress to them, right? We can enjoy the moment. I'm not thinking about, Oh, I was supposed to email somebody. I was supposed to do something.

I have a time during my day where I can sit down and make all those notes but I know that's not this time. And so it really helps me lean into that with them. Now, am I at every breakfast? If it's during school hours, I'm usually like, husband, you are going like, I have five hours to get stuff done.

You are going to that breakfast or something like that but if it's at 3 PM or later, it's fantastic. I am going to be there. I'm going to be supporting you. We're going to build the model together for your world fair. Like we're going to have that time because. They're so small and they're not going to be small forever.

And we've all heard you spend the majority of the time with your kids before they're 18. Then you'll spend their whole life. And so I really want to find this time as precious as possible.

Maddy Roche: Too many words of wisdom outside the ones you've already shared just for the soon to be moms and even the soon to be dads of how to balance this. And, your ideas of mindfulness and presence are so beautiful. But we have a lot of people feel like they have to continue to sit at their desk versus being present with their kids at breakfast.

And how would you advise them to reorient?

Rebecca Conner: Yeah. This is where I start time blocking my calendar. I don't know if it's wisdom, but it's more of if there's something precious priorities that you need done and it's those three things. How can you time block your calendar so that you make sure that you get it done in this the time that you have allotted and you can spend the rest of the time with your kids, right?

For some, it might even be like okay, my kid is in this activity. I'm going to spend the 45 minutes they're in this activity. This is when I do this thing. So if you can have consistency as to when you're doing certain things, and that's why I've set up my week this way, that really helps you be able to just keep it in that box.

But I'd also say, everybody's journey is different. And when you're about to be a parent, your ideas of what it's like to be a parent are very different than the reality. And I would say the first year, even first child, second child, like it's a reorientation of who you are, of who you are with your partner and who you are with this child.

Like you're re-negotiating in a way, your framework of what your home life is like, and you need to be able to give yourself some patience, some respect, some quiet time, It shouldn't be all about I just have to get things done and running around because these are the precious moments that we don't want to lose in the future.

Maddy Roche: Will you speak a bit to your mindfulness practice? You mentioned that you sit for 15 minutes or so, maybe you do or don't now, but how did that evolve you as a person? I'm a deep follower of that. And I think it's so important for entrepreneurs to accept as a core piece of what they need to do to be healthy and sane.

Can you speak a bit to that?

Rebecca Conner: I think the first part of the journey for meditation for me was realizing there was this voice in my head that I was like, who is this person that keeps popping up and tells me what I should be doing or I ought to be doing. Like I keep hearing this voice in my head, and I'm not sure what's going on here.

And so that's when I was like, you know what? I need to be able to learn to sit for five minutes, that was my goal at first, five minutes. And just be able to be. And be able to understand what is that voice versus what is me and the reality of where I am. And that really started my journey, because then I started looking at apps, so I did, Waking Up, I've done the 10 Percent Happier, I've done The Way, like I've done a few different meditation apps, I've found one that really jives with me, and then over time, I was like five minutes feels like it goes by so quickly.

I'd love to spend more time in this. And so then I upped it to 10 minutes and then I've upped it to 15 minutes. And that for me, when I do it is usually in the morning, like right after I've woken up and then that 15 minutes allows me a lot more peace in the shuffle of waking the kids up, getting the breakfast going, getting the lunch boxes together, figuring out what my schedule is for the day.

What do I need to prepare? How many emails do I have that I need to respond to? When am I going to get that done? Like it quiets a lot more of that time so that I can be more present from that perspective. I also love journaling. I keep journals everywhere. I have a random journal in a cabinet in the kitchen, I've got one in my desk here, I've got one by my bedside, I know things are going to come up for me, no matter where I am, whether it's a question for myself, I want to be able to explore later or something like that.

I always jot it down and task list, right? Anything that comes to my mind, because a lot of times what I hear is that we have the same thoughts 90 percent of the day, right? Like we're just spinning things in our mind over and over again. And I find when I write it down, it settles it and it says you have a place.

And then I have 30 minutes at night before I start my reading and go to bed where I look at those notes and I decide what I want to do with them in that 30 minutes. And what does it mean? Does it mean I'm putting some stuff on my calendar to block out some time in the future? Does it mean I'm gonna hash out my thoughts on a question I had for myself now and do some brainstorming?

But I give myself that space so that then these things aren't just flying around and it allows me to be present and have that. 

Maddy Roche: I know a lot of our advisors come in and they're deeply committed to a physical practice of fitness and things like that. And I just want to encourage listeners who maybe have never thought of, or are intimidated by the idea of mindfulness and practicing meditation, but your brain is a muscle and it really is incredible.

Within a week of a 5 to 10 minute sitting practice, how you begin to see a pause in your life and how valuable that is one when you're a team lead and running a big business but when you're just present with not your family, but your clients too, they need you to be able to pause. They need you to be able to catch yourself and not say.

What you thought you needed to say immediately. I watched my life shift consistently because of the pause I have that, wow, had I actually said what I thought I was going to say, life would have been different, the relationship that could, the conversation would have taken a different route. So the pause brings in such opportunity.

And I think that's the magic of life. I'm so thankful you, are a practitioner and someone who's willing to talk about it, Rebecca. 

Rebecca Conner: There's even Andrew Huberman and there are other wonderful Peter Atia, et cetera, like people on the far medical side that agree that this is just as important as those that are more on the spiritual. 

Maddy Roche: Absolutely.

So you went from a solopreneur to a mom, to a big team. What is the next few evolutions going to look like for you personally and professionally, Rebecca? Cause I know you probably just will not stop and nor should you.

Rebecca Conner: And let's be fair, there's, not stopping, and then as Britten, my wonderful friend, likes to remind me is you have to be able to have enough. And I like to delineate, I feel like I have enough in my life, where it's I am living my five main values in life, and I am so happy, I'm so lucky.

I feel so entirely blessed that I have this system of support, connections, family, everything that allows me to focus on my business and allow my business to be where I want to push things further and further. And so I'm very lucky in that place. for some of us that are taking care of parents or find more emotional stuff going on.

It's okay to have a slow gear. And I've had those too, where I was like, I'm not going to grow the business. I'm not going to do anything, but right now I'm feeling good. My kids are getting a little older. They've got a little bit of independence. So I would say my next few evolutions are really going to be focused on what we've always been focused on but going deeper and deeper which is client success.

Okay, what are the new understandings of psychology what are the ways we could be asking questions? How should we be presenting information? We're going to create a client advisory board. We've been doing NPS scoring for a while where we get feedback after big surges or big projects that happen across all clients we're, trying to better understand how we can show up for our clients where they find the value where they don't so we are going to continue to evolve what that looks like.

Also, marketing is something that I continue to dabble with and so this YouTube, being able to deliver content to individuals that we can't work with on a one on one basis is going to become a much bigger piece of my world. I've actually changed since this is eight years in. it used to be I would work with anyone that was fitting the business's profile of the perfect client.

But over time, personally, that has evolved for me. And so it's gone from, okay, you fit that mold to now, okay, I'm segmenting as an individual. So now I've just reached the point where I'm only going to be taking clients with 5 million in net worth or more one, because I love the extra research or the thinking about puzzles in that way.

Because the other stuff has become more of yeah, I know what you should do. I like to push myself. So personally, that's where I'm going with that. And then I'd say the final point for the team is really about how can we shape the team in a way that we feel like we can really push that next level.

So one thing that as you're growing as a company, you're starting to get closer and closer to the million in revenue mark. You hear lots of here's where this starts to happen. Like at the 750k mark, like you reach this new level that you need to think about and restructure your business.

Some people say don't try to go over 3. 5 million in revenue, or you're going to have to put way more effort into it. So there's all of these theories about what should be happening over the next bit. And so that's the final thing that I'm really focusing on is like. Where are we going to go?

What is our next resting spot or check in spot that we want to focus on? And right now it's going to be 1.5 million. So what are all the things that are going to get us to 1.5 million? And then when we get to there, it's how are we changing this business that we decide we either want to go bigger or not.

And so I try to put it in little chunks as to okay. I don't know who I'm going to be in five years. I don't know who this business is going to be in five years, but this is my next goal and what needs to happen in order to get us to that point. 

Maddy Roche: Rebecca, your authenticity, the clear alignment that you're living in is palpable through this podcast. And I hope people see this as a really beautiful example of what can happen, as humans evolve in a space that, that taps into really the sweetness of what life can be like.

So you really have demonstrated, I think so many important things to our listeners today and I want to applaud you for that. I also just want to thank you for the amount of time you've put into our network and our community. You were one of the original members that believed in XYPN back in the day.

You've been at many of the conferences and you've hosted just this year, one of the most attended webinars, that we hosted internally. You're so abundant in your expertise and willingness to share. I'm deeply grateful for having known you over these eight years. And I know our listeners are grateful to have an hour of advice from you.

So as we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom to our listeners who are maybe driving home on that idle Wednesday debating about could life be a little bit better? Any advice for them? 

Rebecca Conner: You know, the best advice I can give is, raise your freak flag. So whoever you are. Do you you know you deep inside there shoulds and oughts and what I'm supposed to do versus what really calls to you and what you really feel passionate about and what you think you can bring as the best in this world.

And I say, take the space to recognize that and be cool with the fact that you are on your own journey and you can make the decisions that are best that you believe support the life that you want to live that is most fulfilled. 

Maddy Roche: 

 Thank you Rebecca. Such an enjoyable podcast.

Rebecca Conner: Thank you, Maddy. I feel blessed to be here. I really appreciate it.

 

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