Episode 18:

Adam Carroll is quickly being recognized as one of the top financial educators in the country based on his core message of “you are the architect of your own life.” Adam has presented all over the globe. Over 500 universities have been lucky enough to host him and he has presented some amazing TedTalks all over the world.

In 2014, Adam successfully crowdfunded a documentary on student loan debt titled Broke, Busted & Disgusted, and he raised nearly $70,000 for the film in 45 days. The mission of the film is to start a national debate about changing the way we fund college and not crippling 20 something’s with mountains of debt.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Adam’s documentary “Broke, Busted, & Disgusted”
  • Accountability and business owners: why you need accountability partners
  • What agencies should be doing at the tail end of the year
  • How Adam saves time for his family by using a Power Priority List
  • What to look for (and look out for) in an accountability partner
  • What different kinds of accountability partners you should have (hint: they shouldn’t all be entrepreneurs)
  • Mastermind groups vs. accountability partners: do you need both? If not, which one is right for you?
  • The commitment required for mastermind groups and accountability partners
  • What you can do right now to act on the ideas from this episode

 

The Golden Nugget:

“When you start a mastermind group, it has to be your highest priority.” – @adamcarroll Click To Tweet

Click to tweet: Adam Carroll shares the inside knowledge needed to run an agency on Build a Better Agency!

 

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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build a Better Agency. Where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of expertise as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey there. Welcome to another episode of Build a Better Agency. I am your fearless leader, Drew McClellan, and my role is to introduce you to guests and ideas and best practices that help you minimize the risks of agency ownership while making the most of all the rewards that can come with it. As you know, I work with over 250 small to midsize agency owners every year and I know that today’s guest is going to have something to share for all of you. Whether you are ready to hear it or not, that’s going to be up to you but I know that it’s stuff that we need to talk about and you need to hear and we’re going to talk today about accountability and how difficult that is when you own the joint. So let me tell you a little bit about our guest. Adam Carroll is quickly being recognized as one of the top financial educators in the country with his core messages being you are the architect of your own life and that starts with your behavior around finances and money.

Adam has presented all over the globe. Over 500 colleges and universities have been lucky enough to host him. He has been in London where he did an amazing TED talk and he’s done TED talks all over the US as well. In early 2014, Adam successfully crowdfunded a documentary on student loan debt and raised nearly $70,000 in 45 days. The film Broke, Busted & Disgusted is being released very soon and is already garnering critical acclaim and I’m really excited for all of you to see it. It’s very eyeopening and something that we need to talk about.

The goal of the film is to start a national debate about changing the way we fund college and not crippling 20 somethings with mountains of debt. So you would think that Adam and I were going to talk about money today but instead we’re going to turn our attention to the idea of being accountable and the idea of using mastermind groups to do that. And in full disclosure, there’s a special reason why Adam and I are choosing that topic. Adam is a very close personal friend of mine and for the better part of a decade has been a part of my mastermind group. And I can tell you without a doubt that being a part of that group absolutely has changed my business and my life and so I am very excited to welcome my good friend and mentor Adam Carroll to the show. Adam, welcome.

Adam Carroll:

Drew, thank you for having me. It’s an honor to be in front of your tribe. I’m very excited.

Drew McLellan:

I’m excited too. And a couple other things guys. You’re going to want to check out … Adam was a podcaster long before I jumped into the water and he does probably my all time favorite podcast and ironically it’s called Build a Bigger Life Podcast. He talks to amazing people who have decided that they wanted to do something bigger and better and really he dives into how they do that and why they do it and really gets the recipe for how that gets done. So you’re going to want to check that out wherever you happen to go get your podcasts. And we’ll talk more about that I’m sure. But Adam, let’s talk a little bit about accountability because you and I are both business owners and it would seem on the surface that one of the perks of owning a business is that you’re not accountable to anybody. So help me with the psychology and help our listeners with the psychology around why even though it doesn’t sound all that great, why we should want it.

Adam Carroll:

It’s a really interesting question Drew and I think that you hit the nail on the head. We are business owners. And I think by nature we gravitate towards being business owners because we don’t necessarily want to answer to anyone.

Drew McLellan:

And we’re twisted.

Adam Carroll:

And we’re twisted. Yes. There’s some weirdness that goes on with being a business owner. But I also think that especially your demographic, your tribe, and a lot of the folks that I work with, we’re creatives. And as creatives we have ideas pop every minute. But it’s being able to figure out which of those ideas are worthwhile and which we should go after and which we shouldn’t that has become a challenge in my life. And it wasn’t until you and I and Mitch began our mastermind group and I started partnering with some accountability partners that I really began to harness the power of being accountable to what I said I was going to do and what my ideas were and which ones really needed attention and which ones didn’t.

Drew McLellan:

And what was the outcome for you of that?

Adam Carroll:

Well, interestingly, I’ve been reading the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It’s a great eye opening read. And in it, he has this diagram of … If you can imagine a circle with arrows coming out from all different angles and sides. He gives that example on the one hand and on the other hand is one circle with one arrow going straight up much farther, much darker and much more powerful than the other. And I saw that diagram and thought, this is me. I have multiple paths and avenues that I could go out and find opportunity. And let’s face it, types of revenue. But am I better off going after one or maybe two? And so having an accountability partner and actually multiple accountability partners has been really instrumental for me in saying, okay, I have all these great ways of making money, but just because I can make money doing things doesn’t mean I should.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and in fact, by chasing all of the different ideas, I dilute all of the different ideas because I can’t possibly give all of them my time and attention to the level that they need for the level of excellence that A, I want to bring, but B, so I can really dig a deep mine and really get the riches out of one or two of those big ideas right?

Adam Carroll:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, in its simplest form, it’s the 80/20 principle, right? It’s Pareto. Are we spending the highest percent of time on things that are giving us the greatest bang for our buck? And I’ll talk candidly about one of my accountability partners who is … Again, very candidly, he pisses me off sometimes because he is so laser focused about his feedback to me that sometimes it almost stings a bit. And I’ll give you kudos to this too, Drew. You have a way of giving advice and it’s sort of a duh moment when you say it. And I think that sometimes it’s easier to read the label on the outside of the jar than on the inside of the jar.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely.

Adam Carroll:

So having that person like you or like my friend David, to give us that kind of feedback and to hold us accountable to what we said we’re going to do is really, really critical.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. When I talk to agency owners, one of the biggest challenges they talk about is that they’re scattered and they can’t actually get their to-do list done and all of that. I think part of that is a symptom of unlike your direct reports and unlike the rest of the people on your staff, nobody is looking over your shoulder and going uh-uh (negative), or this is due today. We have to do it for ourselves and quite honestly, we’re really horrible accountability partners for ourselves.

Adam Carroll:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And what happens as an agency owner or a business owner when there’s no carrot and no stick? So some of us will say, “I need to get this done,” but we don’t really build in any layer of accountability in the sense of I’m going to bonus myself, or I’m going to award myself for getting this done on time. And there’s really no penalty because if I don’t get it done, well, I own the place so they have to answer to me. I don’t have to answer to them.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Adam Carroll:

And I think installing someone in your life that … It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. You’re able to mentor, coach and hold them accountable. And likewise, they do the same for you. I think that does tremendous things for a person’s business and productivity.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I was just with a group of agency owners and we were talking about time management and accountability and all of that. And somebody suggested that they put one of their staff people in charge of holding them accountable. And it was amazing to watch all these agency owners bristle at that idea that. That someone who works for them would tell them what to do. And while in theory that makes sense, they’re around every day and all of that, the truth of it is we don’t want to be held accountable to somebody whose paycheck we write. And that’s I think the power of having sort of dual accountability back and forth between two people or a small group of people like a mastermind group, is that these are people who are in your life and in your world, but they’re not so in your world that it’s offensive that they hold you accountable.

Adam Carroll:

Right. Exactly. And I think there is something key in that statement and that is that it’s not offensive, but it can be very, should I say, abrasive if it needs to be. Because I had a conversation with this accountability partner of mine last week and it was after we had set up a time to meet. We have a weekly standing call that we usually check in for 20 or 30 minutes and we go through the regular, this is what you said you were going to do last week. Did you do it? Why didn’t you do it? And then we begin to notice patterns in each other. And I would say he’s very good about noticing patterns in me and calling me out on them. And last week we had a moment like that. I had to cancel at the last minute. And I said, “Something’s come up. I would like to have this call. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Well, I didn’t call him the next day. And he sent me an email. And it was a very long, very heartfelt email, but it was very to the point about fact that I had said I was going to call him, I didn’t do it. How many times am I doing that in my life and what is the impact that it’s having? And so then he challenged me to look at how many emails am I responding to at the very first attempt that have nothing to do with my business, but they’re people who want my time or want my attention, but they don’t help me build what I’m trying to build? And his point was in a very friendly, but assertive way, saying, “You need to look at your priorities and decide what are the most important conversations to have and which ones you need to abandon or push off for a while.”

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. That had to sting a little bit.

Adam Carroll:

It did. It sat with me for about three days in all honesty Drew. And I wondered why it hurt so bad. And it wasn’t a hurt physical pain or anything. It was more like a, oh, mentally, emotionally, it hurts that he had to say that. But I also know that that hurt means that it impacted me. If it didn’t hurt, I just didn’t believe it. But I believed that it was probably true. So it’s definitely been something I’ve been working on.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So I think for a lot of the listeners, I think this is really about … Odds are they’ve built a great agency and things are going pretty well. And yeah, there are the ebbs and flows and the bang your head against an employee issue or get fired by a client. But for the most part things are going pretty well. And I think sometimes the most dangerous thing for a business owner is to be fat and happy. And you sort of stop putting the pedal to the metal because you are feeling like things are better. And I think a lot of agencies came out of the recession and things are better today than they were a few years ago. But the reality is every agency owner is feeling this nagging thing in the back of their head that they aren’t getting as much done.

They certainly are not spending times on the things that are important, but not urgent, which is one of the things that we often talk about in our mastermind group is really sort of the bigger picture. What do I have to get done this quarter to hit my goals and all that sort of stuff. So that’s why I think this topic is so critical for them because everybody has to find a group of people or another person that allows them to be their best self. When I look at our mastermind group, I think that’s what it does for me is it forces me and gives me the opportunity to be my best self by holding me accountable.

Adam Carroll:

Absolutely. That notion of being fat and happy, I hear complacency a lot. And people will say, “Well, I kind of lost my drive.” It’s just it’s comfortable. I had this conversation with a gentleman yesterday, who I think was actually looking for accountability, Drew, in all honesty. And he said, “For the last three to five years I’ve had a really good job. I could come home at five or 5:30 and open a bottle of wine and sit and hang out with my kids. I didn’t really have the drive.” And I think part of that is an accountability partner too will say, “Do you want more and if you want more, what is it? And why aren’t you going after it? What’s in your way or what’s keeping you back?” For me it’s been both you guys. Dave. I have one other accountability partner I talk to on a regular basis. It’s sort of them reminding me what I’m capable of, like you said and then pushing me to that level as much as possible. And I think there’s something to that. Having someone that reminds you how good you are or how good you can be and you’re not quite living up to that at this point. It’s nice to have that mirror to be held up to you every now and again.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Well, and I think too, I think the other thing that a lot of agency owners struggle with is sometimes they’re just wiped out. They’ve sort of lost their mojo. And I think having somebody hold you accountable is the gentle kick in the rear sometimes of, you know what, you do still have gas in the tank and you have things to accomplish this month, this quarter, this year. So let’s go do them. So to your point, it is about holding up the mirror and saying, “You got this and I have your back, but I’m also going to … Not only do I have your back, but my hand is on your back and I’m sort of pushing you along a little bit when you need the nudge.”

Adam Carroll:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So a question for you Drew, when it comes to the agency owners. We’re nearing the end of the year or if there was an end of the quarter period or a midyear point, do agency owners begin to let off on the gas a little bit towards, let’s say the end of the year?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I think like a lot of business owners, unless you’re in a retail kind of environment, I think everybody looks at around December 10th, December 15th as okay, that’s sort of when things slow down. So for a lot of agency owners … AMI put together several years ago, we have a one page business plan worksheet and that’s the time of year that I’m encouraging them to really invest the time thinking about what are the big things they want to get done in some key areas like finance and new business and the staff? What’s the one big thing that’s in the way of you having a stellar year and how do you get that out of the way early on in the year? It’s a great time to do some planning, but for many agencies, yeah, things do slow down at the tail end of the year.

Adam Carroll:

And I think one of the things that I’ve been doing with my accountability partner which may be helpful to some of your agency owners is chunking down the last six weeks or four weeks or two weeks and saying, “Okay, here’s the things that I think I can do to add value.” And maybe they’re calls, maybe it’s 10 calls you haven’t made. Maybe it’s check-ins with some of your biggest clients that you lost two years ago. But something you can do in the last two or three weeks of the year or six weeks of the year that would allow you to offer some tremendous value to people that sets you up for success at the beginning of the first year. And I’m very similar. My business tends to taper off towards the end of the year. A lot of my revenue comes from speaking engagements and most of that is put on hold after about December 5th to the 10th.

And yet those last few weeks of the year, I generally will be creating a ton of value for the first quarter. I’ll be doing a lot of outreach. I’ll offer even 30 minute consultations with certain people that I’ve worked with in the past. And my accountability partner had said, “What can you do during that period so it’s not wasted time?” Because it would be like me to catch up on all the shows that I’ve been wanting to watch on Netflix. And yet I know that there is a tremendous amount of productivity yet in me. It’s kind of like getting the last of the toothpaste out of the tube. My wife is a master at getting every last ounce of toothpaste out of that tube. And I feel like years have passed in years past where there was still toothpaste left and I threw it away at the end of the year when I should have been squeezing all that I had out.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. That’s a great analogy. And I think a lot of times people go, “Oh, well, you know what? This is my time. This is family time. It’s the holidays and all of that.” And that sort of reminds me to make the point that the whole reason you want to be more accountable is so that you are more successful, however you define that, whatever that means for you, so you do have more time to do the things that you love to do, whether that’s hang with friends or family or whatever it is. It’s not about being busy all the time. It’s not about putting more things on your to-do list. It’s about actually carving things out of your to-do list and, as you said earlier, sort of laser focusing in. And what you’re talking about is … We’re not suggesting don’t hang out with your family over the holidays. That’s not what we’re saying. What we’re saying is when it’s a quiet time work wise and you’re going to be at work, how do you amplify what you do to make 2016 or 2017, any calendar year, more productive right out of the chute?

Adam Carroll:

Exactly.

Drew McLellan:

One of the things that I know about you is that your family is incredibly important to you and you’re a very devoted father and husband. And so talk a little bit about how all this accountability allows you to do more of that. And maybe the lines that accountability crosses between both our personal and our professional lives.

Adam Carroll:

Well, it’s a great question Drew. And you are right. My family, I would hold at the highest level of importance in my life. I think if I’m not being an effective father or husband, I’m failing at my main job. Part of that … And this is the challenge I think for a lot of entrepreneurs is we see ourselves as the breadwinner, as the person that’s going to go out and slay dragons all day. And yet we also need to make sure we have time for our family. And I had some big goals this last year. I wanted to speak internationally. I wanted to finish this documentary project I’d been working on. And I had a number of these goals that had been listed out. And I got called to the carpet by one of my accountability partners. And he said, “Based on all of this, where do you plug in time for your family and how do you make that a priority?”

And one of the things that he challenged me on was I had international travel on my list and he said, “So you want to spend more time with your family and yet you want to do inter travel, which will take you away from your family. So how do you put the two of those together or how do you reconcile that you want one thing but it’s mutually exclusive of the other?” And I think there’s value in that. There’s value in having someone question based on what you say you want, are you doing that? Are you living up to those principles? So for me, it has been a matter of making sure that my family rank in high priority. That I measure and manage the amount of time that I’m spending with them. And at the same time, figuring out when I can be most productive.

To your point, I don’t generally have a lot of days where I sit and twiddle my thumbs or answer emails or mindlessly surf the web. My very first thing that I do every day Drew is I create my power priority list. And my power priority list are all of the things that I have to do that day. I then take about 10 minutes and I list them all in A, B or C priority. And then I list them A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3. And then before I even start on the project, I’m listing how much time that I think I will spend on each of those. And then when I begin that project, I’ll race the clock. So if I say, “I’m going to record a solo cast and I think it’s going to take me 30 minutes to write it and 15 minutes to record it.”, then I set a timer and I’m racing that timer to make sure that it’s done.

Similarly, one of my high priorities is my kids get home about 3:30 or 4:00 every day, I’d like to be done at about 4:30 so that I can go shoot hoops with my boys or download about my daughter’s day before she digs into a book or her iPod or whatever she ends up doing. And carving out that time for me. There’s this period between 4:30 and 7:30 that should be dedicated family time. And the weeks where I have more days that that doesn’t happen I know that I feel out of sync. And that’s usually when I’m talking to you or Mitch or an accountability partner saying, “Okay, here’s what’s happening. Here’s what I did.” And they’re saying, “Well, what can you do to change it? Do you need to get up earlier? Do you need to do work at night? How can you make that a priority given that you’re saying it’s a priority?” But for me, I feel like the wheel of life is lopsided if my family isn’t getting adequate time.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and at the end of the day, that’s why we need to be held accountable. It’s not about making our businesses bigger, better, stronger, although that obviously is part of it. But at the end of the day, I don’t know an agency owner or a business owner that doesn’t have someone in their life, whether they have a family or they have close friends or whatever it is, that they want to spend more time with. And there are things that are I to all of us personally, that when we’re distracted all the time … I have a lot of agency owners talk about how their kids feel about their cell phone and that it’s always ringing and they can never get away. And that’s really a result of not having your priorities in order and not being able to sort of marshal up all that you have to go as fast and far as you can so that you can carve out the time. I think that’s the message of why this matters is because we work so that we can have a life. Work shouldn’t be our life. And by having an accountability partner I think you have a better chance … Or partners in a mastermind group. You have a better chance of actually getting to your true priorities.

Adam Carroll:

Agreed. Agreed. And I think there is an assumption based on what you just said, Drew. There’s an assumption that when the phone rings we need to be available for it. And I actually think that … And I think this was a four hour work week tidbit that Tim Ferris wrote about. But if you have a very purposeful voicemail message and the voicemail message were to suggest something like I apologize if you’re getting this voicemail if it’s before 5:00, but I make it a point to cut out of work at 4:30 or at 5:30 or whatever time you feel comfortable. I make it a point to cut out of work at 5:00 and that time is family time. If this is an emergency, text me and I’ll respond within an hour.

But I think offering up something like that, I’ve done it in the past and I’ve got nothing but positive remarks from people who have called and left a message. I had an auto responder at one point that said, “This week is family week. I’m taking some much needed time to invest in my family, much like I invest in business most of the time.” And everything that I got that week, people were responding saying, “This is so cool. I need to do this. I love this concept.” And again, very honestly, that came out of an accountability talk that I had with someone.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So hopefully we have whetted the listener’s appetite and they’re ready to be held account. So let’s talk a little bit about how one does that. So you’ve obviously surrounded yourselves with a plethora of accountability partners. You have your mastermind group, and then it sounds like you have some individual accountability partners too. How do you pick good accountability … How do you know who is going to be good at holding you accountable? What do you look for?

Adam Carroll:

Well, I look for someone that is willing to be very honest. I had a discussion with a friend of mine who was … He was hurt by something that someone said and he was hurt to the extent that he said, “I’m just afraid our friendship is at jeopardy about this because it just hurt me so bad.” And when we dug into what it was, this friend of his had given him some very candid, honest feedback about a blind spot that this gentleman had. And I said, “You wouldn’t be hurt if there weren’t some fear that it was true.” So this is the issue. I think you’ve got to find an accountability partner that’s willing to give you real honest, candid feedback about what you’re doing and why they see it holding you back. And to have you not be offended by it to the extent that it would affect the relationship.

So I look for people who have candor. I look for folks who are not going to hold back on me. I look for people who are not going to hold a grudge if I’m doing the same for them. And Drew, part of this agreement that I have with my accountability partners is we’re given the green light to be very honest about what we see in terms of habits or traits or patterns that we’re seeing on a regular basis. And when those patterns are negative … My accountability partner who’s a great guy, he is a spender. He spends money like crazy. And because of that, he has financial issues. So I would like to think I’m a pretty good accountability partner for him.

Drew McLellan:

I would think so. Yeah.

Adam Carroll:

That’s my bailiwick. I will say, “I don’t understand why you’re buying these things. What are you getting out of buying these when you know that what you should be doing instead of spending is building your business, writing books, doing whatever.” So for me, candor. It’s honesty. It’s the ability for someone to give very candid feedback, have tough skin about it and know that feelings might be hurt, but we can say, “I really appreciate you giving me that. It pissed off when you said it, but I know it pissed me off because there’s some nugget of truth in it.”

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Adam Carroll:

So I’m looking for those people. I will tell you who is not a great accountability partner Drew, and those are generally folks that are … They’re yes people. They are folks who want to preserve your feelings so they don’t tell you certain things. Jack Canfield, I went through his training last year and he said, “If someone tells you you look like a horse, you can laugh it off. But if 10 people tell you you look like a horse, you may want to buy a saddle.”

And so I’m looking for the people who are telling me, you look like a horse as much as possible. Not those that are like, “Oh, I really like your mane and your big teeth. They’re really pretty.” So I want someone who’s telling me, “You look tired. You’re not sleeping enough. What’s the deal? Are you burning the midnight oil?” And that candor is really valuable to me.

Drew McLellan:

One of the things that was important for us as we were putting together our mastermind group many eons ago was we wanted everyone to own their own business. So how important do you think it is that you’re on a level playing field in terms of … And by the way, just for the listeners, none of us are in the same business. We all own a business, but none of us do the same thing so we’re not competitors in any way. But for us it was important that everybody be on the same path in terms of being an owner.

Adam Carroll:

I think there is tremendous value in partnering someone that understands the mentality of taking risk. And it’s hard to find that in an entrepreneur. You might be able to find it in a CEO, CFO, CTO kind of role. So if you’re working with C-suite folks, I think they get it. They’re there. They understand the management of people and those kinds of things. But I think if you are a business owner yourself, it’s good to have an accountability partner that’s also a business owner. And I think … This is my own maybe twisted view of it. But I think it’s nice to have someone in a business that’s somewhat unrelated to yours.

So I’m working with a gentleman right now who owns an IT recruiting company. And this guy just has a very interesting way of looking at issues. He’s very tactical. He’s very pragmatic. And for me, because I’m more of a strategic thinker, it’s nice to have someone that gives me that kind of angle on the challenges that I’m facing. So I think if you can find someone that maybe isn’t a same, same as you, but is a little, same different as you, that’s also beneficial because you’re getting the benefit of their different perspective.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I think they need to understand the world that you live in, but it’s nice to have them come from a different world so that there is that mental shift in perspective. Because sometimes the way they do it in their world, it may not be how you would do it in yours, or I would do it in mine but it makes you think differently and that’s I think part of the accountability partner, too. It’s not just about making sure you get your stuff done or you get your priorities done or you have an annual goal or all of that. But it’s also … For me anyway, you guys have always been sort of my thinking partners. It’s like, I need to think this through and I want different perspectives and input so that I’m not my own tunnel vision looking at this only in one way.

Adam Carroll:

Absolutely. Absolutely Drew. And I think that notion … Not to completely change gears, but on the notion of the mastermind group, this is a one plus one plus one equals 111. It doesn’t equal three. And the ability to find those people that you mesh with, that you trust and that have your back no matter what, I think that’s critical. And to your point about brainstorming and coming up with new ideas, I will share with your listeners when I did my TED talks, you two were the first two people I wanted to share it with because I know the ideas that come from you guys are completely valuable. Your feedback is going to be honest. You know this. I made numerous tweaks just based on your guys’ input on my talk. So likewise. I use mastermind groups for accountability, for brainstorming, for ideas, for guidance and I’m using the accountability partners for productivity and holding me accountable and challenging me in my patterns. But both are exceptionally valuable to your business.

Drew McLellan:

Well, actually that leads me right into the question I was going to ask is for you who have both a mastermind group and individual accountability partners, how do you use them differently? And if somebody’s listening, saying, yeah, I want to be accountable, but I don’t think I want both, how do they figure out which would better for them from your perspective?

Adam Carroll:

I think that … This is going to be a roundabout answer to your question Drew, but I think many business owners feel like they’re in a bit of a silo. They’re out on their own. The buck stops with them. They’re the one signing paychecks. So how do you really have a nice partnership with people in your company? And some people do have that. But I think if you’re wondering, do I go mastermind or do I go accountability partner? I think where I would start if you’re feeling siloed at all is begin a mastermind group. And a local mastermind group that can meet on a fairly regular basis is really important. When we started a decade ago, we met pretty regularly and we were-

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Every other week. Remember?

Adam Carroll:

Yeah. Every other week for three hours at a time. And that was a big time commitment. But I also point to that period of time in our lives where some of the biggest growth occurred in our businesses. At the very least, the most foundation was laid about who we were going to be and what we were going to do. And I think over time as … And this is what will normally happen in every mastermind group. As the group gets more and more successful individually, it becomes more and more challenging to meet as a group because your schedules will get a little more full. And at that point, then I think it becomes even more important to bring in that accountability partner because that person may not be a three hour, every two week meeting. It might be a 30 minute check in on Monday morning or it might be a fit 15 minute, what are you doing this week, what’s going to get in your way, how can I help keep it out of your way kind of conversation. Almost like an agile scrum in the morning.

Drew McLellan:

Right, right, right.

Adam Carroll:

And I think having that for an agency owner is really important because we go in and you know this, what takes up your day are things like phone calls, emails, client meetings, research, meeting with your team, doing brainstorming.

Drew McLellan:

People in the doorway. Right. Fires.

Adam Carroll:

Exactly. And at some point to have someone say, “Well, why didn’t you get that done yesterday?” “Well, I had two fires to put out and two impromptu meetings.” And they would say, “Well, what were the impromptu meetings about?” And you begin to dissect, what was it actually that kept me from getting done what I told you I would get done? And in the end you have … Inevitably you’ll find things that they were high importance, but low … Or high priority, low importance.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah. They were on fire in front of you so you took the time to put it out, but they weren’t really where you should have spent your time.

Adam Carroll:

Exactly.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So you and I could obviously talk about this forever, but I want to give our listeners some really tangible things. So how did you find … The way the mastermind group came to be, just FYI listeners, is that I was having coffee with actually a guy who was our fourth member for a period of time when he was self-employed. And we just sort of brainstormed the qualities that we wanted in … We talked about that we wanted to have a mastermind group and that we would want to do it together. We’d start talking about the qualities of the people that we wanted to be with and what was important for us. And I will also tell you that this isn’t just about business. You end up getting in each other’s life and business. And so this has to be somebody that you’re willing to sort of share everything with.

And we end up talking about family as much as we talk about work. Because it all sort of meshes together. And ironically, both of us said the same two names, which happened to be Adam was one of them and a guy named Mitch Matthews was another. But I think it’s critical to know who you want to make this long term commitment. Because I think that’s the key to mastermind success is this is not a six month gig or a year gig. We’ve been doing it more than a decade and I anticipate we’ll be doing it for another decade. So when you look for accountability partners, how do you broach that conversation? If you want someone to either be in a mastermind group with you or you want to start a mastermind group or you want someone to be your accountability partner, what does that look like?

Adam Carroll:

Well, I think you may have said the word that would come to mind first for me and that’s commitment. In my mind, this is a commitment that you make to a group of guys or women or both for that matter, that we are committing to this amount of time invested in each other. And I would … Patrick Lencioni has in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, he has the whole idea of team one. And team one is the level of directors. Like it’s the C-suite, it’s the top level folks. And all of those people have the back, have each other’s back before they have their team’s back. So if you have a director of sales and a director of ops and a director of finance, those three directors have each other’s back before the sales director has the sales team’s back.

And I think what I’m asking for with mastermind partners is that you have my back, that this is a commitment you’re making. And we found this. And I think our fourth member who’s no longer part of the group would agree with this. When the mastermind group became less of a priority and therefore less of a commitment, that’s where it was kind of obvious that he was not a part of the mastermind group any longer. And I think if you’re looking for someone to partner with that you need to have that conversation upfront, and that is, are you willing to commit? And can we make a six month commitment that we are team one, that this has the highest priority over everything else? So that when these two hours or three hours a week are blocked off on your schedule or a month that nothing else takes priority over that. That’s the highest priority thing on your calendar.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It’s sacred.

Adam Carroll:

It’s sacred time. Exactly.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah.

Adam Carroll:

And here’s the challenge with that Drew. I think that for business owners, strategy time is not sacred time.

Drew McLellan:

So true.

Adam Carroll:

We make tactical time sacred time, but we very rarely make strategic time sacred time. And in my work that I did years ago with Michael Gerber, who was the author of The E-Myth Revisited, he told me, “Adam, when everything’s important, nothing’s important.” And he also said that when you do the highest love will work, that’s 10,000 foot view work, that should be the most important work you do for your company. It’s about working on your business, not in your business. And I think having that mastermind group is the accountability that people need to work on their business three hours every two weeks or whatever time you set up.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. It is a sacred commitment. As silly as that sounds, it really is. It has to be very personal otherwise it doesn’t work.

Adam Carroll:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah. So for those of you that are thinking you want to start a mastermind group, in the show notes I will put a link. Our other mastermind partner, Mitch Matthews, does a killer podcast called Dream Think Do, and he did a solo cast, it was probably about 45 minutes long talking specifically about how you set up a mastermind group and how it functions. And I will put a link to that in the show notes because it’s a great tutorial if this is something that you think you want to do. So don’t feel like you’re out there on an island. We’ll give you some instructions on how to do that.

So Adam, if folks are listening and they’re fired up and they want to do this and they really want to, as your podcast encourages them to do, they want to build a bigger life and they know that part of that for them is holding themselves accountable, what are some things that they can take away from our conversation they can do today or this week right now to get the ball rolling on not letting this idea slide in the sea of fires and tactical stuff that’s going to consume their day as soon as they stop listening to this podcast?

Adam Carroll:

Yeah. Well, given the maybe hectic and frenetic nature of schedules today, I think giving someone a big long to-do list probably is ineffective so I’m going to suggest a five minute exercise. And for five minutes. And I’d recommend doing this once you’re done listening to this episode of the podcast. Make a list on a blank sheet of paper. There’ll be four columns. And in the four columns at the very top of the columns, you’re going to have a plus sign, a minus sign, a multiplication sign, and a division sign. And this all came from the work that a woman named Dr. Verna Price did. She’s at the University of Minnesota. But she maintains that in everyone’s life there are adders, there are subtracters, and there are dividers. And so the folks that should go on your mastermind list at the very least should be adders and ideally should be multipliers.

You do not want subtracters and you do not want dividers. And you know who those folks are. The subtracters and dividers people who maybe don’t have a positive outlook on life. They’re chronic complainers. They’re part of the ain’t it awful club and they’re trying to recruit new members all the time. We have dividers that are folks who may want to talk about people versus ideas. And in a mastermind group, I think what you must discuss are ideas and tangible processes and ways of getting better. So when you make that list of the four columns, you’re going to make a list of all the people that are in your life that you encounter on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, and focus on the adder and the multiplier columns. That is where you will decide who’s going to be on your mastermind group. And if you’re finding that those lists are coming up a little short, one of the things I recommend doing is taking a long weekend or a week and going to maybe a self development event, like a Jack Canfield event or a Tony Robbins event and get to know a handful of people.

And the ones that really resonate with you, the ones you’re drawn to, those are probably very natural accountability partners. In all honesty, two of my current accountability partners came from a training that I went to last year. Meeting these guys, hanging out with them, some of the conversations we had, it was just very apparent that they possessed all of the qualities that I wanted in someone that could hold me accountable. And so if you don’t have that exhaustive list, go find it. Go find those people. But know that they’re going to come from that adder and that multiplier list.

Drew McLellan:

And recognize that for you to be a good accountability partner or mastermind group mentor, you too have to be an adder or multiplier. And so if you find yourself in the … If you would put yourself in the subtracter or divider category sometimes, it’s probably a good smack on the cheek that you need to readjust how you’re coming at life.

Adam Carroll:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great exercise. Great exercise.

Adam Carroll:

Drew, I’ll add one more resource and you might add this on the notes for the show. But Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

Drew McLellan:

Great book.

Adam Carroll:

He talked about the mastermind alliance. And the alliance were people like Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone … I’m trying to think. Thomas Edison was part of that group. So they had this amazing mastermind partnership. I think President Harding was a part of their mastermind group. So he in his book lists how the mastermind alliance comes to be, and on the Napoleon Hill Foundation’s website, he’s got a checklist of how to build an ideal mastermind alliance. And I think it even has some version of a contract that’s signed among the mastermind partners. And I think that’s very helpful if someone’s looking at implementing this idea.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, no, that’s a great resource. Thank you very much. Okay, guys. I knew that this would be chock-full of good information and as always Adam over delivers. But I need to let him go. I have to tell you close your eyes for a minute and picture a guy sitting in his car in a parking lot with a laptop on his lap and headphones on and a microphone and that is Adam Carroll today. He has a very busy day and didn’t want to let me and you down by not being available. And so he’s in a little mobile recording studio today. So Adam, I’m very grateful for the fact that you went to those extreme lengths to be with us today. Thank you.

Adam Carroll:

Oh, I would go to those lengths and more for you Drew and hopefully the acoustics were okay in my mobile recording studio here. There was some sirens earlier, but I tried to mute my microphone.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, no. I think we’re good. I can’t thank you enough. As you know, I personally am so grateful that we came into each other’s world and that you hold my feet to the fire on a regular basis. And I have no doubt that I am where I’m at with my businesses today … It’s a direct result. I can tie it back to our mastermind group. I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful for you in general, but I’m so grateful that you took the time today to share some of the things that you know and some of your best practices with the listeners. So thank you very much.

Adam Carroll:

It’s my sincere pleasure, Drew. You are an inspiration to many and I admire you and your ability to just crank out content galore and provide tremendous value to your listeners. So I know without question, they’re getting that from your podcast, from you in person and from all the other amazing projects you’re a part of.

Drew McLellan:

Thank you, my friend. So if folks want to track you down, if they want to find the podcast, if they want to learn more about the documentary, what’s the best way for them to do that, to reach out to you?

Adam Carroll:

I will give you two websites here. The Build a Bigger Life Podcast can be downloaded wherever you get your podcast. My preferred method is iTunes, but however you get yours, it’s out there. I think we’re up to episode 65 or 70 at this point.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. They’re awesome.

Adam Carroll:

So we have just some amazing, amazing guests. The film is coming out around the first of the year nationally. We’ll do a big national push. But you can download it now. You can go see it if you like at brokebusteddisgusted.com. And if you’d like some of my musings there’s blog posts and podcasts available on my site and that is adamspeaks.com. So feel free to visit either one of those. Adamspeaks.com, buildabiggerlife.com or brokebusteddisgusted.com.

Drew McLellan:

Awesome. Again, thank you very much. Listeners, of all the podcasts that we have done so far, this is one of the ones where I really, really hope you didn’t just listen passively, but that you really do put this into play because I can tell you from personal experience that as much as accountability sometimes pinches and sometimes really ticks you off, the trajectory it will put you on both personally and professionally is something that you just cannot achieve on your own. So I strongly encourage you to do this. And for those of you that are part of AMI networks, this is sort of part of why those networks exist. Certainly seeing each other every six months isn’t enough, but it is a small dose of accountability. I’d love for you to get more of that by following some of the advice that Adam had. Thanks as always for listening, for giving up some of your time and sharing it with me. I’m so grateful that you do that.

If this is something that you are enjoying, please make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode. And if this is working for you, if this is rocking your world, I would love to hear about it in email or certainly on your podcast of preference, website, a thumbs up, a rating, a review allows us to get in front of more folks and get the word out and help other people also build bigger, better, stronger agencies, which is what we’re all about. So thanks again for your time and I will catch you next week.

Speaker 1:

That’s all for this episode of Build a Better Agency. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops and other ways we serve small to mid-sized agencies. While you’re there, sign up for our e-newsletter, grab our free e-book and check out the blog. Growing a bigger, better agency that makes more money, attracts bigger clients, and doesn’t consume your life is possible here on Build a Better Agency.