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Guest: Ron Carson, the founder and CEO of Carson Group, which serves financial advisors and investors through its businesses including Carson Wealth, Carson Coaching, and Carson Partners. Ron has grown his business to over $10 billion in assets under advisement, and he’s a mainstay on the Barron’s list of top financial advisors. He’s also a client of CEO Coaching International.
Episode in a Tweet: Ron Carson found his “massive transformative purpose” and it transformed his business in a BIG way.
Quick Background: Ron Carson’s family lost everything in the 1980s farm crisis. Instead of preparing to follow in his father’s footsteps, Ron had to watch his father cry for the first time and move into a trailer.
Then, when he was studying at the University of Nebraska, Ron read a magazine article about becoming a Certified Financial Planner®.
Thirty years later, Carson Wealth is one of the BIGGEST names in finance. And I’m proud to say that my good friend Ron Carson is a person who runs his business and his life with a passion we should all try to emulate.
In this special episode, recorded live at the 2019 CEO Coaching Summit, Ron Carson discusses how his family’s hardships motivated him to push past fear, figure out his “Why,” and dedicate himself to things he loves doing.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
Key Insights on Living and Working BIG from Ron Carson
1. Work backwards.
While running his financial advisor coaching company, Ron Carson came up with an innovative … OK, kinda crazy idea to help clients gain an appreciation for things in their lives beyond money.
Part of Ron’s process was to have his advisor clients write a eulogy to make them reflect on what they’ve done in life and what they really wanted to do before the end. To really drive the point home, Ron had a client who was a mortician bring a coffin into the office. One by one, the advisors laid down in the coffin, crossed their arms, closed their eyes, and listened to their eulogies.
Ron, to his credit, went first.
“I wanted to help people,” he remembers, “like how could we go to the end and work backwards? Can you imagine the power? Just imagine the power if you were looking down on Earth as a game board, and you have eternity to do anything you want, and you’re not sucked in the whirlwind of everyday stuff? It was so emotional. I still recommend it. If you really want to have a powerful experience, go to the end and work backwards.”
In a way, Ron’s exercise was dramatizing the single most important question a CEO can ask: What do I want? If your business isn’t building towards a goal, then it’s going nowhere. And if your life plan doesn’t include places you want to see, experiences you want to have, and people to share those dreams with, then you’re not really living.
2. Do the things you love to do.
During a personal and professional rut, Ron had an unexpected epiphany while driving his car.
“It was a hot August day,” Ron remembers. “I was 100% in sales and it had been a rough week. I’d put on a fair amount of weight. I was sitting on a corner, getting ready to turn. A guy’s jackhammering cement out of the center of the median, and I’m thinking, ‘Man, that guy has got it made. He’s got a job. He’s fit. He’s getting paid right now, and he gets to go home, and he gets to drink a cold six-pack of beer and just relax.’ I envied that guy for a moment. I said to myself, ‘Why not? Why don’t I surround myself with people that love to do the things I hate to do, and I’m just going to live my life with things I love to do?’”
As Ron began to build his own business, he also built out his network of peers, clients, and prospects to include people he met while pursuing his passions, such as aviation, biking, and travel. Ron says, “From age 36 on, I really, truly got out of bed every day getting to do only the things that I love to do and found others that did the stuff I hated to do.”
So many of my colleagues here at CEO Coaching tell me that serious pursuit of their hobbies has helped both their personal and professional development. Ron has done such an outstanding job of interweaving his work and his play that he says he doesn’t even really distinguish between the two. He’s created his dream job. Too few CEOs realize that, as the boss, they have the power to do likewise – especially if they effectively delegate necessary tasks they don’t really love doing.
3. Find your Massive Transformative Purpose.
CEOs have to be aware of their weaknesses. But Ron believes that if you spend too much time trying to improve your weaknesses, you’re just going to end up with stronger weaknesses.
“What’s the one thing that you do?” Ron asks. “What’s the thing that you can focus on? What are you good at? What are you best at? Knowing that singular activity is the key to you hitting your MTP, your massive transformative purpose, your main thing.”
I remember when I was working with Ron earlier in his career, his business goals were fixated on hitting numbers. So I challenged him. His team challenged him. Eventually, Ron realized that those big numbers were actually small goals. “So we took the number out,” Ron remembers, “and our massive transformative purpose is to be the most trusted for financial advice.”
That MTP Ron refocused on is bigger than money: it’s about establishing trust with people who are trusting Ron and his team to make their families’ lives better. Putting the steps in place to achieve that purpose is how Carson Wealth got BIG.
4. Appreciate this moment.
As I mentioned in a recent blog post about managing stress, being the boss is tough. It’s easy to get bogged down in the mountain of responsibilities piled on your desk. Your work life and your personal life often pull you in several directions at once. And we’re all living and working through quite a bit of economic and political uncertainty across the globe.
When you’re feeling really overwhelmed, and maybe a little unsure of how to move your business forward, it’s important to step away and take in the big picture. This is YOUR business. You have it in your power to grow this company your way, to have the kind of impact on the world that you envision.
“Think about the opportunity,” Ron Carson says. “I think we are living in the most exciting period ever. Not once in a lifetime, but a once in a mankind opportunity. You’ve all won three, four, five Powerballs. First of all, you’re a mammal. You know what the probability was of being a mammal? Pretty small. Then, you’re human. And for many of you, you’re in the United States of America and we’re at a point where every single business is in play, every single client is disruptable. Do you want to be disrupted or the disrupter? You get to make the choice. Make the most of it.”
1. Set BIG goals. Ron Carson says if you worry about biting off more than you can chew, you’ll spend your career nibbling on mediocrity.
2. Do what you love and what you do best. Hire top talent to handle the rest.
3. Be transformative. Focus your energy on a purpose bigger than profit and your business will grow BIGGER than you imagined. As Ron said, “If your why doesn’t make you cry, you need a new why.”
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 500 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 25 countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for three years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 66.4% during their time as a client, more than five times the national average. For more information, please visit: https://www.