To thrive, it helps to be extraordinary

I enjoy the New Philosopher.

It is easy to read, provocative, and past editions are a reliable source when I need something to clear my head, which is getting more often.

For instance, a recent article – The Courage to be Different – in Edition 38: Courage quoted research from the Pew Research Centre relevant to a presentation I was preparing.

The research, Social Media and the Spiral of Silence, was released nine years ago, predicting some of today’s social media’s significant flaws because humans are naturally wired to express opinions that we believe our followers expect to hear in the hope of gaining more likes and followers rather than expressing opinions that attract ridicule or worse unsubscribes or even bullying.

Keith Abraham spoke a lot about courage at an Affinia Conference in Hobart as an essential ingredient in any plan to build the best lives for ourselves, our teams, and our clients.

Keith’s message cleverly pulled together the frameworks not to pursue the ordinary but the extraordinary strategies and plans to ensure sustainable growth.

Being extraordinary means different things at different stages in the growth of advisory teams.


Initially, in the life of an advisory business, being extraordinary means taking a crazy risk to start a new business.

All the “firsts” in our lives are a testament to our extraordinary courage when we didn’t let our incompetency stop us.

The first year in business is an extraordinary time.

No amount of technical knowledge can prepare anyone for the necessary mistakes needed to earn the experience required to thrive beyond the first attempts.

However, the success enjoyed by the advisers that survive their first few anniversaries of building initial clients, initial team members, initial systems, initial networks, and initial experience inevitably requires different extraordinary efforts.


The second extraordinary phase is when founders realise their start-up habits are now a problem.

Unless firms undertake new extraordinary efforts to re-think and re-build how they need to manage their IT, HR, client reviews, marketing, networks, outsourcing, platform providers, financial management, capacity to serve, and compliance management to name a few, their early success is at risk with far more to lose than back at day one.

To add to the challenge, some team members who survived BEING EXTRAORDINARY v1 can also possibly have had enough extraordinary efforts and expect their loyalty and dependency will mean less extraordinary demands compared to other team members.

There is some logic in their assumptions, but this is a dangerous precedent moulding the required roles to the loyal team members rather than moulding the loyal team members to the ever-growing demands of a growing firm.


Surviving the extraordinary efforts to systemise a growing firm through BEING EXTRAORDINARY v2, unfortunately, doesn’t prepare teams for BEING EXTRAORDINARY v3.

The third extraordinary phase is when founders realise their own priorities are now the biggest problem.

In an industry like financial services, where supply can not meet demand, there is only so much productivity that can be gained by new systems.

As most small growing advisory firms do not have enough capital to fund their own inorganic growth, the BEING EXTRAORDINARY v3 phase is about the extraordinary effort to narrow rather than widen the opportunities and priorities.

This extraordinary effort is exemplified not by what growing advisory teams will start doing but by what they will stop doing.

This requires extraordinarily tough decisions and conversations as changing or stopping past practices will mean changing perceived and real promises made to loyal clients, team members, networks, and influencers.


By continuing to give good advice, obtain good referrals, meet new networks, and hardest of all, secure good team members, the need for new and different extraordinary efforts intensifies.

Having built successful reputations, forged dependable systems, and championed a ‘less-is-more’ disciple regards the striping back of priorities, it now takes extraordinary effort for seniors to ‘let it all go’ and trust.

Because BEING EXTRAORDINARY v4 is the effort required to trust what the team is building and actively release the foundational dependencies upon specific individuals and particularly founders. The careers of team members are fast-tracked not by repeating the careers of those more senior but by leveraging the careers of those more senior.


As success grows so too does the divide between the skills required to deliver consistent, methodical, and valuable advice and the skills required to build a firm into an enterprise that delivers consistent, methodical, and valuable advice.

Without new skill sets and commitment to a new period of extraordinary effort, all the work achieved through previous extraordinary efforts can dissolve into a loose-knit of advisory pods that resemble a barristers chamber where expertise is pod-based rather than a respected one-brand of advice with multiple levels of expertise.

The barristers are valued far less than the respected common and binding brand of aligned advisory teams.

While there are many well-known brands of financial product advice (i.e. private banks, wealth management groups, and industry funds), Australia does not have a well-regarded brand of pure financial advice. These advice brands will emerge from the BEING EXTRAORDINARY v6 phase for those that have successfully risked what is required to inorganically build an integrated financial advisory firm.


Without times of extraordinary efforts, advisory firms fall into a phase of stagnation hoping their growing activity is also growing their long-term prosperity.

Unfortunately, the constant demands of changing marketplaces, ambitious team members, disagreements among partners, unpredictable regulatory reform, and constant supply of new opportunities punish stagnating firms as they lose capacity, momentum, and ultimately the confidence to control and fund their futures.

The Pew Research was clear – we are not wired for ideas, opinions, or strategies that will be considered extraordinary.

Keith was just as clear that the toughest element of growth was how we must continually expose ourselves to every changing extraordinary efforts.

Courage and a plan is crucial.

What do you reckon?




Photo credit:  Shutterstock_2232873645



For over 30 years, Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted financial advisory firms across Australia. His firm, Certainty Advice Group, skills advisory teams delivering comprehensive advice, where fees are priced purely on the value and impact for each client. He obtained Australia’s only Certification Mark for comprehensive, unconflicted financial advice – Certainty Advice.  He has authored four books on advice, with his latest – What Price Value – released in 2022.

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