62 – Tasks, Strategy, and Leadership


Episode Overview:

This week, Ken takes a different approach. He discusses the difference between simple tasks that can be outsourced and stuff that truly cannot be commoditized: Innovation, Creativity and Leadership. These things cannot be boiled down to pieces and replicated. Ken then reframes this discussion in terms of personal finance and how it applies to you. When it comes to taking control of finances, you can outsource the tasks and strategy. But when it comes to leadership, it rests solely on you.

Transcriptions are auto-generated, please excuse grammar/spelling!

Happy day to you. This is Ken Kaufman, and I am thrilled you’re here for Episode 62: Tasks, Strategy, and Leadership. Now, I want to give you a big picture vision really quickly as we start off. This podcast focuses on personal financial planning and personal investing. And I’ve got some thoughts that relate to the business world that I want to pull over into this concept, because I find people kind of confusing bits and pieces that, I think, if I give the business analogy, it’ll help to then compare it to us taking ownership and driving the success that we want and that we desire in our personal financial planning process as well as in executing on that plan.

So, in business, you generally have a lot of tasks that have to get done, and there are even projects that are being worked on and that can get done. And it’s generally a business would hire people to take on these tasks and do these different things. You know, imagine whatever business it is that you know the best or possibly that you work in or maybe you own and operate.

There’s also a strategy. Now, if you say, “I haven’t sat down to figure out a strategy,” well, in business, if you don’t have a strategy, that really means that’s your strategy, is you’re kind of directionless. And I don’t mean that to be harsh or anything, but it’s still a strategy to say, “I don’t have a strategy.” In a business, when you establish a strategy, what I’ve found is that strategies are getting recycled now. I don’t really see new strategy coming up, and there’s a lot of emphasis put on this. But generally, you can hire people to come in and figure out a strategy, and they generally are going to compare it to something that’s already been done before. In fact, most people don’t really… Anyways, there’s just not a lot of innovation around strategy in terms of new strategy. Now, how you apply strategy, there’s a lot that goes with that. But that gets into something called leadership.

So, I’m going to jump back here again, and say… So, tasks are, you know, routine things that need to get done, projects a little bit more complex, but you can hire those types of things out and train that team, get them working on and accomplishing those things in a business. Building out a strategy, you can generally hire that out, too, and build up a really nice strategy. But when it comes to leadership, the owner of the business, the CEO of the business is the leader, and how they communicate, how they build culture, and how they drive leadership is generally something that is very, very hard to outsource or hire somebody to do.

Dan Sullivan, he’s a professional speaker that I’ve listened to on different occasions. He said a quote that really stood out to me, and so much so that 20 years later I still remember this quote and think about it from time to time. But he said that in this world, there are three things that will never be commoditized. And by commoditized, I mean, you know, we can hire people to do it. It becomes simplified down into, you know, basic tasks. Listen to these three things. Innovation, creativity, and leadership. So, day-to-day tasks aren’t on that list. Those can be commoditized and hired out.

Building a strategy in an organization generally… Again, you can hire professionals to do that, and they’re going to be not creating something completely new. They’re going to be taking bits and pieces putting that together of other strategies that have worked in the past to apply into the business that you’re thinking of. But leadership is on his list of the three things that will never be commoditized. These are things that when we say they’re not going to be commoditized, it means they’re never going to be simplified down into bits and pieces that somebody can just turn around and replicate. Leadership comes from inside. Leadership comes from the heart. Leadership comes from priorities and what’s the most important. And it then becomes the feeling, the underlying experience that everybody experiences in a business.

Now, if I just pick all these concepts up…and let’s drop them into personal financial planning. Think about your financial life. Day-to-day paying bills, and keeping track of things. There are bookkeepers and accountants and, you know, hire somebody to do all that and keep track of that for you. Very easy. And those are those day-to-day tasks. Reconciling your bank account, reconciling your credit card, paying the credit card bill. These are just day-to-day tasks. Most of us just do that on our own. We don’t hire that out, but from a commoditization standpoint and from a where is the most…where does the most value from you come, it’s nice to think about this so that you realize that when it comes to those tasks and even when it comes to building the strategy, those things you can get a lot of help with and hire some of that out. But when it comes to leadership, it rests solely on you.

On the strategy side, before I get to the leadership side, when you’re building your planning, you’re going to hire a financial planner hourly or, you know, straight-fee-based or some of them will charge a percentage of assets that they manage for you or some hybrid of those three. That’s generally how financial planners and people in the investment world get paid. And they can come in and bring a strategy. And most likely, they’ll be bringing a strategy that they’ve used in other places or seen used or deployed in other places, but figure out how to pull those pieces in for you. But in terms of leadership, you cannot outsource that. You cannot hand that off to your financial planner or a bookkeeper or anyone else. It is up to you to lead through that process, to lead all those people who are working for you in that process.

Now, if you’re doing your own tasks and you’re doing your own strategy, because this is about do-it-yourself or…the do-it-yourself world of financial planning, you’re doing the tasks and you’re doing the strategy. I just want to be really clear. Your highest value contribution is your leadership of those tasks, your attitude, how you’re approaching it, what’s important to you, what’s not important to you.

So, if you were to step back and say, “My only role in my financial planning is to lead, is to make the big decisions on priorities and to lead,” if you didn’t have to do any of the day-to-day bookkeeping and tracking stuff, if you didn’t have to do any of the building out the strategy, and doing research, and figuring out what the most tax-advantage way to do x, y, or z is, or how to get the best return in the…with your asset allocation and your asset class allocation, so on and so forth, if you had somebody doing all that work for you and your job was just to lead, think about how powerful it is if you step forward and you can lead versus if you let the person doing the day-to-day tasks and building the strategy, if you let them lead, I guarantee you, they’re going to miss. You’re going to miss something.

And so, this podcast is about empowering you to step forward and to take leadership over your finances because that is the most important thing. Who in your marriage relationship does the day-to-day tasks or who builds some certain strategies and those kind of things? Those are important. I’m not trying to demean those. Those are important. But the greatest value that you can bring to your financial plan is leadership, which means you set the vision. You set the tone. You create the culture of what’s most important, where you’re going to spend your time, where you’re going to spend your money. And you set the tone for what success means. And you set that vision, and you create it, and then these other pieces will start to fall in place. And all of a sudden, actually, if you’re doing the day-to-day tasks, it gets a little more exciting because it’s part of a bigger plan, bigger vision. And building your plan and the strategy around it, it actually is much easier to get aligned with yourself and get everybody else that’s involved aligned.

So, just remember. The greatest contribution you have to your financial success is, how are you leading the process? How are you holding other parts accountable to do their parts, and ultimately taking full responsibility for not just what’s happening but what the ultimate outcomes will be?

I hope this has been helpful. Your leadership can never be commoditized. Your leadership can never be replaced. You are the only person, in fact, who is fully qualified and fully capable of leading your financial life, your financial planning process, and ultimately, you achieving the financial success that you desire. I hope this has been helpful. Many, many thanks to you for joining today. This is a wrap for Episode 62. Happy day!

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About the Podcast

Join Chief Financial Officer Ken Kaufman as he helps you track and hack your net worth. For those seeking financial independence, your net worth is one of the most significant measurements of success. Using his two decades of financial experience, Ken Kaufman helps you overcome your financial obstacles and look onward towards a better, brighter financial future.


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