Company Culture & Values

Six People You Need In Your Life To Develop Your Career

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We talked with Eric about:

  • The importance of mentorship and surrounding yourself with people who encourage you to grow
  • How and why to build your personal board of directors
  • The power of prioritizing personal growth over technical skills to unlock a world of opportunities

About Eric Negron:

Even as a child, Eric possessed an innate spark that seemed to defy containment. With a passion for uplifting others, particularly fellow advisors, Eric discovered his calling in fostering connections and nurturing potential. His philosophy? The equation to becoming your dream self is Mindset + Heart set + Skill set. Today, Eric is at the helm of a diverse portfolio of ventures, from serving as CEO at Forefront Advisor Network in Austin, Texas, to overseeing a national insurance agency catering to financial advisors, running a tax business, advisor consulting, and more; his scope is expansive. Eric’s coaching methodology mirrors his own journey — a formula carefully crafted to shape and empower advisors to reach their fullest potential. 


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Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:05):

All right, Eric, it's great to have you here.

Eric (00:08):

Lauren, I'm excited to be here with you today.

Lauren (00:10):

Yeah, we're just chatting. I know you got a lot of little ones over there and you're running a business and doing all kinds of things. I'm really excited to hear more about you and your story. Before we do—and we're going to get a board of directors conversation—tell us a little bit about you. I mean, you got the family side, you got the work side but how did this all come to be? What's your background?

Eric (00:35):

Yeah, so I grew up in a household with another sibling, my sister, my best friend, and I was one of those kids that was labeled with A-D-A-D-H, DADD. If it had a D in it, that was me. And I'm super grateful my mother decided not to put me on Ritalin, even though she probably wondered what the heck I was going to do with all of that hyperactivity as a kid. That poor woman. When I came out, I high-fived the doctor and told her to buckle her seatbelt and hold on for dear life. And here I am close to 40 years later with seven different entities and all sorts of stuff going on. And my passion is really around empowering other advisors through our network, Forefront Advisor Network, and really helping advisors become their dream self. We've got a formula for it, which is it's mindset plus heart set plus skill set — that is the equation to help you become your dream self. As I sit today, I run a RIA in Austin, Texas, a national insurance agency for financial advisors and for our work that we do, a tax business, a divorce mediation business, an advisor consulting company, and an exit planning business. So needless to say, between five kids and seven businesses, people want to know when the heck do I sleep? Yes, I do sleep. I sleep very well. By the time my head hits the pillow, I'm tired.

Lauren (02:17):

Yeah, I mean, you must be an amazing delegator too. That's a lot of things to orchestrate.

Eric (02:26):

I've got an amazing team of people who have really helped me. I'm a great collaborator. I'm an amazing leader and a great mentor but a horrible manager. So here I am today.

Lauren (02:38):

Well, you’ve done something right to get to where you're today. So I think that actually leads into this component of building teams also where you got having these conversations. I often hear folks talk about how they got to where they are because of the other people who have helped them get to where they are. And a lot of that is mentorship, surround yourself with the best people. And so I want to hear more about that. You do have this formula for how you coach and shape advisors but what is the side around what we talked a little bit earlier about, board of directors, like a personal board of directors, and what's your thinking around kind of making sure you've got the best folks around you?

Eric (03:18):

Yeah, I think it's advisors who are going to be sitting here listening to it, listening to this discussion we're having. It's super important for them to realize it's really important that you get mentorship and you surround yourself with people who can encourage you to grow. And I think most people understand that, they get it, but I don't think they are strategic about it. And so we developed a process that we go through every single year. I go through this, the advisors in our networks go through this, which is how do you build yourself a personal board of directors of the people you need to have in your life, the people you need to be surrounded by so you can become the dream version of yourself you want to become in life and in business. And so I think when people think about that, they think, well, how do I find these people, right?

Or how do I get this tribe of mentors within my board of directors to really help me become the version of the self I want to become? And I really think there's a couple of things you could do. The first thing you can do as you look behind me on my shelf is you can turn to books. Those people in those books, I always tell people there's no new problems. There is always a book you can read. There is always somebody you can talk to so you can basically solve your problem through that way. So finding mentors through books is one of the first things. You can find it through books, you can find it through conferences and associations, etc. Then the second thing is you have to have a cheerleader. Life is hard, let's be really honest. It will throw you curveballs and in this advisor space and wealth management, if you're not growing and you're having challenges with your business — there's plenty of lows to being an entrepreneur and growing your business and business development.

I think the third person you've got to have on your board is a career coach, somebody to help you figure out what is the path you should go down so you can become your dream version of yourself. And I'm kind of running through this and for folks who are listening to our discussion, we will be giving you a free worksheet for you to be able to work through this yourself. So the other person you need is a wellness coach because to become who you want to become, you have to be healthy. There's all this stuff.

Lauren (06:11):

Go ahead. Now, are you talking wellness like mental strength or are we talking wellness like physical wellness? Can you talk a little bit more about what that means?

Eric (06:24):

For me, wellness involves three systems and then the physical element. The three systems are number one, you have to be right up here. So you have to be right mentally, right? Second, you have to be right in your heart. That's emotionally. The third system is you have to be right in your gut. Everything needs to be in alignment. And then the fourth element is you have to be physically healthy. So all the things we know we should do. For those of you who are listening, don't shit on yourself. Do the best you can and try to make progress. Drink an extra glass of water, try to take some downtime to journal, read, something you like, go out for a walk. So that's wellness. You need to get somebody who is your wellness coach or somebody who's going to support you on that journey. For me, it might be somebody who goes near the refrigerator and slaps things out of my hand when I'm trying to eat it. I need a person like that. I need a nice slapper, just slap it out of my hand.

Lauren (07:27):

I know. Swap that out. Put the Coke back in for the water.

Eric (07:33):

Listen guys, you can't outrun your fork, so get a slapper to slap it out of your hand, okay?

Lauren (07:38):

That’s right. I like it.

Eric (07:42):

The other two important people you need to have on your personal board of directors is you need a connector. You need somebody who is going to take you places in your profession and in the industry that you want to go. Somebody who's going to abdicate for you, somebody who's going to put you at a seat at a table in a room even though when you get there, you feel like you might not be ready, you might not belong. Those are the types of people who are going to help you uplevel. And then the last person you need on a board is you need peers, you need other people to talk shop with, to build comradery and relationships.

Lauren (08:21):

Other folks who own RIAs, that sort of thing?

Eric (08:24):

Correct. So you can talk shop. And so as you guys are all out here listening to this, it's super impactful. It's so easy to build one of these boards. And you know what? You may have people in your life when you start doing this board, you may have three people who occupy three of the seats on your board but you need to ask yourself, who needs to be on this board for me to go where I want to go? And then you need to take it upon yourself to build relationships with those people or study the books of those people who are on your board.

Lauren (09:02):

So cheerleader, career coach, wellness coach, a connector, a peer. There's one other.

Eric (09:08):

So you got a mentor, a cheerleader, a career coach, a wellness coach, a connector, and a peer,

Lauren (09:15):

One of each, or is there more than one of each? One of the challenges I've had, I've done mentoring, going back to my university, Drake, and I continue to mentor students, active students. And sometimes you just click, you're like, hey, we totally click it vibes. And then now in a business seat, you hear that advice, I have to get mentors. But sometimes it's hard to find people you actually click with in all transparency or where there's that kind of trust. What do you recommend to help to go out and sort of solicit that? Is it just literally putting yourself out there? Hey, can I check in with you on a quarterly basis? Can you actually be a part of a formal board? What does that look like to be able to help to cultivate that so it’s a natural click?

Eric (10:08):

So a couple of things, right? In life there are natural clicks or chemistry that happens between two people. You meet people and you're like, oh, it just clicks. And that is 100% natural. So if any of you out there are listening, if you're introverts like I am — and everybody thinks I'm an extrovert but I have to go hide in my turtle shell at the end of the day after doing all this stuff because that's just me. But if you're an introvert, your first mentors may be all people and authors and books and things you study, and you may do self-work, okay? But if you're going to get other people on your board, they're outside of books, which I strongly encourage. You need to have something of value you can offer your potential mentor. And then secondarily, you need to be respectful of that person's time and come prepared with your questions and things you want to get out as the mentee.

So if you're deciding, I'll give you an example and we'll give him a shoutout on this call. One of my favorite people is a guy by the name of Dennis Moseley-Williams, who talks about client experience. I heard Dennis many years ago on a podcast, and I studied all his work and I was just enamored with him as a human being and how he showed up. Well, I built a relationship with Dennis by reaching out to him and having a conversation and offering him some encouragement around things he was doing and how he was trying to grow his business. And as a result of that — and I didn't want anything from him as a result of that — he became one of my friends and we talk shop and he gives me insights and advice, and I have this valuable mentorship relationship with him around client experience and how to craft that better for clients.

And that would've never happened had I not had the courage and not offered something of value. Even if you can't give somebody something, everybody wants to be validated that, hey, I see you. I see the impact you're having. Hey, the work you're doing in our space with advisors is important. I just want you to know, I super appreciate you and it's so valuable. Thank you so much. It's had this amazing impact on me and my life and my family. Having that sort of a heart and emotional intelligence with mentors goes a long way.

Lauren (12:43):

Yes. Oh my gosh, it's so true. And I feel like I see this with, I mean, it may sound cliche but just outreach in general. If it's PR, sales, if it's just relationships with your team, it's about that genuine, hey, I notice, I'm following, and being able to have that dialog. So those are some good tips to be able to build that team. So we're talking about this personal board of directors. Do you feel like there's a distinct line, a clear line between a personal board of directors and more of a business advisory board, a board that could be legally accountable and things of that sort? I’m curious if you have a business advisory board, if you think that is potentially a little different?

Eric (13:30):

I think they're different, and I'm not your normal guy. For those of you listening who believe in work/life balance, I think it's a myth. I think there's work/life integration. You build a life and work just happens to be a component of it, and you figure out how to fit it into your schedule. And so for me, this personal board of directors isn't just about professional development. It's really about developing you as a human being, as a person. I tell people, you're a human being who happens to be an entrepreneur, who happens to be a financial advisor or an RIA owner or whatever type of business you're in. And so you have to develop yourself for you to become the person you want to become and grow into the success you want. A business advisory board is really more strategic. I have these issues. I have these business problems. It's not going to be really pouring into you as the person, the advisor, the leader. It's truly, totally segmented and it's compartmentalized to just the business.

Lauren (14:43):

So that personal advisory board is really for you specifically. So you can be a better leader, a better parent or spouse or whatever it might be, and really drive your personal ambitions too. Okay. So there's also paid advisors, even for the personal side of things. Do you think that's worth it? To what degree? I mean there's coaches or is it just sort of where you are in life? What are your thoughts on the paid side?

Eric (15:12):

I mean, I think this is deeply personal for everybody. You have to know yourself. It's kind of like some people can go online, watch some YouTube videos or find a book and build their own workout plan, and they're going to be disciplined enough to make the plan and sit down on Sundays and do the meal planning and do the stuff, and they're going to go to the gym and they're going to do everything and they're going to be responsible for planning out. And some people are better served showing up and hiring a trainer and telling the trainer their goals and doing the things the trainer tells them to do based on the goals that are crafted. So that's one method. Or other people may be like, you know what? I really love going to classes. So I show up and I go to Pilates, or I go to Zumba, or I go to Total Body Fitness. And so for me, you have to know yourself. You have to know what levels of accountability you need. I think advisor coaches can be phenomenal. I think advisor communities can be phenomenal. I think books can be phenomenal. You have to know who you are and what level of accountability you need. And then what sort of community do you want to create around you with this board of directors and what you're trying to do.

Lauren (16:37):

So we've got time for a few more questions. Once you've got your board of directors in place or maybe components of it, it takes time for it to be able to nurture and for you to find the right people or books or what have you. How do you avoid the whole analysis by paralysis, okay, this person told me that or this is going on, or what's the theme? Are there any tips you have to kind of help? Is it starting with you, first of clarification, and then that will grow? How do you avoid that whole stagnation?

Eric (17:07):

Yeah. I think one of the things that gets with the analysis paralysis piece, one of the things you have to do before you start formulating the board is you have to sit down and have a conversation with yourself or have a thinking session of what is it I'm truly trying to achieve? Who am I truly trying to become so I can be worthy of achieving the thing I want? And as a result of that, which people and all of these disciplines I mentioned do I need to have in my life and on my personal board? And so the thing about the board that's awesome is that by design, everything is segmented. So you're going to get different advice from different people tactically and strategically. And in total, they surround you as the complete person, the complete entrepreneur, the complete advisor. So you won't get analysis paralysis per se but from time to time, there may be some things that are conflicting in values. So if you're focused on wellness but you've got career things going on, you're going to have to figure out which one is more important or which one is more impactful to move the needle of who you want to grow into, hit your goals, and who you want to be as a professional.

Lauren (18:30):

Yeah, we actually did another podcast with Lindsay. We'll make sure to link to it. But the whole conversation was basically around this idea of, it's almost like your own personal mini business plan for a lack of better terms. And being able to get clear on that, which flows into what you're talking about. And it's funny in talking with younger folks too, I always try to encourage it is not just about saying, hey, I'm looking for a job and I'm open to anything but I'm specifically looking for this. I think that same principle can apply when really trying to drive your right team, what you want or what have you. So you kind of narrow the playing field.

Eric (19:07):

Well, here's the thing. I've been involved indirectly in different communities and have subscribed to different authors and mentors. And one of my biggest mentors, one of the books that's behind me is a gentleman by the name of Dan Sullivan who started a coaching organization called The Strategic Coach. And one of the phrases he has that's always stuck with me is this: right mindset attracts right network, attracts right opportunities. And so to me, when we talk about going through this personal board, this personal board of directors and building one out for yourself, you have to start with your mindset first. Then you create this right network or your board, and then as a result of that, the opportunities are going to present itself as you develop as a person. And I think that's the element that's missing. There's so much talk in our industry about technical skills and technical knowledge and technology and AI this and AI that. The reality of it is, if you don't develop yourself, none of these other things matter, and you're not going to be a person or advisor worthy of attracting the type of business you're trying to create for yourself.

Lauren (20:31):

That's shiny object. So well said. Any other thoughts?

Eric (20:36):

I think if anybody's listening and they have questions around this, please reach out to me. Like I said, we will be giving you this personal board of development template for you to build one. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or any other social channels. I'm happy to talk to you about this. I'm happy to troubleshoot with you guys if you have some messages around, I really want to talk to, so-and-so, how would I approach them about this? I would recommend being genuine. It's okay to tell somebody you need help. Everybody wants to help somebody. It makes us feel way better to give than to receive. So as you're reaching out to potential mentors position as having them help you remember what can you do to help them too?

Lauren (21:29):

So well said, Eric. Thank you so much. We'll make sure to include those links below as well to your LinkedIn and website and so on and so forth. But I appreciate your time and your insights, especially on such an important topic. I think sometimes as business owners and what have you, we're so focused on all the parts of growing your business but not always one of the most important, which is just on you and how you can help to make sure you've got the right team. So thank you again.

Eric (21:52):

Thank you so much for having me, Lauren. Take care.

Lauren (21:56):

You as well.

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