On our podcast ‘Tales That Tethr’, tethr Founder & CEO Matt Zerker interviews entrepreneurs, experts, thought leaders, and regular people about what is means to be a man, the challenges that modern men face, and how to overcome challenges and live life in a more connected and authentic way.
Many of us have heard of IQ (Intelligent Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient) and thought about how both apply to our own lives. Have you ever thought about your TQ (Transitional Quotient)? To be honest, we just started thinking about it at Truelytics thanks to the amazing thought leaders at M|E|A. Most of our focus around the topic of transitions has been on business requirements and outcomes (i.e., succession planning, value optimization, matchmaking, financing, etc.) We have never written about the emotional journey that follows.
I began to think about that aspect of transition more seriously while in El Pescadero last November. My wife gifted me a month in Baja Sur for my 50th birthday (a notable transitional moment). Three of the four weeks were spent at M|E|A, where I took part in their newly introduced sabbatical sessions. Founded by Chip Conley, Christine Sperber, and Jeff Hamaoui M|E|A is a school dedicated to helping people navigate mid-life. A major theme in navigating midlife is the process of transitioning. Naturally, I started looking at the process in the context of what I do at Truelytics.
The Wealth Management Industry in Transition
In the United States, there are more than 200,000 independent financial advisors, including an estimated 20,000 fee-only Registered Investment Advisors ("RIAs") and 180,000 Registered Representatives ("BD Advisors"). Truelytics started its journey to pioneer the first Advisor Transition Management platform back in 2016 on the premise that the industry was going through a Great Transition.
The age of the average advisor requires immediate attention within the industry. According to Cerulli Associates, the average age of the US financial advisor is 59 years. The demographic pressure for ownership transition solutions is high now and about to explode.
The EMOTIONAL Transition Process
The lifecycle of an independent financial advisor is full of transitions but rarely do we ever speak of the impact it has on you psychologically, emotionally, and physically. A compelling allegory for the emotional process that one goes through at the time of a transition is the lifecycle of a caterpillar:
As children, many of us learn about the wondrous process by which a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly. The story usually begins with a very hungry caterpillar hatching from an egg. The caterpillar, or what is more scientifically termed a larva, stuffs itself with leaves, growing plumper and longer through a series of molts in which it sheds its skin. One day, the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down from a twig or leaf, and spins itself a shiny chrysalis. Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, eventually emerging as a butterfly or moth."
The liminal point for the caterpillar is in the chrysalis, where it literally disintegrates into a protein-rich soup to fuel the rapid cell division required to form the wings, antennae, legs, eyes, genitals, and all of the other features of an adult butterfly or moth.
Source: M|E|A Workbook sourced from Scientific America (August 2012)
Every ending starts with a beginning. It doesn't matter if you are breaking away to become an independent financial advisor, merging into an ensemble practice, going through an unplanned succession event, seeking to grow your firm strategically, or exit from the business; a decision to transition kicks off your own liminality — your own chrysalis.
What Can You Do
There are a few truths about life that are also helpful to know. One is that it's full of transitions. Change happens. Grieving is a perfectly natural outcome of that change (regardless of whether the outcome is good or not).
Step 1 - Understand the difference between change and transition
Change is a situation, whereas transition is psychological. We had to change by wearing masks and working from home, but we had to transition by reframing how we connect with the ones we love on Zoom vs. real life and to find value all the same.
Change happens all the time. We are surrounded by it. While some people may say they don't like change, that really is not the same as understanding the inner workings of transitioning from who you are now to who you want to become.
Step 2 - Get a new roadmap for navigating transitions
Many have heard of the extraordinary work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and her stages of grief, which help many understand the journey of managing the pain of loss. In many ways, it is a roadmap when losing someone you love, divorce, or estrangement.
We also need a roadmap for navigating transitions. Transitions start with an ending of some sort, a stage of the "messy middle" or "betwixt" and between," followed by a period of acclimation, adaptation, and "new beginnings." Where are you on the roadmap?
Step 3 - Build your TQ: Transitional Intelligence
How can you elevate or accelerate your transitions to be more transformative instead of a constant struggle? We all know the value of "IQ" or Intelligence Quotient. Daniel Goleman pioneered the idea of "EQ" or our Emotional Intelligence.
Transitional Intelligence means understanding and embracing our "what's next" as a source of curiosity, wonder, and awe. We rely on our core strengths and inner values as a compass north and a growth mindset to learn new skills.
Step 4 - Transitions are meant to be shared
It is very common to feel incredibly alone in the midst of a transition. Yet, while your inner experience may feel singular or overwhelming, we have found that wisdom is not taught or discovered. It is shared.
Now more than ever, we need each other. The power of the internet and the devices in our pockets give us the opportunity to meet and connect with other people around the world.
Step 5 - Be patient, but don't be passive
Oh, how we hate to wait. Imagine how that caterpillar feels after the long darkness when the goo has started to turn into a butterfly—probably feeling pretty impatient and cramped in there like we all are in our homes! Yet, if the cocoon were ripped open too early, the new creature would die.
Transitions take time. Often longer than we think. Just like the impatient butterfly, returning our collective society back to "normal" too soon is not wise right now. We have to be patient, yet certainly not passive.
It should be pretty evident by now that transitions are a journey vs. a destination. Beyond financial advisors and wealth managers personally dealing with this reality, they are also in the business of helping their clients plan for life transitions. Thankfully, a plethora of tools made up of online courses, retreats, books, podcasts, and apps have presented themselves to assist with those who wish become students and effective practitioners of the topic:
In the new era of distance learning, M|E|A Online offers a deeper dive into transition intelligence tools to develop a roadmap to navigating transitions. Their blended model integrates four live sessions, weekly partner dyads, and structured self-study into a transformative 8-week experience.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, this is where I spent three weeks last November as I turned 50. These self-guided extended stays offer a unique opportunity to join like-minded travelers in Baja Sur to enjoy all that their unique environment has to offer in a more spacious way (literally and figuratively).
Wisdom@Work by Chip Conley
It always seems that Chip is publishing the right book at the right time. I had the honor of meeting him for the first time after he published Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow. I liked the book so much that I hired him to apply his Peak framework to my first startup.
Fast forward to March 10, 2019, at SXSW in Austin, TX. I was invited to listen to Chip do a private reading of his new book, Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder. Chip tells readers about his story at AirBnB, where he took on the role of Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy (at age 52) and working side by side with the company's Millennial co-founder, Brian Chesky. "What emerged is the secret to thriving as a mid-life worker: learning to marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, a beginner's mind, and a willingness to evolve."
by Shelly Paxton
In my opinion, one of the most meaningful outcomes of spending three weeks at M|E|A was getting to know many of the like-minded individuals that were there at the same time. Author, and former Harley-Davidson executive, Shelley Paxton was just one of those "badasses" (a term she taught me to wear as the ultimate badge of honor.) In 2016, she left Harley and published Soulbbatical, where she "offers an unconventional, exhilarating road map to discovering what you want—and getting it." While you are at it, check out Shelly's Rebel Souls Podcast!
If you have ever wished to journal but have felt intimidated at the process (What to journal about? When to journal? etc.), this app is for you! DayOne is the #1 rated journaling app and recipient of Apple's prestigious App of the Year and Design Awards. With DayOne, journaling goes beyond the written word to include audio, photos, drawings, calendar items, and scanned documents. It seamlessly integrates with Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Evernote, Spotify, Strava, Apple Health, and Map Apps. All of this digital exhaust and their beautiful user interface make journaling about one's life a simple pleasure.
Being mindful about transitions you may be going through will help you be aware of your thoughts and feelings and establish a sense of presence and acceptance. One of the tools that I use every day is the Chopra App (Deepak Chopra). It contains a vast library of guided meditations across a dozen themes and hundreds of topics, including transition.
Another amazing person that I met at M|E|A is Addison Brasil, Co-Founder, VP, Head of Brand Impact & Strategic Partnerships at tethr. Given that the majority of those seeking to transition out of wealth management in the next decade are men (around 85%), his work at tethr is very germane to this topic.
tethr, is a peer-enabled mental health and well-being platform for men. They help men find meaning and purpose in their lives through community, peer programming, and a 24/7 support network of men who ‘get it’. With a goal of changing the face of masculinity, the heart of the free app and recently launched pod programming is letting every man know that struggling doesn’t make you any less of a man – it simply makes you human. tethr is not for crisis or distress, it's for every part of life - an opportunity to cultivate mental and emotional wellbeing within a culture of accountability.
Check out Shelly Paxton's interview with Addison Brasil titled: Addison Brasil Rebelling FOR Mental Health
If you made it this far, I am impressed. I admit this is covering some ground that is often not discussed regularly in a business setting. I believe that trend is changing, with mindfulness taking more of a center stage in corporate America.
Jeremi Karnell has over 20 years of experience in executive leadership roles in companies ranging from early-stage businesses to the Fortune 500, and has expertise in digital transformation, digital product innovation, and digital marketing. Karnell is a serial entrepreneur and has founded 4 companies, including one which he scaled to more than $100M in gross revenue and over 200 employees across the globe. He has significant business expertise in operating and scaling digital firms and has helped run significant operations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore. He is the CEO and co-founder of Truelytics.