It’s not enough to be on time anymore

DISRUPTION - when boring becomes bad ass

When I graduated in 1989 from Fort Zumwalt North High School in O’Fallon, Missouri, I walked off the field that day with not only an academic diploma, an acceptance to St. Louis University, but also a certificate of achievement for having never been late to class a day in my life. That’s right – I’ve never had the nasty note of tardiness handed to me. I continue to be chronically on time even today. But guess what, it’s not enough. You almost have to arrive at the party before the invites have even been sent out.

What does being on-time get you?

Even though I felt slightly pompous with my achievement in high school, there was something to be said for the kids who were late – they likely enjoyed a few more chats with friends and stole a few more kisses in the school hallways. They also spent a lot of time trying to catch-up on what they missed and it was that “tight and terrible” feeling I saw in their eyes which said to me, “No way, Brown, you’re gonna be on time!” So I did.

Being on-time has provided a lot of access to experiences I would have missed had I been late to the game. For example, a couple of years ago Daymond John spoke on stage after me. If I had been late, I would have missed meeting him and hanging out with his bodyguards (yes – he has bodyguards). Last year being on time meant I got to attend the luncheon with First Lady Laura Bush because not one late person was allowed into the room (nobody knows I hauled my ass from the room I was speaking in and made it with just 45 seconds to spare!). Being on time is a practice which has served me well.

…but being early is the real winner.

I never said I was early to class. I never said I was early to a conference or a luncheon. I was always on-time. You see, being early means you get extra special features. For example, a friend of mine who was early to a MarketingProfs meeting got to meet Seth Godin. I could have, too, but I was obsessed with being on time. Being early allows you to survey the land and be strategic, where being on time means you must be tactical.

Disruption seems to come naturally to the bright and early, too. When you can survey a situation you can make more of what is there…you can make it better…and you can make those around you take notice that things can indeed change. In the world of financial services, that should scare the hell out of us, shouldn’t it?

What are examples of disruptors?

Glad you asked (#wink) because there are three which are awesome examples.


Men get their hair cut and for the most part, it’s really not as much of an ordeal as I go through each month to keep my locks trimmed, colored, styled, coifed, etc. Most guys I know walk in – get a haircut – and walk out. Done, right?

What happens when you take something and make more of it, though? Then you are Anthony Milton, co-Founder of Tune Up; The Manly Salon and you make alcohol, sports, and manscaping collide. (My husband is going to want one in St. Louis now!)

And, of course, how did I hear about this? Facebook because my friends (thanks, Cy Megnin!)  kept posting about what a cool idea this is – and it made me wonder, “How can we better disruptors in financial services?” I’m not saying you have to serve up a ballgame with a beer and better budgeting tips (hmm….that’s not half bad!) but, as an example, why do all of our offices look and feel like we are walking into a Leave it to Beaver living room? Let’s change it up!

Next, what if I told you there are folks who check their Instagram each day to find out what they will buy for lunch? Yep – check this out.

Trap Kitch

Labeled an underground social media restaurant in Los Angeles, California (ok – wait, just a little insight to me, if it says “underground” and even sounds slightly sketchy…then I am going to be 100% all-in), Trap Kitchen was founded in 2013 when two guys named Malachai and Roberto were from rival gangs, came together, and started offering food they were cooking on Instagram. They posted what they were making that day and people started offering to buy it – too simple, right?

…and that’s just it. The disruption is in the simplicity.

What does this have to do with me in financial services?

Absolutely EVERYTHING. You see, we have to be early….really early…and we have to question everything single we do. I will be the guinea pig: I have a financial advisor. I hate going to his office. It’s the typical office. You walk in – a receptionist desk with offices to the right and left, a waiting area with a chair I swear they stole from my doctor’s office, a few magazines I would never read, a bowl of chocolate candies (ok, I would eat those), and paintings on the wall I swear came from a thrift shop. Boring.

What if we took boring and went straight to bad ass? I wrap up with Ted Jenkin‘s office at oXYGen Financial in Atlanta, Georgia. I have been to both his Buckhead and Alpharetta offices and you would not describe his office as boring, not in the least.

oxygen 2

In fact, one time when I was in the Buckhead office (pictured above), one of Ted’s many clients stopped by to drop something off, walked over to the refrigerator in the waiting room and grabbed a drink. I enjoyed how comfortable she was being in the office and one of Ted’s colleagues said, “She stops in here quite often to visit and chat.” (Be honest, when was the last time your clients stopped by just to visit and say “hello” to you?)

[Hint: This is what disruption looks like, folks.]

Be a person of action – what can you do today to be different? If you’ve traditionally been late to the party, make the decision to be early from now on…and more strategic. Empower your employees to make suggestions, too. What is one thing you can do to set yourself apart? Consider everything – nothing is small, I assure you. Ask your clients how they want to feel when they come to your office and compare it to how they truly feel when they are there. Shoot for bad ass every chance you get!

SARAH GADON - disruptions (2)


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