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S4 EP04 (part 1) | The Art and Skill of Conversation: The Blueprint for Memorable Conversations

01.04.21 | 0 Market Scale

Our president, David DeCelle, sat down to speak with Ivan Farber, a consultant and an author on a mission to give you a clear formula for conversational success. 

Virtually every financial advisor has heard about (or read) "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. However, many have walked away from that landmark book wondering about how to implement those ideas in their own conversations. Ivan's work sets out to give professionals specific, practical tools to level up their conversations — and through them, the quality of their impact and positive change. 


In this Part 1 of the episode, Ivan shares tips you can use to proactively monitor conversation engagement. 

What's the level of rapport? 

Does the other party like what's happening?
Do they trust what's happening? 

Do they like you?

If you have ever struggled to build momentum in conversations with strangers, or want ideas on how to shift a conversation to a relationship that naturally grows deeper, then this episode is for you. Tune in to hear Ivan share his methodology and his story — and add a few tools to your own conversation skillset. And be sure to come back for Part 2 of the episode, which will dive deeper into how you can become systematic and strategic about planning better conversations. In a world where so many advisors are having to make an impact over the phone or Zoom, the ability to listen deeply, ask the right questions, and move the other person to action is essential. 

Did you like this conversation? Then leave us a rating and a review in whatever podcast player you use. We would love your feedback, and your ratings help us reach more advisors with ideas for growing their practices, attracting great clients, and achieving a better quality of life. While you are there, feel free to share your ideas about future podcast guests or topics you’d love to see covered.

Our Team:
President of Model FA, David DeCelle

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

Ivan Farber (00:00):

Active listening is such an important skill here. I come from parents who were in the mental health field, and so I just picked up active listening as a very important thing. But that also is a key way to listen better, is to be active about it. So echoing and paraphrasing are just amazing tools.

David DeCelle (00:27):

Welcome, model FAs. This is David DeCelle, president of the Model FA, and I have with me a very special guest, Ivan Farber. Before I go ahead and introduce Ivan, I want to share with you how we got introduced. We've been working with a company for about a year or so now, and one of their advisors, Michael Van Sant, has a relationship with both of us. He's the one who ultimately bridged this gap for us. So shout-out to Michael. Really grateful for this engagement that we're experiencing today, and excited that you were able to bridge the gap. Because of you, this is possible. So Michael, thank you. And Ivan, welcome.

Ivan, for the last 26 years, has worked in marketing, sales, training, and relationship management in the financial services industry. He has his bachelor's degree from Tufts University, and a MBA from Boston College, where I grew up in Massachusetts. Currently works as a relationship manager at a privately-held financial services company, and he's also the author of a book called Conversations: How to Manage your Business Relationships One Conversation at a Time, and is also the host of a podcast called Conversations About Conversations. 

So if you are connected with me personally on any of the social platforms, you've seen a bunch of clips. Ivan and Jules were gracious enough to have me on their podcast a few weeks ago, so hopefully you've had a chance to tune into that. If not, we'll make sure to make the link available on all of our social platforms. But Ivan, welcome.

Ivan Farber (02:04):

Thank you so much for that great welcome.

David DeCelle (02:07):

Awesome. You have almost as many years of experience as I've been on the earth, so I am very much looking forward to asking you a bunch of questions, getting your insight, and getting a sense as to, in your years of experience, what you've found to be helpful as it relates to conversing with folks. On the episode I was on on your podcast, I spoke more so maybe categorically about building relationships. Taking a look at your book, my understanding is you get much more granular in that actual process. Before we actually dive into the book, help us understand, where did this come from? What motivated you to get this in place, and where was the inspiration for that?

Ivan Farber (02:52):

Much like your story, when you told me you got tired of sucking, I got tired of being inadequate in conversations. And through the benefit of a number of mentors, a lot of training programs, books, I just realized I had to bring a better game to what I see as the arena for management. I might have right now somewhere between six and eight conversations a day, and so I came to the philosophy that there's no excuse for not bringing my A game to every conversation, and also found that really where relationships live is in conversations. And yet people do the things like send cupcakes to people or send thank you notes, but in terms of the arena, the court that you get on in a limited amount of your day, being fully prepared. So it came from, in my career, going through meltdowns and panics and bubbles and lots of mergers, to get the discipline that I've created in my conversation model.

David DeCelle (03:53):

Awesome. We have an assessment tool that we created, Ivan, called Advisor DNA. We believe that advisors fall into four main categories in their business, which is a connector on the front end that probably doesn't need to read your book, because that's what their natural inclination is. Certainly, there's nuggets in the book that can be helpful, but my point of bringing that up is, they just have that way about them to where they can talk to anyone about anything, right?

Then we have the rainmakers that are really good at identifying the problem and presenting a compelling solution to get that prospect or client to take action on those suggestions. Then we have the guardian, which is the relationship manager that's really meant to bring these folks from a new client to a raving fan, to the point to where they want to refer. And then the architects who are building the financial plans.

In our model, we find that there's certain folks where relationship building and holding conversations just comes naturally. But what you're alluding to is, this did not come naturally for you. So what you're saying is that there's some hope for those who need some help in that department.

Ivan Farber (05:00):

There's absolutely hope. But what I want to add is that the people who are natural, they don't know, necessarily, what they're doing. I find that they're extroverted. They tend to relax. They don't prepare enough. And so they wind up going down roads that are not good roads to go down. So the book is also for them. It's for the extrovert who could use some discipline. But yes, the real help to people is the introvert who just could really use some structure around what they're doing.

David DeCelle (05:29):

Well, I'm glad that you brought that up. I think back to ... I won't share them on this podcast, but early on in my career, when I was in my early 20s, being my extroverted self, I certainly had conversations go in directions that maybe weren't as appropriate for a professional setting. So when you put it like that, a little structure would have been helpful in my early career.

Ivan Farber (05:50):

Halfway through my career, I thought I was really good. I had been a professional speaker, a professional coach. I'd brought in hundreds of millions of dollars as a wholesaler, marketing, sales. Then I had a mentor, who I affectionately referred to as my tormentor. He didn't really torment me, although at the time it felt like it. I was the one driving myself. And yet in his listening, he was like, "I don't know why you think you're so good." And that broke me down. This was 13 years ago, so right halfway through. It broke me down, and I really did take a hard look at what I was doing.

What I found was that there wasn't a lot of science to it, and then there was a lot less art to it than I thought that I really had. Like, I was really full of myself a little bit, and a little bit arrogant. I'm as humble now as I've ever been, because I'm a perfectionist when it comes to conversations. So when I have a conversation, I'm always thinking about what could be better with it, because that's the way I've trained myself.

David DeCelle (06:56):

Let's start to unpack your book a little bit. If we're pretending like we're speaking to someone who is apprehensive to having conversations, or maybe stays almost too professional in the conversations, to where they don't know the person personally at all, and therefore some of the things that I was talking about in terms of advancing the relationship becomes more difficult to do, because you realize, oh, I actually don't know these folks as well as I thought. So if that's our target audience here in this question, where do they start? What process should they follow? What questions should they be asking? How do they get better at this?

Ivan Farber (07:32):

The book is 10 chapters, and the first five of it I would consider the art part. I started with the most important concept, which is rapport. The second five is the structure and the conversation model. So where it starts is rapport. I define rapport as liking and trusting somebody, because what I found when ... So, in the model that you talked about, architects and rainmakers and things like that, I'm a guardian, and I have been a guardian for the last 13 years. I'm the guardian of the galaxy.

But I'm guardian of a revenue stream that's close to $8 million in annual revenue. I work with about 130 families who have $650 million in assets with our firm, which I'm very aware is bigger than thousands of financial advisors' practices. So I'm the guardian of that revenue stream, and all I have ... And this is true of financial services. All we have are conversations.

Now, okay, there's glossy brochures, and there's stories of managers, but we're really in a commodity business. So what it comes down to is the rainmakers bringing it in, and the guardians holding onto it. And in an annuity stream of business, the guardians are, in my opinion ... Well, they're both indispensable, but the MVPs are the guardians.

So, to your question, it starts with rapport. I actually have an acronym here, which often helps. RULES. Rapport. Number two, use questions skillfully. Number three, listen. And then this is one that's often missing, especially for the extroverts. Exercise self control. And then S is for satisfy needs. What I find is that my approach is collaborative, it's consultative, it's needs-based.

David DeCelle (09:23):

Let's try and put this into practice, right? If you're meeting me for the first time, what are the steps that you're going to take to actually build rapport and ultimately get me to know, like, and trust you? Is it around questions that you're asking? Is it in your tone? Is it in the information that you're sharing? What's involved in building rapport, from your perspective?

Ivan Farber (09:44):

Getting you talking, and matching you.

David DeCelle (09:47):

What do you mean by that?

Ivan Farber (09:48):

That's where it starts. So, when you meet someone for the first time, you know very little about them. It's like you're getting on the football field, and you've never watched any game film. There isn't any game film available to watch. So what you find is most-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:10:04]

Ivan Farber (10:00):

... available to watch, and so what you find is most financial professionals do a lot of talking, like a lot of talking, and a lot of talking. What I want, because where I'm headed, is your needs. I want to get you talking. There's one technique I talk about in chapter one. I call it the three rapport questions because usually there's a dance. The dance is, "Hi, how are you?" "Fine." It's a one-word answer. It's almost reflexive. I say, "What brings you to our firm?" something like that. They might say, "Well, I don't really know," but taking a step back and asking a third report question, it's like, "Okay, before we get going, where are you from? Who are you? What are your hobbies and interests?" As you've quoted recently on social media, being more interested in them versus being interesting. What I see over and over again is people talk about the expertise of their firm, the number of years, they get product-focused.

David DeCelle (10:57):

You're bringing up the personalized, excuse me, questions at the beginning of the conversation, not just going through your planning, your philosophy, your firm structure, all that type of stuff. I find that advisors a lot of times will do that in the first 7 to 11 minutes of the conversation. To your point, and you didn't say this directly, but I get the sense that when advisors do that, and I did that when I had a practice, it's dry, and people get anchored on their first impression.

If their first impression is dry, it's tough to get them out of that. What you're saying is, "No, no, no. Let's actually get to know them as a person," and then maybe a quarter of the way through or halfway through, then you start bringing up the firm, structure, process, philosophy, things like that because at the end of the day, I mean, the industry is, to the consumer anyways, one firm to the next to the next to the next, there isn't a ton of difference in their eyes. 

Of course, every advisor thinks that they're special and their process is special so I don't want to diminish that, but in the eyes of the consumer, it's tough for them to evaluate that. What they're really evaluating at the beginning is, "Do I like this person? Can I picture meeting with this person two, three, four times a year for the rest of my life?" so you're building the rapport immediately.

Ivan Farber (12:12):

Always and everywhere, rapport first, and not just the beginning of the relationship, but in the arena that we step onto six to eight times a day, every conversation, and then throughout the conversation, I'm always monitoring what's the level of rapport. Do they like what's happening? Do they trust what's happening? Would they like me and trust me because if they don't like me, they're probably not going to trust me, and if they don't trust me, they're probably not going to like me. 

David DeCelle (12:39):

Certainly.

Ivan Farber (12:40):

I also want to look into whether they're visual, auditory, or kinesthetic, and I want to match that. When you ask someone, "What brings you here?" and they start talking about the way the world looks to them, then I'm going to use visual language. If they talk really slowly and they're kind of in their core, then I know they're kinesthetic and I better slow down to match them. Matching and mirroring and getting people talking is the way to get started with rapport.

David DeCelle (13:12):

Gotcha. Maybe what we can do for the remainder of this podcast is it seems like there's a natural break point or stopping point between the art of conversations and then the actual system and process of conversation. Maybe let's just stay on the track that we are right now and focus on the art. I know in your book, your second chapter, which is using questions skillfully, what does that mean? Are you walking in with a list of questions that you go through every single time? Are you basing it on the conversations that's being had? What sorts of questions are you asking? Help unpack that a little bit for us.

Ivan Farber (13:48):

Using questions skillfully versus using questions unskillfully or bludgeoning clients with questions, there's a feeling that I have of what I call tic-tac- know is that people ask three closed-ended questions in a row, like, "Did you get our newsletter?" "No." "Did you do this?" "No." "How about this?" It's tic-tac-know, and then boom, the conversation is so deflated, but where it's used successfully and skillfully is simply by having control over whether you're using open-ended questions or closed-ended questions.

In our society, there is a pandemic of the use of closed-ended questions. If you start monitoring yourself as well as others, you'll see it's all closed-ended or almost all closed-ended. What I find when I start a question with closed-ended, I'm going to close things off. It's not like there isn't a time and place for closed-ended questions. In fact, there are very important junctures in a conversation, but if I'm looking to open up the window instead of closing the window, then I have to be in firm control over whether use open or closed-ended.

David DeCelle (14:54):

Smirking. If you're listening to the audio, you can't see me smirk, but I am because I found a lot of times early on in my career, I asked... You say closed-ended questions. I would use the phrase check-the-box item questions. To me, even as we were just talking about this, it just feels transactional. People don't want to feel transacted. Do you have a certain go-to open-ended question that you use? How do you prime the pump, so to speak, to get them talking to then ask a follow-up question that's relevant to that? How do you even start that process?

Ivan Farber (15:32):

What do you think, how do you feel, what's your opinion are the three most useful questions to start to get. How do they think, how do they feel, and what's their point of view? I'll make a short statement, and then, "What do you think?" It could be something like, "We're bullish right now. What do you think?" If they respond with a think, then back to rapport, then I'm going to gauge my conversation to what they think and what we think. I don't generally recommend a double question, but I may literally do, "We're bullish. What do you think? How do you feel about things?" to see where they're at and do that.

Then by this time, if I know they're thinkers and I know they're feelers, that's a kind of an odd mix, but I'll go with that, here's how it feels to us, or if they're kinesthetic, I want to hold on to that. Going into that spot, but closed-ended are really useful for confirming understanding. "Do you follow? Do you know what I mean?" They're very useful there to check for acceptance as you're going through the conversation, but it's as different as opening the window and closing the window. I want to open the window to start to understand the facts and the feelings and the needs and the wants because where I'm headed is all about satisfying needs.

David DeCelle (16:56):

It seems like you're incredibly intentional with the questions that you ask, and then you have basically a repository in your mind as to how to respond or what follow-up question to ask. How did you get to the point to where you're able to just recall that right really quick without really having to think because I'm sure you're not actively struggling to think about what you're going to say next. It's just probably become intuitive at this point. What steps did you take, and how long did it take to get to that point?

Ivan Farber (17:27):

There's only so many open-ended questions, and they're on page 24 of my book. They're also on my monitor.

David DeCelle (17:34):

Oh, so you've [crosstalk 00:17:35]-

Ivan Farber (17:34):

Most of my work is over the-

David DeCelle (17:35):

... all the time. 

Ivan Farber (17:36):

I do. Then one of the first things I do whenever I'm mentoring people or doing a training is I say, "Would you like me to share my short open-ended probes with you?" It's right here. "What do you think? How do you feel? Why? What's your opinion?" Those are the first three. "What makes you say that? How can that be? Tell me more," and I could go on and on, but basically, there's only about 20 of the open-ended. They're shorter than you might think because later on the book I talk about nine different types of open-ended questions to be more fine-tune about it, but the basics, and what's really wonderful about these open-ended questions, the shortest ones, you want them to be less than seven words, preferably three or four, is they guide a conversation. They're like the paddle for the canoe because they guide it.

David DeCelle (18:21):

Gotcha. Awesome.

Speaker 1 (18:22):

Hey, Model FAs. I know you're enjoying this conversation, but I wanted to take a quick break to talk to you about the Model FA Accelerator. This is a unique collaboration between us and you where we help you build a financial advising practice that you can be proud of. We focus on the foundational concepts around how to pick a niche or a specialization, how to price your services, how to construct an offer that people are going to buy, and then how to market it and sell it in a way that'll get people to sign on the dotted line and become clients of your firm, all while giving you the information to scale and set up workflows and operational processes that will allow you to reclaim your time and build a practice that doesn't run you. If you'd like to hear more about that, go to www.modelfa.com/accelerator or www.modelfa.com, hover over Work With Us, and click on Accelerator. Hope to see in the program.

David DeCelle (19:12):

Next step in your book is all about listening. I found in my career before I had my talk track down appropriately, before I knew the lingo, or before I, quite frankly, knew the person well enough to actually listen, as they were talking, I would just think about what the next question was going to be that I was going to ask them, and therefore, what would happen is they would share this heartfelt detailed response, and then I would almost respond something to the effect of like, "Oh, cool," and then move on to the next totally unrelated question. Just saying that out loud right now, I can certainly imagine what that felt like for them. I know the way that I feel if someone asks a question that's totally unrelated to what I just poured my heart out on. How does someone become a better listener?

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:20:04]

David DeCelle (20:00):

... my heart out on. So, how does someone become a better listener in their conversations?

Ivan Farber (20:06):

The first way to become a better listener is to stop bad listening habits.

David DeCelle (20:12):

Which are?

Ivan Farber (20:12):

Interrupting, and just like closed-ended questions are a pandemic, and I'm sorry for using the word pandemic, but interrupting is a pandemic. And they've done studies that show men interrupt more than women. People who are higher levels of hierarchy interrupt more, because it becomes a paradigm of power. And that's one of the concepts in the book is the different zones of power and listening.

But first is stop interrupting. I identify 14 ways to stop yourself from interrupting. One of my favorites is just the thinker, as I just put my fist over my... But you have to do that to create that discipline. Also, coming into a conversation from a perspective like, "You know what? This client is upset. The market just dropped 50%, and I'm going to tell them how they should feel."

Instead, approaching a conversation, listening just to receive their communication. Because until someone unpacks their whole suitcase, the dirty laundry is at the bottom. And if we cut them off right away and then tell them why they shouldn't be worried. You ever notice you're really worried about something, and someone tells you you shouldn't be worried about it?

David DeCelle (21:23):

Never works.

Ivan Farber (21:24):

It never works. So I want to unpack the suitcase, and I do that with simple open-ended question. Maybe a closed-ended, what I call an isolator, which is just anything else. There's more in the book, but those are some of the highlights of the chapter.

David DeCelle (21:40):

When you're in the process of having the actual conversation, and you're trying your best to focus on listening. There was three phases as I look back through my career, and I'm not sure if you experienced these as well. Phase one, which is what I had just mentioned about as they're talking, I'm thinking about what that next question is.

And then there's phase two, which is, "Okay. I heard them. And now I'm going to think about what that next question is." And then there's the third phase where you just know intuitively what to ask. And I think for me, my go-to question a lot of times when they're done, which gives me more information, plus buys me additional time to ask a more specific question is... It's not even a question. It's more of a statement where it's just, "Tell me more about that."

So do you find that there's those phases that people go through in their learning of actually cultivating the skill set of becoming a better listener?

Ivan Farber (22:38):

If they become a better listener, they do go through phases. Unfortunately, most people never get there. They think they're better listeners, but just what I've seen, they're so entrenched in their bad habits. Active listening is such an important skill here. I come from parents who are in the mental health field. And so, I just picked up active listening as a very important thing. But that also is a key way to listen better, is to be active about it. So, echoing and paraphrasing are just amazing tools.

David DeCelle (23:08):

And I think too when people can't perfect this on their own, it's because they potentially are a little limited in their thinking, in that they're only practicing this skill in their profession. But why not with your spouse? Why not with your friends? Why not at the grocery store? Conversations are not just a professional activity. Conversations are your every day activity.

So there's a reason why, if someone's learning a new language, it's easier to learn that language if everyone at your home is also speaking that language. So this language, quote unquote, of conversations needs to not be limited in just your professional setting, but in every other area of your life as well.

And in my previous life, having been married and now not married, I can tell you that I was not a very good listener personally and professionally at that stage in my life. And if I had worked on that a little bit better, personally and professionally, things may have worked out differently, who knows? But it's interesting to see what I struggled with professionally was something that I also struggled with personally, as well.

Ivan Farber (24:20):

In addition to focusing on rapport, and having the short open-ended questions at your ready to guide a conversation and get the client to open up, I do also a lot of planning for a conversation in advance. And instead of just thinking about the topics I want to cover as a financial professional, I think about the questions that I'm going to ask, the areas that they need to think about in their world in order to get where they need to go, financially speaking.

David DeCelle (24:48):

Cool. And we're going to get to the planning portion in part two, but I appreciate you alluding in that direction. I think the more you know about someone up front, and I think I talked about this when I was on your show, which is, social media leaves a lot of clues as to what folks are interested in and what they're passionate about. So you have some topics that you can naturally bring up to get them excited and get them talking.

So, let's assume we're at the point now in the conversation, Ivan, where you've built some rapport, you've gotten a sense as to their feelings about the industry and what they're looking to accomplish. We've gotten a sense as to what some of their passions and their hobbies are. And then we need to transition from, "Okay, I kind of like you, I kind of like you too, but what can you actually help me with?"

And the advisor's thinking, "Well, what do you need help with?" So how do you go about identifying the needs of the person so that you can in turn come up with a compelling solution that causes them to take action?

Ivan Farber (25:47):

I'm pretty direct about this part. I simply ask people, "What do you need? What do you need this money to do? What do you need to accomplish for your family?" My relationships now with my clients are really, there's a lot of longevity. The average relationship I have is 12 years. So, I still though start every conversation with an agenda, and we'll come back to setting an agenda, and preparing and planning in the second half.

But I always start with, "Is there anything you need me to address?" Or, "What do you need from us that you're not currently getting?" So I always start with needs, and end with needs. Because at the end of the model is, I'm going to resolve and make sure I satisfy their needs, find a way to do it. Because if I'm not satisfying their needs, and for the listeners out there, if they're not satisfying their clients' needs, someone else will.

David DeCelle (26:37):

So it seems like what you ultimately end up doing is, you start off with more open-ended questions that just have to do, or stay within the scope of what you do professionally after you build some rapport, which is around financial planning.

And my guess is, once you have them articulate those things, you're going to present your solutions to those needs, but use their exact words that they used. As opposed to your corporate jargon that maybe came through initial training at some point along your career, where it's like, "Here's our model," or whatever the process is. It's more so making sure that you're just doing a good job regurgitating what they already told you, in relation which leads me to the solutions that you had identified.

Ivan Farber (27:22):

Right. I'm not a very good basketball shooter, but I would much rather have my client put up the backboard, put up the rim, put a little net hanging down from it, so that I know what I'm looking at. And so, I want my client or prospect to tell me where the backboard is. Otherwise, I'm just shooting baskets in the dark with my eyes closed.

David DeCelle (27:44):

Now, what if you come across a situation though, where someone comes in and you ask questions like that, but maybe they're not conversational? And maybe they say, "I don't know, John just said that you were a good person and that we should meet. And so here I am." And they're not really giving you much.

So, how can you salvage that conversation? Or, when do you close a door if you get a sense that it's not actually going anywhere? Because I feel like that can happen quite a bit.

Ivan Farber (28:11):

There's a type of people that you need to get to open up by being persistent in your question asking. There's a probe we can talk about, and it's later in the book, called a greaser. It's a way to just grease that skid so that the person who's tight-lipped.

But if someone says, "I'm good. I heard you're good," you have to have that, and this is where we are with the exercise in self-control, you have to exercise the pause. It's the most important note in music, my teacher in eighth-grade theory taught me, is the rest. So if someone says, "You're good," I'm going to wait, and then I'm going to use my active listening like, one word. I might say, "Good?" And if you wait long enough, they will say more.

So, because I've had to deal with a lot of tight-lipped down... I have a lot of families that are warm. I'm like part of the family because it's been 12 years. I know more about them than anyone else in the world. And we can go into that, too, as a strategy. But I'm in my clients' lives, and probably more than anyone else. That's how you are with a guardian, is by having... By peeling back the pomegranate, and there's a lot of seeds in there. But with regard to exercise and self-control, there's a strategy to get anyone to open up.

David DeCelle (29:25):

I really like the just perfect mirroring. "Oh, yeah, you're good," and then, "Good?" They're going to crack every time. They're going to crack every time. I think that where advisers struggle, I know where I struggled early on in my career, is being uncomfortable with that silence. And this leads over to self-control to a certain extent, where you got to have the self-control to just be silent, and give them the opportunity to talk and be okay with that potentially awkward silence.

So, I guess going into self-control, to wrap up this portion of the episode and then we'll go through more of the systems and the process in part two. But when you say exercise-

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [00:30:04]

David DeCelle (30:00):

Want more of the systems and the process in part two. But when you say exercise self-control what do you mean by that?

Ivan Farber (30:06):

Everything that comes out of your mouth is intentional. It was done for a purpose. Every part of the conversation is planful and you know exactly where you're going. You have three perspectives at all times. You have an observation about what you're doing, what they're doing, and then you evaluate the conversation as if you are an independent observer. So having those three perspectives gives you control. Having a remote control for the conversation, metaphorically speaking, is also important. If it's not going well, hit pause. I will often say, "Wait, let's take a pause here," or, "let's rewind."

So having that control to say, "This conversation isn't going where I need it to go, let's rewind a bit." Or if the conversation is kind of droning on, you're covering the same topic again and again, let's fast forward a bit because I think we've covered this before. And there's some solutions that I could propose right now, before we even finish. We can always rewind and go back. So there's a lot of different ways to control yourself and ultimately what we all want is to be able to control and guide a conversation and if we don't control ourselves first, then there's no hope.

David DeCelle (31:21):

What are some examples of advisors not controlling themselves? So we have something that advisors who are listening to this episode can say, "Oh yeah, that's me." How do we identify those?

Ivan Farber (31:36):

They're talking between 80 and 90% of the time. There's no control in that. So the self-control is actually what you need. It's kind of a bedrock for making sure you establish rapport, use questions skillfully and listen. If you just stop right there, rapport, use questions skillfully and listen, then you'd be ahead of 90% of financial advisors, but that takes control to stop yourself from talking.

David DeCelle (32:05):

Is there a way to practice that, Ivan, when you're not live with a client or a prospect?

Ivan Farber (32:12):

Yes. Role play, role play, role play, mentoring, practicing with colleagues. Role-play, Mike and I talk about this all the time. Role-play is the most vastly under utilized tool for improving and conversations.

David DeCelle (32:29):

When I was at Northwestern that was one of the most uncomfortable things that I had ever done, especially as a 20 year old at that time, which is phoning, and fact finding, and closing and writing out your language, role-playing it with someone looking there videotaping you so you could go back and re-listen to it. But it was by far, probably the most impactful thing that I could have done in my career, but it's uncomfortable. So very rarely do people actually go through that process to refine their skill in a very intentional way, which means that if you go through that process and refine that skill, you're going to be ahead of most advisors out there because most advisors aren't doing that. They're not utilizing that process.

Ivan Farber (33:18):

I have a method with role-play that makes it much more useful than I think mostly the way it's done is people stay in character the whole time and it's really fake and uncomfortable. But what I'll often do is we'll stop at a certain juncture and I say, "Okay, you just said this. Rewind just a little bit. You have three ways you could take it. Tell me the benefit of taking it A versus B versus C." And then they're like, "I like A," and I already know where that's going to go. And I said, "Well, let's play that through," and you play that through and you're like, "Oh, that is not going to work." So then you said, "Well, let's try B, let's try C." So you kind of step in and out of character, which makes it much more useful. Plus if you do it with someone who's more experienced than you are, you get a lot of benefit from that, that you don't get from simply doing it with another rookie. That's often a problem. It's a rookie role-playing with a rookie.

David DeCelle (34:09):

Yeah. And a lot of times, because I ran our new advisor development program, so we would have them role play initially before they role played with me and I would ask them, "Hey, what's your feedback on John?" And they always had nice things to say, and then John would go through his language and I'd be able to provide so much constructive criticism because I feel like they're too inexperienced and quite frankly, too nice at that stage to actually give some helpful criticism.

So I do think a mentor in that sense, who has more experience can be extremely beneficial for sure. So far today we've talked about building rapport, using questions skillfully, doing a great job listening, focusing on the needs and ultimately exercising self control through the entire process so that you can control the entire process. In our next episode with Ivan, we're going to be talking about how to prepare and plan in advance, how to create through opening statements and making sure that you're checking for acceptance along the way, maybe getting some buy-ins as you're having the conversation. Exploring different ways in which you can further build rapport and identify additional needs, making sure that we're addressing and where resolving and gaining agreements for action. So the next episode will be much more systematic and a very thoughtful plan, whereas I feel like today was not even a 30,000 foot view, maybe like a 10,000 foot view. I think a lot of my methodology that I go through that I went through on your show is more 30,000 foot view of building relationships in general. So what I like about this is we're refining a little bit more and the next episode we're going to refine even more to where people actually have a plan to implement this. So to close out Ivan, I have three questions for you. Number one is where can they buy your book? And I ask because although I have one, it was a gift from Michael who I gave a shout out to before. So I actually didn't buy it. So where can they buy your book? Number two, where can they find you if they have questions or they want to connect with you? And then number three, you're working on a little project right now that helps people like me, who don't necessarily enjoy sitting down and reading. So I'd like you to put that out into the universe to further hold you accountable to following through.

Ivan Farber (36:39):

Number one, Amazon.com is the best place to buy the book. There's a lot of books with conversations in the title. So it helps to just type in Conversations Ivan Farber, but you could also just Google Conversations Ivan Farber, and it'll take you right to Amazon book. Hashtag Conversations about Conversations and also conversations.biz. I love the .biz because conversation.biz is my website, and there's a link to the book as well as to all the different places that you can check out my podcast. Spotify, Google, Apple, iHeartRadio and Amazon also as the podcast.

And then the third thing is I'm now three hours into recording the book. I've made it through chapter three as an audio book. I'm learning a lot. I'm going to have to re-record all the way through chapter two, but I've never done this before and absolutely you as a coach, as a friend, as someone who's inspired me to do this, it's in my head, I'm working on it and I am committed to creating an audio book and I'm going to need some beta listeners. And I thought of you as my beta listener. So I'm requesting you be the beta listener.

David DeCelle (37:55):

I appreciate that. By the way, I will say for those of you who are listening is if you do prefer to listen to books, certainly get the audio book when it comes out, probably at some point in first quarter next year, right around that timeframe. But I would also suggest that you pick up a hard copy because there are lists of questions. There are things that you're going to want to flip to real quick and utilize the actual tangible version. So you may not actually read this book if you're listening to it, but you will want to reference this book because there are portions of it that are more of like a manual sort of repository of questions that are just easy to flick back and forth to as opposed to trying to go in and find taking notes while you're scribbling.

So Ivan, I very much appreciate you joining today. For all of you who are listening, thanks for tuning in. Feel free and make sure to write us a review, give us some feedback, like us on Facebook at Model FA, Instagram at Model FA, LinkedIn at Model FA. And if we can be of service in any way, shape or form with your business, be it helping refine your practice management is helping with your marketing strategy, helping refine your niche, coaching and accountability feel free to reach out to us as well. My direct email is [email protected] and the platform that I'm most active and engaged on is Instagram and you can find me at DeCelle. So Ivan, grateful that Michael brought us together and grateful that you brought me on your show and grateful that this is just part one of a two-part series. So we get to hang out some more.

Ivan Farber (39:29):

I'm grateful as well. I appreciate the conversation and the relationship that we have been building. There's a lot of potential and possibility. So thank you for having me.

David DeCelle (39:40):

Awesome. Take care.