In this special episode of In Focus, The Adviser talks to best-selling author, speaker and neuro-linguistic programming expert Chris Helder about the science behind "useful belief" and how brokers can harness its power to achieve tangible results both in business and in life.
Tune in to hear about Mr Helder’s thoughts on why “positive thinking” simply doesn’t work, how brokers can better see and take advantage of opportunities in the market, and why he believes that only through practical, actionable planning will individuals yield positive results.
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James Mitchell: Hello, and welcome to In Focus. I'm your host, James Mitchell, editor of The Adviser, and we're joined once again by deputy editor of The Adviser, Annie Kane. How are you doing, Annie?
Annie Kane: I'm very well, thanks, James. How are you doing?
James Mitchell: I'm not too bad. I'm a little bit under the weather to be honest. Apologies for the croaky voice on the podcast today. We've got a very special guest in the studio. We've got Chris Helder. He is a professional speaker and best-selling author, and for all those brokers who attended the Better Business Summit this year, you would of seen a very engaging and quite entertaining speech from Chris. It really captivated the audience, and we've got him in the studio today. How are you doing, Chris?
Chris Helder: Hey. Fantastic, James. Good to be here.
James Mitchell: Excellent. I want to talk about a few things, but first of all, Useful Belief is the name of your book. Tell us about this whole idea of useful belief, because up until now, everyone's been speaking about thinking positive, doing this sort of stuff. What's the change? Why is that no longer the way people should be doing? Why should they be engaged in useful belief.
Chris Helder: All right, James and Annie. I think we've all heard from plenty of these speakers over the years, that positive thinking's the way to go. You know, the studies just don't show it. The fact of the matter is positive thinking doesn't work. If there's people listening to this podcast right now that have been in a rut the last six days, six weeks, six months of their business, and somebody walked up to them and said, "I think we just need to be positive." The fact of the matter is, you know what? They're probably just gonna want to smack them upside the head. Instead, the studies show that actually when you lay in bed in the morning and say, "Come on, just be positive today. I can do this," by 10:00 when you're unable to sustain that level of positivity, you actually feel worse about yourself then when you started.
We're talking about useful belief. This word, born useful, and starting to think about what are the most useful things for you to get from zero to two, two to five, five to eight. And all of a sudden, getting criteria around having a useful action plan and some useful beliefs to go with it.
Annie Kane: Great. Sorry, James. Just jumped in there in front of you.
James Mitchell: Yeah, yeah.
Annie Kane: In sounds a lot actually like what he's saying, positive thinking can actually be demotivating at the end of the day if you don't achieve everything that you want, if you don't maintain that positivity. Can also be exhausting. So useful is more sort of like the practical side of things. Trying-
James Mitchell: It seems actionable, yeah.
Annie Kane: Exactly. If you were to give an example of what a useful belief would be ... Can you just provide us with a scenario?
Chris Helder: All right, well, quick, I'll give your listeners just the science behind it quickly before I do. You've got a part of your brain, we all do, called the reticular activating system. Listeners don't have to remember that. You might just think about it as the red Toyota theory, in that when you drove in today, you probably drove in and didn't see any red Toyotas at all. That's because you were not looking for red Toyotas. But if you decided to buy a red Toyota right now, on the way home, what would you see everywhere?
James Mitchell: Red Toyotas.
Chris Helder: Boom. They'd be everywhere. All of a sudden, your reticular activating system would be dialled into those. Now it's no different when we talk about success, when we talk about opportunity, when we talk about winning. We start thinking about it, "If I believe" and have a useful belief that even on the simplest place, that this is a great time to be alive. Then guess what? I'm gonna walk outside and I'm gonna see beautiful things. I'm going to see a tree, and a flower, and a puppy, and a baby. And I will find beautiful things in the world. But if I believe, ultimately, that these are tough times. Tough, tough times. Then I'm gonna go find those tough times.
Simple application for your people. If we ultimately believe that there's opportunity everywhere, which, again, I've done over 2,200 presentations around the world and worked with hundreds of thousands of brokers. The fact of the matter is this: If you believe there's opportunity everywhere, you'll find that opportunity. If you believe it's tough times, your brain will go find that, too. So question: what's a useful belief about our marketplace?
James Mitchell: It's interesting synergies, I guess, in terms of what you're talking about and some of the things that are happening in the broker market at the moment. There's been a big-
Annie Kane: Ordeal.
James Mitchell: Yeah, two commission reviews that have come out and brokers ... the mood is sort of a bit mixed, you know? Some of the comments we get on our website are pretty negative sentiment around what's happening. We've recently been doing a tenure of the industry and trying to channel the positive, you know, the growth that's happened over the last ten years. I guess, like you said, identifying the opportunities.
For people who have a tendency, potentially, towards the negative or might be pessimistic, how do they start changing the way they think and the way they go about doing things?
Chris Helder: What's so great about it guys, is it, you know, this is motivation for cynical people to start with. This is about action. Don't be positive, it’s about useful. What's going to be the most useful things for you to do. Having said that, I'm big on this context of reality. We all have created a reality. There's two things that stop people from growing their business. Number one, they focus on things they can't control. We've all heard that. Number two, and even more importantly is that they focus on things that they will not change. Ultimately they complain about them, carry on about them, and as you say give negative reviews about them, but when we really think about it, if we're going to be in this business, if this is the business we are going to decide to be in, in other words, this is a reality for us, then we need to have a useful belief about it.
At the end of the day, what's the reality for my industry working within the context of things I can't change, or working within the context of a reality of things I'm not gonna change because I'm only want to do what I want to do, then ultimately, how am I going to go out there and make money? Your brain will come up with a solution. If all of a sudden we say, these are tough times I can't do it. Then all of a sudden, bang, we're going to find all the negativity. We're going to dial in to all that feedback. Guess what? You're not going to see anything out there because you're still trying to play the game the way it was played ten years ago.
If you're going to stay ... It's like you wake up in the morning. For many of your listeners, they wake up in the morning, there's a person that's laying next to them. Some of you listeners even know the name of that person. But the fact of the matter is this, right? This is your reality. Some of you, you live with people, you've got one or two or three people down the hallway, or you don't, you've got a mortgage, you've got rent. That's your reality. You've created it and if you're not going to change it, if you're still going to show up for work every day, but you're not going to change it, then ultimately we've got to decide what we can control and where the opportunities are going to be.
Annie Kane: I think that's actually really interesting seeing as we do seem to have two different camps of thinking in the way that people comment on our website and different stories we have. Jason and I went through reviews and to remunerations and the way that brokers get paid could potentially change. That's obviously caused a lot of anxiety and a lot pessimism within the industry. There are lots of people who are sort of saying, it's too hard to do this. We have to do so much compliance stuff. We have, you know, the way the banks are paying us is going to change potentially. I'm just going to give up and go out the industry.
Chris Helder: Yep.
Annie Kane: Then we have the other side of the camp that is saying, "You know what? This is the best time to be a broker because you can actually improve your customer service. We're being challenged and we have to stand up and show what we do is important, and that we can provide people with more than just providing them with a product. It's something they really, really need and do our customer a service."
I just wondered if you had any sort of advice for someone who was trying to channel useful belief and was trying sort of you know, as you said wake up in the morning next to the person who they do know the name of, and get to work. If they want to do some more deals where they can close the customer, for example, if they can do a bit more sort of on their body language maybe, or something like that. Is there any advice you would have on that in terms of actually getting stuff done?
Chris Helder: Yeah, good Annie. Taking that first point, I think it's really important that everyone actually does identify with two distinct camps. Which camp do you want to be in? I think that's a very important first part, 'cause otherwise we're probably in a roller coaster of demise. We start thinking about putting yourself in a situation where you are in the first camp. Second of all, I'd be thinking to myself right now, who is doing it well? You just mentioned to me you've got brokers saying this is the best time ever in the history of the world to be a broker. If there are people that believe that, if there are people that are turning around and generating those results off the back of that, you know what? I need to find out who they are.
We can take a look at, you know, one of the principles that I teach is something called "Code Success". There is no silver bullet. There's no magic bullet. There's no bullet that all of a sudden, if I say this one line, all of a sudden everything will be perfect. Right? Instead, I think it's about coding success. Who are the best? Let's find out what they do and start to code that business, start to code that behaviour pattern, start to code what they do.
Three words for your listeners: Act, as, if – and they are three of the most powerful words when it comes to success. If I was going to be a great broker, well, act as if. If I did act as if, what would I start noticing, what would I start action-ing, who would I start calling, what would I start doing, how would I start behaving? We start to think about all these different things. Act as if. If I was going to be a better parent ... Well, hang on, how much time would I spend with my kids? If I was going to be a better partner, what sort of activities would I organise? Act as if. If you were, then what would you do? All of a sudden, your brain is going to go to a place where you're going to get the criteria to find out.
At the end of the day you've got people that are in this industry who are absolute champions. Again, I'm going to look at it and say I don't have to take all of those things, but I might just pick two from you Annie and just go, you know what? There's two things here, that if I put these things into place it's going to make a big difference. James has two other things. I go, you know what? I'll put those two things in.
One of the big traps I see ... I see so many speakers in my industry, and they get onstage and they go, "You've gotta transform your business, you've gotta 2 x your business, 5 x your business." They get all ... You know, they tell people they gotta transform themselves, and of course, the natural response, if I told you to transform yourself, you're going to go to an instant place of defensiveness and block. That's not my message today. I really think that if we looked at it and said, I've got a useful belief and there's opportunities in this market. Number two, that I look at who is already doing it successfully, and I start to take some of those things and apply them to what I do. Number three, you don't have to transform yourself. I think If we all thought about the one percenters, or the one or two percenters, that if we could just implement those little changes, all of a sudden we change trajectory. And anybody that runs business right knows that when you change trajectory all of a sudden we have momentum, and all of the sudden new things happen, and that's how we're going to accelerate our process of success.
James Mitchell: I wanted to ask just a little bit about you, Chris, and your history, in terms of what you do. You're writing books about this stuff and being a professional speaker, is it something that you gravitated towards naturally, or have you always been a person of passion and high energy, and that sort of thing, and this was your calling, or was it an event in your life that made you decide you wanted to go in this direction?
Annie Kane: Did someone offer you a book deal that made you go down that path?
Chris Helder: That's it. That's it.
Yeah, you know it’s so funny. I'll be at a dinner party and people will ask me this, and my wife will say "you know what, he has wanted to do this since the moment I met him twenty-some years ago." My background is psychology, sociology, I graduated from Colorado State University. I was a part of a programme which sent me to Compton California. I was working with under-privileged kids. I started thinking about how it is we can help people and make a difference. I came to Australia, you know, I worked for another speaker for a couple years, and I was just passionate about this industry. Then, for the last 16 years, I have done over 2,200 presentations on five continents, so it's gone well. You know? It is. I'm passionate about the content. I'm passionate about working with people. I'm passionate about identifying what those success clues are, and sharing them, and hopefully sharing them with a little bit of energy and a couple of laughs along the way.
James Mitchell: Yeah, that's cool.
So, what's next for you in terms of your career? You're obviously doing a little writing. You're doing a lot of speaking. Every industry and every job has it's challenges. What are the challenges with what you do, do you find? Is there new material you've got to come up with or how do you do it?
Chris Helder: It's a good segue way, James. I like that. It's a good- I actually want to share, this a little preview, this is a little foreshadowing, but I'm doing a brand new keynote at the moment called Cut the Noise and in a way it's Useful Beliefs 2.0. Just in working with people I've realised that we are inundated with noise. We can all decide what the noise means for us. That could be any number of the 350,000 things that go through our heads in the course of the day, from social media, to email, to just a plethora of choice on how I can spend my day.
James Mitchell: Of course.
Chris Helder: I'm really starting to the think about Cut the Noise. Cut the noise is effectively about really taking a look at what's really important and boiling it down to a level of simplicity. This is a hugely effective thing for people to do. Even identifying who are the toxic people in their lives, who are the ... And again, if we can't get rid of those toxic people, by the way, if you can't get rid of them, then again, how do you have a useful belief the situation and have a strategy for where we want to go?
Now, this idea of Cut the Noise is very much about identifying what the obstacles are in any business. Let's actually move out of business just to make it come alive for a second. Who has ever tried to get fit? You guys ever tried to get fit?
Annie Kane: Oh god, like every day. Every week I try it.
James Mitchell: Every week I try. Every week I fail.
Chris Helder: Who has ever tried to get fit drinking sav blanc. eating potato chips?
Annie Kane: No.
Chris Helder: The reality for all of us is if we decided ... Let's just say we decided, let's just say as part of our fitness plan that we decided to quit chocolate right now. That's it. It's pretty easy because we're in the middle of the afternoon as we're recording this. We probably don't feel like chocolate right now. Now is not the thing we have to prepare for. We have to prepare for the obstacles though.
Annie Kane: Yeah.
James Mitchell: Yep.
Chris Helder: If we're going to cut the noise out, what we have to prepare for is 9:30 tonight, when we're sitting there with our cup of tea, and Mr. Toblerone is calling from the fridge. "Hello! Mr. Toblerone here." All of a sudden, that's going to be the moment that we gotta be ready for. And I think what happens so often is we set goals and we say things like, "I want to do this and I want to be successful, and I want..." and there's so much noise. Instead of boiling it down to say, "you know what? I know exactly the five things that are important to me in my life, and business is one of them. In that, I know there is going to be these obstacles that are going to hit me along the way." Every now and again, we get blindsided but for the most part most people know what the obstacles are going to be. Right? Prospecting, picking up the phone, the thing that distracts you, you know what stops you in any course of any given day.
With that, have a plan. The plan with obstacles is this: when, then. When that happens, then what's your plan? No different than getting up, getting fit this morning, beautiful day in Sydney. You know what? Anyone could have gotten up this morning and gone for a run, no problem, but the reality is, it's the obstacles we've got to focus on if we're going to be successful. It's going to be the morning we wake up, it's cold, it's raining. I'm in my doona all curled up. That's going to be the moment. Again, when that happens, then this is my strategy so that you've got a prepared strategy. There's all the different things, but ultimately, if we don't have a specific strategy to deal with the objections, particularly to deal with the obstacles, specifically in an industry like broking, we've got to be prepared. We've got to be prepared and know what's coming.
Annie Kane: I think that's actually quite a sort of similar strategy that some brokers have in terms of when they hear a sad excuse from a consumer, or a certain "no", or a certain response to something they're either trying to help the consumer save, or they're trying to help and do something that clients are save money. They hear these same old responses in and out, so they kind of have a formula already down pat in terms of this is what I'm going to say if they say that.
Chris Helder: Yep.
Annie Kane: So it's similar like that. You're training yourself, I think, from what you're saying, in terms of if you put out these own excuses yourself, you already know what the solution is.
Chris Helder: Absolutely. Absolutely. That eliminates stress, by the way. If I could look at the next five years project what are going to be the obstacles that I'm going to face in this industry and I'll have a strategy and a plan for what they are, I'm going to be much less stressed because I'm prepared. Stress happens when we're not prepared. That's ultimately what it comes from. Again, taking the time, and I imagine the brokers that do take that time prepare themselves for what's coming, make sure they've got a plan to nurture those relationships, to build those relationships, to make sure that there's not a greater offering in technology than instead by dealing with me, here's how I'm going to be able to get around that. Those are going to be the brokers that are going to succeed.
James Mitchell: Oh, for sure. Just finally, we're almost out of time. I wanted to ask just about personal relationships because I know it's something about body language and all that sort of stuff came into your talk at the Better Business Summit.
Chris Helder: Yep.
James Mitchell: You touched on it just there. Brokers are in a relationship business. Relationships with their clients, relationships with their referral partners. At least at the moment, it's one of the key points of difference in the market that's becoming increasingly competitive with different channels. What would be some tips that you could give brokers who might struggle with the relationship piece, or they might be a bit awkward around their clients, around some of the professional relationships because they might be quite new in the industry, for example? They might have the credit part down pat and all that sort of thing -
Chris Helder: Yep.
James Mitchell: - but in terms of building a human relationships, it might be a bit of a struggle. What advice would you have for them?
Chris Helder: We talked about this idea at the Better Business Summit. Really, just this idea of with people you meet and as you get to know them, the F stands for family. So, understanding a little bit about what their family challenges are. Know their husband's name, know the wife's name, know the kid's names and start to think about their family situation. A lot of brokers, if they're 28 years old, and they're a broker, and they're single, and they've got no kids, and they've got no car. Again, just outside yourself for just a second and think about, hang on, this client that I'm gonna go see is a forty-three year old man who has a forty-three year old wife, and we're going to sit down with them, and they have four kids. Again, just to move yourself into their space and really think about what may be important to them, because it's probably different than what's important to you.
The O is occupation. Again, know what they do for work. I think so many brokers you meet, they are insular in that they're thinking about their world, and they're not actually paying attention to, you know if I meet somebody, think, what do they do? Tell me about that. Again, delve into that a little bit.
The R is relax. What footie team do they bear for? Are they into golf? Again, just trying to give these guys a bit of a code that these dreams, and ultimately what are they trying to achieve, and how can I help them? Really we come down to having just a bit of a formula, and again, you can change the letters. It doesn't really matter. Ultimately, that we understand about their family, we understand about their work, we understand about what they do in their free time, and that what they're trying to really achieve, can I help them get there?
I think when we have questions we can ask, and again we've got to be interested, if we can get interested with them, and I think if we can demonstrate that we care, then I think ultimately the customer, the client, is going to be more inclined to want to use you and be loyal to you.
Annie Kane: Yeah. That's, I guess, at the end of the day what sets aside brokers from these technology platforms that are increasingly becoming more and more intelligent is that brokers have emotional intelligence and they're able to actually create those bonds with people that a technology platform, at the moment at least, just can't do.
Chris Helder: Yeah. At the moment, which is true. It will never be any different. We've got this human capacity, ultimately, that we have a need within us to have these human bonds. It's no different in my industry. You can put a hologram in front of a crowd. That's not gonna get it done. It's just not. My job, at the end of the day, in 30 years’ time I'm still going to be onstage.
I'm working on a keynote right now called "The Fountain of Youth". The fact of the matter is I'm going to be onstage in 30 years and it's going to be no different for somebody who adds massive value out there. At the end of the day, people are going to want to deal with people. Especially when it comes to important decisions that they make in their lives. Those people that build those relationships, they will ultimately benefit from them.
James Mitchell: Awesome.
Annie Kane: So, have you found the fountain of youth?
Chris Helder: Ha! Well this is-
Annie Kane: Where is it?
Chris Helder: No, this is it, Annie. I'm going to be onstage at like 75 years old. I'm going to be ... They're going to be like, man this old guy's got more energy than I've got and I'm 25. It's going to be, you know, so-
James Mitchell: I like it.
Chris Helder: As I always say to everybody's whose out there influencing people, you know, most people are tired. You talk to people, like, how you doing? Like, I'm tired man. I got ten hours of sleep, but I'm tired. I talk to 25 year olds, they're like, I'm tired. Why are you so tired man? I don't know, I'm 25. I've got the rest of my life ahead of me.
Annie Kane: It's tough.
James Mitchell: I'm exhausted.
Chris Helder: Yeah. People talk ... Chris, we want to run a seminar, we want a workshop where we're going to identify what separates us from our competitors. Of course, as we know, anybody listening to this, so many of the offerings are similar. You want to separate yourself out quicker than anything? Separate yourself out with energy.
James Mitchell: Yeah.
Annie Kane: Hmm.
Chris Helder: Out-energise the competition. People are drawn to energy. Here's the good news for the listeners today. Energy is a decision. Energy is a choice. Again, make that choice. Anybody can have a useful belief. See what I did there? We went full circle. How good was that?
Annie Kane: So, so -
James Mitchell: Yeah. Seamless.
Chris Helder: Here's your useful belief, your useful belief is this: I am an energetic person. I mean, that's your line. It's definitely my line. But it's your line as well. I'm an energetic person. It's amazing how when we get connected to our business, and I say that word, I just want to really hit that, when people are disconnected in their life from what they do, they're tired. When people are connected to their lives, that's where they have energy. Energy's a choice. We get connected to what we're doing, and get connected to our business, and get connected to our industry, and then really dial in.
People talk about entrepreneurs, they all work from six o'clock to midnight, what is that about? Well, what that's about is that they're connected. We have the capacity for an abundance of energy. Energy is a choice. Decide to be an energetic person and you watch, you will separate yourself very quickly from everybody else who has a similar offering to you.
James Mitchell: I like it. Key point of difference, energy.
Annie Kane: Yeah, maybe that's where I'm going wrong with my fitness thing. Every week, I'm just like, I'm going to try, and then by Tuesday, I'm like, oh god. I'm just going to eat some chocolate. I'm going to eat that toblerone.
Chris Helder: Stop trying to be positive.
Annie Kane: I'm going to have to-
Chris Helder: Useful!
Annie Kane: I'm going to have to start thinking, yeah, I'm a fit person. I can do it.
James Mitchell: Useful beliefs.
Chris Helder: There it is. There it is.
James Mitchell: Well it's been fantastic to chat to you Chris. Thanks very much for taking the time.
Chris Helder: Awesome.
Annie Kane: So, we're just saying, honestly, I always enjoy listening to you, firstly, but also you know it's always good to have something just slightly different to learn from and to -
James Mitchell: Yes, definitely. Somebody outside the industry, you know. That says something a little about the psychology stuff and the wellness, I think it's something that isn't delved into enough in this industry in particular. We'll definitely have to get you back on the show.
Chris Helder: Hey, thanks so much for having me guys.
Annie Kane: Thank you.
Chris Helder: I really appreciate it.
James Mitchell: No worries. That's all we've got time for this week. Just a big reminder to all those listening, particularly new to industry brokers, we've got a new event. It's called The Adviser New Broker Academy, and thanks to Heritage Bank and our generous partners we've got a number of free tickets to give away. That event will be coming to Melbourne on the eleventh of July and Sydney on the thirteenth of July. You'll be able to hear from some of the top, young performers in the industry about how they survived those tough couple of years. Definitely check out all the information on that on The Adviser website, and we'll see you next time.
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