1 Seminar Handout — 3 Options

One Seminar Handout + One Small Change (3 Options) = HUGE Results!

How much impact can one small change really make? This week I’ll challenge your thinking and ask you to integrate the basic behavioral economic “dominated option” into your seminar appointment process.

A very successful advisor we consult in Louisville recently did exactly that and has experienced powerful results. Three months ago his seminar appointment ratio was declining. Where it used to be 45-50% at each event, things had started to slip closer to 40% and even more recently they were averaging closer to 35%. So only 1 in every 3 households at the seminar were setting appointments; and he knew something had to change! Matt looked to tweak the appointment process at the seminar, the message given during the event and even how the initial invitation read to prime the prospects beforehand. All of that was great education, but in the end, just one material change was made – integrating a “dominated option” to his evaluation form filled out by prospects. And success followed…

The “dominated option” of behavioral economics states if you’re persuading people to make a decision, giving them only two options isn’t optimal. Do you want a glass of water (Yes or No)? Do you like my shoes (Yes or No)? Do you want to meet with me in my office (Yes or No)?

With every choice in life, nothing is good or bad except by comparison. Every choice needs to have context. So instead of asking “Do you want a glass of water” (where most of the time you’d say ‘no’); what if I said “Do you want a glass of water? And do you like it better in a chilled glass or bottle?” What if instead of saying “Do you like my shoes” (where all of you would say ‘yes’…but that’s beside the point) I said “Do you like my shoes? And if so, would you like them better in brown or black?”

Those two small examples now give me a two in three chance of hearing a yes versus a no. So my odds are greatly improved. But let’s take it a step farther and look at the biggest advantage, the “dominated option”. What if I threw the question “Do you want to meet with me in my office” out entirely, and replaced it with “Do you want to meet with me in my office? And if so, would you like a free tax return this year/copy of my book/will established for free/(fill in your blank that’s better than just an appointment)?

Right now, I’m guessing your seminar evaluation sheet has two options. Option one is requesting a no-obligation meeting at your office and option two says no thanks. That’s polite, non-threatening and the easiest way to do it; but not the most effective. To improve, spend time crafting a third option. That third option should have someone requesting a no-obligation meeting with you AND something else in addition. Even though clients are still making the choice to “Yes or No” meet with you, adding the “dominated option” will noticeably improve the ratio of yes’s. Is it rational? Nope. Does it work? Absolutely.

Going back to Matt in Kentucky, he previously had two standard options for seminar prospects and it wasn’t working. Matt’s made the change and now has three options on his response form:  (1) No, I don’t want to meet (2) Yes, I want to meet and (3) Yes, I want to meet and a free complimentary copy of Matt’s book. Since making the change, Matt had a 70% response at their next couple events, and is consistently above 50% at each subsequent event since. Nothing else about his workshops has changed! So this is the only (and obviously powerful) variable in play.

Don’t delay in making this tweak!

And if you’d benefit from seeing Matt’s actual evaluation form – CONTACT ME – I’m happy to share it.

Advise with Passion,

TED Talks :: Monkeynomics


I’m deeply inspired.
In early 2011 the most amazing online forum of inspiration, action-taking visionaries and leaders in the world was introduced to me via www.ted.com. Hopefully you’re already familiar with this incredible movement, but if not – welcome.

Every minute you spend exploring their website, speeches and conferences will be time well spent. In the foreseeable future I plan on taking a number of my favorite speeches from TED and applying those ideas to the financial advisory world and your practice. Today is another summary for you, featuring TED (“Ideas Worth Spreading”). My challenge to you on each TED post sent: Give me 18 minutes of attention (and some shared thought on bettering your financial practice) and I’ll open your eyes to growth forever…

TED is a nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED’s YouTube channel is the #1 subscribed to non-profit channel on the site. Topics include an increasingly wide range of topics within the research and practice of science and culture. The speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their ideas in the most innovative and engaging ways they can. Past presenters include Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, educator Salman Khan, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and many Nobel Prize winners (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TED_(conference)).

  A Monkey Economy as Irrational as Ours

ABOUT THIS TALK:  Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in “monkeynomics” shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.

ABOUT LAURIE SANTOS: Laurie Santos runs the Comparative Cognition Laboratory (CapLab) at Yale, where she and collaborators across departments (from psychology to primatology to neurobiology) explore the evolutionary origins of the human mind by studying lemurs, capuchin monkeys and other primates. The twist: Santos looks not only for positive humanlike traits, like tool-using and altruism, but irrational ones, like biased decision-making. In one experiment, Santos and her team taught monkeys to use a form of money, tradeable for food. When certain foods became cheaper, monkeys would, like humans, overbuy. As we humans search for clues to our own irrational behaviors, Santos’ research suggests that the source of our genius for bad decisions might be our monkey brains.


  1. Social scientists are learning that most of us, when put in certain context, will make very specific mistakes. The errors we make are predictable, we make them repeatedly and they’re immune to evidence that says otherwise.
  2. Do mistakes originate from our environment or our mind being designed badly?
  3. Can we study monkey’s economic decisions to see if they do the same dumb things that humans do (thereby determining design flaw in environment or mind)?
  4. A monkey economy was created, including the first known non-human currency.
  5. Monkeys get proficient at trading tokens for food & purchasing items in an artificial marketplace.
  6. Collaborating with economists, they determined monkeys qualitatively and quantitatively act as humans do in a real market.
  7. People’s intuitions about how much risk to take greatly varies depending on how much (or what) they started with.
  8. Humans have a very difficult time thinking in absolute terms and a much easier time thinking in relative terms (more or less).
  9. Subjects get risky because they want the chance there won’t be any loss.
  10. In a “loss mindset” we become more risky; a worrying trait.
  11. Humans must recognize our own biological limitations in financial decision-making to overcome them and succeed.


For a complete transcript of the talk click the “Interactive Transcription” button just below the video here.

ACTION ITEMS (for the Financial Professional):

  1. Rebrand, study & and give the “Coin Flip Experiment” (11 minute mark) at your seminar. Then explain what retiree intuition is, why it’s there and what that intuition means to retirement planning.
  2. Add seminar invitation point such as “Learn the 35 Million Year Old Investing Strategy” “Learn Why Evolution has Hampered Your Financial Decision-Making”
  3. For better comprehension during appointments, frame decisions prospects are making in relative terms (more or less than…) rather than absolutes (dollar amounts).
  4. If your goal is for prospects to move away from market risk-based investments that are currently at a loss, it’s advantageous for you to speak in absolutes; not relative terms to where they started.
  5. Can you use this video in its’ entirety for a client event? Then use my speaking notes to recap and begin a discussion session?

I hope you enjoy these thoughts as much as I enjoyed studying Laurie’s work. Implement just one or two and become even more successful in counseling today’s retirees. Advise with passion.

2012 Dalbar Study

After overwhelmingly positive feedback on my earlier 2011 Dalbar Study post, I want to offer the 2012 edition to those interested and who’d benefit again!

Dalbar describes themselves as “the nation’s leading financial services market research firm (that) performs a variety of ratings and evaluations of practices and communications that are committed to raising the standards of excellence in the financial services and healthcare industries.” To find out more about Dalbar, CLICK HERE. Their annual study on Quantitative Analysis on Investment Behavior (QAIB) “examines the returns that investors actually realize and the behaviors that produce those returns.”

This 2012 QAIB Advisor Edition covers topics such as:

  • Do Fiduciaries Produce Better Returns?
  • Investor Irrationality on Display and
  • Irrational Decisions Lead to Inferior Results

I’ve seen a number of the top financial advisors in the country use these annual findings in their business. It’s incredible insight into the average investor’s mindset and behavioral patterns, providing content for the advisor’s workshops, client events and appointment strategies extending far beyond what other “X and O” planners provide.

To receive a copy of the 2012 Dalbar QAIB Report, post a comment below.

I’m happy to share these findings and become a resource for you. Advise with passion, let’s connect soon.