#056: Who Are Your Trusted Advisors? [Podcast]

We all want to be successful. But when it comes to success, your advisors can make you or break you.


Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Clerkenwell Images

As a leader, one of the most important steps you must take is assembling an informal team of trusted advisors. They can help you take advantage of the opportunities coming your way—and avoid the biggest mistakes you will inevitably encounter.

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I once made a terrible choice in selecting an advisor. It nearly cost me everything. In the process, I learned four hard but important lessons.

1. Lesson #1: You can’t succeed alone.
2. Lesson #2: You need trusted advisors.
3. Lesson #3: You need multiple advisors.
4. Lesson #4: You need qualified advisors.

Think of your advisors as your “personal board of directors.” They will give you the accountability and insight necessary to avoid a lot of pain and achieve more than you could on your own.

Listener Questions

  • Adam Rico asked, “How do you initiate a mentoring relationship with someone you have identified as a possible advisor?”
  • Ben Nelson asked, “When you are looking for advisors, are you looking for specialists or well-rounded generalists?”
  • Dean Deguara asked, “What are some of the ‘trust-tests’ your advisors have to go through before they can work with you?”
  • Richard Manchur asked, “How can I find a group of trusted advisors in a niche I am trying to transition into?”
  • Travis Allison asked, “Do you think people’s advisors from their industry or outside their industry?”

Special Announcements

  1. I want to remind you about my 21-session audio course, entitle “Get Published.” If you have ever thought about writing a book, but didn’t know where to start; or if you already have a book, but want to do everything you can to make the biggest splash you can in the marketplace, this course will give you the tools you need to make it happen.
  2. I have a number of speaking engagements over the next few weeks. Visit my speaking page for information on those events or if you are interested in having me speak to your organization or at your event.
  3. My next podcast will be on the topic of “Why You Must Confront Seemingly Indispensable but Disrespectful Team Members.” If you have a question on this subject, please leave me a voicemail message. This is a terrific way to cross-promote your blog or website, because I will link to it, just like I did with the callers in this episode.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Question: Where could you benefit right NOW from having some trusted advisors? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://www.skipprichard.com/ Skip Prichard

    Well said. Assembling a personal Board of Directors is a key component of success. With all of the resources available today…from books to blogs to podcasts…you can seek out advice from almost anywhere. As you say, the key is to find the right voice to inspire you to action.

    • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

      Great addition Skip we definitely have the opportunity to gain trusted advisers in a way that we’ve not seen in the past.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      When do you think it becomes necessary to have an official Board of Directors? Is there a threshold that makes a formal group more critical than an informal group of advisors?

  • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

    Michael – thank you for sharing these valuable lessons, learned from your own difficult experiences. Overcoming part #1 was the most difficult part for me.
    I have often found myself as an advisor to others, but I struggled for a while when I was not finding any advisors I felt could assist me.
    I then went too far ahead, and sought after mentors and advisors many levels up, only to realize the people directly above/ahead of me needed them more than I did.
    Staying positive and not falling back into the mindset of #1 has been a struggle some days – this podcast is a great boost for me today – thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome, Jonathan. Thanks for your comment.

  • http://www.davebratcher.com/ Dave Bratcher

    This is something that I had not taken advantage of until recently. I had always heard you need to be a mentor and friend to others. I had never been intentional about reaching out to others and asking them to be a mentor to me. The first person I asked, seemed surprised and humbled. This has served as a great shot in the arm to me. Thanks for being transparent Michael, and sharing even when things seem to be going very well, we still need mentors and advisers to help us stay there.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      It’s a big step to take, probably because there’s a bit of fear of awkwardness or rejection. But the benefits are worth the risk.

  • Trisha Lotzer, JD

    Great article–and reminder that even professional advisors, attorneys like myself, need our own team of trusted advisors to keep us headed in the right direction. Thanks!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Collaboration is rich!

  • deandeguara

    Thank you for including my question in the podcast. Can you correct my name and link in the message notes. deandeguara.com

    Time to think of an easier name for my site! Thank you again & Im learning so much at Platform University.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I think I would have been okay had you spelled. No worries. I will correct. Thanks.

  • http://www.workyouenjoy.com/ Adam Rico

    Thanks for taking my question Michael. This podcast is so timely because the question I asked is something I’ve been chewing on recently. I have a few people in my life right now who I would love to be mentored by but I wasn’t really sure how to go about initiating that process. Thanks for your insights – I’ll definitely be taking action on your ideas.

    • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

      Adam – I’ve dealt with this same situation, and what has worked for me is: courtesy, patience, gentle persistence, and generosity. A note on generosity – if you can find a way to solve a problem for someone, you can really earn positive attention. Just be careful not to expect too much, too soon. Entitlement is poison.

      Fun Fact: My first voicemail to Michael was on this exact topic (I just asked on the wrong week, lol! #36)

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Whew. Yes. Entitlement IS poison. And the scent of it is easy to sniff out.

        • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

          That’s a blogpost in itself, Michele!

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            Hmmmm … Good idea!

        • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

          but it is also like bad breath: sometimes everyone else notices it first!

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt


      • http://www.workyouenjoy.com/ Adam Rico

        Yes Jonathan I really like how you said that about solving a problem. Any suggestions on how to solve a problem for people when they don’t really appear to have any that I know of?

  • Richard Manchur

    I could use a group of advisors to help focus my activities. No reason to repeat previous failures they may have already had and could help me avoid.

  • http://josuemolina.com/ Josue Molina

    Great post Michael. Something I definitely need to consider as I grow my platform. My wife and close friends are the only advisers I could afford at the moment :) ha ha.

  • Sally Ferguson

    It was liberating today to sit down and make a list of my “advisors.” Most of them are online, and it freed me up to say “no” to others. Now I can go to my email box and unsubscribe from the ones who don’t make the list. Yes, they offer good information, but I need to hone in on the ones who add value to what I feel the Lord is calling me to do. I appreciate the reminder to be intentional about who influences my path!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      I love your immediate application! Thanks for sharing it!

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    As one who has not yet begun assembling a board of advisers, but has begun generating a list of potential considerations, I really appreciated the point of view you offered. I know I can’t go it alone, but I’m always afraid of making additional constraints on myself and others.

    What you said about people declining may simply be appropriate, but I’ll never know unless I ask. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • Chip

    Great podcast!

    Full Disclosure- I am a Financial Advisor.

    There is one issue you brought up I would like to expand on.

    Reason #3 – the Need for Multiple Advisors. Specifically, Financial Advisors. I understand your advisors have separate distinctive roles. That is important, but there is a difference that may be confusing for many. You are diversifying “each role” of your Financial Advisors.

    But, I have found that many folks feel it is important to “diversify” financial advisors to do the same “role”. It is difficult for a Trusted Financial Advisor to work with someone that thinks this way.

    The reasons are simple;

    1- A Trusted Advisor would not want to be part of a “horse race” where success is measured only by performance.

    2- It is difficult to complete a puzzle when you do not have all the pieces.

    3- Often, a new inexperienced financial advisor will be jump at a chance to be in a horse race and help build a puzzle without having all the pieces.

    My point is that a board of directors needs to have 1 -permission and 2- desire to communicate with one another on your behalf. The team of advisors needs to understand the purpose of working together as each has separate and distinctive roles.

    I know I am at my best when I can serve on a board with other Trusted Advisors.

    TX! Chip

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      You do a nice job illustrating the importance of setting expectations for any partnership (including one with advisors). If multiple people bring the same experience and have the same function in the relationship, it will cause problems.

      • http://www.seannisil.com/ Sean Nisil

        This is so true. In the context of finance, you should have a board of advisors consisting of an Estate Atorney, CPA, Financial Advisor (or firm), etc.

        The exception being ultra high net worth folks, who have various specialized needs where you may need to engage specialists from the various fields.

        Clearly, this crosses over to more areas than just finances.

        This was a great post. I blog on Stewardship, and this stuff fires me up! Thanks for addressing this important topic. :)

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Awesome. Thanks, Sean.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great comments, Chip. Thanks.

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks Chip. Your comments were very helpful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thatdanryan Dan Ryan

    Great advice on the advisors. I have had a board of advisors for almost two years for my firm. They represent various industries where we do work and they also bring me expertise I currently cannot afford in the firm.
    They are also good at giving me pure, unadulterated, feedback on what we are doing and where we plan to go.

    • Jim Martin

      Dan, thanks for communicating just how valuable these advisors have been to you.

  • lucrecer

    Shoot the ball over, shut up and listen! Well said, Michael about meeting with a potential mentor. Great podcast, by the way. I found this one very useful.

    • Jim Martin

      lucrecer, years ago I went to lunch with a guy who I thought wanted some sort of mentoring relationship. We sat down in the restaurant and ordered. He then proceeded to talk non-stop. Finally, after 50 minutes of non-stop talk, I interrupted him and said, “Sorry, I really need to go.” Have never had a lunch quite like that one.

      I too found this podcast very helpful.

      • lucrecer

        Jim, I have been in the opposite position of being the mentor and having them say absolutely NOTHING during our meeting. It was like pulling teeth to find out how or if I could help them. Needless to say, she did not contact me again. I have since had wonderful relationships with mentees and it has helped me seek out mentors with a purpose. I don’t like wasting people’s time.

  • http://www.applicationtalk.com/ Jason

    I also like “hire tough, manage easy.” Great podcast Michael.

  • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

    I could really use an advisor who has self-published an art book! Finding a great printer and binder . . . holy cow! I did this in the ’90s, but the immense changes in the printing industry are just overwhelming. Meanwhile, I’ll keep drawing and designing while fishing around for leads. Everyone is an author these days and uses assisted self-publishing, but I have yet to find someone who has completely self-published.

    Thanks for the idea to even find an advisor – I just figured I was on my own here.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Jana, one idea is to hire Joel Friedlander to consult with you. I don’t know if he has expertise in this area, but I am sure he would tell you if he doesn’t.

      • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

        Thank you, Michael! I already had his site bookmarked, but just feel so leery of hiring strangers via the internet. Hmmm, you and I have never met, but I am taking your recommendation as a good one. Why? This might be a good blog topic for you – why do we trust some folks we have never met and feel squeamish of others.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Jana, I have never spoken with him. I only know him from reading his blog. His rates seemed reasonable, and he appears to be a leading authority. I plan to hire him myself for a consultation. Thanks.

  • Will Tippen


    First, thanks for taking my recommendation on cutting out redundant questions. I received value from beginning to end on this podcast.

    My uncle gave me the same advice (when I was 20) about taking people to lunch and always try to pick up the bill. Until a few years ago I only picked up 1 bill. People wouldn’t let me pay no matter how much I tried.

    Recently I have started to see God as Father more clearly. Realizing that He wants to “Father” me through life. Therefore one of the best practices I have started recently is asking God to send people to “Father” me in different areas of my life. These end up being some of the greatest trusted advisers possible. A few years ago I was talking with a guy who I have always wanted as a mentor. As we talked he pulled out his business card, wrote his personal cell number on it, and said “you call anytime you need anything.” He continues to be available and a source of great insight to me.

  • http://wikitalks.com/ Maria G.

    I’ve just had enough of advisors because they all
    seem to be wanting only what I could give them in return. It seems they’re
    after their personal interests. But you’re right. It’s hard without advisors
    but it’s harder to find good ones. I always ask the same question: how can I
    find a good advisor? This post just cleared my mind.

  • PaulVandermill

    Greetings Michael and Team,

    You spoke of once having been a lone ranger. What were the circumstances or events that lead you away from being that lone ranger? Was this a hard habit for you to break? I am a lone ranger, with the exception of relying on my virtuous spouse, and do see how self limiting this is. Thank you so much!!

  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    I just listened to this. I was wondering, for people who have risen in leadership and are more apt to have people seek them out, would it be a better idea to ask you to serve as an “advisor” vs. a “Mentor”?

    Sometimes, it feels like asking someone to be a mentor is like inviting that person to take a millstone around the neck even if that’s not the intent. Just curious as sometimes I’d like to approach someone, but don’t want it to be like I’m inviting the person into some time and energy depleting relationship.