In 1984, Richard Saul Wurman saw a convergence between 3 disciplines he believed the people in them didn’t understand. The Apple Macintosh had just made its debut. The compact disc was introduced. USA TODAY began publication. Wurman saw people working in those areas as one community.
So, he pulled together a conference that featured speakers from each. Benoit Mandelbrot showed how to map coastlines using his new discipline of fractal geometry. There were demonstrations of the new CD and E-book, Lucasfilm showed cutting edge 3D graphics.
He named the conference after the acronym across the three disciplines: technology, education, and design. Today TED is a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Videos from TED have been viewed online more than a billion times. Its flagship event is almost a weeklong and costs $10,000 to attend. The people who go tend to be highly educated, wealthy, world travelers who are in a position and influential enough to make change happen in the world.
Why do they do it? And how can we learn from the event to help you get your busiest, most successful clients to participate in the order client advisory board.
What we can learn
Discuss state of the art ideas – One of the top reasons people attend TED, of course, is to hear about discoveries and new ideas. Attendees want to be on top of things. They want to know what’s going on in the world and be part of it. Your best clients are likely to be interested in knowing what is state of the art in financial advice and to figure out how they can benefit from it. Bring them topics about trends and innovations in financial planning and find out which ones they think may be valuable to them and how to incorporate them in your service model.
Keep it interesting – A signature of the TED conference is that no presentation lasts more than 18 minutes. Bring a variety of topics to your advisory board meetings and be thoughtful about how much time you spend discussing each.
Create group learning – At a weeklong TED conference, those famous presentations are just a part of the activities. There are discussion areas, facilitated conversations, and opportunities to meet the presenters. Attendees learn by interacting as well as listening. Avoid presenting at your board meetings and allocate as much time as possible to group discussions and sharing ideas.
Create a culture – TED participants become something of a community. Similarly, we observe that participants in almost all the advisory boards we work with enjoy coming to meetings because they enjoy the interaction with the other members of the group.
Focus on creating change – Many TED attendees come because they want to participate in affecting change in the world. Client advisory board members are motivated by participating in improvements you provide them and other clients. Approach your board from the perspective of how you can leverage their feedback to improve what you do for them and for all clients. Make sure you report back to them on how you incorporated their feedback to changes in how you do things.
One of the primary objections I hear from advisers who are considering a new client advisory board is that their clients are busy professionals with packed calendars and would not take the time to participate. We conduct advisory boards populated by Fortune 100 executives, physicians, corporate executives, and many other people with some of the busiest professional and personal calendars imaginable. It is not a matter of how busy the clients are. What determines their interest in participation is whether they can benefit from it or create value for other, similar people.
Incorporate some of the lessons that enables TED to attract busy, successful people, and you can attract your busiest, most successful clients as well.
Want to see what’s involved in putting together and running a new Client Advisory Board? Our Do-it-yourself kit may be the answer. Learn more or order your kit here.