Most people would agree that there is a formula for success. But would they also admit that there is a formula for failure?
Annette Bau is an advisor to advisors. After 30 years of observing, researching, writing and teaching, she says any success starts with a plan. Failure does, too. If you are choosing low-value activities and living in a short-term world, that is where you will stay. A Shangri-La will not just appear one day and open its doors.
Bau (pronounced bah-hoo) distinguishes herself as The Millionaire Insider, but she did not start life in riches.
She is based in Arizona now, but she grew up blue collar in South Dakota. Bau was waitressing while in high school when she became fascinated with wealthy people she saw and pointed her future in that direction.
As she became a financial advisor, she wanted to know more about serving the wealthy market and eventually developed her Millionaire Insider program to help other advisors reach high-net-worth clients.
Bau is also interested in helping people live satisfying lives — and she stresses that success is not just financial success. Balance is key to enjoying the wealth that is being created. Otherwise, dollars have no real value.
After years of believing that simply having money was all she needed (and she had plenty of hungry years when that was all she thought about), she realized that an amazing life requires success in a variety of areas.
In this interview with Publisher Paul Feldman, Bau discusses how to change your mindset and become comfortable with millionaires — and attract their business.
FELDMAN: How did you get into the business, and how has your career evolved over the years?
BAU: I come from basically just a blue-collar family. My father had an eighth-grade education. I was a waitress in high school. I had to work.
And I would always meet these millionaires that would come into the restaurant. Because I lived in a small town in South Dakota, I lived vicariously through them. I just could not wait until I could live their life, because I just figured once I had money, everything would be great.
Fortunately, one of the millionaires hired me to do research. In the process of that, I learned so much about how they think.
That’s when I really began my research, because this millionaire was brilliant when it came to business, but he had a horrific personal life. He was a serious alcoholic. In South Dakota, if you had your driver’s license taken away from you, you were a serious alcoholic, because normally the police would find you drunk and they’d say, “Go home.” He would always have a driver when he would come in.
I learned that I wanted to have money, but I also wanted to have a really good life.
So, I go to college at Colorado State, and then I came to ASU [Arizona State University]. In my senior year, I’m like, “I’ve got to figure out what job I’m going to do to make money.”
I went to a career counselor, who gave me the options: I could be a commercial Realtor, residential Realtor, insurance agent or financial advisor. And her husband just happened to work with MetLife. In learning more about financial services, I’m like, “That’s what I want to do.”
FELDMAN: How did you get into the industry?
BAU: A major financial firm came to our college campus. I did an interview with them, and they hired me. So, I was able to do an internship, with the agreement that at the end of six months I would be able to be my own agent. That meant I’d have no guarantee on the downside, but an unlimited upside. And I was so excited.
Six months later, the manager comes to me and he says, “You know, Annette, you’re young, you’re attractive, and you’re a female. I can’t let you be your own agent. You don’t have what it takes. You’ll never make it.”
It was just devastating. And then he made me go work with the only other minority in the office, who had a lower opinion of women. It was really hard.
So, I quit there, and I was so angry. I was so mad, because I’m thinking this is my ticket out of blue collar. While there is nothing wrong with blue collar, it was more the mentality of always struggling financially.
But the only person who gets to decide if we make it is us. It’s important to state that no one, not your manager, not your spouse, only you.
FELDMAN: How did you turn that around?
BAU: One day I woke up. I said, “I’m spending so much negative energy on this. If I just started focusing on helping my clients and doing good, good things have to happen.”
Four years later, I got my first major deal, which was just under $1 million in my pocket. That manager who said, “You don’t have what it takes. You’ll never make it,” had been trying to get that client for over a decade. And I’m convinced if I would not have gotten out of that energy and been focused on doing good and helping people, I don’t think that would ever have happened. That’s how I got into the business.
Then one of my mentors said, and everyone hears this, “You make what your average five friends are.” And I thought, well, I wonder if the same is true of the clients I work with, like my new worth will be theirs if I work with them.
The rest is kind of history. I started working with really wealthy clients and doing research in addition to advising clients. I just want to say anything’s possible. It’s been an exciting journey.
FELDMAN: In working with advisors, you’ve developed a success formula that has many different components. Can you share that with our readers?
BAU: One of the things I’ve found in advising millionaires and researching them is that everything in life has a formula.
If you think about it, somebody earning $50,000 has one formula; somebody earning $500,000 has another one; somebody earning $5 million, another one. There’s a formula to become financially free. There’s a formula to become a multimillionaire. And once I understood that, everything changed.
The formula I figured out has three components.
It’s your foundation, which is your inner game. It’s where you get the clarity of what you want, your mindset, your vision and your worth.
Then you have your strategy. That’s your inside game plan. It’s who you serve and learn about, researching how you’re going to attract them. When it comes to your financial freedom, it would be the plan you create.
And then the execution, which is your outer game. That’s about the action that you’re consistently taking.
What I frequently find with advisors is that many of them are doing a lot of the execution, but they haven’t taken the time to do the strategy, meaning creating the plan or developing a solid foundation.
If you can combine all three, that’s where you have the perfect, magical formula.
FELDMAN: How do you set yourself up to focus on a strategy? Because we’re all so busy doing it, doing it, doing it that we often neglect developing and redeveloping our overall strategy.
BAU: The first thing you have to get clear about is what do you want and what you are accomplishing. And most people think, “Oh, yeah, yeah.” But when you dive down and talk to a person, most people are not clear on what they really want.
They know what they don’t want, but you must get clear on what you do want. Then you have to figure out the path to get there. So, once you know what it is, then execution becomes a lot easier.
The problem with most people is they just start executing and they’re not clear on what they want or the strategy to get there. That’s where it can become ineffective.
Then you’re not getting your result, which leads you to this tailspin of saying, “You know, this isn’t working. I don’t know what’s wrong.” And on and on.
That’s why creating a plan is important. Most advisors are so busy trying to get deals that if they would just slow down a little bit, create a plan, get really clear on it and then execute, they would see their results skyrocket.
FELDMAN: One of the things you talk about, which I think goes hand in hand here, is the worth barometer. How is that important to an advisor?
BAU: I’ve found it to be the No. 1 indicator of success. It’s your beliefs and your self-worth, your self-esteem, your self-confidence.
I’ve been advising and researching millionaires for over 30 years, and now researching advisors in my Mastermind. Now this is really interesting. You can have a low worth barometer and still be making money or getting results. But what you’ll typically see with somebody who has a low worth barometer is they have good results and then it goes back down.
That means they’re on a roller coaster — it’s good, and then it’s bad. And they never have peace of mind. So, if you want to have money and an amazing life where you’ve got peace of mind and you’re loving what’s going on, you have to elevate your worth barometer.
FELDMAN: How does the worth barometer work?
BAU: We measure the worth barometer on a grid. Above the grid is a higher vibration. And I know that sounds really woo-woo, but you’ll find people that operate “above the grid,” they’ve got more peace of mind. They’re calmer. They’re focused on a win-win. They’re accountable. They’re responsible. They do what they need to do to get results.
And then you’ve got people that are “at the grid” that conceptually understand it, but they rationalize or justify their actions. I actually think people at the grid are more dangerous than those who are above or below.
Below the grid is where it’s a win-lose, like a bully or a victim. Either I’m going to win and you’re going to lose, or I’m going to lose and you’re going to win. They lack ownership and personal responsibility. They’re always blaming someone else.
The problem with somebody below the grid is that they don’t do the things they need to do to get the results they want. So, it’s just a vicious cycle.
But one thing I will say about people who operate below the grid, and I’ve been studying this for a very long time, is that most people don’t even know there was a grid. I didn’t know for the first 30-some years of my life.
And once you understand that there is, then you start making little tweaks. You understand what triggers you, how you can get back on track, how you can see a bigger picture than what you’ve been seeing, and everything changes. And don’t be hard on yourself.
Sometimes the grid can trigger people, and so I encourage you to look at what sends you below the grid. It’s also important to know that no one’s always above the grid, believe me.
I used to get below the grid when people would cut me off in traffic. And I finally realized, I just hope they get where they’re going and they don’t kill somebody in the process. But it’s just shifting those instances where we go below the grid.
The ultimate issue with the grid is that you attract people wherever you are spending your time. So, most people don’t want clients who are not accountable, who don’t follow instructions, who miss appointments. Those people are all below the grid.
We want to attract people who really value what we’re doing. Those people are above the grid.
FELDMAN: How do millionaires think differently than others?
BAU: One of the most important things when it comes to millionaires is their values.
Something that I’m seeing a lot now — especially with affluent women who now control the wealth and have a lot to say in what’s going on in their finances, more so than I’ve ever seen it in my entire career — is that we must understand that just as we see the world one way, so do they.
And the more we can take the time to ask the questions, find out what they value, find out how we can support them, the more successful we’re going to be.
One of the things that I find fascinating is that a lot of advisors think, “Well I can’t work with somebody who has money, because I don’t have money.”
When I first started working with millionaires, I had no money, and I actually don’t think it’s a problem at all. You’re going to find some millionaires who are jerks, and you’re going to find some who really want your service. Just like in any market.
What you have to understand is that you must have the confidence to be able to tell them what they need to do and not succumb to what you think they want.
What I found so fascinating about my millionaire clients, and I still do, is that what they love about me is that I don’t simply agree with them. If I don’t think they’re making the right decision, they’re going to hear it from me.
There are a lot of dynamics. But the issue is that you must get in the arena. Most people are looking in from outside the arena, and they don’t get it.
I just interviewed one of our Mastermind members, who increased his revenue by 72% last year.
When I had a conversation with him right before he joined our Mastermind, I said, “Why aren’t you working with millionaires?” He said, “Oh, I don’t work with millionaires. I don’t come from money, and I just don’t deal with those types of people.”
Well, now he’s got four millionaire clients and he’s got $1.5 million in the pipeline.
And he says, “What I realized is you can’t chase after them. You have to provide them value, find out what matters with them and get them to come to you.” And now he’s like, “Oh, I had no idea they’d be so easy to work with.”
But those are the beliefs that keep us stuck and keep us from achieving our goal.
FELDMAN: I’ve found some people have self-limiting beliefs. And they think, “I can’t work with wealthy people because I don’t have wealth or I didn’t come from it.” You have to connect before you do business with them.
BAU: And one of the things is that people who truly have money aren’t the ones who are flaunting it and making you think they have money.
There was some big YouTuber that was just called out because all his videos are in this multimillion-dollar home with this really expensive car. And it turns out he lives in his parents’ basement. And I thought, “That’s the problem. Everyone wants to look like they have money.”
We’re paid a lot of money to think and to give people recommendations. But if we can integrate our head and our heart, that emotional connection, that’s where the magic occurs, and that’s where we really can see exponential growths in our business. So, that’s absolutely huge.