Good morning! Hey, this is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life by Design, your Monday morning moments of motivation. To help you start your week off on the best foot possible. I am excited today, to share a few moments with a dear friend of mine that is an exceptional leader among women in the profession of corporate and financial planning. She has been a stalwart leader in the field of financial planning and wealth management. And I’m gonna tell you a little bit about her in just a moment, but let me tell you the company that she leads. It’s an outstanding company. The name is Cambridge Investment Research. Cambridge is an independent, privately controlled broker dealer with over 100 billion dollars under management. More than 800 home office associates, and over 3300 independent registered representatives serving hundreds of thousands of investing clients across the United States. As an industry leader Cambridge strives to create a workplace that reflects four core values: integrity, commitment, flexibility, and kindness while fostering an atmosphere that allows our associates to thrive and enjoy mutual success.
Cambridge has been honored as broker dealer of the year for 2019 through 2012, again in 2010, 2008, 2007, and 2003 by Investment Advisor magazine. And was ranked fifth in the 2018 financial planning 50 independent broker dealer revenue growth by Financial Planner magazine. Cambridge is also among the top 20 large companies in Iowa to be honored by the Des Moines Register as a top workplace for 2019. And is one of only six companies consecutively ranked among the top workplaces since the ranking began in 2011. Wow.
I gotta tell you, you’re getting ready to experience a wonderful, wonderful podcast episode. Amy is not only the leader, she’s the CEO and reflects the heart and soul of this organization. Let me tell ya, you don’t get to be the 12 time Investment Advisor magazine broker dealer of the year by not providing great culture, great training, great opportunities for your team. So at that point I would tell you, she probably knows what she’s doing. So let’s pick her brain just a little bit. I hope you follow closely, with me, we’re gonna talk about her leadership style as a woman in a corporate industry. As well as her legacy and what she would like to see happen during her term as the leader of this great organization.
So I’m going to ask to join with me now, Amy Webber. So man, what a pleasure it is to have with me today, Amy Webber. She’s a member of the Board of Directors, the CEO and President of Cambridge Investment Research. With over 25 years of experience, Amy’s commitment to independent advisors is demonstrated in her passion for delivering high level personal service and leading management solutions. Amy’s personal interest lies with continually refining the independent broker dealer model to best support the next generation of independent advisors. Including creative innovative programs, such as the Cambridge Source Outsourcing Program, and the Cambridge Next Step Internship Program. She’s served as chair for the 2016 Financial Services Institute Board, an advocacy organization for independent broker dealers and their affiliated independent financial advisors. And in 2017 was elected to serve on the finra board of governors. In 2015 Webber was recognized as a woman to watch by Investment News magazine. And was selected as a member of the IA 25 by Investment Advisor magazine in 2019, 18, 17, 14 and 2912.
Folks I gotta tell ya, she just doesn’t sleep. This lady is nocturnal, she works all day, Amy how are ya?
AW: I am fantastic Jimmy, thanks for having me. I’m very honored.
JW: Man, I tell ya, you think you’re honored. This lady is so busy folks, I booked this like a year ago. I mean, she is busy, and she took time to speak with me today. I am very very flattered. So, Amy, tell me a little bit about yourself real quick. What’s a short background maybe on your life as a child, how would we get to know Amy Webber?
AW: So, Amy Webber was born Amy Kimmerman. The oldest of 3 daughters to Dave and Kathy Kimmerman in Wisconsin. We were, I would suggest even by today’s definition, very much a blue collar, middle class American family. Neither of my parents had actually gone to college. My father was, and demonstrated though-out my life what a strong worth ethic was. He did a few things before I can remember, I’m told, when I was just a baby, but for all of the life I remember he was a welder at a John Deere facility in Dubuque, IA. And as the story goes, he only missed, in about 35 years of employment there. He missed 2 half days unplanned at his job and that was to meet my mother in the hospital when she was giving birth to 2 out of 3 of his children. So you can see right there, where some of the work ethic that was instilled in me came from. And my mother was a nurse’s aide at the local clinic. We grew up in a small town of 2,000 people. And it was a huge family. I have actually 32 first cousins on one side, and 29 on the other. Something like that, I may have lost count, but it’s in that ballpark. So I have a large support group of first cousins across this country. And we were a very large family on both sides, that spent a lot of time together growing up. So people have always been an important part of my life. As I was growing up.
JW: I’ve got to tell you Amy, you mirror my life a little bit. That’s 61 people you’re gonna invite for Thanksgiving dinner.
AW: That’s right.
JW: That’s a lot…
Aw: Never a dull moment.
JW: That’s a lot of giblet gravy and turkey to pass around. But, I gotta tell ya, the likelihood of you continuing that work ethic was very high. Sounded like your dad and my dad had a lot in common.
AW: If that’s true they definitely instilled, I used to say that I’m a generation xer, with a baby boomer work mentality, because of watching both my parents, but in particular my father, back in those days, my mom also took on a lot of the caregiving role and so she was home more frequently with us than he was, but he was definitely a hard worker.
JW: I got to tell you, I had a theory that I’ve learned from my father, of which I don’t use on our team now at Compass Capital Management but my dad’s theory, being raised in rural America, dad owned a logistics company as well, so he was gone a lot, mom did the same as your mother, she helped raise us 6 children, did most of probably the parenting, dad did most of the work on the outside of the home of course. But I will tell you his theory, Amy, as one I don’t adhere to anymore, but I started my career with this, that “if you have time to breathe, you’ve got time to work”
AW: It’s amazing, we’ll talk a little bit here later, I think about how perhaps it sounds like both of us took hopefully the benefits of what those fathers of ours instilled in us, but figured out that maybe life’s too short to take it to the extent that they did, right?
JW: I think you’re right. I would like to say we got the best of both worlds, as you put it, because we get the best of the work ethic, but we also know when to turn it off and turn it on on the golf course.
AW: That’s right, I’m not a golfer, but I’m still learning. I think you might have a leg up on me in terms of the pace in which you have figured all of that out. But I’m still learning some lessons as it relates to slowing down and turning off.
JW: Well, I’ve got to tell you, so unlike your dad, I took more than a half day off when we had our two beautiful daughters. I don’t know if you took any time off. You probably had your children and went back to work. Because I know you’re a hard worker, is that the way it went?
AW: I did. Though, you know, I took a little time off. Because being a first time mom, creates a slight case of anxiety. But after about 4 weeks of leave, I was back online, if you will, sooner than that. But 4 weeks with my first, and I even managed to go 8 weeks with the second. That was here, I was working with Cambridge, and I did come in a few times to help do home office visits, or meet with some of our advisors, but you do what you have to do.
JW: You know, I’ll never forget my mom’s statement, she said they’d put wheels on the baby stroller for a reason. I’m sure you understand what that means. Let’s talk a little bit, how did you determine, starting out from Wisconsin, great work ethic, dad was a welder, as you said yourself a blue collar family. I do came from a very dark blue collar family. Just knowing hard work. How did you determine you wanted to be involved in this crazy world we call financial services, or broker dealers?
AW: You know, the fascinating thing I’ve learned over the years, when I’m asked this question is that I’m not unlike almost every woman, I am particular, and perhaps many males But it’s much more prevalent with females. It, I would call it an accidental gift. I stumbled into this career. I said earlier I grew up in a town of 2,000 people, and I’m embarrassed to say, sometimes, that that was before the internet. So you only knew what you could rely on, your local adults in your area and your life, as far as career options go, and what’s presented for the most part in schools and that kind of thing and my mom will tell the story that I was feisty, fierce, adamantly stating on a regular basis that I was not going to live in the small town of Cuba City, WI. When I grew up that I was going to go onto become a corporate attorney, and move to New York City and make lots of money. And so, I opted to go to Madison Business College, Madison WI was about 90 miles away from my hometown, it was the closest “larger city”. I was fortunate enough to find a school that did what was called work study. So I went to classes in the morning from 8 to 12, then I had an hour for lunch and to get over to the job that they assigned me when I arrived. And the piece of paper that they handed me back then was a small independent broker dealer on the other side of town called Coordinated Capital Securities. Was owned by a mom and pop shop, as they say, about 100 advisors at the time. I did not know what a broker, I was 18 years old, so I did not know what a broker dealer was. I categorized it as financial services, that’s what was written on the paper they handed me and I was devastated, in all honesty, at first because I am a people person, an extrovert, and financial services didn’t sound very sexy. It, in my own mind, it was accounting and math, and while I am very good at math, it was not what I wanted to do with my life. I could come up with probably a hundred different careers or tasks that I would do on a daily basis before setting down with a green ledger paper and working with numbers. But you do what you’re asked to do when you’re in that situation. That was September of 1987 and in October of 1987, as you know Jimmy, the world went a little crazy. Now we’ve experienced much worse from a market stability perspective, but Black Friday in October of 1987 was very devastating. Maybe the worst, you could argue, since the depression. And again, 18 years old, no technology, advisors calling us and we would then call the clearing firms to try to facilitate trades, and act as a psychologist which is as an 18 year old with no experience I had no business doing, but again, you do what you have to do. Phone in each ear, working as hard as we can to try to facilitate for our advisors, who were also facilitating for our clients making the best moves possible. And while that was a, the following week, overwhelming in many ways for me, what I realized, and that was within about 45 days of starting this job, was that this particular strand of financial services really had little to do with math and accounting. It had to do with real humans, it had to do with people, it had to do with emotions, it had to do with helping people, and I gained a really quick respect for what financial advisors do. And fell in love with it. So long story short, I worked for them for about a year, and finished up that cycle. I had determined at that point that I was actually going to change directions and go to the University of Wisconsin – Madison for finance. But I had to go to my boss, and sit down with her and say, you know good news and bad news, you’ve truly given me the gift of helping me figure out what I think I want to do with my life, but that’s going to require me to change direction here a little bit. And I’m pretty sure I’ll have classes on campus at this particular educational institution in the afternoons. So I won’t be able to work from 1 to 5 for you everyday. And unfortunately, effectively I was offered my resignation.
JW: You know, you’re so parallel to what I did in my career, however you were in the university in 1987, I’d just graduated in May with honors I if I may add, don’t want to brag or anything, but I got graduated with honors in May, but I went to work that summer and the whole market place, when she says folks, a little something bad happened. This was almost traumatizing to a lot of people that happened in 1987. The world literally fell apart in their eyes. So, you know, I can tell you, Amy, you and I share uncannily a lot of historic time zones together in how we were raised as well as educated. So please continue with your comments, so now you’re at University of Wisconsin – Madison.
AW: I actually didn’t do it, so there’s a little, another plot twist to this. My first, just let me say Jimmy, that I’m loving learning a little bit about you today, you’re just confirming for me what I fiercely believe which is that in life’s journey, people are put in your lives for specific reasons, and very often I find, even though I don’t know it for many many years after meeting someone that there is some synergy in terms of the journey and the core values so it’s interesting to learn our parallels. Thank you for sharing that. So I didn’t go to the University of Wisconsin – Madison because my boss said, oh no no. You don’t have to resign. Here’s what we do here. And she had done this with two other young women. She offered me a full time position, making $15,000 a year which was a lot of money in 1988 at this point in time for a 19 year old. But I had to work from 8 to 5, and then what she did, she offered to pay for my education as long as I went to night school. So, again, I said I was the oldest of three in a blue collar family, and I’m gonna be candid. As a 19 year old, the idea that I would work from 8, even with my dad’s work ethic instilled deeply in me, the idea of working from 8 to 5 and then going to school from 5:30 to 9, with 40 year olds, which today sounds like babies, but then sounded like they were really old, and getting my securities licenses on the weekend, did not sound like all that much 19 year old fun.
JW: So what are you saying Amy? You didn’t have a social life after all that time? Did you..
AW: I did not.
JW: Did you waste a couple hours sleeping or something?
AW: Well, I guess you said that I don’t need a lot of sleep, so that helps me back, and continues to help me now, I guess. So I took it. You know, I thought about it, I have to admit. I’m a human. I was a normal 19 year old that didn’t know anything about anything. Maybe had my priorities for a blip misaligned. This would be crazy, this doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. But, of course I did it. And that in and of itself allowed me at a much younger age than many to step into leadership roles, both here and other places. So I’d say sometimes taking that risk, doing something that maybe on the surface doesn’t sound like it might be the most fun, can really turn out to be a wonderful experience and that’s how it happened for me. I did that. I worked for them for seven years in that way. When I finished my finance degree in finance in the evenings and I will tell you, my work experience is what got me my 4.0, not the other way around. So I’m a huge advocate for our young people here about the value of internships and on the job training and you know, learning and working in a work environment at a young age for all of those reasons.
JW: You know, let’s say, let’s talk a little bit about that because absolutely internships, I believe in this day and age are really a necessity of education. Not an elective. Talk a little bit about Cambridges’ approach to internships that came out under your leadership.
AW: Seven years ago we started, which we call The Next Step Program, and the idea was selfishly we would love to find some of the best and brightest out there that could come and work for us on a paid internship for the summer. We’re real adamant, I know that certain industries have a lot of effective use of unpaid internships, but in our world, if we wanted to get the best and brightest in, we felt that it was important that we developed a paid internship program. And we bring them in, we give them some lofty assignments. They help with some, one example for me personally that I’ll never forget is that a young lady that created an app, while she was here on her internship program to help us manage the acronyms in our business. And I was so blown away, it was so helpful, it was her idea. She was proactive about it, so it’s those kinds of things that they can do and explore and we want to give them the best experience possible. So when they graduate they consider coming back and working for us. A side benefit, in many cases, is that we inspire them to become financial advisors. So while they may not be immediately contributing to the Cambridge family, they’re contributing to the fantastic industry you and I have grown up in a love so fiercely, and giving back to the industry is as important as aspiring them to come work with us. We have about a 40% return rate, so 40% of them do come back and work for us. Multiple years for their internship, then back as a full time employee. And several of them did go out into our advisors offices and start their careers. So it’s a win. It’s been a great success, I’ll never forget the first day that I pulled into the parking lot and this, it wasn’t the business dress day here. We are casual when we don’t have visitors coming, but this little car pulled in, and all four doors opened up and these four young men stepped out of that car in their black suits and black sunglasses. I thought back to a couple of movies where I had seen something similar. And thought, what is happening? The men in black have arrived. And they came into this building and took it by fire for that summer. They were respectful and bright and I think, my personal opinion is that millennials tend to get over stereotyped and largely a bad rap. Because we’ve seen nothing but amazing millennials here that gives me great hope for the future of this world. And it’s just been a great experience all around. It’s almost reverse mentoring if you stop and listen to the young people that are in your life. Because they can give you as many gifts as you can give them and that’s the lesson we’ve learned over the last seven or eight years.
JW: You know, you said something about this career being not as “sexy” as maybe something that you could have done otherwise. I’ve gotta tell you, I don’t know if this qualifies as “sexy” but, I get the most joy in my profession as being a certified financial planner practitioner and an advisor that helps people realize their dreams and goals in real time. It is amazing the transformation when they come into our office, they go through what we call our 5 step life plans solution process. And they take control, now Amy, of their futures as opposed to being just basically comes may come, if you remember the old Doris Day song. So we believe that that is for lack of a better term, that sexy to us. What do you think?
AW: I absolutely agree. And in addition to a passion for inspiring younger individuals to consider our business, the same holds true for female advisors, in particular, in that I’m biased, of course, admittedly, because this is what I’ve spent 32 years of my life supporting, serving those who serve others to your point. But it’s gotta be one of the most rewarding and flexible careers, and those females in today’s world who are trying to figure out how to “have it all”. Balance, a lot of other goals and desires that they want to do with their own lives, and they just do a career, and people are the same, right? They’re growing up in a world where it isn’t like you and I did where perhaps at the beginning of our careers it was all about butts in the seats and 60-70 hour work weeks to prove yourself. They’re looking for flexibility, and a place where they can make a difference. And I personally can’t think of another career in my honest opinion that gives any individuals second career, craft support, and new entra, the opportunity to really build their own destiny and they align with the right partners as their building. It can really, it has to, I am so inspired by simply serving individuals as yourself who have the iron stomach to really go out and serve and make a difference in the lives of those direct investors that we just don’t always do a great job of somehow getting that message out. And we just gotta keep up the good fight.
JW: Well, for our thousands of listeners, I want to tell you Amy, you and the entire team at Cambridge have been tremendous business partners of ours. Been there now over 10 years folks, and I’ve got to tell you from the transition team, the first day I walked in the new building that was constructed in the small community of Fairfield, IA, I’ll be very honest with you Amy. When I was picked up by Kurt in the airport in Des Moines, and he said it’s just a little bit south of the airport, I didn’t know his definition of little bit and mine were that different.
AW: Two and a half hours, is that short for you?
JW: Two and a half hours later, I’ve really thought where are we gonna stop, are we going back maybe to Oklahoma, is that what we’re doing? No, on a truthful note, the culture and the team is so reflective at Cambridge as to what we do in our own offices at Compass Capital Management it is just a great fit. And thank you for your kind words, but I’ve got to tell you something Amy, you are and you don’t even know it, but you’re a mentor to me and to a lot of my team, particularly the young professional ladies on our team. They see you out at these conferences, Amy if you’ve never been to one of our conferences of Ignite, which is our leadership conference, an educational conference, this thing, we just came back from it. Our team was on a natural high, and I had to plug that because we were in Denver. But it’s a natural high, the only high we got, by the way, was the…Good disclosure in case anybody regulators are listening. We basically only got high as one mile, because that’s the elevation. But anyway, tell me this, so who are your mentors besides a dear friend and the founder to Cambridge, to me, he’d been a great leader Eric Swartz, but who’s besides him or maybe even talk a little bit about him, as a mentor to you?
AW: I have been blessed in my life. I’ve worked for three bosses, and I’ve done a lot of studying and thoughtful contemplation around the topic of the differences and roles that a boss plays versus a mentor versus a sponsor. And just people in your life, as I said earlier, that maybe touch your life for maybe long term or short term in one way or another, but that somehow they personally affect you, and then lastly those who you should admire from afar, and I’ve worked really hard in all of those aspects to try and take key pieces of information and lessons learned from that vast majority. And for me, and particular they don’t tell you best practices are your boss is different than your mentor and different from your sponsor. And I’ll define quickly, boss is pretty clear. We all know what a boss is, and they can be fabulous people but they’re often not the best mentors for someone, or at least the only mentor as you’re building a career. Because you’ve got to be able to feel very comfortable baring your soul and being vulnerable when you’re talking to a mentor if you really want it to make an impact on your life and on your career. And even the best bosses, there’s a little tiny bit of doubt in the back of most people’s minds when they say, if I offer and show my vulnerability to my boss, is that going to show up next week, next month, next year, somehow from a performance perspective. From what they think of me on a business perspective. So if you can find a mentor that doesn’t have control over your career, it often can be productive. And then the definition of a sponsor is someone entirely different who can sometimes act like a mentor, but their sole goal is to talk with you about how they can support getting you more exposure and develop. If I’m at a certain place in my career, and I want to go three steps beyond that, the sponsors goal is to just offer advice only about how to get there. Mentors can, you know, be much broader than that. And so the recommendation might be that you have a boss, then a separate mentor, then a separate sponsor. I’ve been blessed in my life to have three bosses who have severed all three roles for me in different ways. And Eric, by far, we’ve worked together for 21 of my 32 years, has been, you know, one of those sounds a little hokey, but people often talk about the synergy that you can develop with a certain individual, they’ll use the term soul mate, normally soulmate comes into play on a personal relationship level when someone’s talking about it, but I will say I’ve been blessed to have my personal soulmate and my fantastically wonderful husband that’s supported me, we’re about the celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. And then my professional soulmate in Eric, but aside from that, again, taking a little bit of all of the gifts that all of the people that have entered my life in terms of career development and almost more so personal growth. Because I think the more that you can invest, and this is something I had to learn. The more you can invest in developing yourself as a person, that affects your entire life, the better off and the faster your career is going to go. In my opinion.
JW: It makes perfect sense, so hey, let’s dive in under the covers a little be here, between our professional lives and I just gotta know, what’s that one special fact about Eric Swartz that maybe our listeners don’t know, maybe some of our team members don’t know at Cambridge, at it’s offices either in Fairfield, or Atlanta, or wherever they may be. Tell me that one fact. And nothing embarrassing of course, just that one fact we wouldn’t know about Eric.
AW: Eric has an uncanny ability to connect with people one on one in particular. And this is why it’s a fun fact. You may not feel that if you’re in a larger group, or when he’s on stage. But he connects with people in terms of helping you figure out that life is too short and you should be happy and you need life balance. When I started working with Eric, you know, most bosses running a company, and he definitely had expectations for me when I started with him, from a professional basis on where I was going to help take his company, but I was 28 years old and by the time I was 28 I had ulcers and migraines, and I was working a lot of hours, that’s how I grew up. That’s how I was coached in the previously lives, you know that’s what you did and that’s how you went far and to prove yourself, and Eric quickly and I think uniquely as an entrepreneur and a business leader said you’re not going to be any good to your children, or your husband, or our company if you’re dead by the time you’re 40.
JW: That’s pretty good advice.
AW: Yes! At the rate you’re going you might be having some troubles. You really need to find some life balance. And I just don’t know how many bosses, back then, I think it’s more prevalent now, thank goodness, but back then, cared to take that position. Because that’s almost telling me to work less, right? And the more I work in many ways the more I would have been beneficial to him, but uniquely the wisdom says, and I’ve learned to accept this as truth at this point, is if you have life balance, if you focus on a purposeful journey everyday in your life in terms of what you’re going to accomplish and make sure that you include some rest and relaxation or meditation or your hobby or your family or other priorities instead of just work, work, work, that you are actually more effective and productive in your day. And I just I suspect from the outside, and you could tell me better than I maybe, because I am an insider, but people may not realize that about him. He has been so successful, that I think they probably assume that he is a driver, and that he is in many ways, but there’s this peace that he brings to the table that allows others to be all that he can be.
JW: You actually, again, uniquely hit on the role that I feel, the main thing with Eric and me, again I’ve only been there 10 years, but you know 10 years flies, and he has never failed to come up, recognize me by name. Even if I’m at one of the Ignite conferences or any other conference, and I’m not wearing my badge. Shakes my hand and just tells me how much he appreciates our partnership. Now, granted, I’m gonna tell our listeners, this gentleman doesn’t have to work another day in his life. He has worked so hard, done what he should have done, invested properly, you know he doesn’t have to come into the office. And as many times as those of us, 3,300 plus business partners across this country, have asked him questions he’s so straightforward with them. He doesn’t have to be, but he is and I as a business partner, love that Amy. I like the fact that I don’t have to guess what he’s saying.
AW: Transparency in life and business have served both of us well. And we finish each other’s sentences, we have from day one. We’re very alined in the fact that we want to run a purposeful, purpose driven organization. Our purpose is simple to make a positive difference in the lives of our advisors, you, your clients and the people that work here with us and support us. And when you have that clarity around what you’re trying to accomplish in terms of the purpose, why we exist. Other questions that come up in other challenges, that come up are much more clear. They’re easy. The decisions are easy to make if you just sit down and reflect back on what your purpose and core values are, and the transparency is a big one. It’s not specifically listed in our purpose statement or our core values, it’s simply a given that I think, in business is rare. I think many times successful business people are afraid to maybe offer the transparency because somebody may see a weakness or a chink in the armor and decide not to do business perhaps with that company, and that’s a risk. But we’ve always, we are not here to grow for the sake of growing. We believe if we come in everyday, and do what’s right for you, the advisors, and hopefully then inspire you to do what’s right for the client that you will be successful. And that has worked for over 35 years for Eric, and certainly my 20 plus years here.
JW: Well, I have only one regret, you know the one thing that people that listen to Live a Life by Design get from me and all of our guests is brutal honesty. So I have a regret, I don’t have many in life, but I do have a regret about Cambridge. And that one regret is I didn’t find them out when I first started my career. Folks, I’m telling you when I came to Cambridge, and I met the people, the culture clicked from day one. Just similar to what you said, Amy, about Eric and your personality, for example. I came to Cambridge and I thought to myself after we got our business transaction put together and I said, why didn’t I start here. So my first 10 years of my career where with other business, and they were good for the time, but I wish that I had started with the open architecture, with the willingness to be kind and help get things done as you do with your team. So let me ask you this, you’re a very busy person, what is some of your daily routines? How do you maximize your efficiency and use of your time. Cause there’s only one Amy.
AW: This is the loaded question I spent some time reflecting on, as you and I were talking before this call about some things and you know, we all have our weaknesses, right? And in this case, for me anyway, it is true that in many ways my greatest strength is also my weakness that I have to work on. And I am unfortunately not a role model in life balance yet. For 32 years, since I was 18 years old, we talked about how I grew up. I used all of that to build this fantastic career and ran at breakneck speed and I didn’t sleep a lot, and what that caused for me is I am, the reason I’m efficient, how I maximize my time is, I am a master at multitasking. I focus on maximizing my time by putting in early on, by putting in a lot of hours, and being constantly on. And it does take its toll on one’s life, both professionally and certainly and unfortunately, I can say as you get older so I don’t, I also don’t believe in having regrets and looking back. But I’d say in the last couple of years what I’ve really realized is that I may have been better served fostering a stronger skill and an attitude that allows me to be more intentional and mindful in everything that I do. Less multitasking and more living in the moment. But, two years ago I woke up and I would wake up, talk a little bit like before, and before I even got out of bed, I was checking email, I was checking my social media. I was already potentially making appointments to have phone calls later in the day. And then I work late, and came home, and after my kids went to bed, I’d work later. I always, always was doing two or three things at once. My 19 year old son and I have had this debate, because he will argue with me. He’s a scientist at heart, he will say, mom, physically and mentally impossible for you to actually do more than one thing at a time. So when you talk about multitasking or you tell me that I have to get better at multitasking, I just want you to know that’s not really possible. I know what you mean by it, but it’s really not possible. And sometimes, again, we can learn from the young people in our lives, just doesn’t sound real productive, because what it really is, and what I’ve learned, come to peace with is that multitasking is actually what I call a continuous partial attention. So, not being intentional and living in the moment, but doing multiple things only some percentage of the way successfully. So I fight that urge, today, I force myself to get up and not touch the phone first thing. To try to enjoy my morning with my husband, have some conversation and breakfast. And then my day starts, and it’s much more productive. I try to unplug a couple of nights a week so that I’m not constantly on, as we said earlier. I make sure to build in some meditative components. Yoga and exercise, listening to audibles, podcasts, I discovered our helpful, I like quick hits, so that books and podcasts that I read, if they’re short and sweet, and give me value, give me enjoyment. And not forgetting that you also have to make time for others in your life, especially as your children, we’re empty nesters now. So, friends were really important when I was young, and maybe I lost sight, a little bit of that, while my children were growing up. But we’re back to making sure that we spend time with friends. So I feel like I’m more productive and efficient. What I’m working or tasking today with this new mindset and albeit, still working on it, probably will my entire life because it doesn’t come natural. Then I was before, and I still feel like I’m getting 70 hours of work done in 50 hours, but I feel better about it. I’m not working 70 hours, it’s allowing me to be present in the present, live in the present and have a mindful intention to what I’m doing now, instead of the 20 things I probably should have gotten done and didn’t. Because that just wasn’t, it wasn’t going to carry me for the next 20 years of my career in my opinion. My husband will tell you I have lists, to make sure that I complete what’s on my list. I make lists that keep track of my other lists. And he’s probably true. But I am a relentless calendar and task list user. And now what I do with this new approach that I’ve tried, I block time. It says mindful time. It tells me to go do something, walk around. Our campus has a pond. Take a walk with one of the employees, or just get out of here and go to lunch onsite instead of eating at my desk. Whatever it is that I think that particular day or week as I review that calendar. If I put it on the calendar I will do it. That’s my personality, so I’ve learned that I just have to be very intentional about making sure that I block time both for tasks as well as rest.
JW: I will tell you, you are remarkable at that, because I have a podcast episode, earlier in this show when we first started about how to get more done by doing less. And so, unlike you, I’m not a multitasker. I’ve gotta tell you I’ve been an ol’ CPA for 31 years, I just am one of these guys, I pick it up. I work on that file, or I dictate the notes. I get one of my empowered team of wonderful people, hand it to them and I’m done. So, don’t laugh, Amy, they call me the 80% man in our office. I never finish anything. I just get it. So let me ask you, that’s pretty cool what you’re talking. But you’ve been at this for a long time now. So one of your most prevalent characteristics that I admire is your ability to lead with passion. I never see you when you’re not smiling, and people tell me this all the time. Jimmy, do you ever have a bad day? And I go no, I really don’t, it’s just that some days are better than others. That’s what my grandfather always said so I guess I picked that up. But, so tell me how you lead with passion. Why is it important to you to be an influence to our team members at Cambridge?
AW: I’m a natural optimist. But like you, right, I think we all have to admit that some days are better than others. And there’s a lot of stress that can crop up in our careers, but again, my personal purpose statement, although it’s grown and changed, and matured over the years, as family, faith, friends and building meaningful relationships for those around me and the people I work with and lead here, 900 of them. And I wish I had touched all 900, but in some way shape or form, hopefully I’m touching those and also making a difference in their lives, but I don’t shy away from again that transparency. Holding myself accountable, expressing my passion, being transparent, letting them know that I’m passionate about doing things here at our company, and in my life. At the highest levels of quality that I can. My children will actually put the phrase ‘choices and consequences’ on my memorial someday. I am sure, they’ve heard it over and over and over again. And I think that many people that work with me here know that as well. But I do believe, or I hope that 100% of the time I express that my desire to do things at the highest quality possible comes from a good place. And I want them to be successful. And I’m open to chatting with them. And I would said I have a very collaborative leadership style. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I have all the answers, or the best ideas so it’s really a collective allowing others to contribute to where I might be going astray has been a real value in my career. And I do think that allows people to speak up, give you a reality check. You know, I’ve been known to change my mind. They can influence me. And that’s, I certainly want to have a positive impact and influence them to do the things that are in line with our mission and purpose and our core values. But allowing them to also influence me along the way, and certain decisions that we’re making really builds credibility and loyalty from others. Servant leadership is probably the term that’s used most out there and I embody that. Leading with compassion and kindness. I wish I never had to give anybody negative news. I wish I never had to terminate someone in my career, or tell them they didn’t get that promotion. Or correct some behavior, but when you’re leading and running a company you’re responsible for a lot of different constituencies and you do the best you can to balance and be respectful and empathetic and lead with compassion when you can. Even when you have to deliver those negative messages. So, I realized about 10 years ago. I was experiencing a little bit of burn out, that was before I learned the lessons we just talked about. And I went on my first week long vacation where I unplugged. And in all honestly that means I only checked my email once a day. I’ve probably never really in my life actually really unplugged like many people do, but I really worked hard to not be here. And I came back and I felt great, and I had a renewed optimism. And I couldn’t wait to get back to these fantastic people I work with. And I realized within about a week, that my burnout, my negative attitude. Even though I didn’t think I was transmitting it, they say fake it till you make it. Sometimes it’s true, if you’re having one of those bad days, I taught my children, put that smile on your face. Because I promise you, negativity will spiral if you just fall into the trap and more bad things will happen. And I believed in all of that, but even then, my not taking care of myself was impacting this company and those that worked with me. And that week, when I came back, I felt good and I felt high, I realized that I went into Eric’s office and said, You know I might have to do that a little more frequently, because I can’t, I just, it was the biggest ah ha moment, slap in the head about intentional or not, my attitude, my behavior, my perspective. My optimism, or the alternative totally impacted everyone around me so quickly because I was the leader, right, they’re looking at me. If I, if the sky is falling in my office, they lose hope. And that’s one of our jobs. Is to lift people up and make sure that they can continue to see what’s the worst case scenario, whatever it is, we’ll tackle it. And if we lose sight of that we can really affect our organization.
JW: You know, you said the word, you know, we’re the leader and our teams are expecting from us a certain level of mental support and so forth. I will tell you, some of the best growth in our team on a personal level, has been those times I did show my vulnerability and I was proud to hear at the most recent Ignite in Denver, we spoke about a little earlier. One of the speakers was a retired Air Force pilot. And she said that magic word, and my team was setting with me, two of at least my team. And they looked at me and shook their head when she said vulnerability makes you a better leader. Because there’s a book out, I’d like to recommend Amy you pick this book up it’s also on audible I believe as well, called You Can’t Know it All, it’s about these areas as great leaders, you don’t necessarily have all the answers, but just like Henry Ford, I know who to push the button on the phone to call that has those answers. So that’s what leadership is all about in my opinion.
AW: I agree. One of my favorite quotes, and I did make a note of that book. I will absolutely go get it. Because I think many leaders or up and coming leaders put a lot of pressure on themselves to do just that. Believe that they have to know it all, and the worst thing you can do if you don’t know it, is to fake it. But one of my favorite quotes is from Eisenhower and he said, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That’s assault, not leadership. Leadership is an art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.” And the only way he or she are going to want to do it with you is if they can contribute and they feel pride of authorship and ownership, and I think we can all learn a lot of lessons from those kinds of things.
JW: President Eisenhower was a very wise president. And one of the things from being a General in the military that I picked up from his as well is that planning is everything. You know he didn’t do any battle plans or didn’t take any kind of cause to action until he had a plan. You know we do the same thing in our career with our clients, right? We get the plan first, you don’t just start driving. Now, I don’t know about your husband, but I’m a male, right, so we start driving then we figure out where we’re going. Is that how that works?
AW: That is pretty much how that works.
JW: Well let me ask you this, so you’ve been so helpful today, and I don’t want to take too much of your time. But let’s have a couple more questions I think that our audience would love to hear. Give me a few minutes, and picture paint for me, in words, what’s the next phase of your career look like?
AW: I have been blessed with such a fantastic rockstar team that’s chosen to move to Fairfield, IA. Many of them are remote, but most of them are here. That it is, even now, and I suspect more so into the future, it’s allowing me to spend a fair amount of time giving back to this great industry. Rather than having to focus on Cambridge and our 900 person family here in IA, plus our 3,300 advisors across the country and all of your families. And colleagues. And so while I still very very very much engaged, the listeners probably heard from my bio that I’ve also started recently to spend a lot more time sitting on many industry boards and advisory councils. And that gives me a sense of accomplishment in that I, again, accidentally found this amazing career and industry and I do want to give back. And I do spend time advocating and teaching and talking to regulators and politicians about what, who you are. The independent financial advisor. And what independence means, and the gift that independence gives and controlling our own journey. And the difference between our independence business model as opposed to other business models out there so that they realize the different, all things don’t work for all segments of the industry. And that’s been really rewarding to feel like I’m making a difference and though that, as I said earlier, inspiring younger individuals to come into our business. More and more time that I can figure out how to do that. I recently accepted a board of trustees position on our local community college. I’m up for reelection in November. I can promise you that will be my only foray into politics. But it does require an actual engagement in the election process to have a seat in those types of things like school boards, but I’ve, it’s given me opportunities here locally to speak to youth groups, and speak to them not just about out industry, but about life lessons and my journey and things like that and can only help one child figure out something in life or inspire them to have a career and that’s what really gets me charged up, and bringing more women into the business. As I said earlier. So I spend, still a significant amount of my time working for you and our other advisors, and working for your clients to make sure that Cambridge is as healthy and living it’s values as I can. But I think as my career continues over the next 10, if the needle swings to me being able to do more and more and that light, and be more at peace and rewarded I will feel, so I look forward to that.
JW: So what I understood from that statement, and I want to make sure I make this clear for our audience is that you’re running on what party ticket in 2020 of November for what office did you say?
AW: It’s not a party line, because it is a school board position.
JW: I’m sorry, I thought maybe you might have been a presidential candidate. I was hoping maybe someone from left field would come out and lead the country.
AW: I think that’s one career that I will leave for others based on what I’ve seen. I might be able to make a much better difference putting my energy elsewhere.
JW: Absolutely, and if the federal commission is listening we are just having fun, by the way. This isn’t an endorsement announcement of that nature. I try to have a little fun with my day, so. So you have done remarkable today, so I want you to do me a big favor and all of our thousands of listeners, and give our listeners just one statement of advice about influence, leadership, or legacy. If you could leave them with something to know Amy Webber and how she leads with passion, anything you can do about legacy. What would that one statement of advice be?
AW: So, your reputation, in my opinion, is your greatest asset. You’re reputation is effectively your brand. Your personal brand. I would want our listeners today to make a commitment to themselves to never compromise that. I articulate that for myself, in a little different fashion. What goes through my mind often, almost everyday is I’m coming in to do the right thing, even if no one is watching. But that can take a lot different frames. That’s just a phrase that allows me to remind myself of the integrity and I think if the leader does that, those around you will watch you and you’ll inspire and create an environment of respect, quality, and integrity, and all of that will naturally lead to fulfillment and then success. I just, I can’t express enough, and this is often what I really have to enforce with young people, I think, I would not want to be growing up in today’s world. Social media has made things even more complicated, and they’ve got hopefully at a young age really realize again that reputation is the greatest asset. It just feels to me that in today’s world that society maybe has forgotten the value of tolerance. Leaders create the future by taking advantage of opportunities. They don’t and shouldn’t allow the future to just happen. And shape their approach to their career and their business and their life. I mean, we have a world today where there are four generations in the workplace, in some ways even five, because we now have to some extent an unnamed generation that’s starting to come in at least for internships and things like that. And we have an amazing impact of globalization and we have the benefit of a multicultural world. I could go on and on and on about the opportunities that diversity provides. And if we don’t find tolerance, that’s not going to allow us to take advantage of those opportunities of that diversity. So lead by example embrace diversity with a respectful tolerance. That does not mean one has to sacrifice their opinions or their core values, but just respect that not everyone has the same opinion and values and I think if we remember these things that our reputation is our greatest asset, it’s our brand, don’t compromise that and foster a world of tolerance. When I’m in retirement I can only look out into a world of opportunity for a much better place than where we are today.
JW: I tell you, that is wonderful advice. I hope all of our listeners take that and heed the issue of supporting others. Even if we have differences of opinions. Our country’s going through a difficult time now because of this issue of difference of opinion. I like you encourage diversification. Not just in the portfolio, but also in our families, in our environment, in our communities. And that is great advice. I do want to leave today with this, I want you to sincerely know Amy that your time is valuable. You have been an excellent guest. Thank you for being so open with us. That’s what we do on Live a Life by Design we show people that there is a brighter day ahead. I do use the phrase once in a while, that are you going to be slogging, or are you going to be sledding. Now you’re in IA, you get snow from time to time, right?
AW: All the time and I’m sledding, Jimmy, I’m sledding.
JW: I tell people the big difference between slogging and sledding is all about attitude and if we have the right attitude we can sled all day long. I do want to thank Amy for joining us today, but I also want to personally reach out to some people I consider to be on my team as well her, I’d like to thank Cindy Schaus of Cambridge Investment Research for helping us put all this coordination together, as well as the hard work, diligent work of Jody Hollingsworth of our executive administrative team at Cambridge for making all this possible. Thank you Amy for your time today. Trust you have a wonderful wonderful weekend.
AW: Thank you too, thanks for allowing me the opportunity to speak to your listeners. It’s been fantastic.
JW: And thank you to our special guest this week Amy Webber. I hope that you gain some insight on how this powerful woman is leading a 1 billion dollar a year business. She has energy, she’s got creativity, but she wraps it all in passion and kindness. This is the key in my opinion to being successful, not just in business, but more importantly to be successful in life. Our challenge to you this week, go to our Facebook page at Live a Life by Design. Give some comments as to what you found helpful after listening to this particular episode and how you use passion and kindness in your career. How you feel it has helped you bring out a bigger, better, and bolder you to your team.