Academy Blog

ACP Annual Conference Recap with Arlene Moss – Dr Robert Brooks – Impact of Mindsets on Financial Planning

Dr. Robert Brooks

I can’t think of the last time I attended a session I have enjoyed more than this session, presented by Dr. Robert Brooks. Dr. Brooks is a Harvard Medical School grad, a clinical psychologist, and a truly entertaining speaker. You can read more at


Connecting the Dots Backwards

His theme was a challenge to “connect the dots backwards.” By this he means that each person, each interaction in your life can change the course of everything after. He had a wonderful story about changing his major as an undergraduate and how a single professor had taken time out of his day to fully explore this huge change Dr. Brooks was about to make.

He challenged us:

If your clients connect the dots in THEIR LIVES would you, their advisor, be significant? In what way?

Resiliency and Motivation

Then we learned about several studies addressing what factors help people deal with stresses and pressure more effectively and become RESILIENT. Why are some kids from backgrounds of poverty or other socio-economic challenges doing well as adults, and others are not?  Why do some who are given "everything" do badly? The key was a MOTIVATING ENVIRONMENT formed via mutual trust, collaboration, and empowerment for all. If you wake up and think you make a difference, you're more resilient.


Expectations Become Reality  

We were also asked to challenge our assumptions and expectations. Dr. Brooks shared the study of the classes where the teachers get information about "good' vs. "bad' students. Teacher reactions differ depending on their expectations. If the student is expected to be high achieving and cannot answer a question, the teacher assumes others must not be either and the teacher reviews materials. If the student is expected to be a low achieving student, the teacher responds in a negative way, blaming lack of attention or effort etc.


The Effect of Happiness

From there we proceeded to learn about studies in which it was determined that happiness precedes success rather than being the outcome of success. Happiness implies a positive mood in the present and a positive outlook in future.

Positivity and Creativity

Another fun newflash was that a positive mindset helps you think more creatively.

So here we are knowing that:  

  • Motivating environments foster resiliency
  • Knowing you make a difference makes you more resilient
  • Expectations impact actions
  • Happiness breeds success
  • Positivity breeds creativity

Great News! Now how do we Nurture Positive Emotions?


Assume the role of "charismatic adult" from whom others gather strength. This is different that what you might think of as charismatic. You can be this for your clients. You can nurture a sense of security and resilience. You can be one from whom others gather strength.

Dr. Brooks told us a wonderful story about a little girl being bullied at school. It was time for a meeting with all the adults who could help her out. They asked who she wanted to include and she included her bus driver because he made her feel safe every day. I cannot do this story justice, but the bus driver was utterly taken aback that he was making such a big difference to this little girl that she would include him in the important meeting. Once again, we are connecting the dots backwards. This little girl looks back and the bus driver makes her feel safe.  

We were all challenged to think if we were someone’s charismatic adult. We took time to think of who the charismatic adults in our lives have been.

So what to do to BE a charismatic adult? First we must appreciate the value of seemingly small gestures. We create a positive emotional culture within our organi­zation. Micro moments happen daily – little acts of kindness and support that add up to an emotional culture characterized by caring and compassion.


It All Starts with Empathy

Empathy vs. sympathy is characterized by perspective taking, staying out of judgement, and finding some of the pain in yourself that the other person is experiencing. (Great Brene Brown video here.


Remember that rarely does the response make someone better. It is the CONNECTION that helps.


Nurture a Motivating Environment by ensuring that all feel welcome. This is as simple as smiling and using names. Keep a culture of personal control, self determination, and autonomy with clients and staff. We need to be collaborating with clients and staff, sharing power and control!


Create a Helping Mindset and Culture

Finally! Ask clients how they are helping others. This is important. They can impact their own lifespan and make the world better. Studies have shown that people who help others live longer!

If you have a chance to see Dr. Brooks speak, I encourage you to take it. His stories were wonderful and illustrative, wonderful takeaways. Through the rest of the week, people were making a point to connect with their “charismatic adults” and let them know of the impact they had. Who are your charismatic adults? Who are you impacting?

Arlene gets a kick out of helping financial advisors get over being overwhelmed and take on their frustrations so their businesses soar. Arlene works to ensure XYPN members are able to help their clients prosper while creating a sustainable business model. Through XYPN Academy and one-on-one coaching, members get the support they need to grow their businesses and overcome the challenges that come their way.

When not motivating clients and cooking up new ideas to help XYPN member success, you can find Arlene on her road bike, or trying to master the art of tandem cycling without destroying her marriage. In the winter months, she gets to the ski slopes as much as possible, hunting hidden bits of fresh powder amid the trees of Breckenridge.

If you'd like to learn more about Arlene's member-exclusive executive coaching services click here