Michael Kitces, MSFS, MTAX, CFP®, CLU, ChFC, RHU, REBC, CASL, is partner and Director of Wealth Management for Pinnacle Advisory Group. He’s also co-founder of XY Planning Network, co-founder of New Planner Recruiting, and a publisher of the newsletter The Kitces Report and the Nerd's Eye View. As if that wasn’t enough, Michael is a former editor of the Journal of Financial Planning, a co-founder of NexGen, and a 2010 recipient of the Financial Planning Association’s “Heart of Financial Planning” award. 

In addition, he has variously been recognized as financial planning's "Deep Thinker," a "Legacy Builder," an "Influencer," a "Mover & Shaker," part of the “Power 20,” and a "Rising Star in Wealth Management" by industry publications. He also happens to have ADHD. With such a full schedule and a rich career, this episode is a deep-dive into Michael’s work, including how he structures his busy 65 to 70 hour weeks, how he fills up “his mason jar” (aka his schedule), and what keeps him going. There’s so much to take away from his insights and experience, especially if you’re a new planner trying to juggle “all the things.”


Making time for everything

One of the major themes of our discussion was time management and how some things tend to take on a life of their own. When Michael started the XY Planning network with his friend Alan Moore, for example, they thought they’d have a few dozen planners join. Today, they have over 1,000 members and a staff of nearly 50 people to manage everything. On top of that, he has over 50 speaking engagements a year and writes or edits a 3,500+ word blog nearly every single day. All of this adds up to one thing: a strong focus on prioritization and planning.

There is plenty to learn from Michael, who shares Stephen Covey’s “mason jar time management theory.” But he also talks about the importance of motivation and true passion for the work you do, if you expect to produce at higher levels. 


Motivation to help people

During our chat, Michael discussed his career path into financial planning. Originally, he started out as a psych major and eventually moved into insurance planning. He realized, though, that he didn’t have the qualifications (or knowledge) to truly advise on the financial decisions people were making. This led him into the financial planning profession, where he firmly believes that
giving people advice on what to do with a resource that's essential for survival is a sacred duty. 

That’s also part of why he does so much. He produces so much content and speaks to so many people because of what he calls the “multiplier effect”: he’s not just talking one-on-one to clients. He’s talking to financial planners to impact the way they talk to their clients, which results in exponential impact. That also aligns with his BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) — reaching 10,000 advisors to reach a million consumers. 

Over the 19 years that Michael has been doing this work, he’s found his strengths and interests. But it wasn’t always that clear-cut. As he tells us, it took time to get there.


Finding strengths and roles in the profession

As new financial planners, the expectation to “know your place” in the profession can feel overwhelming. When first starting out, it’s hard to know where your true strengths lie, what you don’t like, and what you’ll create over time. Michael touched on this in our discussion, where he shared that he feels like he finally “came into his strengths” only about 4-5 years ago — after 15 years in the profession! 

During that time, he was saying yes to opportunities, growing in his work, and connecting with a ton of people. But that meant he learned a lot about himself, including what he doesn’t love (managing people) and what he’s good at (being a visionary). The same goes for younger planners who are just starting out: you won’t know what your strengths are until you try things on for size.

Michael also explained that the second decade of his career has been about building things and being very hands-on. Over the next 10 years, he thinks he’ll focus much more on how to make an even bigger impact. There’s so much that changes over the life of our careers, so it’s OK to not have all the answers right now. 

If you’re looking for an inspiring episode on the power of hard work, the balance between effort and workaholism, and how careers (and strengths) develop over time, check this one out.


What You’ll Learn:

  • The benefits of Twitter in the financial planning profession
  • Whether or not Michael actually sleeps
  • The importance of structure and time management for busy schedules
  • What rocks, mason jars, and pebbles have to do with your to-do list
  • The risks that come with saying “Yes” to too many things
  • What drives motivation to produce and work at higher levels
  • The multiplier effect and how it applies to financial planning
  • The impacts of workaholism 
  • How career changes and “failures” are necessary to find the work we’re meant to do
  • The necessary pairing of a visionary and an integrator
  • Why knowing your strengths comes with time (and experience)
  • Why knowing your “goal planning style” is critical to goal success
  • What the future holds for Michael 
  • The power of community


Show Notes:
In this episode with Michael Kitces, we reference: