Intro: 00:00 This episode was recorded live at United, the 2019 AFA Conference in Adelaide. The Association of Financial Advisors is the association of choice for financial advice professionals, and empowers them to transform the lives of Australians through quality financial advice. For more information, check out afa.asn.au.
Fraser Jack: 00:20 Hello and welcome to the Goals Based Advice Podcast, where I have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. I’m your host, Fraser Jack, and coming to you live today from the Association of Financial Advisors Conference, in the beautiful city of Adelaide in South Australia. It’s day one, it’s early and most people are yet to arrive. But I’ve managed to grab a couple of the keynote speakers that are going to be presenting at one of the first events. And I’m very lucky to be joined by Shannah and Lyndall from the Eventualists. Welcome.
Lyndall Mitchell: 00:55 Thank you.
Shannah Kennedy: 00:55 Great. The Essentialists.
Fraser Jack: 00:55 Is that right?
Shannah Kennedy: 00:55 Yeah you said [inaudible 00:00:59].
Fraser Jack: 00:57 Did I get that right? Essentialists.
Shannah Kennedy: 01:00 That’s us.
Lyndall Mitchell: 01:01 It’s a mouthful.
Fraser Jack: 01:02 Sometimes I pronounce words my own way. I’ve got my own language.
Shannah Kennedy: 01:05 Oh your own language?
Fraser Jack: 01:06 Yeah, it’s really good. It’s really good.
Shannah Kennedy: 01:07 That’s handy.
Fraser Jack: 01:08 I might start with getting you just to introduce yourselves, if that’s possible.
Shannah Kennedy: 01:11 Yeah. I’m Shannah Kennedy, and I’m a life strategist. And so we’re basically coaches, and work with people in the industry who want to get their strategies right, moving forward.
Lyndall Mitchell: 01:25 So I’ve got my own business, so I’ve started in the wellness background, back in the retreat industry. I’ve got spa’s and I’m wellness coaching. So working together with Shannah and really bringing together our passion of self care, which is really helping people avoid burnout.
Fraser Jack: 01:41 Fantastic. I feel like I’m going to let a lot out of this conversation. And I love the word life strategists, I don’t think I’ve heard that before.
Shannah Kennedy: 01:48 Well we have a strategy for our business, but we are a business ourself. And if we want to turn out being the best version of ourself, we have to have that strategy for our life as well.
Fraser Jack: 01:57 Yeah, that’s really interesting. I’ve heard the concept before of treating yourself as the CEO of yourself. And also the idea that we are a system, if you like, that works in line with our business systems. So yeah, I really like this concept. Now tell us how you became a life strategist and a wellness coach?
Shannah Kennedy: 02:15 Interesting for me, started in stockbroking and decided that wasn’t the world for me. And work to then in sports sponsorship, so I had 200 of our country’s athletes and my job was Jerry McGuire, it was buying and selling the athletes. And I sort of didn’t realize that sports on the weekend. So it was a seven day a week job that I did for about seven years, and that ended in burnout. That ended in chronic fatigue. It took basically four years of my life, and I still have to work with that today. And in that time I studied life coaching to coach athletes into retirement, because I really had seen the destruction. You are not your job. If you haven’t built yourself as a person outside your job, then there’s a danger zone coming up, whether working for AMP or Zurich or anyone here, that’s what you do, that’s not who you are.
So I really got passionate about building people to understand who they are as a whole person. So I built a big coaching practice, coaching athletes into retirement, then turned very corporate, very quickly. Wrote some books, did a lot of talking, and then I met Lyndall in the school yard actually, when our kids started prep. And I’d been on my own for 15 years, talking and writing and speaking and coaching, and like, ah, it’s a bit lonely. Let’s have some fun. So I sort of brought on the journey.
Fraser Jack: 03:31 Fair enough.
Shannah Kennedy: 03:31 Part time friend.
Fraser Jack: 03:33 I’m just thinking, I just want to touch on this. So athletes retirement, their distance to retirement is obviously fairly short. And so it’s almost like a fast version of a financial advice process, sped up or dare I say, on steroids.
Shannah Kennedy: 03:48 You’re not allowed to say that.
Fraser Jack: 03:50 No, I’m not going to say that, I didn’t say that. So yeah, it’s almost like they have a really short life span, financial life span before they retired.
Shannah Kennedy: 03:57 They do. And a lot of them don’t take into consideration you might be retired by 26. And they haven’t got a financial plan. They haven’t got a life strategy running alongside, outside their sporting life. And the ones that do, are the ones that transitioned quite well. The ones that don’t are the ones that fall in a heap. And I saw it very, very clearly. So I put some programs together.
Fraser Jack: 04:21 Yep. Very good. Now Lyndall, what about you? What’s your story?
Lyndall Mitchell: 04:24 I grew up in Currumbin Valley, on a farm. Two properties away was [inaudible 00:04:27] and health retreat. So that’s where I started my journey. And spent five years there dealing with lots of people that had gone to crisis, and you really burnt the candle at both ends. So lots of Shannah’s coming in, lots of chronic fatigue. Lots of people with emotional crisis’s, stress, burnout, saw the whole lot. 50 guests every week. And so that was such a privilege and an insight, and I thought that was an amazing program, but it was a bit like a crash diet. It all happened in one week and then there was nothing to continue on with. And I really think wellness is a way of life. It’s not just one week of the year.
So I then started my own business where I created a structure with spas, giving people permission to pause and that nurturing environment. Products which are on board with Quantis now, and we’re in all of their lounges as well. Do about a million units a year. And then the wellness coaching, which helps people bridge the gap from where they are and where they want to be. So it was like creating the longterm structure, rather than the short term fixed. It was like the urban retreat rather than the destination retreat. And then, yeah, Shannah and I came together because of that. We’ve both experienced, I’ve seen people going through burnout, and she’s had the burnout herself.
Fraser Jack: 05:33 So you met, moms with kids in prep. And so going through the same thing, and the kids in prep burnout stage, if you like.
Shannah Kennedy: 05:41 Well now they’re 15. Oh gosh. It’s interesting.
Lyndall Mitchell: 05:45 Teenager.
Fraser Jack: 05:46 Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Yeah. So just tell us what you’re doing here at the conference?
Shannah Kennedy: 05:53 So we’re working with the inspire part of the conference, and we’re running a master class of wellness. And it’s a boardroom retreat. It’s basically taking those people on a journey through their life strategy and their wellness and their coping strategies to manage stress, to be adaptable to all the changes in the market that happen very frequently at the moment.
Lyndall Mitchell: 06:14 It’s about optimizing and upgrading your life. It’s about where you’re at and what sort of performance you want. If you want Formula One performance, what are we doing? How are we creating an action plan? Accepting the things we can’t change, the past, the things that have happened, but actually creating an action plan forward of the things that we can change.
Fraser Jack: 06:31 Very good. And your presentation is about to start. So let’s get a sneak peek or a preview into what you’re going to be the the how-to’s [inaudible 00:06:40].
Shannah Kennedy: 06:43 We start with, you know, who are you without your job? Which sort of freaks everybody out very quickly. So right, we’ve quite your attention. So we talk about how most people feel like they’re on the treadmill of life, it’s the same old, same old. And really we want to get you off, and the first part of that is reconnecting with yourself and making sure you’re aware of what’s the most important thing in your life. And making sure you know what you want, that clarity piece.
Lyndall Mitchell: 07:05 And from there we go into, you know, for some people they haven’t even thought about what they want. They’re so busy juggling all their priorities in the day-to-day that they don’t really know when stress is affecting them. And stress is what shuts down the thinking part of our brain, and affects our health, it prematurely ages us. And so often we’re seeing day-to-day stresses, not trauma, day-to-day priority juggling, as shark, and really they’re just pieces of seaweed. So it’s about what are some healthy coping strategies for those things that appear to be sharks for you? How do we transition them into seaweed?
Fraser Jack: 07:37 Yeah, the stress is a massive part of the poor decision making, and stress and the emotion that comes with it. And really when you sit back and look at logical decisions, they’re never made when you’re under stress, are they? It’s always the two completely different parts of the brain.
Lyndall Mitchell: 07:52 Yeah. The most creative decisions are usually when you’re on holidays, having time away from the business.
Shannah Kennedy: 07:57 I like those. And then we go into values. So most people know the values of the company that they work for, but they don’t know their own. So most people in the room will have no clue on what their own set of values is. And that’s what your home plate is, that’s the base of your emotional intelligence. So we go through the values and they pick out their top three values, and we’re like, all the decisions that you make in life need to move you closer to your values, not further away.
Fraser Jack: 08:22 Yeah. To me, values are the big motivators, aren’t they? The motivators of behavior. You noted that they’re the difference between ... I can’t get my words out properly. The difference between the business values and your personal values, and aligning those two. Is that a very difficult process sometimes, if they’re very different?
Shannah Kennedy: 08:43 No, because your personal values are about your framework and how you operate. So you know, you might say, “Oh my health is really important to me. It’s in my value system.” So when they have the office party coming around with the cakes, you know, you know, you know what decision to make. And they’re all going out drinking, you know what decision to make. So it’s your way of interacting. Whereas the company values are about all of the things that you’re offering, people have to match the company values.
Fraser Jack: 09:10 Yep.
Lyndall Mitchell: 09:11 And so I then move into training the mind, how important it is that we can train the mind when sometimes it feels like it’s out of control. Ultimately it is a trainable skill that we can all nail. It’s takes a little practice and a little intentional effort, but it’s about how we actually use our breath as a tool. Which science is showing it’s the only way to reduce our quotas of our stress levels effectively at the moment, the quickest way. So actually teaching people how to diaphragmatically breathe, and how to actually use your full lung capacity. So that when you are under crisis or even some point of stress, that you can be calm and confident.
Fraser Jack: 09:46 Yeah. I’m really into the whole neuro-plasticity idea that the brain can change over time. And just because we learned habits and things one way in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean that always has to be that way.
Lyndall Mitchell: 09:56 That’s right. So we look at how we can help to train the brain.
Fraser Jack: 09:59 Yep. And, so breathing, meditation styles?
Lyndall Mitchell: 10:03 Yeah. So we’ll actually take people through an experience of it, and do a one minute meditation. It’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another thing then to experience it. One minute is better than no minute. [inaudible 00:10:11] says, do I have to do 30 minutes? Do I have to do an hour? I can’t do it. I haven’t got time. It’s like we can all do one minute.
Shannah Kennedy: 10:17 Don’t have purple pants.
Lyndall Mitchell: 10:21 And we can actually be doing a meditation right here. If you’re doing things mindfully, it’s about how you’re actually anchoring your attention into this moment and being fully present, not in the past or in the future.
Fraser Jack: 10:32 Okay, so if we were to do a meditation right here, right now ... and please, if you’re driving, don’t do this. How would you take somebody through that?
Lyndall Mitchell: 10:39 So we just start by getting yourself comfortable where you’re sitting. See if you can get 5% more comfortable. Just give yourself the space. And just arrive in your body. Sometimes our thoughts are taking us in many different directions. We’ve got a lot of things competing for our attention, especially sitting here in a conference with so much going on. Just allow yourself to arrive in your body. And by doing that, anchor into the breath, because the mind needs something to follow. So just allow yourself to focus on your breath.
And what I want you to do is as you breathe in, feel your belly rise. And as you breathe out, feel your belly fall. So you can exaggerate the breath so you get a sense of what it’s like to diaphragmatically breathe, breathing in the belly rises. Now if your shoulders are involved in this process, you will not diaphragmatically breathing. So we want just the belly, the lower abdomen to be moving. So inhalation belly rises, exhalation belly falls. Allow your jaw to be soft. Not squeezing your eyes closed, allow your shoulders to relax. And then anchor your attention back to the moment.
Fraser Jack: 11:54 Wow. Thank you.
Shannah Kennedy: 11:56 So it’s really interesting when we do that in a class, because people do it with their eyes closed and it’s only one minute. And then when we say, how did that feel? They said, I feel like a completely different person, for one minute. So it’s like these are the skillsets that you need to take into your workplace, into your life, to help you cope with the stress.
Fraser Jack: 12:14 Yeah. I’m imagining this is like ... I imagine like attention and willpower and all those sorts of things, as bucket to pillow. And they fill up or they deplete during the day. And stress is one of those things that sort of continues during the day after you wake up.
Shannah Kennedy: 12:32 And then we talk about vision. So where do you want to be in three years time? 2022. They have to write their age down, with the big smile. You got to own it.
Lyndall Mitchell: 12:32 Freaks a lot of people out.
Shannah Kennedy: 12:43 Yeah. You got to love it. So you want to appeal to your better self. So in three years time, however old you may be ... It’s looking at you, how would you be?
Fraser Jack: 12:49 Oh you want me to say it? Okay. You know what? It’s my birthday next week, and I had to work out how old I am. I’m turning 45, and I was like, ah, is it, how many, is it duh, duh, duh.
Shannah Kennedy: 12:49 That would mean 48, that would do.
Fraser Jack: 12:57 Okay, when I’m 48, yeah.
Shannah Kennedy: 13:04 So your 48 year old self, do you want to be fitter, stronger, have more energy, calmer? What is it that you want to be or financially where you might want to be in three years time?
Fraser Jack: 13:14 That sounds like a fantastic menu actually. I wouldn’t mind choosing one of the [inaudible 00:13:18] yeah.
Shannah Kennedy: 13:20 Choose a couple of those. Or financial, you might want to be in a more secure situation, or have better systems or whatever that may be. So then we asked them to really think about putting themselves in that persona, and how do you appeal to your greater self? What are the decisions that you can make today to support that person?
Lyndall Mitchell: 13:35 And then I go through and talk about what’s the foundation to get you there. So the four foundations is how you eat, move, sleep and nourish. Which are fundamental wellness, I guess, principles and foundations to get you to your vision of where you want to be. So we talk about what are you putting into your body, what fuel are you putting in? Because food really is our fuel. Yeah. And what we see is a lot of people know what to eat, but they don’t put the effort into the preparation. So it’s about going through each area and looking at [inaudible 00:14:04] and looking at your self regulations at its highest in the morning. So if you struggle with exercise, don’t try and do it in the evening. Yeah, you’re going to make a lot of excuses as to why you shouldn’t do it.
So it’s a muscle that fatigues during the day, it runs out, that self regulation. How you nourish, so how you refuel, which generally we’re really good at doing things for everyone else and keeping ourselves really busy. But how do we switch off and fill up our own tank? And then the quality and the quantity of our sleep, because that’s the foundation piece for the choices we make of how much we exercise and what we eat. How much money we spend, comes back to how well we’re sleeping.
Fraser Jack: 14:37 Yeah, I love all those things. I’ve been reading a little bit lately about and listening to podcasts on the gut health, microbiome and all that sort of how that affects everything in it’s system. And then also there’s sleep part, yeah. Then sometimes, you know, my son’s 16 as well, and you know they like to sleep. And sometimes you think you’re wasting the day, and then at times, yeah, they are actually growing and preparing-
Shannah Kennedy: 15:01 There’s a lot going on.
Lyndall Mitchell: 15:02 So one of the things we really like to talk about is sleep. Is do you, asking the question, do you sleep with your mobile next to your bed?
Fraser Jack: 15:08 Yes I do. I have it plugged in, charging.
Shannah Kennedy: 15:10 And does your 16 year old?
Fraser Jack: 15:14 I think so, yes. Yes. Yep.
Lyndall Mitchell: 15:16 So one thing we could invite you to try, is to remove that device from the bedroom. Find it impacts on a lot of people’s sleep, and the quality of our sleep.
Shannah Kennedy: 15:25 In your subconscious.
Lyndall Mitchell: 15:27 So every time you’re checking your device, you’re firing up the same neural pathways in your brain that you fired up when you gamble. So you go into your nice warm toasty bed, and you think, “Oh, I might just check that last email, or breaking news or what’s the weather for tomorrow, or Instagram what duh, duh, duh.” And it sends off all these thoughts going in our brain. And we need a minimum of one hour of no blue lit devices before sleep, in order to give your minds and your brains the rest that it needs to have the quality and the quantity of sleep it requires.
Shannah Kennedy: 15:59 So our teenagers hate us, because we take the phones.
Fraser Jack: 16:02 You’re the mean mums.
Shannah Kennedy: 16:04 We’re the mean mums. We are so mean, it’s awesome.
Fraser Jack: 16:06 I love mean. I love being a mean dad too. It’s fantastic.
Shannah Kennedy: 16:09 You could step up at mean notch by taking his phone.
Fraser Jack: 16:12 Right, I’m going to do that. And then I’m going to blame you guys.
Lyndall Mitchell: 16:12 You got to do it yourself.
Shannah Kennedy: 16:17 And we finish off with goals. And we finish off with, you know, between now and Christmas day, you’re sitting there with a tree and it’s all great. What’s the one thing you could do for your money, between now and Christmas? What’s the one thing you could do for your career? You know, network, learn something, what’s one thing you could do for your health, and what’s one thing you could do for your relationships. And that’s really nice because I get to write that down quickly. And we finished with responsibility. Whose responsibility is it, because you work for the business of you. It’s not your employers responsibility or anyone else, it’s you getting into that driver’s seat and taking charge.
Fraser Jack: 16:52 Fantastic. And when you go through the goals, how do you cement those in? How do you lock those goals in? Is it ...
Shannah Kennedy: 16:57 They write them down, and then they tell the person next to them, so they’ve said it. Written it, said it.
Lyndall Mitchell: 17:03 I think the big thing is that we plant lots of seeds, and then we hone it in and say, what’s the one thing that you’re going to commit to, to move forward? Because we believe that everyone is far better off to commit and to solidly apply themselves to one goal, rather than take 10 out of the workshop. You might have plans in a couple of months to do another one, but for right now, let’s choose one thing that you can do to move forward on. And that’s the thing they speak about to the person next to them. That’s the thing they’re committed to when they walk out the door.
Shannah Kennedy: 17:33 But they filled in a worksheet the whole time. So they’re coming home with this whole list of wonderful ideas and inspiration. They’re all getting a book, a copy of our book called, Restore, 20 Self Care Rituals to Reclaim Your Energy. So they’re walking away with something to take home to the couch with a cup of tea and go through.
Fraser Jack: 17:49 Okay. Now tell me more about this book, and how can people get hold of it?
Shannah Kennedy: 17:53 Restore is our latest book out on the shelf. It’s about reclaiming your energy without spending lots of money.
Lyndall Mitchell: 18:00 Yeah, everything, every tip that we’ve ... every 20 of them, you know, something you don’t need to go and buy, you can actually do it. They’re all for free. But it’s a resource to have, rather than your phone next to your bed, you can put restore and just dip in and out of these skills and be inspired by or led along the way of how to move forward with your own wellbeing. We’ve got two other books as well. So we’ve got three.
Fraser Jack: 18:25 Oh tell us about them.
Lyndall Mitchell: 18:27 So Chaos to Calm, Take Control With Confidence. That was our first book we wrote, really for the corporate market. Still sell a lot of those books. It’s a deep dive into these skills. It tells you about the science, it tells you how to apply them.
Shannah Kennedy: 18:42 Summaries, affirmations.
Lyndall Mitchell: 18:44 Yeah there’s a summary. So if you don’t want to read the whole book, just read the summary page.
Shannah Kennedy: 18:46 We catered for those people.
Fraser Jack: 18:47 Buy the whole book, read the summary. I love it, that’s a great idea.
Shannah Kennedy: 18:51 Well it’s a good idea because you know people go to the airport and they buy the book and they only read a little bit, and they never finish it. So like, just read the summary pages. Here’s all the affirmations, here’s the science and ...
Lyndall Mitchell: 18:59 You’ve sort of read the whole book.
Shannah Kennedy: 18:59 Yeah you sort of read the whole book.
Fraser Jack: 18:59 And then if you read the whole book, you go in more depth with it.
Shannah Kennedy: 19:04 Yeah. That’s right.
Fraser Jack: 19:05 Tell me about writing a book, because a lot of people that are listening to this, are thinking about or would like to write a book. How did you go about that process?
Lyndall Mitchell: 19:05 Everyone’s got a book in them.
Shannah Kennedy: 19:12 Yeah, everyone’s got a book. Well we were quite unusual. So we get a leave pass from our husbands for five days. Go and write a book. So we do. We go away. It’s full on boot camp, we’ve got the butcher’s paper up, we’ve got the topics up.
Lyndall Mitchell: 19:26 Can have a cup of tea until the first chapter’s done.
Shannah Kennedy: 19:28 Yeah, I’m like such the boot master. Like right, we’ve got to get up at 04:30, and we’re not allowed to eat or drink until the intro is done. Great. And so we basically break the book down into those five days, then we know we’ve got to nail certain things. And we just work. And when you’re away and you’ve got no distraction, and no dog to feed, and no kids, and no husbands, and blah, blah, we really dive in. And sometimes you might look up and it’s been four hours. And you went, “Whoa.”
Lyndall Mitchell: 19:57 The pre-stage to that as well is that, the year before we write the book, we’re listening to our clients. What is it that they’re telling us repeatedly? This last book, it was energy. Everyone’s exhausted. We’ve got this time, but how are we using it? So everyone’s feeling exhausted. So when we’re on planes, we do a lot of traveling to conferences and away from our families, We use that time to start putting out some framework around how that could look. Cultivating concepts, ideas, words, all of it, just sitting there in this lovely big pool, and then when we go away it’s like we’re ready to go.
Fraser Jack: 20:31 Yeah. So there’s a fairly long lead in process when you’re working out the structure and the message you want to get across.
Shannah Kennedy: 20:36 We don’t spend too much time, because you overthink. I think you can overthink. For a lot of people who want to write a book, they’re thinking about it too much, when they should just go and do it.
Lyndall Mitchell: 20:45 Yeah. The actual writing stage is very ...
Shannah Kennedy: 20:45 Quick.
Lyndall Mitchell: 20:48 Quick.
Fraser Jack: 20:49 So then, so then you do a survivor, like what appears to me like a game of Survivor. Where you go and you’re not allowed to have a cup of tea until you do that chapter.
Shannah Kennedy: 20:57 You come home and you’re wrecked.
Lyndall Mitchell: 20:58 I’m the balance side. Let’s just go for a walk.
Fraser Jack: 21:07 Then. Yeah, bit of meditation.
Lyndall Mitchell: 21:07 Yeah.
Fraser Jack: 21:07 So then what? You’ve got a manuscript if you like. And then?
Shannah Kennedy: 21:10 Yeah, we work with Penguin. So Penguin publish all of our work. They design it and then they take it overseas. So our books are going into Turkish, they’re going into Chinese, they’re going to the Taiwan market. They’re up to the Frankfurt fair next month. So it’s great. Yeah.
Fraser Jack: 21:26 So they’re your publisher?
Shannah Kennedy: 21:27 Yes.
Fraser Jack: 21:27 And they then ask you to go and write another book or whatever it might be?
Shannah Kennedy: 21:27 Yeah. Yeah.
Fraser Jack: 21:33 Oh, fantastic. All right, well thank you so much. I better let you go and get ready for your presentation. I really appreciate you sharing the presentation with the listeners.
Shannah Kennedy: 21:33 Thank you for having us.
Fraser Jack: 21:33 And I know that everybody will get a lot out of it, so thank you.
Shannah Kennedy: 21:44 Now you’ve done a meditation, and you know how old you’ll be in three years time. I hope you’re inspired.
Lyndall Mitchell: 21:44 You’ll be all right for the day.
Fraser Jack: 21:48 Fantastic. Fantastic. Looking forward to the day.
Lyndall Mitchell: 21:50 Thank you.
Fraser Jack: 21:50 Thank you.
Shannah Kennedy: 21:51 Thanks for having us.
Disclaimer: This document is a transcription obtained through a third party. There is no claim to accuracy on the content provided in this document, and divergence from the audio file are to be expected. As a transcription, this is not a legal document in itself, and should not be considered binding to advice intelligence, but merely a convenience for reference.