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The Sustainable Edge: 15 Minutes a Week to a Richer Entrepreneurial Life

The Sustainable Edge: 15 Minutes a Week to a Richer Entrepreneurial Life

by Ron Carson, Scott Ford


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The Sustainable Edge: Fifteen Minutes a Week to a Richer Entrepreneurial Life was written for business owners who are seeking a fuller, more rewarding work-life balance. In this easy-to-reference, practical guide authors and entrepreneurs Ron Carson and Scott Ford share personal anecdotes to their own career successes. Each chapter is designed to inspire entrepreneurs to define and sustain a competitive edge in the complex, fast-changing world of business.

Relying on insights and proprietary tools based on decades of experience, the authors teach you how to achieve your goals across four key areas: your business, your teams, your clients, and your personal lives. In this book you will learn the authors’ trademarked Business Implementation Quotient (IQ) Grower process that appears in the form of end-of-chapter exercises. These easy-to-perform exercises can be completed in as little as 15 minutes per week to help your company boost its own Business IQ. This work is an important read for entrepreneurs in search of achieving the sustainable edge in their careers and their lives.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626342149
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 01/19/2016
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Ron Carson is the founder and CEO of Carson Wealth, one of the largest wealth advisory firms in the country, serving clients through holistic financial planning, disciplined investment strategies, and proactive personal service. He is one of the most celebrated and respected financial advisors and executives in the industry and is a sought after speaker, thinker, and investment strategist.

Ron has shared his success principles, as documented in his book, Tested in the Trenches, with audiences worldwide. Most recently, Ron coauthored The New York Times best-selling book Avalanche and the blueprinting process that goes with it. Together, these tools help advisors learn how to clarify their mission, vision, and values by setting business and life goals. Ron and his wife Jeanie reside in Omaha, Nebraska.

Scott Ford, founder and CEO of Cornerstone Wealth Management Group and a Carson Institutional partner, serves on the investment committee as the technical strategist. He is a registered principal at LPL Financial and is a registered financial consultant. Scott is ranked in the top 1 percent of all LPL registered financial advisors. He was recognized as one of the 20 Rising Stars of Wealth Management by Private Asset Management Magazine.

Scott is the author of two books: Financial Jiu-Jitsu: A Fighter’s Guide to Conquering Your Finances and The Widow’s Wealth Map: Six Steps to Beginning Again. Scott and his family reside in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Read an Excerpt

The Sustainable Edge

15 Minutes a Week to a Richer Entrepreneurial Life

By Ron Carson, Scott Ford

Greenleaf Book Group Press

Copyright © 2015 Ron Carson and Scott Ford
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62634-214-9



Ron often speaks to entrepreneurs who cannot understand why their firms are not growing faster. Often, he'll begin by posing a question, "Who in this room has a high IQ?" He is almost always met with silence.

He'll scan the room and catch a business owner's eye. "So what's your IQ?" he'll ask directly.

More silence. "Well ...," the business owner might finally say. "I know it's high."

In reality, Ron doesn't care about the Intelligence Quotient. So he'll ask, "How many of you in this room feel that 'when all is said and done, much more gets said than gets done?'"

Invariably, every hand in the room will shoot up. Unbeknownst to them, they have just answered Ron's original question. As smart as these business owners are, and no matter how high their Intelligence Quotient may be, they almost always have a low implementation quotient of making their goals into reality. In fact, some of them cannot even articulate their goals, be they short- or long-term, personal or professional. Knowing your goals and making them a reality — that's the "IQ" Ron cares about.

Do you have a low implementation quotient? Most business owners realize they do when Ron shares this story. While they are busier than ever, they aren't nailing their goals, nor are they anywhere near achieving the minimum 15 percent growth, essential to winning the Sustainable Edge. They often have no real endgame or succession plan in mind. This lack of focus or clarity can lead to crises at work that, in turn, cause an unbalanced personal life. An unbalanced personal life can lead to poor decisions at work, which can end up perpetuating a vicious cycle.

Some owners have a high implementation quotient at the office but not in their personal life. They aren't clear on what really matters to them at the end of the workday. They are highly productive at work but fail to set or achieve important goals outside of work, like sustaining a happy marriage, sharing a close relationship with their children, or simply taking the necessary time to recharge their batteries.

Blueprinting your life through the IQ Grower™ process is one way to become proactive and really figure out what you want for yourself and your life. The IQ Grower™ process will help you to live in the moment, so you really enjoy the miracle of life. So often people miss out on the moment because, like the unhappy business owner Ron met, they are caught up in doing what they think society wants them to do and not what really matters to them.

The IQ Grower™ process will free you to live your life by design and not by default, so that you will not end up like the client mentioned in the Preface. Raising your implementation quotient can save you from falling into the rut most Americans are in: They are on an unconscious journey to arrive safely at death. It is so easy to fall into a routine where your days, weeks, and months pass you by so that when you reach the end of your life, you find yourself saying, "I wish I had ..." We want everyone we meet to be able to say "I'm glad I did ...," not "I wish I had ..."

What Steve Jobs Knew

If you don't set goals and priorities for yourself, life will live you, not the other way around. No one put this better than Steve Jobs in his commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, soon after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma. ... Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. ... Everything else is secondary."

We want you to lead a Steve Jobs life — but on your own terms. That's why we created the IQ Grower™ process. By using the process, you will learn what is most important to achieving your dream — not what society thinks it should be. You'll learn to identify the passions that are most important to you and the goals that matter most. You'll be able to achieve what matters to you most — in the key areas of your life. The IQ Grower™ exercises may seem simple but they are the seminal step to achieving the Sustainable Edge. Don't underestimate their extraordinary power to change your life.

From Blueprinting to Raising your Implementation Quotient

In Ron's previous books, Avalanche and Tested in the Trenches, and through his coaching program, Peak Advisor Alliance, he has shared his Blueprinting process, a system that helps wealth advisors and other business owners achieve the Sustainable Edge. Blueprinting is a process that allows you to live life by design, not by default. It provides a roadmap to guide you — from start to finish — to find meaning and purpose in life. This process has helped countless wealth advisors and business owners achieve the Sustainable Edge. While Ron is living proof that Blueprinting works, he has found that many business owners don't stick with it. In fact, Scott has grappled with completing the challenge himself and had to return to the process three times to complete it. The first time he tried it, in 2001, he rushed through and didn't dig deeply enough to be really honest about what was important to him.

Scott's experience isn't surprising. Blueprinting has tremendous power and can unleash an immense amount of focus and energy that very few people will experience in their life. But it can be scary at first ("What will I find out about myself?"). It requires being truthful about what you really want out of the rest of your life and a willingness to push beyond easy answers, like claiming work is your only passion. Although you may be a little fearful of digging deeply, once you do, you'll be amazed at what you discover.

Frustrated by watching business owners miss out on the rewards of Blueprinting, Ron and Scott developed the IQ Grower™ process, an abbreviated version of the Blueprinting technique that requires just fifteen minutes a week. In those powerful fifteen minutes, you will begin to achieve life-changing results. We are certain that experiencing the rewards will inspire you to complete the full Blueprinting process, which is included in the appendix of this book, and progress even further in your journey within another six months to a year. When you set goals in the IQ Grower™ process, you may dramatically overestimate what you can accomplish in the short-term. But, if you stick with it you will dramatically underestimate what you can achieve in the next decade. One of Ron's favorite quotes is, "The past is bedrock unchangeable. Forget about it. The future is clay to be molded day by day." Blueprinting supplies the clay so that you can remake each day.

"Committing to the IQ Grower™ process will give you the courage to pursue what really matters to you while you have the time to act on it."

We urge you to express how you honestly feel when you dive into the IQ Grower™ exercises. Most people cannot immediately confront their true feelings. They will put on paper goals or ideas that are contrary to what they know to be true. But it feels amazing to be truthful and true to yourself. Remember, you don't have to share the exercises with anyone else. Put them in your safe deposit box if you must. The beauty of the IQ Grower™ process is that you don't have to be facing a terminal illness like Steve Jobs to achieve his perspective. The IQ Grower™ exercises will help you tap into wisdom that most people never experience until on their deathbeds.

Ultimately, by tapping into this wisdom, you can make great strides in striking an effective work-life balance. The exercises will give you the courage to pursue what really matters to you while you still have the time to act on it. By being truly honest with yourself, you will get to a place where you don't care how people judge you, and you will be able to harness the passions you never dared to set loose before.


If you are clear on what is important to you in life, it will be infinitely easier to set the right priorities. To do so, list at least six things you value most in life and rank them in order of importance. Next to each one, indicate the actual percentage of your time you spend living and supporting these values. Examples of things you might list include family, work, community, spiritual fulfillment, generosity, and adventure.

Most important values Percentage of time spent living and supporting my values







You may discover that you are spending your time on something that no longer matters to you. One wealth manager Ron knows realized her true passion was outside of her practice, so she sold it. She now runs a nonprofit in a developing country.


Many business owners overbook their calendars with activities they don't enjoy and that will mean little to them when they look back on their lives. By pinpointing the activities on which you truly want to spend your time, it will be easier to say "yes" to them and "no" to the activities that drain you.

If you are not sure what you really want to do with your time, answer the following questions that may help you identify the most meaningful activities for you.

1. What are your unique gifts? ____________________________ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________

2. What do you do extremely well? _________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________

3. What activities give you a great feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment? ______________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________

4. What social issues are you so passionate about you would write an editorial about them in your local newspaper or post a comment online advocating your position? _________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________

5. Given a choice, do you prefer to help people by rolling up your sleeves and pitching in, or do you prefer a more behind-the-scenes role? Give examples of the types of activities you like to do based on your response. ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________

6. When you feel empty and directionless in life, what is missing in your life during those times that is causing you to feel that way? ______________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________

7. How are you nourishing your soul spiritually? _____________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________

8. If you live your life with meaningful purpose, how will the world be a better place? ________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________

9. How will you know you are living your life with meaningful purpose? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ 10. If you received $1 billion what would you be doing and how would you use that money? ______________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________

Some people who complete the list find that their favorite activities don't fit into the lifestyle their spouses or families want. If you truly desire to build a life around your passions, and your spouse or other important person is not supportive, we encourage you to give some thought to how you will reconcile those differences. Finances are another issue to consider, of course, especially if you have recently invested heavily in your business. Do you view a lack of money as an impediment to fully realizing your meaningful purpose? If so, what are some creative ways that you can address and overcome this issue?

It may be tempting to pick activities that you think make you look good to others even though they are not what you truly enjoy. Remember, the tough question Ron asked Scott? We recommend speaking with a close confidante who can keep you honest with yourself. The idea of this exercise is to free you from meaningless perceived and/or real obligations, so that you can have more time and energy to pursue the activities about which you are most passionate.


If there is nothing else you take away from this book, the "Essential Six" and "Most Vital" exercise is the most important. It will transform your life as soon as you begin to use it and probably even before you finish. In the Essential Six you will identify your top six professional priorities for each day; the Most Vital is the big goal you must accomplish for the week.

Before you leave the office at the end of each day, list the Essential Six important things you must accomplish the following day, in order of importance, and add them to your calendar. Doing this the night before allows your subconscious to begin to work on your tasks in advance — to prepare for the day ahead. Begin your day by tackling item number one on your list. Do not move on to number two until you have successfully completed the first task. Tony Schwartz, author of Be Excellent at Anything, has found that working in ninety-minute increments, followed by short breaks, is the best way to maximize your productivity. We have found his suggestion to be helpful and a good rule of thumb for completing your Essential Six.

For Scott, the Most Vital for the week is almost always tied to the number one company priority for the quarter. If not, it is tied to one of his personal key performance indicators (KPIs) for the quarter. The first on the list of Essential Six is typically tied to the Most Vital for the week. Scott tries to dedicate the first ninety minutes of his day to working on it alone, usually before anyone else is in the office. The remaining five are usually a little more task oriented but still what he considers a great use of his time — like working out, meeting with a valued prospect or client, making a potential tuck-in or acquisition call, attending a webinar, or going on a date with his wife.

Don't worry or stress if you are not able to get through all six items every day. If you are able to accomplish all six priorities every day, you may be setting the bar too low for yourself. Reevaluate the tasks on your Essential Six. By focusing on your most important priority every day and crossing it off your list first, you will be surprised by how much more you accomplish overall.

Sometimes, your schedule will get derailed before you have completed every item on the list. Perhaps a major client will ask for an unexpected meeting or an urgent situation arises at home. The IQ Grower™ process is designed with that in mind. You will be surprised by how your awareness of the list will help you return to it and complete it, even if it is later in the day than you thought. For instance, not long ago a pipe burst at Scott's home, and he had to deal with the flood immediately. After taking care of the flood, he still had two important but incomplete items on his Essential Six list. When he returned to his desk late in the evening, he easily finished them. Without his Essential Six list — and the power of his subconscious mind that had been ruminating on the tasks on his list all day — those items probably would have fallen by the wayside in the wake of the burst pipe.

To make sure you are focusing on the right priorities, evaluate each item on your Essential Six list each day and ask yourself if you are really pursuing what you are good at and enjoy. Otherwise, you must overhaul your list until you can answer "yes."

It is also essential that you set your Most Vital for the week — the top goal you truly must accomplish. Naming it at the end of the week — perhaps on a Friday evening before going home, or over the weekend — gives your subconscious the opportunity to work on it, so you will have clarity of vision as you begin your next week. For example, one of Scott's most recent vital goals is to build the timeline and steps to implement his acquisition and tuck-in plan for Cornerstone Wealth in 2015. When you set your intention on what you really want to achieve, it will become much easier to say no to distractions. You'll find yourself delegating or avoiding unnecessary phone calls, emails, and meetings that distract you from the important work of the day and keep you working late into the evening.


Excerpted from The Sustainable Edge by Ron Carson, Scott Ford. Copyright © 2015 Ron Carson and Scott Ford. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction The Ultimate Question 1

1 The IQ Grower™ Process: 15 Minutes a Week to a Higher Business IQ 11

2 Harness Your Subconscious to Identify Your Why 31

3 Identify Your Passion that Pays 41

4 Hone Your Firm's Main Thing 63

5 Create Your Brain Trust to Benefit from the Best and the Brightest 73

6 Measure What Matters on Your Road to 15 Percent Growth 89

7 Simplify and Leap Forward 105

8 Be Boldly Vulnerable and Receive the Best in Return 123

9 Deliver Value Beyond a Doubt 139

Conclusion Put It All Together 155

Appendix A IQ Grower™ Process Chart 165

Appendix B Blueprinting Process Worksheet 169

Appendix C Sample Quarterly Dashboard 207

Appendix D Resources 211

About the Authors 217

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