Bright-eyed and Clueless: Using My Inexperience as an Opportunity

I knew absolutely nothing about exit planning before working at EPI. Even now, the jargon and culture are very foreign to me. And to go from being a professionally trained writer to knowing nothing at all has been a very sobering experience. Jordyn Austin, EPI Marketing Coordinator

EPI Stages for Exponential Hypergrowth in 2020

As you know from the State of the Institute Address, EPI has grown rapidly and to continue to meet the market demands, has staged itself for the continued hyper-growth.

A few highlights:

  • The CEPA community now embodies more than 2,000 advisors worldwide.
  • We have expanded to offer 8+ CEPA programs (and counting).
  • New experts have joined the esteemed CEPA faculty lineup.
  • The EPI Chapter Network, that educates more than 10,000 advisors nationwide, will expand into six new regions and host more than 300 best practice sessions and networking events coast-to-coast.

And most recently, EPI Global has onboarded new talent (seven new people in the past two months!) to the headquarters staff to deliver on our brand promise: Bringing you the best industry content, ongoing advisor support, and a platform to connect with business owners.

A Clueless Employee

Now as one of these new hires, I came into work bright-eyed, a talented writer, fresh out of my master’s program, feeling confident that I am the right person for the job.

Boy was I clueless.

Getting up to speed

It’s like deciding to walk a mile with a friend but finding out when you show up, you have to sprint it instead.

I knew absolutely nothing about exit planning before working at EPI. Even now, the jargon and culture are very foreign to me. And to go from being a professionally trained writer to knowing nothing at all, has been a very sobering experience.

When I started here at EPI last December, I began working on projects right away as part of my training. I’ve discovered one of the best ways I personally learn is to just give it a try.

Why Don’t They Make Exit Planning for Dummies?

One of my chief responsibilities is to showcase the wealth of thought leadership that is produced from CEPAs. However, when it comes time to interview subject matters, I always have to ask my boss to give me interview questions.

Even with spoon-fed prompt questions, you can imagine that interviewing CEPAs, esteemed experts, and professional advisors without much knowledge of the industry, or the vocabulary for that matter, is very difficult. Furthermore, it’s super intimidating.

Fake it till you make it? #awkward

I remember from my first week. I sat in the room, trying to take notes as my boss’s boss interviewed Dan Doran, 2019 Exit Planner of the Year. They moved quickly from topic to topic, casually throwing out acronym after acronym. The entire time I was thinking…“Huh?”

Because my knowledge about the industry is so limited, I don’t have the right words to say, let alone know the right questions to ask.

Honestly, this bothers me.

I should be able to speak with professionals in the industry and know exactly what I am talking about. At the very least, I want to get rid of my awkward chuckle when I’m having trouble understanding exit planning terminology.

Solving my own problem

And then I realized: I know exactly how to solve my problem. The trick isn’t wishing I had the knowledge upon entry to a new industry. It is leaning on my critical thought skills and leveraging my advanced ability to learn.

Introducing the New Column: Learning Exit Planning

Leaning into my disciplined approach to journalism and technical writing, I developed an “exit planning syllabus,” a laundry list of books, programs, and ways to grow my industry knowledge.

When I presented that to our Vice President, who is an avid reader and industry writer, I casually mentioned the idea for a “behind-the-scenes” style column that would allow readers like you a front row seat to my journey from zero to one, never thinking she’d go for the idea.

Wrong again.

Cliff Notes for those who want to learn and grow in exit planning

Learning Exit Planning is exactly that; a column for anyone who has entered this industry and wants to understand what everything means and how it relates to them in their professional role. It is exit planning in layman’s terms. It is exit planning “cliff notes” for…

  • The newly credentialed exit planning advisor.
  • The practitioner that keeps getting told “you should really be doing exit planning,” but has waited because they aren’t sure if it’s the right decision.
  • The marketer that just got told by management that they need to add exit planning services to their firm’s drop-down menu and starting marketing this service, but doesn’t know what to write.
  • The business owner who want to form their own opinion about what their exit or transition looks like before asking for advice.
  • It is a column for anyone who wants to learn practical applications for exit planning knowledge and reinvent themselves alongside me.


A social culture that promotes learning in a sustainable way

I can honestly say that even though I don’t have an exit planning background, EPI is full of people who don’t mind dropping what they are doing to help you out. The company is full of knowledge and resources and because of that, I’ve learned that EPI is an advocate not only for learning but learning well.    

So, I’ve set out to learn the exit planning industry by reading and providing commentary on industry-relevant books. By sharing in abundance, I can bring you on this journey with me because I know I’m not the only one who’s clueless about exit planning.

What You Can Expect

As your education provider, one of the best insights we can offer is a behind-the-scenes look at how EPI scales knowledge for employees like myself.

Reviews of books written by CEPAs and industry experts

Starting next week, the EPI community will start to see articles from our new column #LearningExitPlanning. EPI staff members from various backgrounds and experience levels will contribute to the column.

As the editor of this column, I will curate and post books reviews that cover topics from all corners of the exit planning methodology. Many of these books have been written by CEPAs. And #LEP will feature those books that leave a remarkable impact on the exit planning industry and on our team.

Each book review will include:

  • A quick summary of the book itself;
  • The problem this author tackled and solved by writing the book; and
  • Insights on the most useable info and practical applications.

Each book will be rated on a scale from 1 to 6:

Each book will be rated in the following 3 areas:

  1. Information: The book contains valuable facts and increases the reader’s knowledge.
  2. Entertainment Value: The reader found it easy to read and engaging.
  3. Transformational: The book was immediately useful and highly relatable in business or personal ways.

How to Use #LEP Companywide

An authentic inside look at the EPI team’s professional development

Lastly, I’ve challenged each EPI employee (whether they’re new or they’ve been here for years) to contribute review. They will be super authentic and share how they are developing on a concept (or not) that they felt was sitting just outside their grasp.

If you have anyone in your company that supports you in marketing, sales, or execution…I challenge you to encourage them to follow along and learn exit planning with me.

Watch the transformation

We hope you enjoy this inside look at one team’s journey towards heightened industry acumen. I hope you find value in for yourself in a column about reading books that connect the dots.

We invite you to watch the transformation from bright-eyed and clueless to knowledgeable and experienced.

Currently Underway: 7 Industry Books

Right now, the marketing team is currently writing three reviews and reading four more books to add to the #LEP column for you! See the picks below and send us a message if you have a book you think we should read next!

Current Staff Book Picks

  1. Every Family’s Business: 12 Common Sense Questions to Protect Your Wealth written by Thomas William Deans, Ph.D. (Review to be posted by Jordyn Austin)
  2. The Advisor’s Guide to Successful Family Business Engagements written by Kyle Danner, CEPA (Review to be posted by Chase Ross)
  3. The Ultimate Sale: A Financially Simple Guide to Selling A Business for Maximum Profit written by Justin A. Goodbread, CFP®, CEPA, CVGA (Review to be posted by Paige Koerper)
  4. Maximize Business Value: Begin with the Exit in Mind written by Tom Bronson, CEPA (Reading underway)
  5. Willing Wisdom: 7 Questions Successful Families Ask written by Thomas William Deans, Ph.D. (Reading underway)
  6. Next Best Step: 10 Proven Principles of Servant Leadership Wisdom written by Gordon D. Bell, CEPA (Reading underway)
  7. Acquired: Now What? Written by Keno Vigil (Reading underway)

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