As part of my series about the “How to Navigate and Succeed in the Modern World of Finance,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Christan Hiscock.
Christan Hiscock is the CEO and co-founder of Kardia Financial Group, which was born from the desire to change the financial services industry through heart-centered services that focus on what’s truly important; the people. Based in Calgary, Kardia Financial Group believes that the financial services industry should not be solely focused on dollars, but on helping people truly get to the heart of their financial goals. Kardia Financial Group offers community building, real estate acquisitions, financial advising, accounting services, mortgages, credit solutions and more.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started my journey in the financial services industry in 2007. During my training, I fell in love with the industry because I saw that it was possible to make an impact on the lives of so many families. For nearly a decade, I thought about ways to change the very transactional financial industry into more of a heart-centered and educationally focused industry. I then set out to make this dream a reality.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
We hosted an event to market one of our companies, and we ordered a ton of food for our guests. We all left the room at the end of the event, and when my business associates and I came back, we discovered that the restaurant had thrown all of the leftover cookies, strawberries, and other food away! We were so frustrated, because we would have taken all of the food with us. We learned several lessons that day: be careful what you order for events and be sure to stay on top of the leftovers so they aren’t wasted!
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
There are so many good books, but if I had to go with one I would go with You 2: A High Velocity Formula for Multiplying Your Personal Effectiveness in Quantum Leaps. It’s a short book that is all about taking quantum leaps in your life’s endeavors. I named one of my first companies Leap Ventures as well, because it’s all about taking leaps to progress.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are currently working on what we call the Kardia Concierge. It’s basically a team of people who will have conversations with every one of our clients — whether they are a mortgage client or financial advisor client — to help them figure out what else they need in their journey towards financial freedom. They will have their own concierge for many things.
Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the central focus of our discussion. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
We named our company ‘Kardia’ because it is the Greek word for heart. Our vision of Kardia is to be able to create a heart-centered approach in the financial services industry. Since then, it has expanded to be able to create heart-driven impact in multiple different industries outside of the financial industry. We own agricultural land, a few renovation businesses, and others, through which we all focus on how we can create impact through the work that we do. Whether I’m helping a customer get a mortgage or renovating someone’s bathroom, I think about how I am creating structure that can change their lives for the better.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
My number one principle is knowing why I’m doing it. For me, my own personal mission is to inspire others to see their own worth so they can go on and live a fulfilled life. Maintaining focus on this mission helps me stay positive and motivated throughout the ups and downs of running my business.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
We are a massive referral based business. So we try to do a really good job for our customers and clients, and then we ask them for a referral to other people in their network.
If a fellow business leader would ask you for advice about whether to bootstrap or to look for VC capital, how would you help them weigh the pros and cons of that decision?
In the beginning, it depends on what their mission and vision are. It also depends on how big the business is and what their track record is. If this is something they are testing, they could bootstrap for a little bit. If they go the VC route, they can end up giving up a lot of the business when they don’t actually have the structure built for it.
I’m okay with giving up equity, but it needs to make sense based on what they are doing. So if they are pivoting a lot, as a lot of people do in the beginning, it’s kind of nice to do that while they are bootstrapping and figuring it all out. Then, when they decide to go raise capital, they will have a very clear direction of where they are going. Things will still change because that’s business, but they will have more confidence.
What measure do you use to determine the value of a company? What advice would you give to other leaders about how to get an optimal evaluation of their business?
I look at all of the business’s numbers, as well as at the team members running the business, and whether these people will be in the company long term. Those factors are all very valuable.
My advice for other business leaders is to system, system, system. Make sure you are tracking everything, and that you have clearly laid-out books and systems of tracking conversion metrics, books and finances, and other necessities that need to be tracked and measured.
What would you advise to a founder who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Bring in a new set of leaders who can all provide different skill sets, especially those who are great at growing aspects of a business. Then, in case there’s a plateau, you will have someone who is more operations- and systems-driven to be able to take your enterprise to the next level. The founder may not be the type of CEO or leader for that company anymore, so they should sell the business to someone who is, or they should implement new managers and executives who understand that kind of business. After doing this, the founder should then move on to their next venture.
What are the most common finance mistakes you have seen other businesses make? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
A common mistake I see is not putting enough money into a safety net. Insead, they reinvest everything back into their business. In contrast, company leaders should always have money off to the side in a safety net for things not related to their business. Then, they can always draw money from that safety-net in the worst-case scenario. Business owners should make sure to consistently put a percentage of profits away.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to succeed in the modern finance industry? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Success is meaningless without fulfillment. This really hit home for me at my mother’s funeral, because by societal standards, she wasn’t successful. But as person after person got up and talked about how she made their lives better, I realized she might never have said she was successful, but she would have said she was fulfilled. I hold that close, always, and I talk to my team about it because when they can get to the heart of what their clients want at the core, and learn what fulfillment means for them in their lives it’s a different conversation, and not a one-sided, soapbox style talk about what they think a client should do. That is how they get to have a bigger impact on their clients’ lives, which is more fulfilling for them too.
2. Evaluate and understand what the actual target is. It’s different for you, your business, each team member and every client. Not everyone has the same goals, and sometimes we think everyone is on the same path or page when they are not. And when you miss that target, especially for a client, it is quite probable you have lost them for good.
3. Check in. Often. Whether that’s with your business, your team members or your clients. I believe the old adage “that it’s who you know” is so true. Cultivating your relationships is the most important thing you can do for your business. Finding new opportunities, hiring new people, or getting referrals is all about the people you know and how you treat them. Checking in with them shows them they matter and that you genuinely care about them, and that means everything.
4. Clearly define your personal vision and mission. During the tough times, and we all have them, this is what will keep you on track. The financial industry isn’t easy and every single one of us in it takes knocks. I personally lost nearly half a million dollars several years ago in a failing business. It was only the intense focus on my purpose that turned it around and created everything I have today. It’s that vision and mission that is leading the way into the future as well.
5. Build your systems then try to break them. You can’t grow if you don’t have systems, otherwise you get lost in recreating the wheel every day. Then once you have great ones established, if you don’t try to break them, your business will stagnate. That is a death knell for your company because if you aren’t innovating, someone else will and you will get left behind in the dust.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Do new things in your company that create fun. Especially in the finance industry, things can be very serious. That’s why we have to be able to have fun, whether that’s having a comedian come out, hosting a corporate event, or putting on an online show. Have a whole department in your company that helps set up and curate engagement and fun within your organization so that there are a lot of fun times in your workplace. Also, take time to go on vacation with your family, or go on secluded trips by yourself if that’s your thing. It is so important to recharge, because that will actually help you work better and stronger. You will get more done if you do this than if you don’t.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I am on a mission to change the conversation from chasing success to focusing on fulfillment instead. Because if you are fulfilled, isn’t success a given? The only way anyone can do that is by taking the time to evaluate what they want out of life, instead of what other people say they should want, or have, be or do. Fulfillment is an intrinsic thing and only you can decide what it means for you. And when you do, everything shifts!
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