Do my best to leave work at work. If you ask my family, they may not necessarily agree all of the time, but I always strive to be present in family situations. I also try to carve out time when I’m not with my family to focus on business if I’m not in the office.
As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Steeno, president CoreCap Investments in Southfield, Michigan.
As president of CoreCap Investments and CoreCap Advisors, Jason Steeno spends his time developing and refining the firm’s growth strategies as well as identifying new opportunities for registered representatives and investment advisors. Having served in leadership roles for the majority of his career, Jason brings his experience and guidance to CoreCap where he is laser-focused on helping advisors and clients achieve success.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in a small town in northeastern Wisconsin of about 2,000 people. I was always great with numbers and very relationship-driven, which is what drew me to the financial services industry.
I actually attended the University of Wisconsin intending to study electrical engineering, but quickly found out that it wasn’t something I was interested in or passionate about. I ended up switching my major to business and became interested in the financial markets, sales and coaching and leadership. At that point, I knew what I would do when I graduated from college. I wanted to devote my time and my career to finance.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.
When I entered the business back in the mid-90’s, I achieved some success as an individual producer. As I achieved more success, I would often be asked to help mentor new advisors in our office. I found the enjoyment and satisfaction in helping them succeed far outweighed what I felt when I was doing well.
Because of that experience in mentoring new advisors, I had the opportunity to move into a leadership position early in my career with TD Waterhouse and it really ignited my passion for coaching, developing and leading people. I definitely made some mistakes early on as a leader, especially with how leadership has changed over the years and how different leadership was 20+ years ago.
I was able to achieve a high degree of success as a leader which fueled me to want to positively impact the lives of others on a larger scale, which resulted in me pursuing higher-level leadership roles throughout my career.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve been fortunate to work for some very strong and impactful leaders in my career who played a large role in how I developed my own leadership skills over the years. On the other hand, I’ve also worked for some leaders who taught me a fair amount of what not to do.
One person who had a very significant impact on my leadership abilities and helped me become the leader I am today is Matt Wilson, who is currently with E-Trade Advisor Services. Matt helped show me that leadership is all about relationships and how those relationships play a large role in determining both the success of your organization as well as your success as a leader.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
As a new leader in 2002, I went into the role thinking I needed to treat everybody the same. Everyone needed the same things from a coaching, development and interactive perspective. I quickly learned that a “one size fits all” approach to leadership doesn’t work, and I had to adapt to coaching each person as an individual rather than coaching everyone as a team.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Everything in this business and in leadership is earned, not given. In looking back at my career, I’ve had many failures along the way that helped shape where I am today. Mistakes will happen. The most important thing is to learn from those mistakes so you don’t repeat them. At the same time, those mistakes can be a good thing. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking risks. The mistakes we make help form us as leaders as much as our successes do.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I had the opportunity to meet Lou Holtz at a conference where I received a copy of his book, Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success. I have used many of the lessons he conveys in his book over the years to help shape my actions as a leader as well as to help guide me through difficult situations, both professional and personally. In fact, I frequently quote his book during meetings or conversations with associates.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” For me, this quote resonates because you can have the best strategy in the world — it can be well-thought-out and perfect on paper, but at the end of the day, the culture at your company is going to dictate how your plan is received and executed, as well as the level of success you’re going to see with that strategy.
To me, it means you need to first build the right culture to successfully execute new strategies.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Everything we’re doing right now at CoreCap is focused on our advisors and creating additional value for them to better serve their clients. We are working on additional ways these advisors can help their clients achieve financial success as well as making their jobs easier and more efficient to help serve more clients.
We’ve recently added capabilities that enable our advisors to help their clients with more of their investable assets and we’re currently working on a technology solution that brings our firm more inline and ahead of some other firms in the industry with respect to workflows and operational processes.
One of my objectives in joining CoreCap Investments was to build a better mousetrap for the independent registered representative and investment advisor representative to help make it easier to do business with us. We strive to partner with these advisors to help grow their business and show that just because they’re independent, it doesn’t mean they’re alone.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?
- Do my best to leave work at work. If you ask my family, they may not necessarily agree all of the time, but I always strive to be present in family situations. I also try to carve out time when I’m not with my family to focus on business if I’m not in the office.
- Have a hobby. I’ve been playing golf since I was 10 years old, and most people who know me know it’s a significant passion of mine. Golf allows me a competitive outlet when playing with others, as well as a great way to spend time and connect with my family.
- Strong faith. At the end of the day, I believe that there is a higher power. I often put my trust in God to guide me, which is a huge stress reliever. Things don’t always work out, but putting my faith in a higher power helps show me the way when I sometimes don’t know what is the right path.
Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?
- Proper preparation prevents poor performance. I’m a believer in preparing for high stress situations, and that preparation helps me operate at my highest level.
- Rehearse. I like to walk through or roleplay a scenario beforehand with someone who isn’t involved in the situation. Oftentimes, it helps me identify areas that I may not have thought could occur, but by roleplaying with a third-party perspective, I know I will be ready for whatever situation presents itself.
- Leverage your network. I don’t profess to have all of the best ideas in the world. In fact, I often find that the best ideas come from those not involved in a situation. Getting perspectives from others before going into a high pressure or high stress situation has helped me multiple times over the course of my career.
Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.
Visualizing your shot is a big concept in golf. See how you want the shot to look before you take it, imagine the ball’s flight. That’s a strategy I use in golf and business. Picturing in my mind what I want an interaction or end result of a situation to look like helps me navigate throughout more successfully.
Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?
As tasks and projects present themselves in my business, one thing that helps me is clearly triaging what needs to be worked on first — the “big rocks,” so to speak.
I tend to focus on those things first and ensure they are being worked on and moved along. My list of tasks is continuously growing and changing, but if I end up getting to the items further down on the list, it’s a bonus. This method helps keep me focused on the things that are important and removes distractions that may pop up during the day.
We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
I’ve gotten in the habit of connecting with multiple people throughout the day that aren’t necessarily involved in my current business. You could call it networking or staying in touch with former coworkers, but I like to reconnect with people and talk about potential business opportunities.
We work in a very large industry, but it’s a small world. You never know who in our business you’re going to come across that you’ve worked with in the past, or somebody that you know from a previous firm. It’s important to keep those relationships current and to continue to leverage your network for new ideas.
What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?
When you find something that works and see you’re achieving success with it, build it into your process. I am big on trying new things, one of my pet peeves is hearing the phrase “we’ve always done it that way.”
I think you can tell very clearly when you’re trying something and it’s not working. By having the courage and faith to try something new, you may stumble upon something that ends up being really beneficial. At that point, you can work it into your process and make it a habit.
As a business leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?
This is something I’m still trying to achieve. Unfortunately, I don’t know that I’ve ever really experienced this state of flow because I feel like I’m always trying to grow as a leader, person, husband and father. I’m never satisfied, but it’s something that I’m working towards achieving. Maybe I’ll know when I get there.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
With the current state of affairs and social media’s influence, there is so much misinformation and everybody is quick to criticize or attack another person from the safety of sitting behind a keyboard. I really feel that as a society, we need to get to a point where we’re being nice to each other rather than judging and attacking based on beliefs and opinions.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to these problems, but you won’t see me engaging in debates on social media. I believe it starts on an individual level, we all own the responsibility to treat each other with respect and dignity — and it starts with me and you.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Hopefully, my friends and family who are Packers fans won’t think less of me for this, but I would pick Bill Belichick. When I look at his history in coaching, primarily with the Patriots, he created a process, system and environment where he was a perpetual winner, even when he didn’t always have the best talent.
To me, one of our biggest responsibilities as leaders is to create an environment for people to be successful, regardless of their abilities. I feel Bill has done exactly that, year over year over year in New England.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can keep up with me on LinkedIn and via our website, here are the links:
Company website: https://corecapinv.com/
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.