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“There is no one definition of “difficult” and it really is a matter of opinion.”

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Beverly co-founded The Collaborative in 1995. In 2008, the firm launched a new venture, Advisors Trusted Advisor, to meet the specific needs of independent investment advisors and wealth managers. Prior to co-founding The Collaborative, Beverly held several senior level sales, business development and business operations positions within John Hancock Financial Services’ Investment Sector. Beverly’s corporate background also includes executive search and retail banking.

Beverly holds both a BSBA and an MBA from Suffolk University. She is a frequent speaker at events and contributor to periodicals. Beverly is a two-time bestselling and Gold-award winning author. She is also a college professor teaching Leadership & Social Responsibility.

The Collaborative is a consulting firm specializing in sales and marketing serving the financial services marketplace.

Beverly Flaxington, The Collaborative - Principal

MO: What inspired you to start your own business? Have you always had an entrepreneurial streak?

Beverly: Yes, I always thought I would run my own business one day. I would become so frustrated in both the small companies and large companies where I worked that I couldn’t make effective change happen. I wanted the chance to try my own ideas. It was a huge risk to leave the safe environment of a large company where I was successful and valued but it has been so fulfilling to do things I probably would never have done, and to be able to work with so many different firms over the years. I have never regretted taking the risk even though there were many years I missed my corporate benefits!

MO: After over 15 years in business, how has The Collaborative evolved? How have your client’s needs and expectations changed since you first launched in 1995?

Beverly: We have evolved so much. We first started out believing we could make a living offering financial education to large retirement firms. We quickly found it wasn’t a sustainable business so we reinvented ourselves to be more of a sales and marketing firm. Over time, we were introduced to the DISC and values tools (communication and motivators) and also extended our reach to help clients with teambuilding, interviewing for the right hire and other people-related aspects. We have also changed market focus moving to more of a specialization in working with financial advisors.

MO: Can you talk about your trademarked programs, what they focus on and who your target audience is?

Beverly: We have three main programs that we have trademarked – The 7 Steps to Effective Business Building for Financial Advisors which is a 7-step program to help advisors market and sell more effectively. The S.H.I.F.T. Model, our proprietary change management model. This model evolved because a client asked us to document what we do so well and differently from other consultants. It’s become the basis for much of our work with individual coaching clients and with larger groups. The Five Secrets to Successful Selling, based upon my Gold-award winning book to help salespeople learn how to use relationship skills to strengthen and sustain the sales process.

MO: What are 3 trends that you’re personally or professionally excited about?

Beverly:

(1) The new media that firms can use to market more effectively is one. We are diving head-first into audio, video and other ways to help firms stand out in a crowded market.

(2) Another is the focus on the people aspect within businesses. Businesses are finally realizing, in many cases, there is a cost to poor communication and conflict and they are trying to find ways to help employees work together more effectively.

(3) The focus on customer service. Consumers are getting fed up with being treated badly and businesses must find ways to reach out and make their customer feel good about working with them.

MO: No matter what industry you work in there are always difficult people, either as colleagues or customers. What are some tools and advice for dealing with challenging individuals and the conflict it can create?

Beverly: Yes, this is a universal topic! First thing is, for all of us, we must learn to recognize our own triggers. There is no one definition of “difficult” and it really is a matter of opinion. What bothers me and why? We have to learn to adopt an air of curiosity and become interested observers learning more about the difficult person and instead of repelling them, finding them as a challenge! Sometimes we can reframe the person and the behavior and work with them more effectively. We have to qualify our response by impact – how much is this person impacting or hurting my ability to succeed and thrive? We waste a ton of time and energy where the impact is minimal. People need to be more self-interested about their own energy around difficult people.

MO: Why do you think that you and your colleagues are such popular and sought after speakers?

Beverly: There are a few reasons, I believe. One is that we talk about what’s really going on – no sugar coating! Another is that we provide real-world, actionable ideas – we don’t just talk theoretical, we focus on what to do. We combine strategic planning and thinking with action oriented steps. And we do understand people – we know a great deal about human behavior and I believe this separates us from many others.

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