What The Last 1,095 Days Have Taught Me About Life, Myself, and Being an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur - a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. A person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk (dictionary.com).
This past Labor Day Weekend I happily celebrated 1,095 days since moving from South Central PA to the big city - NYC. And, although I had been mulling over my then-current state of ennui and my desire to 'run towards life', it was an unexpected death in my family that catapulted that decision to the top of the list. My decision to move became my 'pivot', my game changer, and my tipping point. I inhaled, and then exhaled. And then I jumped. As I reflect, it has been another year of transitions, relationships, introspection, change, and much more work. And to be honest, before moving to NYC, I don't recall ever using the word Entrepreneur to describe myself..but I do now.
As I start my fourth year in NYC and my thirteenth in private practice, I am taking more time than usual to pause and reflect. For whatever reason, this year feels different. In some ways, I feel as if I got my groove back - I feel more secure, stronger and determined. I am more confident about who I am (and more importantly, who I am not) and understand even more deeply what I am good at and - equally important - what I am not. I think those are good things to know about yourself.
It’s also during this time of reflection that I find myself asking many questions internally. What has changed for me? What is better? What is worse? What I have learned thus far? What are my takeaways? What do I want to be different moving forward? Am I happy? Am I having fun? Do I still love my work? What do I want to be different? The same? What have been mistakes? Regrets? My successes and my failures? How have they changed my direction and how I think about myself and my business?
Although all of those questions have answers, what really rises to the top is what I have learned:- about myself, life, relationships, the choices I made (for good or bad), being an entrepreneur in this vast city, how it differs (greatly!) from where I was originally to where I am now, what it means to have grit and perseverance and carry on even in those dark days (and there were many dark days), and what it means that I have learned (maybe finally) how to reach out and depend on others in a healthy way - that, in the past, I would not have otherwise. For me, there are some real game changers in the answers I’ve found.
Although everyone has their own unique learning experiences, here are a some of my take aways...
1. Above all else, be kind to yourself.
Even during those challenging times*-, even when you have made a decision that did not work out. Don't beat yourself up continuously. We are our own worst critic. Think of the shampoo commercial. Wash, rinse, repeat. Then call it a day and move on!
2. Failures are part of success.
I recognize that some my failures or poor choices are also part of my success. I also learned that I was the one to prevent some things from happening. Maybe I wasn't ready. Recognize this, then, go back to #1.
3. Understand the importance of reaching out.
I became more open to meeting amazing, successful people in my field and learning from them by pushing my limits and reaching out. I also learned and continue to understand the value of creating relationships with people outside of my field as a way to cultivate a network of wonderful referrals for the people I help and those I connect with everyday that are in need.
4. Change is constant.
I am willing and open to changing my game - more than I thought I ever would be. I am open to feedback, constructive criticism, and trying new things even if I am super uncomfortable. I decided to start a YouTube channel and boy, was I was working (still am to some degree) outside my comfort box! But that is what growth comes from - change is constant and it can be great.
5. Be your own biggest fan.
Aside from my husband (whom I met when I moved here), who supports me in everything I do, I have learned that you have to be your own biggest fan. We all have to be. We have to be able to depend on ourselves, pick ourselves, be reflective, and always allow ourselves to evolve. Always. It’s during the most difficult times that we have to reach down deep and still move forward, even when it feels that we are stuck in cement. In the early days of moving here, I found myself going online and looking at all the people in my field that were doing more and better things than me. I thought: am I the only one who doesn't have a huge blog following, podcast, and book out there? Find strength from within.
Advisors Will Be Extinct in 5 Years Unless…
I’ve had financial advisors for more than 40 years. Not once in those years have I called my advisor to find out what stock/funds I should buy or sell. But I have called to find out where I should get my first mortgage, when to sell my house, or how much income I could get in retirement.
In short -- and I think I’m pretty typical – I was looking for financial advice, as it relates to my life.
Here’s the disconnect, what most advisors do is simply manage their clients’ assets. They determine what to buy, and what to sell, they think about risk management, about growing their practice by finding new clients and about getting paid.
Historically that has been the business model. But as more women take control over financial assets, they, like me, will be looking for a different experience. And unless the financial community is willing to change ….. advisors, as they are today will be extinct in five years.
Advisors who want to survive will have to do a lot more than just manage money – they will have to provide genuine “advice”. That means doing what’s right for the client, not pushing product and pretending it’s advice.
Women especially, but all investors generally, are becoming more and more cynical. They says, “If I want advice about reducing my debt, that’s what I want and not ‘here’s more debt’ because that’s what my advisor gets paid for! And if saving taxes is what I want then saving taxes should take precedent over selling me a product.”
You may be thinking that spending your time providing advice isn’t lucrative but the reality is that in the long run – it pays off in spades. The advisors who take the time to build real relationships with clients, who provide advice as it relates to their clients’ lives, even when there is no immediate financial benefit to themselves, those who don’t simply push product – are the ones who over time have the most successful practices.
Generally women understand and value service, but they will say, “If I’m paying, I want to know what I’m paying for: Is it for returns? Is it for advice? Is it for administration? I want to know. Then I can make up my mind what’s worth it and what isn’t.”
Investing is becoming a commoditized business and technology is replacing research that no one else can find. Today the average advisor is hard pressed to consistently beat the markets, and with women emerging as the client of the future, unless they start providing real advice, their jobs will likely be extinct in five years.
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