Choose The Pursuit of Imperfection
Pushing ourselves to do our best is clearly one of the keys to success. However, don’t confuse the noble act of trying our best with the noble act of pushing ourselves to perfection. They may sound similar but they are dramatically different. Doing our best requires a discipline to take no shortcuts in our effort, and perform at our very finest. But perfection is a whole different story, and the pursuit of it can do far more to destroy what we are putting forward than to perfect it.
We can control our effort, but we cannot control our outcome. Remembering this helps us to optimize both.
It’s not a crime to pursue perfection; it’s just a mistake.
If even one shred of evidence existed to prove otherwise, I’d be a fan of perfection, but in fact, the pursuit of perfection only works against us. After all, one of the greatest strengths we possess – when we perform at our highest level – is the ability to perform unencumbered by tension. Do you believe, for one second, that focusing on perfection will decrease tension?
Perfection happens on rare occasions, but it is not something that the best of the best actively try to achieve. If you ask someone who actually achieves perfection, he or she will almost always tell you that they did not even contemplate perfection while attempting to accomplish it. They knew that the mere thought of it would create tension, and so that moves them further away from it. When a pitcher is pitching late in a ballgame, and in the position to possibly pitch a perfect game, watch how carefully the other players do all they can to not focus on the potential feat at hand. Other than pitching performances and bowling, there is almost no sport or occupation that even allows for perfection and yet, instinctively, we seem determined to pursue it.
I say, let’s pursue imperfection! Let’s give ourselves a pep talk and remind ourselves of this: Our imperfections, and our ability to deal with what happens when we are outside of our comfort zone, is what will truly impress people. Instead of fearing what might go wrong, why not embrace what might go wrong as an opportunity to show others the real you?
When things go wrong, we allow those who are judging us to see a more intimate, and unrehearsed, side of us. Typically, these moments cannot be planned for because they often happen organically, but that spontaneous side of ourselves is what many really want to see. When we have to deal with an unforeseen situation, it shows others how we behave under pressure, in the real world. This human side lets others see your true character. Fashion designer and author Lauren Conrad once said: “Imperfection is relatable.”
I once heard a story about Richard Harris that truly illustrates this point. He had played the part of King Arthur in Camelot, countless times over the course of his career. During a performance in his later years, he actually forgot the words to one of his signature songs. Although the orchestra attempted to cover for him, he signaled the orchestra to stop playing the song. For a brief moment, the audience gasped as he walked towards them and said, “I must confess, I have forgotten the words. Perhaps, if it is not too much trouble, you could help me to remember them.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the building as the audience stood in unison and sang, together, the immortal “Camelot.” I’m quite sure it was an experience that no one in attendance would ever forget. I wish I had been there.
The pursuit of perfection is a noble cause, but the acceptance of imperfection can actually give you a wonderful opportunity to just be you. If you can embrace the imperfections when they make their surprise appearances, you will find that it will bring you closer to those around you. Your smile and easygoing attitude will be on display and will win over everyone there… and they’ll love you for it!
Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips
Written by: Shileen Weber
When the American Funds’ Capital Group asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.
It was client issues.
At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.
It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.
In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.
But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.
Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.
Content is King
Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.
Review what content is already available to you: Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.
Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.
The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.
Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.
Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.
Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.
Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.
Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.
The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.
Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
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