Grease Isn’t the Word After All

© Can Stock Photo / Leaf

On the threshold of Thanksgiving (here in the U.S. anyway), I pause from my regularly scheduled project list to post some ponderings on the power of a single word.

What’s the Word?

Recently, I was privileged to attend the BAM ALLIANCE 2017 National Conference. Returning to my roots is always part educational, part sentimental, and entirely inspirational; this year was no exception.

I could blather on for pages about some of the insights gained by networking with my peeps. Maybe I will in a future post. But if I were tasked with condensing the entire event into one word, it would be this:

It’s Empathy.

Events ranged from deep dives into academic financial theory, to business development workshops, to helping the local food bank with an outreach program, to pondering the true meaning of happiness. Throughout, I couldn’t help but notice a silver thread of empathy connecting all of us attendees, fund managers, financial service providers and keynote speakers alike.

Best-selling motivational author and speaker Jon Acuff even built his presentation around it, with a simple directive on how to be empathetic: “Care about what the people you care about, care about.”

I’ll add my own two cents: The more people you manage to care about, the better. This strikes me as a best defense against some of the demoralizing myopia that has been chipping away at  our global connectivity of late. Empathize until it hurts!

What’s Empathy Worth To You?

Lofty ambitions aside, empathy is another key differentiation that establishes a true advisor’s worth — for your clients and, I might argue, for your bottom line.

I’m not talking about just going through the motions. I’m interested in seeing more of us (myself included) achieve the genuine article, in all of its considerably more pride-swallowing, patience-trying, faith-challenging glory. This is the kind that matters.

A Very Personal Story

You no doubt have your own stories that come to mind when you consider the nature of empathy. Wealth advisor Chris Gardner took his, and wrote a recently published book around them: “A Very Personal Financial Story.” Weaving his own, well, very personal story around a rich series of sound financial recommendations, here’s Chris’s take on empathy:

“Only by trying to imagine the helplessness of someone else was I able to see all the help and advantages that I’d had my whole life.”

Chris also sprinkles “DISCUSS WITH YOUR ADVISOR” questions throughout his book, some of which you might want to add to the empathetic questions you pose to your own clients and prospects. A few interesting examples: “What life challenges have changed your thinking? How is your life different today than you expected? If you died tomorrow, would your heirs know what to do?

Spread the Empathy

So, this holiday season and throughout the year, let’s lead with empathy. Not just in word but in deed. Nurture empathy in your mindset and your manners. Add a little elbow grease while you’re at it. You may be pleasantly surprised by how smoothly the rest of your actions and ambitions roll from there.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

PS: Thanks, Chris, for sharing your wonderful book with me at the conference. Hope to see you again next year!