October 17, 2007

We See As We Are

We do not see things as they are, but as we are ourselves.
-- Henry M Tomlinson (1873-1958)

We don't see things as they are. We see them as we are.
-- Anais Nin (1903-1977)

We see things as we are, not as they are.
-- Leo Rosten (1908-1997)

We see things not as they are, but as we are.
-- Stephen Covey
In recent weeks, I was pondering Stephen Covey's words only to find today that he may not be the originator. That isn't my point, but maybe it is. I want to believe he's the source because that's what I thought for years. I actually prefer Leo Rosten's version. Or my reworking ;)

Here's a longer quote from Covey: "Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or as we are conditioned to see it."

Do you believe that? I do more deeply than ever. Here's why. I spend most of my time helping advisors and clients. I focus on communicating simply and honestly. Even when ideas are compelling, biases get in the way.

You can show clients how tax advantages make life insurance an excellent way --- even the best way --- to invest or pay estate taxes. You'll still get objections like
  • "I don't believe in insurance", as if we're talking about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny
  • "I buy term and invest the difference", forgetting that most term life insurance expires before death is likely and that investing outside exposes growth to tax
  • "I had a bad experience with an advisor years ago and won't trust another one."
Statements like these give deep insights about the speaker. The objections can sometimes be overcome over time. Sometimes the beliefs stick and the clients lose.

Or do they? Our biases get in the way too. We may not even notice.
  • does the client have the right amount of insurance?
  • does the client have the right type of insurance?
  • is the client open to a leveraging strategy?
We can inadvertently make the wrong recommendations or even suppress strategies because we know how the client thinks.

Indeed, we don't want to overwhelm clients with too many choices ("buyer beware"). But we can also filter so aggressively that few ideas get through to us and then to our clients ("buyer unaware"). Just because we see as we are.

October 9, 2007

Bonding With Nongolfers

They call it golf because all of the other four-letter words were taken --- Raymond Floyd

If you want to take long walks, take long walks. If you want to hit things with a stick, hit things with a stick. But there's no excuse for combining the two and putting the results on TV. Golf is not so much a sport as an insult to lawns. --- National Lampoon

Could you last a year without golf? I last played last October on a damp, cold, drizzly afternoon in Deerhurst. Two of the four golfers didn't show. As a host, I didn't have that option.

This year, I managed to miss every golf event. How can that be? Isn't golfing is critical for building relationships? Maybe, but what about nongolfers? You can bond with them while lounging in climate-controlled, UV-protected comfort. How civilized.

What's more, golfers are happy if you don't play if you're lousy. So being a nongolfer can help you bond with golfers too. Your branding doesn't suffer and you avoid three problems with golf:
  1. the clothing
  2. the counting
  3. the skill
The Clothing
Who would pay money to dress like a golfer? What if someone brought a camera?
Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps. --- Tiger Woods
We work with numbers every day. Why have a hobby that requires counting? Or miscounting?
Golf appeals to the idiot in us and the child. Just how childlike golf players become is proven by their frequent inability to count past five. --- John Updike
Golf is a game in which you yell Fore, shoot six, and write down five. -- Paul Harvey
Isn't it fun to go out on the course and lie in the sun? --- Bob Hope

The other day I broke 70. That's a lot of clubs. --- Henny Youngman

If you break 100, watch your golf. If you break 80, watch your business. --- Joey Adams
Yes, golf does require skill, which requires practice, which requires more golf. What a vicious cycle. I wonder how many invites I'll get next year.
The reason the pro tells you to keep your head down is so you can't see him laughing. --- Phyllis Diller

You can make a lot of money in this game. Just ask my ex-wives. Both of them are so rich that neither of their husbands work. --- Lee Publish PostTrevino

Golf was once a rich man's sport, but now it has millions of poor players. --- Unknown

October 2, 2007


In sales, a referral is the key to the door of
resistance --- Bo Bennett
To get referrals, you need to be referrable. That means showing respect and appreciation. In turn, that requires that you:
  1. Show up on time
  2. Do what you say
  3. Finish what you start
  4. Say "please" and "thank you"
This list comes from How The Best Get Better by Dan Sullivan. It's memorable but seems too simplistic until you think --- or read this post.
Show Up On Time
This can be a challenge in a a gridlocked city like Toronto. You can easily arrive way too early or way too late. Naturally, earlier is better. Thanks to mobile phones or Blackberrys, you can use the extra time productively. Or you can just use the time to relax or think.

Eighty percent of success is showing up --- Woody Allen

Scheduling appointments during off-peak hours makes arrival times more predictable. Meetings close to home are good for mornings and close to work is good for afternoons. GPS makes a great navigator --- especially if you're detoured or make a wrong turn.
Do What You Say

It is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises but only performance is reality --- Harold S. Geneen

We sell the intangible: our services. Keeping our promises --- however small --- builds trust. Without consistency, the trust vanishes. My dental office always phones to remind me of my appointment. Today they did not. What will happen next time?
Finish What You Start
Don't get me started ;)

We shall neither fail nor falter; we shall not weaken or
tire ... give us the tools and we will finish the job — Winston

Say "Please" and "Thank You"

I wish to thank my parents for making it all possible ... and I wish to thank my children for making it necessary — Victor Borge

Courtesy stays in style. Advisors are generally good with this ... until the sale is made. As research from LIMRA and others shows, clients aren't thanked enough through ongoing post-sale monitoring.
The Problem With Smart, Talented and Charming
We all know people who are great in some areas but we wouldn't give them referrals. Sullivan notes that
  • smart people are arrogant
  • talented people are erratic
  • charming people are undependable
So the rest of us have a chance :)