Are You Rocking in Your Business?

Derek Trucks, an incredible slide guitarist who happens to be the nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, was interviewed about his “10 Commandments of Jam” for Guitar World magazine. As a guitar player myself (although I’ve been told not to quit my day job), I enjoy jamming with friends, so I loved the article.

And I realized these tips are not just for musicians – anybody in business can benefit from them. Below are the “10 Commandments of Jam” along with some comments and questions for you to ponder.

  1. Just listen. Make sure that when you’re on stage with others, you are paying attention to what’s going on and not getting self-involved in your own world.

You demonstrate your expertise to your prospects and clients by asking thought-provoking questions that get them to articulate their financial goals. Reflecting back what you’re hearing builds the trust that allows them to come to their own conclusion about why they need to follow your recommendations. How good are you at actively listening to your prospects’ and clients’ situation, reflecting back to them what they’ve said to indicate your understanding?

  1. Respect everyone else’s musical space. The easiest way to kill a vibe is by jumping in and adding your two cents too soon, while someone else is still trying to build something. Just let things happen.

Perhaps the biggest mistake an advisor can make is to fall in love with the sound of his/her own voice. Don’t start off meetings by pontificating on your qualifications, your experience or your investment strategy – put the spotlight on clients so they can share what’s important to them. Related to the first commandment, how quickly do you jump in on a conversation without first hearing people out about their needs?

  1. Make you sure you are telling a story. Never just be playing scales, filling space or going through the motions. Sometimes people resort to such tactics just to fill space but it’s always a mistake. Longer solos aren’t always better solos. Always have something to say.

When it’s finally your time to speak, make sure you talk about the ways you’ve helped others in similar situations. This reassures your clients that you’ve helped people just like them. Are you adept at illustrating your points with compelling stories, also sharing stories of people who refused good investment advice and found themselves in difficulty later?

  1.  Try to play an emotion. Always be aware of what emotion you want to convey and try to tap into it. You can often hear what a great soloist is going through. It doesn’t take words to express a thought; you can definitely spell out emotions musically and should always strive to do so.

There’s an old saying to live by: “People buy emotionally, justify logically.” Dry, technical performance data rarely moves people to action – connecting with them on their hopes, dreams and even their fear does. How are you getting your clients emotionally involved with your conversations so they don’t just get solid returns, they realize their heartfelt dreams?

  1. Never use the bandstand to practice. Don’t waste time working through things. It’s great to take chances but not to try things you are completely unsure of. Save your practice time for off stage.

Another great saying: “Leaders are readers.” Top producers continually invest in their career education, including adding additional professional designations, studying for advanced degrees and taking on skill development training. Have you been “winging it” over the years or are you working on getting better every week, increasing your knowledge to bring more value to your clients?

  1. Treat the stage as your church. Respect what you are doing. If you want people to respect what you’re doing and think it means something, you have to act like it does. All great artists treat the stage like it is sanctified.

The best advisors see themselves as on a mission to save their clients from confusion, stress and worry about their financial life, which affects their overall well-being. Happy clients know you’re there for them in both up and down times. Do you go to the office every day because it’s your job or do you think of what you do as a calling?

  1. Make sure your intentions are right. Don’t be up there to boost your ego or career. Mean what you’re doing and appreciate it. You won’t get anywhere musically if you are just on stage to impress people.

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your ability of expertly plan your clients’ financial future as long as you’re acting in their best interest rather than just padding your own bottom line at their expense. A dash of humility never hurts. Are you always doing the right thing by your clients?

  1. Always make the band sound better. Don’t just highlight what you do; serve the group and the music. Playing rhythm behind someone or even sitting out at the right moment is just as important as soloing. Some people sound great when they’re doing their thing but just get in the way when they’re not.

Successful advisors know that it’s the rest of their team — assistant, partner, junior planner, etc. –whose work comes together behind the scenes that allows them and the firm to shine. Are you always taking the right steps to be sure that your associates are getting your support and recognition for all that they do for you and your clients?

  1. Educate with your music. Always move forward and turn your audience on to new things instead of relying on the same old tricks. A core audience gets stuck listening to one group and think that’s it, but you’re around so much music and should always be inspired by new things. It’s important to pass that along, and it keeps you out of ruts.

Many advisors these days know teaching about important investment topics — IRAs, Social Security, college planning, etc. — is how they establish trust and credibility with prospects who later become clients. Always be educating. Do you help your clients learn the “why” of investing so you can deepen their understanding of what’s happening in their investments?

  1. Make sure you mean what you’re doing. Do what you want and love. If you’re playing with somebody, you might as well do it right. No matter what the gig, dig in and go to town.

Face it – you spend the majority of your time in your business. You’d better be bringing “the love of the music” every time you step on stage. Do you love, I mean really LOVE being an advisor? Or are you just doing this until you get a real job?

Follow these “10 Commandments of Jam” in your business and you’ll keep on rockin’ in the free market.  Jam on!

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