Grief’s Many Faces

The further my life’s journey extends into its seventh decade, the more I seem to recognize the reality of loss within myself and others. Someone older told me some three decades ago there would come a time when I would read the obituary column with as much interest as the front page. That day has come as more of my own generation are writing their final chapters. Recently, Paul Allen became the most notable. Both …

Lives at Mid-Story

One of the crippling temptations advisors face is assuming a prospect or client’s story began when we showed up. Such hubris would be like finding your seat at The Met halfway through Act 3 of Verdi’s “Aida” unaware of the deadly triangle between the warrior Radames, the spurned Pharaoh’s daughter Amneris, and the Ethiopian captive Aida. As operas go, it gets complicated as the lovers Radames and Aida die in each other’s arms, welcoming death, …

Future Big-Past Small

Guest New York Times columnist Carl Richards, CFP® has a take on life all of us would be wise to heed. Published recently, his “Your Future Should be Bigger Than Your Past. Here’s How to Do It” takes on an enigma that stares advisors in the face every day. How so? In discussions, we raise issues from conversations past about health, career, family, retirement, and data that may leap off a statement. The past holds …

Having A Labor Day Conversation

The Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer. Schools at every educational stratum are back in session, and yes, it’s time for football. Growing out of what historians call “the labor movement,” the holiday became national in 1894 and is observed the first Monday in September ever since. The BBQ, football, golf, water sports, and a relaxing weekend with family and friends aside, all of us would be wise to have a “Labor Day” …

Being a Non-Anxious Presence

Not long ago, a client and I were visiting when the meeting changed from a review to a deeply meaningful connection that changed both the content and texture of our relationship. What began as a business conversation faded into the background as she shared with me challenges brought on by her aging father whose fierce independence had all but shut her out. Her father—in his nineties—and his only child—my client—faced an impending communication and resource …

Priority or Option?

Our nation’s beloved poet, now among the immortals, was Maya Angelou. Recently, I stumbled on one of her exquisite sentences: “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” Are your clients a priority or an option? What would they say about you? And, most importantly, how do we engage the client relationship art form so advisor and client become a priority with each other? At the very least, making …

Whose Story Matters Most?

I traffic in stories. To be clear, all of us do. We are born into a story—family, society, faith—that has been going on a long time. As months unwind into years, the child becomes a teenager and the teenager an adult. Early on, we live in the “family of origin” story unaware of all the influences people, geography, faith, and significant others have on us. But in time, we craft our own narrative. The script’s …

Affirming Client Resolve

Recently, I took a call from a client whose world was about to turn upside down. The economy was not kind to her profession, her family situation was anything but ideal, and she was second-guessing a major business decision she had made months earlier. This gifted and emotionally strong woman needed encouragement and hope. Every life has its seasons of uncertainty. Those moments can give rise to illness, uncertainty, and confusion. Like you, I work …

Write that Note

Not long ago, Kathie and I found a handwritten “thank you” note in our mailbox written by close friends. They both come from an older generation that learned from their parents the social graces that included writing notes. In a stack of 8-10 pieces of boring mail, I opened that note first! Such is the power of a handwritten, personal note. Are you in the habit of writing notes to your clients? If not, I …

Staring Mortality in the Face

Some months back, as I was about to leave the house for a 30-minute drive to a church where I was the guest minister, the name of an elderly client appeared on my phone. Not only are these folks clients, but they have been dear friends of mine for over 25 years. “We had to put John in the hospital yesterday and I wanted you to know.” I had recently shared lunch with him, so …