Just as professional athletes benefit from coaching, so can advisors. Knowledgeable outsiders can spot holes in one's performance and suggest ways to plug them.
X In helping advisors grow their business, consultants often focus on processes and work habits. For example, advisors may lack systems to generate referrals, manage their time or build a thriving team.
Even if advisors think they operate efficient businesses, they may still want to improve. By enlisting a coach, they can reset their priorities and identify better ways to attract and retain clients.
"The No. 1 thing I see with advisors is a lack of a business development process," said John Furey, principal at Advisor Growth Strategies in Phoenix. "How do you track referrals? How are you measuring success? North of 80% of advisors are not good at that."
Hard-charging advisors can mistake busyness with productive lead generation. They may spend hours a day cultivating prospects, while still struggling to build a sustainable practice.
The best firms set up repeatable processes that govern every step of attracting new clients, Furey says. Better yet, advisors define the actions necessary to complete each part of the sales process so that any employee can step in and seamlessly tackle a particular set of duties.
Furey cites the example of a firm that establishes what he calls "center of influence marketing." Once an advisor receives a referral of a prospective client from an accountant, attorney or other source, this triggers a series of distinct, orchestrated steps. Staffers follow this consistent approach so that no potentially valuable prospect falls through the cracks.
Dollars, Not Pennies
Because advisors largely sell their time, they need to maximize every minute of their day. Setting priorities — and sticking to their plan — produces better outcomes.
Coaches sometimes double as time trackers. They will log an advisor's activities to assess productivity and goal-driven progress.
"Lawyers and accountants track their time," Furey said. "Advisors usually don't."
He urges advisors to identify their "ideal client" and then marshal their efforts to attract and retain as many of those clients as possible. They should not spend time pursuing prospects that fall outside their niche.
Adopting this disciplined approach to building a stable, desirable client base takes patience. Advisors eager to hit the ground running may widen their arms of acceptance for any client, foiling their carefully crafted niche strategy.
"Advisors will sometimes step over dollars to pick up pennies," said James Pollard, founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com in Newark, Del. "They chase the easy money."
In their first year on their own, advisors should lay the groundwork for long-term success, Pollard says. He encourages them to develop a prospecting system and foster relationships that will ultimately produce a big payoff.
If you want to build a practice around dentists, for instance, devote your first six months or more to forging key contacts who can help you penetrate that niche. Pollard cautions that you may need to reject other clients during that time, but sticking to your strategy makes more sense in the long run.
Listen And Learn
As advisors start to grow their business, staffing becomes critical. To increase their capacity to serve clients, advisors shift their attention to hiring and training more employees.
Yet many advisors lack grounding in management skills. From interviewing job candidates to motivating and evaluating them once they come aboard, advisors may wing it.
"Most advisors are not the best people managers," Furey said. "You may be great at helping clients, but as you grow, you need people to help you."
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Coaches can provide leadership training as well as onboarding systems for new hires. They might also work with advisors to establish performance standards for employees along with pathways for professional development so that rising stars stay with the firm.
Advisors can also benefit by polishing their communication skills. Coaches may offer pointers on how to listen better, show empathy and explain complex concepts in plain English.
"You want to be physically engaged by sitting up, leaning forward and actively listening to the client," said Brian Portnoy, director of investment education at Virtus Investment Partners in Hartford, Conn. "You're creating an overall experience of authenticity where you want to learn more, and where you repeat what you've just heard" to confirm understanding.
When Portnoy provides behavioral coaching to advisors, he warns them to resist distractions (such as glancing at their phones or computer monitors) when conversing with clients. Maintaining eye contact — and showing interest and curiosity in what they say — helps build lasting bonds.
When Harry Truman had the American presidency thrust on him on April 12, 1945, he called it the day "the whole weight of the moon and the stars fell on me."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died 82 days into his unprecedented fourth term. Truman had been made vice president because he was the least offensive option among the Democratic Party factions. He had no executive experience, and his career didn't inspire confidence:
He had no money to go to college and had only taken some night courses on the law.
His vision was so bad, he could only pass the Army eye exam by memorizing the chart.
After the war, he opened a men's clothing store, which went bankrupt.
He was made a judge and then a senator because the local political machine thought he would do whatever it wanted.
"The first four months of his administration were the most challenging four-month period of any president," A.J. Baime, author of "The Accidental President," told IBD. "He oversaw the collapse of Nazi Germany, the victory at Okinawa, the dropping of the atomic bombs, the founding of the United Nations, the Potsdam Conference where he negotiated the new map of the world with (British Prime Minister Winston) Churchill and (Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Joseph) Stalin, and the dawn of the Cold War. At the end of all this, Americans had achieved a sense of unity that is unimaginable today."
Truman (1884-1972) was born in Lamar, Mo., to a farming family. They moved to Independence, 10 miles from Kansas City, when he was 6. Sick with diphtheria that virtually paralyzed him for a year, he became a voracious reader of biographies about heroes, including Hannibal, the Duke of Wellington, and Ulysses Grant. "I found that the first victory they won was over themselves … self-discipline with all of them," he recalled.
His father went bankrupt in 1906, and the family moved to the 600-acre farm in Grandview where his mother had grown up. In 1917, he was made a first lieutenant in the Army to command an artillery battery. While training at Fort Sill, Okla., he befriended the nephew of Tom Pendergast, head of the Kansas City Democratic Party machine. Promoted to captain, he and his unit arrived in July 1918 on the front line in France, where Truman showed his courage and leadership skills.
Returning in 1919, he married Bess Wallace and opened a haberdashery (a store that sells sewing supplies) in Kansas City, which went out of business during the recession of 1921. The next year, Pendergast helped him get elected as a judge, then in 1934, backed him for the U.S. Senate. Although Truman accomplished little before his reelection in 1940, he began making headlines as chairman of the committee on military affairs, which found $15 billion in waste. When Roosevelt decided his vice president, Henry Wallace, was too far to the left for his fourth campaign, Truman was offered the position at the nominating convention in Chicago in July 1944.
"Truman didn't want the job and was terrified because the rumors about FDR's health were rampant, and he realized he might become president," Baime said. "But he believed he had to take orders from the commander in chief, so he accepted."
Commander In Chief
Truman had only been in two one-on-one meetings with Roosevelt before his death. After taking the oath as president, Truman was told for the first time that there was a secret weapon that was being developed as the Manhattan Project. Two weeks later, he was given the details on the atomic bomb, but there were rumors that the Germans might make a workable one first.
The same day, the conference to found the United Nations began in San Francisco, and American and Soviet forces met at the Elbe River in Germany, joining the western and eastern fronts. The German military surrendered on May 8, Truman's 61st birthday.
U.S. military leaders thought it could take another 18 months to bring the war against Imperial Japan to an end with an invasion of the home islands. The Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest of the Pacific campaign, had started April 1 and would end on June 22, with 14,572 American and Allied soldiers dead, as well as 77,166 Japanese military and 149,193 Okinawan civilians.
By August, even the fire bombing of much of Tokyo had not forced an unconditional surrender. Japanese military leaders insisted that any peace agreement would have to allow Emperor Hirohito to stay on the throne, and they believed they could inflict enough casualties on an invasion force to bring the Allies to the negotiating table, perhaps resulting in retaining some of their wartime gains. They had not only 2 million soldiers on the home islands, but had also trained women and children in a wide variety of suicide attacks. A conservative estimate of casualties by American planners was 800,000, according to Stephen Ambrose in "To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian."
Hiroshima, a major military manufacturer, was the target for the first atomic bomb on August 6 local time. When no surrender was forthcoming, three days later Nagasaki was hit, ending the war. The atomic bombings resulted in immediate deaths, plus long-term consequences of radiation, of as many as a quarter million people. According to The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia, Japan's war had resulted in the deaths of 1.7 million of its military and 393,000 civilians, while 111,606 American military died, as well as 4 million Chinese soldiers and a staggering 18 million civilians.
The transition to a peacetime economy was rocky, with the rapid decrease of government spending on military needs and demobilization resulting in high unemployment, labor strikes, and a shortage of housing and consumer goods leading to inflation. In foreign affairs, Truman was more successful, directing the airlift to deliver supplies to West Berlin (which had been isolated by the blockade imposed by the Soviet Union and its allies), implementing the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe, and recognizing the new state of Israel.
Truman was far ahead of the public when it came to civil rights for African Americans. In 1947, he proposed anti-lynching legislation, the abolition of poll taxes that discouraged minority voting and an end to job discrimination. He would later push to desegregate interstate transportation and the armed forces. This contributed to his approval rating sinking to 32% by the time he ran for reelection in 1948, with Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and former Vice President Wallace leading third parties from the right and left. Against all odds, Truman won with 49.5% of the popular vote over the Republican candidate Thomas Dewey's 45.2%.
But the second term was even more challenging than the first, with the escalation of the Cold War, including the loss of China to Communists in 1949. That same year, the Soviets detonated their first atomic bomb. Then there was the hot war, the invasion by North Korea of South Korea in 1950.
"Truman, although the least formally educated of modern presidents, was perhaps the most historically minded and the most devoted to the Constitution," said H.W. Brands, author of "The General vs. the President." "In 1951, at the height of the Korean War, he relieved commanding general Douglas MacArthur, who publicly disputed Truman's policies in the war. He knew he was signing his political death warrant by firing the popular MacArthur, but he judged the constitutional principle of civilian control of the military more important than his career."
Truman's popularity sunk to 22%, so he decided not to run for another full term in 1952. He died at age 88, and he and Bess are buried at his presidential library in Independence, Mo.
Conservative scholar Alvin Felzenberg, in "The Leaders We Deserved," ranks Truman at No. 7 among the best presidents, especially strong on character, national security, vision, competence and extension of personal liberty.
The 33rd U.S. president led the Allies to victory in the final months of World War II.
Overcame: Objections to dropping the atomic bombs on Japan.
Lesson: The top leader has to take responsibility for what the entire organization does.
"America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand."
It started with accusations against Harvey Weinstein in October. In the ensuing months, the #MeToo movement empowered women to speak up and expose sexual harassment and assault. Kevin Spacey, Sen. Al Franken, Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer were just a handful of the others who paid a steep price after being accused of misconduct.
Here's how to handle the issue in your organization.
Recognize signs. If your comments or actions — or those of anyone in your firm — are greeted with eye rolls and people flinching or walking away, realize that behavior is unwelcome. Stop, and if someone else is doing it, tell them to knock it off. Respect others' workplace and environment.
"If threatening or abusive behavior continues and goes unchecked, it's going to build, and that's when you get complaints," Lynn Lieber, principal at San Francisco-based employment law firm Lieber Lawyers, told IBD.
Take stock. If your behavior is in question, ask yourself if it would make you feel uncomfortable if the shoe were on the other foot.
"If you get to anything other than 'absolutely not,' there's at least the risk that someone feels harassed," said Brian Kropp, human resources practice leader at Arlington, Va.-based research and advisory firm Gartner.
Set the tone. People watch how top executives behave. Treat everyone with respect and others will follow suit. Manage by walking around to show you're accessible and will listen to complaints. And create a clear policy of how to report harassment.
"Every C-level (executive) needs to understand what a complaint is, how to receive it and what to do with it," Lieber said.
Teach. Provide sexual harassment training for all employees. It's best to do it in person rather than online so people are more engaged and remember the training. Include those in the C-suite.
"No one is exempt or too important to take training," Lieber said.
Pay attention. Watch and listen for signs that employees are being harassed, Kropp says. Check Twitter for #MeToo references mentioning your company.
"A lot of leaders wait until something is reported," Kropp said. "But they can listen more."
Get with the times. Some executives who entered the business world 25 years ago say the way they treat people now was acceptable back then. That's not an excuse.
"That's not the right way to look at it now," Kropp said. "What was acceptable 20 or 30 years ago isn't necessarily acceptable now."
React strongly. If you've experienced actions that make you feel uncomfortable, tell the person their behavior is inappropriate. If that doesn't help, go to human resources or a company leader. There shouldn't be any reason to feel you'll be penalized if you report it.
"They need to know retaliation is against the law," Lieber said. "If someone is hesitant about reporting, then that manager has a problem."
Stand up. If you see behavior that makes an employee uncomfortable, take action even if it doesn't directly involve you.
"As the leader, you have more responsibility and you set the tone," Kropp said. "If you're not objecting and stepping in, then you're essentially saying it's OK."
Be evenhanded. Many high-level employees or high producers feel protected from punishments that apply to others. That arrogance makes them feel they can treat people however they want. Leaders can prevent that by taking swift, appropriate action when anyone — regardless of status — harasses another employee. If it means firing, clearly explain the rationale to staff.
"You have to make it public and show that the behavior is not OK, and the person was punished for it," Kropp said.
Get help. Bring in an outside investigator, if needed. Companies face financial risk, but their reputation is at stake, too.
"The key is to move rapidly and take whatever action is needed instead of taking the attitude that you can't live without this (accused) person," Lieber said.
Eisenhower On Responsibility
The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions. Dwight Eisenhower, 34th U.S. president
Jobs On Passion
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder
Winfrey On Goals
Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe. Oprah Winfrey, media mogul
Abdul-Jabbar On Teamwork
Five guys on the court working together can achieve more than five talented individuals who come and go as individuals. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball player
Carnegie On Action
As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do. Andrew Carnegie, industrialist
Over one month ago, many people made resolutions for 2018. With each passing day, however, that resolve might fade away.
X A new year brings new commitments to change for the better. It's an especially good time for advisors to extract commitments from clients on ways to improve their financial lives, from sticking to a budget to executing a will.
Yet even the most persuasive advisors might struggle to seal a commitment from a busy, distracted or recalcitrant client. Nagging people to change can prove futile if they're unable or unwilling to heed an advisor's recommendation.
"When we meet with clients, we write into their financial plan what we agree we'll do for them and what they'll do," said Tim Neuville, a certified financial planner in Irvine, Calif. "We give them due dates. But at our next meeting, some of them are embarrassed and bring it up first when they don't do what they were supposed to do."
While Neuville doesn't scold clients who fail to tackle their to-do items within the allotted timeframe, he poses searching questions to learn more. For example, he might ask, "Is this important to you to get done?"
Dealing with individuals who repeatedly promise to complete a task — and then renege — can prove vexing. Clients may understand that they're committing to do something for their own good, but still lapse into inaction.
Savvy advisors dig to determine a client's aspirations and motivations — and then frame their requests and recommendations to reflect those hot-button drivers. Asking open-ended questions to learn about one's attitudes and experience can lay the groundwork for gaining commitment from clients.
Some advisors employ unusual strategies to induce commitment from clients. They may draw up "contracts" and have the client sign, reinforcing their intent to change their behavior or address pending items such as purchasing life insurance. Or they may shake hands and tell the client, "I'm glad that's settled and you will take care of that."
Providing a visual cue also helps. When clients can see the consequences of their actions — positive and negative — it can prod them to act.
John Gajkowski, a certified financial planner in Oak Brook, Ill., uses a timeline to illustrate how clients' commitment to embrace a new behavior can pay off over decades. If someone promises to set aside tax-deferred funds every month, for instance, Gajkowski will develop a timeline to show how much more money the client can expect to enjoy in retirement.
"We try to make it almost game-like," he said. "It tends to sink in and they're more likely to buy into it when they can visualize the outcome. And they can get pride and satisfaction out of it and see their progress."
Acknowledging clients who fulfill their commitments helps as well. Advisors who express admiration or kudos to those who do what they say they're going to do come across as valued allies and even cheerleaders.
When one of Neuville's clients commits to joining a gym or starting yoga, he might jot a card on their next birthday and congratulate them for taking up new health and wellness activities.
Clients may sincerely want to follow through on their commitments. But when obstacles arise, they may lose the sense of urgency to do what they said they'd do.
Leah Weinberg, a certified financial planner in Chestnut Hill, Mass., increases the odds that clients will deliver on their commitments by making it as easy as possible. To help young professionals stick to a saving plan, she works with them to set up an automatic monthly withdrawal from their bank account into a long-term investment account.
"They know they need to commit to a change," she said. "By having someone hold them accountable, they're more likely to stick with it. Just knowing that someone else — their advisor — is overseeing their progress tends to go a long way."
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Clients authorize Weinberg to see their brokerage account, so she can tell if someone stops making their monthly contribution and ask why. She might also suggest that a client raise the monthly amount earmarked for investment.
Whenever Weinberg seeks to forge any kind of important commitment from a client, she prefers to do it in person. Individuals who make a promise over the phone or via email might be more apt to back out.
"Seeing someone's facial reaction when they're making a commitment is very powerful," she said. "Face time is important" because it helps reveal someone's determination and eagerness to follow through.
Mark Johnson has been to the pinnacle, but he's still enjoying his journey.
Johnson was a star player on the legendary 1980 USA Olympic hockey team. They stunned the heavily favored Soviet Union squad at those Lake Placid, N.Y., Winter Olympics and went on to win the gold medal. Sports Illustrated named what's become known as the "Miracle On Ice" as the greatest sports moment of the 20th century.
Johnson went on to have a successful professional playing career and has continued to make his mark as a four-time championship collegiate women's hockey coach.
He's the son of Hall of Fame hockey coach Bob Johnson, and his father left Mark a piece of advice the keeps him going today.
"My father was upbeat and positive all the time," Johnson, 60, told IBD. "He saw the light at the end of the tunnel no matter what situation he or his team was in. His slogan was: `It's a great day for hockey.'"
And it's that mentality that Mark Johnson lives every day.
Carla MacLeod, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who played for Johnson on the University of Wisconsin-Madison's women's hockey team, emailed him for advice when she coached Japan's women's hockey team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
"Mark gave me some technical stuff and details, things like that, but what he told me to do was go for a walk every day and appreciate the fact that through hard work I was enjoying these Olympics, too," MacLeod said. "Mark is incredibly grounded and incredibly humble."
Committed To Excellence
As a player Johnson represented the United States in 13 international tournaments. At only 5'9" and 160 pounds, he had an 11-year NHL career where he scored 203 goals, assisted on 305 others and amassed 508 points. He was chosen to play in the 1984 NHL All Star Game.
Johnson was inducted into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.
"The big thing is the commitment that it takes individually to try to become the best player you can be," Johnson said. "The hard part is doing it on a daily basis and creating those habits that are going to make you successful. You know along the way there is going to be some hurdles and obstacles but it's that you're willing to stay committed and form really good habits that will make you successful."
Mike Eruzione, the 1980 Team USA captain, said to the New York Daily News that Johnson was "the best player and most important player on our team. … We don't win without Mark. … When we needed big goals, Mark scored them."
Johnson followed in his father's footsteps and began his coaching career with the Madison Monsters, a minor league hockey team, in 1995-96. From there he became an assistant coach for the University of Wisconsin-Madison men's ice hockey team from 1996 until 2002.
Johnson served as an assistant coach for the American national men's hockey team in 2000 and 2002.
Since 2002, Johnson has been the head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Madison women's ice hockey team. He led the team to its first NCAA national championship in 2006. They repeated as national champions in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Coming into this season, Johnson's career record is 428-78-39, good for a .819 winning percentage. He ranks third in NCAA history in career wins in women's hockey.
In 2010, Johnson coached the United States women's national ice hockey team to a silver medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
"I see myself as a coach who serves the people in front of him," Johnson said. "It's my job to try to serve to their needs and try to create a culture that's positive and gives the opportunity for each one of them to grow and reach their potential.
"I try to set an example on how I conduct myself on a daily basis, whether things are going well or not going well, being consistent in that approach."
"Mark is always positive," said Wisconsin women's hockey associated head coach Dan Koch, who has coached under Johnson for 14 years. "Mark makes it enjoyable to come to the rink every day. The players know they are going to be held accountable, they know they have to work hard but they know they are going to enjoy themselves."
Johnson makes the effort to understand his players as people, and treats them as he would want to be treated in the various situations that arise. "I think developing those relationships is crucial and by doing so I have a better chance to understand them."
Born in Minneapolis, Johnson was raised in Wisconsin. With hockey in his blood and guidance from his father, he made his international hockey debut with the United States national team in 1976 at age 18. He played in 11 training games for the 1976 U.S. Olympic ice hockey team coached by his father.
He went to play hockey for his father at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1977, with father coaching and son playing, the Badgers won the NCAA national championship in ice hockey. Johnson was the first Badger to win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's Rookie of the Year award.
He went on to become a two-time All-American, the school's leading goal scorer and its second all-time scorer.
1980 Olympics Backdrop
Team USA in 1980 was composed of amateur collegiate players and fielded its youngest team ever, with an average age of 21. By contrast, the Soviet team was composed of full-time athletes battle-tested in international play. They were essentially professionals before that was allowed in the Olympics. The Soviet team had spent the previous 10 to 12 years together and had taken home the Gold Medal in hockey the previous four Winter Olympics and five of the previous six.
Many of their players were in the Red Army. Their training regimen consisted of living in army barracks and training together four to five times a day. They had beaten an NHL all-star team 6-0 just the year before. The Soviet team was considered on par with NHL teams and had some of the best hockey players in the world.
There was also a political backdrop to the games. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan two months earlier and the Cold War was in full force. Talk from the Carter Administration of boycotting the upcoming Moscow Summer Olympic Games was already happening due to that invasion.
Johnson recalls the team being shown thousands of telegrams encouraging them to beat the communist Russians.
But just 13 days previously, the Soviets had routed Team USA 10-3 in a pre-Olympic exhibition game.
Now at the Olympics, both Team USA and the Soviets were undefeated going into their medal match. The game was played on Friday, Feb. 22, 1980, starting a 5 p.m. in the East, not even prime time.
With the Russians leading 2-1 with just five seconds to go in the first period, Johnson raced between two defensemen and slapped in the puck on a rebound with one second left.
"I look up at the clock and see five seconds," Eruzione said. "I'm starting to skate toward the bench and all of a sudden Mark flies by me and I'm thinking, 'Where the hell is he going?'"
"You're trained to play until you hear whistles or horns and so you keep going," Johnson said.
The Soviets dominated the second period but scored only once, taking a 3-2 lead into the third and final period. Nearing the end of a power-play man advantage, Russian defenseman Sergei Starikov mishandled the puck right in front of his own net. Johnson was on the spot and slapped the puck in to tie the game with around 10 minutes to play.
On the heels of that, Eruzione scored to put Team USA in front 4-3. Despite a furious finish by the Soviets, the Americans hung on to win.
After Team USA's victory over the Soviet Union, ABC announcer Al Michaels famously asked: "Do you believe in miracles?"
The answer was "yes," and in the gold medal game vs. Finland, Johnson assisted on the game-winning goal and scored an insurance goal with less than four minutes remaining in the game to cap off Team USA's improbable run.
The preparation that coach Herb Brooks put the team through was challenging and confusing to the players, Johnson said, but "when the moment was presented to us, it was like oh that's why we had to be in this type of condition, that's why we had to be ready mentally to withstand some of the things that were being thrown at us. We were fortunate enough to have the preparation needed to create a situation where we had an opportunity and we seized it."
Star player on the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" USA Olympic Hockey Team, United States Hockey Hall of Fame inductee (2004), four-time NCAA championship coach of the University of Wisconsin-Madison women's ice hockey team.
Overcame: The Soviet hockey machine that had dominated the Olympics.
Lesson: Believe you can do it and then put in the work to make miracles happen.
Scrutinize your words. It doesn't necessarily cost any extra money or extra time to have maximum influence, David says. Sometimes it only requires that you change the words you say.
For example, he tells us that the email app Boomerang analyzed over 350,000 email threads and found there was one "magic phrase" at the very end of emails that gets a 65.7% response rate, while all the other words and phrases average only 47.5%.
The phrase? "Thanks in advance!"
"It's easy enough to start including that phrase where appropriate, right?" David adds.
Attract their attention. The human brain suffers from information overload. That's why you can arrive at work but not really remember the drive, David says. "Your brain saves energy by tuning out boring, repetitive, monotonous things."
The solution marketing-wise is to change your approach. "As soon as something new or out of the ordinary shows up in our awareness, our brains switch on and begin to pay close attention," he says." This can range from the way you word things to changing surroundings in a meeting.
If you find yourself saying something you've said a thousand times, "that might be your problem right there," David says.
Kelleher put it like this: "I can teach you the secret to running this airline in 30 seconds. This is it: We are THE low-cost airline. Once you understand that fact, you can make any decision about this company's future as well as I can."
Holiday says that due to this, Southwest Airlines' employees know who their customers are and what those customers need.
Court influencers. When a real person whom many others trust say your product or service is good, "it has an effect that no ad can match," Holiday says.
He points to Marc Ecko, who built his clothing brand Ecko Unltd into a billion-dollar company. His first influencer was popular New York City deejay Kool DJ Red Alert.
Ecko loved the deejay's show. To get attention for his company, Ecko sent the show special drawings to show off his product line. Then he started sending airbrushed hats and jackets and T?shirts.
"Ecko never asked for anything — he just made great work and sent it to select influencers he knew might appreciate it," Holiday says. "Eventually, he got his first shoutout on the air, and the brand was officially born."
Probe intelligently. Pose well-thought-out questions that lead people to the conclusion that you desire, David says.
"Influence is an emotion transplant," David says. "It's about getting people to care. But it's about getting them to care for their own reasons, not yours."
Connect for free. Build an email list, Holidays says. "It's the most durable of platforms, and it's the most direct."
Things like creating a newsletter and providing valuable information for free help spread your influence.
Another applicable example: TED video talks are free to watch and have racked up billions and billions of views since the first videos went up. Parlaying that influence has helped the company achieve revenue in the tens of millions.
Tell a great story. Holiday points out that the average book in this country sells less than 500 copies, there's well over a day of content uploaded to Alphabet's ( GOOGL) YouTube every minute, and many startups don't make it.
"A creator needs not only to make something brilliant and exciting and new, but also has to have brilliant, exciting and compelling marketing too," he says.
David: "If you want to move mountains, you must be able to move people."
In the true spirit of an entrepreneur, Chris Rondeau followed his passion for hard work and risk taking to help build Planet Fitness ( PLNT) into a company that has turned the health club industry on its head.
Rondeau, who became CEO of Planet Fitness in January 2013, joined the company while he was in college working at the front desk of the gym in 1993, a year after the company was founded by brothers Michael and Marc Grondahl.
And he's been at Planet Fitness ever since, working his way up as a club manager, then regional manager of several locations. In 2003, he became a partner with the founders and chief operating officer. When Rondeau became CEO, he replaced Michael Grondahl, who has since left the company.
Drawing on the leadership principles shaped by his various positions at Planet Fitness and by lessons he gleaned from his father, Rondeau played a major role helping the founders develop and refine the business model that has helped grow the business into a mighty contender in the fitness industry.
Rondeau learned about being an entrepreneur from his father, who dropped out of high school but eventually owned and operated several pharmacies throughout Massachusetts while Rondeau was growing up.
"As a child growing up I saw him working hard," Rondeau told IBD. "I got my work ethic from him."
"The one thing my father taught me is I could do anything I set my mind to," he added. "Coming from him without a high school education, he was living proof."
That lesson came into play when Rondeau and the Planet Fitness founders revamped the traditional health club environment aimed at fitness buffs to one that caters to first-time gymgoers with a non-intimidating, low-cost business model.
Rondeau says over 40% of current Planet Fitness members had never gone to a gym before signing up at Planet Fitness.
"The key to success in business is not to be afraid of doing things differently," said Rondeau. "Don't be afraid of going against the grain. When you think of the Apple ( AAPL) iPhone, people didn't realize there was anything better than the flip phones that were offered to them by every phone company out there. Apple wasn't afraid to abandon the flip phone and the competition by creating something new."
Similarly, Rondeau and the founders of Planet Fitness went against the grain and created a completely different gym experience than what was in the industry. People didn't realize the experience and affordability they were missing until Planet Fitness created it.
Rondeau and the founders not only created an innovative new business model, they also transformed Planet Fitness into a major force in its space.
"Planet Fitness is exceptionally competitive because of its national footprint and growing awareness of its different approach to the market aimed at non-gymgoers," Cowen & Co. analyst Oliver Chen told IBD. "It's a business model that's revolutionized fitness because of the attractiveness of this model to a wide market and low price. It's offering a very premium gym experience at a low price."
Planet Fitness is one of the largest owners and operators of health clubs in the U.S. in terms of the number of members and locations, Dorvin Lively, president and CFO of Planet Fitness, told IBD.
It boasts over 10.5 million members, up from 7 million at the end of 2012, just before Rondeau took the helm. And it has 1,500 locations nationwide. Over 95% of its stores are owned and operated by franchisees.
"We are clearly opening more health clubs in the U.S. at a faster rate than anyone," Lively said. "We've opened roughly 200 stores a year for the past three years."
On the financial front, he adds, Planet Fitness has had 43 straight quarters of positive same-store sales.
"That's 10 years plus three quarters," Lively pointed out. In the 2017 third quarter, same-store sales jumped 9.3% from a year earlier and revenue climbed 12.1%.
Another reflection of Planet Fitness' financial success is that over 95% of its stores opened in the last three years were opened by existing franchisees and more than 90% of all of the new territory being sold has been sold to existing franchisees, Lively says.
"That proves that the brand is growing and the profitability is there, and franchisees want to continue to invest in their businesses in their local markets to grow the brand," he added.
Rondeau, 44, grew up in Methuen, Mass. He started busing tables and dishwashing at age 14, and at 16 he got a job working at his father's pharmacy business. But at age 19 Rondeau told his father he didn't want to work for him anymore because he decided he wanted to work at a gym — Planet Fitness.
Eventually, Rondeau dropped out of college — the University of New Hampshire — to work full time at Planet Fitness, and earned an associate degree rather than a bachelor's degree.
Why did he opt to stay at Planet Fitness?
"Unfortunately, I was never one for school, yet I loved to work, and haven't stopped since my first job busing tables and dishwashing at the age of 14," Rondeau said. "Planet Fitness is only the third job I ever had. I liked fitness and I liked the work environment at a gym, meaning it's a positive atmosphere, and we were doing good things. I believed we were onto something special with making fitness affordable and comfortable for the masses. So I stayed, followed my passion, and chose not to pursue my bachelor's degree."
Moving up through the ranks at Planet Fitness helped Rondeau become a better leader.
"The lesson I learned from being in various jobs at Planet Fitness is being able to put yourself in the mindset of your customers and understand how they're thinking. And that allows you to service them better and market the business better," Rondeau said.
That lesson helped Rondeau and the founders design the new business model.
"In high school and college, exercise was my passion," he said. "As I continued to get older into my late 20s it started to become more of a chore that I had to do for health and wellness vs. a hobby."
Rondeau says that the founders shared his feelings about exercising becoming a chore as they got older with more "responsibilities on their plates."
As they built the business, that attitude about exercise helped the three of them better understand what the average person goes through when joining the gym, he adds.
Today, given his responsibilities, Rondeau says he works out more for "mental focus and energy."
Created Judgment-Free Environment
Rondeau came in on the ground floor of building the business.
When he joined Planet Fitness, it was struggling as it faced heavy competition for the same customer as the other gyms in their small town in New Hampshire — those who already had a gym membership.
Rondeau and the founders saw an opportunity to move in a different direction than the rest of the pack.
As Rondeau and the founders looked at the industry, they saw that 80% of the population didn't have a gym membership.
"We thought to ourselves 'how do we come up with a model that is affordable and comfortable that would motivate the 80% to give fitness a try?' "
The answer: Change the gym environment and create what the company calls a "Judgement Free Zone," where there was no "intimidation" and members are accepted and respected for who they are.
"The founders are truly visionaries," he adds. "We didn't have juice bars or heavy free weights. We have free pizza once a month for members and free Tootsie Rolls at the front desk. We have a very unorthodox business."
They unveiled the judgment-free philosophy and the discount business model with a $10 monthly membership in 1997. In 2003, they started franchising. Over 95% of its stores are owned and operated by franchisees.
"Today, with our size and scale, we are a marketing machine that happens to be in the gym business," he said. "We're a franchise business, and the franchisees are required to spend 7% of their membership dues on marketing locally and an additional 2% of membership dues support the national marketing efforts. When you think about the marketing spending, every incremental member is 9% more dollars spent on marketing. Our budget continues to expand. Every day we sell memberships, it allows us to tap into the 80% of the population that doesn't have a gym membership."
Rondeau has nurtured a culture where both corporate and franchisees share the same passion for the brand and the company's goals.
"It's truly important that both the corporate staff and franchisees wholeheartedly believe in the judgment-free zone," said Rondeau. "A lot of our staff and franchisees have been members of our clubs, and they've seen and experienced the judgment-free zone firsthand and they believe in it. That culture keeps us grounded and doesn't allow us to get diluted as we continue to scale. We all have a common belief to make fitness comfortable, affordable and accessible to the first-time gym user."
Added Lively: "He has developed and built a corporate culture where he's able to bridge the gap and be the leader of the franchisees at the same time."
Rondeau says he looks at the franchisees as part of the team.
"If I can gain their respect and they have my passion, then they'll do right for our members," he adds. "I always tell my staff we're in a unique business with two sets of customers — our franchisees and our members. If we can make our franchisees a happy customer, then that will trickle down to our members. I have a very collaborative and open relationship with franchisees. We have about 200 different franchisee groups. I look at that as an asset. Our franchisees bring me ideas and thoughts on how to fine-tune the business and we work collaboratively."
Rondeau says an important part of his growth strategy since becoming CEO, one that's been even more important since he took the company public in August 2015, is the use of more data analytics than before.
Rondeau points out that Planet Fitness has locations in every state, every demographic and every ethnicity and over 10.5 million members.
"The data we're able to hone allow us to fine-tune the business, drive same-store sales, drive store openings and better service the franchisees."
For example, because Planet Fitness is membership based, by analyzing certain data they know how far people are willing to drive to a gym.
"This insight allows us to know where the next gym location should go," he added.
Through data analytics, the company can better segment its marketing according to certain demographic groups. For example, because the company knows the names, ages and sex of its members, it knows that 49% of its 10.5 million members are millennials.
Analyst Chen rates Planet Fitness stock an outperform.
"We feel Planet Fitness is 'un-Amazonable' because health and wellness can't yet be purchased online," Chen said. "Looking forward, we expect Planet Fitness to execute on creative digital innovation, including predictive analytics and big data."
Helped revolutionize the fitness industry with a business model geared to first-time gymgoers. He helped turn Planet Fitness into one of the largest owners and operators of health clubs in the U.S. in terms of the number of members and locations
Overcame: Competition from traditional gyms and skepticism from naysayers who didn't take their approach seriously.
Lesson: You can do anything you set your mind to.
"The key to success in business is not to be afraid of doing things differently. Don't be afraid of going against the grain."
Everyone is entitled to voice strong opinions. But what happens when a client expresses misguided — or downright wrong — views about investing?
XYour first instinct may be to disabuse people of their biases. But contradicting clients, and trying to teach them why you're right and they're wrong, might lower your retention rate.
A better approach is to assess what's driving the client's outlook. Determining what factors lead someone to reach a certain conclusion can help you respond in a tactful but firm manner.
For example, an investor with an irrational disdain for certain sectors of the market may have been burned by a calamitous set of stock picks decades earlier. Encouraging the client to put those poor investments in perspective can pry open their mind to diversifying their portfolio.
"People always have biases," said Jeff Fishman, a Los Angeles-based advisor. "I'll look at history and use anecdotes" to broaden their understanding.
Southern California's hot real estate market has led some of Fishman's clients to benefit from the appreciated value of their property. As a result, they might fancy themselves real estate experts — and insist on gobbling up more land.
Rather than argue with them, Fishman urges them to consider a wider range of variables such as liquidity concerns and how leverage can hurt credit.
"You can't just say no to everything," he said. "It comes down to their overall asset mix and liquidity. If clients want to take all of their $1 million (portfolio) into real estate, that's bad. But $100,000 won't sink the whole ship."
When clients harbor biases, they may not realize the origin of those views. Advisors who gently probe to determine how and why someone thinks a certain way — without rushing to judgment — can build a stronger relationship.
It's also important to clarify a client's deeply held assumptions to avoid any misunderstanding.
Darin Shebesta, a certified financial planner in Scottsdale, Ariz., responds to clients' biases by acknowledging what he hears. If a client expresses antipathy for bonds, he'll reply, "I heard you say you don't like bonds."
Once the client confirms the point, Shebesta shows empathy. He'll say, "I can understand why you don't like bonds given their recent performance."
His ability to affirm what he hears and empathize with the client sets the stage for a more fruitful discussion about next steps. People are more apt to listen to an advisor who communicates with care and dignifies their beliefs.
Only then will Shebesta reframe the issue in an attempt to educate the client. He might say, "Based on our professional expertise, which is rooted in evidence and history, bonds are a critical piece of a diversified portfolio."
"Citing the long-term performance of the asset class, I can explain how bonds earn a place in their portfolio," he said. "Clients appreciate that approach."
He also reminds clients that he has a fiduciary duty to work in their best interest. And he documents their conversation so that there's a written record of points covered and decisions made.
A Mix Of Questions
Trying to rid a client of a faulty perception requires diligence and patience. You cannot demand that someone abandon a belief formed over decades of experience.
"For many clients, it can take years to help them relearn a healthy understanding around key concepts," said Jon Baker, a certified financial planner in Atlanta. "But first, you have to ask the right questions to earn their trust."
In getting to know new clients, Baker likes to pose a series of experiential questions (such as, "When have you run into problems in your experience as an investor?" and "How did you feel during the downturn in 2008 and 2009?") with forward-looking inquiries about how they think they'll react in future years amid various market moves.
Even if Baker does his best to address the source of a client's misguided notions about investing, he does not push too hard. In some cases, he ultimately defers to them.
"Sometimes it's more important that the client believes what they are doing is correct," he said. "Our job is to educate and guide clients," not make decisions for them.
For instance, a client wanted to pay off their home mortgage before funding their 401(k). Baker laid out the options with facts, figures and projected rates of return over time.
While Baker's evidence underscored the wisdom of funding the 401(k) sooner rather than later — and not rushing to pay down the mortgage — the client's bias proved intractable. Baker concluded that the client could afford to pay off the home first, despite the lost opportunity cost of not investing in a tax-deferred account.
Leading a team of geniuses can spark big breakthroughs. But what happens when you want people who lack training in innovation to think outside the box?
Some individuals may refrain from offering creative input for fear of appearing crazy or stupid — or clashing with a powerful manager's preferred course of action. Others may simply not see themselves as inventive visionaries.
To transform non-innovators into innovators:
Let them build. To design something new, invite users to roll up their sleeves and build a prototype. That may require some initial training, but it can produce a rich payoff.
"We host 'maker' workshops where we take people who are not traditionally innovators, give them some tools and teach them about design," said Rory Cooper, founder and director of Human Engineering Research Laboratories in Pittsburgh, Pa. Cooper, who uses a wheelchair, enlists people with disabilities to help develop assistive devices. He also involves caregivers, clinicians and others as partners in the innovative process.
Forge a bond. If you're asking people to innovate who aren't accustomed to it, make them feel special. Foster a camaraderie that brings them together.
For the past 10 years, Cooper has given participants a T-shirt with the research lab's logo. The shirt has become a coveted perk.
"You can't buy them," Cooper said. "You have to earn them" by contributing ideas.
Break down barriers. Treat everyone from part-time workers to customers as potential innovators, even if they don't see themselves as such. Solicit their input on creative challenges you face — and provide multiple ways for them to chime in.
"At our design meetings, everybody has a voice," Cooper said. "Everybody is welcome to attend. And that transparency leads them to see how much we value innovation."
Share screw-ups. Insisting that people innovate can backfire if they're unprepared or reluctant to open up. But when leaders volunteer their errors — and what they learned — others might follow suit.
Enda King, managing director at What If Innovation, says that his New York City-based consulting firm holds weekly gatherings in which colleagues admit their mistakes and share what they learned. Team leaders go first, which makes underlings more comfortable doing the same.
"We look to build that into our culture," King said. "It feels less daunting to enable learning, experimentation and failure than asking people to be innovative and produce large-scale breakthroughs."
Cite examples. To spur great ideas, highlight innovations in other fields that are inspiring or instructive. These examples can serve as a springboard to get individuals to flex their creative muscles.
"Often, people are not skilled in the tools to be creative," said Greg Leman, an innovation expert and professor of entrepreneurship at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. "Giving them anecdotes of transformative solutions to issues with a distant tie to the challenge you're facing" can boost their innovative output.
Capture the big picture. Leaders may assume that all staffers perceive the competitive landscape in the same way — and realize the urgency to innovate. But that's not necessarily the case.
"It's amazing how disconnected people can be to the big picture," Leman said. "That's why you need to communicate an innovation strategy with what's going on at your company as well as the outside, competitive world — and the path you're following" to maintain an edge.
Give honest feedback. Once you gather input, assess it in a straightforward manner. Don't dish out excessive praise or reward individuals too freely for trying to come up with fresh ideas.
"People know if they are honestly valued," Leman said. "It's hard to hide your genuine thoughts," so level with others and teach them to sharpen their innovative thinking.
Jim Steeg learned an important lesson early on in his career as head of the National Football League's annual extravaganza: Bed sheets and Super Bowls don't mesh.
He was only 29 when tapped by Hall of Fame NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to lead the league's Special Events Department as its director. This meant Steeg was in charge of the NFL's biggest showcase, the Super Bowl.
Steeg, 67, is considered the NFL official most responsible for growing the Super Bowl from a game to the biggest sports event in the United States. He was in charge of it from 1979 to 2004.
After Super Bowl XV in New Orleans in January 1981, Steeg reviewed the game's presentation. He was irritated at one thing the most: the bed sheets fans used as banners and hung from the upper deck.
"I was always opposed to those kind of banners in those days but everyone in the league thought it was no big deal," Steeg told IBD. "You look at the pictures that live on forever from Super Bowl XV and it looks like a hodgepodge."
The following year, Steeg stopped the use of banners in the Super Bowl. Instead he developed a decorative package for the entire stadium.
"After a few years, it became something that everyone in all of sports did. Banners went the way of yesterday's news," Steeg said. "What I learned out of that was trust your judgment, and argue for it a little bit more."
Under Steeg's direction, the Super Bowl went from a championship game to an unofficial national weekend holiday combining sports, entertainment and innovative events in the host city. The Super Bowl also went from generating over $5 million in revenue for the NFL when he started to more than $250 million when he left in 2004.
Steeg was inducted into the inaugural class of the Special Events Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2008, he received the Pete Rozelle Award.
"The most important things are you need to listen, you need to read, you need to research, and you need to understand people," Steeg said.
"Jim's a tireless worker," said wife Jill Steeg, a former top Sports Illustrated writer who met Jim when interviewing him in the 1980s. "Jim wanted to make sure that if you went to the game you had a once-in-a lifetime memory. He pushed the envelope for the game."
"It was important to lead by example," Jim Steeg said. "I tried to be the first to work and last to leave. I was available to people if they had issues."
Amy Trask, former CEO of the Oakland Raiders, can attest to Steeg's availability.
"I can't tell you how many times I called Jim when he was as busy as could be, and he always found time to say, 'How can I help you?' He always found time to help. No matter how busy Jim was, all we saw was calm."
First And 10
Steeg was born in Boston and moved to Indiana when he was 13.
A lifetime sports enthusiast, Steeg graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a minor in accounting and a major in political science. He worked as an accountant for a year and decided that wasn't for him. He then earned an MBA from Wake Forest University. His rocket-scientist father suggested that since he loved sports he should do something in sports.
Steeg wrote to numerous sports teams. He got only one response, but one was all he needed. Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie hired him as the team's chief accountant.
A month later, Robbie put Steeg in charge of team travel, which he knew nothing about. In the next six months, three of his superiors either quit, were fired or retired. And suddenly, at 25 years of age, Steeg was running the business side of things for the Dolphins.
Working with the Dolphins meant working with the team's Hall of Famer Don Shula, who is the NFL's all-time winningest coach.
"Don was the ultimate detail guy on everything," Steeg said. "I think that was really very important. He thought the smallest detail could change the outcome of a game."
Steeg took that lesson to heart and applied it to the Super Bowl. "I also wanted to look at the details that were going to make the best experience for the fans, teams and media."
He adopted another Shula philosophy: "It's 'I' when it's wrong, it's 'we' or a particular person when it's right," Steeg said.
When Rozelle was looking for someone to lead the special events department, Steeg was recommended by former Dolphins safety Dick Anderson, who had been head of the players union.
Rozelle hired the 29-year-old Steeg, who was put in charge of the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl and the NFL Draft. Steeg worked under Rozelle until the commissioner's 1989 retirement.
"Pete had an ability to get his people to be extremely loyal to him, because of the way he treated you," Steeg said. "He also taught you to give responsibilities to other people so they could learn and grow from what was going on."
Steeg started with three full-time staff members in his department. It grew to 24 by the time he left in 2004.
"Surround yourself with the best people, people who (are) never satisfied with the status quo and always want to get better," Steeg said.
One of those people was Don Renzulli, now executive vice president for On Location Experiences, who worked with Steeg for 10 years.
"Jim had a vision for how you can continually make the Super Bowl experience better, and he pushed everybody to make it better each year," Renzulli said. "Jim listened to everybody's ideas, said what could work, and then pushed everybody to make things happen."
On game days at the Super Bowl, there were in excess of 10,000 employees "that were directly accountable for the success of the game and to me," Steeg said. "You've got to make sure you communicate your philosophies with everybody as much as you can."
Best Fan Experience
Steeg felt the most important thing for him to keep in mind whether it was the Super Bowl or NFL Draft was to view everything through the prism of what his reaction would be as a fan.
He asked himself: "How do you make Super Bowl game day in the stadium the best possible experience you can for the fans in attendance? And that's as simple as how you prepare the look on the field, the look in the stadium, what do you do with concessions and merchandise to how you handle parking."
Steeg constantly stayed alert to borrow from other sporting event experiences he'd had — or thought that he had. He was at an L.A. Dodgers home game in the early 1980s and while in the restroom he clearly heard the team's legendary announcer Vin Scully describe the game.
"I'm thinking the Dodgers are brilliant, they put speakers in all the restrooms so you can hear Scully, and then I realize no, it was everybody bringing their transistor radios in," Steeg recalled.
The seed planted, Steeg put speakers into the restrooms, tunnels, elevators and concession areas at Super Bowl sites so the fans wouldn't miss a second of what was transpiring on the field if they left their seats. Soon after that, he put TV screens in the concession areas.
While at a U.S. Open tennis match, Steeg took note of how devices were handed out to fans sitting far away from the action so they could listen to the broadcast. Steeg took that idea, found a sponsor, and provided devices so attending fans could listen to the national Super Bowl broadcast or the ones of each team's home announcers.
When the Super Bowl XVI played in Detroit in 1982, Steeg sought Diana Ross to sing the national anthem and made that happen. Bringing the biggest stars to sing the anthem was the seed that sprouted into Super Bowl halftime shows becoming events in and of themselves.
For Super Bowl XIX played at Stanford Stadium in 1985, Steeg got Apple and Steve Jobs to sponsor seat cushions for the fans as the stadium had only uncomfortable wooden benches. Seat cushions have now become a staple at many title events.
Super Bowl Buildup
With a two-week wait before the Super Bowl game after the conference title games were played, Steeg set out to create something in the host community so people had something to do in the days leading up to kickoff. "Things like the NFL Experience came out of that," Steeg said. "One year in Phoenix we had 106 different events going on, something for everyone."
Steeg worked to also engage the host community by creating events that gave back. The Taste Of The NFL event, now in its 25th year, is a fundraiser that has donated tens of millions to food banks. The Super Bowl Golf Tournament also gives money back to communities as do the clinics the NFL puts on in the host cities.
"What could you do to come into the community and not just take but leave something behind?" Steeg said. One of the biggest investments introduced under Steeg: the construction of the NFL's Youth Education Town, which is the youth center that is built every year after the Super Bowl in that community.
"Someone once said to me that the event is never over until you have learned from it," Steeg reflected. "Success can camouflage problems, and you need to be introspective enough to look for issues and improve. The self- and collective analysis after the event is critical to the future."
NFL executive credited with transforming the Super Bowl from title game to annual extravaganza.
Overcame: Youth, inexperience and uncharted waters.
Lesson: Think like your customers.
"The best leaders incentivize, inspire and empower their teams to be creative and innovative. It's not about one person; it's about building a culture where innovation is prized — and expected."
Advisors tend to think highly of their clients. That's especially true if they admire a client's character and courage.
XFor advisors who work with active or former military members, their admiration leads to heightened job satisfaction. Helping these warriors often becomes a labor of love.
"What's so great about this market is you can not only make a living, but it's so rewarding to serve these folks because they're so deserving," said Scott Spiker, chairman and chief executive of First Command Financial Services, a Fort Worth, Texas-based advisory firm.
Spiker notes that military benefits are in flux as a new retirement system takes effect this year. It features a blend of the long-standing fixed pension with a 401(k)-like defined contribution piece.
IBD'S TAKE:Not all financial advisors are experienced stock pickers or feel they need to be, but those that are can be of added service to well-heeled clients who are active in the stock market. See how you can strengthen your investing skills at Investors.com.
This represents the biggest change to the military retirement system in 70 years, so advisors with military clients face a fresh set of retirement planning questions. The parties seek to navigate the Blended Retirement System based on the individual's length of service and other variables.
For those currently serving in the military, focusing on personal financial matters can require heavy lifting. Limited time to meet with an advisor, coupled with the demands of frequent travel and training exercises, can leave these individuals with less opportunity to research their options.
To accommodate military clients, advisors use video chat and email as well as phone calls. Face-to-face meetings around a conference table can prove a rare luxury.
"For the actively serving, the greatest challenge is setting up a game plan to communicate with them," said Chad Feucht, an advisor and military veteran in Fond du Lac, Wis. "They're getting deployed and moving around a lot. So we set up a plan that doesn't take a lot of day-to-day attention."
Advisors in search of a niche might target a high-net-worth crowd. But those in the military do not sit atop the list of richly compensated professionals.
"Even with four-star generals and admirals, you're not dealing with really wealthy people," Spiker said.
Yet Spiker, a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, finds that military members can make great clients. He lauds their decisiveness when weighing financial options.
"They're more likely to move on a decision than say they need time to think about it," he said.
He also describes them as prudent risk-takers who "have some money and a pretty long runway" to capitalize on the power of compounding. They may favor dollar-cost averaging and other long-term investment strategies.
Financial planners often invite military members to look ahead. Feucht and his colleagues like to ask questions such as, "How do you envision your career playing out?" and "How long do you plan on serving?"
"These are difficult questions to answer for anyone," Feucht said. "The important thing is to challenge them to think about these questions deeply."
Every Minute Counts
Advisors with military clients may need to acquire a new vocabulary. In addition to mastering the details of the new retirement system, they must understand the nuances of active duty service vs. National Guard and reserve service.
"There's also the issue of follow-on civilian employment," Feucht said. Because many military personnel transition to a second career after completing their service, advisors should take a holistic look at their client's entire working life and how their earnings and benefits can impact their retirement.
Feucht compares the advisor's job to a military commander's role. Leaders of a military unit seek to develop and safeguard their team, offering ideas to perform more effectively, anticipate and address obstacles, and pounce on educational and training opportunities.
Similarly, the best advisors don't just direct investments, track cash flow and project retirement savings. They also "consider the person as a whole," Feucht says.
Well-organized advisors value their clients' time. They prepare diligently for meetings by notifying the client in advance of what issues they will cover, what materials they need to review and what questions to consider.
Such preparation is particularly important with military clients.
"Their time is important," Feucht said. "As an advisor, you may have to cram a lot of information and discussion into a limited amount of time."
For advisors who are just starting to work with military personnel, they may assume their clients are under constant stress. While military life can entail periods of difficulty and upheaval, individuals who serve often learn to manage stress effectively.
"While you have to be aware of the stressors they face, they're normal people," said Jeremy Feucht, an advisor who works with his brother, Chad, at their firm. "They have the same goals and face many of the same obstacles that others face," such as managing their money and planning for retirement.
Early on in Morten Hansen's career at Boston Consulting Group in London, putting in 60-, 70-, 80- and even 90-hour workweeks was common. But it led him to ponder: Why was a colleague's work better than his, even though she kept normal 8 a.m.-to-6 p.m. hours?
That question ultimately led to now-Professor Hansen's recent in-depth five-year study of 5,000 businesspeople. It showed, on average, that when people increased their hours to 50 a week, performance increased quite a bit. At 50-65 hours per week, performance flattens out and beyond 65 hours per week performance deteriorates.
Pursue obsession. Hansen's "working smart" definition is to select very few activities that maximize value and then "apply intense targeted effort to truly excel."
He defines value activities as ones making "very beneficial contributions to others, including your customers and other departments in your company."
Top performers "pay fanatic attention to the details of the work, and keep on working to achieve perfection," Hansen said. "(But) that obsession is only possible if you do focus on a tiny set of priorities."
Learn how to say no. About a quarter of the people in Hansen's study complained that they couldn't focus because their bosses gave them too many things to do.
How you say no matters a great deal. When the boss piles it on, ask him to prioritize the work. Ask what task you should do first and which ones can wait.
"Make sure you get across that you're doing so in order to do excellent work, which requires focus, and not because you're a slacker," Hansen said.
Managers in general need to be "far better at setting priorities for people," he adds.
"If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings.' "
A 2015 Harris Poll survey found that the No. 1 obstacle to getting work done is having to attend meetings. A study by the Wharton Center for Applied Research showed senior and middle managers felt 44% of their meetings were unproductive.
Brinkman: "As a manager, if you free your employees from meetings they don't need to attend and make the ones they do shorter, focused and more productive, conservatively it would be the equivalent of increasing your workforce by 25% without spending a penny."
Ask why. There is only one legitimate reason for a meeting, Brickman says, and that's so people can interact on a particular subject.
"If you're holding a meeting just to present information, you're wasting your time," he adds. Better to put that in a memo.
Create meeting schedules. Each meeting agenda item should include a title, time frame, process, and two essential items, purpose and focus, Brinkman says.
"Purpose is a two-sentence statement explaining why this item is so important," he continues. "Focus is what you want from the group regarding this item."
Brinkman adds: "The meeting must start on time whether or not everyone is there and end on time whether or not the agenda has been accomplished."
Look in the mirror. People aren't the only reason we get distracted and lose concentration. "The other culprit is, well, you," Hansen said.
"Contain yourself before you hear the lure of email and text messages and get the urge to jump on the internet for the latest scoop," he adds.
One tactic Hansen used to pound out a book was to get a second laptop but stripped of everything except word processing. Away from other computers and his phone, "when the siren song of checking emails beckoned, I had the urge to check them but I couldn't, so I continued writing," he says.
When Forbes recently reprinted its first list of the richest Americans, for its 100th Anniversary Issue, Jacob Schiff's name stood out as one that seems to be forgotten.
That list for 1918, headed by John D. Rockefeller, consisted of well-known captains of industry or their heirs. Schiff was tied for 23rd with a net worth of $50 million (equivalent to $875 million today), alongside tobacco tycoon James Duke, photography pioneer George Eastman, Sears & Roebuck founder Julius Rosenwald, and Pierre S. Du Pont, who created the chemicals empire.
Schiff was one of Wall Street's leading investment bankers from 1880 to 1920, with his Kuhn, Loeb & Co. enabling railroads to reach every corner of the continent, helping insurance companies grow, and lending Japan the money it needed to defeat Russia in their 1904-05 war (his revenge for the czar's pogroms against the Jews).
"Many Jews were forced to flee Russia, and Schiff, an immigrant from Germany, helped encourage these and other immigrants to be proud of their heritage and fight bigotry and hatred," Jeffrey Podoshen, associate professor of marketing at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., told IBD. "He was instrumental in instilling the beliefs that they had to depend on themselves and their own hard work to achieve success in the face of perpetual propaganda from racists and anti-Semites. Schiff was confident, bold, unapologetic, and very successful."
Schiff (1847-1920) was born in Frankfurt into a distinguished family that traced its lineage in the city back five centuries. His father was a broker for the Rothschilds and at 14 Schiff began working as an apprentice at a mercantile house and then a bank.
At the end of the American Civil War in 1865, Schiff, 18, decided the United States would provide greater opportunity and boarded a ship for New York City. After a few months of unemployment, he was hired as a clerk at a brokerage and within two years formed a partnership, Budge, Schiff & Co. In 1874, Abraham Kuhn of Kuhn, Loeb invited him to join the investment bank and Schiff contributed his valuable European connections. The following year, he married Theresa Loeb, daughter of co-founder Solomon, and they would have a son and daughter.
"The partners had prospered in wholesale clothing in Cincinnati and during the Civil War because of the Union's demand for army blankets," wrote Naomi Cohen in "Jacob H. Schiff: A Study in American Jewish Leadership." "In 1867, they established Kuhn, Loeb & Co. in New York, a banking firm that dealt primarily in government bonds. Jewish investment bankers ... created opportunities for Jews who, because of their Jewishness, were barred from gentile firms, collectively providing a base for cooperation in new investments. … Their kinship network that spanned two continents played a pivotal role in their achievements."
Rapidly Expanding Railroads
By 1875, the other partners were following Schiff's lead in aggressively pursuing new business, in contrast to the prior attitude that the respectable thing to do was to wait for proposals. Well before Schiff was made head of the firm in 1885, he was seen as the strategist and spokesman for Kuhn, Loeb and would remain so for over four decades.
"The older members of the firm recognized his financial genius ... and Kuhn, Loeb became one of the two most influential private international banking houses in the Western Hemisphere," wrote Cyrus Adler in " Jacob Henry Schiff: A Biographical Sketch." "It was characteristic of him as a banker that his activities were all creative, looking to the development of the resources and the extension of the commerce of the United States, particularly concerned in the financing of railway enterprises. … He was swift to recognize the genius of Edward H. Harriman, and the Harriman-Schiff railway combination became the most powerful, the most aggressive, and the most successful that America had ever known."
Kuhn, Loeb financed many railways, including providing the Pennsylvania Railroad with $500 million over a quarter century. By the mid-1880s, Schiff had a strong relationship with railroad baron James J. Hill, who controlled the Great Northern Railroad, giving Schiff a seat on the board, while Hill sent his son to be trained by the banker. But the economic panic of 1893 exposed corruption and inefficiencies in many railroads, and Schiff pressured Hill to consolidate Great Northern with his troubled client, Northern Pacific. Hill refused and turned to J.P. Morgan to fund his ambitions.
"Schiff formed a reorganization committee for another client in debt, Union Pacific ( UNP), that included the National City Bank and Rockefeller money, but he assumed the all-consuming task of hands-on manager," wrote Cohen. "A partner observed, 'He could conceive financial transactions of gigantic lines, but at the same time no business detail escaped his attention.' "
But a year later, Schiff heard that Harriman was trying to block the reorganization in order to add the Union Pacific to his own railroad empire. They struck an agreement that would give Harriman a position on the executive board and Kuhn, Loeb would have access to his credit reserves. In 1897, Schiff convinced the U.S. government to provide $87 million to allow his investment group to take full possession of the line, which prospered.
In 1900, Schiff tried to acquire the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad for Union Pacific and went up against Hill and Morgan, who wanted to add it to Northern Pacific, which they now owned. Northern Pacific won the bid, but Schiff and Harriman began buying its stock, and on May 9, 1901, the price of a share shot up to $1,000 before the two sides brokered a truce and the price fell back to $150. The agreement gave board seats to the non-owners and promised to minimize competition between the lines, but this later had to be modified under the new antitrust laws.
Kuhn, Loeb was now in control of 22,000 miles of railway and held stock worth $321 million (equal to $9.3 billion now), while Schiff was regarded as second only to Morgan in the investment banking world.
Kuhn, Loeb financed many other companies in a variety of industries, including Equitable Life Assurance Society, Western Union ( WU), Wells Fargo ( WFC) and Westinghouse Electric Co.
But Schiff's most high-profile loans were to Japan, starting in 1904, when it faced a much stronger Russia and needed to purchase munitions. Eventually, Kuhn, Loeb floated $200 million (worth $5.6 billion today), half its entire war needs. Schiff had also done everything he could over the decades to hinder Russia's ability to get the backing of Wall Street, because of that nation's persecution of Jews. During World War I, Schiff arranged funding for the Allies, as long as none of the money went to Russia.
Schiff was as well-known for his philanthropy as for his business success, giving to every kind of Jewish charity and school, but also to benefit the general public, ranging from the Boy Scouts to the National Geographic Society and Red Cross.
Newspapers around the world reported his death in 1920 and he was declared "the greatest Jewish leader of the age."
Kuhn, Loeb was merged with Lehman Bros. in 1977 and the combined firm was acquired in 1984 by American Express ( AXP), forming Shearson Lehman/American Express. Kuhn Loeb was spun off in 1994 as Lehman Bros. Holdings, which filed for bankruptcy in 2008 (an event that may have helped trigger that year's global financial crisis).
"I began studying the history of Wall Street when I worked there and came across Jacob Schiff's story," said Michael Driskoll, clinical professor at the Willumstad School of Business at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. "Going up against some of the white-shoe firms, he had to be bare-knuckled at times to succeed in a world where racism was rampant, conspiracy theories were rife that Jews ruled the world, and foreigners were under suspicion. Schiff was able to gain respect beyond his own group by advocating assimilation for immigrants, socializing with a wide variety of people, sharing risks with anyone who had the same values and vision, and giving to causes that benefited society at large. There are lessons for those who have to climb the professional ladder without certain advantages."
Leading Jewish banker and philanthropist on Wall Street in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Overcame: Anti-Semitism on Wall Street.
Lesson: Produce results no one can deny by focusing on getting the details right.
"We are only the temporary custodians of our fortunes, and let us be careful that no just complaint can be made against our stewardship."
The best advisors invest clients' funds wisely. So it makes sense that they also know how to invest in people.
XAs an advisor's business takes off, assembling a strong team becomes a priority. Bringing aboard more advisors, an office manager and an administrative aide can prove pivotal to a firm's survival.
But savvy advisors don't stop there. They hire stars to fill roles that help differentiate their firm and enhance client service.
For example, some enterprising advisors recruit a full-time employee whose sole responsibility is supporting the firm's most valuable clients. Acting as an in-house concierge, this individual focuses on making clients' lives simpler and easier.
David Bach, co-founder of AE Wealth Management in Topeka, Kan., notes that many firms operate under the 80/20 rule, where 20% of clients generate 80% of revenue. He recommends that advisors who want to build their business identify their best clients and then elevate them into what he calls a "platinum care" program.
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"Hire somebody who's specifically dedicated to your platinum clients," said Bach, author of "Smart Couples Finish Rich" and other books. "You want somebody who can wine, dine and schmooze them and be there 24/7 for them."
Investing in this position can pay off many times over, Bach argues. That's because if you care for your most profitable clients in ways that exceed even their highest expectations, they will refer their friends to you.
Bach also urges advisors of growing firms to hire a chief marketing officer. An experienced marketer can devise strategies — from hosting public seminars to appearing on radio shows and podcasts — to help you reach your target demographic.
Make A Great Impression
For some advisors, their smartest hire isn't just a marketing whiz. They look to recruit someone who can boost their firm's overall image.
David Hays, president of Comprehensive Financial Consultants in Bloomington, Ind., developed a full-time job that he calls "director of first impressions."
"The job is to make us look good in the eyes of clients, prospects and the community," Hays said.
The role entails everything from managing the initial outreach to prospects to buying and hand-delivering gifts to top clients' homes to representing the firm at Chamber of Commerce mixers. This employee also sends cards to clients after a major life event (such as the birth of a grandchild or death of a loved one) and "even dressed as Santa Claus for our Christmas party," Hays adds with a laugh.
While acknowledging that the position is hard to quantify, Hays says the ideal director of first impressions possesses both marketing skills and charisma to charm the crowds at community events. The individual also needs to be detail-oriented and well-organized.
"You're looking for people who are gregarious, likable and very social," Hays said. "They don't need a financial background, but they do need to be warm and caring, with a good working knowledge of your community."
Finding such a gem may require some digging. To land great hires, contact local colleges and their alumni association — and ask your most trusted clients, vendors and business partners if they know any candidates.
Once advisors build businesses that exceed $1 billion in assets under management, they may make other bold hiring moves. That's especially true if they can recruit a technical expert who gives them a competitive advantage over other advisory firms.
Advisors with a heavy reliance on information systems might carve out a position for information-technology support. Others who seek to add advisors at a rapid rate may hire a trainer or quality-control specialist.
For Paul Pagnato, founder and chief executive of PagnatoKarp in Reston, Va., hiring a full-time tax expert two years ago has propelled his success.
"It's rare for a wealth-management firm to provide a full tax practice," he said. "The value-add to our clients is incredible."
Recruiting a tax specialist was easy for Pagnato: He knew an accountant in the local Ernst & Young office was helping some of his clients — and he figured she might want to join his firm.
"We have fewer clients so it was less stressful for her," he said. "We also have a better benefits package."
He lured her away with what he says was "slightly higher compensation" than she was earning. He raves about his investment in the position, noting that new clients are thrilled when they learn that his firm provides tax expertise at no additional charge.
"As technology digitizes our industry, you have to look for outside-the-box ways to add value for clients," Pagnato said.
You're about to give a big speech. It's filled with facts and figures.
You wish you could omit the dry data, but you have no choice. Your subject matter requires a deep dive into hard numbers and devilish details.
A fact-laden presentation does not mean you must put people to sleep. To enliven your content:
Spark a dialogue. Skip the data dump in favor of a question-and-answer format. Divulge bite-size bits of detail in response to the audience's queries.
If it's impractical to take live questions from the crowd, organize your speech as a series of commonly asked inquiries — and then answer them.
"The problem with data is it's hard to digest if the speaker spits it out at you without stopping for 20 minutes," said Joey Asher, president of Speechworks, an Atlanta-based communication-skills training firm. "If the audience can drive the process by asking questions, they're more likely to understand it better."
Tell a story. Before you plunge into the weeds, give people a reason to listen. Pose a riddle that you promise to solve. Build suspense as everyone wonders how you'll resolve a dilemma. Describe how a long-suffering individual or group can benefit from what you're about to propose.
"Present data as part of a larger story that listeners care about," said Asher, author of " Riveting Data." "Start with the big issue — what big concern people have — and use your story to put the data in context."
Invite feedback. Many speakers subject their audience to dozens of slides packed with graphs, statistics and bulleted lists. But don't feel obliged to march through a long slog of slides.
"Don't overwhelm the audience with data," Asher said. "Smart business folks have a tendency to be blind to the audience's ability to grasp this stuff."
To gauge the group's receptivity to hearing more details, solicit input. For example, invite listeners to vote on whether they want you to share supporting data — or skip ahead.
Lighten your tone. If you're reciting reams of data, you may assume you should speak with dispassionate authority. And that can lead you to deaden your enthusiasm and adopt a detached, robotic delivery.
But if you want people to retain facts and figures, turn your voice into an asset. Inject a dramatic flair into your speech, modulating your tempo and volume to emphasize the story behind the numbers.
"Speak like you're speaking with intensity to a friend," Asher said. "Avoid the corporate monotone and flat affectation that so many business people use."
Tap the power of silence. Separate your core message from the details by altering how you speak. Pause just before you make your most crucial points to signal that what's coming next carries special weight.
"I speak slowly, look at the audience and use the power of the pause," said Molly McPherson, a communication consultant in Portsmouth, N.H. "That way, they know what I'm about to say is important."
Pick a captivating visual. Start with the conclusion that you want everyone to reach. Then cite details to flesh out your case.
A professional speaker and trainer, McPherson begins her presentations with what she calls a "BLUF slide" (bottom line up front) — a compelling visual image that encapsulates her overall thesis.
Before presenting research data to marketers, for instance, she showed a timeline of a company's sales before and after it experienced a public relations crisis. From there, she analyzed how viral media can cause reputational damage to an organization.
"It's the kind of slide where you don't have to write anything down," she said. "It just sticks in your head."
You give great advice to clients. But what happens if they don't take it?
XMany financial advisors find it easy to offer sound recommendations. The hard part is nudging clients to comply, especially if they lack the discipline to follow through.
Whether it's an inability to stick to a savings plan or an asset allocation strategy, some clients will act impulsively or simply ignore what they're told. Despite their best intentions, they may not do what their advisor says — and wind up sabotaging their goals as a result.
"It's incredibly rare that a client can be completely disciplined and follow through on everything that you recommend," said Evan Powers, a certified financial planner in Charlottesville, Va. "But it's not that huge of a problem" because there are ways to support individuals over time — and help them get with the program.
Powers applies a three-step process to advise clients who may initially lack the discipline to adhere to a game plan. First, he probes to determine their goals such as targeting a certain age to retire or funding a child's education.
Second, he collaborates with the client to draft a written plan built around three or four action steps to reach those goals. Examples may include managing household expenses, developing an ongoing savings strategy or adjusting a portfolio to reflect agreed-upon priorities.
Finally, he confers with the client every six months or so to review the formal plan. Most of the time, they find that one of the action steps has fallen by the wayside.
"It soon becomes clear which item the client struggles with," Powers said. "So we make tweaks to the plan or change priorities."
When clients fail to pounce on their advisor's recommendation, it's tempting to conclude that they lack discipline or are too busy or distracted to comply. But they may have other reasons.
Powers recalls advising a new client in his 30s to get life insurance. Over the next few months, however, the client didn't take any action.
Eventually, Powers learned that the client's medical history made him nervous about applying for a policy. Through gentle, supportive questioning, Powers determined that the client's reluctance stemmed from his fear that he'd be denied life insurance and that would prevent him from ever obtaining it.
Armed with that information, Powers enlisted an insurance broker's help to secure coverage for the client.
If advisors conclude that their client lacks the wherewithal to heed their suggestions, they may proceed in small steps to induce compliance. Establishing incremental milestones to advance toward a larger goal tends to work well with individuals who seem unwilling or unable to take practical advice that's in their best interest.
"We prefer to nudge our clients (who don't initially take our advice) rather than expect complete behavioral changes," said Doug Amis, a certified financial planner in Cary, N.C. "Most clients are more receptive to making little changes."
Assess And Coach
Nudging works particularly well when trying to get clients to stay within their budget. Some advisors might present them with a detailed budget, insist that they follow it strictly and lecture them if they don't.
A better approach is to urge less responsive clients to take baby steps. Instead of drafting an annual budget broken down by month, encourage clients to meet weekly mini-goals.
Above all, beware of berating those who do not take your advice. Scolding or expressing disappointment in them can drive them away.
"I've learned that you want to position yourself as a consultant and coach who says, 'Let's work together to fix this,' " Amis said.
Personality assessments and other diagnostic tools can strengthen your understanding of how clients behave and what motivates them to act. Analyzing the results can help you appeal to certain types of clients more effectively.
Lisa Kirchenbauer, a certified financial planner in Arlington, Va., often asks new clients to take such assessments. She likes products by Kolbe and the Sudden Money Institute's "communication preference" tool.
For example, the results may show that an individual is more apt to comply when given an urgent deadline. So Kirchenbauer will create a crunch deadline to rivet the client's attention on following through.
"It takes the judgment out of it so that we can find creative ways to help clients," she said. "When clients feel judged, it doesn't help your relationship with them."
In some cases, Kirchenbauer recommends that a client enlist a life coach or join a support group to acquire more discipline. She says she finds it "more useful to brainstorm with the client than to signal disapproval."
When Miles White was named CEO of Abbott Laboratories ( ABT) in 1998 at 43, he was the youngest head of a major health care company.
Today, he's one of the longest-serving chiefs in health care and has made a reputation as a master strategist, known for making bold moves at Abbott. And none was more dramatic than when he spun off the research-based pharmaceutical half of the firm as AbbVie ( ABBV) in 2013. Before this, Abbott had a market capitalization at about half that of industry leaders Pfizer ( PFE) and Merck ( MRK).
It seemed crazy to many, but White perceived that developing new drugs had a completely different business rhythm than what the new Abbott would now focus on: devices, diagnostics, nutritional products and branded generic drugs. The result: Abbott's stock has since risen from 24 a share to around 59 a share, giving it a market cap of about $102 billion, while AbbVie's shares increased from 33 a share to near 100 a share, giving it a value approaching $159 billion. His creations combined are now worth around $260 billion, far more than Pfizer ($217 billion) or Merck ($156 billion). And White has been ranked by Barron's as one of the world's 30 best CEOs for nine straight years.
"It's about keeping the company current and relevant," White told IBD. "We continually shape our business to ensure we're where the needs and opportunities are for the future. For instance, our recent acquisition of St. Jude Medical makes us a leader across a range of growing medical device categories where new technology can make a huge difference — for the patient and for investors."
White grew up in Las Vegas and earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering at Stanford in 1978, and an MBA two years later. He joined McKinsey & Co. in Chicago as a consultant, but while he felt the work was fascinating, projects and clients came and went. White said he wanted something he "could feel connected to for a longer term, which would be more fulfilling."
White was hired by Abbott, based in the north Chicago suburb of Abbott Park, Ill., in 1984 as a director of sales in diagnostics, and four years later he was offered a chance to head the division's growing Asia-Pacific region — a prestigious position for a 33-year-old. But he turned it down because it meant moving to Japan; his wife wanted to open a children's bookstore in the U.S. White said he is a big believer in work-life balance and was confident that other opportunities for advancement would come his way. Indeed, 10 years later he was chosen to be the new CEO and the following year added the title of chairman of the board. (And his wife ran her bookstore for 19 years before selling it in 2008.)
Abbott had rarely done acquisitions or divestitures since its founding in 1888. A whirlwind of change followed after White took the helm, including:
Abbott purchasing Knoll in 2001, the pharmaceutical division of Germany's BASF.
Selling off its Selsun Blue, Clear Eyes and Murine brands in 2002.
Spinning off its hospital products division as Hospira in 2004 (bought by Pfizer for $17 billion in 2015), as well as acquiring TheraSense and merging with earlier acquisition MediSense to create its diabetes-care division.
Purchasing the vascular device business of Guidant Corp. in 2006.
But 2007 was dramatic and traumatic. Abbott acquired Kos Pharmaceuticals, a maker of cardiovascular drugs, for $3.7 billion in cash, but a deal to sell its core laboratory and point-of-care diagnostics divisions to General Electric ( GE) fell through. White decided to revive these challenged divisions instead, investing in research and development, streamlining operations, and reorganizing products and services into a new diagnostics division. In August 2016 it began launching a family of next-generation instruments, informatics and services with common software and hardware platforms designed to be easy to use and more efficient, which White called "a game-changer for the industry."
Among other acquisitions, in 2010 Abbott paid $6.2 billion for the pharmaceuticals unit of Belgium-based Solvay, expanding its presence in emerging markets. The same year, a plan was announced to purchase a unit of Piramal Healthcare for $3.8 billion, which would make Abbott the biggest pharmaceutical company in India.
The success of the company's acquisitions may largely depend on an ability to anticipate consumers' medical needs, understand where the practice of medicine is headed, and aggressively position the company to benefit through internal and external investment.
"It's not just about acquiring companies," White said. "It's about what you do with them. How can you do more with that business? How can you make it better? How can it improve your existing operations?
"We've developed a very disciplined integration process through which we learn how best to bring new assets into Abbott and help them expand and reach their potential, faster and better than they could have before."
All of this and more were just preliminaries to spinning off half the company, for which Abbott took a 2012 third-quarter charge of $478 million. AbbVie was officially listed on the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 2, 2013.
"What makes White such a savvy deal-maker?" asked Jim Cramer on his "Mad Money" show on CNBC in November 2017. "He has a real talent for anticipating consumers' future medical needs and then aggressively positioning his company to benefit from them. Within four years of becoming CEO, Abbott released Humira, which would go on to treat forms of arthritis, plaque psoriasis and Crohn's disease, among other ailments. In 2016, now part of AbbVie, it made $16.1 billion in sales, making it the best-selling drug in the world. But White had the foresight to spin off this part of his company ahead of the explosion of the debate about drug prices."
But guiding a global enterprise through massive change can result in mistakes, and Abbott's biggest occurred in the midst of the drama leading to the split. In October 2012, Abbott was fined $500 million for marketing Depakote, a brand of valproic acid, the world's most widely prescribed anti-epileptic drug, for conditions not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As part of a settlement that cost it a total of $1.5 billion, the company agreed to strengthen its internal controls.
The New Abbott
After separating from AbbVie in January 2013, the new Abbott emerged with a focus on not only diagnostic products and services, but medical devices, nutritional lines and branded generic medicines. The latter is the Established Pharmaceuticals Division, which sells to developing markets, where a brand name may be trusted more than an unknown, due to high quality and efficacy standards, but which doesn't have the high costs of R&D-based pharma. The division now offers more than 1,500 products, with 400 in development. In 2014, it acquired CFR Pharmaceuticals for $2.9 billion, more than doubling its Latin American branded-generics pharmaceutical presence.
Abbott is also the world leader in adult nutritional products, including Ensure and ZonePerfect, as well as the U.S. leader in baby nutrition with Similac and other lines, and for special dietary needs with Glucerna and Juven.
The company is also a leader in diabetes care, introducing a revolutionary continuous glucose monitoring device, FreeStyleLibre, in September.
In 2017, the company purchased St. Jude Medical for $25 billion in cash and stock, establishing Abbott as a leader in the medical device arena. It also closed Alere for $5.3 billion, which made it the leader in the $7 billion point-of-care diagnostics market.
"We've reinvented the company multiple times over the past 20 years," White said. "It's a continuous process of shaping the company for the future. We work very deliberately to ensure that we remain relevant and current to the people we serve and to the changes taking place in our environment. We're in several different businesses today than we were decades ago, and they were all chosen specifically for their relevance to where the science was going, where demographic and socioeconomic factors were going, and where our customers were going. And that's why we're still growing strong and our stock is at an all-time high."
Today, Abbott employs 94,000 workers in over 150 countries. In 2016, its revenue was $20.9 billion and net income was $1.4 billion.
CEO and chairman of Abbott Laboratories, a global leader in medical devices, diagnostics, nutritional products and branded generic medicines.
Overcame: The failed sale of the challenged diagnostics businesses, which he turned around by investing in innovation and becoming a highly profitable, consistent grower for the company.
Lesson: Envision a long-term big goal and work out the detailed steps to get there, even if it means defying the industry's consensus.
"You need to continually ask yourself, 'Is there a better way?' Because the answer is always yes, even though exactly how might not yet be apparent."
It's not enough to try to bounce back after a failure or mistake. View it as an opportunity to vault ahead of where you were.
Ama Marston, who co-authored "Type R," calls it transformative resilience.
"Success really depends on transforming challenges," Marston told IBD. "Just bouncing back will keep us stuck in the past and limited by the status quo."
Here's how to do it:
Free your mind. An organization's views on being resilient are closely tied to its attitudes toward failure, says Chris Maslin, director of the Asheville, N.C.-based Biltmore Center for Professional Development. If it's willing to accept failure as long as the process is well-researched, it's open to learning from setbacks. That spurs innovation, too.
"Fail fast, fail cheap and learn from it," Maslin said.
Find your baseline. Figure out what your default response is to something negative. Examine it when you're not in crisis and look back at a prior incident, says Marston, founder and CEO of London-based strategy and leadership advisory firm Marston Consulting. If you see it as an opportunity, great. If you turn it into a catastrophe that's insurmountable, be aware you'll need to change that view the next time trouble arises.
Look ahead. If you've lost your job or let a big contract slip away, your mindset will help you rally.
"Look at how you can use this to propel you to the next great thing," Maslin said. "The longer you mope, the less momentum you have to find success."
Change your sightline. After you've devoted time and energy to a project, when you have a setback the tendency is to tweak it and continue down the original path. Look more broadly. Maybe that product failure means you should gear it to another market you hadn't considered.
"If you can shift your focus, maybe you'll find some new opportunities," Marston said.
Gain knowledge. Ask yourself what you can learn from a setback so it makes you better down the road.
"If everything that happens is viewed through a prism of learning and growth, then the trauma of failure is reduced," Maslin said.
Talk to others. Recognize that everyone fails at some point. It's what you do with that setback that's vital, Maslin says. Discuss it with your mentors to learn how to rise higher next time.
"If you try to process it internally, you're going to be stuck in your own head," he said.
Show the way. View problems as mere challenges that will get you further ahead down the road. You'll get others to adopt the same mindset.
"By starting on ourselves, we have this immense ripple effect and impact on those around us," Marston said.
Set deep priorities. Rely on a strong sense of purpose. When former Alcoa ( AA) CEO Paul O'Neill took over the company in 1987, the firm had some recent accidents. So he talked about worker safety rather than profits and revenue growth. Investors were concerned by the new priority. But O'Neill used that as a way to change the company's thinking. That mindset soon spread to other parts of the business and Alcoa thrived.
"He used purpose as a driving force for the business," Marston said. "By the time he left, he had transformed the way business was done."
Look back. Biltmore has its team review each project, Maslin says. Everyone participates, and rank doesn't matter. One of its businesses failed recently. The review didn't point fingers, and no jobs were lost.
"That reinforced the culture of resilience," Maslin said.
Get ahead. Resilience is particularly vital now because it's such a big factor in innovation. You don't discover new things without a few missteps along the way. Accept those mistakes and plunge ahead, and you'll get better results later.
"Resilience is a core competency for innovation," Maslin said. "Companies will die on the vine without innovation."
Homeboy Industries is a Los Angeles-based youth program that, as its supercool ghetto name might suggest, has helped transform the lives of literally thousands of gangbangers since it was formed 35 years ago.
It was founded by Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest, to meet desperate needs in the community to which he ministered. And it all had its roots in his desire to learn Spanish.
Boyle, 63, grew up in Los Angeles, one of eight children in a large and largely observant Irish Catholic family. He had five sisters and two brothers. "My father used to say he had three hits and five misses," Boyle said in a phone interview with IBD. "He thought that was clever."
There was, he says, no pressures on him to enter the priesthood, but when it became clear that he would, "they were very supportive."
There followed a lengthy educational period involving a B.A. (Gonzaga University), three Master's degrees (including an M.A. in divinity from the Weston School of Theology and another in Sacred Theology or S.T.M. from the Jesuit School of Theology). He was ordained in 1984.
It Started With Spanish
It was his interest in Spanish that changed his path. "I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life (as a priest), so I said let me immerse myself and learn Spanish. In those days, they (the Church hierarchy) liked it when somebody wanted to do that, because it felt like the direction we were moving in," given the large Spanish-speaking population of Southern California.
Boyle was assigned to a Christian community in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a position that reoriented his priorities and his life.
"It wasn't just studying (Spanish)," he said. "I became a priest to this very poor community; it turned me inside out and ruined my life."
Of course, he said the last ironically. When he returned to the U.S. in 1986, he was slated to become the pastor for students at Santa Clara University, a decidedly cushy job 180 degrees removed from Bolivia. But his experiences in South America radically altered Boyle.
"I told my provincial superior who was assigning me to Santa Clara that I wasn't feeling it anymore. Fortunately, he needed a pastor at the poorest place we had, which was Delores Mission Church, so I went down there."
The church was located in the heavily Hispanic (coincidentally) Boyle Heights neighborhood of L.A. Boyle wrote about his experiences there in the best-selling "Tattoos of the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion" and in his newly published "Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship."
What he'd discovered in Bolivia was that working with poor people brought him closer to his own salvation. "There's something about folks at the margins," he said. "They happen to be our trustworthy guides to the original covenants, where God said, 'As I love you, you have to have special care for the widow, orphan or stranger.' It's not charity, but letting them guide us to the spirit of God. And suddenly this became a way not to save widows or orphans or the poor, but to find myself led to the gospel."
It wasn't easy. His congregants were not used to his kind of ministry. Boyle's message was of God's love. "They were used to the priests wagging their fingers at them," Boyle said. "They had become comfortable with being chewed out, being told that they were less. It's what they settled for."
'Too Stupid To Be Frightened'
He was in his early 30s when he was assigned to Delores Mission, which was located in a dangerous, high-crime neighborhood. But he was too idealistic to worry.
"I was too stupid to be frightened," Father Boyle said. "I didn't know what a gang member was. Walking the streets, police officers would come over to me and ask 'What are you doing here?' And when I'd tell them I was just walking to my parish they'd say 'I wouldn't recommend that.' "
The cops didn't trust the gang members, and in turn the gang members didn't trust the new priest. "They all thought I was a narc. But that got dispelled. I used to go to juvenile hall and visit the guys who got locked up. And in those days, we had so many wounded (from gang-related shootings), I was going to three hospitals a day. Soon these guys got out of the hospital and juvenile hall and told their friends that the priest visited me."
Boyle had no choice but to get involved with the gangs because so many bangers lived in his parish. At first he was a negotiator, trying to arrange cease-fires and peace treaties and agreements not to shoot into each other's homes.
"I had Pyrrhic victories, but then I started to see this is bad, this is giving oxygen to gangs, so I stopped doing it. The gangs aren't the Middle East. They're not Northern Ireland. Gang violence wasn't about anything other than violence."
Gangs were understandably being demonized, but there didn't seem to be any easy way to solve the problems. In the summer of 1988, the LAPD's infamous Operation Hammer, a massive raid on an apartment building that wreaked havoc on a building and produced negligible results, only hardened gang members' resolves.
"We had shootings morning, noon and night, so I was burying kids too often. So what was my choice: To bury my head in the sand or to do something. It was kind of evolving. It wasn't all at once, but it was an accumulation of things."
The seed was planted for Homeboy Industries in 1988, with a program called Jobs for the Future. That involved creating educational and employment opportunities. "It was always jobs. Nothing stops a bullet more than a job."
Boyle started by creating maintenance crews made up of rival gang members and paying them to do graffiti removal and landscaping, while reaching out to potential employers. A 1990 "60 Minutes" TV profile of the program brought in funding. But Jobs for the Future wasn't a complete success.
"This was partly because we weren't able to find enough felony-friendly employers."
But it succeeded handily in another way. During the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, "our community didn't explode, which was odd, because it was so poor. The L.A. Times wrote an article and asked me why. I told them I thought it was because we had strategically hired rival gang members (to work) together."
Shortly thereafter, the late film producer Ray Stark called. He'd read the article, was impressed with Boyle's work and told him, as relayed by Boyle, " 'I happen to have $500 million. What should I do with my money?' In retrospect," Boyle jokes, "I woefully undershot."
What he asked for was Stark's help in buying an abandoned bakery located across the street from the school he ran, and thus began Homeboy Industries. From this humble beginning, a youth-oriented mini-conglomerate has risen that serves an estimated 10,000 high-risk youths every year.
In addition to the bakery, there is now a Homegirl Cafe. Bakery and cafe items are available at about 20 farmers markets in L.A. County plus several grocery stores. Homeboy Industries also provides silk screening and embroidery services and helps recycle electronics and install solar panels.
But Homeboy provides more than just jobs. It provides legal and mental health services, a case worker to help guide gangbangers through the labyrinth to a way out of the life, and even a tattoo removal service. But the young men and women have to want to be helped.
Consider Steve Alvos, 39, a gang member since he was 12, convicted of gang murder at 17 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His father was murdered before he was born, his stepdad was also sentenced to what he calls "life without," and he had an uncle he first met in prison. Then two things happened that changed his life.
The first was that Boyle entered his life tangentially. It started when the priest convinced Alvos' younger brother to return to school. The youngster not only did well, but won scholarships to Stanford, Harvard and Yale. He chose Yale and is currently participating in Teach For America. TFA is a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to "enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation's most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence."
Boyle was also instrumental in getting Alvos' stepdad, who was dying of cancer, a compassionate release from prison. "He got out of prison at 10 in the morning and he died at home on the couch at 10 that night, but, to me, he died with dignity, not in a cell without his family."
The second important positive event in Alvos' life was a change in the law that allowed youths under 18 to be sentenced to life without parole to now be eligible for parole.
So when he was paroled five years ago, he was happily sent to Homeboy in part because he realized there were few other options. "What do you do with somebody who went in as a kid, came out as a man, has no drug problem, has no alcohol problem, just has a gang problem?"
That was five years ago. Alvos now works as a supervisor checking "on the homies that come in to make sure that they don't fall through the cracks."
His story also serves as an inspiration: "It's the best thing that ever happened in my life. It's not just the jobs. It's not just the resources. It's the culture. When you grow up in a violent community and you come to a place that's loving unconditionally, that's where the healing really comes from."
Started Homeboy Industries, one of the nation's largest youth service organizations.
Overcame: Lack of trust from his constituents.
Lesson: Understand where people are coming from.
"Sometimes the bad behaviors of a person are not the actions of a bad person, but a person in pain. Everyone who comes here has had some unspeakable thing that's been done to them. The question then is how do we relieve that pain."
For years, independent advisors often marketed themselves as fiduciaries — emphasizing their commitment to work in the client's best interest. That message resonated with consumers.
XToday, however, large financial services companies such as Vanguard and Charles Schwab ( SCHW) label themselves fiduciaries as well. So how do advisors who run small practices continue to differentiate themselves?
In a world where many big securities brokerage firms hype their status as fiduciaries, advisors are left rethinking their marketing strategy. Their options include specializing in underserved niches, lowering their fees and harnessing the latest tech tools to engage clients in new ways.
"It's still important to be a fiduciary," said Minna Burns, director of marketing at the Carson Group, an advisory firm in Omaha, Neb. "But I don't think it's as much of a differentiator. Advisors have a real opportunity to differentiate themselves by explaining the value they bring to the client and to personalize their message to appeal to their demographic target."
To attract younger investors who are just starting to accumulate wealth, some advisors are investing in technology that brings clients closer to their money. Examples include providing online portals for clients to open new accounts, track their assets, rebalance their portfolio and analyze their projected financial performance under a range of planning scenarios.
Burns, whose firm partners with advisors to offer marketing services, coaching and other services, says that millennials — those born in the 1980s and 1990s — expect customized features and resources that help them understand and monitor their personal finances. Advisors who produce a steady stream of rich social media content can also stand apart.
Define Your Niche
The big players — giant financial services companies — are unveiling tech platforms to meet the needs of different market segments. But advisors who operate on a smaller scale can differentiate themselves by pursuing more defined niches.
Todd Sensing, a certified financial planner in Miramar Beach, Fla., launched his firm in 2016 with a focus on serving families with special needs. The father of two sons on the autism spectrum, he applies his personal experience to help other parents facing similar challenges.
"My niche is one of my key differentiators beyond my fiduciary status," he said. "To stand out in a world full of options, you must be able to provide a compelling argument whether it be your knowledge, pricing or something else."
Marketing becomes easier if you can set yourself apart with your credentials, life experience and specialized focus. That way, you need not rely on your role as a fiduciary as the primary way to differentiate your business.
Sensing notes that there are not many certified financial planners who are also chartered financial analysts who specialize in special needs planning for families. He further differentiates himself by highlighting his own experience raising two children with special needs.
"My case is not the norm but does highlight the added advantage of developing a niche business," he said. "You could say I speak both the language of autism and finance and often act as the interpreter for families who need both."
Even for those advisors who uncover a relatively untapped niche, that may not be enough to win over cost-conscious clients. With a growing number of robo platforms competing to deliver planning services with fees dropping to nearly zero in some cases, human advisors are rethinking their traditional business model.
As robo advisors have proliferated in recent years, many human advisors have tried to maintain their customary charge of 1% of assets under management (perhaps discounting their rate for their largest accounts). But they are finding that's harder to do in the current competitive environment.
Some advisors with small practices are dropping their fees so that they're roughly in the same ballpark as automated rivals such as Betterment and Wealthfront, as well as Vanguard and other large companies entering the space. These independent planners have lowered their fees by 15% or more.
Advisors who operate on a small scale wield an advantage in that they're closer to their customers and understand their needs. Investors in certain regions or demographic groups may grapple with specific concerns.
If your target market consists of young professionals with heavy student debt loads, for instance, you can offer short, explanatory videos on your firm's website to educate them about paying off their loans. You can also dangle free, downloadable checklists, diagnostic tests and other resources to help them manage household debt.
"Advisors have a tendency to treat their website as a brochure of their firm," Burns said. "But the best websites give clients the information they want and are looking for. Website content should be client-driven, not advisor-driven."
For many, the new year often brings into focus possibilities for a new career. Whether you're changing paths or expanding your skill set, several trends can help guide you in the right direction.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal health care workers, systems engineers, nurses, and operational managers are among the jobs with the most growth possibilities.
Perhaps the best way to approach any career change is to acknowledge that demand shifts rapidly and to plan accordingly.
"The shelf life of any skill is getting shorter, so workers need to adopt lifelong learning as a habit, not as an occasional event," said Rich Feller, counseling and career development professor at Colorado State University.
Here's where to focus your learning:
Health care demand. The United Nation's "World Population Prospects" says that in most of the developed world, the population is quickly aging. By 2050, the number of people over age 60 is expected to more than double. And the number of people over age 80 is poised to more than triple.
Demographic trends are creating specific needs, says Northridge, Calif.-based career consultant Michele D'Amico.
"We're going to see an uptick in the number of nurses, occupational therapists and physical therapists," she told IBD.
And with increasing complexity in health care comes the need for health services managers.
But not all health care fields are adding workers.
"Pharmacy technicians and medical assistants are going the other way," D'Amico pointed out. "A lot of those jobs are lost to automation."
Big Data's impact. The ability to make sense of all the data being collected is a strong job growth area.
Among the BLS' top 20 fields with the most job gains is market research analyst, with a median pay of around $62,500 a year. Market research analysts study market conditions to determine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies decide what products and services people want and the price they are willing to pay for them.
"The key is to bring technical skills to any job," Feller told IBD. "All fields are hiring tech skills that translate data into profitability or better service. Data is the new fuel."
Biomedical advances. Scientific and technological advances, especially in the area of artificial intelligence, are revolutionizing this career path. According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, nearly half of all economic activities could be automated by 2055 and possibly as early as 2035. It also estimates that about half of every job can become automated.
Translation: Biomedical engineers are in top demand, D'Amico says. Other related fields poised for growth: mechanical and electronic engineers, software developers, computer software developers, drone pilots and dispatchers, 3D printing technicians, nanotech engineers and security specialists.
More futuristic options will include brain implant specialists and tech ethicists, because someone will have to consider the potential consequences of using advanced technology.
Macro trends. Global challenges and conflict are driving job opportunities in the environmental field.
Population growth and worldwide industrialization are complicating environmental issues and causing sustainability challenges.
"Jobs related to dealing with the environment and development are on the rise," D'Amico said.
Wind and solar technicians will find more work, as well as urban agricultural specialists, for example.
Leisure and entertainment. Even the way we play and travel is changing rapidly and creating new job opportunities. Remember when your parents bought a TV and kept it for a decade? Not so anymore.
Fully immersive virtual-reality experiences are not far off. And companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic already have plans to offer space travel for the public. So new occupations like virtual-reality designers and space tourism guides will likely emerge.
In 2013, when Pam Nicholson took the steering wheel of Enterprise Holdings Inc., the world's largest car rental firm, she was ready.
Starting as a manager trainee right out of college in 1981, Nicholson did everything from washing cars to marketing as she moved up the ranks of the company until she was named COO in 2003. Four years later, she oversaw the company's game-changing acquisition of the National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands. Andy Taylor, who at the time was CEO and is the son of Jack Taylor, who founded the firm in 1957, was so impressed he recommended her as his successor, the first outside the family to helm the private company.
"Just like 99% of our senior management team, I learned the business from the ground up, so I had hands-on experience in nearly every facet of our business," Nicholson told IBD from her office in St. Louis, Mo. "I truly understand the challenges people are facing because I've been there before. We're a meritocracy, promoting from within and paying for performance, so my job as a leader is to empower others to harness their strengths and reach their full potential, which helps the entire organization deliver outstanding results."
Nicholson's own results are fully recognized, with Fortune magazine ranking her No. 17 on its recent list of most powerful women in U.S. business.
Nicholson, 58, grew up in St. Louis and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Within nine months, she was made assistant manager in a local office and a few months later was sent to the Southern California market. It only had a fleet of 1,000 cars, but the company could see the enormous potential.
Her competitive instincts were honed as she entered horse-jumping contests in her 20s and 30s. Within 12 years, she was made regional vice president of the Southern California group, whose fleet had reached 27,000.
"I learned about how to hire the right people and then continually train and mentor them to provide the consistent customer service we're known for," said Nicholson. "No matter where they work in the world, they get promoted based on the same measurements of performance that reveal both ability and talent. If you don't meet your goals, you don't get promoted, and everyone embraces that."
With such attention to developing good leaders at every level and retaining the best employees, it's no wonder that Enterprise has continued to win awards from magazines Workforce, Chief Learning Officer, and Training. Nicholson is the highest-ranking woman to receive the 2017 Glassdoor Employees' Choice Award, with a 95% approval rating.
Today, some 10,000 new employees, as well as 2,000 interns, are hired each year through the renowned Enterprise Rent-A-Car Management Training Program. CollegeGrad.com ranks it No. 1 for entry level jobs, and the company prioritizes military veterans and reservists for recruitment.
Enterprise Holdings and its network of regional subsidiaries — including nearly 10,000 neighborhood and airport locations — currently employ more than 100,000 people. And every year, they rent and lease about 1.9 million vehicles, made up of 450 makes and models.
In 1994, Nicholson was brought back to headquarters as a corporate vice president. Three years later, she moved back into the rental business as general manager of the New York regional subsidiary, whose profitability she doubled in two years. She returned to St. Louis in 1999 as senior VP of North American operations. In 2003, Nicholson was appointed chief operating officer and became responsible for all day-to-day operations. Chrissy Taylor, the daughter of now Executive Chairman Andy Taylor, is the current COO and Nicholson is responsible for mentoring her, just as mentors helped her master the skills she needed as she advanced.
"The late Jack Taylor used to ask me, 'Are you having fun?' " said Nicholson. "There's no reason we can't both work hard and have a good time doing it, which helps us deliver better customer service, since it's far easier to make other people happy when you're happy."
Enterprise had long specialized in offering free pickup of customers from their neighborhood offices, including providing cars for customers of insurance companies, whose own autos were being repaired. As a result, it had only 8% of the airport market. Then in 2007, Nicholson supervised the integration of two new brands: National Car Rental, which primarily served business travelers, and Alamo Rent A Car, which catered to value-oriented domestic travelers and foreign visitors to North America. After the acquisition, the three brands together had 28% of the airport market and that has now grown to 38%.
"On the day the acquisition was completed, we delivered a small book titled 'GR8 DAY' to every Enterprise, National and Alamo employee," said Nicholson. "It stated that we had all become part of a company dedicated to three things: 1) Listening to and satisfying our customers; 2) Creating opportunities for our employees; and 3) Achieving long-term sustainable growth. Just as importantly, the book stressed that we were going to take our time to carefully review all organizational, customer, and cultural issues. Above all else, we wanted to make sure that we got the integration process right, because, just like a first impression, you only get one chance to do a merger well. Ten years later, I think our deliberative approach has paid off enormously."
But she says that while the airport presence was the primary driver for the deal, there were other important benefits.
"We also learned a lot about ourselves and changed our company in ways that have equipped us for faster growth on a global scale," said Nicholson, who added the title of president in 2008. "Our biggest lesson from the integration is that our company can execute a major acquisition without risk to our fundamental values and culture."
Enterprise set up its first European franchise at the end of 2012. As CEO starting the next year, Nicholson continued the company's focus on franchising overseas. It now has offices covering 95% of the car rental market in more than 90 countries and territories.
"Our robust growth is a tribute to the strong international reputation of our brands," she said. "We have a very clear vision of how Enterprise, National and Alamo customers should be treated. As a result, we have developed a strong international network of exceptional franchise partners who share our passion for excellence across the board. Good customer service translates well in any language or culture. Yet that core competency is always balanced with an intuitive understanding of local cultures and characteristics, which means we are learning as much from our partners as they are from us. It's definitely a two-way street."
Nicholson says that the expansion needs to rest on a foundation of entrepreneurialism, where decisions are made as locally as possible. She also oversees the Enterprise Fleet Management affiliate, which has 50 offices and manages a fleet of 470,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada, with full-service management for companies, government agencies and organizations having midsize fleets of 20 or more. That business recently invested $100 million in its information-technology infrastructure.
"I think many people have been surprised by how quickly technology is changing the automotive industry," said Nicholson. "We believe we should let innovation and responsiveness to consumer needs determine which business models and technologies thrive in the market, allowing a pragmatic and market-driven solution to evolve, supported by infrastructure and appropriate public policies. We think the car rental industry may be one of the early adopters of autonomous vehicles, since many drivers first experience new automotive technologies in rental vehicles. While potential liability issues need to be evaluated, our industry can efficiently introduce new autonomous vehicles to millions of consumers."
During Nicholson's tenure as COO, revenue for the company and its Fleet Management affiliate more than doubled. Since becoming CEO, revenue has increased from $16.4 billion in fiscal 2013 to more than $22.3 billion in fiscal 2017 ending July 31, exceeding the combined size of its chief competitors, Hertz Global Holdings ( HTZ), with $9.4 billion, and Avis Budget Group ( CAR), with $8.5 billion.
In 2017, National and Enterprise took the top two spots respectively in Travel & Leisure's World's Best Awards for car rental agencies, and it also earned the same rankings by Business Travel News. Money magazine gave its top award to Alamo and second place to Enterprise.
Executive Chairman Taylor believes that the ongoing success reflects "Pam's leadership, passion and dedication to grow the business, with the help of every employee, and she continues to have an impact as a leader across all industries."
CEO of Enterprise Holdings Inc., the world's largest car rental company.
Overcame: Challenges of integrating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car.
Lesson: Make sure all the core values of the company are clearly understood and implemented consistently everywhere.
The new year brings new predictions. Almost everyone turns into a prognosticator, guessing how markets will perform and what geopolitical events will unfold.
XUnlike bloviating TV pundits, advisors tend to refrain from bold predictions. But their prudence is put to the test when clients press them for answers.
Problems can arise when clients expect their advisor to forecast how markets will move in the months or year ahead. While advisors usually prefer to hedge — and redirect clients' attention to financial matters that they can control — some individuals may still assume their advisor should be able to see the future with some level of precision.
"A small group of clients will ask for your predictions every time they see you," said Mark Fried, an advisor in Newtown, Pa. "And in December and January (during our annual review), a lot more of them will ask. That's especially true now when the market has gone up for so long. They want to know when it's going to end."
Author of "Road Rules for Retirement," Fried has a standard reply. It involves a prop that he keeps nearby.
Vacationing in Mexico about 25 years ago, he bought a crystal ball. Whenever clients ask him to predict the future, he gestures to the orb and replies, "I'm not sure. Let me check."
Clients usually laugh, and Fried makes his point: It's foolish to pretend we know what will happen and plan based on such unknowns.
Advisors who avoid making predictions still give considerable thought to the future. But rather than speculate about market swings or other variables, they work with clients to plan for a range of scenarios.
Fried likes to explore how economic and political conditions might change over the next six months or year. Then he'll explain how such changes could affect a client's portfolio.
To reinforce his point about the limited value of even the most confident predictions, Fried invites clients to note every forecast that they hear or read in the media. When they review the list a year later, the results are predictably awful.
Seasoned advisors understand that clients' eagerness to know the future often masks a larger concern. Their deeper anxiety may revolve around whether they're positioned to weather storms — from market meltdowns to global trade disputes.
Having a detailed financial plan in place can reassure clients that they can rest easy regardless of any foreseeable market shocks.
When Jason Staley's clients ask for his predictions, the Pittsburgh, Pa.-based advisor responds by reviewing their investment policy statement and asset allocation. They see how he has designed their portfolio to withstand a range of outcomes.
"I've learned to navigate the conversation back to things that are time-tested and true," Staley said. "When clients try to pin me down, I might say it's a coin flip" and shift attention to their customized financial plan.
A Narrow Range
Clients with more aggressive risk appetites may look to their advisor to predict moves in Bitcoin or the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX). Few planners oblige.
When Pat Kelly's clients ask about Bitcoin, the Detroit-based advisor emphasizes the highly speculative nature of that investment. If they continue to show interest, he refers them to Coinbase, a digital currency exchange.
Like many advisors, Kelly has learned over the years to scale down his predictions. He says that early in his career, he'd offer a narrow range based on what he set as a target average return for the coming year.
"I'd give a tighter, more specific range," he said. "Now I'll give a wider range. I'll draw a big bell curve for the client and say, 'You need to get comfortable with this range. If I get more specific, I'll probably be wrong.'"
If clients want more concrete predictions, Kelly plays market historian. Rather than look forward and guess, he'll look back and draw lessons.
"I might say, 'Let's stress-test different market environments based on a period of rising interest rates,'" he said. Analyzing historical data can provide at least one indicator of what the future holds.
He also likes to remind clients of their overall investment objectives. Otherwise, they might get too immersed in day-to-day market swings.
"If you get caught up in the weeds, you can make more emotional decisions," Kelly warned. "I'll tell clients who ask for my predictions that the reality is, regardless of my answer, my goal is to help them achieve their retirement goals over the next 10 years or more."
He defines a side hustle as a product or service you create that has the potential to earn income, preferably passive income "using the skills you already have and without spending a lot of money."
Tips on how you can create additional income:
Build an idea arsenal. Develop the power of observation to spot potential side hustle ideas, Guillebeau says. Think about the questions you hear people ask over and over, or the skills that come naturally to you but are hard for others.
"It all starts with paying attention to problems you encounter," he continues. "Don't follow your passion; follow a problem."
Embrace your gifts. When our talents come easy for us, we tend to diminish their value with a wave and an "oh that's nothing."
People in general "believe if something comes easily for us it couldn't be valuable," she adds.
But that's wrong. And, "the longer you wait to leverage your innate talents and your singular experience, the more your potential can atrophy, inertia sets in and you can lose that drive not only for your career but also for life," Crook says. "Joy is a hot commodity in the arena of success."
Avoid tunnel vision. Once you've embarked on a new source of income, Guillebeau says, to keep it simple, tweak your business when necessary and don't ignore a potential bird that lands in your hand: "you should do more of what's working and less of what isn't."
Act. Guillebeau says some business books teach you to think about sustainability, stemming from the perspective that every project needs to be scalable and potentially last forever, but his side hustle perspective is different: "if you see an opportunity, don't think too hard about it. Pick up that money!"
Be deal driven. As consumers we don't buy ideas, Guillebeau says, we buy products and services.
"Start thinking about your idea in terms of an offer," he advises. "An offer includes a promise, a pitch, and a price. How will your offer change someone's life, why should they buy it now, and how much should it cost?"
Determine your talents. Which activities do you find energizing? Which do you find stimulating even when you are working hard at them?
This may be problem-solving with a CEO or writing an article, Crook says. "I have a colleague who is energized by finding just the right tool to organize information and processes. She loves bringing order to chaos."
Crook says to go from making a list of what you know how to do, to finding within that list the talents that energize you. "So that when you move forward in your work, you can move toward those things that stimulate you."
"They learn to trust their gut and go," she says. "It's possible to harness the power of your intuition so you can recognize opportunities others miss and create the breakthrough idea the world is waiting for."
Picture your customer. For smaller or side businesses, don't worry so much about demographics or target markets, Guillebeau says.
"Somewhere out there, there's a single individual in desperate need of your offer," he says. "Who are they? What are their hopes, dreams and fears? By thinking about this person, you'll learn to speak their language and provide the reassurance they need to make a purchase."
Clausewitz On Objectives Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.
Carl von Clausewitz, general
Pink On Compassion
Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place. Daniel Pink,author
Hoffer On Curiosity
In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists. Eric Hoffer,philosopher
Poincare On Instincts
It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover. Henri Poincar,mathematician
Willard On Listening
Sometimes questions are more important than answers. Nancy Willard,author
Innovations in robo technology have spurred investor interest in low-cost digital investment advice. More than 200 pure-play robos like Wealthfront and Betterment claim more than $50 billion in assets under management. But despite the recent flurry of activity, robos are still an emergent technology, accounting for less than 0.03% of total assets under management. So the long-term ramifications of robos remain to be seen.
XTo shed light on the potential road ahead, Investor's Business Daily asked three professionals from various corners of the investment landscape to predict where robos may take us and recommend ways financial advisors can solidify their current client relationships, here and now. They are Brian Barnes, founder and CEO of M1 Finance; Lowell Putnam, co-founder & CEO or Quovo; and Lisa Kramer, professor of finance at the University of Toronto.
Brian Barnes, M1 Finance
Looking Ahead: Robos are in their infancy, but I'm betting on the software solution because computers are just better than people at making tons of massive computations on a minute-by-minute basis.
A lot of fintech players have been seeded with so much money that they'll only have to perfect the experience once, and then they can distribute it to others. That will change things. Millennials are starting to make decent salaries and save a bit, and they don't care about the 150-year history of an established fund company. Innovators are offering cheaper and more personalized experience.
And then 30 years from now, the cycle will continue, when some of today's new players will be the incumbents, as a new set of innovators arise.
What Advisors Should Do Today: Advisors need to expand their offerings beyond simple portfolios that are based on a client's risk tolerance. Advisors shouldn't just look at the investment portion of a client's financial situation. They also need to understand the income portion, the spending portion and the planning portion. And if a client gets to a certain bracket, advisors should offer generation wealth plans.
Lowell Putnam, Quovo
Looking Ahead: If I had to look into my crystal ball, I'd say there's a misplaced confidence that the large incumbent brands my parents trust are going to follow through to the millennial generation. We're moving toward a world of smaller boutique brands — both in the advisor space and in the B2C space. Look at companies like (eyeglasses retailer) Warby Parker, or (mattress maker) Casper.
With money in their wallets, these guys have tapped into a rising demographic by building brands around something that's not very sexy, like glasses or mattresses, and I expect to see those types robo platforms emerging. I don't see any reason why guys like Vanguard or BlackRock ( BLK) even need to be around in 20 years, because they don't have the brand that speaks directly to their next investor.
What Advisors Should Do Today: The horse is out of the barn, because this isn't about justifying whether or not the technology is any good, because it's clear that it does things really well. You could make a claim that active management is going to come back, but that's not what I see happening right now.
Lisa Kramer, University of Toronto
Looking Ahead: There's a greater awareness among investors about the benefits to passive investing, which puts pressure on institutions that have traditionally leaned on active management techniques. There will always be some demand for actively managed funds, because it's human nature to seek that outperformance — even though ironically, the average return on actively managed funds is below average, when you factor in the active management fees.
We're still in our early days and most of the robo offerings are passive funds, but we might actually see robo platforms competing with each other by offering a greater selection of niche funds. In the future, I think we'll see more diversity in the funds robos offer.
What Advisors Should Do Today: Gone are the days when clients didn't have viable alternative investment opportunities, so advisors must add value to the equation. One way to do that is to make sure they're up to date on current developments. For example, the Nobel Prize in economics just went to Richard Thaler for his work in behavioral science, so a savvy advisor might make sure she's well-versed in all of the behavioral issues that can arise for investors.
Most people don't celebrate being last, but for astronaut Eugene Cernan it was an honor and achievement no other person has replicated since December 1972.
Cernan (1934-2017) is the last man to have walked on the moon. Cernan, who retired as a Navy captain in 1976, was one of the hero astronauts who made a massive contribution to winning the space race with the Soviet Union during the 1960s. He was the pilot of Gemini 9, the lunar module pilot of Apollo 10 that paved the way for Apollo 11's moon landing mission, and the commander of Apollo 17.
During his career Cernan spent 566 hours and 15 minutes in space, including more than 73 hours on the surface of the moon.
"You get paid for results," Cernan told the NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project in December 2007. "You never get something for nothing in this world. There isn't a person that went to the moon who was guaranteed a trip home. ... Nobody had any guarantees. We had a challenge."
And in meeting it, Cernan received accolades. He was awarded the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal and was inducted into the U.S. Space Hall of Fame. Cernan was also enshrined into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, Naval Aviation's Hall of Honor and the International Aerospace Hall of Fame.
He was the first recipient of NASA's Ambassador of Exploration Award.
On his road to being a space traveler, Cernan logged more than 5,000 conventional flying hours with more than 4,800 hours in jet aircraft. He also made over 200 jet aircraft carrier landings.
"(My dad) had made so many of my accomplishments possible and gave me a moral and personal compass that I still follow," Cernan wrote.
He told People.com in 2016 "My dad always used to tell me, 'Just do your best and someday you're going to surprise yourself.' He was right. I did surprise myself."
"Gene was a hard worker and took his job very seriously," said astronaut Charles Duke, the 10th man to walk on the moon and a close friend and colleague of Cernan. "Gene knew he was representing his nation in his flights. He was always thoroughly prepared in every facet of his missions."
A Great Listener, Always Learning
Duke lauds Cernan's leadership qualities. "Gene was very patient. I never saw Gene lose his temper in any meeting or at any time during his training. He kept himself under control and was not confrontational. He had humility about him. Occasionally he would get upset and frustrated with the way things were going, but I don't recall him ever blaming anybody."
Gerry Griffin, a former director of the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, worked with Cernan as a flight controller and lead flight director of Apollo 17. Griffin said: "Gene had a passion about space and exploration. He was a great listener and absorbed information like a sponge. He was always very well-prepared. He really worked hard at what he did.
"Gene was also a load of fun. He never took himself too seriously and always tried to find the humor in what we were doing. He was just a good guy."
Cernan was born in Chicago, Ill., to a working-class family. As a child of World War ll, the seeds of being a Naval aviator were planted by seeing Movietone newsreels in the theater.
"What fascinated me were reports from the war in the Pacific, battles at … places like Wake Island, Midway, and Guadalcanal," Cernan wrote. "Brave pilots of the U.S. Navy flew out to attack the foe, shot their way to victory … and it dawned on me: That's what I want to do!"
His father stressed education to young Gene, who excelled in the classroom and as an athlete in high school. While his athleticism didn't transfer to the major college level, his academic excellence continued at Purdue University. He'd graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1956.
Cernan received his Naval commission through the Navy ROTC Program at Purdue. He then began flight training upon graduation.
"While I was still taking instruction in ground school, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev scorned America with his infamous 'We will bury you' promise," Cernan wrote. "I was a military officer now, and his challenge seemed personal. I looked in the mirror and saw a slim, crew-cut young aviator-to-be, complete with flight suit, the patch of my training squadron stitched on my sleeve, and carrying a bad-ass attitude. I was ready to jump in my jet and go show Khrushchev a thing or two. There was a slight problem, however, for I didn't yet know how to fly."
That would change in a hurry. Only 10 months after he'd begun learning how to fly, with his mom and dad in attendance Cernan earned his wings of gold, far faster than the normal 18-month training period.
He was assigned to Attack Squadrons at the Miramar, Calif., Naval Air Station. Cernan went on to attend the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and earned a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1963.
He became an experienced test pilot, and in October 1963 Cernan was selected by NASA along with 13 others to become the next batch of astronauts.
Cernan's first NASA mission was Gemini 9, a three-day assignment that began on June 3, 1966. The space capsule orbited the Earth 45 times and practiced docking procedures, which would be a crucial component to a mission that would eventually land men on the moon.
Next Cernan was assigned as the backup pilot for Gemini 12 and then as backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 7.
"Yet our sophisticated Apollo package still wasn't quite ready," he wrote. "I was spending hours, days, weeks in the simulators, learning to fly something that had never been flown before, reacting to emergencies dreamed up by the fiendish engineers who conducted the tests. I would crash and burn on their make-believe moon because I didn't make the right decision fast enough. Have a cup of coffee and do it again, because you wouldn't get a second chance if you screwed up once you were there. Do it again because the Russians were doing the same thing."
His next time into space was as the lunar module pilot of Apollo 10 in May 1969. The mission was a dress rehearsal for Apollo 11. The Apollo 10 mission did everything except land men on the moon.
The mission confirmed that astronauts and their spacecraft could safely navigate the moon's gravitational fields and made Apollo 11 a go to put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface.
After serving as the backup spacecraft commander for Apollo 14, Cernan made his third space flight as spacecraft commander of Apollo 17, whose 13-day mission began on Dec. 6, 1972.
At 1:54 p.m. Houston time on Dec. 11, 1972, Cernan said he made "one of the smoothest landings of my career," on the moon. Soon it was time for him to take a stroll.
"I lowered my left foot and the thin crust gave way," he wrote. "Soft contact. There, it was done. A Cernan footprint was on the moon. I had fulfilled my dream. No one could ever take this moment away."
He said over his radio "As I step off at the surface … I'd like to dedicate the first steps of Apollo 17 to all those who made it possible."
"Gene was good at giving credit where credit was due," Duke said "He was not domineering; he did not want to take all the glory when he saw it was a team effort."
Gemini 9 pilot, Apollo 10 lunar module pilot, Apollo 17 commander. Inducted into the U.S. Space Hall of Fame, the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Naval Aviation's Hall of Honor and the International Aerospace Hall of Fame.
Overcame: Challenges and dangers of manned space flight.
Lesson: Study your craft and be prepared.
"It was the nature of the early astronauts to be cocky and bold, for you cannot strap into a canvas seat atop a monster rocket and be ready, even eager, to ride it into space without having total confidence in yourself and your ability."
A lot of the discussion about leadership style sounds to me like carpenters arguing about whether saws are better than hammers, or artists arguing about whether red is better than blue. All styles are potentially useful. Robert Lutz,auto executive
I say listen to the words chosen by ordinary people if you want to see the sun shine on the language. Gerry Spence,attorney
Brooke-Marciniak On Diplomacy
Diplomacy is brutally time-consuming but worth every second. Beth Brooke-Marciniak, global vice chair of public policy at EY
Before you can fix a problem, you need to know what it is. Frank Sesno, broadcast journalist
Ford On Learning
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Co.
Hard-charging entrepreneurs turn their dreams into reality. And that's not easy.
It's not enough to innovate, overcome obstacles and woo investors and customers. Goal-driven visionaries also need to transform their grandest dreams of success into practical building blocks on which they can ascend.
To set effective goals that spur entrepreneurial triumphs:
Stay close to customers. It's fine to dream, but stay grounded. As you formulate your business model, keep checking in with your target market to ensure you're on the right track.
"Entrepreneurs tend to convince themselves that they're right and then set lofty goals," said Toby Rush, chief executive of Zoloz, a Kansas City, Mo.-based identity verification and biometrics platform. "It's better to force yourself to do market validation early on and establish goals that flow from customer input."
Proceed in steps. Brimming with confidence and passion, entrepreneurs may set wildly ambitious goals and assume they'll attain them. But it may make more sense to do a reality check.
"Entrepreneurs like to think their assumptions are correct, that they can go from zero to 100," said Rush, a serial entrepreneur who sold a previous firm to Alibaba Group ( BABA) in 2016. "But you have to set up incremental milestones along the way. You set your feet to the fire with the milestones."
Knowing what results you need to see each month or quarter helps you advance in steps toward your larger goal. If you miss a milestone, you can make course corrections and test different strategies while mitigating your overall risk.
Heed wise counsel. Beware of setting goals in a vacuum. Instead, ask a trusted ally to help you distinguish between a realistic target and pie-in-the-sky aspirations.
Rush, 43, remembers launching his first company in 2005. He kept modifying his business plan as various ideas ricocheted in his head.
Finally, a board member said, "Toby, how will we ever know if you're successful if you keep changing the idea?"
"I was jumping around too much," Rush recalled. "The lesson is, it's fine to change direction as long as you stick with your defined milestones and you're consistent in how you get from A to B."
Hire winners. You cannot turn dreams into reality on your own. You'll need to assemble a team of skilled, motivated stars to help you.
To recruit winners, don't just focus on candidates' technical qualifications. Also consider their psychological makeup.
"It's important to hire patriots, not mercenaries," said Jack Teboda, founder and chief executive of Teboda & Associates, a financial advisory firm in Elgin, Ill. "Patriots have that inner drive. They'll help you reach your goals," while mercenaries lack the buy-in to go beyond the call of duty.
Focus on how, not what. While important, goals themselves have limited value. The real driver of success is how you climb the ladder to attain your objective.
For Courtney Reum, the process of setting goals is only part of the picture. He's co-author of " Shortcut Your Startup."
"Goal-setting is not about digging in your heels for the sake of reaching a goal," he said. "It's more about the tactics and action steps you take to get there."
Reum urges entrepreneurs to ask themselves, "What are we doing to reach the goal? How will we get there?" rather than "What is the goal?"
"It's not about the what," he said. "It's about the how."
Balance micro and macro. Turning your dreams into dollars requires a mix of detailed analysis and big-picture visioning. Beware of neglecting one at the expense of the other.
"A good entrepreneur needs a microscope in one eye and a telescope in the other," Reum said.
Thomas Nast struggled in school and spent most of his time drawing on his desk. At home, he covered the walls with his pictures.
Drawing permeated every aspect of Nast's life. As a child, he chased fire trucks racing to emergencies to sketch burning buildings. He drew New York's colorful street life and copied paintings at museums.
"As a political cartoonist, Nast wielded more influence than any other artist of the 19th century," wrote Albert Boime in "Thomas Nast and French Art" in "The American Art Journal." "He not only enthralled a vast audience with boldness and wit, but swayed it time and again to his personal position on the strength of his visual imagination. … His impact on American public life was formidable enough to profoundly affect the outcome of every presidential election during the period (of) 1864 to 1884."
Nast (1840-1902) was born in Landau in the Kingdom of Bavaria, where his father, Joseph, was a trombonist in a regimental band. One of the boy's fondest memories was of a bearded man dressed as St. Nicholas going door to door at Christmas distributing treats. But this seemingly idyllic childhood ended in 1846, as his father was warned to leave the country because of his controversial political views, two years before a Europe-wide revolution broke out between the aristocracy and reformers. He joined the French navy, while Thomas' mother, Appolonia, took the six-year-old and his sister, Andie, on a ship to New York City.
They ended up on the Lower East Side, where the boy attended German-speaking schools but showed no interest in anything but art. The colorful and sometimes dangerous mixture of immigrants gave Thomas plenty of subjects to sketch. His father rejoined the family four years later. Nast's parents decided to send their budding 14-year-old artist to study with Theodore Kaufmann, a local German-American painter. Restless, Nast left six months later to study at the National Academy of Design, while earning money helping out at a museum.
Hustling To The Top
At 15, he pitched Frank Leslie, publisher of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, for a job. The publication combined news, sensational stories and portraits of local personalities, so it needed lots of artists to depict what was being reported. Artists had to draw quickly, then engravers turned the pictures into wood blocks for the press. Leslie glanced at Nast's portfolio and didn't think the kid was up to the work, but gave him a tough trial assignment to draw a busy ferry in the morning. Nast returned with a picture bursting with energy and detail. Leslie was astonished and hired him. Nast spent the next three decades driving much of the national conversation with his pictorial social commentary.
"Thomas Nast built a life essentially from nothing, lacking education, connections or financial support," Fiona Deans Halloran, author of " Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons," told IBD. "He translated his curiosity and bonhomie into a career. He was the sort of person who could talk to nearly anyone, as he worked with artists, publishers, politicians and activists. He was deeply interested in human society, loved stories and poetry, Shakespeare, children and politics. All of this lodged in his mind and informed his work, making him a model of how to turn a passionate character into a professional position."
Nast worked hard to improve both his artistic and commentary skills, and the newsroom was a crash course in social and political issues. In 1859, his work appeared for the first time in another popular paper, Harper's Weekly, in a piece exposing police corruption. The following year, he went to England to cover a major boxing match for New York Illustrated News. A few months later, he filed pictorial reports on Giuseppe Garibaldi's military campaign to unify Italy.
After his return to New York in February 1861, he married Sarah Edwards. The Civil War broke out that year and he was sent to the front. The anti-draft riots in July 1863 made him the leading political cartoonist for the Union cause. The abolition of slavery had by that time become a war goal, but many in the North were not willing to risk their lives for it, and in July 1863, riots broke out against the draft in New York. Nast covered the uprising and became a passionate supporter of freeing the slaves. With more than 100,000 readers, his Harper's cartoons rallied the public to the war effort, which resulted in loads of hate mail from the South.
His "Compromise with the South" on Sept. 4, 1864, depicted a vote for any presidential candidate but Abraham Lincoln as a betrayal of all those who had died for the cause. Millions of copies were distributed to ensure his re-election. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant said that Nast "did as much as any one man to preserve the Union and bring the war to an end."
The Invention Of Santa Claus
Nast was involved in the creation or refinement of some of the most iconic images in American society: the elephant for the Republican Party, the donkey for the Democrats, Uncle Sam, and America as a graceful woman, Columbia. But nothing matched his creation of the modern Santa Claus.
Nast's first depiction of St. Nick was in Harper's in 1863, recruiting him for sentimental and patriotic roles. He was drawn dressed in a star-spangled robe with a flag, as he flew above children in a Union Army camp playing with toys he had delivered.
By the 1870s, he had children of his own and Christmas was well-established nationally as a family holiday (previously celebrated either as a serious religious event or an excuse for drunken merriment). His drawings became a central part of Harper's seasonal fare.
"Nast popularized the image of Santa Claus by transforming him into the jolly figure known today," said Ryan Hyman, curator of the Macculloch Hall Historical Museum in Morristown, N.J., where Nast made his home in 1872. It houses the nation's largest collection of Nast's work. "His images showed Santa delivering gifts to children, but also included him in his political cartoons, such as one showing a stern-looking Santa threatening not to bring Congressmen any presents if they did not behave. His Christmas drawings remain popular today."
By 1870, Boss Tweed's Tammany Hall's organization had taken control of New York City and the state legislature. Tweed came to fear Nast's cartoons attacking its corruption so much that he offered a bribe of $500,000 (worth $10 million now) to get him to stop. The Tweed Ring was voted out of power in November 1871, and Tweed was convicted of fraud, cementing Nast's reputation.
Grant acknowledged Nast's role in his presidential victories in 1868 and 1872. Nast helped Rutherford Hayes become president in 1876, but became disillusioned by his Reconstruction policies, which did not protect former slaves. In 1880, Nast opposed Republican James Garfield because of a railroad financing scandal and refused to criticize Winfield Scott, the former Union general and Democrat, who was a friend. Garfield won, but was assassinated. His vice president, Chester Arthur, who became president, refused to run in 1884 because of ill health. Nast could not support the corrupt GOP nominee, James Blaine, so for the first time backed a Democrat, Grover Cleveland, who won by a narrow margin.
Nast had gone on lucrative lecture tours in 1873 and 1884. He left Harper's in 1886, then lost most of his fortune the following year when he and Grant invested with a swindler, so he went back to lecturing. He started his own magazine in 1892, but that failed. Then he accepted a job offer from a fan, President Theodore Roosevelt, to become a consul in Ecuador, where he died of yellow fever in 1902.
"His work appears regularly in the works of modern cartoonists, who reference his images and know his role in establishing political cartooning in the U.S.," said Halloran. "Nast is part of our national legacy of political satire."
Overcame: Difficulties in school.
Lesson: Perfect your skills and don't be shy about touting them.
"Thomas Nast has been our best recruiting sergeant." — President Abraham Lincoln
Financial advisors are reminding clients one last time of last-minute steps they can take in the closing days of 2017 to save money on their taxes — steps that won't be invalidated for their 2017 returns by pending federal tax reform.
X Here are some of the most effective and practical last-minute tips that financial advisors recommend to their own clients, and which they shared with IBD. As Dave Du Val, chief customer advocacy officer at TaxAudit, in Folsom, Calif., points out, he makes recommendations to clients only after establishing a complete understanding of their tax and financial situation and determining that the specific tip would be beneficial to them.
Determine if clients will owe the AMT. Why? "To get a handle on last-minute moves, it's important to step back and project what your tax situation for 2017 will be," said EY's Greg Rosica, contributing author of the EY Tax Guide 2018, from the firm formerly known as Ernst & Young.
Since a client who is subject to the AMT can't use various deductions, last-minute tax-prep steps to maximize those deductions might not do him any good.
Harvest tax losses. Thomas Walsh, client service and portfolio manager with Palisades Hudson Financial Group's Atlanta office, advises clients to determine if they can harvest tax losses from mutual funds. Walsh told IBD that he advises clients, "If at the end of the year you're facing a large distribution from a mutual fund in which you have an unrealized loss, consider liquidating the position before the record date. In doing so, you will not only avoid taxable income, but also generate a capital loss. This capital loss can be used to offset other capital gains from the same tax year."
Walsh reminds clients that to the extent their loss exceeds their capital gains, that amount can be used to offset up to $3,000 in ordinary income. Any remainder can be carried forward indefinitely.
Beware of the wash-sale rule. This goes hand in hand with tax-loss harvesting, says Ben Barzideh, wealth advisor at Piershale Financial Group, in Crystal Lake, Ill. An investor might be able to book a loss now but still like the prospects of holding the security long term. The rule prevents investors from offsetting gains with losses if the securities sold at a loss are repurchased within 30 days.
But if that stock he likes was held by a mutual fund, he can avoid violating the wash-sale rule by investing in another fund within 30 days that holds the same stock but whose portfolio is otherwise substantially different from the original one.
Maximize retirement plan contributions. And self-employed clients must keep their deadlines for action straight, says Al Zdenek, president and CEO of New York City-based Traust Sollus Wealth Management.
If a client is self-employed, he must set up an individual 401(k) plan by his business' fiscal year-end, generally Dec. 31, Zdenek says. He tells clients that employer and profit-sharing contributions can be made up until the business' tax filing deadline, which is generally April 15, plus any extensions.
In his capacity as an employee of his own company, your client can make his own contributions to his account as late as his business' tax filing deadline (generally April 15 or March 15 for corporate entities), plus any extensions.
Put compounding to work for your clients. There's another reason for making retirement plan contributions by Dec. 31. EY's Rosica says it's important to remind clients to give their nest eggs as much time to grow as possible. "You want to contribute as soon as possible to give your money as much time as possible for tax-deferred build up of earnings," Rosica said.
Convert assets to a Roth IRA from a traditional IRA. The amount a client converts will be subject to income tax. But TaxAudit's Du Val points out that there nevertheless are several benefits to conversion.
First, when your client eventually withdraws money from the Roth, the withdrawal will be free from tax and penalty if he is at least 59-1/2 years old and the account is at least five years old.
Second, your client won't be required to start taking withdrawals when he reaches age 70-1/2. In contrast, he would be required to start withdrawals from a traditional IRA. So, with a Roth, his money can continue to grow tax-free.
Third, whoever inherits your client's Roth IRA will have to take annual withdrawals, but they won't have to pay federal income tax on the money if the account's been open for at least five years.
Since your client will owe income tax on any conversion amount, he might prefer to convert just part of his traditional IRA balance each year rather than all at once. If he converts some of it before Dec. 31, he won't lose a year.
Worse, if he doesn't act this year, he may lose out entirely. "This conversion may no longer be possible under the new tax bill," Du Val said.
Pay state income tax and local property tax. Even if the taxes are not due until some time next year, Du Val advises clients to pay them before Dec. 31 so they can take the deductions on their 2017 return.
Any trimming or killing of this deduction rule could take effect in 2018, Du Val says.
Contribute to charity. "Even if (a taxpayer) doesn't know which charity he wants to donate to, he should give to a donor-advised fund before year-end," Rosica said. That way, he qualifies for the deduction even though the money has not gone to its final recipient.
And urge charitably inclined clients to consider donating highly appreciated securities they've owned more than one year instead of cash. In addition to doing good, those clients will avoid paying capital gains tax they would have owed if they sold the securities to fund a cash donation.
Also, they'll be allowed to deduct the full market value of the securities, up to IRS limits.
Take a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). Remind charitable clients that if they are age 70-1/2 or older, they're allowed to give up to $100,000 a year from a traditional IRA to a qualified charity, Barzideh says.
In addition to doing good, this donation counts toward satisfying the amount of money they're required to withdraw from their IRA. Also, the withdrawal is not counted as part of their taxable income. That matters because the lower their adjusted gross income is, the less likely it is that they'll lose their income-based eligibility for various deductions and tax credits.
"This is great for people (who) regularly give to charity anyway," Barzideh said.
A QCD must be made directly to the charity. If clients take out money in the form of a check, they must make it payable to the charity, not to themselves, Barzideh warns.
Gladwell On Determination
Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for 22 minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after 30 seconds. Malcolm Gladwell, author
Hill On Action
Don't wait. The time will never be just right. Napoleon Hill, author
Brown On Confidence
Other people's opinion of you does not have to become your reality. Les Brown, motivational speaker
Brinkley On Adversity
A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. David Brinkley, newscaster
Payton On Perseverance
It's OK to lose, to die, but don't die without trying, without giving it your best. Walter Payton, football player
Picture you're giving a presentation to an executive — and he keeps yawning and rubbing his temples. Your first thought is likely to be that he doesn't like what you're saying, rather than even considering he might just be tired or have a headache.
"We are hard-wired with five times as many neural networks for negative thinking than positive," she says. "Given that we experience about 60,000 thoughts a day, that's a lot of negativity. You can't stop thinking, but you can start to notice and then shift your thoughts."
Tips on conditioning yourself to see the bright side:
"Instead of trying to calm down," he says, "think about feeling excited." This technique is called reappraisal, and there's research in a variety of settings — such as public speaking, math exams and singing contests — that demonstrates how people who focus on being excited instead of nervous perform better.
Whisper to yourself. McGinn, also a senior editor at Harvard Business Review, says that at West Point athletes work with psychologists to create custom audio tracks in which a narrator recounts their most spectacular on-field performances. Then the athletes listen to these tracks to build confidence before practices and games.
Even without an elaborate audio track, "whatever your profession, you can learn to use the same technique of reflecting on your own greatest hits," McGinn says. "Specifically, find a way to focus on one of your past greatest performances — a time when you really crushed it at work — and reflect on this before you go into your next professional crucible."
Make a playlist. Since the advent of smartphones and streaming music, many athletes have created their own pregame music soundtracks to get them motivated and energized, McGinn says.
"More than 100 academic studies attest to the power of music to help people perform better," he continues.
"Every person's motivational songs will differ from others, but many people find songs from movies, think of 'Eye of the Tiger' from 'Rocky III,' as particularly effective when it comes to boosting energy before a performance," McGinn said.
Tame your thoughts. You can train yourself to be more positive, Green says.
She suggests practicing this exercise as you drive; at every red light and stop sign, take notice of whether you're having a negative thought about the delay.
Catch yourself and think about things you have gratitude for. If someone cuts you off in traffic, notice your initial thought and then shift to a more empathetic one, like perhaps they are running late to an important meeting or have some other type of emergency.
Feed your brain. Green recommends using an app called e-Catch the Feeling, which has a brain-training exercise. "Play a few rounds three times a week for a month, and you will notice a positive change in your thinking."
Create healthy relationships. Office politics is a huge source of stress. "We all know the feeling of discomfort, anxiety and exhaustion after encounters with challenging people," Green says.
She cites research that shows toxic relationships are bad for your health. "Limit your encounters with such people and ensure that you nurture relationships with people who you can be your best and most authentic self around," Green says. "Finally, notice your thoughts and actions toward others, and make sure you aren't creating toxic chemical reactions and stress in others."
Increasingly, advisors are doing more than advising clients. They're educating the public.
X Some planners seek to build their brand by sharing their investment philosophy or musings about the economy. Others want to empower investors to make smarter decisions or teach them about financial principles.
Regardless of their motive, financial advisors seem intent on disseminating their thoughts in writing. From blogs to books, they're producing content like never before.
If you're going to share your knowledge or opinions, what's the best vehicle to use? Posting short blogs from time to time on your firm's website is a low-cost, low-commitment endeavor. Writing a monthly or quarterly newsletter can strengthen your relationships with clients (and attract prospects), but it requires more time and effort. And completing a book can enhance your credibility and help you reach a wider audience.
"What works best is pairing your writing channel with the appropriate demographic that you're trying to reach," said Douglas Boneparth, a certified financial planner in New York City. "Reaching certain baby boomers through social media can be a bad idea, because they may prefer a newsletter. But for Generation X or Generation Y, more digital content can be effective."
Even if you deliver substantive content to your target audience, you need to convey your points clearly and succinctly. Pruning away extraneous detail — and presenting digestible nuggets of insight — raises the odds that readers will take notice.
It's also important to balance what you find fascinating with what your readers deem interesting and relevant to their lives. You may enjoy speculating about the inner workings of the Federal Reserve, while investors might simply want to know how the Fed's moves can impact their investments.
Target Your Audience
Savvy advisors don't just write stuff in a vacuum, hoping that people read it. Instead, they follow the numbers to determine whether their content hits the mark.
When Boneparth adds written material to his firm's website, he measures the results. Using tools such as MailChimp for email marketing, he tracks the number of readers, when they open a particular blog post or newsletter article, and how long they spend on it.
"If you don't measure it, it's harder to make adjustments," he said. "The analytics can show you if you're reaching whom you want to reach."
Boneparth, 33, wants to connect with readers from age 18 to 36. So he writes with them in mind, knowing that they tend to "digest information in two- to three-minute spurts." He also cites movies and other cultural touchstones that resonate with them.
Some advisors strive to reach a mass audience in the hope of positioning themselves as thought leaders. With limited time to devote to writing, they may figure that the more readers they attract, the better.
For the past three years, Jon Ten Haagen has written an article every other week for Long-Islander News, his regional newspaper. He's a certified financial planner in Huntington, N.Y.
He says each "Ask The Expert" article takes about two hours to research and write, and he invites readers to sign up for his e-newsletter. He plans to compile the articles for a book.
"I used to post my articles on my website, but that was a waste," he said. "I didn't get much of a response. Now that I'm in the newspaper, I reach a lot more people."
Begin By Blogging
For many advisors, the starting point for writing is launching a blog. They may lack grounding as writers, so blogging gives them a chance to polish their craft, find their voice and identify what topics trigger the most interest.
Blogging requires experimentation and patience. Advisors usually don't see instant results, as it takes time to build a following. Those who offer compelling facts, trenchant observations and eye-catching graphics tend to stand out.
Lauren Zangardi Haynes, a certified financial planner in Midlothian, Va., started a blog in 2016. Initially, she sought to help friends who posed questions about their personal finances.
It took many months for her readership to grow. But she now finds that the blog solidifies her standing among prospects.
"It's a way they can check me out before calling me," she said. "People want to hire a planner who's knowledgeable, but it can be hard to connect with someone on a typical website."
Having the blog has also opened doors for new writing outlets. She has started to submit articles to a local magazine aimed at families.
"I'm not sure I would have gotten that opportunity without having my blog in place," she said.
Glen W. Bell Jr. wasn't one to move with the rest of the pack in the nascent days of the fast-food industry.
While burgers were the standard fare at stands like McDonald's Drive-In in the early 1950s, Bell opted to introduce the American consumer to Mexican food.
"An innovative product will set you apart," said Bell (1923-2010), the founder of Taco Bell and pioneer of the Mexican chain fast-food segment, in "Taco Titan: The Glen Bell Story," a 1999 biography by Debra Lee Baldwin.
That was his goal when in 1951 he added homemade crisp-shelled tacos to the menu of his Bell's Burgers stand (it also served hot dogs) located in a Hispanic neighborhood in San Bernardino, Calif. — at 19 cents a pop.
Bell recalled the response of his first taco customer: " 'That was good. Gimme another.' Right then I knew we had a winner."
From those humble beginnings, Bell laid the groundwork for Taco Bell, which he started in 1962, serving what his customers called 'Tay-Kohs.'
Pioneered Mexican Quick-Service
Armed with determination, resourcefulness and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, Bell not only transformed Taco Bell into a restaurant dynamo, he also revolutionized the chain restaurant business by pioneering and popularizing a new category — the Mexican quick-service restaurant — which Taco Bell continues to dominate.
Today, Taco Bell is a subsidiary of Yum Brands ( YUM) and the No. 1 Mexican-inspired quick-service restaurant brand. Taco Bell represents approximately 30% of Yum's operating profit, according to Yum. Last year, system sales (includes results of company-owned and franchise restaurants) rose 6% to $9.66 billion, including the 53rd week.
"The Mexican chain fast-food market was Bell's creation," Darren Tristano, food service trend expert and advisor to Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm, told IBD. "He looked at the niche of tacos, which at the time wasn't a big mass food opportunity, and really built that business. He brought tacos (and Mexican fare) to the American consumer in the chain restaurant (venue)."
Taco Bell remains a giant in its field. The size of Taco Bell "dwarfs" every other Mexican fast-food chain in the category, which also includes Taco John's and Del Taco Restaurants, Tristano says.
Taco Bell's menu today includes various types of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and other related items.
Bell began formulating his recipe for success as a leader as he ventured on the path to overcome financial woes as a youth and as he pursued his goal to start a restaurant business.
Recipes For Success
At every juncture, with every experiment, setback and win, Bell learned what he called his "recipes for success" — 60 lessons outlined in his biography.
His first two recipes were key ingredients for running his restaurant chains and important to his success:
"You build a business one customer at a time. In the early days, I never closed when there was a customer waiting even though I had put in 12 hours and was eager to go home. … One happy customer is worth his weight in gold.
"Find the right product, then find a way to mass-produce it. When I had my hamburger stand, similar takeout stands were spreading all over San Bernardino. If my business was to survive and grow, I would have to apply what I knew about quick service to a different product."
That's where the taco came in. Key to Bell's success was the way he ran Taco Bell's operations, says Dan Jones, who owns four Taco Bell franchises in California — two in Long Beach, one in Azusa and one in Montebello. Jones started at Taco Bell in 1965, running its original restaurant in Downey, Calif.
"He was really concerned about the quality of the food, the customer service and cleanliness of the restaurants," Jones told IBD. He was very strict on operations. (The franchisees) were motivated by that. We knew the standards by which Taco Bell was supposed to run."
Franchisees knew how to run a restaurant profitably by allocating certain food, payroll and other costs according to certain percentages set by these standards, Jones says.
If a franchisee was not following the standards, Bell would send troubleshooters to help them with their operational problems.
Jones, who worked in various posts at the Taco Bell corporate level for 11 years and has been a franchisee since 1976, describes Bell as a "mild-mannered and gentle man" who never raised his voice.
Bell Led By Example
Bell created a culture where he motivated by setting a good example.
"You wanted to work for him to grow the company," Jones said. "He was the most honorable person I ever met and an awesome guy to work for."
The franchisees put in 60 hours a week because they "loved being part of a dynamic company," Jones says.
In the early years, he was active in helping franchisees. For example, if someone had a low-volume store, Bell would do something like lower the rent or reduced the royalty.
Bell also hired people to whom he could delegate responsibility.
"Find people who know things you don't," he said in his biography. "I'm an entrepreneur, not an administrator. Taco Bell prospered because I recognized my limitations, hired professional managers to make up for them, and knew when to let go."
Another recipe for success: "Respect your competitors and learn from them. At first, no one, not even the McDonald brothers, fully recognized the potential of fast food. But we did know, because of the customers' response, we were onto something. We experimented and continually made changes. Our 'market research' was to observe our competitors and to borrow their best ideas."
Bell learned a lot eyeing other entrepreneurs and competitors, especially the McDonald brothers.
"One thing I learned from the McDonald brothers is don't sell everything your customers ask for," Bell said. "Decide what you're going to sell, then make it the best it can be."
When Bell came up with the idea to sell tacos at his Bell's Burgers in 1951, he needed to develop the recipe for the best taco — one that could be made and served quickly and was good to eat. At the time, tacos served in Mexican restaurants were made with soft tortillas. Bell wanted tortillas that were "delicately crisp" and ready to be filled. After weeks of experimentation, Bell developed a crisp-shelled taco that was quick to assemble and tasty.
Tapped Immigration Trends
Tristano calls Bell a visionary. "The biggest trend he recognized was that Mexicans were immigrating to this country, and there was an opportunity to feed them," he said. "More importantly, he Americanized Mexican food in a way he was able to create demand for his product from the American consumer."
Before Taco Bell started expanding throughout the country, no one knew what Mexican food was, says Jones, who was a franchisee consultant at the time the first Taco Bell in Florida opened.
At the time, people didn't know what they were eating or even how to pronounce the names of the food on the menu, Jones says. But that didn't stop the Florida eatery from being a success.
"The food was great,' Jones said. "We couldn't make tacos fast enough."
After Florida, Bell pushed Taco Bell's expansion across the country.
Bell was also a visionary in identifying the void in the market for more exotic multicultural fast food.
Bell developed Taco Bell during a time when the burger market was taking off with McDonald's ( MCD) and Burger King.
Bell focused on franchising. "This was his way of building an empire in a very short time span," Tristano said. "Franchising has proven to be a strong growth vehicle, especially in fast food. Access to capital wasn't as common back then. He was able to build stores without having to operate them or finance them."
The first Taco Bell franchise opened in Torrance, Calif., in 1965. Bell's first venture in the restaurant business was in 1948, when he opened Bell's Drive-In, in San Bernardino. The idea to build a restaurant came to him after he studied the success of the McDonald brothers and their namesake burger drive-ins first founded in San Bernardino.
Between 1954 and 1955, Bell and a business partner built three drive-thru taco stands in Southern California called Taco Tia. Bell's partner wasn't in favor of expanding Taco Tia into Los Angeles. Bell sold his interests in the taco stands. Later in the 1950s Bell and a new group of partners opened a chain called El Taco, which Bell also sold his interests in.
Taco Bell went public in 1970.
In 1978, Bell sold 868 Taco Bell restaurants to PepsiCo ( PEP). PepsiCo spun out Taco Bell and its other restaurant chains in late 1997 to Tricon Global Restaurants. With the purchase of two other chains, Tricon Global restaurants changed its name to Yum Brands in 2002.
Bell was born in Lynwood, Calif. At 16, with his family struggling financially, Bell "rode the rails" across America looking for work, according to his biography. Bell joined the Marine Corps in 1943, and served in the Pacific. While in Guadalcanal, his job was to serve meals to high-ranking officers.
That's where he gleaned one of his key recipes for success:
"Any job is an opportunity to learn. You would think that serving food to generals in Guadalcanal wouldn't have much relevance later on. But it taught me how to estimate how much food was needed based on the number of people served. That knowledge gave me confidence to start a restaurant."
Pioneered and popularized Mexican quick-service restaurant
Overcame: The competition from the burger-chain giants to convince American consumers to eat Mexican fast food
Lesson: Learn from your wins, setbacks and experiments.
Welch On Honesty
Be candid with everyone. Jack Welch, General Electric CEO
Jordan On Perseverance
Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it. Michael Jordan, basketball player
Thatcher On Persistence
I've got a woman's ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it. Margaret Thatcher, British prime minister
Wright On Conviction
The thing always happens that you really believe in. And the belief in a thing makes it happen. And I think nothing will happen until you thoroughly and deeply believe in it. Frank Lloyd Wright, architect
Firestone On Consistency
Success is the sum of details. Harvey Firestone, tire entrepreneur
Character plays a vital role in successful leaders. Stand by your principles of integrity and hold others accountable to doing the same and you'll be way ahead of the game.
Here's how to do that.
See the value. When questions come up about a leader's core principles, it erodes trust, says Tim Irwin, an Atlanta-based organizational psychologist and consultant. That gets worse when challenges arise. Irwin compares it to a submarine that goes deep to test the hull's integrity. That stress reveals any flaws. The same goes for a business leader.
"Integrity determines the probability of success for a leader, more than anything else," said Irwin, who wrote a soon-to-be-released book about great leaders, "Extraordinary Influence."
Find your center. Clarify which principles are vital to you. These are your moral values that are nonnegotiable. Maybe they include treating people fairly and being honest with your customers.
"Then you have a personal Magna Carta that shows some things are not for sale," said Timothy Clark, founder and CEO of Alpine, Utah-based leadership consulting firm Leader Factor. "It doesn't matter what the highest bidder offers you. If you don't have that, then everything is for sale and you become a human vending machine."
Face tough issues. Your moral compass will be tested along the way by ethical dilemmas. Let your morals guide you in spots where temptations crop up, like the lure of a big contract that requires some wrongdoing on your part.
Follow the leader. Model the behavior you want to see. Act with integrity, be accountable and take responsibility. Those traits will spread across the organization.
"It's about creating an intentional culture," Irwin said.
Be positive. People often treat accountability as a negative, looking for someone to blame. Irwin says a phrase that's gaining popularity is to look for "one throat to choke," meaning one person responsible for a project. That doesn't show much confidence. Instead, look at it as a positive way to get something done.
"There's a harshness people attribute to accountability that doesn't serve us well," he said.
Team up. Hold people accountable by working with them to agree on a goal and providing the resources and support to get it done, Irwin says. That's better than using accountability as a means to show your power.
Stick to your guns. Follow your principles, even when it means paying a price. Clark is working with one Fortune 500 company that had major problems with one of the products it installed with a large group of customers. Its CEO without hesitation ordered the products replaced.
"He installs a do-the-right-thing mentality throughout the company," Clark said.
Focus on little things. Keep your word on seemingly minor promises. Submit your proposal by 3 p.m. if that's the deadline. Show up to that meeting on time. Your employees and customers will realize they can trust you. If you take shortcuts, that will become a pattern throughout the organization.
"Then it becomes a slippery slope," Clark said. "That's why you have to be tight and strict on small promises. You have to sweat the small stuff."
Principles rule. Accountability comes in two forms. Task accountability simply demands a result, such as a monthly sales quota. But personal accountability involves making sure that goal is accomplished while sticking to the company's values.
"When a senior leader charters work, they have to charter it with task accountability but also with personal accountability," Irwin said.
Stay humble. When people show hubris and arrogance, they become isolated, don't listen to others and make bad decisions, Clark says. Realize you don't know it all and get input from others.
"Lead through questions rather than answers and by asking more than telling," Clark said.
Can using Skype, a smartphone, CRM and the cloud for storing your office data help you extend your career even as you tour the world?
For decades, older advisors happily retired upon reaching a certain age. Perhaps they sold their practice or groomed a younger partner, thus allowing them to bow out.
Today, however, some aging advisors remain busier than ever. Rather than retire, they prefer to keep practicing well into their 70s and beyond.
Fortunately, they can take advantage of technologies that make life easier for them and afford them the flexibility to work from home — or abroad. And as tech tools grow increasingly user-friendly, the learning curve shrinks and new converts reap the benefits.
"It's a misconception that older advisors don't understand the latest technology or run their practices without it," said Dan Cuprill, a certified financial planner in Cincinnati, Ohio. "The new norm requires you to be technologically savvy."
Yet advisors who spent their early years in the pre-digital age may not realize how mobile apps and cloud-based solutions can help. Even if they want to continue working well past 65, administrative and operational hassles of managing a practice can prove overwhelming.
"You don't have to put in 60 hours a week if you have the right technology," Cuprill said.
He created a system to build a profitable advisory practice in part by harnessing automation to generate referrals and handle administrative and marketing tasks. The system, Advisor Architect, affords him the freedom to manage his business remotely.
Older advisors can differentiate themselves by sharing the wisdom they've gained from long careers in the business. Some clients gravitate to planners who can put roiling markets in the proper perspective and who articulate an investment philosophy built on decades of successful experience.
"Getting older actually helps you," Cuprill said. "You're viewed as learned, as a sage. But if you want to stay in the game in your 70s, you need an automated 24/7 marketing system."
He recommends that advisors post their educational content online — from e-books to white papers to newsletters — and use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to produce an ongoing marketing campaign. With one click, prospects can read a compelling blog post — or watch an advisor's short video explanation of a financial strategy — and schedule an appointment.
Advisors who stay active in their 70s invariably find that going paperless helps them operate from anywhere. As a result, they can enjoy leisure travel without abandoning their clients for months at a time.
"I'm moving everything to the cloud so I'm not tied to an office," said Michael Fox, 74, an advisor in Cinnaminson, N.J.
Fox, who continues to work over 60 hours a week, uses Laserfiche to digitize and store documents. By snapping photos of documents with his smartphone, he no longer needs a physical file cabinet.
He tries to involve his clients' adult children in their family's financial planning. Using ShareFile, he invites the children to review what he discusses in meetings with their parents (after the clients give permission).
"I make the agenda and minutes of our meetings available to the children because I want to be the guy in place when they realize they're going to inherit money," Fox said. "I want to capture the next generation of clients."
Another tech tool that enables older advisors to remain productive is video chat software. It helps them communicate more effectively from afar so that they don't lose touch while on the road.
"Without videoconferencing technology like FaceTime, I couldn't live the way I live," said Russ Hill, 71, chief executive of Halbert Hargrove, an advisory firm in Long Beach, Calif. "I'm in Italy for two months a year and most people don't even know I'm gone."
Most mornings, Hill peruses a mix of blogs, financial journals and other online content such as Geopolitical Futures. He says his goal is to "extract what's most relevant to our clients and our business," even when he's traveling.
Hill, who serves on the advisory council for the Stanford Center on Longevity, tracks the latest research on aging and medical advances. He expects more seniors to maintain their health and live longer, more fulfilling lives.
Two years ago, he provided stand-up desks for all employees at his firm after he read studies about the risks of prolonged sitting during the workday. He proudly notes that about 75% of his staffers now choose to stand for much of the day.
"Taking steps to solve the aging challenge will upend how advisors talk to their clients in the next five years," Hill predicted. "If you look at financial planning software, they all have an end date. What if you're wrong by 10 years?"
Edward Raymer nearly died on his first dive to examine the USS Arizona, sunk during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Raymer was the first to submerge to start the process of raising the battleship and retrieving what turned out to be 1,177 bodies, roughly half the total killed in the deadliest attack by foreigners in the United States before Sept. 11, 2001. The techniques and technology to do this were largely untested. Underwater, the fuel oil leaking from the ship made it impossible to see anything, and there was constant danger from falling and jagged objects and unexploded ordnance.
"An external survey of the Arizona revealed a hole presumably made by an unexploded torpedo or bomb," wrote Raymer in " Descent into Darkness." Raymer had to "find the missile and attach a lock on the propeller to prevent it from arming itself and exploding. No salvage work could begin until it was rendered safe."
Weighed down by a 196-pound diving suit, Raymer was feeling his way past corpses when his air supply tube got caught on a machine and cut off his oxygen. He had two minutes to retrace his steps to find the problem and be pulled up before the air in his helmet ran out. By the time he reached the surface, he had blacked out from carbon dioxide poisoning.
Removing the bodies on the Arizona was a particularly gruesome task. It had suffered too much damage, so the topside structure was cut off and a memorial was built over the hull. A marble wall is inscribed with the names of the men who died on the ship.
The work he directed would be nearly as fatal as front-line combat, made more hazardous as his men moved on to the battle sites of the Pacific War. The equipment and methods whose development Raymer headed are still used today.
A Dream Of Flying
Raymer was born in 1920, the youngest of three siblings, in Riverside, Calif., east of Los Angeles. After graduating from high school in 1939, there were few jobs, so he joined the Navy hoping to become a pilot, while learning welding in the ship repair unit in California and Hawaii.
After his dream of flying wasn't realized, he signed up to go to pilot school for the Royal Air Force after his discharge in July 1941. However, the program was canceled by the U.S. after pressure on Congress from Charles Lindbergh and his America First organization. Instead, Raymer was transferred in May to the destroyer base in San Diego, where he volunteered to take a one-month diving course.
"Diving school on the USS Ortolan, a submarine-rescue vessel, proved to be exciting and challenging to me and the other eight men in the class," Raymer wrote. "We learned how to ascend, descend and move through thick mud. We learned to use an underwater gas-cutting torch, a stud driver to fasten steel plates together, and how to dig trenches in the mud."
After a morning softball game, Raymer and his crew were relaxing when the news came over the radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. That night, the divers, ages 21 to 26, were flown to Hawaii.
Pearl Harbor Horror
The scene was a shock as they landed: Huge billowing clouds of black smoke from the burning oil and 30 ships sunk or badly damaged, while 347 aircraft were destroyed or unable to fly. The first task of the newly formed salvage unit was to help rescue efforts, and they put their equipment on a sampan and headed for the USS Nevada, which had not been fully sunk, unlike the other battleships. Raymer, a metalsmith first class, was made the chief machinist under the command of Lt. H.E. Haynes.
"The crusty old diving officer cautioned us that no one could identify all the dangers because few divers had experienced diving inside a battle-damaged ship strewn with wreckage," Raymer wrote. "Because of the floating oil, sediment and debris, underwater lights would be useless. … This would require us to develop a keen sense of feel, great manual dexterity with tools, and a high degree of hand-to-brain coordination. We would be required to devise our own safety precautions."
Working with civilian divers, salvage engineers and Naval Shipyard personnel, they began the first of innumerable 13-hour days hammering the sides of the USS Nevada, listening for responses, and occasionally finding someone alive. On Dec. 20, they started clearing out the ship's insides with the goal of returning it to duty as soon as possible. They quickly discovered how difficult it was to move ammunition and use welding tools without triggering explosions, with each new obstacle forcing them to rework traditional salvage methods and tools. Two members of the team were killed instantly when they opened a compartment filled with poison gas.
The Nevada was so badly damaged that the commander of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. Chester Nimitz, did not think its salvage possible. Yet the battleship was raised and repairs completed in October 1942. It would support the Normandy landings in June 1944 and play a role in the Pacific battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945.
The California was refloated in March 1942 and would win seven battle stars in the Pacific campaign, sinking a Japanese battleship at Surigao Strait, part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, the largest naval action of the war.
In August 1942, Raymer and six other salvors joined the 100-strong crew of the Navy fleet tug USS Seminole, bound for the Pacific war. They first dived at Tongatabu, Tonga, to retrieve equipment lost in a storm and were startled by what they could see in the crystal-clear water — including a new hazard, sharks. The damaged battleship South Dakota and carrier Saratoga soon arrived for repairs. In October, they were dispatched to Guadalcanal to pick up survivors of two sunken ships.
Before the end of the month, the Seminole itself was attacked and sunk, though it lost only one crew member. On Guadalcanal, Raymer and his team fought off crocodiles, snakes, bloodsucking leeches and malaria-carrying mosquitoes while enduring nightly shelling.
The salvors arrived back in Hawaii in April 1943 and Raymer was promoted to chief petty officer in January 1944. He spent his final two months in the field removing ammunition from the Utah (another team member was killed in the process) and helping to develop a way to replace ship propellers while they were in the water, so they did not have to be dry-docked.
The USS West Virginia's repairs and modernization were completed in July and it would lead the battle line at Leyte and fight at Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.
"One of the most effective traits of good leaders is example, but it is often difficult to achieve when the task at hand requires special skills or inordinate amounts of courage," Thomas J. Cutler, author of "The U.S. Naval Institute on Naval Leadership" and "The Parent's Guide to the U.S. Navy," told IBD. "Never one to shy away from challenging circumstances, Edward Raymer was both an important participant and exemplary leader, never asking his men to do things he himself would not do, leading them to impressive heights as they descended into the dangerous depths."
Raymer received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal from Nimitz for leading the salvage unit and went on to help secure ships at the bottom of the ocean as part of the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests in 1946. Four years later, on a visit to Riverside, he met his future wife, Marilyn, on a blind date and they would have three sons, Christopher, Marshall and Terry.
"He wanted to retire in 1966 to allow the boys to stay in high school, but because of the Vietnam War his request was turned down and we moved to the Philippines," Raymer's wife, Marilyn, told IBD. "That turned out to be a great experience for our family and our overseas experiences made us very patriotic."
Raymer retired with the rank of commander in 1969 and "Descent into Darkness" was published in 1996. He was working on his postwar memoir when he died a year later, Marilyn said.
"At times, leadership requires individuals to perform extraordinary acts under extraordinary circumstances," said Rear Adm. Terry McKnight (Ret.), author of " Pirate Alley: Commanding Task Force 151 Off Somalia." "After the Pearl Harbor attack, the Navy had to act quickly to salvage these ships and restore the armada to fight the Imperial Empire. It turned to Raymer to lead the team in some of the most demanding operations anyone could possibly face and to develop the strategies and techniques to return these battle wagons to full combat readiness. Without his exceptional leadership, the Navy's success in the Pacific theater might have taken another path."
Headed a team that raised battleships and recovered bodies at Pearl Harbor.
Overcame: Lack of equipment and experience to do complex recovery operations.
Lesson: Where there are new challenges, pioneers will think in innovative ways to create whatever is needed to overcome them.
"Divers marched to different drummers, but all of us were united by love of country and a desire to serve our nation."
The culture of an organization is a reflection of the values and beliefs of the leaders and how they communicate them to employees, Barrett says. "Organizational transformation begins with the personal transformation of the leaders."
Tips on creating a culture that communicates to employees what your company stands for and how you value them:
The game-changer is: "When you can offer your employees B.A.M.— belonging, affirmation and meaning — that's when you can see your culture skyrocket to success," he says.
Set the example. Core values are more than words. "Are you living your core values?" Patel asks.
He says to keep in mind that as a leader, "your smallest actions matter to your team. Your people need to see you as the shining example of what it means to follow your core values."
Engage with employees. As the leader of a growing company, it's easy to get disconnected from reality, Patel says.
Patel is also the founder of Digital-Tutors, an online training company that boasts clients such as Pixar ( PIXR), Apple ( AAPL) and NASA.
"The process of building and maintaining a successful culture means having some uncomfortable conversations along the way," he says. "That means an honest willingness to hear the truth — no matter what it is."
Highlight advancement. Ger Doyle, president of enterprise solutions at Modis, an information-technology staffing company, says its recent survey of decision-makers in the science, technology, engineering and medical fields found that opportunity for professional growth and a career pathway are the top benefits to attract candidates and keep the best talent engaged.
"Especially in highly competitive fields, leaders and managers need to regularly communicate potential opportunities," he says. "Most people don't want to wait until their annual review to hear that they're on the right track. Regular feedback and on-the-job coaching are vital for success and help improve engagement and commitment."
Also keep in mind that today workers have much greater access to compensation information than ever before, Doyle says. "Employers need to clearly communicate compensation structures and opportunity for wage and professional growth to candidates."
Clarify direction. Effective communicators always explain what's driving their decisions, says Mark Goodman, chief marketing officer of Vistage, a global executive coaching organization.
He says, "When people know the 'why' it's easier for them to understand the 'what' and the 'how.' "
Strive for inclusion. Consider using messaging apps for company group discussions because it "lets everyone see what you're doing, and what documents you're working on," suggests Rurik Bradbury, global head of communications and research at LivePerson ( LPSN), which provides companies with mobile and online messaging solutions for their customers.
He says the payoff is huge: "fewer misunderstandings, less duplicated effort and much faster results."
Pay attention. "One of the greatest tools every leader should learn for effective communication is to learn how to listen," Patel says
Most important, Patel states: Listening is "an act of affirmation."
"You'd be surprised how obvious it is when someone is actually listening or when someone is just waiting for you to be quiet so they can start talking," he says. "Left unchecked, this can lead to massive productivity loss, mismatched expectations and a deteriorating culture."
In addition to better communication and productivity, listening as an act of affirmation helps build a strong culture by giving people the "A" in B.A.M. — affirmation.
Ross On Excellence
The act of a pro is to make it look easy. Fred Astaire doesn't grunt when he dances to let you know how hard it is. If you're good at it, you leave no fingerprints. Lillian Ross,writer
Simons On Reflection
I like to ponder. And pondering things, just sort of thinking about it and thinking about it, turns out to be a pretty good approach. James Simons,businessman
Frankenthaler On Innovation
Go against the rules or ignore the rules; that is what invention is about. Helen Frankenthaler,artist
Morgan On Motivation
A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason. J.P. Morgan, banker
Eisenhower On Attitude
Never waste a minute thinking about people you don't like. Dwight D. Eisenhower,34th president of the U.S.
Regardless of their age, background or investment philosophy, advisors agree on one thing: Technology is changing the way they do business.
XAsk them about their client communication, back-office operations and workflow, and almost every advisor will start by marveling, "There have been so many advances in recent years," as one planner recently put it. Tech tools enable them to allocate their time better so that they can concentrate on listening to clients and helping them address current financial challenges as well as plan for the future.
One of the biggest challenges that individuals face, especially those under age 40, is saving for retirement. The trends are troubling.
Even childless couples struggle to save for retirement. Millennials — born in the 1980s and 1990s — often embrace entrepreneurial ventures. But self-employed go-getters tend to overlook retirement savings, only to find that they've missed out on a few extra decades of compounding on what could've been an initial, modest investment.
IBD's TAKE:One way to help clients save for retirement is by including highly rated stocks their portfolios. Such stocks often lead the stock market and produce big gains. Learn how to invest in them at IBD University.
Because they often lack predictable income or a traditional employer, entrepreneurs may not participate in company-sponsored retirement vehicles that encourage regular contributions. Startup culture and prudent retirement planning rarely go hand-in-hand.
Advisors harness technology to drill home the importance of saving for retirement. They wow clients with fancy graphics showing the power of compound interest or run a Monte Carlo simulation that projects the statistical likelihood of various investment outcomes far into the future.
Yet such technology has its limits.
"In my 15 years in the industry, I've seen technology play a much larger role in retirement planning," said Robert Finley, a Chicago-based certified financial planner. "But just because advisors have all this information that tech has given us, do we — and our clients — know what to do with all of it?"
For those who woefully underfund their retirement accounts — or bypass them entirely — mobile apps that encourage "micro-saving" are gaining steam. Examples include Acorns, Stash and Digit.
"It's hard to realize what saving $50 or $100 a month would be worth in 20 years," Finley said. But some digital tools can estimate the rising value of small chunks of savings over time, reinforcing the wisdom of setting aside even modest amounts every month.
Millennials with little or no retirement savings may figure that with minimal cash on hand, they can wait to engage in long-range financial planning. If they feel they aren't ready to save for their golden years, they may assume they cannot afford to hire an advisor.
In fact, this young population might benefit from a financial expert's input. Early in their careers, they may need to pay off student loans before they can shift their focus on saving for retirement — and an advisor can help them stick to a budget and pay down debt.
"You can find a fee-only advisor who can do a financial plan for a set amount," Finley said. "That can set you on a really good path."
More Client Control
Awareness of spending and saving patterns largely determines whether someone will stick with their financial plan. When individuals feel a sense of control over their money, they're more apt to stay on track to meet retirement goals.
Advisors who crunch the numbers and establish clear milestones for accumulating wealth in retirement can make the process more real — and less theoretical — to clients just starting to build a nest egg. But the process really kicks into high gear when clients get more involved.
Clients who are thinking of paying $10,000 for a vacation might call their advisor and ask, "What happens if I spend that money on a big trip? Will it throw off my retirement plan?"
New tech platforms can enable clients to tweak the numbers on their own and gauge to what extent a lavish spending spree would affect their long-term savings, says Elijah Kovar, an advisor in Minneapolis, Minn. He says that tech-savvy millennials "crave this kind of tool" to self-manage their plan.
"Some young people give up if they have no idea where the finish line is," Kovar added. "Technology is getting simpler every year and making retirement planning more accessible with a finish line so that people can see a plan in front of them all the time on their smartphone, not just when they meet with their advisor."
Looking to the near future, Kovar expects more mobile apps to provide ongoing progress reports on a client's retirement savings plan. Online features that track spending, pay bills and prod savers to adopt disciplined habits will become increasingly indispensable, he predicts.
"Imagine your client's retirement plan on an app that says they have a 90% probability of success based on numbers that are clearly and simply explained," Kovar said. "You'll have a client who trusts those numbers and understands how the software calculates those numbers. That kind of technology is right around the corner."
Where would financial advisors be without their gadgets — their smartphones, laptops, social media, CRM and even robo, or automation, tools?
Advisors in their 50s and 60s may not feel old, except when they consider how much technology has changed the way they do their job.
XJust two decades ago, for example, they spent significant time on paperwork — rifling through real paper documents. File cabinets lined their office. They largely kept in touch with clients — and everyone else — with a telephone.
To younger financial advisors who came of age playing online games and relying on social media, it seems quaint to imagine their elders trying to operate efficiently in a pre-internet world with limited software choices and automation tools. The new reality creates more opportunity, but it requires tech savvy as well.
Gary Anetsberger has enjoyed a front-row seat to these momentous changes.
Anetsberger, 62, is chief executive of Millennium Trust Co., which provides specialized custody and retirement solutions. He joined the firm in 2002 as chief operating officer and has run its client service, operations, information technology and administration teams. The company has over $23 billion in assets under custody and nearly 600,000 custodial accounts.
In this interview with IBD, Anetsberger, a certified public accountant, assessed the fast-moving technological landscape and how it affects financial advisors.
IBD: What's the biggest technological challenge that advisors will face in the coming years?
Anetsberger: I think digital experiences will accelerate over the next three to five years, impacting advisors in many ways along with their clients. From automatic account opening to tracking client holdings, there will be more client transparency in their accounts. Any transactions that impact their portfolios will be part of that digital experience.
IBD: So how will all that digital activity change the advisor's role?
Anetsberger: Advisors will be able to communicate digitally with clients in a more timely manner. With my account, I get email on any transactions and any important news and events via a digital portal. I think advisors will increasingly provide content digitally and then follow up with a call as needed.
IBD: What's the best way for advisors to capitalize on all this digital communication?
Anetsberger: Your mobile strategy has got to be at the top of your priority list. You need to have a multichannel strategy. Over the next 30 years, there will be a transfer of wealth from baby boomers to millennials. These younger investors grew up with mobile devices, and they'll expect their advisors to have everything geared for mobile.
IBD: What other tech trends do you see as important to advisors?
Anetsberger: More and more practice management software has the ability to aggregate other accounts. It brings in data from investment, banking and credit card accounts, giving the advisor a more holistic view of the client's overall situation. More aggregation tools will help with transparency in clients' accounts.
IBD: What about customer relationship management (CRM)? How will it evolve?
Anetsberger: CRM software tools help advisors, and you're starting to see (CRM providers) enable advisors to manage not just existing clients but also other groups such as family members of clients, attorneys, bankers, CPAs. The advisor will use CRM not just to manage the client relationship but also to help (coordinate) communication with others in their wider network.
IBD: Speaking of relationships, how will the growth of robo-advisors affect the relationship between human advisors and their clients?
Anetsberger: Automated platforms that help advisors construct a portfolio can streamline the investment management process. Human advisors can add value by having deeper conversations with clients about their retirement goals and objectives, and discussing the financial impact of life-changing events. Using robo platforms, advisors can free up their time to have the kind of client conversations that only a human advisor can provide.
IBD: So you don't see robo offerings as a threat to human advisors?
Anetsberger: Human advisors can add value beyond just doing allocation across asset classes. They can spend more time on higher-value relationships with their existing clients and then use a robo platform when the client says, "I'd like you to help my kids too." This is a good way to help them strengthen their relationships with clients' adult children.
IBD: Any suggestions on how advisors can maximize the quality of their digital outreach to prospects and clients?
Anetsberger: Be content-driven and make the content stand out. I get a lot of digital communication from financial firms that I work with. It's very valuable to me personally.
IBD: Can you give an example?
Anetsberger: I'll get email with their views on tax reform or the markets. I like to get a quick snapshot or summary, with highlights featured in an easy-to-digest way. Sometimes, less is more. More of these vehicles incorporate video. Lots of people prefer video (to reading an email).
IBD: Looking ahead, how can advisors ensure that they're delivering compelling digital content?
Anetsberger: With more people using mobile devices, a multichannel approach works best to communicate with clients. The real estate on an iPhone is smaller so you have to design content with bullets and videos to get your message out, along with links to deeper content.
IBD: What about the phone? Some advisors still prefer making calls.
Anetsberger: It depends on the person you're trying to reach. If I call my adult children, they don't answer. But if I text them, I get an immediate reply. Text messages and social media need to be part of your multichannel strategy.
IBD: Do you see any downside as advisors apply all these tech tools?
Anetsberger: Technology will increasingly help advisors be more efficient, but you can't lose touch with the human element. You're seeing more robo-advisors offering different levels of service so that you can talk to a human advisor if you'd like. Millennials will still want to talk to somebody about some financial issues. Establishing that trust and confidence in one-on-one relationships with clients will not go away.
Advisors often gush about the march of technology. That's especially true when they discuss their customer relationship management software and artificial intelligence.
XWhile admitting that they're still learning how to maximize CRM, they tend to rave about the ease with which they can stay close to clients. And the future holds even greater promise, as CRM software providers race to differentiate their offerings to stand out in a hotly competitive field.
Reflecting on her 16 years as an advisor, Jessica Peck Donnerstein traces the evolution of CRM systems. She recalls using yellow legal pads and rudimentary CRM products in the early 2000s. In 2011, she began using a more robust platform from Redtail Technology.
"We have two offices, and CRM allows all our advisors to see client information and work on client cases together so that we can all be on the same page," said Donnerstein, a certified financial planner in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Like many advisors, she looks forward to new features that accommodate clients' preferences. For example, she says that some clients communicate with her via text message but she has had to reply via email.
"When they ask me to text them back, I've had to explain the compliance side of things," she said. But Redtail recently launched "Speak" as a compliance-approved tool for advisors to communicate with clients via text messages.
Donnerstein seeks better integration between her CRM and phone system. Ideally, she'd like to have a record of incoming and outgoing voice mails.
"Now I have to type a note on what I just did, like leaving a voice mail with a client," she said.
With the surging popularity of virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri, Donnerstein adds that voice-activated data entry could make CRM even more valuable. Using simple voice commands to enter a client note or update her calendar would save her from logging into the CRM system, finding the right file and typing a note, she says.
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In the coming years, more CRM platforms will allow users to map data graphically to a particular app, says Ryan Fickel, chief technology officer of Advisors Excel, a financial marketing organization in Topeka, Kan.
"More and more CRMs will work hand-in-hand to create more user-friendly ways to map data from one platform to another," he said. "If you're trying to pass data from one system to another, you need the ability to custom-tailor the connectivity between the systems."
For example, advisors who want to use DocuSign for electronic signatures or Calendly to schedule appointments will rely on a CRM system that more effectively integrates across applications.
"This will allow advisors to treat their CRM as the core system of record," Fickel said. "They will go from application fragmentation and data fragmentation to having all data and documents in one single system."
Less Sales, More Retention
Strides in artificial intelligence, or AI, create opportunities for CRM to help advisors cultivate more consultative relationships with clients. Instead of just focusing on selling — and converting prospects into clients through lead generation and follow-up — future CRM platforms can facilitate deeper interactions that heighten client retention.
"Rather than reinforce the traditional sales cycle, I'm hoping we see CRM break that cycle and branch out into multiple ways to integrate marketing automation tools and AI so that advisors better understand the depth of the relationships they are creating," said Tandi LeFranc, vice president of marketing at Shurwest, an independent distribution firm that supports advisors in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The next wave of CRM systems will provide easier and better customization, LeFranc says, to facilitate stronger relationships between advisor and client. For instance, they will help advisors answer questions such as, "How many people has a particular client introduced me to?" and "What is the client's level of engagement (in terms of reading our newsletter, attending our wine-tasting and other events, etc.)?"
Despite this bright future, new developments in CRM can test advisors' patience. The ever-increasing encroachment of technology, even if it's easy to learn and fun to use, can prove a distraction.
"You've got to find the right balance for you and your firm between working hands-on with CRM and other technology and focusing on clients," LeFranc said. "Some advisors feel that it keeps them from talking to clients. So you need to make sure that your time using technology, like entering CRM data, is well spent."
A rising generation of advisors grew up with cutting-edge technology. Now they're using it to reach their target market.
XAcross America, young, diverse advisors seek to win over communities that have rarely sought out financial planners. To market themselves, these advisors are harnessing social media and other technologies in new ways.
By definition, niche marketing involves narrowly focused outreach. Social media enables advisors to reach a small subset of the general population that they're ideally suited to serve.
Brian Thompson, a certified financial planner in Chicago, launched his firm in 2016 with an emphasis on advising gay professionals. He has sought to build visibility by designing a website geared to his audience.
"The website screams that this is the right place if you're looking for an advisor who looks like you and reflects what you're looking for," Thompson said. "I use very deliberate language to signal safety to the people I'm targeting."
To capitalize on content marketing, Thompson writes a blog and aims to add video and audio elements to his website. His goal is to make it easy for LGBTQ consumers to discover his firm online.
"People are very specific in what they're searching for (on the internet)," he said. "So I have to keep current on trends in social media and search engine optimization rather than get complacent."
Advisors are learning that they can use online content not just to showcase their expertise, but also to engage prospects and learn from them. By inviting comments on their blog posts, educational videos and podcasts, advisors can gain a better understanding of their followers and hone in on their needs.
Advisors who market themselves to underserved communities often expand their social media horizons. They may experiment with different tools and test the results.
Jiyao Xu, a Los Angeles-based certified financial planner, seeks to attract young Chinese professionals in the U.S. He recently created a profile of his newly opened firm using WeChat, and he shares it with his friends and online followers.
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While he's still assessing WeChat's effectiveness in helping him gain clients, Xu is harnessing technology in other facets of his business. He uses MailChimp for his newsletter and Squarespace to design his firm's website.
"It's very hard to reach the people that I want to reach," Xu said. "I'd love more tools to help me reach Chinese professionals living in the U.S. of a certain age and income. So I'm doing lots of pro bono stuff like public education events" instead of relying solely on social media marketing.
To reach their target market, advisors like Xu combine high-tech and high-touch outreach strategies. In October, Xu volunteered to educate consumers at a "Financial Planning Day" event in Los Angeles.
Similarly, Mark Boujikian regularly conducts educational sessions at local libraries that are free and open to the public. A certified financial planner in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., Boujikian wants to raise consumers' financial literacy — and build his business in the process.
Advisors As Teachers
While Boujikian resides in a seemingly affluent area, he says that many locals are "property rich but have minimal retirement assets and low cash flow." He seeks to educate them about financial matters and win some of them as clients.
"They may need an advisor but either don't have the means to hire one or they're insulated by a language barrier," he said.
In 2017, he has led 18 sessions in nearby libraries. They consist of a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation followed by Q&A. The talks attract 35 to 40 attendees on average, he says, and he offers a free follow-up consultation.
"About 90% accept my offer so that can mean 30 or more meetings with each one lasting 90 minutes," Boujikian said. "It's a lot of time, but I typically get two to three clients out of it."
In tracing social media's evolution, Boujikian sees more opportunity to connect with people to educate rather than sell to them. He expects online resources to feature what he calls "more financial hacks — tips and tools to bring people together to learn and improve their financial literacy."
Like many advisors eager to teach and inform, Boujikian is passionate about spreading financial wisdom to a wider audience. That's especially important when certain segments of the population resist or express skepticism.
Miguel Gomez, a certified financial planner in El Paso, Texas, faces what he calls "an uphill battle" in convincing some members of the Hispanic community to hire an advisor. He says that many of them lack trust in financial institutions and stash cash at home.
"Technology has given me a voice to educate, to tell people it's OK to invest," Gomez said. His uses Facebook to post information and both Zoom and GoToMeeting to conduct remote conferences.
Gourmands know the name Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. Also known as Nobu, he's the founder of the internationally renowned Matsuhisa and Nobu restaurant chains as well as Nobu Hotels.
But fame didn't come easily. In fact, there was a time early on when if he didn't have bad luck, he had no luck at all.
Matsuhisa's father died when Nobu was just a schoolboy in Japan. As a young teen without a driver's license, he "borrowed" his older brother's car and got into an accident that resulted in his expulsion from school.
He apprenticed at a sushi restaurant where he spent three years washing dishes and making deliveries. Eventually, however, he learned about fish and sushi preparation, and became a favorite among the restaurant's clientele. When one regular, a Japanese-Peruvian, offered to help him open a restaurant in Peru, Nobu jumped at the chance.
You'd think finding his calling and someone to finance it might mean his luck had changed. But you'd be wrong.
The restaurant's success only fueled discord between the chef and his investor who, Matsuhisa writes in his newly published memoir, " Nobu," put "profit over quality."
There followed other stops, including a restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska, that burned to the ground 50 days after it opened. At the time, Matsuhisa was so upset that he contemplated suicide, a notion he rejected only because of thoughts about his family.
"(Without) my wife and two daughters, I would have taken my life," he told IBD. "My wife and two daughters gave me the energy to keep going. They saved my life."
Through a friend, Matsuhisa arranged a job in Los Angeles, where he worked for a decade at two sushi restaurants before, in 1987, opening his own, the eponymous Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills.
It was almost an immediate success, for a number of reasons. Perhaps foremost was Matsuhisa's desire to please. In part this is due to "omotenashi," the Japanese spirit of hospitality and service. He treats his customers "like a family." He'd greet them, ask what they liked and didn't like, and would explain the food to them as he made the rounds. He wasn't constrained by what was on the menu.
His thought process: What would I want if I was a customer? How would I like to be treated?
But his prime selling point, of course, was his food. His experiences in Peru (and Argentina, as well) led him to create distinctive dishes that combine Japanese style with South American ingredients such as jalapeno-accented yellowtail and Chilean sea bass with miso.
Some might call it fusion, but Matsuhisa disagrees. "My cooking is Japanese. Every dish has a Japanese taste."
Whatever it's called, the unique combination soon attracted excellent reviews and overflow crowds. Tom Cruise was once turned away and New Yorker Robert De Niro became a regular when in Los Angeles. In fact, De Niro liked the food so much that the actor offered to help Matsuhisa open a New York location.
Meir Teper, a film producer who became an investor, recalled that "Mr. De Niro asked Nobu if he ever wanted to do something with him — he would love to do it with him.
"In the beginning Nobu wasn't very excited. He was at Matsuhisa every night and he thought it would be too difficult to open another restaurant."
Four years later, De Niro tried again, this time getting a positive response. In 1994, Matsuhisa, Teper, De Niro and restaurateur Drew Nieporent opened the first Nobu restaurant, which are typically larger than Matsuhisa and less expensive, but based on the same concept of Japanese food with a helping of Latin American ingredients.
Teper was confident of its success. He understood that "the restaurant business is risky, but most business is risky. But the food (at Matsuhisa) was really special, and I thought there was really nothing like it in New York."
He was right. "It was such a big success people started calling (about opening another)," Teper said. "The first gentleman was from London."
Interestingly, the Londoner wanted to sign a deal that excluded De Niro, but for Matsuhisa loyalty is a must. "De Niro was a partner in the first Nobu. He's the one who invited me to New York. I can't go on without him."
The investor acquiesced, and once the deal was signed Matsuhisa spent a month in London sampling the food available at the city's sushi restaurants. What he found was uninspiring, he said, and fueled his confidence "and my passion to share the delights of good sushi with people in England."
Once Nobu opened, Matsuhisa spent a month in the restaurant kitchen training his chefs on how to meet his high standards. Personal oversight is a hallmark of his operation. He said that his style of management dictates that in "every country, every continent, food is prepared the same way" so that the restaurants are "familiar and like family to our customers."
To assure that, Matsuhisa spends virtually all his life on the road. At first, it was two weeks in Los Angeles, and a week each in New York and London. As the locations expanded, however, so did his travel schedule.
"I travel 10 months a year," he said. "I get to see all my kids (employees) around the world. I want the chefs to understand my style of cooking, my recipes.
"I remember how thrilled I was to see the dishes that I had invented at Matsuhisa being produced identically in New York and again in London."
When he visits one of his restaurants, it's not a one-way conversation, though. "I learn from them also. I travel to find something new, which is very important to the business."
Cross-pollination is also important to him. Chefs from London were sent to both Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills and Nobu in New York, while Nobu New York chefs were sent to London. The goal: to learn from each other.
Chef exchanges continues to this day.
Taking His Own Path
While Matsuhisa obviously likes uniformity of product, he doesn't necessarily believe that you have to go along with the herd. During his first December in London, his manager planned to close the restaurant during the holidays, apparently a common practice in the city. But Matsuhisa demurred. The restaurant was located in a hotel that he knew would be filled with tourists and, as it turned out, so was the restaurant.
"The experience confirmed my belief that while it's important to adapt to local ways, stepping outside convention is often just as good for business as it is for inspiring new recipes," he said.
One of the areas where Matsuhisa excels is in employee relations. He believes in second chances, in part because he remembers his own early failures. He prefers praise to scorn. In Japan, he says, there is a strong tendency to point out faults. In fact, there's a saying: "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down."
Matsuhisa prefers the way it's done here. "Americans are good at praising people," he observed. And he likes to see that up and down the ranks. In fact, when he visits a restaurant, he makes a point of stopping to greet the dishwasher.
"That's how I started. For three years I was a dishwasher and busboy. I understand how tough the work is. All day your hands are in hot soapy water, brushing dishes. If the plates are dirty, the chefs can't present the food."
His philosophy appears to be working. At last count, there were 47 Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurants and six Nobu Hotels around the world.
Built two international sushi restaurant chains and then added hotels to his empire.
Overcame: Need by some investors to increase profits.
Lesson: Stick to your principles, even if it means speaking truth to power.
Quote: "Drew (Nieporent) wanted more sales, more money. He wanted us to put in more tables. I spoke to him and said people aren't machines. We're not robots. If I hadn't confronted him, the spirit of Matsuhisa may never have been carried over to Nobu."
Even if you recruit the smartest people in the world to help you innovate within your organization, they won't have all the answers. Outsiders — from customers to suppliers to the general public — can offer fresh and valuable perspectives, a concept known as "open innovation."
To harness open innovation, leaders look to enlist business partners, consumers, vendors and anyone else to provide input on designing new products or services.
Replace internal politics with openness. If your employees vie for attention by hoarding ideas and hogging credit for team achievements, they probably won't welcome your efforts to solicit ideas from outside. In fact, they may quietly engage in sabotage.
"At a high level, leaders at larger companies need to be ready to incentivize their people to external innovation," said Tim Bernstein, chief executive of Yet2, a consulting firm in Newton, Mass.
Otherwise, employees may feel threatened by outsiders offering insights. Resentful staffers might think, "I was hired to come up with great ideas. Now I'm ignored and we listen to just about anyone out there."
Bernstein encourages leaders to create a culture of openness to outside input. Dangle rewards for employees who champion innovations from outside sources rather than just promoting their own proprietary ideas.
Minimize risks. Turning to the public for creative breakthroughs has a downside: It can lead to messy intellectual property disputes.
Say outsiders share details of an innovation with a company that's already well underway in testing the same concept. Once the new product appears, those outsiders might conclude that the company stole their idea.
"The solution is to have a single point of entry, like an online portal platform, for all submissions," Bernstein said. "Make sure all your employees reject all other points of entry or redirect submissions to that single portal."
Prepare to collaborate. Outsiders won't necessarily present you with a polished, ready-for-market innovation. In many cases, you'll want to tweak the idea or treat it as a springboard for further exploration.
"Open innovation doesn't come free," Bernstein said. "Be ready to commit resources. You'll need your research-and-development people freed up to work with the [external] solution provider."
Stay close to customers. As inventive employees devise new designs, excitement can mount within your organization. But the real measure of innovation is how consumers will respond.
"We'd rather build what other people think is cool, not what we think is cool," said Larry Portaro, director of FirstBuild, which seeks ideas for new appliances from outsiders. Based at the University of Louisville, FirstBuild connects with consumers through online outreach and even invites them to its Louisville, Ky., headquarters to develop prototypes at its micro-factory.
Portaro adds that bringing in consumers to devise new products "allows for collisions and interactions to happen" that spur innovation.
Let customers bond with each other. Because innovation often arises from group collaboration, it helps to give outsiders a forum for idea sharing. As they compare notes and combine forces, they might arrive at bolder, more ambitious breakthroughs.
Close the loop. Once you solicit input from outsiders, provide regular updates as you follow through. They'll gain more buy-in if they see that you're taking their ideas seriously and exploring ways to turn their suggestions into tangible products or services.
"Identify what next steps will be taken and then close that loop when those steps are taken," Rosecrans said. "Also document when you'll release" the prototype and how you'll measure its impact or effectiveness.
More than anything else, what differentiates people who live up to their potential from those who don't is a willingness to look at themselves and others objectively. Ray Dalio,hedge fund manager
With every player there's a certain point where it all starts to click. A lot of it is just learning yourself and what works for you. Roy Halladay,baseball pitcher
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. Richard P. Feynman,physicist
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. Alice Walker,novelist
Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.,jurist
Leo Baekeland is the most important inventor you never heard of.
That will change if cultural influencers can convey their enthusiasm for a new documentary, " All Things Bakelite: The Age of Plastic," which is earning applause and awards at film festivals and science conferences across the globe. Director John Maher and his team bring alive the story of the man who invented the first synthetic material, with musical numbers, humor, interviews with excited chemists and product designers, and archival footage.
"My great-grandfather had the courage to take risks and not give up in the face of repeated failure," Hugh Karraker, the executive producer, told IBD. "The world changed one summer night in 1907 in his lab in Yonkers, when the first plastic settled to the bottom of a test tube. It has had a huge impact on our lives."
That form of synthetic plastic — known as Bakelite — was turned into 15,000 products that helped create the modern world, including electrical wire insulation, light bulb sockets, automobile parts, appliances, telephones, televisions and military gear. It is still used widely in everything from electronics to aerospace and led to the invention of other plastics.
Baekeland (1863-1944) grew up in Ghent, Belgium. His father, a shoemaker, and his mother, a maid, were poor and illiterate, but recognized Leo's potential. At 8, he read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and wanted to emulate his dedication to self-improvement, curiosity about the natural world, and invention. He was drawn to photographic chemistry and at 17, won a scholarship to the University of Ghent, graduating maxima cum laude with a Ph.D. four years later.
At 24, while trying to develop a better photographic plate, Baekeland was offered an associate professorship of chemistry and physics at his alma mater under his former chemistry professor, Theodore Swarts. He also fell in love and eventually married Swarts' daughter, Celine. Feeling pressure from his father-in-law, who thought Baekeland's startup was a distraction from academic pursuits, he and his bride sailed for America.
Landing in New York City, Baekeland received a job offer from the firm that would become the photo giant Agfa Gevaert, which he accepted.
"America was a mobile, open society where people who could prove they had the moxie to accomplish something would win out," Jeffrey Meikle, author of " American Plastic: A Cultural History," said in the film.
Two years later, the restless entrepreneur left the company to become an independent chemical consultant.
By 1893, however, an economic depression had caused him to go broke and soon after he came down with appendicitis. While lying in bed near death, he rethought his plans and decided to concentrate on the one project most likely to bring him the best commercial results, an improved photographic paper for the small cameras being made by Eastman Kodak ( KODK). Baekeland's Nepera Chemical Co. developed Velox, which was sold to Eastman Kodak in 1899 for $750,000, of which Baekeland netted $215,000 (equal to $6.4 million today).
Inventing The Fourth Kingdom
The money allowed Baekeland to outfit a barn on the grounds of his Yonkers mansion as a research laboratory, where he began experimenting in 1902 to try to create a commercial plastic. Electrical wires had been painted with a natural shellac excreted by a beetle, but that could melt at high temperatures. Many scientists had tried to create an artificial version by combining phenol with formaldehyde, but were unable to control the reaction that would result in a gunk that could not be molded.
"He kept meticulous notes on each experiment and would try things again and again, even though everyone said what he was trying to do was impossible," Burkhard Wagner, a research chemist retired from Union Carbide, said in the film. "He was extremely stubborn and where others saw a wall, he leaned against it and discovered a door. His genius was to realize that he could interrupt the chain reaction."
The result was neither animal, vegetable nor mineral: a man-made fourth kingdom, said Karraker. Baekeland decided to have it mimic his name, calling it Bakelite (pronounced "bake-uh-lite") and received a patent in 1909, which he announced at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. (His discovery occurred when he was 43; since 1945, the ACS has biennially bestowed the Baekeland Medal to promising chemists under 40).
"Bakelite could be molded into anything, from automobile distributor caps and office equipment to toasters, cameras, tableware, and billiard balls, launching the era of industrial design and mass consumption from the 1920s to '50s," said Karraker. "It was valued because it resisted scratches and solvents and was used where it was needed to withstand extreme heat, such as heat shields on spacecraft."
Of course, competitors leapt into the arena, but found themselves up against the extraordinarily thorough 55 patent applications that Baekeland was awarded in the U.S., as well as those in other countries, which anticipated the range of uses for his inventions or anything like them, said Wagner. He won all of his lawsuits, but in one case, he invited rivals Condensite and Redmanol to join him to form the Bakelite Corp. in 1923. The following year he was on the cover of Time and in 1925 was on the cover of the first issue of Plastics.
"He was a good businessman, but had mixed feelings about being CEO because it was such a grind. Yet he preferred to manage his own affairs," said Karraker. "The workload increased when his patents expired in 1927, resulting in a return to competing products. Bakelite was a game-changer and equally important were the manufacturing processes he developed. His work helped lead chemists to other plastics, like polyesters, polyurethanes and polyamides."
Baekeland's son, George, however, had no interest in taking over the business, so it was sold to Union Carbide in 1939. (Baekeland's part of the sale earned him $23 million, equal to $397 million today.)
In 1984, Union Carbide was acquired by Dow Chemical and on Sept. 1, 2017, it merged with DuPont to become DowDuPont ( DWDP), the world's largest chemical company in terms of sales.
Leo Baekeland spent his remaining five years exploring botany to research the possibilities for new products, but he died at age 80 before he could achieve anything notable in that field.
The global plastics industry remains enormous and growing, with total shipments in 2015 valued at $418 billion, according to Louis Pilato, a researcher and consultant with expertise in phenolic resin technologies and bio-based materials, who appears in the film. "The cost of oil for plastic manufacturing, especially in the U.S., is low because of the use of fracking to fully extract it," he said.
Yet Bakelite and its children have been a double-edged sword, the film admits, as plastic has become all-pervasive — though researchers have been developing forms with less negative impact on the environment.
The 56-minute version of "All Things Bakelite" won the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival's Platinum Remi Award for documentary (named after Frederick Remington, whose art captured the spirit of the West). It has been screened at industry conferences from New Zealand to Norway, at the 200th anniversary of the founding of University of Ghent and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and will be featured at the Sixth Biannual Baekeland Thermoset Symposium in Shanghai in April 2018. The producers have also been showing a 21-minute version, designed especially for middle- and high-school classrooms, and hope to distribute it to universities and public libraries worldwide.
Everywhere you turn, you're asked to take an online survey. Maybe that's why many advisors seek feedback the old-fashioned way: by asking for it in casual conversation.
XLike many professional service providers, advisors want to satisfy customers and get alerted if something's amiss. They seek to retain clients and run a tight ship, and they crave feedback on how to continuously improve their operation.
So how do they solicit constructive feedback from clients and former clients? Better yet, how do they collect praise and share it with their team for some motivational uplift?
"We think feedback is important and we take it seriously," said Vince DiLeva, a certified financial planner in Redondo Beach, Calif. "We get input on how our reports look, interactions with our staff, and topics we include in our quarterly newsletter to clients."
Yet like many top financial advisors, DiLeva does not send out formal surveys. Instead, he and his colleagues at Signature Estate & Investment Advisors prefer to ask clients for feedback on an ongoing basis.
"If I'm in a meeting or on the phone with a client, I might ask what they thought of a recent change in our report," he said. "They might say the font is too small or the colors we use on our chart make it hard to read. Everyone has different ideas on what they like and don't like."
The benefits of asking for input in the course of everyday conversation are twofold. First, clients are more apt to open up when the topic is fresh in their mind. The immediacy of feedback enhances its richness; if you ask people to comment on something that occurred a month ago, they may have little to offer.
Second, seeking input works better when you come right out and ask for it. With so many consumers fending off constant requests to complete online questionnaires, it's refreshing when a service provider expresses a willingness to sit back and listen in real time to a client's critique.
Pounce On Opportunities
Part of the challenge when asking for feedback is evaluating its merits. Clients of different ages and backgrounds may express wildly different preferences.
"You have to take it all in and look for the most common things you hear," DiLeva said. "You home in on the couple of things that you hear consistently."
It helps when you adopt an opportunistic mindset. Recently, a client called DiLeva to praise two of his staffers for their efforts in tracking down an old 403(b) account.
"In thanking me, she also told me about the steps she and my two employees went through," he said. "It made me realize we could improve our processes to build efficiencies into the system."
In addition, DiLeva meets weekly with his team to share client feedback they've collected. In each meeting, they identify at least one idea that they can apply right away. Examples include steps to enhance record-keeping or facilitate communication with clients' accountants to coordinate required minimum distributions.
To close the loop, DiLeva will update clients on the status of their suggestions. He may need to explain why their idea cannot come to fruition due to, say, compliance rules or the limits of technology.
"When you follow up, they feel heard," he said.
Dangle An Incentive
While probing for feedback works well in informal conversations, you need to watch your wording. The way you frame your questions will largely determine the answers you get.
For example, it's better to ask, "Can you share your impressions of the materials we sent?" than, "Were you pleased with the materials we sent?" Respondents tend to give more revealing answers if they're addressing a neutrally worded, open-ended inquiry.
For those advisors who use online surveys, they learn that incentives count. Rewarding people for their time in filling out a questionnaire increases the response rate.
Dan Andrews, a certified financial planner in Greenwood Village, Colo., sends all clients a year-end survey using Wufoo.com. He poses three questions: What should we start doing? What should we stop doing? and What should we keep doing?
As a bonus, he invites respondents to vote on one of three nonprofits to receive 2% of his firm's top-line revenue for the year. This adds a feel-good element to the process and reinforces the theme of altruism — a key aspect of his practice.
"We try to inspire our clients to give back," Andrews said. "This 2% is a way to let them know that they're giving back just by being our client" and completing our survey.
Baseball wisdom ... investment opportunities ... advice about building a financial advisor practice ... what's not to like about the final day of the Schwab Impact conference for independent financial advisors this week in Chicago? The conclave enters its home stretch today, with a final day of educational sessions and a closing keynote speech.
XTheo Epstein is the scheduled keynote speaker. Epstein is on deck to discuss "What Losing Teaches about Winning." His credentials for transforming losers into winners is well-known to baseball fans, especially long-suffering fans in Chicago and Boston. He is President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, who had not won major league baseball's World Series since 1908 until their triumph in 2016.
Before taking the reins of the Cubs, Epstein was general manager of the Boston Red Sox, helping to steer them in 2004 to their first World Series title since 1918.
Before Epstein's presentation, educational sessions at the Schwab Impact conference will include a panel aimed at financial advisors who want to get a handle on whether Illinois's credit distress presents an opportunity for bond-investor clients or a pitfall to be avoided can attend a scheduled morning diagnosis of the conference host city's home state's fiscal dilemma. Panelists are slated to be Michael Johnson and John Humphrey of Gurtin Municipal Bond Management.
In another morning session, Tim Maurer of the BAM Alliance will about the value of explaining to clients not just what they should do but why. Maurer is slated to focus on how behavioral science can help advisors better motivate clients.
A third session at the Schwab conference is scheduled to discuss how to integrate responsible investing into client portfolios.
Two additional sessions are on tap to address how to build your practice. One session, featuring the Emotional Investor's James Mooreland, is due to focus on the importance of differentiating yourself from your rivals. A session featuring Michelle Donovan is slated to focus on how to maximize your referral process.
Yet another marketing session with will home in digital marketing.
Another morning session, featuring Dennis McCrary of Pantheon, will talk about why you should consider adding the private equity arrow to your client portfolio quiver.
On the next to last day of Thursday, Morningstar Inc. ( MORN) introduced its Office Cloud, which it describes as a new cloud-based practice and portfolio management platform for advisors, powered by more than 30 years of investment data and research.
The firm says that the platform combines Morningstar data, analytics, and research tools with capacity for integrating client data into a single, web-based experience that can replace multiple legacy systems.
Thursday afternoon's keynote session featured former Prime Minister of the U.K., David Cameron. One attendee commented on Twitter that Cameron's presentation confirmed how "everything sounds smarter when spoken with a British accent."
Schwab entertained its guests with a show by Leon Bridges, a Grammy Award-winning R&B singer and songwriter.
"It's estimated that almost half the resources that U.S. firms spend on product innovation is spent on failures, while only one new-product concept out of seven becomes a commercial winner," he said.
Cooper says extensive research shows there are proven ways for companies to move the odds of success and profitability more in their favor.
Create unquestioned value. One way to beat the one-in-seven odds of new-product success, Cooper wrote, is to "find big problems, then create big, bold solutions."
Most new products are "tired, ho-hum, or copycat efforts that lack a wow factor for the customers," he said.
A product that has unique benefits for users, he adds, has five times the success rate, four times the market share and four times the profitability of the ones that don't.
Understand your market. Not knowing the customer and the market remains the No. 1 cause of new-product failures, Cooper states. "Most people make too many assumptions about what the customer wants, needs or values, and many are wrong!"
Exercise detailed preparation. Cooper's studies reveal that the steps that precede the actual design and development of the product make the difference between success and failure.
The best innovators, he added, "do their homework and make the front end a lot less fuzzy."
Avoid loose definitions and vague assumptions. Cooper says to always keep at the forefront of your thinking the target market; the product concept in detail; and the benefits to be delivered to the user.
Experiment and learn. To better understand what consumers see as having value, constantly validate a new product by testing it with them regularly throughout development, Cooper says.
Get feedback and then revise your thinking, he says. "Do this early, often and cheaply."
Jay Goldman, co-founder of Sensei Labs, a developer of data-driven workflow solutions, suggests getting out there and talking to your prospective customers to learn what they really want. He references the book, " The Four Steps to the Epiphany," which says that when it comes to new products, no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.
Seek out new technologies. Erik Ritchie, vice president of e-commerce for Zenni Optical, a leading online eyewear brand, says build bridges between your various vendors so that they can collaboratively be part of your approach to job-flow automation. This is what allows a product to be produced at the highest rate while keeping costs to a minimum, he adds.
Goldman points out that utilizing technology to automate those common, repetitive product-launch tasks, when applicable, frees "your team up to focus on your core objective — getting your product into market!"
Keep listening. Companies should remain in constant communication with their customers via a network of phone, email, chat, SMS and social media, Ritchie said.
"This daily flow of information helps the organization to assist customers in the moment as well as to identify areas of improvement for every facet of the product or service," he said.
It's also a way to monitor the pulse of changing customer needs.
Capitalize on opportunities. Consumers looking for additional information about your new product or service are a built-in audience. By creating compelling and innovative informational content you have another chance to educate and sell them.
Ritchie recommends taking a tiered approach where content on a specific issue is available in short, medium and long forms. Doing so allows customers to quickly find easy-to-consume content that should resolve most issues and provide the option to learn more.
"It's also valuable to use multiple formats from written text to imagery to video in order to serve each customer's individual learning preference," he said.
Sherry Lansing was in for a surprise when she met her new boss, oil magnate Marvin Davis.
It was 1981 and Davis had just purchased 20th Century Fox ( FOXA). Lansing was the studio's president of production, the first woman to hold so lofty a post. When she stuck her head in to say hello, Davis replied:
"No, no honey, I don't want any coffee."
When she persisted and introduced herself, he said, no, "I want Jerry Lansing, the person who's running the studio."
She explained that she was the person running the studio, he said, "A girl?"
Yes, she replied, "a girl."
How did she deal with the slight? "By denial," Lansing said in a telephone interview with IBD. "It was a very different world, and I found that if I let all that noise bother me I couldn't do my job. So what I did was deny it, put my head down and work twice as hard. I learned to pick my battles.
"If I had gone to human resources, I would have been fired. Today, you can bring down a network.
"I'm not saying tolerating that behavior was better. Just that I learned to tolerate."
He was attracted to his subject, Galloway said, "because she was the single most important and influential woman of her time and an important role model."
"Her breakthrough in becoming president of Fox was one of the those watermark moments for women," he added. "I was very interested in how she had shifted in her career from model to actress to producer to studio executive, and finally out of the business into another career in philanthropy."
A Role-Model Mom
Lansing's career trajectory actually began while she was growing up in Chicago under the watchful eye of her role-model mom, Margot. Lansing was just 8 years old when her father died. She remembers two of the employees in the family's small real estate business telling Margot, "Don't worry. We'll run the business and take care of you."
Lansing remembers her mother's reply: "No you won't. You will teach me how to run the business and I will take care of my family."
"She without a doubt was the biggest influence in my life," Lansing says.
After graduating from college, Sherry moved to Los Angeles with her first husband and began a "career" as a high school teacher. She tolerated all the normal headaches of an educator — until, that is, a gang invaded the school, beat up one of her pupils, tied up teachers, and threw a Molotov cocktail into the principal's office.
But there was a Plan B. Lansing went out on auditions for modeling and acting jobs even while she taught. It wasn't easy, but she persevered through cattle calls and enjoyed a modicum of success:
A national shampoo commercial opposite a then-unknown Farrah Fawcett; TV guest spots ("Ironside," "Dan August"), films ("Loving," "Rio Lobo") and even 10 episodes as a background partyer on Hugh Hefner's jazz-infused series, "Playboy After Dark." While in her career Lansing had moments of fending off sexual aggression, Hefner treated her and the other actors with respect, and made sure they were all well fed.
"It was a great lesson to see a boss making sure that everyone was treated like a human being," Lansing told Galloway.
But while good Playboy victuals filled her stomach, there was still a void. "I was extraordinarily uncomfortable being an actress," she said in the phone interview. "First of all, I had no talent. Worse than having no talent — because you could always learn to act — was the pain of pretending to be someone other than yourself. I found it very difficult."
So she did a self-analysis. She had a good sense of story. An English major who always loved to read, she'd made suggestions on script changes when a problem arose on the set of "Loving."
"I guess the suggestion was a good one," she said, because they used it. Her producer on that film, Ray Wagner, saw her uncanny script judgment on the set. He offered her a job with his company as a part-time script reader, and Sherry jumped at it.
"I will be forever grateful to Ray," she said. "I had a tiny office where I could read scripts. I felt I was home. I loved reading scripts. I love writing the synopsis. I loved giving my opinion. Those were the happiest days of my life."
As important, it provided an alternate view of screenplays. Previously, all she'd been exposed to were shooting scripts, the supposedly finished product. Here she saw them in raw form and learned important lessons on how a screenplay was developed, from manuscript to screen.
She was so good that within six months Wagner hired her full time; 18 months she later was hired away by Leonard Stern Associates, a major TV producer; and in 1975 was named executive story editor at MGM.
Lansing immediately made changes in the way the system operates. Unlike her predecessors, she asked her subordinates for their opinions. Lansing concedes that "it's not a technique to use when you feel uncomfortable as an executive."
"This is who I am," she explained. "I like to hear what other people have to say. Sometimes it colors my opinion. Sometimes it makes me feel stronger about what I'd thought. I love input.
"I've gone through systems with many bosses who rule by fear, who pit people against each other. I can't exist in that kind of environment. I can only exist in an environment where there are no stupid ideas, and where everyone is comfortable and can say what they want."
When her boss was hired at Columbia, he asked her to come with him and named her, in November 1977, his vice president of production. In this high-level post she oversaw such major films as "The China Syndrome" and "Kramer vs. Kramer."
Such was her success that she fielded numerous offers from competitors, turning almost all of them down. In January 1980, she succumbed to an offer from Fox. Here she OK'd (greenlit in Hollywood parlance) "Quest for Fire," "Cannonball Run," "Zorro: The Gay Blade," the Al Pacino vehicle "Author! Author!" and "The Verdict" — all the while dealing with temperamental, now-I'm-in-the-movie-now-I'm-not talent.
It was a difficult, politics-filled job, and Lansing decided that she wanted to go back to basics. So she partnered with producer Stanley Jaffe and opened an office (or, again in Hollywood-speak, set up a shingle) at Paramount.
Her new job as producer required her to be on-set virtually full time. Not only was she happy to be far from office politics, she was equally pleased because she was learning again: about camera angles and lenses and how scenes are set up.
Sadly, her joy was mitigated by early flops. At one point, believing he was helping, her friend Michael Ovitz, then a powerful agent, offered to set the pair up with a commercial Eddie Murphy comedy.
To Change The World
But that wasn't the kind of movie Lansing wanted to make. She wanted to make films that would change the world, that led to discussions. "You have to be true to yourself," she said. "If we failed at a movie we didn't believe in, that would be awful. And we believed we had the thing you need in any career: resiliency."
Resiliency won. Hit after hit followed: "Fatal Attraction," "The Accused," "Black Rain" and "School Ties."
In March 1991, Jaffe left to become president of Paramount Communications, and in November of 1992 he hired his former partner as chair and CEO of Paramount Pictures. A wise choice, as it turned out. One of her first films: "Forrest Gump."
She also had enough faith in her tastes that she got Paramount a half interest in "Titanic" while other studios were running away because of the film's escalating cost overruns. "Titanic" became the second-highest grossing film of all time, earning almost $2.2 billion, and "Gump" was no slouch either, finishing with roughly $680 million in ticket sales.
Lansing kept her head on straight by weekly lunches with girlfriends and tried to see new releases at a local theater rather than at glamorous premieres.
But the business changed — and not for the better in her view. When she'd first started, it was the film that mattered. Now it was the marketing. Studios were looking for franchises and tent-pole movies, not adult fare. Lost in the shuffle were the kinds of movies she wanted to make.
She resigned in 2004 and decided to devote her energies to charities, particularly in finding a cure for cancer, from which her mother had died when she was just 63. In 2005, she started the Sherry Lansing Foundation to help find a cure. In addition, she was named a regent of the University of California, and sits on the board of a number of charities ranging from the American Red Cross to the Carter Center.
Her charitable activities have earned her numerous awards, most notably the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, presented to her by Tom Cruise at the 2007 Academy Awards.
First woman to head a Hollywood studio.
Overcame: resistance from industry unused to women bosses.
Lesson: If you build trust, you can win people over.
"As an executive, you have to do things that are financially responsible. But if the filmmakers see you as a suit, that you only care about money, they're not going to trust you. I made it a point to let the producers, the directors, the actors know that I was on their side and that all I wanted to do was make good movies."
I relish risk. Risk is extra life. Jeremy Irons, actor
People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made. Joan Rivers,comedian
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. George Bernard Shaw,playwright
After all, why sacrifice something you have if you can't imagine the even greater gain that this will provide? Max Tegmark, physicist
The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on. Walter Lippmann,journalist
Parents of a gifted young athlete face a tough decision.
Do they go all in and spend what it takes to give their kid a fighting chance of sports success? Or do they earmark their limited funds for other priorities such as their retirement and their child's education?
XSome parents invest in their child like a stock, banking on a budding sports star to grow into a highly paid athlete. But cashing in is a longshot.
For financial advisors, the challenge is to accommodate clients' wishes to support their child's dream. At the same time, however, advisors might need to rein in parents' runaway spending on sports-related expenses (for travel, equipment, private coaches, etc.).
"The question is what can you afford," said Mike Trombley, an advisor in Wilbraham, Mass. "Every advisor needs to look at the percentages of (a client's kid) playing professionally or even getting a full college scholarship based on athletic ability. It can be a terrible investment."
A former Major League Baseball player who spent 11 years with the Minnesota Twins, Trombley treads with care when advising parents of talented athletes. He starts with a budgeting exercise, calculating what clients must save for retirement and other vital needs.
Then he might say, "With what's left, here's what you can spend on your kid's sports expenses."
"You've got to be a little careful about giving an opinion like 'Oh, that'll never happen,' " he said. "You don't want to squash a kid's dream, even if it's often the parents who want it. But you also want to be realistic."
Advisors need to separate rational planning from some parents' irrational attitudes that can undermine their best intentions. They may express love for their child by overspending on sports accessories or devoting countless weekends to drive their kid hundreds of miles to and from tournaments.
When advising clients with talented offspring, Trombley looks for trouble signs. Examples include parents who get caught up trying to spend as much as their peers — or who lose sight of what's most important in life.
"Some parents think they need to keep up with the Joneses and spend more on their kids' sports than what other parents are spending," he said. "Or I see parents thinking, 'The higher my kid goes in sports, the more successful I am as a parent.' "
Such destructive beliefs can cause parents to berate coaches and put undue pressure on their kid to outperform. Parents with tunnel vision may wind up thinking, "I don't care if the team wins as long as my kid does well," Trombley said.
By engaging in comprehensive financial planning with clients and helping them set long-range goals, advisors can put a family's sports-related costs in perspective. It's easier to pay for elite sports camps if parents know it's factored into the overall plan.
"It helps to constantly remind them of previous financial goals they've agreed to," said Charles Princiotto, a certified financial planner in New York City. "We have to explain, 'This may affect your financial plan and it makes sense to set some spending limits on this.' Hopefully, they take it well."
Pros And Cons
Advisors also caution parents about setting a costly precedent. If they spend freely for their oldest child to pursue sports, younger siblings may expect the same.
"You have to look at the big picture and consider the future," Princiotto said. "If you're providing all this attention and training for the first kid, you may have to do this for the second and third kid."
If parents sacrifice to fund a child's athletic aspirations, it can place a psychological burden on the youngster. As the costs soar, so can expectations for a payoff.
"Parents' behavior changes as they spend more on their kids," said C. Ryan Dunn, an assistant professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at Weber State University's Moyes College of Education in Ogden, Utah. "We find that parents spend as much as 10%-plus of their gross annual income on sports, and as they spend more on their kids, the kids sense parental pressure to excel."
Dunn urges advisors walk clients through the pros and cons of spending significant amounts on a child's sports. He suggests kicking off the conversation by saying, "There are ways this can work to your benefit or ways it might not."
On the pro side, examples include investing in a priceless experience for the kid, strengthening family bonds and building the youth's character. Negatives include the extremely low probability of gaining a full college scholarship (much less joining the professional ranks), the possibility of a life-altering injury and the pressure that can rupture familial relationships.
It's lonely at the top. And the more power you wield, the less honest feedback you tend to get from those around you.
Some organizations provide structured programs, such as 360-degree feedback, to assure that leaders collect input on their behavior and performance. But it's even better to gather informal feedback from trusted colleagues.
To extract valuable input from your peers:
Seek specifics. Many leaders refrain from asking peers for blunt feedback. Why? They don't want to appear vulnerable, they may compete with their colleagues rather than view them as supportive allies, or they may not welcome criticism.
"But your peers are often in the best position to help you improve," said Karin Hurt, chief executive of Let's Grow Leaders, a Baltimore-based consultancy.
She suggests asking a peer, "My intent is to make a greater contribution to the team. Would you tell me one thing I can do to be more effective on this team?" That's better than a vague inquiry such as, "Do you have any feedback for me?"
Or you can ask, "I'm seeking to improve my communication skills. What's one thing I can do to communicate better?"
"The first sentence grounds it in positive intent," said Hurt, co-author of "Winning Well." That ups the odds you'll get more substantive input.
Ask now, not later. You're more apt to get meaningful input if you ask for it in a timely manner. Seek feedback as soon as possible after the event in question.
"If you wait too long and say, 'Remember last week at that meeting? …' it's not going to be as fresh in their mind," Hurt said.
Withhold judgment. You need not render an instant verdict on the validity of the feedback. Instead, confirm your understanding — and then say something neutral and express your gratitude.
"If you disagree with it, just say 'that's interesting' and 'thank you,' " she said.
Watch your mood. If you fish for feedback when you're feeling anxious or angry, you invite trouble. It's smarter to solicit input when you're ready to listen with an open mind.
"You want to ask for it when you're calm and in a position to hear it objectively," Hurt said.
Model what you want. Make a habit of offering constructive feedback to your peers. If you're generous with input, especially positive observations, you set an example for them to emulate.
"Otherwise, they may think why should they do it for you if you don't do it for them," Hurt said.
Frame your question positively. Beware of asking, "What am I doing wrong?" or "I'm unhappy with my performance. Can you help me get back on track?"
Lacing your request with negativity can impair the quality of feedback you receive, warns Bill Hoberecht, vice president of operations at OnPoint Medical Group in Denver. Asking for ways that you can be more effective works better because it encourages peers to offer helpful input.
Follow through. Once you hear sensible feedback, act on it.
As a manager at a telecom firm in the 1990s, Hoberecht recalls a colleague telling him, "Bill, here's what I've observed about your performance." But Hoberecht didn't listen.
"I was arrogant and figured I knew what I was doing," Hoberecht admitted. "I did not recognize the value of what he said, so I ignored it. Months later, my boss nearly disciplined me for that area of my performance."
In retrospect, Hoberecht wishes he had treated his peer's input more seriously instead of disregarding it. But he says the incident served as "a wake-up call" to follow through when colleagues offer constructive feedback.
For Sgt. Maj. Daniel Daly, the Marine Corps was essentially his life.
There is little record of his personal one. Daly never married. Nearly everything that's known about him relates to his three decades in the Marines.
And what a life it was.
Daly (1873-1937) is one of only 19 members of the U.S. military, and only two Marines, to have received the Medal of Honor twice, the nation's highest military decoration. He was also a recipient of the Navy Cross, the nation's second-highest military honor.
Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, Daly's friend and coincidentally the other Marine who received two Medals of Honor, is said to have described Daly as "the fightingest Marine I ever knew" and "it was an object lesson to have served with him."
Maj. Gen. John Lejeune, commandant of the Marine Corps in the 1920s and who himself was called the "greatest of all leathernecks," judged Daly to be "the outstanding Marine of all time."
Daly's shout of "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?" has been immortalized in accounts of America's participation in World War I, though Daly himself is far less well known. (And Daly insisted that what he actually said was "Come on, fellas, do you want to live forever?")
In addition to Daly's Medals of Honor and Navy Cross, he also received the Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star. The USS Daly, a Fletcher-class destroyer, was named in his honor in 1942. In 2005, Daly was furthered honored on a U.S. postage stamp.
"Daly epitomized all that is finest in the humble servant-leader," Patrick Mooney, a historian with the National Museum of the Marine Corps, told IBD
"Although a `natural' for publicity, (Daly) disdained it and disliked all the fuss made over him," it goes on to say, adding that Daly considered medals "a lot of foolishness."
"For myself, I don't care for all this publicity," he's quoted as saying. "All I ask is to be left alone."
Daly reportedly didn't drink and was a strict disciplinarian. He was also "fair-minded and very popular among both officers and enlisted men," the USMC site says. "He was noted not only for his … daring, but also for his constant attention to the needs of his men. Offered a commission on several occasions, he is said to have declined on the grounds that he would rather be `an outstanding sergeant than just another officer.' "
A Born Fighter
Daly was described by the Brooklyn Eagle in a February 1919 article as a "quiet-mannered, modest and unobtrusive" man.
Born in Glen Cove, N.Y., Daly "survived a rough and tumble childhood on the streets of New York City," according to the website TogetherWeServed.
He was a newsboy and eventually a talented amateur boxer.
Perhaps inspired by America's victory in the Spanish-American War just months earlier, Daly enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 1899, and was assigned to the Asiatic Fleet aboard the USS Newark.
Daly wouldn't have to wait long to see his first combat. In 1900, Pvt. Daly was deployed during the Boxer Rebellion in China. In May of that year Daly was part of a small contingent of Marines whose mission was to protect American diplomatic personnel and installations and other foreign legations in Beijing (then known as Peking).
By mid-August, Daly and his comrades had been driven back and forced to make a last stand of their defensive positions around the old city wall.
"Along with a certain Captain N.H. Hall, Daly undertook to defend a solid position on top of the wall between the Ch'ien Men and Hata Men gates, armed only with a rifle and a bayonet," according to TogetherWeServed. On Aug. 14, Hall left the position to gather reinforcements, which put Daly alone on what was known as the Tartar Wall. That night, under constant sniper fire, Daly single-handedly held off several enemy charges, reportedly inflicting some 200 casualties, until Hall returned with the reinforcements in the morning. For that Daly received his first Medal of Honor.
Daly's career saw him assigned to numerous ships and tours at sea. In addition to the action in China, he saw combat in several other countries and conflicts, including leading a platoon of Marines ashore during the invasion of Veracruz, Mexico, in 1914. He was also stationed at eight posts in the U.S.
He gained recognition for more than his actions in combat, though. While serving on USS Springfield in 1911, Daly is credited with saving the ship when he spotted a gasoline fire near its primary powder magazine and extinguished it.
In 1915, Daly was deployed in Haiti in support of that government's battle against insurgent guerrilla fighters known as Cacos.
During the Battle of Fort Dipitie on the night of Oct. 24, 1915, now Gunnery Sgt. Daly was part of a mounted force of 38 men from the 15th Company of Marines. They were ambushed from three sides, by a force of 400 Cacos, while crossing a river in a deep ravine.
The Marines fought their way to high ground and, while they didn't lose any men, 12 horses were lost along with a mule carrying their only machine gun. Although they were under a continuous barrage of fire, Daly volunteered to return to the ravine to get the machine gun that was still strapped to the dead mule.
"Reaching the riverbank, Daly slipped into the water and repeatedly dove to find the patrol's machine gun," Zabecki wrote. "Working in the dark and under Cacos fire, Daly finally located the dead mule, detached the machine gun and ammunition, and brought the load ashore in several trips." He then picked up the extremely heavy load and "returned through the jungle past more Cacos to the Marine position."
The next morning those Marines, in three squads, attacked the enemy from three different directions. They surprised the Cacos, inflicting 75 casualties and dispersing the rest. Daly was awarded his second Medal of Honor for this action, with the citation crediting him with "extraordinary heroism" and "exceptional gallantry against heavy odds throughout this action."
Historian Mooney lauds Daly's "concern for his junior Marines, his calmness in the face of battle, a spirit of self-sacrifice," and for "living a life of example."
Annette Amerman, branch head and historian for the Marine Corps History Division, told IBD that Daly's men "respected his abilities, they respected his courage, they respected that he wasn't going to let them down. It's simple, if you know your leader is going to be right there with you in the fight, and knows how to bring you through it, you'll follow."
His Legendary Charge
With two Medals of Honor to his credit, Daly wasn't done yet. After the U.S. entry into World War I in April 1917, the 44-year-old Daly was deployed in France.
On June 5, 1918, Daly risked his life to extinguish a fire in an ammunition dump at Lucy-le-Bocage, nicknamed "Lucy Birdcage" by the American Expeditionary Forces.
On June 10, 1918, following an unsuccessful attack against enemy positions in nearby Belleau Wood four days earlier, Daly, the acting 1st sergeant of 73rd Company, 6th Marines, was overseeing the employment of his heavy-machine-gun company. It was to be in support of another attack by the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, in the Battle of Belleau Wood, considered one of the key engagements of the war, and the first significant U.S. victory in that conflict.
The battalion became pinned down due to the withering fire of massed German machine guns on the outskirts of Lucy-le-Bocage. Daly and his men were badly outnumbered and outgunned.
Then, Daly acted. "Sensing the critical moment was rapidly approaching, Daly raised his rifle over his head and said `Come on, fellas, you want to live forever?' " Mooney said. "With that Daly charged off the hill where his guns were emplaced, followed by his company of 200 men. Like a magnet through iron filings, Marines in the wheat field joined him as he charged."
Then upon entering the wood, "Daly pulled his Colt automatic pistol and leapt into an enemy machine-gun emplacement unassisted and captured it by use of hand grenades and his automatic pistol," Mooney said.
Later that day, during a German counterattack on the town of Bouresches, Daly was brought in wounded under fire. He was also wounded the following October.
For his June exploits, Daly was recommended to receive another Medal of Honor, but that was rejected by AEF headquarters, where it was believed no one should receive three Medals of Honor, Mooney said.
Instead, Daly was given the Navy Cross. Its accompanying citation could also have described Daly's entire military career:
"For repeated deeds of heroism and great service."
Received the Medal of Honor twice and the Navy Cross once. Gave the famed battle cry of "Come on fellas, do you want to live forever."
Overcame: Being outnumbered and outgunned often.
Lesson: Tenacity develops courage under fire.
"If you're going through hell, keep going. Daly did." — Annette Amerman, branch head and historian for the Marine Corps History Division
Top advisors excel at listening. They crave information and love to learn about clients' lives.
XBut sometimes they learn too much.
It's great when clients open up about their money-related fears and concerns. And when they share their career goals, family dynamics and health scares, it can help advisors gain a better understanding of their overall situation.
Yet when clients get too personal, it makes some advisors antsy. Opening up about their religious or political views — or admitting marital infidelities or other indiscretions — can put advisors in a bind.
IBD'S TAKE:Not all financial advisors are experienced stock pickers or feel they need to be, but those who are can be of added service to well-heeled clients who are active in the stock market. See how you can strengthen your investing skills at investors.com.
"They may not have a psychiatrist, so we may be the next best thing," said Ryan Marshall, a certified financial planner in Wyckoff, N.J. "It can get uncomfortable as you think, 'I don't know how to handle going down this road.'"
Advisors apply different strategies for clients who disclose boatloads of irrelevant, private information. Some planners take it all in, listening attentively and staying silent.
Others pounce on the first opportunity to get back to business. While remaining polite and respectful, they will gently urge the client to stick to more pressing issues rather than veer off course.
For many advisors, the key is whether a client's over-disclosure has any bearing on their finances. When someone rants about politics or proselytizes about religion, that's far afield. But mention of, say, a possible divorce can impact one's long-term financial plan.
Compliance And Confidentiality
Rumblings of marital friction pose a particularly thorny challenge for advisors. Hearing intimate details about a couple's travails may lead advisors to want to cover their ears. But the gist of the conversation has relevance as they weigh the best financial moves to make in the client's best interest.
"It's a delicate balance," said Matt Cosgriff, a Minneapolis-based certified financial planner. "It's especially tricky if you have a couple signed up as the client and, in a pending divorce, one of them does not want the other to get access to an account."
In such situations, advisors must navigate among a thicket of compliance requirements and client confidentiality rules. Seeking guidance from a compliance expert or attorney can help.
For Cosgriff, careful preparation reduces the likelihood of clients engaging in unrelated, overly personal disclosure. He likes to distribute an agenda beforehand that outlines topics for discussion.
"Setting clear expectations at the beginning of the meeting and getting the client's buy-in" creates a more productive, structured session, he says. Individuals are less apt to raise inappropriate topics if they've acknowledged the importance of covering higher-priority items and extracting the most value from the advisor's time.
Advisors also try to find a tactful way to exert conversational control, without appearing insensitive or domineering. They know that interrupting clients who stray off-topic can be perceived as rude.
Stick To The Agenda
Cosgriff tries to dignify his clients' comments, even if they occasionally fall outside the scope of the agenda. Rather than cut them off, he might say, "Let's come back to that issue, maybe over lunch."
"Listening is our most important job," he said. "But it also comes back to an advisor's ability to manage a meeting and stay on task."
While few clients might take him up on his lunch offer, it signals that he's receptive to listening to them — in another setting.
"It's a way to recognize the validity of their viewpoint, particularly if it's personal and not part of the agenda," he said.
An agenda also serves as a silent reminder to stay on track. Cosgriff likes to kick off a meeting by asking, "What do you want to accomplish today?" He then incorporates the client's answer into the list of items to discuss.
"That way, if they veer off, we can bring them back" by referring to what they said they sought to achieve in the meeting, he says.
Like Cosgriff, Marshall drafts an agenda for client meetings and uses it to direct the dialogue. He highlights the printed agenda if they venture off track for too long.
Marshall recalls a divorcee who expressed anger about her former husband. Her feelings remained raw and she needed to vent.
When Marshall discovered that her ex-husband was still listed as a beneficiary on one of her retirement accounts, she urged him to change it right away. And that led to a mini-tirade as she reflected on her years of marriage.
"She started in with 'he did this' and 'he did that' and it got into too much information for me," Marshall said. "I assured her I'd get the change in beneficiary taken care of for her and added, 'Let's go to the next item on the agenda.'"
We all fail. But how do you overcome that to get back on track — and even rise above your previous level?
Here are some tips:
Take the long view. Don't overly fret when you hit an obstacle in your professional path.
"When you suffer a setback, it's a speed bump," Bill Treasurer, founder and "chief encouragement officer" at Asheville, N.C.-based courage-building company Giant Leap Consulting, told IBD. "Your career is a journey and you have to take a longer-term perspective."
Realize you're not alone. Recognize that failure happens to everyone. When asked what to say to someone who has faltered, Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle told Treasurer, "Good — and welcome to the club. Who are you not to have any setbacks?" It's how you respond that's key.
Make it a positive. Treat failure as a necessary step in ultimately achieving success. It's all about how you adapt.
"The bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn," said Eileen McDargh, "chief energy officer" at Dana Point, Calif.-based management consulting organization The Resiliency Group. "All failure, if positioned right, can be the next step to success."
Raise your expectations. Resiliency isn't just bouncing back from a failure, McDargh says. It's about growing through that misstep. The city of San Antonio was told in the 1990s that it would have to cut back on the amount of water it drew from an aquifer. Instead of trying something else to get back to its prior level, it decided to make itself the most water-efficient city around.
"You don't want to just go back to your previous state," McDargh said. "Grow through failure and you'll be wiser, happier or more profitable on the other side. Look at this as a growth step."
Let it out. Right after you suffer a failure — whether it's losing a job, getting passed over for a promotion or losing a vital client — start by sulking, Treasurer says. Let yourself feel terrible. It's natural.
"Purge all that negative emotionality so you can create a clean slate," Treasurer said. "If you ignore it, it's like pushing a beach ball underwater. It's going to come popping out somewhere else."
Lay out a plan. Once you've gotten the self-pity out of your system — "Make sure you're no longer emotionally inebriated," Treasurer said — it's time to figure out what's next. Talk to a coach or mentor. Write down what your contribution was to the situation. You can learn from it so you don't repeat the scenario.
"There's a saying, 'If you don't learn the lesson, you have to repeat the class,' " Treasurer said. "Capitalize on the lesson so it doesn't happen again."
Take responsibility. It's vital that leaders admit their own mistakes. That builds trust and makes others willing to face up to their failures. Then people can overcome those problems.
"When you as a leader are able to take responsibility when you screw up, imagine what that says to the people around you," McDargh said.
Practice. McDargh works with people to learn that growing through failure is a life skill, not just something you think about when trouble arises. She works with people ahead of time so they're ready to handle failure when it pops up. She calls it "pre-silience."
"It's pre-emptive resilience," she said. "It's like getting a booster shot or a flu shot."
Celebrate failure. Sara Blakely, founder of apparel maker Spanx, has told Treasurer when someone makes a mistake, especially if it leads to useful information, she gives them a high-five.
"Think about the last best mistake you made," Treasurer said. "Maybe an acquisition or a product failed. It takes two peaks to make a valley, but that valley is important."
Advisors are experts at money matters. So you'd think they'd have no trouble setting their fees — and communicating what they charge.
XYet some advisors struggle to educate clients about fees. Despite their best efforts, they may confuse clients with an assortment of charges.
Misunderstandings can arise if clients do not understand an advisor's fee structure. In rare cases, clients might terminate a relationship over what they deem to be exorbitant costs — or a perceived lack of value.
"The longer you've been in the business, the easier it gets to discuss fees," said Kyle Mast, a certified financial planner in Wilsonville, Ore. "Early on, I wasn't in the industry long enough to communicate all the value one gets from an advisor."
IBD'S TAKE:Not all financial advisors are experienced stock pickers or feel they need to be, but those who are can be of added service to well-heeled clients who are active in the stock market. See how you can strengthen your investing skills at investors.com.
Mast, 32, charged a percentage of assets under management in his first year running his own firm. When clients questioned his fee, he says he "found it hard to articulate the value I was providing."
Ultimately, Mast decided to overhaul his pricing. He started charging a monthly retainer. In addition, clients can choose whether to pay him a percentage of their assets for investment management — or handle their investment accounts on their own.
A Clear Price Tag
Mast posts his fees on his firm's website, emphasizing "fee-only transparency." He says the new approach has proved successful and clients appreciate the clear breakdown of charges.
In 2016, he raised his standard monthly retainer from $100 to $125 — and added a lower-cost second level to attract what he calls "the underserved middle class" who might otherwise forgo a financial planner's expertise. They pay a monthly rate of $40.
"It's good to have different fee levels," he said. "In my free introductory meeting, I suggest which level works for them based on my perception of the complexity of their situation."
Like Mast, Charles Malsbury provides a detailed rundown of his retainer fees on his website. A certified financial planner in Daly City, Calif., Malsbury used to work at a firm that charged a traditional 1% of assets under management.
"Even longtime clients didn't know how much they were paying," Malsbury recalled. "Every so often, they'd have to sign a (renewal) contract with us indicating the percentage they paid, and they'd start asking questions."
When Malsbury launched his own firm in 2016, he knew that robo-advisory firms promoted their low fees. So he says he calculated his costs and "backed into what I needed to make" to compete with virtual business models.
By clearly listing what's included in his retainer arrangement, Malsbury finds that clients gain peace of mind. They know they can pose questions on a range of financial issues, such as whether to buy or lease a car, without triggering an additional charge.
"I feel the trust level is higher because they see I'm the type of person who's not trying to hide my fees," he said. "Before a prospect contacts me, they know exactly what I'll charge. The feedback I get is they appreciate my honesty in having it all right there" on the website.
Advisors who serve a narrow niche of clients can estimate with relative ease how much time they'll need to devote to provide good service. But the process gets trickier if they wish to attract a broad swath of clients with wide-ranging needs.
Ryan McPherson, an Atlanta-based certified financial planner, launched his own firm earlier this year. Eager to hit the ground running, he welcomed all types of clients. But that meant finding a way to calibrate his fee to match their needs.
His solution? Complexity-based pricing in which he aligns his fee with the level of complexity his clients present.
When meeting prospects, he'll determine their marital status, number of dependents, employment (business owner or salaried?), and other variables before arriving at a fee. Individuals with simpler finances (single, all earnings generated from salary, no ex-spouses, etc.) pay less.
"When clients pay you directly, I find they're more engaged than if they pay a percentage of assets under management," he said. "By charging one fee for the entire arrangement, clients' attention tends to focus on the more holistic set of services I provide."
Scott Smith, a certified financial planner in Rochester Hills, Mich., also sets fees that reflect the complexity of a client's account. Individuals with high student loan debt, stock options or collectibles (such as art or cars) might incur a higher charge.
"I use a fee calculator and show it to the client," Smith said. "I calculate it based on a combination of their adjusted gross income and their net worth, adding anything out of the ordinary" to arrive at the final price.
John Paul DeJoria was the most improbable kid to become a billionaire.
His father abandoned the family when he was 2 and they barely had enough to eat, living in poor neighborhoods near downtown Los Angeles. He and his older brother had to stay in a foster home during the week while their mother worked. They bought scrap wood to build flower boxes that they sold to waitresses for 50 cents. The struggle gave him the determination to succeed against all odds.
In a recent documentary, " Good Fortune: The John Paul DeJoria Story," he talked about the time he was caught passing notes to Michelle Gilliam in a high school business class. Tired of their goofing off, the teacher announced that the two "would never amount to anything."
Michelle Gilliam became one quarter of the music group The Mamas and the Papas. DeJoria owns John Paul Mitchell Systems, the hair care products giant, and Patron Spirits, which has 82% of the world market for ultrapremium tequila. Worth an estimated $5 billion, according to Bloomberg, DeJoria spends more than half his time helping and elevating those in need.
"The principal message of the movie is that the rags-to-riches stories still work, no matter what the challenges are, and they work better if you can help other people along the way," DeJoria told IBD. "I hope entire families will watch this on iTunes or Amazon because people need to believe in themselves and many don't anymore. I'm giving this to every homeless center and high school I can."
DeJoria, 73, recounted in "Getting There: A Book of Mentors" by Gillian Zoe Segal, that his family was once down to 25 cents, but mom gave her boys a dime to put in the Salvation Army's holiday pot, exhorting them to remember that there will always be someone less fortunate they can help.
DeJoria sold Christmas cards door-to-door and got a paper route. When he graduated from L.A.'s John Marshall High School he didn't have good enough grades to get a college scholarship, he says, so he joined the Navy for two years.
A Lot Of Different Jobs
Returning, he married and had a son, but his wife left with their only good car. Within 24 hours, he found out that she hadn't been paying the rent and DeJoria and his son were evicted. Living out of his car, he began picking up soda bottles to recycle for two to five cents each. A friend in a biker gang invited him to live in one of his rooms, and while staying there DeJoria developed his lifelong love of motorcycles, which includes staging ride events to raise money for charities and to celebrate military veterans.
DeJoria says he'd tried a lot of different jobs, from janitor to tow truck driver, but the one that he learned the most from was selling encyclopedias door-to-door. Walking from morning to late night, he didn't get his first sale for a week and it was no wonder that most who tried this dropped out after a few days.
He stayed at it for 3-1/2 years.
"In sales, you need to be as enthusiastic when you talk with potential customer No. 100 as you were with the first one," DeJoria said.
At 26, he landed a job as circulation manager at Time ( TIME), but DeJoria says that when the boss told him he'd have to wait nine years to become a vice president because he didn't have a degree, he left. A friend tipped him to the potential in the booming beauty industry, and DeJoria got hired as a salesman at Redken. Within 18 months, he was national manager for two divisions, but he says that because he wouldn't socialize with executives and complained about their testing products on animals, he was fired.
DeJoria trained another firm's sales force, but again didn't fit in with the suits and was canned. As vice president of sales for a third firm, he says that he tripled its revenue in a year, but its CEO decided that he could have someone else get the same results for less pay.
John Paul Mitchell
In 1980, DeJoria met innovative hairdresser Paul Mitchell, who was having trouble launching a product line to salons, so DeJoria lined up an investor for $500,000, he recalls. The day the money was to arrive, DeJoria gave his wife all his cash and moved out, only to have the investor back out. DeJoria asked his mother for $350, without telling her that he was living out of his car again, and with Mitchell's $350, they ordered their first four John Paul Mitchell Systems products — with black-and-white bottles because they couldn't afford color.
DeJoria and his son were eating at restaurants with 99-cent specials until an actress whom he knew offered to let them stay in her home. Meanwhile, he was able to place the hair-care products by offering a money-back satisfaction guarantee.
DeJoria and Mitchell barely paid the bills for the next two years, but in the third their company's sales took off.
Women would normally go to their hairdressers once a week and not wash their hair in between visits to retain the style. DeJoria and Mitchell's company revolutionized hair care by offering salons innovative products that enabled customers to restyle their hair at home. They earned hairdressers' devotion by pledging that they would make their line exclusively available in salons, no matter how successful it became. John Paul Mitchell Systems runs over 100 schools to train hairdressers in the best ways to use the products.
"Only a hairdresser knows what product will work best to create your hairstyle," explained DeJoria.
Then in 1989, Mitchell died of cancer at 53 and some in the industry doubted that the company would last. But DeJoria took up the role of spokesman and it continued to grow, with it now bringing in $1 billion a year at the salon retail level from 103 countries.
Expanding The Empire, Sharing Success
DeJoria's personal life has also improved, with his marriage to Eloise Broady of Austin in 1993, and DeJoria says they are close to the six children from their combined marriages.
DeJoria's Patron Spirits sells more than 30 million bottles of ultrapremium tequila a year. He has branched out into other industries, such as Marquis Yachts in Pulaski, Wis., which builds luxury and sports vessels. Another is the ROK smartphone.
One of his smallest but most high-profile investments came about when he appeared as a guest investor on ABC's hit reality show "Shark Tank" in 2013. The other Sharks were skeptical about the profitability of Tree T-Pee, which makes water conservation products. DeJoria saw a chance to keep the price low enough to help tree farmers and still make money. Inventor Johnny Georges said in the documentary that he's learned more about business working with him than from everyone else put together.
"Even though J.P. is so busy and has so many businesses, it constantly amazes me that he always makes everyone in the room feel special and valued," said Jason Yates, VP of sales and marketing for John Paul Mitchell Systems.
"He's also a man of his word, so loyal to his staff, distributors, and customers that once he makes a commitment, he never wavers. People all around him trust him immensely, which strengthens his leadership even further."
But DeJoria says that his real passion is philanthropy. He currently supports over 100 nonprofits, including the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which tries to stop illegal whaling, and A Walk on Water, which has top surfers take special-needs children surfing to give them "the true stoke" of the sport "and a sense of accomplishment." Another favorite is SafePlace in Austin, Texas, where he and Eloise provide ongoing support for Eloise House, a clinic for survivors of sexual assault.
Co-founder of hairstyling products maker John Paul Mitchell Systems and owner of ultrapremium tequila leader Patron Spirits.
Overcame: Childhood poverty and later homelessness.
Lesson: Hard work, persistence, enthusiasm, and a smile can overcome any disadvantage.
"You don't want to be in the business of selling. You want to be in the business of reorders."
For starters, let's assume we're not talking about abusive bosses of the kind Harvey Weinstein's alleged to be. If you're ever in a situation even remotely as serious as the assaults he's been accused of, you need to report it immediately to your human resources department and/or get top-notch legal help.
That said, dealing with challenging bosses can help you learn how to cope with a range of difficult people and situations.
"It's the tough experiences in your career that make you stronger," said Karyn Schoenbart, author of " MOM B.A." and CEO of The NPD Group, a global provider of information and advisory services. "You learn more from bad experiences than good ones."
Consider the bad experiences you survive as "notches on your belt" on your way to a more "well-rounded career," Schoenbart added. "If everything were great all the time, you wouldn't learn coping skills."
Bonus: Having a variety of bosses and managers helps you decide what kind of manager you want to be eventually.
Micromanager vs. hands-off. Having a mentor supervisor guiding you every step of the way is a double-edge sword.
"Most people early on in their careers do very well with a nurturing boss who gives a lot of feedback and direction," Schoenbart said. "But that kind of boss can be stifling and not let you grow to your potential."
On the other hand, a completely absent manager can leave a new employee feeling rudderless. The silver lining in this situation is that you learn to make your own decisions and be responsible for the outcome.
Ideally, you work your way to a balanced relationship. One way to do this is to assess your situation and carefully plan a discussion with your boss.
"You want to be the best you can be in any situation," Schoenbart said. "Write down your talking points — and practice."
Come to an agreement about work expectations and roles, says Pamela Slim, a Mesa, Ariz.-based business coach. "Standards should be clearly defined to minimize micromanaging," she said. "Ask what is the best way to get feedback and set aside a time for it."
In the absence of direction, "create a plan on your own and check in to see if you're on the right track," Slim added. "Try to have a meeting. Email your request. Document your effort; this shows great initiative and gives you a foundation for having a discussion in the future."
If you still don't get feedback, talk to others on the management team for guidance or feedback. Figure out your boss's preferred method of communication. If they don't like email, maybe they want a quick text?
"Find out what you need to do when you really do need a reply," Slim said. "Work out an agreement that makes it clear that when your email subject line says 'URGENT' or 'decision needed by 5 p.m.,' a reply is truly needed."
The ladder-climber. When a boss takes credit for your success, find out what is motivating them to do it.
"Maybe they are more scared than overly ambitious," Slim said. "What has their journey been and what is their vision?"
Talk with people who have worked with that person before, Slim says. The boss's actions could be based on insecurity and fear. The way to handle this is to "do things that make them look good and still get credit."
To protect yourself, copy others on emails with your ideas, when appropriate, Slim adds.
Know when to fold. When you've done all you can to deal with your boss's bad behavior, it's time to make more drastic changes. Leaving the company really should be a last resort, however, especially if you enjoy other co-workers and believe in the company's products or services.
Consider first if you can quit your boss but not your company. Network with others at work. Volunteer to pitch in on projects with other managers. Go above and beyond to buddy up with other employees, Schoenbart says.
"You don't want to become disgruntled or a bad egg; that's a career-killer," she said. "Let people know you are dedicated, but it's just an issue with this particular manager."
Tucked away in a factory in Brooklyn, the brothers Ben and Nat Cooper helped transform Halloween into a magical event for generations of "trick-or-treaters" by making costumes fashioned after the hottest pop culture characters of their time.
Batman, Darth Vader, Superman, Spider-Man, Six Million Dollar Man, Mickey Mouse. Name the popular superhero, comic book, cartoon or TV character and the brothers' iconic company, Ben Cooper Inc., likely had the license to produce a costume based on that character.
Every year, the brothers brought Halloween to millions of kids, who wore their vinyl masks and plastic costumes adorned with characters' names and action scenes.
From their humble beginnings acquiring the license to produce costumes based on Mickey Mouse from what is now Walt Disney ( DIS) in 1937, the brothers saw the licensing of pop-culture icons as a powerful marketing tool and opportunity to gain an edge over their rivals.
With their licensing model, which was innovative at the time, the brothers helped create a new era in Halloween costuming and a booming business.
Thanks to the brothers' constant innovation in manufacturing and design, a knack for staying one step ahead of the next pop-culture trend, and a business model that catered to retailers and consumers with high-quality products that were affordable to the mass market, Ben Cooper Inc. became the market leader — and claimed that it controlled as much as 80% of the character-costume segment.
The family-owned-and-operated company dominated the Halloween costume market in terms of shelf space and total dollars for 55 years, Ira J. Cooper, Nat Cooper's son, told IBD.
Cooper, who worked in the family business in various capacities, says it's difficult to "pin down" the brothers' keys to dominating the market for so long.
"One reason is they were highly ethical," he said. "It was imbued in them to never be unfair to anybody. They didn't make deals that disadvantaged someone else, and they paid people more than minimum wage. Nat would always say, 'We don't swindle anybody.' ... They lived by that ethic."
The brothers shared a business philosophy that was key to their staying competitive, said Ira J. Cooper: "Give your customers what they want and then 2% better, whether it was a department store or five-and-dime. It was Ben and Nat's philosophy to give them what they wanted and to give them a little better quality. So when the consumer handles the product they can see the difference between you and the competition."
The brothers started their Halloween costume business in 1937 after reevaluating what they were doing previously, which was making theater costumes. "My dad would talk about the fact that one of the frustrations he had was they were making theater costumes one at a time," Cooper recalled. "Everything was piecework."
The cost of doing "garment-quality" piecework and theater-costume-quality designs in the very early days was one factor that led them to assess other business options and mass production, Ira J. Cooper said.
Several changes were occurring in the market that motivated them to move into the consumer costume market and licensing. Companies were making children's "dress-up" and Mickey Mouse was gaining in popularity as a choice for dress-up.
"So there was the idea that there's a costume market out there they could get involved in and Mickey Mouse became the vehicle," Cooper said. "They eventually got the license for Mickey Mouse and other emerging Disney characters, which became the seed that grew the business.
"The question was: Can you make something that was more accessible to more people? That's where they saw the potential."
The answer lay in the manufacturing process and creating more efficiencies. They saw efficiencies in the mechanization of sewing, which would serve them well in making larger volumes of ready-to-wear merchandise for department stores, which were expanding at the time.
"The genius of the Cooper brothers is they were able to mass-market the costumes based on their knowledge of working in vaudeville for so many years," said Jon Miller, who co-owns a new entity called Ben Cooper LLC with Ira J. Cooper. "With their experience in fabrication they built a model where they could secure a license cheaply and fabricate the costume at such a low price point — parents couldn't deny their kids the costume."
They mechanized the way they made masks by using vacuum forming vs. making masks from stiff cloth known as buckram, which was a handmade operation. This way, they were able to make 100 masks from vacuum forming vs. one buckram mask, Cooper says. And by decorating costumes using silk-screening, he adds, they were able to move a lot more merchandise than if everything was embroidered.
Cooper says that by speeding up the manufacturing process and making it more efficient, they were able to supply a bigger retail base.
"They were retail- and customer-driven," said Cooper. "If there were more costumes to ship in a shorter time, that drove the design and manufacturing process."
They were focused on serving the broadest market by appealing to consumers with affordable products that stood out. That's where licensing came in. At first, it was only Mickey Mouse that had "mass appeal," says Cooper. "But it seems they were on the trail of the other (Disney) characters right away," he added.
Cooper says that while he doesn't know the costume-production dates for the title character in "Snow White," a film which came along in January 1938, there was reason to produce the other characters very fast. A Donald Duck costume came out between the appearances of Mickey Mouse and Snow White. So the "franchise" was growing.
"Once they saw the power of Mickey Mouse and then they saw Snow White as another Disney character license, they knew that licensing was going to be a powerhouse," Cooper added.
"In my estimation the secret to their success was the licensing," said Miller. "Nat and Ben had a knack for identifying trends in pop culture before they became trends. The Disney characters licensing was genius. Once that hit with kids, it was off to the races with anything and everything."
In the years to follow, their licensed characters ranged from classic movie monsters like Frankenstein and the Wolf Man to superheroes such as Green Lantern and Flash, as well as cartoon characters like Huckleberry Hound, and even the Beatles.
"Ben and Nat were arbiters of pop culture," said Miller. "They kept their eyes on what was popping — anything to do with kids. They secured the Batman character license from DC Comics when the character was on its last legs in 1964. But somehow they were producing costumes at the time Adam West started to play Batman on TV (in 1966).
"So suddenly they were ahead of the pop-culture trends again. They did this over and over."
In early 1977 they scored another major coup by acquiring the license to produce character costumes based on a then-unknown, yet-to-be-released movie called "Star Wars."
Born on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Ben Cooper (1907-1984) and Nat Cooper (1912-1996) were first-generation Americans of a Jewish-immigrant family. Their background influenced them in that their parents gave them the freedom to do something different, says Cooper.
Ben was "naturally artistic" and Nat was an "intellectual," says Cooper. So they had a combination of skills as business partners.
They learned about entrepreneurship and leadership as they watched their father grow a business from one bakery to a well-known restaurant. "He had this way of giving customers what they wanted. He ran a restaurant for the common man," said Cooper.
The brothers each had a distinct leadership style, but they both had the same ethics, he says, though Nat was more "strategic."
"And dealing with people, he held cards more closely to his vest," said Cooper. "He was circumspect."
"Ben had an aura of joy around him," he added. "He was a beloved kind of a person. They worked well as a team because they left each other alone in their expertise and they came together to fulfill each other's needs. And they traded off each other's needs."
Along with their genius for licensing and manufacturing, the brothers were innovative in their approach to the business on other fronts, as well. Having "pioneered" the plastic costume, says Cooper, theirs was also the first Halloween costume company to outsource overseas — to Asia.
Outsourcing was "imperative to give the growing discount chains what they demand," he said.
"There was a constant desire to find a way to make manufacturing more efficient and make higher-quality items at close to the same price," said Cooper.
For example, if the competition had three colors in a costume, Ben Cooper's costume would have five. It also used a plastic glitter after coming up with a process to make it to stick to a costume.
But the company's reign was not without challenges.
"A large obstacle was rampant anti-Semitism in post-World War II in America," said Miller. "The Coopers overcame that by being professional and market leaders. They had good relations with Kresge's stores back in the day (a discount chain that existed from 1867 to 1966) and (getting) the 'Star Wars' license in 1977 was a huge turning point."
The company's dominance in the market ended in the 1990s upon a second bankruptcy. The company suffered from financial problems due to increasingly intense competition, a fire at a facility in Georgia, changing tastes for Halloween costumes and management issues under a second generation of leaders.
"The company still dominated the market even when operating under Chapter 11 (their first bankruptcy) and until a few years before the second bankruptcy," said Cooper.
It filed for the second bankruptcy in 1992 and a year or so later rival Rubie's Costume bought Ben Cooper Inc. and absorbed the licenses, but did not continue with the brand itself.
"Rubie's recognized adults and teens were willing to pay a higher price point for quality, but Ben Cooper Inc. was at a lower price point," Ira J. Cooper said.
But the iconic brand, whose vintage costumes are very collectible, is poised to live on in a different form in Ben Cooper LLC.
"With Ben Cooper LLC, Ira J. Cooper is taking his cue from his dad and uncle's famous Halloween line and taking it into a different area of fashion and design," said Miller.
Cooper says it was Miller's "vision" to bring it back, adding that Miller saw the potential because he is also a fan.
The collection is fashion based — be it "fashion is retro art" on T-shirts or retro art applied to ready-to-wear and accessories, says Cooper. The collection, which is being introduced on an ongoing basis, includes fashion, home decor and novelty items both by "us and by those we license whose lines and sense of style match our vision," said Cooper.
He says they do not plan to make Halloween costumes and masks, per se. But there might be "ready-to-wear" items that could be used in conjunction with "cosplay," which mixes costuming with play.
Ben And Nat Cooper's Keys
Their company dominated the Halloween costume market in terms of shelf space and total dollars for 55 years.
Overcame their competition and positioned themselves to gain the premier product-licensing deals.
Lesson: Exceed customers' expectations.
"You have to pay a fair price for what you buy from others, including labor, and charge a fair price for what you sell," said Nat Cooper, as quoted by Ira J. Cooper.
Clients often say they learn so much from their advisor. But sometimes, the reverse occurs.
XWhen advisors gain wisdom from their clients, it tends to stick. Many financial planners can cite lessons they've taken away from a client whose offhand comment left a lasting mark.
Learning from clients requires attentive listening. By letting them steer the conversation — from raising questions to expressing their emotions to making random observations — you come away with a heightened understanding of how they see things.
Their outlook can prove refreshing and even enlightening. Occasionally, their comments can shake an advisor's deeply held assumptions about money — and life in general.
IBD'S TAKE:Not all financial advisors are experienced stock pickers or feel they need to be, but those that are can be of added service to well-heeled clients who are active in the stock market. See how you can strengthen your investing skills at investors.com.
Powerful lessons emerge from volatile times. In late 2008, for example, Jeff Snodgrass sought to rebalance client portfolios as stocks plunged in value.
An advisor in Du Quoin, Ill., Snodgrass recalls the anxiety that many clients felt as their wealth decreased. But one client, a retiree in his 60s, saw a silver lining as Snodgrass diligently sold fixed income to buy equities on the cheap.
"This is so painful," he told Snodgrass. "But at least I now own more shares of stock funds than I did before all of this mess."
Snodgrass realized that even though the market was in free fall, his client took solace from owning more shares in equity mutual funds. Choosing to focus on a long-term positive — the increase in his share holdings — improved his attitude.
"He knew the market would come back," Snodgrass said. "And knowing we were buying more shares to increase his equity allocation gave him peace and the fortitude to wait for the market to bounce back."
Thanks to his levelheaded client, Snodgrass realized that once clients see that they are accumulating more shares at bargain prices, it takes some of the sting out of a steep market decline.
"He was thinking it through rather than just reacting emotionally," Snodgrass said.
In addition to learning lessons from clients about principles of investing, advisors sometimes gain insights on how to live a fuller life from the people they serve.
Jessica Iorio, a New York City-based advisor, counts many millennials as clients. She emphasizes the importance of achieving financial goals in a disciplined manner — and avoiding unnecessarily extravagant spending.
Rather than lecture people to spend less, Iorio cites a case study featuring one of her early clients, an up-and-coming actor then in his 20s. Over a two-month period, this actor lived in his car in the New York City area while racing to as many auditions as he could.
"He'd stop at a friend's house to shower and clean up," she recalled. "But he didn't want to impose on people, and he wanted to be able to get to every audition."
Even though he lacked sizable assets, he became Iorio's client during that time because he impressed her with his long-term focus on goal attainment. And she figured his assets would grow in the coming years, which is exactly what's happened as his career has taken off.
An Inspiring Comment
For Iorio, the lesson she learned from this client is the role frugality plays in opening career doors. Undergoing a short period of austerity helped him survive on limited funds so that he could pursue his dream of becoming an actor.
"He has helped me tell a story to a younger generation that gets them more comfortable living within their means," she said. "When he walked in, he didn't know he'd ever be able to invest. But now I can say, 'Because you make the right decision at 25, you can be better off at 35 or 45.'"
In rare cases, advisors gain life lessons from their clients that transcend money matters. That's what happened to Mark Wilson.
A certified financial planner in Irvine, Calif., Wilson fondly recalls an introductory meeting with a prospective client about 17 years ago. Wilson was moved as the prospect mentioned that his daughter bravely battled multiple sclerosis on a daily basis.
"My daughter was chosen because she's the only one in our family who could handle this with such strength," the father told Wilson.
Struck by the father's positive attitude, Wilson never forgot that comment. In fact, it inspired Wilson three years later when his 5-year-old son was diagnosed with diabetes.
"That father's positive attitude jumped immediately into my mind," Wilson said. "And it has been strangely comforting to me over the last 13 years. Life throws us all curveballs. I think of this father who refused to be woe-is-me or a victim in his own mind."
Keep your business fresh by taking advantage of — and even creating — opportunities to make every day an event.
For example, Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland says they target and tie seasonal and cultural opportunities into their marketing plan.
Tips to adapt to and adopt:
Create new experiences. This past summer the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame offered 60 days of live music and opened "The Power of Rock Experience," which takes fans inside the last 30 years of induction ceremonies as told by the late Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme. It also launched retrospectives on the 50-year anniversaries of Rolling Stone magazine and the Summer of Love.
Harris says his team works to keep the Rock Hall experience fresh by focusing on cultural relevancy. He's found that's a formula for attracting visitors and turning them into repeat ones.
Transform. While the Disney ( DIS) theme parks are unique, their approach to holidays might be worth imitating.
As Halloween approaches, the Disneyland Resort not only goes all-in with character-themed pumpkins throughout the Disneyland Park, and Halloween-themed merchandise in its window displays, but some of the attractions transform too.
The Haunted Mansion becomes Haunted Mansion Holiday. Space Mountain becomes Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. And California Adventure's Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout! becomes Guardians of the Galaxy — Monsters After Dark.
Dave Caranci, manager of creative development at Walt Disney Imagineering, shaped the seasonal makeover at Disney California Adventure this year, the first in which Halloween Time was extended to that part of the resort.
Caranci says that besides celebrating the holiday, it's incorporated a story into the experience. "As you walk into Cars Land, it's an immersive experience for Halloween, and then there are lots of surprises, so you've got to look around every corner."
The experience extends to the menu, where park chefs have created Halloween-theme treats, says Michele Himmelberg of Disneyland Resort public relations.
Leave lasting impressions. The Rock Hall has experienced its biggest transformation in its 21-year history and what they've learned from that, Harris says, is that people respond best when their visit feels like an event or a festival.
Among the ways they do that is through live bands on stages and memorable signage such as the 7-foot-tall letters in their plaza that spell "Long Live Rock."
The Rock Hall also provides exclusive film showings and music education classes for children as a way to engage guests and prompt return visits.
Reach consumers. Take your guests on a journey. "The best brand experiences are structured deliberately, like a novel or a play," says Christian Lachel, executive creative director at BRC Imagination Arts, an agency that creates guest experiences for brands and cultural attractions.
"Destinations remain relevant and attract repeat visitors when they take guests on an emotional journey," he says. "Compel people to think and feel, and they'll come back time after time."
Create theater. Become dynamic and alive.
Lachel says that at the Jameson Distillery Bow St. in Dublin, Ireland, guests can get the Whiskey Makers experience, a "master class" in the making of Jameson's spirits in which guests "engage in sensory nosing, tasting and blending activities that barrelmen have been doing for centuries."
Connect and bond. Doing so is an incredibly powerful driver of fan engagement and loyalty, Lachel said. "When creating a brand experience, it's important to orchestrate opportunities for guests to interact with the staff and each other — whether it's sharing a communal toast over a pint at the Guinness Storehouse or being overwhelmed with pride alongside other music fans at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame."
He says those moments "make brand experiences unforgettable and keep people coming back for more."
For some advisors, picking a name for their firm is a fun, creative exercise. For others, it's a stressful slog.
XThere's no single roadmap that advisors can follow to come up with the perfect name. Some hire marketing consultants to help them forge a brand identity. Others start with a logo and then devise a name that complements the image. In rare cases, advisors simply stumble upon a word or phrase that resonates with them.
Choosing a name works best when advisors begin with a clear goal in mind. Usually, they want to differentiate their business and convey lofty concepts from fulfillment to stability to wisdom.
The task is often a double-edged sword for advisors. If they take the easy path and use their own name ("Smith Wealth Management"), they may miss a chance to attract clients with an evocative or intriguing moniker. But if they select a name that's too confusing or obscure, they can distance themselves from the very people they're trying to win over.
IBD'S TAKE:Not all financial advisors are experienced stock pickers or feel they need to be, but those that are can be of added service to well-heeled clients who are active in the stock market. See how you can strengthen your investing skills at investors.com.
"I don't know if a name always accomplishes what an advisor thinks it does," said David Nash, a certified financial planner in San Antonio, Texas. A name that strikes one person as clever can leave others befuddled and unsure what to think.
Like many advisors, Nash enlisted a branding specialist to guide the process. After defining Nash's brand differentiation, they drafted a list of 10 possible names. Nash narrowed it down to five finalists.
From that point, they each chose their top three. When they compared notes, they found that they agreed on their favorite: Magister Wealth. Magister means teacher in Latin, and Nash wanted to emphasize his role in educating clients.
A Relaxing Image
Nash, who started his firm in 2014, sought a name that would connect with clients of all ages.
"Older clients want an advisor who's really current," he said. "For younger clients, they might also look for the coolness factor."
He acknowledges that some clients don't readily understand the origin of the firm's name, but they eventually catch on. And he likes that the name "has a permanence and can grow with me over the years."
Nash isn't the only advisor to admit that a name may not make sense to everyone — at least at first. But sometimes, the a-ha moment can prove so enticing that it's hard to resist picking an initially cryptic name.
Igor Tiguy notes that his firm's co-founder, Dave Clayman, chose Twelve Points as a tribute to the 12 points of the Boy Scout Law. Once people realize the meaning behind the name — and how it connotes trustworthiness — the payoff is worth it for the Concord, Mass.-based firm.
While some names offer an intellectual appeal, others are more visually alluring. Advisors may prefer to paint a picture of what they hope to achieve for their clients.
In 2013, Eric Roberge chose Beyond Your Hammock for his Boston-based firm's name. He liked the image of a hammock dangling between two trees as a symbol for how he'd assist clients in enjoying relaxation from their hard work.
"I also love the word 'beyond' because it makes me think outside societal norms," he said. "Within the madness of crowds is no place to plan your financial future."
In some cases, the search for a name can take on a life of its own. What begins as a simple brainstorming session can turn into a protracted process.
Randy Bruns and his two colleagues have spent 13 months exploring a new name for their firm in Downers Grove, Ill. They selected a logo — an image of a tree's underground root system — but have not yet settled on a name that goes with it.
A certified financial planner, Bruns seeks to avoid what he deems "overused" words such as "arbor", "compass" and "lighthouse." Unable to find the right name after soliciting advice from clients, industry contacts and other advisors, he wound up staging an online contest at SquadHelp.com.
Despite receiving 222 submissions from around the world during the one-week competition, Bruns remains unsure how to proceed. He awarded the prize — $150 — to a woman who suggested "Wealth Root," but Bruns does not intend to use it.
"We're dragging our feet because I'm a perfectionist," he said with a laugh. "I'd love it if we found a name. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy" the search.
Part of the problem, Bruns admits, involves the high bar he has set. Plus, he and his colleagues have considered many viable choices that are already taken.
Ulysses S. Grant's rank among American heroes rivaled Lincoln's while he lived, but after the Civil War general and 18th president died in 1885 his reputation declined.
Grant had experienced great adversity during his life, much of it spent as a failed businessman and an alcoholic who suffered from many illnesses — and after leaving public life that adversity continued until his death.
And even though Grant had led the Union to victory on the battlefield, he was criticized as needlessly sacrificing soldiers in bloody assaults. Then, after becoming president four years after the war's end, he was faulted for leading an administration rife with corruption.
But after long being regarded by many historians as one of America's worst presidents, some have recently restored Grant to greatness — not only for victory in the Civil War, but in preserving its result.
"However brilliant Robert E. Lee was as a tactician, Grant surpassed him in grand strategy, crafting the plan that defeated the Confederacy," Ron Chernow, author of the new biography " Grant," told IBD. "He was the single most important figure behind the Reconstruction process in the South and presided over the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave blacks the right to vote, and landmark civil rights legislation outlawing discrimination in public accommodation. The imperishable story of Grant's presidency was his campaign to crush the Ku Klux Klan, which tried to overturn the Civil War's outcome and restore the prior status quo."
Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, in 1822 to a tanner and his wife. As a boy, he developed remarkable skills in handling horses, which would serve him as a soldier.
He was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point despite a lack of enthusiasm for a military career and academics. He graduated as a brevet second lieutenant in 1843, ranked 21 out of 39, but he planned to resign his commission after four years, hoping to become a teacher. At his first assignment in St. Louis, he met Julia Dent and they married, but his family refused to attend the wedding because the Dents owned slaves.
In 1846, Grant fought in the Mexican-American War under major generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, who became his role models. In the course of the war, Grant demonstrated courage and innovative thinking and decided to remain with the Army. But as he was posted around the country, he needed to supplement his military salary and tried several ventures which failed. In 1860, he accepted a position at his father's leather goods store in Galena, Ill., and paid off his debts.
Confronting The Enemy
After the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860, Southern states began to secede from the U.S. and form the Confederate States of America. Grant raised a company of volunteers to fight for the Union and was soon promoted to brigadier general.
The Union's first major victory came in February 1862, when Grant's forces captured 13,000 Confederates at Fort Donelson, Tenn. But although he held off a rebel attack at Shiloh in April, the battle's high number of casualties aided his political enemies in having him relieved of field command. Lincoln, however, was impressed by Grant's willingness to confront the enemy and in July, Grant was back on the front lines to successfully defend Corinth, Miss.
The Confederate stronghold at Vicksburg, Miss., with seven miles of big guns along a 200-foot-high cliff overlooking a bend in the Mississippi River, kept Union vessels from using the waterway. Union General-in-Chief Henry Halleck told Grant that its capture "would be worth 40 Richmonds."
Grant prepared to march 40,000 men south to Vicksburg in November 1862, while Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman was to sail down the river with another 32,000. But everything went wrong, as raiders stole supplies and cut communications between the commanders, assaults on the fortification were repulsed, there was endless rain, and disease spread.
Grant was undaunted and came up with a daring scheme in April 1863. A group of fast Union vessels loaded up with troops was able to get past the rebel guns at night and then downstream, where it took the attackers to the eastern side, from which Vicksburg was more vulnerable. The Union force lived off the land, battled enemy armies, and put the rebel fortress under siege until July 4, the day after the Union victory at Gettysburg, when it surrendered, cutting the Confederacy in two.
"The campaign for Vicksburg was the most impressive military operation on American soil," wrote Grant biographer Ronald C. White in " American Ulysses." "In 17 days, Grant led his hard-marching army 130 miles and won five victories against surprised opponents. Grant put in place a psychology of behavior that the army that would be victorious would never dwell on past mistakes, never wallow in its wounds, never pause to refresh and refit. … The Confederate forces were as large, but he was determined to fight their divisions separately and never let them combine. His battle plan would be studied in 1986 in an Army Operations Field Manual, stating that the characteristics of a modern Air-Land Battle should be 'surprise, concentration, speed, flexibility, and audacity.' "
Lincoln promoted Grant to major general soon after, and Grant masterminded another key victory — taking the railway hub of Chattanooga, Tenn., in August. He was given charge of all Union forces and the rank of lieutenant general in March 1864, and began a relentless campaign two months later against the South's general-in-chief, Lee, and Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Lee's surrender to Grant in April 1865 effectively ended the war.
Facing Fierce Resentment
Grant entered his first term as a Republican president in 1869 facing not only fierce resentment in the Democratic South, but the need to implement Reconstruction policies to enforce African American rights and reform state governments. He generally sided with the Radical Republicans, who desired aggressive action, while Southern leaders resisted any change. Despite these obstacles, Alvin Felzenberg, author of " The Leaders We Deserved and a Few We Didn't — Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game," puts Grant in seventh place, tied with Truman, Kennedy and McKinley. Only Grant, Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson earn the top score for preserving and extending liberty.
"Grant had to cope with a complete collapse of evenhanded law enforcement in the erstwhile Confederate states," Chernow argues in "Grant."
"Grant actively worked to have the Fifteenth Amendment for universal male suffrage ratified during his first year in office, to enforce that and the Fourteenth, which made former slaves citizens, and worked with Congress to establish the Department of Justice," said Felzenberg. "When white vigilantes used terrorism and intimidation to keep likely Republican voters away from polls in the South, Grant sent federal troops to arrest the leaders and police elections. Despite brutal intimidation, federal officials won 600 convictions."
"By 1872 the monster had been slain," Chernow writes of the Klan's defeat, "although its spirit resurfaced as the nation retreated from Reconstruction's lofty aims."
Still, the Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. poll of presidential historians that ran in Life magazine in 1948 put Harding and Grant in last place, where Grant stayed until recently.
"So-called political reformers depicted Reconstruction as the means through which Northern bosses might perpetuate their power southward," explained Felzenberg, "while historians sympathetic to the Confederacy's view of the war as a noble cause for states' rights depicted the end of Reconstruction as a milestone in the restoration of white 'liberties.' "
Though not generally viewed as a skilled politician, Grant was re-elected for a second term in 1872 despite many Republicans having turned against black suffrage, thus becoming "the only president to serve two full consecutive terms between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson," writes Chernow.
His critics revived rumors that he had been drunk during much of his career (though most historians agree that drinking never affected his judgment). There was an economic panic in 1873, and the next year the Democratic Party took control of the House of Representatives and launched investigations into allegations of corruption in his administration, though Grant himself was considered above reproach.
"While scandals unquestionably sullied his presidency," Chernow says in the new biography, "they eclipsed a far more notable achievement — safeguarding the civil rights of African Americans."
In retirement, Grant entrusted his savings to someone who stole everything through fraud. Penniless, Grant wanted only to leave something for his wife, having been diagnosed with cancer of the throat and tongue and plagued with other health problems. Hating the bragging that was the hallmark of Civil War memoirs, he'd resisted writing his own until Mark Twain made a generous offer to publish them. Working night and day in constant pain, Grant wrote 336,000 words to fill two volumes, finishing the work just days before his death. " Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant" is considered not only the greatest of all presidential autobiographies, but a literary masterpiece. Over 300,000 copies sold, paying a royalty of $450,000 (equivalent to $11.4 million today).
"In the long run every great nation instinctively recognizes the men who peculiarly and pre-eminently represent its own type of greatness," said Theodore Roosevelt on a visit to Galena. "... As through the clearing air we look back with keener wisdom into the nation's past, mightiest among the mighty dead loom the three great figures of Washington, Lincoln, and Grant."
He won the Civil War as the North's supreme commander and as president enforced African-American civil rights.
Overcame: Personal failure in business to resume a military career at his country's greatest moment of crisis, and as president subdued the Ku Klux Klan.
Lesson: A big challenge requires relentless focus on the ultimate goal.
"If men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail."
Study after study shows that Americans waste countless hours in meetings. But we continue to strategize, dissect problems and give status updates — in overlong, aimless gatherings.
If you're going to host a meeting, how can you stay on track? It starts by knowing your goal — and then devising a roadmap to get there.
To lead a highly focused, goal-driven meeting:
Calculate the payback. Before convening a meeting, identify what's to gain. Weigh the investment of time and energy for everyone involved against the probable benefit or measurable output of assembling a group.
"Don't take people away from their jobs if the meeting is not likely to produce a return on investment (ROI)," said Eli Mina, a board-effectiveness consultant in Vancouver, Canada. "With many meetings, there's no sense of purpose and no ROI."
Tie macro to micro. When you set the proper context for a meeting, participants are better able to focus on what matters most. They understand the stakes and what you expect from them.
To establish context, convey the big picture. Examples include the competitive forces shaping your industry, your organization's long-term mission, or how social, economic or political trends might shape your business.
Then shift to the details of the meeting. Use phrases such as, "Given the larger changes affecting our industry, what we can accomplish here today is … ."
"It's important to begin with the macro," said Mina, author of " 101 Boardroom Problems and How to Solve Them." "It takes 30 seconds to summarize the big picture, to say, 'We're in year one of our five-year mission.' Then address the micro: What are we doing here today?"
Number your priorities. Let everyone know in advance what you want to achieve in the meeting. Publicize your priorities so that there's no ambiguity among attendees about what comes first and what outcomes matter most.
If ancillary issues arise, set aside such topics for another meeting or invite relevant parties to pursue those subjects on their own.
"You want to separate the green bananas from higher-priority, backbone issues in which the group is ready for discussion and decision-making," Mina said.
Leave time for debate. If you're a stickler for short meetings, you might reach your goal but miss valuable group input. Reserve sufficient time for all participants to recommend a course of action — or share their experience and expertise.
"If you just have a half-hour, don't overpack that half-hour," Mina said. "Allow available knowledge to flow from everyone so that you can make good decisions."
Move experts in and out. To advance toward the goal while maximizing everyone's presence, invite key people to arrive at a specified time for a specified purpose. That way, they can contribute their insights, learn from the group and then leave.
"Keep everyone engaged by having them be there only when they need to be there," said Dennis Collins, senior director of marketing at West's Unified Communications Services, a unit of West Corp. ( WSTC). "Let accounting or marketing come in and out at certain points as needed."
Take the group's pulse. To stay on track, periodically ask, "Are we addressing our top priorities?" or "Are we moving toward our goal?"
Collins cites an executive at his company who randomly asks attendees, "What's your takeaway so far?"
Peppering the group with such questions in the midst of the meeting keeps everyone on their toes, Collins says. It also serves as an alert system if you're veering off course.
Led by tech innovators like Betterment, SigFig and Wealthfront, the more than 200 current U.S. robo-advisors in existence collectively boast some $53 billion in assets under management, with global robo assets poised to surpass $2.2 trillion by 2020. With such explosive growth in this space, many traditional full-service financial advisors feel compelled to beat their drums louder, when meeting prospects and onboarding new clients.
XOften referred to as "digital advice", robo technology offers do-it-yourself investors a cheaper way to build, monitor and rebalance portfolios, using algorithmic programming to attain low-cost products through mobile and web-based platforms. And as more people grow accustomed to the instant gratification of ride-sharing apps like Lyft, and e-tailers like Amazon, they likewise crave the quick and easy investment advice robo technologies can provide.
But traditionalists like Elliot Weissbluth, founder and CEO of Chicago-based registered investment advisor HighTower Advisors, aren't shy about reinforcing the virtues of human interaction.
"First of all, the term 'digital advice' is oxymoronic, because by definition, advice has to involve some kind of human component, " saidWeissbluth. "No software in the world can pick up on the furrowed brow of client who just lost his job, and guide him through the financial repercussions of a crisis in an otherwise stable market."
Same Tool Kit
That's not to say Weissbluth shuns the use of automated technology, altogether. In fact, he zealously points out that advisors have been using proprietary technology similar to robo platforms for years.
"Robo technology fundamentally uses the same tool kit that every financial advisor, custodian and wirehouse in the entire industry has been using for decades," Weissbluth asserted. "A cute little app on your phone may seem like a sexier presentation, but the technology behind it isn't unique or novel."
But not all advisors are as unimpressed by robo tech. Stephen Rischall, co-founder of Los Angeles-based advisory firm 1080 Financial Group, believes robo technology can augment his role as an investment advisor, by complementing the software he already uses, rather than competing with it.
"I'm an advisor who embraces what the robos are doing," Rischall said. "The key is blending personal service with smart technology."
And by combining robo technology with his existing software for client relationship management, Rischall says he's better equipped to track data that's specific to a given client's finances. For example, automated computerized triggers remind him to make sure his clients over 70-1/2 take their required minimum distributions.
Robo pioneer Bo Lu, the co-founder and CEO of the digital platform FutureAdvisor, says he created the technology with exactly those types of B2B applications in mind.
"A person-to-person conversation is still a better way to handle moments of crisis — in the markets or in a person's life. But digital advice technology can help with portfolio optimization, tax-aware asset placement and tax-loss harvesting on a daily, hourly, and minute-by-minute basis," said Lu.
"If an investor needs liquidity for an emergency purchase, tax-loss optimization mathematics will help achieve a cash raid with the least impact on the client's overall asset allocation, and with the lowest tax bill," Lu added. "The software allows advisors to scale their attention when it comes to managing portfolios, because it's not efficient for a human to be doing these calculations on a spreadsheet."
Despite the robo phenomenon, studies show that most individuals still value human interaction over technology. According to a survey conducted by online student loan marketplace LendEDU, 46.41% of millennials are working with a financial advisor, while only 24.30% have used a robo-advisor.
Furthermore, of the three-quarters of millennials who have yet to take the robo plunge, 61.58% say they're reluctant to do so because they've never heard of robo-advisors, suggesting that general awareness still has a way to go. Finally, 68.92% of those polled said they believe financial advisors are more likely to yield greater returns on their investments.
Rischall has observed this firsthand, noting: "I've had millennials come in and say, 'I've tried Betterment or Wealthfront online, and I feel better talking to a person about my situation.' " But Rischall hastens to add that investors who are determined to take the DIY investment route should opt for pure-play robo advice, rather than attempt to go it alone. "A robo is better than randomly picking a handful of stocks and hoping they do well."
Regardless of how popular robo platforms become, Rischall has no fears of his own obsolescence.
"The most relevant example we can draw from in recent history is the accounting industry," says Rischall. "Accountants haven't gone out of business after people began doing their own tax returns with TurboTax and other software, and I don't see robos threatening my business. We're embracing the technology that's helping us grow."
Rich Frank was the newly appointed head of television at Paramount Studios when he attended one of his first table reads. That's where the writers, actors, directors and producers sit around a large table — hence the name — and for the first time collectively read the new script out loud.
In this case it was for an episode of "Laverne & Shirley," and when it was over, producer/writer/creator Garry Marshall announced: "The big boss is here." He turned to Frank, and asked if he had "any comments."
Frank said he liked the script, but "on page eight, I think there's a joke that doesn't work."
No one said anything until Marshall broke the ice: "Then we're going to sit here until Rich gets a better joke."
It was, Frank recalls, "an awkward moment."
"Then Garry came up to me privately and said, 'You're welcome here. But don't just criticize.'
"That was a great lesson."
It was, in fact, a lesson he continued to use at Paramount Television, where he helped shepherd such hit shows as "Cheers," "Taxi" and "Family Ties" to success and then a decadelong career at Walt Disney ( DIS), where he served as president of Walt Disney Studios and oversaw the development of the Disney Channel.
He then went on to a second career as a vintner, building what became known as the Frank Family Vineyards from a 200-case-a-year operation to one that currently sells 100,000 cases annually.
All of which is not bad for a guy from Brooklyn who really didn't know what he wanted to do when he grew up. He attended the University of Illinois, starting out in the school of architecture and moving to the school of engineering before, in 1965, getting his B.A. in marketing with a minor in journalism.
"I finally found something I could do that everybody else wasn't better at," Frank said in one of two telephone interviews with IBD.
When he graduated in 1965, he went to work at an ad agency in the media department, planning where to place and buy ads. Then he "switched sides," selling ads for a couple of rep firms (who sell ads for media that don't have their own sales force in a particular area). He became sales manager for a Los Angeles television station and ultimately was hired by Chris-Craft Industries to run its television division.
The company — better known for its mahogany-hulled boats — owned several TV stations — and placed Frank in charge. The television landscape was much different then — with no cable and only three major networks. The independent stations that existed were mostly limited to repeating shows that had already run on one of the Big Three networks.
Frank contacted Michael Eisner, then president of Paramount Studios, to see if he'd be interested in creating original content for Chris-Craft and presumably other independent outlets.
Eisner "called me and invited me to lunch," Frank remembered. "He said, 'I really don't like your idea, but I want you to come here and help us start a fourth network.' "
Frank joined Paramount, and while the launch of the new network did not work out, he was named president of television at the company, where he was responsible for launching numerous successful shows.
After a shake-up at Paramount parent Gulf + Western Industries, Frank followed Eisner to Disney, where he was named head of Walt Disney Studios. There his winning streak continued.
Asked what he attributes his success to, and one word pops up regularly in his reply: learn.
"I think I understood the television business, having first started buying time at (ad agency) BBDO and then selling time at multiple stations around the country. You learn what works in different markets. And then when I went to be a sales manager at an independent station, I learned how that worked — and again at Paramount. I never stopped learning."
His management philosophy is equally simple: "I'm responsible for overall strategy; (the people I hire) are responsible for how to get it done. I believe in hiring the right people and allowing them to do their job.
"I also believe that they should have the right to make mistakes. The people I protect the most are those who've tried something that didn't work, rather than those that just sit there and are complacent."
Certainly complacent is not an adjective ever applied to Frank, who often took sizable risks in his career. He OK'd "The Golden Girls" TV series when the conventional wisdom — and the advice of almost everyone around him — said America wasn't interested in a show about four, uh, mature women living in a Florida retirement community.
Similarly, he had an idea for a daily syndicated entertainment news program that everyone said was unfeasible. Remember, that was 37 years ago, when computers had less power than an early iPhone and many if not most television stations didn't have the satellite equipment necessary to receive a daily feed.
Undeterred, Frank explained, "We financed stations to install satellites." One seemed a bit reluctant, "so we had a kid every day after we shot the show drive the tape to Bakersfield."
The concept of the show was so new and foreign to the TV playing field that Frank had to negotiate new union rules — so that movie industry regulations concerning the number of lighting and sound people that went out on shoots could be modified.
That show, of course, was "Entertainment Tonight," which, he said, "changed the industry and changed the entire world of TV now."
His willingness to push the boundaries of technology doesn't surprise Bob Gazzale, the president and CEO of the American Film Institute. Frank joined the AFI board in 1991 and serves as its vice chair even today, a volunteer position. Frank was also the longest-serving president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the organization responsible for the Emmy Awards.
Gazzale said that despite Frank's "extraordinarily busy schedule, if and when I need Rich he's always there."
"Perhaps his greatest contribution," Gazzale added, "aside from the generosity of time, spirit and resources — is his visionary take on the art form that AFI celebrates. ... From movies to television to streaming to gaming to VR ... Rich has always carried the flag for what's next."
Ironically, a portion of his success also can be attributed to Frank's past — that he never strayed far from his Brooklyn Everyman roots.
"I think I have the same taste as most Americans," he said. "I think I know what people want to see, who they want to see and what they want to see them in. I'm good at picking talent and have a crazy sense of humor. In a nutshell, I have commercial tastes."
Perhaps the best example of that occurred when he spotted an unknown comedian named Tim Allen at a comedy club doing his grunting male routine. Although Frank concedes that there are "so many people involved in so many projects," it was that sighting that led Disney to produce the show "Home Improvement," starring Allen, which ran eight seasons on ABC.
Turning To Wine
Even shows as successful as that one have shelf lives, and so do jobs. Following the untimely death of Disney corporate president Frank Wells in a 1994 helicopter crash, the vibe at the company changed.
So Rich Frank left, content to do some consulting work and spend more time at his weekend vacation property in California's Napa Valley. That home started as a respite from work and included eight acres of grapes, which he allowed a neighbor to harvest in return for a few cases of wine that Frank could share with friends.
But Frank got a call from a buddy — winemaker Koerner Rombauer (nephew of "The Joy of Cooking" author, Irma Rombauer) — that a nearby vineyard was for sale. Frank and Koerner decided to partner on what was initially known as Frank-Rombauer. (Around 2000, for a number of reasons including estate planning, Rich bought out Rombauer's interest and renamed the winery Frank Family Vineyards.)
As Frank recalls, the winery he purchased, Kornell Champagne Cellars, was producing 100,000 cases and losing $3 a bottle. You didn't have to be a genius to realize that was an unsustainable business model. So he and Rombauer, who spent much of his time at his own winery, immediately cut production to 200 barrels a year.
Frank understood the old wine industry axiom that the quickest way to make a small fortune in the business is to start with a large one. He quickly — and here's that word again — learned the major ins and outs of the business and realized that he had to use the same principles in the wine business that he used in the entertainment industry that made him sufficiently wealthy to buy a Napa Valley winery in the first place.
So he made a point to hire a quality GM and winemaker, Todd Graff, to guide him through the morass. He understood the difficulty of distribution, with 50 states each having its own liquor laws. So he expanded territories very slowly, always keeping the bottom line in mind. And he understood the importance of a good and popular tasting room, the only place he received full value for his wines.
Ultimately, though, he understood that more than anything, the bottom line depended on the quality of grapes in the wine. "I compare a bottle of wine to a movie script: If you don't have a good script, you don't have a chance of success."
So he decided to go beyond the law. According to state regulations, you have to lay a bottle of sparkling wine down a year before it can be sold. He laid his down for three years to enhance the flavor. And his new Lady Edythe brand (named after his mom), he lays down for five years.
It delays his return on investment, but ultimately he virtually assures one.
After a successful career as a top Hollywood executive, he chucked the limos and private jets to become a vintner.
Overcame: The need to apply what he learned in corporate life to life on the farm.
Lesson: Sometimes the answer is simple.
Quote: "I wasn't sure we ever would make money, but I was pretty sure I knew how to make money. In its simplest form it was make good wine and sell it for more than it cost you."
By making simple changes, you can increase mental capacity and the potential to achieve more to become your best self.
That's from Dave Asprey, author of " Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster — in Just Two Weeks."
Asprey is a tech entrepreneur who also founded the popular Bulletproof Radio podcast that boasts 50 million downloads.
"When you upgrade your body's ability to make energy, your brain turns on all the way," he adds.
Tips on doing so:
Schedule downtime. To counter living in our hurry-up-and-go society that's wired us to always have to be "on," Asprey recommends to set up time every day to tune out and go offline — and put it on your calendar.
He notes that every one of the highest-performing scientists and executives he's coached or interviewed uses some form of mindfulness practice that slows the brain down.
"Consider taking up yoga or the breathing exercises," Asprey said. "In just 20 minutes you can significantly boost working memory" and, with regular practice, improve brain function.
Terraform your bedroom. Most people don't get good quality sleep, Asprey says. "Multiple studies have shown that it's quality, not quantity that matters most."
Poor sleep quality causes brain function to plummet and reduces your body's ability to manage your blood sugar, he says.
The most important sleep factors in a physical bedroom are darkness, noise and temperature, Asprey says. By making small changes, such as installing blackout curtains, blocking LED lights on electronic devices, and reducing your bedroom's temperature you can significantly improve your rest. "A pitch-black sleeping environment pays dividends every night."
Fuel your mind. Eat more wild caught fish, coconut oil, nut butters, and other healthy fats, Asprey advises. These kinds of foods power your brain and body.
Peter Shankman, author of " Faster Than Normal: Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity and Success With the Secrets of the ADHD Brain," points out that pizza and other types of junk food are all counterproductive to optimum brain performance.
Shankman, who has ADHD, is a tech entrepreneur who has started and sold three companies, an Ironman triathlete, and a corporate keynote speaker.
Junk food has lots of fat and carbs, and usually just requires you to eat more next time to get the same high, he says. Focus on healthy food instead; get your needed natural chemicals from exercise and other, more-beneficial options.
Train your body. There are two types of exercise that can help you to grow more energy production in your brain and muscles, Asprey says. The first is to go for a walk every day for at least 20 minutes — "no jogging required!"
The second is to push yourself really hard for only 15 minutes once or twice a week. The most effective forms of this kind of exercise are short sprints or lifting really heavy things. "It saves a ton of time and allows your body to be ready for making lots of energy at any time," he said.
To add a little extra focus for your next meeting, Shankman has found the simple act of walking up a few flights of stairs or doing jumping jacks or pushups is enough to "physically change your brain for an hour, by providing dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline — the three key brain chemicals that keep you alert and on the ball."
Prepare. To focus on changing up brain chemistry first thing each day, Shankman starts his morning being ready to exercise.
To fight the stay-in-bed-and-hit-the-snooze mentality, he has automated lighting that turns on just before he wakes up. Furthermore, Shankman sleeps in his gym clothes. By the time his alarm goes off early in the morning, he's ready to go.
"The first two hours of my day are spent exercising," he said. "This drastically ups my dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline, and gives me the focus, mental acuity and preparedness I need to be the most productive I can."
Part of a financial advisor's job is to alleviate a client's anxiety about money. Now more than ever, a related anxiety involves losing money to fraudsters.
XAdvisors who serve as anti-fraud advocates find an entirely new way to add value to their client relationships. Steering individuals away from potentially costly scams affords peace of mind to harried consumers, especially seniors who may fall prey to cyberattacks or other deceptive schemes.
"Today, more people understand that we as advisors can help prevent fraud," said Christian Cordoba, a certified financial planner in El Segundo, Calif. "It can be a big differentiator. We can get out ahead of it through discussions, education and awareness-raising."
The scourge of fraud hit home for Cordoba in 2014, when a single client in his 80s fell victim to a scam. Informed that he won the lottery, the elderly man wired over $3,000 to the caller.
When the fraudster requested more money before releasing the supposed lottery winnings, Cordoba's client maxed out his credit cards. Only when he sought to withdraw funds from his investment account did he alert Cordoba of the situation.
"We managed the rest of his assets so we got involved when he called us," he said. "Coupled with the frequency and amounts being requested, it created a pattern that concerned us."
Today, Cordoba cites the scam as a cautionary tale in his public seminars — and highlights his role in helping clients avoid massive fraud losses.
"A lot of people think, 'It'll never happen to me,' " he said. "Then they hear this story" and other examples of elder fraud and identity theft, and they join forces with their advisor to become more vigilant.
Fight Online Scams
Over the past year, Cordoba highlights two new types of fraud. First, he's hearing about scammers pretending to represent the Internal Revenue Service over the phone or via email. And he's warning clients not to wire money to anyone based on an email plea, even if it appears to come from someone they know, such as a grandchild.
"It's always better to call to confirm rather than rely solely on an email request," he said.
For advisors who gain expertise in fraud prevention, the challenge often becomes increasing their client outreach. Knowing how to stop scams is only half the battle.
"We tell clients that you need to talk to us when you're making major financial decisions," said Matt Archer, an advisor in Raleigh, N.C.
As an example, he recalls a client — a widow in her 70s — who met someone through online dating who repeatedly asked her for money. She wound up wiring over $100,000 and took out a loan to send even more funds.
"She had a hard time telling me about it," Archer said. "This was over 18 months ago and she's still paying back the loan."
To prevent fraud, Archer now communicates more frequently with clients whenever they request a wire transfer. He also alerts them about the dangers of social media and how some online networking sites geared for seniors are often targets for tricksters.
As part of his efforts to help clients combat fraud, Archer updates them about best practices in cybersecurity and shares steps to ward off threats. He emails clients about illegal schemes and forwards Better Business Bureau scam alerts.
"We overcommunicate with clients via newsletters, emails and social media," he said. "We want to stay top of mind, and educating clients on how to fight fraud helps us do that."
In order for advisors to offer fraud prevention tips, they need to sharpen their knowledge of a rapidly evolving field. That requires a commitment to learning about the latest scams — and how their clients can guard against them.
Archer participates in online training programs sponsored by his firm's broker-dealer. A recent session covered cyberhacking and installing firewalls.
Similarly, John McCafferty takes classes on fraud prevention measures offered by his firm, Edelman Financial Services in Alexandria, Va. He has learned how to spot warning signs of money laundering and phishing (emails that lure people to reveal personal data).
"There are savvy fraudsters and they're getting savvier as time goes on," McCafferty said. "That's why we differentiate ourselves by taking the time to talk about all this. Clients are often pleasantly surprised when I suggest they take anti-fraud action steps."
McCafferty tailors his fraud prevention advice to address each client's needs. For instance, he might urge midcareer professionals to get their aging parents an unpublished phone number to minimize junk calls. Or he might propose that an entrepreneur who runs a business from home use a paper shredder to dispose of credit-card mailers and other unwanted material that contains personal data.
Mark Cuban isn't afraid to make waves on "Shark Tank," ABC-TV's hit reality series about investing in startups. It isn't simply that he's the big fish — with a net worth of $3.3 billion, according to Forbes — he also isn't afraid to criticize what he regards as other Sharks' foolish investments or the lack of preparation by many of the show's contestants.
A study by Forbes of the Tank's first seven seasons (its eighth just ended) showed that Cuban was the best at closing deals in three industries: entertainment, food/drink, and exercise equipment. His biggest single investment was $2 million in Ten Thirty-One Productions, which produces the Haunted Hayride and other live events. So what's surprised him the most about the Shark experience?
"How many families watch the show together and how proud parents are when their kids are excited about business," Cuban told IBD. "I never expected it to have the impact on them that it has."
Cuban, 59, was born in Pittsburgh's working class suburb of Mount Lebanon. At 12, he caught the entrepreneur bug, going door-to-door to sell plastic garbage bags in order to buy some expensive athletic shoes.
He sold stamps and coins in high school and during a strike by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette workers, brought newspapers from the printer in Cleveland to Pittsburgh. He took his high school GED a year early and became a full-time student at the University of Pittsburgh. While there, he worked as a bartender, taught disco dancing and promoted parties to pay his bills. After his first year of college, he transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington because it had the lowest costs of any business school in the top 10. There, he continued to make money as a dance instructor while also operating the most popular bar in town.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in business in 1981, he got a job at a Pittsburgh bank, helping it convert from a manual operation to an automated computer system. In the process, he says, he not only learned about systems, but how big companies operate and middle managers think.
His next gig involved trying to convince TV repair shops to join a franchise. And though he only sold one, he says there was a lot of value in learning about cold-calling and franchising.
He moved to Dallas in 1982 in search of more fun and sun. He had little money, so became the sixth roommate in an apartment where he had to sleep on the floor or a couch. He got a job as a salesman at the city's first PC software retailer and learned the business by reading manuals every night. He went from living on bar food to making large commissions and doing consulting work outside regular hours, splitting his fees with the owners of the software business. But nine months into this, after asking another employee to open up for him so he could meet a potential client, he was fired for being absent from his job — even though he'd brought back a check from that meeting.
From MicroSolutions To Mavericks
In 1982, Cuban started MicroSolutions, a software reseller and system integrator — though he didn't own a computer. One of his first clients was Martin Woodall, who sold multi-user systems, and he offered Cuban office space and to pay him for attracting clients. Two years later, MicroSolutions had $85,000 in the bank — or so Cuban thought: His secretary had cleaned out all but $2,000 before disappearing.
"What was done was done," Cuban wrote in " How to Win at the Sport of Business," figuring that "worrying about revenge" and venting his anger at the bank were just "a waste of energy."
Instead, his effort went into getting smarter. "I would continually search for new ideas in books and magazines available to anyone," he wrote, "but most people won't put the time in to get a knowledge advantage."
In 1990, he sold MicroSolutions for $6 million. His next venture, with partners Todd Wagner and Chris Jaeb, was AudioNet, which began with webcasting college basketball games. In 1998, they renamed it Broadcast.com, went public, and the next year sold it to Yahoo for $5.6 billion in stock.
Cuban purchased the Mavericks in 2000 from H. Ross Perot Jr. for $285 million. The Mavericks had been longtime losers, but after Cuban revamped its player roster and built the team a new stadium, its fortunes revived. The Mavs qualified for the playoffs in 2001, then made it to their first NBA Finals in 2006. And although they lost to the Miami Heat that year, the Mavs came back to beat the Heat in 2011's finals to become NBA champs.
What has Cuban learned from this experience that might apply to other businesses (other than the publicity that comes from being fined $2 million for arguing with officials)?
"Good businesses are personal and the best are very personal," he said. "Sports bring out emotions, as a great business should."
In 2001, Cuban joined Philip Garvin to launch HDNet, a high-definition network that eventually became AXS TV. And Todd Wagner has been Cuban's partner in other ventures, including 2929, which produces and distributes movies and TV content, owns Landmark Theatres, and has a stake in Lions Gate Entertainment.
"As an investor, he has an intricate portfolio of organizations across a wide range of industries," said Michael Parrish DuDell, chief strategy officer of CouponFollow.com, who interviewed Cuban for his book " Shark Tank: Jump Start Your Business." "He learned early on how critical it was to develop a keen eye for talent and empower that talent to share in the responsibility of leadership. It's no surprise he's helped so many people build extraordinary businesses."
Into The 'Shark Tank'
Cuban replaced an original member of the "Shark Tank" panel in 2011, joining Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Lori Greiner, and Robert Herjavec. Broadcast on Friday nights, the series has had an average audience ranging from 5 million to 9 million in its eight seasons, and it was renewed for a ninth, and moved to Sunday nights, starting Oct. 1. It won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Structured or Competition Reality Program in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
The power of "Shark Tank" to immediately impact tiny companies can be illustrated by the $100,000 that Cuban invested for 30% of Simple Sugars in season four. Owner Lani Lazzari had created a line of cosmetics as a teen to clear up her eczema and began selling it to others who had problems related to sensitive skin. She arranged to take off her senior year of high school for independent study so she could focus on growing her business. In the year leading up to her appearance on "Shark Tank," she had 1,300 orders; within three days after the broadcast, she received 15,000.
Mark Cuban's "Rules for Startups" from some of his most popular posts at www.markcuban.com and his real-time engagement platform, Cyber Dust, under +MCuban:
Don't start a company unless it's an obsession.
Hire people who you think will love working there.
Know how your company will make money and actually make sales.
Let people use the technology they know.
Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them. Pay up for people in those competencies, but hire cheap for those who fit your culture and have other competencies.
Keep the organization flat and have open offices to keep everyone in tune with what is going on and keep the energy up.
Cuban says he used to be preoccupied with work 24/7, but by managing his time smartly, he's now able to put his family first. (He married Tiffany Stewart in 2002 and they have three children).
"Mark Cuban has mastered the very thing most entrepreneurs struggle with the most — delegation," said DuDell.
"Time is the most valuable asset you own," Cuban said. "How you use it is the best indication of where your future is going to take you. Sell in the morning, keep your customers happy the rest of the workday, and push the envelope at night.
"I used to be in the middle of everything, but I hire people I can build trust in, then let them take the ball and run with it."
Owner of NBA Dallas Mavericks and one of the investors on the hit TV program "Shark Tank."
Overcame: Boring, poor-paying jobs with no future; he decided to learn something from each one.
Lesson: Be brutally honest with yourself about the quality of your ideas, products, and services and why customers buy and at what price.
"Passion for a particular business is overrated. It's really about where you put your effort. If you're willing to work hard at something, a passion will naturally develop."
When a leader acts authentically, plenty of good things happen. Be open, honest and match your actions with your words. Others will trust you.
"If people trust, then they'll engage," Kevin Cashman, a senior partner at the executive search and recruiting firm Korn Ferry, told IBD. "If you show up with authenticity, others trust that and then you can marshal people."
Here's how to build that authenticity.
Make it bigger. It's vital to not just be true to yourself but to serve others while doing it, says Cashman, who wrote " Leadership From the Inside Out" and leads his company's CEO and executive development group.
"The test is if we're creating value for others too," Cashman said.
Show vulnerability. David MacLennan, CEO of food and agriculture company Cargill, told Cashman it's vital to own up to your mistakes and shortcomings. It builds trust, encourages communication and creates powerful teamwork.
"Those are the leaders who earn the right to leadership, and it's irresistible to follow them," Cashman said.
Be the model. Leaders can transform an organization when they display traits that others strive to achieve, says Robert Quinn, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan's Center for Positive Organizations at the Ross School of Business. They display the honesty, integrity and openness that others want to have. He worked with a Fortune 100 company that had 1,600 executives. Only a small group truly led the company, though.
"The people who identified those leaders said, 'I know it because when I'm with them, I want to be like them,' " Quinn said.
Do the right thing. You'll be viewed as a true leader once you adjust your behavior to become more moral, Quinn says. Show your people that you care about them and make it clear how their role fits in the organization's future.
"The motor of leadership is moral power," Quinn said.
Tell tales. When leaders share stories about their values and use examples of their own struggles to illustrate them, it has a powerful effect on their teams. Cashman worked with two CEOs who spoke to their people about company values. One dryly ran through them, with no discernible impact on his employees. The other showed what the values meant by using examples, such as the serious illness of his son, to illustrate the importance of relationships, and suffering a career failure, to show the role of continuous learning. His people were fully engaged.
"The group was not only inspired, but the values became real for them," Cashman said.
Gain the edge. If you're good at what you do, that will take you a long way. But if you're honest and open enough to admit mistakes, it puts you over the top, Cashman says.
"Competency gets us to the doorway of leadership," Cashman said. "But it's character and authenticity that gets us through the doorway and sustains leadership."
Be brave. It takes courage to be authentic, Quinn says. If your boss makes a presentation about a new strategy that clearly won't work, it's not easy to confront him. But it's in the group's best interests if you do.
"It takes courage to act in that way, despite circumstance to the contrary," Quinn said.
Listen. Get feedback from others to gauge whether you're truly being authentic. You can tell by how open they are. MacLennan called it an "authenticity audit." They'll be open to you if you're transparent with them.
Get results. It pays to be honest with your people, even if it means highlighting your shortcomings. Quinn mentioned a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor's study in which he met with business leaders a week before they made presentations, to gauge how authentic they appeared. He predicted the best presenter 90% of the time — based on their display of authenticity.
"We know it when we see it," Quinn said, "and we can trust it."
Many financial advisors seek to provide comprehensive financial planning — with the emphasis on "comprehensive." Some prefer to say that they adopt a "holistic" approach.
XRegardless of which word they use, these advisors analyze myriad elements of a client's financial life. Along with managing investments, they can assist with taxes, insurance, retirement planning, and saving and spending habits.
Why do financial advisors take pains to highlight their wide-ranging service offerings and eagerness to wear so many hats?
Blame the robots.
The growth in automated portfolio management platforms over the last decade has led independent advisors to set themselves apart. Algorithm-driven asset allocation models may take the emotion out of investing, but human experts strive to fill a wider array of financial needs while delivering customized service and, when appropriate, a bit of hand-holding or a shoulder to cry on if tragedy strikes.
As robo-advisors proliferate, savvy financial planners know that they must add value. Underscoring their commitment to navigate virtually all aspects of a client's financial future helps distinguish them from their digital rivals.
"It's a differentiator in that we offer this expandable service to fit the client's needs," said Andrew Crowell, a Los Angeles-based advisor. "It's not one-size-fits-all. Clients' needs are different, and our offerings have to be malleable enough to accommodate all of them."
Positioning your practice as "comprehensive" or "holistic" presents a series of challenges. For starters, you need to explain what that means. After all, some people assume that an advisor's primary job is to steer them into market-beating investments.
"It's rare that a client walks in on Day One and says, 'I'm looking for a holistic advisor,' " Crowell said. "In the first meeting, we'll frame the discussion. If they come in with a narrow focus, I'll tell them we can help with that, but I'll also want them to know we offer our own suite of services."
For enterprising financial advisors, that suite of services keeps growing. They may couple their investment advice with estate planning, insurance, and risk management, and even life coaching, fraud prevention and grief support.
Advisor As Quarterback
Simple, eye-catching graphics double as an educational tool for some advisors. At Signature Estate & Investment Advisors, advisors show clients an eight-tiered pyramid diagram that represents what the firm calls its "holistic wealth management process." With investment management at its base, upper levels include business advisory services and wealth counseling.
"A lot of us went to UCLA and we subscribe to (former basketball coach) John Wooden's pyramid of success," said Theodore Saade, a certified financial planner at the firm's Los Angeles office. "It's the framework we use to say, 'This is what we do.' "
Along with educating clients, financial advisors who promote their comprehensive approach need to acquire the in-house expertise to follow through. If you're going to market your firm's long list of services, you must possess the specialized knowledge to deliver — or partner with outsiders with a shared interest in serving your clients.
Willie Schuette, an advisor in Avon, Ohio, views his role as a "quarterback" who guides clients forward in their financial lives. He works closely with estate planning attorneys and tax specialists to round out his practice.
To expand his financial acumen, Schuette joined a firm that provided a mentor program. Paired with senior advisors at the firm, Schuette picked their brains as they coached him on different technical topics, from taxes to practice management.
"It was a kind of finishing school for me," he said. "It polished my skills. As my needs changed and I wanted to learn something new, I got a different mentor."
In recent years, Schuette has added Medicare-related financial planning to his repertoire. He helps clients manage their health care costs while they're still in their early 60s — before they qualify for Medicare — to determine whether they should buy Medicare supplement insurance policies. His interest in Medicare piqued when clients kept fretting, "How am I going to afford health care in my retirement?"
"It's all about continual learning," he said. "If I didn't develop Medicare expertise, I'd have to partner with an outside expert."
Invest In Knowledge
In some cases, financial advisors build on their investment know-how to branch off into more-esoteric areas. This can prove both intellectually stimulating and beneficial for their clients.
After more than 25 years as an advisor, Anthony LoCascio decided in the late 2000s to delve more deeply into tax planning. A certified financial planner in Clinton, N.J., he became an enrolled agent with the IRS and grew especially interested in charitable lead trusts and other philanthropic-planning vehicles.
"It sets me apart from other advisors," said LoCascio, who burnished his tax credentials after making two key observations.
First, he says that many high-net-worth individuals "have an inherent anxiety about taxes." He figured that as their longtime advisor, he could alleviate their tax concerns while continuing to manage their investments.
Second, he noticed that even when his clients conferred with their accountants, they didn't necessarily come away with what he calls "in-depth, proactive tax planning" strategies. He concluded that he could further differentiate his firm by filling the void.
LoCascio's efforts to strengthen his tax knowledge have not come cheap. He estimates that he spends an average of about $20,000 a year to stay current on tax rules and strategies, which includes traveling to tax seminars and paying membership dues to professional groups.
Because new clients may not understand the nature of holistic financial planning, advisors often follow a formal onboarding process. They may start by asking newcomers to complete a detailed questionnaire about their attitudes about money, financial goals and family dynamics.
From there, they may craft a multipage financial plan that they present to clients in a thick binder with a long list of action steps and recommendations. Ideally, clients are impressed with the extensiveness of the process and the scope of subjects — from elder-care costs to health-and-wellness tips — covered in the plan.
But not all advisors follow the same playbook.
"Having a client on Day One sit down and go through a three-hour discovery process won't work for everybody," Crowell said. "If you go to the doctor with foot pain and that's your initial need, the doctor has to address that need first. If the doctor is effective, the relationship naturally expands over time."
Last year, tennis great Venus Williams made news by becoming one of the financial backers of Ellevest, a new robo-advisor aimed at women. And more good news for the digital company followed: An SEC filing in August showed that Ellevest, which became fully operational last year, had raised a hefty $32.5 million in its latest round of funding.
XImpressive? Most certainly. But evidently, no cause for alarm among traditional financial advisors who court women clients. To many of them, the new women-focused digital advisors, including Ellevest and WorthFM (SheCapital folded last year), still aren't a threat to their target market of typically upscale women, 50 or older, who prefer the human touch.
Where the hunt for women clients is intensifying: Among traditional FAs themselves, who increasingly eye the long underserved but now hot market for women clients. And as more FAs zero in on this opportunity — advising women who control anywhere from $5 trillion to $14 trillion of wealth — they're creating new ways to tap into this perceived gold.
"Financial advisors are strengthening their marketing, not because of robo-advisors, but because these traditional advisors are aggressively competing. And they believe they have a strong value proposition for women," says Dan Sondhelm, CEO of Sondhelm Partners, a growth strategist for financial advisors and asset managers.
Among the steps financial advisors are taking, Sondhelm says: 1) spending more time with clients, either in-person or via videoconferences; 2) seeking more media exposure to build credibility and visibility; 3) creating more content, via blogs and social media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook; 4) seeking partnerships with influential women, such as lawyers and accountants; and 5) considering adding their own robo-service to accommodate smaller accounts and clients needing less personal attention.
Financial advisor Ellen Jordan, of Bryn Mawr Trust, about 16 months ago designed a program called Inspired Women's Wealth. It became Bryn Mawr Trust's first focused appeal to women as potential clients. To start, Jordan and associates compiled a list of women to contact, and early this year, began emailing them informational items of interest to women. Jordan also posted these items on social media. This September, Jordan will launch a series of free luncheons, featuring speakers on topics aimed to help women gain more sense of control over their finances. The results so far: The new program already landed the firm several new clients, says Jordan, senior vice president and women's wealth advisor at Bryn Mawr Trust.
Resource Consulting Group, in Orlando, Fla., boasts an advisory team that's now 50% women — a fact that the firm is publicizing in local media, says Kimberly Sterling, vice president, shareholder and wealth advisor at the firm. This summer, Sterling was a presenter at a Minneapolis forum aimed at helping other firms better attract women clients and advisors. In addition, over the past two years, Resource Consulting has created events, including luncheons and workshops, with themes that address the issues of higher net worth women, among them, work-life balance and informing children about how to handle their expected inheritance. And that's not all: For the past eight years, the firm has been sponsoring a quarterly networking program for area professional women, called Intimate, Intelligent and Intentional, where participants can make business contacts, Sterling says.
About two years ago, Kathy Fish, of Fish & Associates Financial Services, in Memphis, Tenn., began offering a free class entitled, Savvy Social Security for Women, that's now available four times a year. And last year she began teaching a seven-week, $400 course, called Wild Money (based on the book by that title), which Fish describes as a "money coach," covering a gamut of personal finance issues for women. Since last year, the firm also has been sponsoring free Wine and Words get-togethers, featuring wine-tasting and a speaker addressing a financial topic.
What's more, Fish's daughter, Kerry Jackson, who is an advisor at the firm, recently launched a young professionals' networking group for women — to help them meet each other and learn about financial planning issues. Says Fish, "My daughter is targeting 25- to 40-year olds. And even she hasn't yet come up against robo-advisors."
But Barbara Friedberg, a freelance writer who publishes the website, Robo-Advisor Pros, points out that "women are a huge market. There's room for women-focused robo-advisors in the marketplace."
Among the pluses of women-focused robos: Besides lower cost vs. fees charged by traditional advisors, experts cite ease-of-use and systems that factor in women's financial situations. Among the fortes of Ellevest, co-founded by Sallie Krawcheck, are broadly its goals-based investing and algorithms that take into account women's typically longer life spans than men's and earnings that on average peak earlier than men's.
In turn, WorthFM's digital investing platform includes such features as an integrated Money Type (personality) assessment tool and financial education. Indeed, "a core part of us is education," says Amanda Steinberg, founder and CEO of Worth Financial, the parent of WorthFM and Daily Worth.
But Lauren Klein, of Klein Financial Advisors, evidently isn't awed. "Women-focused or not, robos are not sufficient," holds Klein, of Newport Beach, Calif. "At their kernel, robos focus particularly on the tech side of money. But that is not where decisions are made, comfort levels achieved and knowledge owned. The essence of a robo is what can be mapped. But a map," she says, "doesn't always describe the territory."
Donating to charity seems like a slam-dunk of positivity. You support a worthwhile cause, feel good about it and perhaps gain a tax deduction and expressions of gratitude from those who sought your gift.
XBut for high-net-worth individuals, philanthropy and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. Deciding how much to give and where to give it can prove vexing.
"Many of our clients are looking for guidance in their charitable giving," said Steven Wittenberg, director of legacy planning at SEI Private Wealth Management in Oaks, Pa. "They may be anxious about whether their money is being wasted or if it's making an impact."
Developing expertise in charitable giving can separate advisors from their competitors by helping them become holistic financial advisors. By treating philanthropy as a central part of financial planning, advisors can suggest ways to enhance a client's retirement or estate plan.
It's often a win-win proposal. Clients who lack a deep grounding in giving away money may appreciate their advisor's input and understanding of the charitable landscape. And advisors wind up attracting and retaining more clients thanks to their specialized knowledge of the nonprofit world and how to make the most of donated funds.
"Advisors should recognize that it's an issue that many clients are worried about and position themselves as a go-to source for philanthropic advice," Wittenberg said. "Some clients may not verbalize this need until we educate them."
A Deeper Bond
For advisors who view charitable giving as a core part of their service, they raise the topic early and often with clients. When onboarding newcomers, they routinely ask about their charitable priorities.
Even for those individuals inclined to donate generously, they may not make the most tax-efficient moves or conduct proper due diligence in allocating their gifts. Advisors can provide tools and resources to identify worthy causes while maximizing the tax benefits of giving.
For clients with more ambitious plans to donate funds, financial advisors may partner with attorneys, accountants and philanthropic consultants to map out a detailed strategy. Through this team approach, the advisor-client relationship grows stronger and more lasting.
"Getting specialized third-party providers involved can help identify options beyond checkbook philanthropy," Wittenberg said. He cites examples such as donor-advised funds and family foundations.
Donor-advised funds offer a simple way for individuals to direct their giving by making a tax-deductible gift to the fund. The investment firm or community foundation that manages the fund aims to generate positive returns on the assets while distributing some of the money to charities per the donor's instructions.
Of course, it's up to advisors to embrace charitable giving as part of their practice. Clients may not necessarily realize all the benefits — from tax savings to emotional gratification — unless their financial planner educates them and offers practical guidance.
As more financial advisors provide comprehensive financial planning and seek ways to differentiate themselves, advice on charitable contributions has gained popularity as a value-added service.
"Philanthropy was a side topic 20 years ago," said Kim Laughton, president of Schwab Charitable, a San Francisco-based donor-advised fund provider established with the support of Charles Schwab ( SCHW). "Over the last 10 years, we've found that the more advisors bring it up, the more clients appreciate it and want help with it."
From a business perspective, financial advisors who provide guidance on charitable giving can boost their client retention rates. It's harder for clients to leave when they've opened up about their desire to give back to their community — or the larger society — and their advisor paves the way for them to follow through.
"When an advisor is supportive of a client's philanthropy, you can forge an emotional tie with the client as a passionate helper," Laughton said.
Providing tools and information to clients can reinforce your role as an expert on giving. For example, Schwab Charitable offers white papers to individuals who want to learn more about charitable-giving strategies.
"Our most popular white paper is on donating more complex, appreciated assets to charity, such as privately traded securities, real estate and collectibles," Laughton said.
The trickiest challenge for many financial advisors is raising the issue of charitable giving in the first place. If clients don't initiate the conversation, what's the best way to broach the subject without sounding preachy or pushy?
"There's a real fear among some advisors of how to bring it up if a client isn't very philanthropic," Laughton said. "It may feel like you're prying or the topic may seem out of bounds."
Mentioning charitable-giving options as part of a larger discussion of tax strategy can make sense. If you're searching for possible tax deductions, you can ask clients if they support any charities on a regular basis.
When Steve Pomeranz launched his career as an advisor in 1981, he never imagined that he'd host a radio show with thousands of listeners around the country. But he's found that educating people about personal finance — and interviewing guests on a range of topics — has propelled his business growth.
XA certified financial planner in Boca Raton, Fla., Pomeranz set up shop in 1996 after working at big firms such as Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. To attract clients, he led public seminars in South Florida.
Dissatisfied with the results, Pomeranz heeded the advice of a public relations consultant and ventured into talk radio. What began as a marketing experiment in 2001 has blossomed into a thriving brand-building enterprise. And along the way he's expanded his business into a more comprehensive financial advisory practice.
"Differentiating my business has been a vital part of my success," said Pomeranz, 65. "And the radio show has been a big part of that."
For many years, his show was heard primarily in Florida. But he can now be heard on stations in over 20 states. He's also chairman emeritus of the Financial Planning Association.
IBD: When you launched your firm in 1996, how did you market yourself?
Pomeranz: I starting doing seminars, but that didn't get me very far. They weren't a good way to market because so many advisors were doing the same thing. And there were a lot of 'plate lickers' who came to my seminars for the free food.
IBD: What else did you do to gain visibility?
Pomeranz: I did what other advisors did. I joined groups like the Rotary Club or the Chamber of Commerce. It wasn't fun and it was inefficient. I really didn't do anything to differentiate myself. And my business didn't increase as quickly, that's for sure.
IBD: What led you to talk radio?
Pomeranz: After I started writing articles on financial topics, I hired a PR guy to get them published and he did. Then I asked him, "What should I do next?" And he said, "Host a radio show."
IBD: How did you react?
Pomeranz: At first, I gulped. But I'm a risk-taker. I like to try new things. As a kid growing up in Queens, N.Y., I listened to talk radio. When I was 8, I called into one of those shows. I can't remember what I said, but I remember the host saying, "It's nice you called in."
IBD: Who taught you how to host a radio show?
Pomeranz: For the first two years, the PR guy co-anchored it with me. It helped having him there.
IBD: To what extent did your show set you apart from other advisors? Some of them host shows too.
Pomeranz: To be different, I wanted to be on NPR (National Public Radio). I'd never met an advisor who had a show on an NPR station. I had to differentiate myself, and I thought, "NPR is totally noncommercial. They respect their audience's intelligence."
IBD: Was it hard to get on NPR?
Pomeranz: Well, it took some convincing to get on that first station in Florida. But once they saw what I wanted to do, they agreed. And it was a very good fit and remains a very good fit for me.
IBD: What makes it a good fit? Doesn't a weekly show require lots of work?
Pomeranz: It's a very efficient way to reach a lot of people with minimal effort. I have a producer, a web editor and a team who creates our output.
IBD: On your website, you call yourself "The Investor's Advocate." How did that come about?
Pomeranz: After we started the show, my PR guy asked, "What makes you different?" That led to the idea of being "The Investor's Advocate." As you said, there are many advisors who have radio shows. I didn't want a show just promoting my business. The advisors who impress me — people like Ric Edelman and Dave Ramsey — get in the media and really try to educate. I wanted a platform to do that kind of thing.
IBD: What's an example of how you educate your listeners?
Pomeranz: If I can teach them how to find a good advisor, which we've done many times, people get it.
IBD: How did you choose a name for the show?
Pomeranz: I named the show "On the Money! with Steve Pomeranz." I thought that was clever in 2001. But it became less clever when CNBC started its "On the Money" show. So I changed the name about two years ago to "The Steve Pomeranz Show."
IBD: Do you see yourself as a performer? Do you need to be "on" to host a radio show?
Pomeranz: I'm actually kind of an introvert. Being in a room alone when I'm doing the show solves that.
IBD: Would you advise other advisors to host a radio show?
Pomeranz: I'd advise them to develop a point of view. People are looking for direction. They may not want to know all the technical details. When you see a doctor, you don't need to know the molecular structure of the medicine you're told to take. You just want to know it will make you better. So know and understand what creates wealth. Once you internalize that and invest your own money that way, you can communicate that to the public.
IBD: What lessons have you learned about differentiating your business?
Pomeranz: Marketing isn't fun. But if you do it constantly over time, it works. Most advisors do it a little bit and then give up when they don't see quick results. We didn't get any clients for the first two years of the show. And I was paying for the PR guy and the production. But we kept priming the pump. To truly differentiate yourself, you've got to find something that works and stick with it.
IBD: Has the show helped grow your business?
Pomeranz: Since 2001 when we started the show, the size of my business has increased tenfold. It has been steady growth. The beauty of it is: There I am, on the air, week after week. So if a prospect comes in, they have already been presold. They know me, thanks to the show.
As robo advisors proliferate, there's one quality that algorithms and rebalancing software can never replace: the ability to empathize and connect on a human level with clients.
XAdvisors who enhance their speaking and listening skills stand apart from even the most advanced, engaging robo platforms. When clients need a shoulder to cry on — or a wise sounding board — an attentive advisor can fit the bill.
"Being able to be compassionate and sympathetic is something that robos will never have," said Justin Halverson, an advisor in Minneapolis, Minn.
He cites a distraught client who recently called with upsetting news: Her husband had unexpectedly left her.
"She was crying and soon I was tearing up too," he said. "I let her know she's not alone, we will be there for her and she has someone there on her side."
Halverson, 38, understands the importance of soft skills and other elements of holistic financial advice. Whether clients need to vent, share personal news or open up about their hopes and fears, he knows that his role is to keep quiet and listen.
Only when a client feels ready to talk business should an advisor bring up investments and other account-related issues. It can take 30 minutes or more — or even multiple conversations — for someone to work through their personal travails and focus on their account.
Advisors can get into trouble if they begin every meeting by plunging into business. Failing to notice a client's anxious or distracted nonverbal cues can create a distance that's tough to bridge.
Talk Less, Listen More
Perhaps the greatest gift that advisors can give clients is their full attention. But rapt listening is actually a learned skill.
David MacLeod, a certified financial planner in Fullerton, Calif., credits mentors for modeling the kind of behavior that builds closer client relationships. He has learned to concentrate on what someone is saying in that moment, rather than plan what he's going to say next.
"Also, getting in the habit of paraphrasing what they're saying really helps," said MacLeod, 32. This signals to others that you're listening while minimizing the odds of misunderstanding what you're hearing.
In one-on-one meetings, MacLeod strives to limit his speaking to roughly 30% of the conversation. By posing lots of questions, he's able to capture more information from clients and avoid rambling.
"Advisors can go on and on," he said. "But overexplanations can come across as trying to prove something you don't have to prove."
One of the best ways that advisors can respond to clients is to say, "Tell me more." Inviting them to elaborate on their points achieves two goals: It enhances your reputation as a keen listener and helps you dig to uncover their underlying concerns.
Good listeners also avoid interrupting. Even if you think a client has finished speaking, it's often smart to pause an extra second or two before you start responding.
Advisors who differentiate themselves as particularly strong conversationalists are laser-focused on listening and learning. They know they will have a chance to impress clients later by demonstrating their expertise, but rushing to pontificate can stifle a meaningful dialogue.
Pose Great Questions
In his seven years as an advisor, Halverson says he has refined his listening skills to the point where he's comfortable asking a series of succinct questions. He prefers to pose open-ended queries and grant clients ample time to reply.
He cites the example of a banker in his late 50s who saved well for retirement without spending lavishly on cars or fancy trips. A few minutes into their first meeting, Halverson could've concluded, "He's frugal — a saver, not a spender. Let's move on."
Instead, Halverson asked, "What does money mean to you?"
"Only then did I sense his pride when he started talking about his two daughters," Halverson said. "His eyes lit up. He's a single dad, and he has a specific goal of leaving each of them $1.25 million upon his death."
Thanks to that question, Halverson forged a stronger bond with the banker. "(Clients) will never have that emotional connection with a robo," he added.
A fan of Dale Carnegie, Halverson first read the 1936 book "How To Win Friends & Influence People" in college. He still follows Carnegie's advice to shine the spotlight on others' interests rather than rattle on about your favorite topics.
"You don't want to turn a conversation into what you want to talk about or go on and on about yourself," Halverson said. "You want to find out what others think rather than always tell them what you think."
Advisors gain expertise in many areas. But one of their toughest challenges is almost impossible to learn except through hard experience: how to help clients address end-of-life issues.
XSeasoned advisors may offer practical and even moral input during the harrowing weeks and months when clients — and their families — confront difficult end-of-life decisions. As clients plan for imminent death, a host of issues arise, from confirming accurate beneficiary designations to comforting grieving loved ones.
Advisors with high emotional intelligence can differentiate themselves from less empathetic planners. That can strengthen already strong bonds that these advisors have established with clients as well as their family and friends.
"I don't think we as advisors are well trained in grief management," said Tom West, an advisor in Tysons Corner, Va. "I don't remember learning from my Series 7 (exam) how to talk to a sobbing person."
Adding such skills helps in becoming more a holistic financial advisor, which can help differentiate your practice from other FAs as well as robo-advisors.
Over his 22 years as an advisor, West has developed expertise in helping families face uncertainty due to disability, illness or death. He works with trust and estate attorneys, geriatric-care managers and others who assist individuals with health-related dependency.
"It's a huge, stark differentiator," he said.
Initially, West's interest in end-of-life issues stemmed from his experience selling long-term-care insurance in the early 1990s. He found that some potential buyers couldn't qualify for the policies because of early-stage dementia or other medical conditions. Then West and his wife served as caregivers for her ailing parents.
"I learned that decisions people make about money at this point in their lives aren't always about money," he said. "They're about making people more comfortable and not introducing any more unwelcome change."
Talk It Out
From a business perspective, West says his area of focus leads to referrals from physicians, elder-law attorneys and others who advise individuals and their families on end-of-life matters. He recently added a full-time employee with grounding in these issues to beef up his outreach efforts and in-house knowledge.
"She helps me anticipate what's likely to be clinically recommended so that I can help clients plan financially and define their options," he said. "That way, I'm ahead of the game and not reacting."
Just as West's devotion to his specialty intensified after he became a caregiver for his in-laws, some advisors delve into end-of-life counseling after undergoing a searing personal experience.
Hans Scheil, a certified financial planner in Cary, N.C., had a long-standing interest in advising aging clients to grapple with end-of-life health care costs. Then his mother was diagnosed with dementia in 2011, and he gained a fresh appreciation for handling such fraught situations.
"Lots of parents don't talk to their adult children about their (end-of-life) wishes or communicate different things to different children," Scheil said. "That can lead to sibling rivalry, which can lead to trust issues within families."
For Scheil and other advisors, opening channels of communication for terminally ill clients and their loved ones can prove gratifying. Knowledgeable planners also make practical suggestions such as how clients can connect with hospice programs.
Plan Now, Not Later
End-of-life dilemmas involve painful decisions, often under duress, for clients and their families. They may not even realize that their financial advisor can help.
"There aren't a lot of advisors interested in this topic and who can help clients deal with grief," Scheil said. "Advisors tend to be technical and numbers-oriented. We need to listen and be available to people" who may not have other trusted professionals in their corner.
Even for their healthy, vibrant clients, some advisors add value by integrating end-of-life discussions into the financial planning process. They may confirm the correct beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement plans, review legal and estate documents and offer guidance in choosing continuing-care retirement communities, nursing homes and funeral options.
"We're in the right place to help," Scheil said.
Perhaps the hardest part is initiating the "let's talk about your death" discussion with an unsuspecting client. Sometimes a gentle but firm appeal works best.
"It's problematic if you avoid it," said John Abraham, author of "How To Get The Death You Want." He encourages advisors to broach the subject by telling clients, "There are important decisions that will be made by someone. It's better they be made by you."
An Episcopal priest based in Tucson, Ariz., Abraham warns that "there's no good time to talk about it, so do it now." And if clients raise the prospect of their deaths, even in passing, use that as an opening to make prudent preparations.
"If a client brings it up, don't brush it off," he said. "Don't say, 'Oh, you'll live forever.' "
Actress Jane Seymour doesn't mind being known as "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," the hero of the hit 1990s TV Western that earned her a Golden Globe Award.
Asked whether she thinks Hollywood's infamous sexism and ageism is holding her back, she makes it clear she hasn't ridden off into the sunset.
"More and more women are coming into their own," Seymour told IBD from her home in Malibu, Calif. "So many are brilliant at leading people, but life isn't fair and at times navigating the changed but not yet fully equitable workplace is still a challenge. But at 66, I see that the key is showing up every day with a positive mindset and pushing things forward as much as possible.
"We are pitching a reality show, a comedy series and a drama series. I'm hoping to take our documentary on the late Glen Campbell's last tour and struggle with Alzheimer's and turn it into a feature film on his entire career. I've just finished a film, 'The War With Grandpa,' opposite Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken and Uma Thurman. ... I've wrapped others that will come out later this year and in 2018, including 'Villa Capri' with Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones, 'Little Italy' with Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen, and 'High Strung Free Dance.' "
She has also been building a lifestyle brand with products that have contributed to her estimated net worth of $70 million.
Seymour was born Joyce Frankenberg in Hillingdon, southeast England, to a Jewish obstetrician and his wife, a Dutch Protestant who lived in Indonesia. Seymour had her sights set on a career as a ballerina while at Arts Educational School in London. However, an early injury caused her to switch to acting, and after graduation an agent suggested she take a stage name.
At 18, she appeared in her first film, "Oh! What a Lovely War," directed by Richard Attenborough (she was married to his son, Michael, 1971-73, followed by marriage to Geoffrey Planer, 1977-78). She skyrocketed to international renown in 1973 as Solitaire in the James Bond film "Live and Let Die." She also starred in 1980's science fiction romance "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeve, who became a lifelong friend.
The same year, she also debuted on Broadway opposite Ian McKellan in "Amadeus," playing Mozart's wife, Constanze, which ran for 1,181 performances. Seymour won her first Golden Globe for 1981's "East of Eden," and in 1988 she was the female lead in the 12-part miniseries "War and Remembrance."
Finding Purpose In Adversity
But the decade was not so kind to her personal life. Her third marriage, to David Flynn, in 1981 ended when, as her business manager, his investments in the housing market crashed, resulting in bankruptcy and divorce in 1992. Later, she wed actor James Keach, but despite their long and close relationship, they split in 2015. As part of her healing, she wrote a book, " The Road Ahead," about developing the resilience to overcome adversity, which will be released in December.
"My mother was a prisoner in a Japanese internment camp and had many terrible experiences, but nothing brought her down. She never complained in her 92 years, even when she lost her eyesight and had arthritis, and she never missed a party, so she was an inspiration," Seymour said. "She encouraged my career as a ballerina even though I had flat feet, and this lesson helped me overcome a speech impediment to the point that I am able to do accents and speak other languages. I taught my six children that your challenges can become your opportunity and the struggle can give you a purpose in life that others who have it easier don't get."
She had taken up painting in 1991 to soothe her soul during the personal turmoil and her art is now sold through galleries around the world and on her website, JaneSeymour.com. This has blossomed into many lines of lifestyle products which she has designed or formulated with partners, including furniture with Michael Amini at AICO, Guthy-Renker for skin-care, and custom art frames for Fotiou.
Building Her Brand
Her Open Hearts line for Kay Jewelers now has more than 400 products in more than 1,400 stores, as well as in another 1,000 owned by its parent company, Signet Jewelers ( SIG), including Jared: The Galleria of Jewelry and Zales.
"Signet and Kay have been tremendous partners and I so enjoy the creative process of introducing tokens of love to everyone committed to leading an openhearted life," she said.
Potential brand partners are given a 28-page book which documents the value she can bring to any partnership or licensing deal (noting that she is known in the 150 countries where her films have been distributed, and her lifestyle and entertainment products have brought in retail sales of $5 billion).
"I'm not just putting my name on things; I design the image and then tell the story behind it," Seymour said. "Before the war, my mother created her own perfume and skin-care line and when I was growing up we would grow our own roses and lavender. My fragrances were developed with Simon James London, recently launched on HSN, from the real flowers in my garden and authenticity is central to my brand."
"People respond to Jane's Open Hearts and Jane Seymour Design brands because her positive messages of universal love and generosity of spirit speak to everyone," said Mark Matheny, founder of Licensing Matters Global, an international brand-management and licensing agency. "Her products are labors of love and she is personally involved, infusing each with meaning and her artistic flair, and she's a consummate professional to work with. We also aim to reasonably price her products, consistent with her philosophy of inclusiveness."
Seymour read for the part of Dr. Quinn the day before it went into production and it was a hit from the start, with audiences during its six seasons averaging 8.5 to 13.5 million, despite airing on Sunday nights. Dr. Michaela Quinn was portrayed as a physician from a wealthy Boston family who decides to move to Colorado when her father dies. Guest stars included Johnny and June Cash, Willie Nelson, and Trisha Yearwood.
The uproar from its fans when it was canceled in 1998 recalled the reaction when the original "Star Trek" was ended three decades earlier, and her series has been in continual worldwide syndication since then. Made-for-TV "Dr. Quinn" movies appeared in 1999 and 2001.
Since then, she's guest-starred on series like "Smallville," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Jane the Virgin," appeared in many made-for-TV movies, and in 2007 was a contestant on season five of "Dancing With the Stars." Her most high-profile motion picture role was as the wife of Christopher Walken in the 2005 comedy hit "Wedding Crashers," and that same year she was a producer on the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line."
Philanthropy has always been an important part of Seymour's life. She is a member of the Celebrity Cabinet of the American Red Cross, is a celebrity ambassador for Childhelp, which aids victims of child abuse and neglect, and is the spokesperson for Camp Soaring Eagle in Sedona, Ariz., for children suffering from serious illnesses. Her Open Hearts Foundation is a "social impact accelerator," which means it evaluates and raises awareness of the best nonprofit organizations, providing expertise, resources, and tools to further their goals.
No matter the setback, she sets her mind and heart to bounce back right away.
Overcame: Turmoil in her personal life, from which she drew lessons to help others.
Lesson: Worldly success brings with it an obligation to share the good fortune.
"Once you find your passion, you have found out who you are."
Research shows that 60% to 80% of all difficulties in organizations stem from strained relationships between employees rather than factors like deficits in an individual employee's skill or motivation.
That's from Van Moody, author of " The People Factor: How Building Great Relationships and Ending Bad Ones Unlocks Your God-Given Purpose." Moody is a pastor who is also an associate trainer for Dr. John Maxwell's EQUIP leadership organization
"When we mismanage relationships, the fallout affects productivity and quite possibly our ability to advance," he said. There are also work-environment situations where healthy relationships with unhealthy people are necessary and those need to be managed too.
Overall, Moody said, "your success at work depends on your ability to set the kinds of boundaries that encourage mutual respect and keep the focus on productivity."
Tips on creating that dynamic:
Live transparently. Being authentic and honest with others, and even allowing yourself to show vulnerabilities at times "can foster tremendous emotional connections, including all-important trust" in your personal and professional relationships, Moody says.
Conversely, even slightly altering the truth is one of the most destructive forces that can permanently damage a relationship, he adds.
Give of yourself. Be cognizant that you're not a taker when it comes to dealing with people.
When we think about what we can do for others instead of what they can do for us, Moody said, "we get to the very heart of healthy, successful interactions. In a strong relationship both people willingly give far more than they take."
Follow through. One of the best ways to really get to know and evaluate yourself is to focus on your behavior rather than your words, Moody says.
"People of integrity do what they say they will do; the substance of their hearts is expressed through their actions," he added.
"By signing up as a leader, you have signaled your capacity to create positive futures for others," she said. Deliver your message effectively through personal qualities such as being friendly, astute, helpful and approachable.
The content message enables you to do things like make requests, give facts, share vision, provide direction, delegate tasks, and outline context and expectations, she says.
The relationship message conveys how you think and feel about those who receive it. Jones says that's comprised this way: Your choice of words, 7%, the tone of your voice, 38%, and 55% by your facial expressions.
Strategically choose words. Use language to talk to people instead of about them, Jones says. Use pronouns "I, you, and we" wisely to create personal relationships.
Jones offered as an example: " 'I welcome the group here,' vs. 'I welcome each and every one of you here.' The first is impersonal, the second personal and relational."
Another example from her: " 'We have to buckle down and work together,' is vague and a statement vs. 'I want you to work together until our task is competed,' which is a clear direction."
Change the conversation. Working in close quarters or for long hours can blur the line between business and the personal, Moody says.
For example, to help stay focused on the project and away from nonproductive behavior, he suggested trying something like: "Let's focus on finishing the quarterly projections instead of the latest gossip about the CEO."
Make visual connections. Looking people gently in the eye when you are talking with them shows you care.
Jones adds that when people speak while reading, or while looking at the ceiling or floor, they lose impact. "They are conveying a relationship message at odds with their words. Their relationship message is interpreted as: Your work and ideas are more important than us. The value of having people together is lost."
Be consistent. Build your reputation, Moody says.
"It's important that your co-workers know what you stand for and what to expect from you," he said. "Then, don't waiver."
Wise advisors don't try to time the market. They know better than to guess how stocks will move in the days and weeks ahead.
XBut that doesn't stop them from predicting the future.
Farsighted advisors look beyond their workaday lives to envision how their business might change over time. They keep one eye on their daily responsibilities — preparing for client meetings, managing their team — while pondering how new products, consumer trends and evolving technologies will affect their practice for decades to come.
"To think that you can continue with your same business model for the next generation, that's a fallacy," said Richard Brownstein, a certified financial planner in Fairfield, N.J. He urges advisors to embrace technology and anticipate the needs of tomorrow's investors.
IBD'S TAKE:Do your clients expect you to know more about the stock market than just what the Dow did today? If you want to understand the state of the market, pay attention to the major averages and leading stocks. Read IBD's Stock Market Today columns throughout the market day, and the end-of-day The Big Picture (take a free trial) for timely market analysis and highlighted growth stocks breaking out of proper bases.
Brownstein hears pundits discuss the transfer of wealth from baby boomers to their adult children. But he rejects the idea that advisors can survive solely as asset managers for the rising generation.
"If your value proposition is you can manage assets better than the other guys, you'll be out of business in five years," he declared. "The next generation of investors is so computer-savvy, and the bots will get so good, that the asset management world will become commoditized."
To prepare for this new world, Brownstein took an online course in 2016 offered by MIT on emerging trends in financial technology (also known as "fintech"). It proved an eye-opener.
The 12-week "Future Commerce" class heightened Brownstein's awareness of what he calls "the soft issues" that advisors need to address to deepen their client relationships. Examples include long-term-care planning, insurance expertise and estate planning.
Annuities For Tomorrow
Brownstein foresees advances in fintech reshaping retirement planning. While annuities are popular today, he thinks a different product — called tontines — will soon gain traction.
Tontines consist of a group of participants who pay into an investment pool run by an issuer that provides a designated amount every year to all the members as long as they live. When one of the participants dies, the surviving members receive higher payouts.
For Brownstein, the true benefit of tontines flows from the convergence of artificial intelligence and fintech. He predicts that tontines will thrive as issuers adopt blockchains — verifiable, ever-growing digital records of transactions — along with peer-to-peer "smart contracts" that bypass traditional providers of financial services.
"Tontines will be an important part of creating income streams without intermediaries like legacy insurance companies with their brick-and-mortar structure," he said. "Tontines will help people better than annuities do today. With tontines, the risk is borne by the pool of investors, not an insurance company. Because of the blockchain, that pool is very transparent. And you have the potential for lower costs because the management of all required information and the distribution of funds can be implemented through self-executing smart contracts."
Time To Think
Seeing the future requires diligent research. Advisors must resist getting mired in their day-to-day business so that they step back and ponder their industry from a lofty perch.
"You have to set aside dedicated time to work on the business, not in the business," said Chris Kerckhoff, a certified financial planner and president of Plancorp in St. Louis, Mo.
To crane his neck into the future, Kerckhoff tracks authors and speakers with compelling messages about how businesses need to change. For example, he watched Salim Ismail's presentation on how "exponential organizations" harness technologies to spur growth.
For over 20 years, Kerckhoff's firm has participated in Zero Alpha Group, a professional support network of wealth management providers. The eight firms in the national network share business ideas and help each other strategize for the future.
In addition, Kerckhoff huddles with five Plancorp colleagues on a quarterly basis for a full-day discussion of their firm's direction. Every three or four years, Kerckhoff says they hire a facilitator "to help us visualize the future on a long-term basis."
"We're looking at what we can do in the next one to two years to set us up for the long term," he said. "The focus is on our clients. Who are they today and who will they be? And how can we support them now and in the future?"
Like Brownstein, Kerckhoff envisions the advisor's role as evolving to serve younger clients with a wider set of needs than simply asset management. They will pepper their advisor with questions ranging from paying off debt to spending on vacations.
"Tomorrow's clients, especially younger clients, will want feedback on their entire financial life," Kerckhoff said. "They'll want a game plan. That means we need to be more responsive and offer an engaging digital platform with more real-time interactive" features.
I'm always doubtful. Everything I do is always doubtful. If you're not having doubt, then you're not pushing it hard enough, or you're not looking at the details close enough. Tony Fadell,founder, Nest
"Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit." Conrad Hilton, hotelier
There's no luck in business. There's only drive, determination, and more drive. Sophie Kinsella,novelist
The tough consequence of giving feedback is that we can't choose for the other person how they choose to hear our words. More importantly, we can't choose for others what they choose to do with them. Angela Sebaly,author and consultant
Budd Friedman may be the person most responsible for the way you laugh. Friedman, 85, is the founder of the Improv, a nightclub that changed the face of comedy.
Ask Jay Leno. The former "Tonight Show" host told IBD: "Comedy would have been different (than it is today) because a lot of people would not have had the opportunity (Budd gave them).
In addition to Leno, whom Friedman briefly managed, Richard Lewis, Larry David, Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfield and many others first honed their stand-up skills at the comedy club when there was nowhere else for them to go. Those early days are the subject of Friedman's new book (with Tripp Whetsell), an oral history appropriately titled " The Improv."
Ironically, as Friedman notes, "It was a fluke." Starting a comedy club was the furthest thing from his mind when he first opened the place.
Friedman grew up in New York a self-described middling student. However, when he came back from service in the Korean War — he was wounded in the famous battle of Pork Chop Hill — he took advantage of the GI Bill to get a degree in advertising from New York University. There followed a succession of ad-agency-related jobs in New York and Boston. But when he returned to the Big Apple in 1962 he had another goal in mind: He wanted to be a Broadway producer.
He'd been enamored of show business since he was a kid. "I'd always wanted to be in the theater," he said in a phone interview with IBD. "But I was 30 years old when I came back (to New York) and I thought it was too late in life to start acting. Also, I was too middle class to starve. So I thought I'd become a producer."
Wanting to become a producer and actually becoming one are two different things. While he figured things out, he did everything from waiting tables at his brother-in-law's luncheonette to selling magazine subscriptions. At the time Friedman was dating his wife-to-be, Silver Saundors, whom he describes as a Broadway "chorus cutie."
Saundors was in the musical "Fiorello!" at the time (and later in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying") and when Friedman picked her up after the final curtain and hung around with her buddies, he'd hear them talk about places in road cities like Chicago and Philadelphia where they could gather after a show — where the food was cheap and they could get up and perform for their peers.
"There weren't places like that in New York. Theater hangouts in New York like Downey's and Sardi's weren't really affordable for the chorus kids."
Friedman immediately sensed an opportunity — sort of. He decided to open exactly that kind of club he'd heard described, but he thought of it only as a part-time venture. "I started this with the idea that I would expand my theater contacts," he said. He was still set on becoming a Broadway producer.
He spent about five months looking for suitable space in the city's theater district, unsuccessfully. He literally gave up, and agreed to buy a relative's profitable Greenwich Village pet shop.
But on the day he was to sign the papers he passed the storefront of a Vietnamese restaurant that had just gone out of business and had a For Rent sign in the window.
The location was perfect, in the city's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. It was in a gritty section not far from Times Square, conveniently close to theaters and where rents were low, just $250 a month, he said.
"I had $500 I borrowed from my mother and $500 from friends," Friedman said, and he made the move. He was handy and did much of the renovation work himself.
Though his financial situation was precarious at best, he spent money when he had to. He knew the Broadway actors whom he wanted to attract didn't want to sing a cappella, so he hired a pianist at an extravagant $50 a week. "That was the extent of my spending over budget. I had to get someone who could play for the players."
Among the pianists who took the job were Barry Manilow and a young out-of-work actor named Dustin Hoffman. Actor Danny Aiello was the longtime doorman/bouncer.
Where Friedman could, however, he made due with what he had. The brick wall that has become an almost iconic feature of comedy clubs wasn't a fashion statement — Friedman didn't have sufficient funds to put up drywall.
In fact, so much was done by the seat of his pants that Friedman named the club after his approach. "It was all the way it came together — improvising," he said. He called it the Improvisation, later shortened to the Improv.
Even after the club opened in February 1963, Friedman was still winging it. He didn't know what to charge and initially asked for only a 50-cent minimum. Unaware even that there were food suppliers whose business was delivering to restaurants, he'd go to an area supermarket every afternoon to purchase (at full retail) victuals for the evening.
It's not surprising that he learned how to operate the club via on-the-job training. There was no blueprint for him to follow. Again, Boston native Jay Leno, describing the difficulties he had finding places to perform: "I used to have to go into bars, put a $50 bill on the table and say (to the owner), 'If people leave, keep my fifty; if they laugh give it back.' I lost a few bucks, but most of the time people were nice.
"The Improv gave me a home. I'd drive down (from Boston to New York) two or three times a week to get to meet people with similar interests and work out in a comedy environment."
Word of mouth spread quickly. The first night, Saundors brought castmates from "How to Succeed in Business," including Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee, and they returned the following nights and brought their friends.
Friedman wasn't shy. If a celeb came in and sat down, Budd always asked them to perform, and often they did. One memorable night toward the end of 1963 or '64 (Friedman isn't certain), a young Tuesday Weld — who'd just won a Golden Globe for best new actress — and Albert Finney got up to sing. Around the same time, so did a young Liza Minnelli.
It soon became clear that Friedman had a potential gold mine within his grasp. He hearkened back to his advertising and marketing background, hired a publicist and after business took off the famous New York night life columnist Earl Wilson wrote about the place.
But it faced one obstacle: The crowds only came after 11:30 p.m., when Broadway shows had closed and its stars left the theaters to join the nightclub crowd. To address this issue Budd hired singing waitresses, so that there'd be some entertainment throughout the evening.
The Lure Of The Open Mic
While Friedman had originally envisioned the Improv as a venue for Broadway singers, it wasn't long before word of its open door — and open mic — policy spread to stand-up comedians.
Soon the club was the place for comics to be, and there was an endless line to audition for Friedman. Asked what he looked for, Friedman claims he wasn't sure. "I had an instinct then and very good taste it turned out. The audience went along with and liked my decisions."
"I'm sure there are people who didn't like Budd, who didn't get on for one reason or other," Leno said. "Yes, Budd ran a tight ship. I think he understood comics, and he understood their needs. It's not something I can explain, but you know it when you don't see it.
"There are people who don't know how to handle talent. Budd was never like that."
In fact, it was all about the funny. There was one comedian (who shall remain unnamed) in particular, "I didn't like him," Friedman said. "He was arrogant." But he was also funny, and soon became an Improv regular.
Not that Friedman was all business. In his memoir, a waitress recalls Friedman saying that she needed singing lessons. "Your voice brings me joy," he told her. "But you don't always hit the high notes right." Flabbergasted, she said she couldn't afford lessons, and he immediately offered to pay half.
It soon became clear that Friedman was an entrepreneurial surfer riding the comedy-club wave to success. In 1975 he opened a second club, in Los Angeles. And using his marketing skills, Friedman garnered scads of additional publicity between 1982-96 with the TV show "An Evening at the Improv."
That's not to say this surfer didn't occasionally wipe out. Increased competition cut into his trade. A club he opened in Las Vegas failed. And there was a major fire at the L.A. location that almost forced him out of business there.
But in each case he fought back. The fire is a good example. Staff and friends returned his loyalty and helped in the rebuilding as soon as the fire department let them back in. Robin Williams and Andy Kaufman hosted a series of benefits called "Up From the Ashes," and in just a couple of days the Improv was partly back in business.
In 1987, he franchised his first Improv, in San Diego, and in 2014 he sold the business to Levity Entertainment Group, which now runs 22 Improvs around the country.
Levity is privately held and never released how much it paid Friedman for the business, though someone close to him suggested it was in the seven figures. And that is no laughing matter.
Started the comedy club revolution and changed the way we're exposed to comedy.
Overcame: All the problems associated with starting a new business in a new industry.
Lesson: Persevere if you believe in what you're doing — and don't be afraid to improvise.
"It was pretty experimental and maybe I should have known more, but once I got going there was no turning back."