Be Willing to Get Tough

You have to stick to the program to succeed-and so do your clients.

Nice guys don't have to finish last, but trying to make sure you never tick anyone off is guaranteed to slow you down. If you are serious about your professional goals, you can't worry about keeping everyone happy.

This may sound as if I'm contradicting my own motto: It's all about them. But don't be fooled. "Them" refers to people who are or will be great clients, not everybody else.

You have your goals, your standards, your system for serving clients. This is why "it's all about them." It's the best mindset for creating a thriving, sustainable financial practice-not because you are entered in some kind of popularity contest. There will be times when you have to do something that is patently disagreeable to people, but doing so will be crucial to achieving your objectives.

In other words, you have to stand your ground if people treat you like a salesperson, don't implement their plan, try to get you to alter your market strategy based on what they read in investing magazines, or are less committed to their financial goals than you are.

Just so you don't think that I am prescribing medicine I'm unwilling to take myself, here's a story of a rather unpopular pep talk I had to give one of my own clients, a nice guy who was having trouble with this concept.

Danny (not his real name) was trying to build his business in a way that would never make anyone mad at him. He didn't want to let go of clients if they didn't meet his minimum criteria for investable assets, tell people they had to stop listening to the hype and fear-mongering of the media, or tell people who were not implementing their financial plans to either do so or be terminated as a client.

So I asked him if he had any idea how many people in the financial services industry don't like me, don't agree with me, or think I'm just out there to sell tapes and books and programs.

I told him, "If someone hasn't worked with me personally, they probably have no idea how sincerely I care about helping advisors succeed or some of the lengths I'm willing to go to for that. They don't know, and it doesn't matter."

Then I made my point: "What matters is how well you're doing. And, although that may sound selfless, ultimately, it's entirely selfish on my part. I have certain goals for my business, I know that what I'm teaching you works, and for those who implement, they get serious rewards. If you're not willing to implement, I can't help you. I won't commiserate with you, or pat your shoulder, or tell you it's OK. It's not OK. Either you get with the program and achieve the objectives you set for yourself, or you're out of the program."

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