Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek says in his books and TED Talks that entrepreneurs need to ask the important questions about what they do, and they need to start with “Why?”

Most of us who were technically trained jump to “how.” And how do we even get to why?

Let’s spend some time thinking about the other big questions: who, what, where and when.

Any financial decision impacts a whole bunch of “whos.” Every couple coming into our office will require several relationships: First, there will be the couple’s relationship with each other, then the couple’s relationship with the planning team. We also have to consider the planning team members’ relationships with one another when dealing with this couple, and then everybody’s involvement with everybody else. If we have a planning team of three, that means there are at least 10 different relationships going on at any given moment. I hope. If they didn’t exist, the business would simply be transactional.

Why is this important? Because multiple ongoing decisions are being made. Because secondary input is being given and received. And because the mood of the meetings shifts according to the mood of the participants.

We all want to focus on what clients want, but each of us interprets those wants differently. At our firm, there are three things we do to anticipate these things: 1) We have a pre-meeting with the team to understand the clients’ situation and what we think will be the most important issues for them. 2) After the meeting, we send out a letter to the clients with our understanding of what transpired and what we believe the next steps are. 3) We try to connect with the team afterward to see what was going on in the meeting.

Given all the various relationships, it should not be surprising how often someone sees something different from what we had expected in the meeting.

Every day in the office we ask who is affected by our decisions. When a new client comes in, it’s important to know who gets chosen to be on the team and who doesn’t, and how that can be interpreted and lead to hurt feelings. I like to tease people in the office, but I know some of them are more comfortable than others with that. Who gets teased and who doesn’t can make some people feel like they are in and others feel left out, even though I am just trying to be sensitive to perceived styles.

In a firm of over 50 staffers, when we’re considering those people we’re going to include in task forces or decision-making or consider who and who isn’t a subject matter expert, that means some competent people are not always going to be included. It isn’t realistic to include everyone. Yet it can affect the work and feelings of fulfillment of those not invited. Trust me. I know. When I’m now excluded from decisions I was involved in before, it can be helpful or hurtful to me, depending on the day.

One of the bigger challenges facing all financial advisory firms (and every industry) is the need to be more inclusive. Our firm wants a more diverse workforce and a more diverse clientele, and we want to have people with diverse backgrounds and opinions feel that they have a voice in the firm.

But not all our goals are realistic. It is tough to suddenly have a diverse workforce when you are only hiring one or two new people a year. It takes time. One of our consultants is a Black professor at a local college. She told us that if we want to have an intern program for people of color, we need to hire two at a time so they can work together to address some of the things we may take for granted or not realize are issues. For example, how do I help them find a Black church?

And we make it more difficult to find people from different backgrounds when we take certain areas off the map. (Do you know how few Texans want to live in Minnesota?) We are often looking for people with advanced degrees, and many of those look a lot like we do. We need to understand what we want as well as what roadblocks—obvious and subtle—exist. Frankly, our team has difficulty doing this without outside help.

Now to get to the question of “where.”

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