“Getting Naked” for Clients
Connecting More Meaningfully by Being Vulnerable
Dov Baron has been my personal leadership coach for over four years now. As someone who has attended “Date with Destiny”, “Unleash the Power Within”, and spent a week at Tony Robbins’ Namale Resort in Fiji, I can truly say that Dov’s immersive 24-hour session was the most profound experience for improvement I have ever been a part of. I was introduced to Dov by a friend of mine after conversations at a Strategic Coach 10x session in Toronto. His insights, depth of experience and continued support have made a major difference in my personal well-being, our marriage, and our business. Many from our team expressed that his two-day training at the end of September was the best they have experienced in their lifetimes. This means a lot considering many of us are training and conference junkies.
One of Dov’s primary focuses of our training was to help solidify the importance of being vulnerable. We connect with others when we are truly vulnerable with them. The best friendships we find are with those we feel comfortable sharing feelings, past hurts, and potentially embarrassing facts from the past. We share, assuming the other person may reciprocate and help us in some way. In the best case, one person sharing leads to the other sharing, without judgement. If one chooses not to share or chooses to judge instead of seeking to understand, it stunts the relationship. But those who are most open find they can connect more readily with others than those who are closed down. We unfortunately run the risk of manipulative personalities taking advantage of our vulnerability, so we learn how to be discerning with others sharing reciprocal vulnerabilities and look for potential “red flags”. Most of the time, choosing to be truly vulnerable gains us more than being closed off, however.
The “Getting Naked” Video can be found at the end of this article.
Dov started us off on Friday sharing one thing that no-one in the room would know about us. It got us in the frame of mind of sharing with others. We ended the weekend sharing our stories with everyone else in the room. I feel I learned more about our teammates this past week than I have learned over the last couple of years. Many were in tears sharing their deep wounds, past hurts and fears and hopes for the future. We got a feel for what we feel most passionate about in a deep sense. It was truly moving.
Much of what we covered with Dov reminded me of the lessons learned from reading “Getting Naked” a few years back. The lessons of the book “Getting Naked” provide a completely different recipe for servicing clientele and building a strong business than what we see from some who chose more manipulative tactics. Rather than relying on gimmicks, promotions, or slick presentations to gain business, the lessons instead are based on tenants that many in this age may consider somewhat backwards.
The book is primarily about making ourselves vulnerable to better serve our clients. Many of us struggle with this type of vulnerability because we as human beings don’t like to be weak, which means we are subject to completely natural but irrational fears that make us uncomfortable being naked. But the ability to be vulnerable in order to benefit our clients allows us to provide better service and be more effective in the long run.
Of course, if the temptation exists to recommend something based upon a higher payoff, a quota or some other incentive there is always the possibility that some may succumb, and conflicts of interest may arise. In our household, I have found that the easiest way to avoid temptation is to take it out of the house. If you want to keep from eating junk food, don’t keep any in the pantry. Likewise, if you want to avoid conflicts of interest it may be best to work with a company that does not have any proprietary products to offer clients. We rid ourselves of most conflicts of interest when we left our previous firm and joined an independent firm without any proprietary products or other types of junk food (Wall Street’s Pigs and Wolves).
Another one of the better ways to put advisors on the same side of the table as clients is to work on a fee basis and own the same securities and products so we are not only more familiar with the holdings, but we can all take advantage of opportunities or protect ourselves at the same time. Some may say we as fee-based advisors make money whether clients are doing well or not. This is true to a limited degree, but in this case our portfolios suffer when clients suffer and outperform when clients outperform. The airline pilot gets paid whether he lands safely or crashes, but he is definitely motivated to land safely. By owning the same portfolios as clients, we are acting much like the airline pilot. Why would you ever want to advise someone to do anything that you wouldn’t want to do yourself or anything that you wouldn’t also advise your spouse, mother, or sibling to do?
THE THREE FEARS
The book speaks to key strategies to do a better job for clients by putting our ego aside and letting go of our fears. The three major fears are included below.
#1 Fear – Fear of losing the business: What clients want more than anything is to know that we’re more interested in helping them than we are in maintaining our revenue source. And when we do something, or fail to do something, to protect our business, they may lose respect for us and understandably question whether they should trust us.
- Always consult and give advice instead of selling. However, if someone is in danger of jumping off a cliff and hurting themselves, you only do them harm by not being more forceful.
- Be sincere and tell the kind truth: If you do not have to occasionally tell a client something he or she might not want to hear, you are not being a true advisor.
- Give away the business: We make a point to give a lot of value to clients before they become paying clients although we have found over time that we are more engaged when we are compensated, and clients are more committed when they have skin in the game.
- Enter the Danger: Dealing with the elephant in the room is never easy, but it is necessary and appreciated by most.
#2 Fear – Fear of being embarrassed: This is one fear that I probably wrestle with more than some. The author advises us to admit what we don’t know and be quick to point out and even celebrate our errors because protecting our intellectual ego should not be important to us. Take a look at Larry the Cable Guy in the picture taken with the Naked Cowboy in Times Square. Many of us would be embarrassed to prance around in our underwear if we looked like him, but we admire him for it and celebrate his courage. And it is extremely funny.
- Don’t be afraid to ask “dumb” questions: Ask the questions that others are afraid to ask. Others may be thankful that you do.
- Don’t hold back on seemingly dumb suggestions: Many times, these dumb suggestions hide genius within them and clients tend to remember the great ideas more than the dumb suggestions that are thrown aside
- Celebrate your mistakes: You do not have to enjoy being wrong, but if you are working hard for a client, you eventually will be. Only those who sit on their laurels and do nothing are never wrong. Take responsibility for mistakes and own up to them.
#3 Fear – Fear of feeling inferior: Once again, I would think that Larry the Cable Guy may have overcome this fear. We must remember that we must place ourselves in a position of service to do a good job for our clients.
- Take a bullet for the client. This is about finding those moments when we can humble ourselves and sacrificially take some of the burden off a client in a difficult situation, and then confront them with the kind truth. This happens less in the wealth management business than others in that everything must be documented so stringently, but it could be a situation where we take the blame and assume the mantle of the bad guy to help our clients save face.
- Put the clients’ interests ahead of our own: As a registered investment advisor we are required to do this. We are held to a higher standard by the SEC in that brokers are only required to advise what is suitable.
- Honor the client’s work and do the dirty work: We need to be willing to take on whatever the client needs within the context of our services. Many times, this may be done by a service person within the practice, but we are always striving to go above and beyond and take an interest in those things that are important to our clients.
In essence the book “Getting Naked” is all about servicing the clients the way they would like to be serviced if they had perfect knowledge concerning what they want and need. Knowing the right thing to do comes from experience and being able to listen to clients’ needs and desires although perfect knowledge is almost never achieved. To the extent we can acquire the knowledge, understanding, be able to execute and have the discipline to do the right thing we will be successful for clients at least by my definition.
Joe Franklin has been recognized as one of the TOP ADVISORS in Tennessee
Franklin Wealth Management
4700 Hixson Pike
Hixson, Tn 37343