4 MIN READ
At a past networking breakfast, we went through the usual “Hello, my name is…” elevator speech, but this time with a twist. Each person added one piece of advice their mother gave them. I admit at first I thought it was schmaltzy. I was prepared for a lot of “unconditional love” and “do your best,” but the folks in this crowd really got me thinking there’s a place for those tried and true statements. There were some unique suggestions that I realized really can help us all do better in life and in business.
Be Kind: This originates in the phrase “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” attributed to Plato, Ian MacLaren, and others. This is one of my personal favorites and it is probably the message I send my kids most often. Recently I joined the board of The Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Society. In that role, I talk to many of my colleagues about sponsoring. I am saddened by how many reveal they have battled ovarian cancer or have lost someone to cancer. It is touching, but drives home the fact that we know so little of one another.
I Will Survive: Perhaps this mom came of age in the 80’s, or perhaps she just knows that life throws us a lot of challenges and we can all handle more than we give ourselves credit for. Either way, I love the indomitable spirit behind it and the realistic message that life will be difficult at times. Difficulty is to be expected, but we can survive it.
Every Person Has a Story and Deserves a Listener: I loved this piece of advice because it goes beyond the original phrase and calls for action. It doesn’t call for rescue or repair, but rather compassion and active listening, two hallmarks of my most successful clients. It is one thing to be aware that we all have a story, but it is an additional level of awareness to believe everyone deserves to be heard. Are you truly listening to the stories your clients have to tell? What about your colleagues or your staff? Listen to those around you to build stronger client relationships and a more cohesive team.
Embrace Playfulness: Life will throw you some curve balls, that's for sure. But life will send you some hilarious moments that are to be embraced and reveled in. Take the time to play and to enjoy the silly things life brings your way. You will find this adds to your resilience in more trying times.
Don’t Forget Your Manners: The phrase used was actually “There’s never an excuse to not be a lady,” but I wanted to make this piece of advice more broadly applicable. Whether you're in client meetings or at networking events there is always room for good manners. I have gotten so excited about seeing a contact at an event that I just barge in and interrupt—so rude! Afterwards, I fall all over myself apologizing. I could tell endless tales of my accidental rudeness, and while that's unfortunate, I try to learn from my mistakes. And, of course, I always apologize, which is in itself another form of good manners. You won’t necessarily be remembered for being polite, but you darn sure will be remembered for being rude.
If You Do Good It Comes Back to You: Call it karma if you wish, but I truly believe that what goes around comes around. Always approach your relationships by behaving not just as you expect others to behave, but by going above and beyond. By sending good out into the world you can rest assured that at some point the good will circle back around to you.
Treat Others as You Wish to be Treated: Ah, The Golden Rule. Empathy goes such a long way in any business. You truly cannot go wrong if you always put yourself in the shoes of your clients and treat them as you wish to be treated. In business we can lose track of the fact that our client doesn’t know what we know. It can be scary to be the client who needs to admit to ignorance, neglect, or mistakes. Imagine whomever you need to (maybe it's mom or grandma) on the other side of the table or other end of the phone to provide the most compassionate service possible. Do not treat others as an expert in your field would wish to be treated, but rather as a person entirely new to your area of business who may be intimidated by your expertise and overwhelmed by the experience.
If You Are Going to be A Woman in Business, BE in Business: This advice came from a woman born in a time when not all women were in business. She threw the concept of “It’s a man’s world” out the window by adding the phrase, “but it doesn’t have to be.” Approach your business with strength, confidence, and a firm handshake. Do not expect the world to hand you anything. Rather, be prepared to do the work to get it.
Don’t Lose Track of Work Life Balance: If you are a solopreneur or a small business owner, the constant struggle can be to "turn off" work. Use your technology to help you. Set business hours, and honor them! Don’t check email or work on business tasks outside of those hours. Set your clients’ expectations on email and phone call response. Each business owner will have their own ideas of a perfect balance. I can't tell you what your ideal is, but I strongly encourage you to really think about what you want your life to look like and make a plan to achieve your vision.
About Arlene Moss, Executive Coach
Arlene gets a kick out of helping financial advisors get over being overwhelmed and take on their frustrations so their businesses soar. Arlene works to ensure XYPN members are able to help their clients prosper while creating a sustainable business model. Through XYPN Academy and one-on-one coaching, members get the support they need to grow their businesses and overcome the challenges that come their way.