Monday, October 16, 2017

Why Can’t You Make Better Decisions? Ask Your Ego

As most of you probably know by now, University of Chicago professor, Richard Thaler won the Nobel prize in economics last week. Thaler is relatively young by Nobel laureate standards, and his primary field of study (behavioral finance), is somewhat controversial to many in numbers-driven financial advisory world. The idea that psychological research should even be part of economics has generated hostility for years.

So what is behavioral finance?
According to our client, Glenn Freed, Chief Investment Officer of Los Angeles-based LourdMurray, behavioral finance encompasses a body of theoretical and empirical academic research that seeks to explain why people, especially investors (both retail and institutional), do not act in a rational manner. “Think of the moniker ‘behavioral’ as describing how and why individuals behave the way they do.”

Another of our clients, Matt Topley of Fortis Wealth in Valley Forge, PA, said “investing is a psychology game, not an IQ game.” As the old saying goes, human decisions are made with 80 percent emotion and 20 percent logic. According to Topley, the ratio is even more skewed. “After over 20 years in this business, I would say that when it comes to financial decisions, it’s 90 percent emotion and only 10 percent logic.”
A perfect example of this, said Topley is something called the “disposition effect.” That’s the all-to-common situation in which portfolio managers hold onto their losers and sell their winners. “Having spent 18 years on a trading desk,” said Topley, “I can assure you this is the primary reason why portfolio managers underperform--they can pick winners pretty effectively, but they cannot sell their losers.” 

According to Topley, our egos are a big part of the problem. Our egos are what drive the emotional difficulty of parting with a stock that you spent so much time analyzing.  “How can I be so wrong?” you ask yourself. “Eventually my thesis will prove correct.”

Wrong! said Topley.
*** Is this what you’re finding among your own clients? Take the Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™ and see how you stack up to your peers (5 minutes, rapid results).

According to Freed, an advisor’s job is to manage both the peaks and valleys of clients’ behavioral biases. “With the bull market we are experiencing, investors start to get short-term memory lapses. In particular, greed kicks in and investors become inclined to move all their assets into equities,” said Freed. “Advisors should work with clients to extract emotions from their investment decisions and mitigate unnecessary risk.”


“Why do we think we are so good at financial decision making when the odds are stacked against us?” asked Topley. “The simple answer can be traced to ego, but ego is the ultimate enemy especially for our investment decisions. Can people in the financial services industry even evaluate their own personal financial decisions?”


According to Ryan Holiday, media strategist and best-selling author of Ego Is the Enemy, the answer is most often NO.

“One might say that the ability to evaluate one’s own ability is the most important skill of all,” wrote Holiday. “Without it, improvement is impossible. And certainly ego makes it difficult every step of the way. It is certainly more pleasurable to focus on our talents and strengths, but where does that get us? Arrogance and self-absorption inhibit growth. So does fantasy and vision,” he added.

Topley said: “One would expect hubris to be very prevalent right now due to the market’s all-time highs; but again human biases are coming into play.  The 2008 crisis left us with the biggest investing hangover in modern market history. As a result, portfolio managers are scared to death about missing the next correction instead of the hyper-bullish you usually see around equities when markets are at record highs.” 
Freed agreed. “Clearly, greed has kicked in, but some investors still can’t shake the nightmare of 2008-09 from their memories. Looking at the question from a different angle, we should ask, ‘Is the index’s standard deviation higher today?’ The answer to that question is yes! This means that an advisor has to ask clients the right questions and take them down “memory lane.” That’s why Freed reminds advisors about the importance of obtaining high-quality information about clients in order to provide them with the appropriate advice. “Profiling the client investment psyche has become harder because of the recent extreme markets and geopolitical events that the media constantly reminds us about,” added Freed.

Conclusion

“As valuations continue to rise above the top quartile, fundamental analysts can’t get their arms around being long,” observed Topley. “The problem is that they are only measuring the ‘P’ in price to earnings--the ‘E’ essentially stands for emotion. Until the money stops flowing into equities, the market will continue to move higher.


*** Is this what you’re finding among your own clients? Take the Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™ and see how you stack up to your peers (5 minutes, rapid results).

TAGS: Richard Thaler, Behavioral Finance, Glenn Freed, LourdMurray, Matt Topley, Fortis Wealth, Ryan Holiday, Ego is the Enemy


Sunday, October 08, 2017

What High Performing Advisors do Differently Than Their Peers

As I mentioned in my last post, research shows that high-performing financial advisors communicate more frequently with clients than their less successful peers. They are also likely to find certain channels more effective for hitting home with their clients than their peers do.
Public speaking and writing books (including eBooks) are among the top three channels used by all advisors, but other channels have proven especially effective for high-performing advisors. According to our new Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™ 2017, conducted in association with The Financial Awareness Foundation, advisors with double-digit growth expectations in 2018 are more likely than their less optimistic peers to place a high value on the following:
  • Writing articles for publication
  • Being quoted in the press
  • Blogging
  • Producing videos
  • Publishing articles on LinkedIn

% of Respondents Finding Channels “Very” or “Extremely” Valuable

CHANNEL
Advisors expecting to grow by double-digits in 2018
All other Advisors
Gap
Writing articles for publication
69%
48%
+21%
Being quoted in the press
54%
30%
+24%
Blogging
48%
29%
+19%
Producing videos
48%
17%
+31%
Publishing on LinkedIn
32%
20%
+12%
Source: HB Publishing & Marketing CO, LLC and The Financial Awareness Foundation,2017
Still not convinced that frequent client contact is critical?
A CEG Worldwide study of more than 200 wealth advisors found that the highest earning financial advisors contact their top clients an average of 28 times a year (2.3 times per month). By contrast, the next most successful group—those earning $500,000 to $999,999 a year—contacted each client an average of just 13.2 times per year (1.1 times per month). The least successful financial advisors were even less likely to communicate with clients.

“The fact is, today’s clients greatly value regular outreach from their financial advisors—and will reward those who excel in this area,” concluded CEG researchers.
So step up your game when it comes to reaching out and touching clients—just don’t “carpet-bomb” them. Our research found that hosting webinars and social media posts (with the exception of LinkedIn), were considered among the LEAST effective clients communication channels.
And while you’re busy reaching out, don’t forget that October is National Estate Planning Awareness Month. As my survey co-author Val Sabuco points out, 120 million Americans (half the adults; rich to poor) don't have estate plans. THAT’S WAY TOO MANY. “Remember,” said Sabuco, “our goal is to touch the majority of the general public, high net worth individuals, financial service and nonprofit professionals and their organizations at least twice a year to get (and keep) their financial, estate, and gift plans in order.”  Let’s all do our part.

Conclusion

Q4 is under way. Let’s have a good week, month and quarter and finish 2017 strong.
*** Take the Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey and see how you stack up.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Are You Communicating with Clients Often Enough?

Chances are you are NOT!

A CEG Worldwide study of more than 200 wealth advisors found that the top-earning group (earning over $1 million annually) make it a high priority to reach out to their clients regularly. The top-earning financial advisors contact their top clients an average of 28 times a year (2.3 times per month). By contrast, the next most successful group—those earning $500,000 to $999,999 a year—contacted each client an average of just 13.2 times per year (1.1 times per month). The least successful financial advisors were even less likely to communicate with clients. “The fact is, today’s clients greatly value regular outreach from their financial advisors—and will reward those who excel in this area,” concluded CEG researchers.
Still not convinced that frequent client contact is critical?
According to a Vanguard/Spectrem Group Report across all wealth segments, client satisfaction “directly correlates” with the frequency of advisor contact. “Clients who heard from their advisors at least once per quarter were significantly more satisfied than those who received outreach semiannually. For millionaires, satisfaction dropped 28 percentage points for clients contacted twice per year as compared with those contacted every quarter.”
*** Take the Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey and see how you stack up.
But frequency of contact is not enough.

According to the latest Factset Research: “Impressive track records are no longer enough to inspire confidence in proposed strategy; very high net worth clients want to understand in depth how future returns will be sourced.” Researchers added that “their focus on content contrasts sharply with less wealthy clients, who draw on their personal experiences with a firm’s employees to guide their impressions.”

MONTHLY CLIENT
CONTACT

0-1 times
*********************************45%   
2-5 times
*************************31% 
6 times or more
*****************24%
Source: HB Publishing & Marketing CO, LLC and The Financial Awareness Foundation,2017
Our own Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey, conducted in association with The Financial Awareness Foundation, found that more than half of wealth advisors (55%) are contacting their clients at least 2 to 5 times per month. And three-fourths of those advisors (74%) expert their firms to grow by at least 10 percent in the next 12 months.

*** Take the Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey and see how you stack up.
Conclusion

When it comes to client communication, there’s no substitute for quality and relevancy—but don’t underestimate the importance of consistency. In my next post, we’ll talk about the importance of “communication cadence” and look at the types of communications vehicles that successful wealth advisors are finding most effective.



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TAGS: Financial Awareness Foundation, CEG Worldwide, Spectrem Group, Factset, wealth advisor communication

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Protect Yourself from the Equi-Lax Data Breach

Early in my courtship with my wife, I spent many chilly, rainy evenings in Manhattan, standing in long lines outside art-house cinemas to see quirky foreign films I really didn’t want to see. Those black-and-white flicks were usually in French or Italian, with inaccurate subtitles and typically heavy on relationship issues and light on action. Oy!

Speaking of paying for things we don’t really want (and little action), that’s how Equifax and the other credit bureaus have long treated the millions of consumers whose personal financial data and credit history it collects, hordes and sells without our knowledge. Then they have the nerve to put the burden on us to correct the data they have inaccurately compiled about us and charge us to block/freeze others from having access to it.
Equifax announced last week that up to 143 million people may have had their Social Security numbers and other data stolen by hackers. Those hackers are almost as unscrupulous as the Equifax execs who sold millions of dollars’ worth of Equifax company stock, just before the massive data breach was announced.

It’s just a hot mess that keeps building on itself. However, most consumers don’t have time to be furious because they’re too concerned about protecting their personal financial data.
As New York Times columnist, Ron Lieber noted in his recent column, “some people are waiting until the middle of the night to try to use Equifax’s security freeze website and even failing then to get through. It’s like trying to get Bruce Springsteen tickets, except nobody wants to see this particular show,” quipped Lieber.

We know many of you have been counseling clients about what to do if they suspect their social security numbers, credit history and other personal financial data has been compromised.
Here are some tips from our clients, Independence Advisors in Valley Forge, PA and Soundmark Wealth Management in Kirkland, WA.

From the Soundmark Wealth blog:
  1. Select the “Check Potential Impact” button on the Equifax website to see if your personal information was compromised.
  2. Monitor all financial accounts and report any suspicious activity.
  3. Consider a credit freeze.
  4. Sign up for the TrustedID Premier free credit file monitoring Equifax is providing at this time.
  5. Return on the provided date to finish enrollment in the free credit monitoring program.

  • Check your credit reports.  You are eligible for 3 free credit reports per year.  Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to view the reports.  Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could be an indication of identity theft.  If you think you’re a victim, visit www.identitytheft.gov to find out what steps to take.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name, but won’t prevent a thief from impacting an existing account.
  • Monitor existing credit card and bank accounts closely.
  • Consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim, and requires them to verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is actually YOU!
  • Hire a credit monitoring service. LifeLock or American Express’s Credit Secure service are worth considering.

*** NOTE: Please help The Financial Awareness Association with Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey in light of recent natural disasters, Equifax breach, North Korea nukes and revolving door White House.
Conclusion

Eventually Equifax will be punished and consumer privacy rights will be taken more seriously by all the credit bureaus and the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, among other watchdog groups. But it will take months or years for real reform to take place. In the meantime, be proactive. Follow the suggestions from our clients above. Better safe than sorry. If you’re lucky, you’ll have enough left in your bank account to attend a Springsteen concert.


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TAGS: Equifax breach, Ron Lieber, Independence Advisors, Soundmark Wealth Management

Monday, September 11, 2017

Calm Before (During and After) the Storm

As some of you know, I enjoy doing masonry work on the weekends to relax. It’s physical and it’s dirty. It requires a blend of math, physics, esthetics and brute strength. I know manual labor is not everyone’s idea of a fun weekend, but for me, it’s a welcome change from email, texting and computer screens because it is so tangible.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been a repairing a brick retaining wall in my back yard. Actually, it’s my second attempt at repairing the wall. My first repair job 18 years ago, shortly after moving into the home, is now in need of uhmm….a repair. I see now what I could have done better the first time in terms of the foundation, the joints, the slope and adding more weep holes to relieve water pressure that builds up behind the wall. But, that’s how one learns and this version of the wall will be better.
Rebuilding makes you stronger
Speaking of rebuilding, there will be plenty of it in Houston, Miami and throughout the Caribbean in the weeks and months ahead. It won’t be easy. Fingers will be pointed at botched relief efforts, charity scams, insurance companies that won’t honor legitimate claims and forgotten souls who lived for days without food or water before being rescued. But at the end of the tunnel, the human spirit will overcome the worst that Mother Nature has to dish out; just like we’ll overcome the worst the cowardly terrorists have to dish out.
Today marks the 16th anniversary of 9/11. If you’ve been down to lower Manhattan recently, even the most cynically among us has to be impressed with the power of the 9/11 memorial and how it is integrated into a massive new urban space, featuring parks, gleaming office towers, retail and an ultra-modern transit hub. If that’s not an F/U to the terrorists, I don’t know what is.
9/11 is also my Mom’s birthday. Every year, Mom laments how she falls guilty about celebrating on the anniversary of such a tragic day in our nation’s history. But more often than not, she and my Dad make the two-hour trek to Manhattan from their home in Philadelphia. They’ll peruse their favorite museums and restaurants. They’ll take in a show and enjoy just being alive. They’ll probably go to lower Manhattan and visit the 9/11 memorial.

“That’s how you fight back against the terrorists,” she’ll say defiantly, “by going about your business and enjoying life.” My folks are in pretty good health, but they lost their daughter—my younger sister—to cancer last year and no parent wants to outlive their child and memorials make you think of things like that.
I lost two neighbors on 9/11, too. They were young dads who just “never came home from work that day,” as their widows later said. We didn’t lose anyone in our family that day, but we came close.
I was supposed to be at a 9 a.m. meeting in Jersey City on 9/11/01. That’s right, 9 a.m. which meant I should have been on the PATH train directly underneath the World Trade Center (WTC) towers about 8:45 a.m. when the first plane hit the North Tower. I remember, it was a clear, beautiful Tuesday. At the last minute, I decided to go to the polls before work that day, since we had primary elections and I didn’t think I’d return home in time to vote. I often skip the primaries, but for some reason that day, I felt compelled to do my civic duty.
My sister worked at #7 WTC but she had just bought a home and took the day off to pack boxes and finish moving. My cousin (with a heart condition) worked on the 60th floor of #2 WTC. As luck would have it, he had a breakfast meeting in midtown and wasn’t in his office at the times the planes hit. So many near misses that day and it could have been even worse.
A good friend of ours from the Tampa area spent last weekend with us. She was in surprisingly good spirits despite the apocalyptic weather reports about her city that kept flashing across CNN. She and her husband own two properties on the Tampa area coastline (primary residence and rental property) and to cheer her up, we went out to a nice dinner with several other mutual friends and then watched some Netflix for comic relief.

“We have flood and hurricane insurance on each property and at least we have plenty of other places to go,” she said. “Others have it a lot worse than we do.”

She suggested watching Tina Fey’s dark comedy, The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt whose lead character has a signature catch-phrase for getting through tough times: You can stand anything for 10 seconds. You tough it out for 10 seconds and then try to go 10 seconds more.
That’s what helped Kimmie get through years of captivity in an underground bunker having been abducted by a deranged cult leader in the Midwest. That’s what helps her get through setback after setback when she arrives in New York City, with no job, no plans and then promptly loses all her cash.

As was the case 16 year ago on this date. It’s not just one day at a time, it’s 10 seconds at a time, and then another 10 seconds and then another. That’s how Houston and South Florida will rebuild. That’s how NYC rebuilt 16 years ago.

We’re Americans. We’re tough and we have grit. Sure we’re materialistic, we’re workaholics and we think we’re better than most other countries. But, we help each other out in times of need. We open our wallets. We donate food, clothes and water…..and step up to fill sandbags, or bail water and soggy plywood out of neighbor’s homes and we help those out in hard times. Whether it’s a neighbor down the street or a villager from halfway around the world, we know how to step up and help out.

*** NOTE: Make sure to consult Charity Navigator before you give.

Conclusion

No one really knows why our homes or cities are targeted for disasters, but it happens all the time and it will happen again. Thanks to climate change, and terrorism, there really is no safe, worry-free place to live. Help out those in need, because that’s who you’ll be depending on when it’s your turn to face down a disaster. If that’s not part of a moral contract you can live with, then I cordially invite you to HIT THE BRICKS.

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TAGS: Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, resilience, 9/11, Hurricane Harvey, Houston, Hurrican Irma, Miami

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Clients Don’t Care How Many Hours You Work

If ever there was a day to avoid feeling guilty about taking a weekday off from work it would have been yesterday—Labor Day in the U.S.
While most people associate this 3-day weekend with beaches, barbecues and retail shopping sprees, Labor Day evolved in the late 19th century following decades of tensions between workers and unions on one side, and state security forces and employers on the other.

Workers in New York City celebrated the first Labor Day on September 5, 1882 with a parade organized by trade unions. Oregon was actually the first state to recognize Labor Day as a holiday in 1887. By the mid-1890s, more than 30 states recognized the first Monday in September as a holiday. In 1894 Congress voted unanimously to approve Labor Day as a full national holiday, and President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.

Ironically, what began as a Holiday to support progress in worker’s rights has become an excuse for many to overeat, overdrink, over-tan and over-shop. Just as disturbing, it has become a “free” catchup day at the office for way too many Type-A professionals.

Long hours don’t = hard work (or success)
The cleaning crew knows me pretty well at my office. Neighbors often see the lights on late at night in my home office. Everyone assumes I’m burning the midnight oil, but what they don’t know is that I typically take a 90-100 minute lunch break to exercise and/or run family errands. I often don’t start producing revenue producing work until 10am. I frequently leave the office well before 5pm on weekdays to coach youth sports, to catch my kids’ school events or to honor other family commitments.

So when people ask me how much I work, I usually say “about 16 to 18 times a week.” What that means is a solid morning session every weekday (5x), plus a reasonably hard afternoon session every weekday (5x more), plus a little catch up most weeknights (let’s call that 4x) and then two or three short sessions on the weekend (generally Sunday) to tie up on loose ends and to set the table for the week ahead.

And what about all those times when a solution for a tough client problem pops into my head while riding, swimming or running—a solution that never would have occurred to me at my desk? How do you put that kind of value-building for your client into an hourly billing system?

Our client Kyle Walters (Atlas Wealth Advisors) recently wrote that hourly billing encourages professionals to be inefficient. CPAs, attorneys, consultants—
professions long based on billable hours—“are governed by a system that tells workers it doesn’t matter how well you are doing; it only matters how much time you spend doing it,” added Walters. He also pointed out that these are “effort-based” business models, not results-based models. “Why would firms promote and encourage ingenuity when they can create systems and processes that cuts the amount of time it takes to get the client the kind of results they’re paying for?” asked Walters. 
In a New York Times interview Sunday, Jason Fried, CEO of the collaborative work tool company, Basecamp said that unlike most early stage tech companies, “we’re opposed to the prevailing idea in our industry that you have to work 60, 70, 80 hours a week to do a good job. We believe 40 is enough,” adding the 32 is sufficient in the summer months.
In 2010, Fried and his business partner, David Hansson published Rework, a book that systematically debunked workaholism and the “get-rich-young or die trying” culture of Silicon Valley. Fried and Hannson have a new book coming out this year called The Calm Company.
In the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University economist, John Pencavel, published a 2014 study that showed working more than 56 hours a week adds very little additional productivity. But too many insecure and/or highly driven workers feel that extra hours, whether at home or in a cubicle, demonstrates commitment and team spirit. Guess what? Your clients don’t care and your boss doesn’t care.

*** How often are you communicating with your clients? Chances are it’s not enough. Take our Insta-Poll and find out how you stack up to your peers
There are countless books published every year about time management and working less hard for more money. We haven’t joined the ranks of self-help gurus, but we’ve found two very simple techniques to be helpful for our team and our clients: The 25/5 method and the 5-4-1 method.
The Pomodoro 25/5 technique is based on repeated intervals of 25 minutes of hard thinking/working followed by consistent 5-minute breaks. Our own 5-4-1 technique is based on 5 hours of uninterrupted working/thinking time in the morning, followed by a 1-hour plus lunch break. Then you come back re-energized so you can work hard for 4 hours in the afternoon, followed by a reasonable dinner break for family time or personal time. Then you finish up with one hour of regroup time to review the promises, commitments and to-dos of the day and get set up for tomorrow.
Conclusion
It’s the number of hours you put in, but what you put into those hours. That’s how you create value for your clients, your customers and your stakeholders.
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TAGS: Kyle Walters, Pomodoro technique, Jason Fried,
David Hansson, John Pencavel, workaholics, ReWork, The Calm Company

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Danger of Constantly Bailing, Flaking, Texting-Out and other Career Killers

Filmmaker Woody Allen once said, “80 of success is just showing up.” That’s only part of the equation. But the way things are going these days, not many folks could come close to 80 percent. What are we so busy doing?

Last week’s post about our inability to honor commitments in the smartphone age riled many folks up. So, we thought we’d do a follow-up piece about what psychotherapist Nancy Collier, LCSW calls Last Minute-Itis.” We weren’t familiar with this term until recently, but read on if you find yourself constantly bailing, flaking, texting out and wimping out on your business colleagues, friends and family.

According to Collier, the next time you make a plan with someone, you should put yourself in their shoes and see what it feels like to commit to the plan inside yourself. “Shut the back door that the cell phone opens,” advises Collier. “You may find that just by removing the possibility of a last minute text-out, by closing your options rather than keeping them open, you feel more spacious and relaxed.”

Hmmn.

*** How often are you communicating with your clients? Chances are it’s not enough. Take our Insta-Poll and find out how you stack up to your peers
According to Collier, you may find that you feel “more dignified” as a result of committing to do something and by giving someone your word. At HB, we have found that’s what pros do in every walk of life no matter how busy they are…..they make a promise and then keep it. Pretty simple advice!

Collier said that thanks to the cell phone and other mobile technology, people have become more insensitive, immature and self-involved. “It is teaching us that it is okay to behave in a way that is disrespectful, undignified, and ultimately unkind,” Collier added.


New York Times columnist, David Brooks opined recently that we are living in a Golden Age of Bailing. He wrote that there used to be a time when a social commitment was not regarded as a “disposable Post-it note.” He added that reliability is a “core element of treating people well” and that if you don’t “flake on” people who matter you will forge deeper and better friendships and live in a better and more respectful way.”
With the cell phone now making it acceptable to avoid having to make any firm choices, Collier said “we are losing this critical life skill,” adding that it is producing a generation of young people who are “perpetually on the fence” between choices, “inert, and paralyzed by the looseness and open-ended-ness that technology creates and supports.”

Brooks feels we should probably make bailing harder, suggesting “three moral hurdles” every instance of bailing must meet:

1.      Is it for a good reason (i.e. your kids unexpectedly need you, a new kidney became available for your transplant) or is it for a bad reason (you’re tired, you want to be alone)?
2.      Did you bail well (i.e. sending an honest text, offering another date to get together) or did you bail selfishly (ghosting, talking about how busy your life is, as if you were the only person who matters)?
3.      Did you really think about the impact on the other person? (Brooks reminds us it’s always a mistake to bail on somebody’s life event — wedding, birthday party, funeral — on the grounds that your absence won’t be noticed.)
Our take?

  • Put yourself in the other persons shoes…hint, emoji’s won’t help no matter what your age.
  • Leave plenty of time cushion between events and obligations in your calendar.
  • Follow the Pomodoro 25/5 technique (25 minutes hard thinking/5 minute break) or our own 5-4-1 technique in which you work hard for 5 hours in the morning, followed by a 60+ minute lunch break. Then you come back re-energized so you can work hard for 4 hours in the afternoon, followed by a 1-2 hour break in for family time or personal time. Then you finish up with one hour of regroup time to review the promises, commitments, to-dos of the day and get set up for tomorrow.
We have found techniques like these will prevent you from making commitments under duress—commitments you can’t possibly keep. 

  • Make appointments with yourself--and keep them. For instance, “I will get this report done by 11am today”…..or “I will start my morning run at 7am and not be late”…….I will be home no later than 7pm and finish up work after dinner.”
Conclusion

Life moves pretty fast and Sh*!*!*!* happens. You can’t always control your environment, but if nothing else, try to follow the 90/90 principle that we use here at HB. That means honoring 90 percent of your commitments 90 percent of the time (commitments to others and to yourself) and you’ll find that’s a pretty good batting average without the tyranny of being a perfectionist.


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TAGS: David Brooks, Nancy Collier, Golden age of bailing, flaking, ghosting, Pomodoro technique

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Read This Before You Hit ‘Cancel Meeting’

We all get hopelessly over-scheduled at times. But if you find yourself constantly rescheduling your work appointments, running hopelessly behind schedule, never being able to commit to plans with friends or family (including your spouse and kids), then you may have some issues to sort out.

Not to be Miss Manners on you, but every time you bail or flake on somebody—whether in a professional, social or family setting—you’re signaling lack of respect. You’re also signaling that you can’t manage your own time and that you have no respect for other people’s time. It signals that you’re spread a mile wide and an inch deep, and that you’re a chronic “over-promiser” and “under-deliverer.”

Sorry to be harsh, but that’s what you’re telling the world. Don’t be that guy (or gal).

If this sounds like you or someone close to you, you’re not alone. Thanks, to the smartphone, it’s never been easier to bail, flake, blow-off or simply ghost people without risking a face-to-face (or telephone) conversation. It’s never been easier to get out of a time commitment without having to apologize or show remorse. It’s what psychotherapist Nancy Collier, LCSW calls “
Last Minute-Itis.”

*** How often are you communicating with your clients? Chances are it’s not enough. Take our Insta-Poll and find out how you stack up to your peers

Cancelling because of a serious illness is one thing, but when you habitually bail or flake it’s not only disrespectful, it’s a sign of weakness. It’s like blowing off your morning jog, your thrice- weekly gym workout or falling of your diet or budget plan—it means you’re disrespecting yourself.


Do you really want to do business with people (or clients) who can’t honor their commitments? Do you really want to be friends with (or in a relationship) with like this?

We didn’t think so.
According to Collier, tech-driven bad behavior is symptomatic of our increasing inability to make or honor commitments. “The fact that it is acceptable to bail in the final hour means that we no longer have to commit to anyone or anything. We leave our lives forever loose, with the option always present that if something better comes up or we change our mind, we’re out. We live in a constant state of ‘we’ll see.’”

We’re living in a “Golden Age of Bailing” wrote NY Times columnist, David Brooks last week. Brooks said bailing stands at the “nexus of so many larger trends” including the “ambiguity of modern social relationships, the fraying of commitments, and the ethic of flexibility ushered in by smartphone apps.”

Brooks pointed the finger at technology which makes bailing out on commitments very easy. “You just pull out your phone and bailing on a rendezvous is as easy as canceling an Uber driver.”


Brooks said there are different categories of bailing.

1. Canceling on friends. People feel free to bail on close friends, because they will understand, and on distant friends, because they don’t matter so much, but they are less inclined to bail on medium-tier or fragile friends.

2. Professional bailing. This tends to have a hierarchical structure. A high-status person will frequently bail on a lower-status colleague, but if an intern bails on a senior executive, it is a sign of serious disrespect.

3. The networker flake. In the information age, the highly ambitious are masters of acquaintanceship — making a zillion useful contacts, understanding the strength of weak ties and bailing on a networking prospect with a killer-eyed coldness when a better offer comes along.
Author and motivational speaker, Brendan Burchard offers four suggestions for sticking to your word.

#1. Don’t commit. Stop committing to things that you’re not passionate about. When you lack passion for the commitments you make, they tend to feel like heavy obligations or trifle commitments. They’re easy to cancel or quit. Learning to turn down more opportunities (even the good ones!) will help you stick to your word.



#2. Respect other people’s time. Your time is not more valuable than others. Respect others’ time much as you respect and want to protect your own. Remember that everybody has priorities and a to-do list each day. Your decision to cancel on them disrupts their day and life, and that’s not fair. You don’t want people ruining your schedule so don’t do it to others.

#3. Know your payoffs. Sometimes, we say ‘yes’ to a lot of things but we forget the payoff when we start working on them. We forget why we said ‘yes’ in the first place and lose passion, and so we quit. Before you cancel on anything, try to remember why you originally said yes. In other words, revisit the payoff so that you’re willing to endure the struggle.
#4. You break it, you buy it. If you cancel on someone or fail to deliver, you’ve broken your word. You need to buy back your character, reputation, and integrity with an act of kindness, generosity, or attrition. You’ll have to go beyond your original commitment. Not only does this type of act regain your reputation, it also supports you on your journey to being a good person. When you mess up, be more generous. 

Conclusion
In my next post, I’ll share some cures from the experts for Last Minute-Itis and three moral hurdles that every bailer should meet in order to have the privilege of canceling last-minute.
In the meantime, take a deep breath and count to three, before you hit the Cancel Meeting request. Think about the person on the receiving end and the likelihood they’ll honor a commitment with you the next time.

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TAGS: David Brooks, Nancy Collier, Golden age of bailing, flaking, ghosting.