Gardener Vs Carpenter

Alison Gopnik’s book on parenting is a good read and it definitely expanded my perspective on what it takes to be an effective parent.  It also opened my mind to how the concepts of a gardener and a carpenter could be applied to business and wealth management.  We will take a look at each area in our blog this week.  Before we dive in I feel the need to share some self-evaluation.  I’m a below average parent, I was an average wealth management advisor and an above average business manager. 


We all want to be better parents.  Unfortunately we can’t evaluate ourselves until our children have grown up and take their place in society with minimal time on the therapy couch.  Professor Gobnik has studied this subject with an academic and unemotional lens and provides us a road map that is superior to our Honor Role and Elite School acceptance.  My wife and Mr. Rogers walked this talk and I wish I had appreciated their approach and not focused on the hollow accolades that defined my parental “success”.  Many top primary schools are emphasizing the Growth Mindset reproach of Gail Dweck.  It works much better than the old school approach of a disciplinarian.


Much like parental success Advisor success takes time.  If you ask clients why they stay with their advisor the overwhelming response will be because they like and trust them.  If that is the case, good advisors shouldn’t have a business agenda when they meet with prospects or clients.  They need to connect on a personal and emotional level.  That will build trust and create lasting relationships.  The fool’s errand of beating the markets is ephemeral and statistics have proved it is not a viable long term strategy.  Female advisors have this approach down cold.  Unfortunately the males who are still making most hiring decisions are missing out.  Sallie Krawcheck understands and will eat your lunch if you ignore her firm. 


I still have a hard time characterizing myself as "Management".  When I was an advisor, "Management" was the enemy that was always cutting our compensation and adjusting our value proposition.  That memory has caused me to take a different path as a manager.  My path emphasizes how to help advisors not work against them.  While that positioning sounds good in blogs it is challenging to implement because  "Management" has shareholders and bosses they must keep happy.  My self-reported above average grade as a manager is from my advisor colleagues.  If I queried shareholders and my bosses what grade they would give me it would be below average.  Advisors are my clients and while that may work against me, I’ll take that risk. It worked against me at Sanctuary.  Large firms with a thundering herd of advisors are forced to act like carpenters not gardeners.  I view myself as a gardener...

In our instant gratification and measurement world we might not be willing to wait on our garden to grow.  We should wait so our business doesn’t starve. 


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