We love to read chronologies about traumatic events.  This last week was overloaded with two such events – 9/11 and the closure of Lehman Brothers, both traumatic events that we continue to revisit.  This blog will examine the power of traumatic events and how they can be like a light to moths.  Don’t misunderstand me, we need to continue to remember like  Cats and Barbara so we won’t forget and repeat past mistakes. 


Tragedy has a stronger lasting impact than success.  We need to be aware of this reality and do our best to remember our successes and try to learn from our failures.  Unfortunately businesses promote success and fire failures.  This reality causes us to promote the top salesperson into a management position so they can teach strategies that are out dated and ineffective in today’s environment.  Clients and shareholders should demand proof of recent success rather than listening to the tireless story about how the professional navigated the Financial Crisis.  Ms. Garzarelli and your High School quarterback are yesterday’s news.


Most of us have a vivid memory about where we were during a tragic event.  We can’t purge that from our memory but we can limit how many times we revisit the event. Sales people and comedians take a different approach to gain our attention and hopefully create a new memory.  The Netflix series Nanette explains the tricks comedians use.  Advisors create a story that shows how they and their firm responded to The Financial Crisis.  We should require more light to insure the veracity of both claims.


My boss required me to get on a plane after 9/11 to show our colleagues that I wasn’t scared to fly or visit locations that were on Bin Laden's List.  I was scared to death!  Financial advisors also referenced the statements of Warren Buffett about how he was responding to the financial crisis.   In retrospect my boss and Mr. Buffett’s advice was correct because they weren't scared.  Finding someone that you respect and will listen to during a crisis is important.  I still respect and listen to my old boss.  Mr. Buffett’s advice and opinions can be found on CNBC and in his annual letter.  We should require that our advisors and our bosses provide us with their crisis playbook in advance of the next crisis.  We also need to fact check their past recommendations using social media and their firm's website.

The winners get to write history.  Not sure if there are any winners after 9/11 or the financial crisis, but the passage of time seems to allow more “winners” to come out of the closet and claim victory.


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