Wayne Tillman CRPC® shares an excerpt from his book “The Second Time Is Better Than The First”, which guides people through the career change transition to become a financial planner.
“And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew, He’d say I’m gonna be like you, dad, You know I’m gonna be like you”. – Harry Chapin
As a little kid, I realized early on that my life was going to be all about working. My father, Harry, was my pal and teacher, but also my biggest influence when it came to getting things done. He invented the “Just Do It” motto way before Nike used it in their commercials.
What I learned from my father became part of how I approached almost everything I did in life. There were a few years as a teenager where procrastination in completing school assignments seemed like a great way to get out to the baseball field, but for the most part, I got down to work and got it done.
There was also a level of need for money. As a youngster, as long as I completed my chores and my school work, I was given an allowance. Having money to spend on myself, or to put away in the savings account, was a driving force in my life. That hunger for money has continued to this day, even though the desperate need is not there now. I do believe that people who had everything given to them with no expectation of hard work in return, may find it a little more difficult to be on your own as an advisor.
My father was a hard-working refrigeration and air conditioning repair person for a major food store in the Philadelphia area. He had a truck and lots of tools and he was always teaching me about how to do electrical and plumbing projects around the house. This gave me the opportunity to learn at a young age how to repair many things. When I was 15 years old, my buddy Jerry and I decided to start our own business during the summer months. We called ourselves “Jer-ayne Aids” and did any work that people wanted done around their home. Besides cutting grass, we painted outside walls with cement paint, trimmed trees, cleaned up yards, and really worked hard at what we did. We had a group of repeat customers, which meant that we didn’t have to market ourselves as much. Referrals were a big deal, which is a great lesson for someone becoming an advisor, because it takes only one screw up to stop those referrals.
I actually learned how to request for referrals from my Dad. There were a couple of times when he would bring me along on some of his side jobs and he would teach me how to do many things with tools and instruments. I learned how to solder copper pipes together and how to correctly wire electrical outlets. I really think he wanted me to go into the trades with him, but he never openly admitted that. When he would complete a job, he always asked the proprietor to pass his name around to their friends. It was a fitting lesson on how important it is to treat your customer’s assets as if they were your own, and how those customers appreciate the special care given to those assets.
When I started seriously dating, the desperate need for money started to hit me. There were dances and movies to attend and nicer clothes were required for such occasions.
I was in need of a car that I could keep running with gasoline at $.60 a gallon, so I had to find a way to get a better pay. That’s when Jerry’s father stepped in and offered me a part-time job in his business machine company, Jero Systems. I was handy with tools, so he started me as a business machine repairman in his back office, and eventually I started visiting client locations. Many people don’t remember how quickly electronics were changing in the late 1960s. In those years, an electronic calculator that would only add, subtract, multiply, divide, memory and maybe square root, weighed 16 pounds and had to be carried in a handle case. The main brand I repaired was Toshiba, one of the leading Japanese consumer brands, but unknown at the time in the United States. I carried a briefcase full of special tools used to lift circuit boards out of the calculator, and lots of replacement boards.
It was an amazing time in the late 60s with large-scale integrated circuitry being introduced into many different consumer products, and calculators were on the forefront of that introduction. My first real sales experience was in 1970 when I brought a new 4- pound electronic calculator into a purchasing manager in a pharmaceutical company in Philadelphia. His eyes popped when he saw how small it was and how quickly it calculated. I found out quickly that listening to a client’s needs helped me provide solutions and options to meet that need.
While working at Jero Systems, I learned many lessons on how to talk to clients, but mostly listen to their problems and concerns. I had to make sure I was understanding the customer’s problems, since I worked as an electronics repair person. I also listened to what was happening in their lives and quickly realized how often the business decisions they made were affected by their personal life issues. Many of these clients were small business owners, and a slight downturn in the economy meant they might have to lay off staff, or reduce the salaries of valued employees. They wanted to vent their frustrations, and I learned that listening became a powerful tool in client retention.
I continued to work for Jero Systems during college and even during the first year of my marriage. I would go to client appointments after class in a suit and tie. I received lots of strange looks from my classmates, but I felt I was gaining more experience in business, and also business connections. I worked hard outside of the classroom and continued to use my desperation for money as a motivator to keep me going.
I look back now and realize that the habit of always needing to earn money has not left my brain. This desire has brought me through from very lean times when money was not flowing as I had hoped. I have met some financial advisors who seem to do this as a part-time job because their spouse is already earning a substantial income. Their determination is not as strong, and it shows up in the number of clients they have been able to obtain.
The truth is everyone is motivated differently, but having a strong goal to always generate more income will help you be successful in the financial services industry.
Lesson Learned: Gain and never lose your desire to make more money.
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