Finding Strength in Tough Times

Let's face it. It has been downright brutal out there for the past 18 months. My business will be down for the first time in 17 years. Many of my clients are quite disappointed with the performance of their investments. I have been buying the dips since March 2000, and most of my clients are fully invested. Am I angry? Am I frustrated? Am I fearful? Do I harbor resentment? Yes, to all the above. However,

Let's face it. It has been downright brutal out there for the past 18 months. My business will be down for the first time in 17 years. Many of my clients are quite disappointed with the performance of their investments. I have been buying the dips since March 2000, and most of my clients are fully invested.

Am I angry? Am I frustrated? Am I fearful? Do I harbor resentment? Yes, to all the above. However, they will not immobilize me. I have a choice. I can stay down, or I can rise to the occasion.

Top producers find a way to go through, around, above or below adversity. They simply don't let difficulties stop them from executing their plan. Remember, people don't drown by falling into the water. They drown by not swimming. Yes, it is OK to get down on yourself and to feel angry and frustrated, particularly during times like this. But it is not OK to stay down. A critically important characteristic most top producers share is their refusal to be broken.

We have absolutely no control over the markets, but we have all the control in the world when it comes to how we cultivate prospects and serve clients. We simply have to maintain activity. I don't care what it is, just do something productive. It will keep you out of the bunker mentality that so many of us are tempted to adopt. What clients want most is communication from us. Period! Fax them something, e-mail them something, send them something or better yet pick up the phone and talk about what's important to them. Let's not give our clients a reason to leave. Instead, let's give them reasons why they should have all their assets with us. Show your clients you care about them more than anyone else ever could.

A wise man told me that top producers communicate with clients more frequently when they are losing money than when they are making it. It is easy to pat ourselves on the back when things are going well. It is the true professional who can take responsibility when investments are performing poorly.

Excellence often comes from doing what others won't. Do you think it is easy to talk with clients during times like this? Is it simple to organize and host more seminars? Is it fun to work longer hours or to ask for more orders? No, to all the above. These things are difficult! That's why so few brokers do them and why there are so many failures in our business.

Let's meet this adversity head on. I am convinced that if you give it your all during these troubled times, you will become a much better, more productive producer when the good times come rolling in. As the saying goes, “If we give more than what we are paid for, we will ultimately be paid more than what we give.”

Problems and crises are inevitable in life and business. We should all heed the words of author Napoleon Hill: “In every adversity, lies the seed to equal or greater achievement.”

Failures and setbacks will never defeat us if our own determination is strong enough. Keep on keeping on. It is one of the basic skills of successful living.

Never forget that bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria. I don't have to tell you what phase we are in. Let's buckle our chin straps and tackle the harsh conditions. Let's prove to ourselves, our family and our boss that we can rise to the occasion.

Harry Pappas Jr. is a senior vice president at a major firm in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., one of Registered Representative's Outstanding Brokers and the author of the manual “Selling From the Heart.”

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