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The 730 Day War

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Aug 17, 2011 5:07 pm

Ok, I am starting a two year campaign to rebuild my business after a number of major setbacks. First a little background. I am 43 years old, divorced, live at the Jersey shore, have two kids. At my old wirehouse I was doing just over 400k in production after being in the business for 17 years. I Know, that sucks. I was living a comfortable life and even able to put away some money for a rainy day, but was living a pedestrian middle class life. My best friend who is now doing over 1mm in production at my old wirehouse now owns two shore houses and has a big house in central NJ. This guy has nothing on me except he made a lot more calls to his clients and prospects than I did. In fact, right out of training class for the first four years of our business we were neck and neck in assets and production. His business really started to take off when because he kept on opening new accounts while I got lazy and decided to live off the book. His business exploded 500k, then 600k, 700k then 800k, He is now doing over a million a year while I won't even embarass myself to mention what kind of production I am doing.

I lived through the tech wreck in 2000, saw my business cut in half and rebuilt it all by 2005 to my former level of around 300k. Then I started growing again till I was doing over 400k when I left my old firm in 2009. The trasition did not go well. I lost two thirds of my assets in the transition including my largest account of over 4 million dollars. That was a kick in the stomach I could not handle. I developed this guy from a $10,000 muni bond trade to over $4,000,000. My marriage had ended a couple of years before that and i was still mentally reeling from not seeing my kids. Was my spirit broken? that would be an unqualified yes. Did I think about getting out of the business, I'd be lying if I said no, but something kept me going even with my meager earnings. Thank God I waited it out because mentally I am in a totally different place right now. Much healthier. I am ready to devote serious amounts of time and energy back to rebuilding my business. So with that said, I have created the 730 day war plan. That's two years to devote 100% of myself to rebuilding my business, my self respect and my life. I am going to give it my all for 730 days. thats it. I am making the commitment right now to rebuild my book to at the very minimum where I was before and hopefully much more. 

I have been reading a lot of my sales and marketing books recently to figure out what I need to do to get back on track. I have read the following books. Successful telephone selling in the 90's by Marty Shaffiroff and Robert Shook, Selling from the heart by Harry Pappas Jr., The Art of Selling Intangibles by leroy Gross, and lastly the 500 day war started by The Judge on this forum. There are several themes that jump out that was written about by all these writers. First, This business is simple, but it is not easy. What they mean by this is this business is not complicated but having the discipline to execute day in and day out is very hard. Having the discipline to be in the office when you could be playing golf, be at the beach or doing any activity you want instead of calling strangers for money. The second recurring theme in all the above mentioned books is this is a numbers game, plain and simple. who will sell more, the guy who makes 50 dials or the guy who makes 500 dials? The guy who is willing to make 500 dials a day for two years is going to get a lot of prospects and open a lot of accounts. It is just simple math. I am a pretty good salesman but I know a guy in my old office who was a few years a head of me in production time who was a horrendous salesman. Really! The guy did not have any charisma or much of a personality. What he did have was the discipline to fit as many calls into a day everyday. Day in and day out this guy who had a lame personality was kicking 80% of the adivisors in my old offices ass because he would make the calls. That's it. So if he can do it why can't I? That guy by the way is doing above 800k in commissions today. Unbelievable!

Lastly, while the business is simple it is not easy. Markets go up and down. clients get mad and leave us, clients get divorced and die. We need to always be adding new clients to our business until the day we decide we are leaving the business. So I have been reading these forums and there is some great stuff on here reagrding what it takes to make it in this business. Most of what I have read tells me that the most important factor that will determine mine or anyone elses success in this business is the number of people whom we talk to on a daily basis and ask for an order. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you guys that. You have to ask for the business. As Harry Pappas says beg for an opportunity. If I reflect back to when I was a newbie that is exactly what I used to do. M/M_______, All I need is an opportunity to show you how I can help manage your money better than your current advisor, are you willing to give me a shot....please?

So to wrap this up, for the next 730 days I am going to be devoting as much time and energy as necessary to rebuilding my business. That means getting to the office early and leaving late. It means not attending wholesaler meetings. It means when not calling clients to sell them something. calling peotential clients to sell them something, and then call for potential clients. It means asking for the order....repeatedly! and begging for an opportunity.

This may be my last shot at making it in this business. I do not want to be 50 years old and still cold calling at the same level I am going to have to over the next 730 days. 730 days that all, not a lot of time but still significant. 730 days to redeem my self worth and net worth(decimated by divorce not the market) 730 days to lead a better life. 730 days, that's all. Give it my all for 730 disciplined days of asking strangers to trust me just enough to become my client. 730 days of total all out war. That's all....wish me luck!

Aug 17, 2011 5:31 pm

I am a noob and get value from reading these kinds of things. I really wish you great success.

FYI: don’t remarry. That’s my personal opinion. Other than children it’s not worth it.

Aug 17, 2011 6:03 pm


thanks for the encouragement. It will be hard but I think I have enough energy over the next two years to do it. I just need the discipline.

On the divorce, you are right! Especially here in NJ where they rake you over the coals even without an acrimonious divorce. I spent well over $150,000 in attorneys fees for my divorce. I litigated my way into the poor house. Once the money was gone the attorney said, bye are on your own. Is it any wonder I went into a dark four year depression. all that on top of the crash of 2008-09. It was a dark time in my life. But I have my health and my children and I am thankful for those two small blessings. Now it is time to rebuild and prosper. 730 days that's all!

Aug 17, 2011 6:50 pm

See my PM Willy.

Aug 17, 2011 8:58 pm

Absolutely fantastic post!

Aug 17, 2011 10:45 pm

Great post...I have been in the business for 18 years and have started to reinvent myself as well. I always made a very comfortable living. I too went into a deep dark depression for many years due to personal reasons...probably burnout  combined with a change of life values. ..I went indy about 3 years ago...decompressed and did alot of soul searching. I finally got my head on right again about a month ago.

Here is what I am doing is:

Phase 1: Sitting down with all clients over the next 90 days to do a review.

Phase 2: Do second round of reviews with clients then add referrals into the mix for the next 90 days.

Phase 3: Client reviews/ Referrals/ Now add cold calling for appointments using the Nick Murray Train don't strain method as described in his book the Excellent Investment Advisor.

My only fear for you is...relating it to have been a couch potato (Not Prospecting) for a long while to running a marathon your first day out. You have to build up slowly or else you will not sustain your pace. You have to build up your stamina. Slow, steady, consistent, persistent, sustained activity for long periods of time will win the race. If you have experience, some grey hair, and are good on the phone...which you probably will not have to go 100 MPH down the NJ Turnpike with your hair on fire like a 20 something right out of college with no experience (No offense to anyone new in the business on this forum...Willy has been in the business for probably 15 years, at a different stage of life, and probably alot of battle scars that a young buck doesn't have.)


Aug 20, 2011 2:50 am

Zwingding, Congratulations you are one lucky man. I still believe in the institution of marriage but I have to be sure. I just broke up with my girlfriend of 3 years because she wanted a bigger commitment than I could give at this time. she was not willing to wait around. I don't blame her. 

Sep 22, 2011 7:45 am

 Willy Wonka,

Excellent Post!  Everything I read is truly motivating and a refreshing reminder of precisely what I feel is the path I need to follow as well.

I haven't been in the biz as long as you, but I've certainly been in long enough to understand what discipline and execution I need to follow everyday that allowed me to past the "survival" stage of the game and focus on simply growing in a more efficient way.  That said, the hardest part of my reality is the fact that I KNOW what to do, but ACTUALLY doing it has been a failure.  It's something that I struggle with everyday.  I stress and complain to myself that I'm not making enough money and I'm not at the level that I should be in my career, but deep down inside I understand that my lack of current success is a function of the complacency & laziness I've had over the past few years.  Whereas, the success I've enjoyed at the beginning was a function of the hard work, long hours, discipline, sacrifice, & passion I had to "make it."

So yes, I absolutely agree w/ you that this business is simple, but hard.  For me, getting started was first and foremost the hardest part of a successful prospecting day.  It was all the little things required in advance to prepare for a prospecting session such as turning off the computer, clearing off distractions on my desk, & having my prospect list in front of the phone that "delayed" me from starting.  The second hardest part I found that making the first 10 consecutive dials and simply hammering them out.  After doing 10 one after the other, I would always get into a groove & the next 20 dials thereafter were easy.  For me, it's no different than going to a gym.  Getting out of my suit and changing clothes and getting to my car for the 10 min drive  to the gym was the biggest hurdle for me to get started exercising.  The first 10 minutes of running on the treadmill is always painful for me, but the next 20 minutes I tend to find a groove.  I know it sounds cliche, but totally true for me... just the same as prospecting.

At the end of the day, sometimes I sit back and look from altitude and ask myself is this truly hardwork relative to other jobs?  I mean seriously, where I live and work I see over 50-60 people lining up on the streets or near a Home Depot for hours in the cold morning to the hot afternoon hoping to be picked up for construction work.  If they're lucky to get "chosen" they readily accept $6 an hour to perform grueling physically demanding work for half a day and find themselves trying to do the same thing the next day IF they get lucky to be picked up again for a job.  Now that's hard work.  If they only knew what we had to do in order to be successful it would blow their minds.  I can imagine telling them what I do for a living and their reaction.... "So are you telling me all that all you have to do is pick up the phone, ask for money from strangers, and the only downside is having to hear someone reject your offer?  And if you do this everyday, you will have a great career and earn an incredible income?"  I'm sure if they find out that I wasn't doing this everyday the next sensible question is, "why the hell not?"  Yes, why not?!

So yes, I will join you on the same path w/ my renewed sense of focus back to where I think all of us know where we should be.  All I know is that ultimately, any real consistent effort will only help us move to a better place and better life by committing to do what we can in the best way we can.

Also, please let us know how you have progressed in the month since your last post.  Are you running and gunning?  Or did you find yourself taking things slow and steady?  Most of all, are you seeing progress?

Much success & thanks again for contribution to this thread!

Sep 22, 2011 1:27 pm

Great post, Tsaem.

Sep 23, 2011 3:10 pm

Great Post. My advice for you is not to focus on your friends or what others are doing. Focus on what YOU want and design your typical day, week, month and year in advance. Write down your goals and execute. Keep us updated and wishing you success!

Sep 25, 2011 12:59 pm

Great post - I know we all go to those "dark places" every so often. A man who never faces enemies can never be a hero.

If there is one thing this business has taught me in my very short career (almost 4 years), it's that fear is the biggest liar there is, and that to conquer your own fears is to conquer the entire world.

I wish you every success!

Sep 25, 2011 5:38 pm