You Don’t Have All the Answers

You Don’t Have All the Answers

Many advisors have been conditioned, trained if you will, to position themselves as having all the answers. In a group discussion with a room of advisors following a workshop recently, the consensus was that if somebody asked about what the market is going to do, they would have an answer. Whenever a political discussion arises, they would join the discussion and offer their opinion, usually at full throttle. I made note of the industry jargon and the use of big, complex words. What kind of impression would this make in affluent social circles?

Self-awareness is one of the key traits found in elite advisors. They’re not perfect and are well aware of it. In effect, they are aware of their performance-specific weaknesses that need attention if they want to keep raising their game. As simple as all of this might appear, many advisors lack this important trait.

I asked this group to think of typical advisor faux pas’ that should be addressed this holiday season in the context of self-awareness.


They include:

  1. Talking too much
  2. Being overly opinionated
  3. Talking too much about business
  4. Talking about the market
  5. Using industry jargon
  6. Being too much of a know-it-all
  7. Getting into political conversations
  8. Interrupting others
  9. Being argumentative
  10. Not really listening when someone is talking


The next step was transformational. Citing a page from Charlie Munger’s playbook, I asked the group to think of correcting each trait by inverting—doing the opposite. The discussion was hilarious. Suddenly everything seemed easy, jokes were flying, and the action steps agreed upon were as follows:

  • Talking too much / shut-up and listen
  • Being overly opinionated / be Switzerland (keep opinions to yourself)
  • Talking too much about business / no talking business; stick to the weather
  • Talking about the market / no market predictions; channel their inner Warren Buffet; redirect to volatility and protection
  • Using industry jargon / no industry jargon; lay talk
  • Being too much of a know-it-all / ask questions in conversational tone; playing dumb
  • Getting into political conversations / no political conversations; stick with the weather
  • Interrupting others / never interrupt; bite tongue if necessary
  • Being argumentative / never argue; smile and nod
  • Not really listening when someone is talking / really listen; test self by responding with a topic-specific question


Applying Munger’s inversion technique with a dose of humor put the exercise in perspective. Amidst the fun, everyone realized this self-awareness drill was quite easy. But the hard part was executing their personal corrective action steps. This takes time and continued self-awareness. Yet, it’s doable.

In the words of one of the industry’s top rainmakers (with more than $100 million new assets annually for the past eight years), “It was only by developing the habit of shutting up, really listening, and asking sincere questions that I was able to hit my stride as a true rainmaker in affluent circles.”

In the spirit of self-awareness, engage in your version of a self-awareness inversion exercise, and commit to raising your game in affluent social circles.

Happy holidays and good rainmaking.


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