Best Day

The first thing that popped into my head this morning was the realization that I own more TVs than there are number of times per week that I reach out to my closest friends. Which made me think about how much effort I apply toward holding onto and protecting things and opportunities I think are good for my family, yet which one of us wouldn’t place a higher value on our time and relationships?

The consequence of unchecked rugged individualism is relational poverty and tribalism. It seems we’ve been infected with an acute illness of “us” vs. “them” on pretty much every subject, and forced isolation because of the pandemic and distrust in pretty much everything about everything doesn’t help to build community, obviously.

And yet…our youngest daughter got married this weekend and I received a heavy dose of overwhelming contentment seeing how much everyone there enjoyed each other. Two families, multiple groups of friends, all there showing love to the others. So I don’t know how to address the big issues, but maybe addressing my own weekly behaviors to be more affirming, more outgoing, and a more intentional listener will at least make me and my own tiny corner of the world a bit more tolerable.

And it relates to my profession because as I work with families to do exactly what I reflected on (protecting things and opportunities that are good for their families), I’ll fight for nobility believing that doing those things well will liberate someone from worry so they can use their excess to find happiness in the connections with other people.

30th Work Anniversary

The only thing I’ve ever done in my career is concern myself with the defense of families’ financial wellbeing. I’ve given counsel and helped families plan contingencies for occurrences that might interrupt their financial plan. And I’ve been there as a financial first responder when a really bad day happens.

So in my 60,000+ hours of doing just one thing, I’ll share some earned observations:

  • Optimism bias is alive & well. My biggest competitor is apathy & the belief that bad stuff happens to other people. No one I’ve known has ever said after a loss, “yup, I saw that coming”.
  • There is an overemphasis on insurance and not enough on risk management. Insurance is a product that does nothing for you until after something bad happens. Risk management considers making the bad day not happen or result in less of an impact if it does. Most families and most wealth advisors think good insurance is good enough. It’s not.
  • I’ve never once heard after a claim, “that was a good experience.” Investment in prevention is worth way more than the best possible post-loss response.
  • Core competency and an interest in addressing risk in the body of a fiduciary engagement (within both in the wealth mgmt and the insurance industries) has diminished.
  • People place too much importance on frequency and not enough on severity. We’re drawn to worry about the more common things, and we should instead be drawn to the things that could be most ruinous.
  • Families love to learn. The best decisions are made when the full story is told and my best days are when someone says, “Wow, I never knew that. That helps us a ton.”
  • Risks are evolving. Trends in losses due to weather, wildfires, cybercrime, reputational attacks, professional liability, libel/slander/defamation mean yesterday’s approaches to wealth defense are outdated.
  • More frameworks for addressing the process of risk management are needed. Ad hoc (at best) approaches are outdated. Analytics and formal frameworks based on your specific behaviors will be the future.
  • It matters who you listen to. From whom you take advice today magnifies the result of tomorrow.
  • There’s a tremendous opportunity for wealth managers and insurance advisors to reinforce the emotional benefits of making investments in behaviors and plans that defend a family’s financial wellbeing. Perhaps that’ll be something for me to tackle over the next 60,000 hours.

Chasing The Joy

My mid-year resolution is to relentlessly pursue the joy I used to find in my profession. It’s my fault that it feels more rare to have a good day at the office and I hope that declaring my intent creates accountability for my own behaviors.

I’m going to pay more attention to conversations and less on the accomplishment of tasks. I’m going to commit more to affirming progress and less on spectating uncontrollable circumstances. I’m going to listen more to family perspectives and less to insurance company banality. I’m going to lend support to can-do attitudes and less to “everything sucks”. I’m going to share more of what I know about my subject and care less about those who aren’t interested. I’m going to focus results on metrics I care about and be distracted less by the desires of outsiders.

I have the best days when I’m in someone’s home learning about what they care about and then giving away anything I’ve learned so they can make decisions and change behaviors to improve their wellbeing. I’ve allowed people and establishments that don’t at all care about those same things to capture more of my attention than they deserve.