June 28, 2019

Silence the Critics to Become the Advisor You Are Meant to Be

I recently read in a blog post that Babe Ruth, the larger than life character who basically reinvented the game of baseball with his home run power in the 1920’s, only received 215 of the possible 226 votes for his election into the Major League Baseball Hal of Fame.

Granted, he rightfully sailed in as a first ballot selection with over 95% of the votes.  But I can’t, for the life of me, imagine how 11 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America saw fit to cast a“No” ballot for The Babe!

I mean really… who ARE these people who can be presented with irrefutable facts and evidence of superior performance by an individual and decide arbitrarily that they do not belong among the elite of their sport?

That’s just craziness tome, and yet, it not only happened, it is happening right now!

As I am prone to do, that took me down a Google rabbit hole of “Well if 11 idiots didn’t vote for Babe Ruth, what percentage of these bystanders with ink pens and voting power said “No” to other of baseball’s greats for entry into the Hall of Fame?” Turns out…plenty.

I won’t bore you by reciting all the stats, because you can look them up here.  But the only unanimous vote was cast for Mariano Rivera, the game’s all-time great closer for the Yankees.  Much deserved.  Three people left Ken Griffey, Jr. off of their ballot and a remarkable eight people left Cal Ripken, Jr. off of theirs.  Hank Aaron – 9 no’s.  Stan Musial and Willie Mays – an incredible 23 no’s.  And then there was Ted Williams, who hated the writers of his day more than anyone ever, and they rewarded him with 20 no’s.  And don’t even get me started on Pete Rose.

The point to this story is that even among the best of the best, there are critics.  There are those who no matter how well you door how good you are to most people, for whatever reason, they just won’t agree and will find fault in something, anything, you do.

But we do not play the game for them.  We play it for those who want and need us to play it at our best level and we play it for our own need to become our authentic selves.  Perhaps President Theodore Roosevelt said it best in his famous speech in France in 1910:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

If there is anything we are doing as advisors, it is that we are spending ourselves in a “worthy cause”.  We are helping people overcome inertia, make progress, fund dreams, eliminate worries, and live happier, more confident lives.  By giving them someone to trust who understands the financial things that they don’t understand, or just don’t want to, we help relieve the anxiety of going it alone or living in fear that is mostly made up in their minds.

For some we plan just to get to the finish line safely in this life. For others, it is planning for their legacy to be multi-generational.  For all, it is THEIR dreams we plan for and THEIR worries and dangers we seek to minimize and eliminate.

This is a priceless gift that is really hard to put a price on, despite our industry’s best efforts to do so.  Our best clients know this and gladly pay our price, some of it for our wisdom and experience and some of it for the comfort of a personal trusted human relationship.  They would never consider switching for the low cost, impersonal service provider to save money because they value the things those platforms could never give them: Us.


The critics say you charge too much, your method of choosing investments is old school, you make money off of other people’s money, you’re outsourcing and not even actually managing the money, you’re only interested in big portfolios and ignore the little guys,you’re not to be trusted because of other bad apples in the industry, and people would be much better off just doing it themselves instead of going to someone like you.  Right?  We’ve all heard and read all that and more.


But the critics see the world through a different lens.  A lens that is limited in scope and one that probably has its own angle if truth be told.  One only has to look at politics to see how true this statement is, where someone is lucky if even half the population likes them at any given moment, and the propaganda to sway opinions on one side or the other are always in full swing.


Fortunately for us we are more like Babe Ruth than we are like a politician.  I’m not sure if 95% of the people approve,but it doesn’t really matter does it? Even if it’s 50% or 30%, what if it were the right 50% who heard our voice, like our style and follow our lead?  Even at that level, you’d have one hell of a career and help a lot of people live better and more confident lives.


Those are our tribe, our people.  They need us desperately in ways they cannot even articulate and despite the ever louder voices of the critics,we must press on and find them and put ourselves out there in a myriad of ways so they can find us.


And we HAVE to learn to silence that strongest critic of all….the one in the mirror!


You’re ugly, you don’t speak well, you can’t string together coherent sentences in writing to save your life, they probably already work with someone, their brother in law is a CPA, their dad is a successful business guy, I don’t want to just jump out of the bushes at them, and a thousand other excuses….


Ignore them. Push past them.  They are all made up anyway and your tribe doesn’t even believe them.


The Babe would say “Swing for the fences”.  Teddy would say “To the hero goes the glory”.


I say, “Play this game for the people who love you and need you and ignore the rest” and you will become the Advisor you were put on the planet to become.