Four Types of Clients


I can’t be sure who it was who first came up with this list of personality types, it might have been Aristotle describing the way certain students approach learning, it might have been Socrates, and it might just have been the guy who sells me my  gas every week.  It doesn’t matter whoever it was.  In reflecting on the way certain clients have been interacting with me this week I thought it might be fun to talk about each of these character types and how I approach dealing with them in my financial practice.

#1 – He who knows not, and knows not, that he knows not.

Otherwise known as the arrogant fool.

Another way to say it is that we don’t know what we don’t know and going through life convinced that we know everything about everything is a recipe for disaster.  The great musician Louis Armstrong once said;

“There are some people that if they don’t know, and don’t know that they don’t know, you can’t tell them..”

This is the definition of arrogant ignorance.  These people will never be your client because they believe they are smarter than you.  Indeed they believe they are smarter than everyone they meet.  The only thing to do when you encounter someone like that is smile politely and move on.

#2 – He who knows not and knows that he knows not.

Otherwise known as the simpleton.

These are some of my favorite kinds of people to have as clients.  People who know that they don’t know things are teachable.  They of course must be willing to learn but the real danger here is that they may become paralyzed if you give them too much new information all at once.

The key with these kinds of clients is to take it slow, give them only as much information as they can digest.  If you go too fast you run the risk of causing “paralysis by analysis” or you end up with a client who feels like they were bullied into making a purchase that they didn’t fully understand.  Both are undesirable outcomes that are to be avoided at all costs.

#3 – He who knows and knows not that he knows.

Otherwise known as the unconscious drifter.

These are the people that, if they become interested in something realize that they had the necessary information all along and make decisions quickly.  The problem is they tend to be asleep to both their own needs and their own knowledge.

Waking up an unconscious drifter is a delicate business.  At first glance they may appear to be simpletons but if you treat them as such they may feel insulted.  The key to dealing with these people is to ask lots of questions designed to probe their knowledge.  Once you’ve determined that they do know more than they seem to be letting on you can switch tracks and begin asking a different sort of question.  Questions designed to get them to see that they already know what they need and how to get it.  Once they see their need they tend to buy quickly and confidently.

#4 – He who knows and knows that he knows.

Otherwise known as the wise one.  Unless you’re selling commodities, these people won’t likely be your clients either.  They already know their needs and they bought a long time ago.  It’s still important to get to know these people.  They tend to be leaders, and can be a great source of knowledge, guidance and influence.  They are also a great source of referrals and if their circumstances ever change, they are the first to know when they do need you.

Watch out for these four types of people.  Don’t waste your time with the arrogant fools but carefully cultivate unique relationships with everyone else.  Relationships with these types of people eventually pay off.

The Prayer of Agur


The Prayer of Who?

agur

Agur ben Jakeh is widely reputed to be the author of Proverbs, chapter 30, sometimes also referred to as the book of Agur. Although most of the book of Proverbs is said to have been compiled by King Solomon, toward the end of the book other authors start to creep in. Or at least the names of other people start showing up.

Not much is known about the character of Agur, he only appears this one time in all of scripture and does not have any mention in any other Hebrew Chronicles of the same time period. This is perhaps because the name itself could just be Solomon again trying to disguise his identity. Agur in Hebrew literally means “the compiler” while Jakeh means the one who “spat out the word of God”. So Agur ben Jakeh in Hebrew means “The Compiler, Son of He Who Spat out The Word of God”.

The actual identity of Agur therefore is not important.

The so called Prayer of Agur has over the years become a personal mantra of mine. For a time, when I was going through serious financial difficulty I taped it to the inside of my wallet and it became one of the starting points for my first book; “Meekonomics; How to Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy.” It reads;

Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God. [Proverbs 30:7-9]

I am sorry to say that over the years I have done the exact opposite of what this prayer requests. I have lied, I have been both poor and somewhat wealthy, I have arrogantly disowned and subjugated my faith in the Lord and I have committed fraud in an attempt to maintain my position and lifestyle. I discovered this prayer when I was at my absolute worst. God brought me to a point where I could cling to nothing I had created or developed without Him. I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night, debts mounting, bill collectors calling and my mortgage company threatening repossession and literally praying for death.

It was during this dark time that, through a Sunday Sermon on generosity, I first heard the prayer of Agur. I read it again this past week as I came to the end of a two month study on Proverbs. Life has changed for me since I first embraced this prayer. I am no longer on the verge of losing everything. I’ve been through “the valley of the shadow of death” and emerged on the other side a stronger, more practical, and more generous man. I no longer carry these words with me everywhere I go but I realized as I read them again for the first time in a couple of years that I still need them. From time to time I still need to be reminded of their message and their power.

Everyone has a tendency to bend the truth and seek after extravagant and disproportionate wealth. We all tend to put too much stock in our own ability and so deny the power of God working in our lives. We all tend to try and keep up with the Jones’ by any means necessary. The Prayer of Agur reminds us not to do those things. He reminds us that God is God and we are not and he reminds us that everything we have is ultimately a gift from the one who made us.

humbepie

The Prayer of Agur can be summed up in one line –

Lord keep me humble, so that I don’t become arrogant and forget about you.

The world would be a much better please if we all tried to remember that.  Let’s do it, shall we?

The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking – Dale Carnegie (Book Review)


Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident. How can anyone ever hope to storm the fortress of fear if he goes into battle with defective weapons or with no ammunition at all? “I believe,” said Lincoln, “that I shall never be old enough to speak without embarrassment when I have nothing to say.” – Dale Carnegie; The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking

the quick

Dale Breckenridge Carnegie was an American lecturer and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills. He was a contemporary of Napoleon Hill and one of the first motivational speakers and self-help writers in history. Although I’ve been influenced by the writing and thoughts of Carnegie through other writers for several years this was the first time I’ve actually read any of his writing directly.

As a result of Carnegie’s status in the self-help and corporate training world nothing I read in this book really came as a surprise. I’m sure his writing was new and innovative at the time but it sure isn’t today. I had to stop on a number of occasions and remind myself that Carnegie’s advice wasn’t so much tired as it is tried and true. The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking was originally published posthumously in 1962 as a compilation of various articles and advice written by Carnegie as early as 1912.

That being said, I did learn something reading this book. I can’t say it’s new information for me but it was re-framed and presented in a way that was new(ish) to me at least. It has to do with where you find your confidence in order to speak at all.

Over the years I have struggled with the whole idea of confidence and arrogance. I’ve been accused of being arrogant in my knowledge of things. When I am confident that I know something completely I have a tendency to come across as arrogant. I know this because my wife has a way of grabbing me by the ear and “whispering” for me to shut up. I am eternally grateful to her for doing this from time to time, even if my earlobes get a bit stretched out of shape as a result. But as I have learned to temper my arrogance I have struggled to maintain a measure of confidence. At times fear, especially fear of appearing arrogant has prevented me from speaking up at all.

So the thing I learned from Carnegie was in order to be confident (which is not the same as arrogance) one must be prepared before he speaks.

But there is nothing new under the sun. I actually learned that from the apostle Peter, Carnegie just reminded me of it.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, [1 Peter 3:15]

Gentleness and respect, confidence without arrogance, that’s what Peter taught and I that’s the whole message of The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking.

For more information on The Meekonomics Project and our community of like minded individuals on the road to debt freedom, wealth and lasting legacies. Write to: themeekonomiceproject@gmail.com

A Few Thoughts on Humility


I run an organization called The Meekonomics Project. If you’re reading this you probably already know that. What you might not know is how much I have struggled to live out the values that the name of the organization professes.

You see, I can be really arrogant at times and I hate that about myself.

arrogant

A friend of mine once told me it’s a bit of an occupational hazard. When you are in the advice business it’s hard not to come across as a bit arrogant. People come to you with questions, and  you’re supposed to have the answers. But what happens when people decide not to take your advice? It’s hard not to be a bit arrogant about it isn’t it? We tend to write people who disagree with us off as stupid and a waste of our time. But that’s just the height of arrogance.

As I have worked through my tendency to be arrogant here are a few things I’ve learned that help promote humility.

1 – Acknowledge the questions. Say something like “Hey that’s a really good question, thanks for asking.”

2 – Ask clarifying questions. “What do you mean by that, can you give an example?”

3 – Admit what you don’t know. The adage says “You don’t know what you don’t know”, so when faced with a question you’re not completely sure about acknowledge that, say something like, “You know I’m not 100% sure let me get back to you.” Then if you like you can move on to #4.

4 – Avoid absolutes. Phrases like, “What I and others have found”, “In my opinion”, “This has worked in the past”, take the emphasis off yourself and frame the response in a way that makes you look less like a dictator and more like a fellow traveller or learned source who’s just a little bit further down the same road.

humble

Remember, in this day and age information is exceedingly easy to get. When people have questions they can usually find the answers on their own with just a few clicks of a mouse. Any business that is based on advice and expert commentary needs to be aware of that. The value you add is more in how you deliver it than the content you provide. In my opinion a little humility goes a long way to building a lasting, trust based relationship with your clients while arrogance only serves to alienate people and give them reasons to discredit you, especially if your brand has the word meek in it…

The Worst Kind of Question You Can Ask


Meekness is often misinterpreted as humility.  Indeed many English bibles have incorrectly translated Matthew 5:5 as “Blessed are the Humble”.  While humility is often a trait associated with meekness it’s not the same and to equate the two and use them interchangeably is just wrong.  Meekness, as I have said elsewhere is a willing submission of power, not a surrender or expression of weakness, but a submission, there is a huge difference.  Humility on the other hand, while it may make it easier to express meekness, is not a requirement.

That being said, I have lately begun to notice something in my business dealings that while it may come across as humble, maybe even meek, is far from it and is actually one of the most arrogant and potentially adversarial things you can do in business.  I’m referring of course to the use of rhetorical questions.

We are taught in sales to ask questions to help our prospects build solutions.  But not all questions are created equal.  The way in which we ask questions is critical to the way we are perceived by our prospects.  Learning to ask questions with meekness and humility is the key to building trust and long standing relationships with your prospects.

Consider two questions, designed at least on the surface, to get at the same information.

Question 1 – Can you please explain to me the process you are using now and how it achieves your goals?

Question 2 – Could you get better results if you did things a bit differently?

Question 1 places the listener in a learning posture and gives the prospect the opportunity to explain their position and show off their achievements.  If there are weaknesses in the process they will likely point them out themselves and give you the opportunity to offer solutions.  Question 2 is adversarial and automatically puts the prospect on the defensive.

Question 2 is a rhetorical question.  You ask it already assuming you know the answer.  If the prospect gives you any answer that does not fit with your preconceived solution then your next course of action is to make him look stupid while presenting your smarter option.    That is the height of arrogance.  It assumes you know better than your prospect.  It places you in a position of power and exploits weaknesses that your prospect may not even know, or agree, that he has.   Sales should not be an adversarial, you vs. them, type of relationship.  It’s a process of identifying issues and proposing solutions together.

Asking rhetorical questions never gets you there. Therefore; in the world of business, especially in sales, meekonomist should never ask rhetorical questions.