When You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

“Thanks for offering to answer my questions but I don’t feel like I even know enough to know what I should ask. I’d rather not waste your time.”

That was how a perspective client started a conversation with me the other day. We have been personal acquaintances for about five years now and a few weeks ago when I had advertised my financial planning seminar she had wanted to come but couldn’t make it work with her schedule. I causally offered to meet for coffee sometime and answer her questions directly. The next time we spoke, a few weeks later, that’s what she said.

The sentiment expressed in this comment is all too common. It comes from a place of self deprecation and humility but also a false belief that professional advice is somehow reserved only for the “elite”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

statsStudies have shown that of households who consult with a Financial Advisor 60% feel prepared for a financial emergency, 65% feel they could manage through tough economic times and 73% are confident their families will be taken care of if they died.

So I said to my acquaintance and perspective client;

“I am actually glad you feel that way, the entire advice industry is based on the assumption that we don’t know what we don’t know so I start by asking you a series of questions to help frame your goals and dreams. The fact is you do know what questions you want to ask, you just don’t have enough confidence to ask them yet. My first task is to help you see that your questions have merit so you feel comfortable asking them.”

We’re meeting next week.

The fact is life can be complicated. When you hesitate to ask questions about things you don’t understand it makes things even more complicated than they need to be. Back in college I had a professor who used to say that the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. When you don’t know what you don’t know you need to ask questions, even if you don’t quite know what to ask.

I’m in the advice industry and my best advice, regardless of the situation boils down to one thing – Ask Questions.

anglesA good Financial Advisor will provide integrated advice that will ensure your security is viewed from every angle. From tax advantages and protection from market volatility to personal risk management and paying attention to debt, a sound financial plan gives your financial security the attention it deserves. By guiding you through a goal setting process your advisor it will start to answer questions you might not even know enough to ask.

Don’t ever feel like you don’t know enough to talk to an expert. That’s what we are here for.

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. He has operated farming operations, a recording studio and a music manufacturing plant, has written 3 books on Economics and Christian Ethics and presented his ideas to business owners and ministry leaders from all over the world. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

Mr. Sheil is currently a Financial Security Advisor and Business Planning Specialist with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.  

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.








Quick Tip #6 – The Value of Planning Ahead

Are you concerned about reaching your financial goals? The Financial Planning Standards Council recently reported on the value of advice. The report showed that working with a financial security advisor can help you feel more confident about achieving your goals:

  • Individuals with comprehensive financial plans feel more confident in their plans to retire
  • More than 80 per cent said they feel on track with their financial affairs compared to only 44 per cent who had no planning

[FPSC, Value of financial planning, 2012]

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

Banishing the Spirit of Eeyore

I used to think Eeyore was funny. Now I just think he’s sad and should be on Prozac.


Ever since I started out in business my favorite character in the Winnie-the-pooh stories has been Tigger. Why? Because Tiggers are confident, “that’s what Tiggers to best!”

I self-identify very strongly as an entrepreneur. That means among other things that I’m a self-starter, self-motivated and generally optimistic person. I don’t expect a hand-out, or a hand-up.  I eat what I kill and kill what I eat. I work hard and I play hard and to be honest some days I have trouble telling the difference.

If there is one thing I cannot stand to be around it is negativity. When I am about to embark on a task, whether it is meeting with a dream client, developing a seminar or writing a book, I first must banish all negativity from my life. In short I channel Tigger and dive in.  In the process I end up banishing Eeyore.

When I was first starting out in business I volunteered as a sound designer on a community theater production of the play “Lend Me a Tenor”. That experience was a bit of mixed bag. The director was crazy, I mean certifiably insane but I had the opportunity to work with some great people and I learned a lot. One line from the play has stuck with me to this day. At one point fictional opera star Tito Mirelli turns to his young fan Max and says,

“When you sing, you got to have the confidence. You got to say ‘I’m Max, I’m a da best, I Sing Good!’”

Some people say that entrepreneurs tend to be arrogant and over confident, even a bit delusional. That may be. Tigger does tend to get himself into trouble when he’s not careful but he sure has a lot of fun and most importantly he learns from his mistakes. Eeyore never learns anything. He never takes any chances and he never grows. Eeyore is nothing but doom and gloom from start to finish.

Of course there are other characters in these stories too. Winnie, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga & Roo, Owl and of course Christopher Robin and each has their own psychological profile.  The point here is not to go into a long and drawn out examination of arch types or the “Tao of Pooh”, as one pop psychology book of the 1980s attempted. The point is that the spirit of Eeyore has no place in business. You need to find the Eeyore’s in your life and either get them some help or get them out. Otherwise they will kill your entrepreneurial spirit and bring the whole organization down.

What Winnie-the-Pooh character do you most identify with?

Can you identify the Eeyore’s in your life?

How do you keep them from bringing you down?