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.

A Guide to Better Conversations

Once upon a time people could disagree with each other and remain on civil, even friendly terms.

Ahh the good old days!

It was a time before social media and biased media outlets set up echo chambers online and prevented anyone with a dissenting opinion from saying anything.  The year was 2004, just 14 years ago, when facebook launched, changing the world and the way we communicate with one another forever.

But the death of civility was already well underway by then.

In 1949 the FCC implemented the Fairness Doctrine.  This was the rule that required holders of federal broadcasting licenses to present controversial issues in a manner that was “honest, equitable and balanced”.  The rule required that stations present these contrasting views to ensure that citizens were exposed to a variety of viewpoints and given the opportunity to make informed decisions.  The FCC removed the rule in 1987 and this decision has been widely considered as the main contributing factor to the increased polarization of political views over the last 30 years.

The removal of the Fairness Doctrine made it possible for cable news and other broadcasters to become echo chambers and the private mouth piece of special interest groups.  The internet and social media has only served to make it even easier for these groups to amplify there voice and silence their critics.

It’s with that in mind that I want to give you two tactics for engaging in better conversations with people of opposing viewpoints.  It is my hope that by having better conversations we can return to a time when a disagreement, even one over which political party we plan to vote for, won’t end in name calling and broken relationships.

Tactic One –  Begin your questions with “How”. 

How is less threatening than why.  How did you learn this?  How did you come to this conclusion?  How do you feel about this?

By starting with how you show genuine interest in the other person’s point of view and give them an opportunity to explain their position without judgement.  It also gives them a chance to think about their answers a bit more and maybe start to see the flaws in their arguments without you saying anything.

Tactic Two – Go deeper with follow up questions. 

Once you have people explaining the position with a non-threatening how question you can go deeper and get more pointed with follow ups like based on where and what.  Where did you get that idea? What makes you think that?  Can you explain that?

Try to stay away from why if you can.  Why can be a conversation killer because it puts people on the defensive, the most common response to a why question is something along the line of “because and you’re an idiot for thinking otherwise”.

By asking open ended questions and avoiding direct conversation killers that start with why both parties to a conversation tend to feel herd and sometimes even begin to reconsider their opinions.  The government can’t regulate the kinds of things we see on-line and they can’t force private companies to offer balanced view points, that ship sailed a long time ago. It’s up to us to be as well informed as possible and the best way to do that is to start asking better questions.

So how did you find that?


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

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 or by calling 613-295-4141.








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.