Last month one of my partners and I went to speak to a group of CEOs, Presidents, and founders. The gentleman who runs the group is a retired executive from a large accounting firm. They meet monthly to discuss issues facing their businesses and organizations. While they’ve made a lot of progress with their businesses, he was worried about neglect in their personal affairs and put together a panel of experts to address various topics.
His line up featured a physician, an attorney, a personal wealth advisor, and us to speak on personal risk management. When he first asked me, it didn’t take long to accept as you might imagine. Getting a captive audience of executives in small group is a great business opportunity.
We never go into something like this in “selling mode” but rather just try to share experiences and expertise. I’ve found over the years being helpful and adding value is best type of selling I can do. Sometimes folks in the audience do want to know more and will contact you. Other times, they have a friend or relative they send your way. Sometimes, nothing comes out of it directly. And that’s okay. It’s all part of building your brand in the community.
We came for our shared time slot with the personal wealth advisor and actually picked up the tail end of the physician’s discussion. Interesting stuff! And a great reminder that you can’t be the best CEO for your organization if your personal health and energy are lagging behind.
As is often the case, the real value I got out of this, came from listening and learning from someone else, in particular the personal wealth advisor. His delivery and demeanor were terrific, but his basic reminders about saving, choices, and diversification were very helpful. I made a few notes and followed up on them afterwards with my own advisor.
Additionally the more he and my partner talked about their specific areas of discipline, we realized there is a great opportunity for our organizations to collaborate. He mentioned that he was actually in need of a personal risk advisor to work with his clients and wondered if we could help. We made plans to connect on his next visit to the area.
A few days later I received a note of thanks in the mail from the retired executive that leads the group. He mentioned how appreciative he was that we came and share our knowledge with the group. He’s a class act and the note was really nice, but I was embarrassed that he sent his first. Thank us? I quickly sent a note to him letting him know how appreciative we were to be there.
He was sincere in his praise of our willingness to “share” our expertise for “free” with his group. It took me back a little bit. Isn’t everybody these days? One of our core values at Gibson is Foster Collaboration: Innovation is achieved through partnering. We talk about it often and it’s reinforced by a host of alliances and partnerships we have as an organization. You can’t be an expert on everything!
What’s The Risk?
The risk in not sharing your particular expertise is that others – be they your community or business partners, your employees, or your industry – aren’t as good as they can be. And you can do something about it.
The note was a good reminder that a lot of businesses and professionals have a long way to go when it comes to understanding today’s business environment. In some ways, very selfishly, I’m thrilled about this! But the reality is that we all benefit when we share what we know and work to make our clients, our communities, and our industries better. The days of hoarding information like they’re “state secrets” not only lacks transparency, it’s also a reflection on those businesses and individuals that they don’t really understand what has made them successful.
Besides, you might just learn something yourself!