Road trip! That’s right; my 50-year-old self just took a road trip. Not quite the same kind I used to take in college, but the kind you take to stay connected with the industry, your clients and your team.
The timing of this trip was just right – at the start of the year, when people are recharged and energized and traffic is still relatively light. This is a great time of year to immerse yourself back into the market. Equally important, it’s a great time to immerse yourself in the lives and interests of those with whom you work and count on every day.
Questions drive change
The team and I each flew into a central location. From there, we met with a new prospect for an exploratory conversation. It was a dynamic conversation about the issues and pressures facing our industry.
The conversation centered on questions with no pressure for answers (so refreshing!). When you start with questions instead of pushing products, the conversations are so much more authentic. But they also require great patience. The dialogue will usually go in many different directions, but it is amazing how you will all come to some shared themes in the end.
The trends and challenges impacting the financial services industry are pretty big:
- Increased regulatory pressures, combined with a focus on managing costs. How do we help provide support for increased regulation in a more cost-effective manner?
- An outdated and fragmented tech infrastructure. What can we do to upgrade and unify it?
- End investors demanding 24/7 mobile access. How do we provide that access in a simple yet secure fashion?
Their interests align with ours – we’re all looking to drive change in our industry. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time. So the question I ask myself (and pose to my team): How can we help our clients drive that change? While the answers may be complex, there is one constant — to do whatever we do, we need to build trust and confidence in each other. And you cannot do that strictly from the office.
After leaving this prospect, we spent several hours in a car driving to one of our clients. Along the way, we talked to each other – not about work, but about our families and our holidays. We listened, learned and laughed – we even ate at Subway!
I learned about colleges and soccer programs in Tennessee. I heard the exciting news that one of our families will have a new addition this year. I even saw a picture of the college version of my teammate (a long-haired rock star entertaining his cousins at a family function – or so he says).
What I realize as I reflect: this group of people genuinely likes each other. They have each other’s backs. They are the best definition of a team – one committed to each other and our clients. They are prepared, conscientious and want to help. They want to be a part of driving change within our industry. They view winning as a team experience, because they know and care about each other. It is a deeper connection than just working together and earning a paycheck.
While the experiences on this trip may not have been the same as the road trips from my college days, one thing was: I felt like I was traveling with college friends again. It’s a feeling that you like being together and you grow through shared experiences. I know these guys better and I like their company. Just like good relationships made college fun, it makes work fun. And when work stops being fun, that’s a problem.
Pound the pavement
My trip reminded me how proud I am of my team – we are building trust, first in each other and then with our clients and prospects. So to my fellow “roadies,” I want to say thanks. Larry, thanks for your leadership and the ride! Sean, thanks for introducing me to some new executives and discussing the industry. Jeff and TJ, thanks for all the hard work, and making Larry and me look good.
My advice to other executives – take that road trip with your colleagues. You need to do it to stay relevant in your market, but you will be surprised what a great relationship-building experience it will be for your team – and that is just as necessary.