FA Magazine July/August 2021 - Page 23

Mitch Anthony

Interested — Not Interesting

Everyone has a story , including your clients , and they will be glad you asked it .


HILE NOT EVERY PERSON ’ S STORY MAY BE interesting to you , it is interesting to that individual — and he or she wants to tell it . The problem is , not many people want to sit and hear another person ’ s story . Even rarer is the person who attempts to cajole the story out of somebody else . Yet the advisor who acts as biographer will find that clients feel connected and loyal to someone who cares enough to seek and hear their personal stories . I believe that a greatly underappreciated , powerful driving force in every human is the need to be known .
I once met an advisor who told me that he wasn ’ t satisfied with any conversation with new acquaintances until he knew some fact about their life that made them unique — something that he would easily remember about them . Contrast this conversational attitude with the banal types who aren ’ t satisfied with a conversation until they have told you a dozen interesting facts about themselves .
What You Might Be Missing
In my story-gathering workshops , I emphasize the importance of asking people where they are from . After one of these workshops , I was approached by an advisor who shared an incredible and unique story :
“ Many , many years ago , I was invited to a cocktail party at a local assisted-living facility in Little Rock . Now I know you ’ re wondering about
Clients feel connected and loyal to someone who cares enough to seek and hear their personal stories . my social life — and I wondered too as I walked into the event . But it ended up being one of the most fascinating nights of my life .”
He sat down in a circle of people , all of whom ranged in ages from the 70s to the 90s , and asked the woman next to him , “ Where did you grow up ?” She told him the exact address . He nearly fell out of his chair . It was the exact address where he had once lived when he was renting a small house at the back of the property . They had some great laughs and conversation about that old house and the various people who had lived in it through the years .
He then asked her where she had gone after moving from the house . She told him about going to a nearby college where she had roomed with the famous poet , Edna St . Vincent Millay . As she described their friendship , the advisor thought , “ How fascinating !”
At this point , he noticed a woman a couple of chairs down who seemed quite tuned in to their conversation . “ How about you ?” he asked . “ Where are you from ?” “ I ’ m from Wisconsin ,” she replied . “ Really ?” he responded . “ What did you do in Wisconsin ?” “ Oh , I worked for the government ,” she replied dismissively . “ What did you do with the government ?” he prompted . “ I worked for a United States senator ,” she said as nonchalantly as possible .