FA Magazine July/August 2021 - Page 24

Mitch Anthony
Mitch Anthony
Financial l i F e Planning
How many wonderful , interesting and amazing stories do we walk right by in the average week ?
“ and which senator was that ?” the advisor asked .
“ Senator Joseph Mccarthy ,” she responded .
They had an interesting conversation about what it was like to be on the inside of the most intense period of anticommunist paranoia in U . S . history .
The advisor then noticed that a man in the circle had been eavesdropping , so he turned to him and asked , “ What ’ s your story ?” “ i was an educator ,” he replied . “ not just any educator ,” one of the women offered . “ Where were you an educator , and what did you do ?” the advisor asked . “ i was a superintendent of schools right here in little Rock .” Then it struck the advisor that there may be another historical figure present in that small circle . “ Were you the school superintendent in 1955 ?” That was the year of a historic civil rights event , when the color line was broken at an all-white high school .
“ i certainly was ,” he answered , and they proceeded to have yet another amazing conversation .
This geriatric happy hour turned out to be one of the best parties this advisor ever attended . What are the odds of encountering three such amazing stories in one place in little Rock ? The former roommate of a famous poet , a secretary to a famous and historically significant senator and a famous figure in the battle for civil rights !
What struck this advisor that night was the number of other amazing stories he missed because he failed to ask a question and failed to show interest .
How many wonderful , interesting and amazing stories do we walk right by in the average week ?
The Autobiographical Impulse not only do we all have a story to tell ; we also have a need to tell it . granted , you won ’ t always hear dramatic histories like the advisor in this story did , but you will hear things of importance , because all of us are important and have unique lives to talk about . consider this : You may be the first person who has ever asked . Most people focus on being interesting rather than interested . We all have a biographical impulse fueling a parade of stories about ourselves ; yet we somehow fail to connect the need to tell our own story to the fact that others do too .
This can be especially true of recent retirees who are feeling a loss of respect and a perceived societal demotion . as one retiree put it , “ i went from being in Who ’ s Who to ‘ Who ’ s he ?’ almost overnight .” These retirees are suffering from what i call the “ loss of status syndrome .” Suddenly they feel they are no longer valued . Because they aren ’ t “ doing ” anything , they feel their story means little or even nothing . none of us will ever outgrow this need for respect . and curiosity is the ultimate form of respect . it tells someone that their story is important to you .
This autobiographical impulse living within us is the neglected key that unlocks meaningful and lasting client relationships . We remember and are loyal to the people who show an interest in us .
When my brother , Mark , was in college in the early 1980s studying political science , he came across two books in the college library by evelyn lincoln , the former secretary to John F . Kennedy : Kennedy and Johnson and My Twelve Years with JFK . Mark was an aficionado of the late president , reading everything he could get his hands on , and was thrilled to come across these two old volumes that had not been checked out of the library in over 15 years .
He decided to write the author a letter to tell her how much he enjoyed her books . Much to his surprise , she wrote back a lengthy response . at the time , she was in her 70s and not many people paid attention to those works — or to John F . Kennedy , for that matter . She was thrilled to find a student so curious and interested . The letter exchange soon turned into a telephone exchange , and then lincoln offered Mark an invitation to visit her and her husband Harold ( who had worked closely with Bobby Kennedy in the attorney general ’ s office ). Mark was ecstatic . after a couple of visits , Mark invited me to meet them as well . The dinner started at 6 p . m . and didn ’ t wrap up until midnight . in terms of intrigue and interest , the conversation was unmatched by any i had experienced in my lifetime . Here were two people on the inside of the Bay of Pigs invasion , the cuban Missile crisis , John Kennedy ’ s assassination and more . Their knowledge and insight had been largely neglected . They lived on the inside of history and had stories to tell — awe-inspiring , revelatory and salacious . as intriguing as it was , the most astounding part of the conversation was the fact that i had never met two people in my life who showed more interest in me ! There i was , an unknown young man from iowa , and the couple interviewed me like my story was the greatest account they had ever heard . They found out unique aspects of my life , work and ideas and kept digging like archaeologists who found a valuable shard . i was dumbfounded at their genuine interest in me — contrasted with who they were and their status in the world . i felt i had to wrestle past their curiosity about me to get them to share their endlessly
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