I may not be the most handsome, the most charming, or the tallest (the first two are up for debate) Financial Advisor in the country, but I may be the most consistent Fourth Dimension Weekly Newsletter writer! This week marks the third anniversary of the Weekly,which is my sincere attempt to stay connected with you, be useful to you, and be available for you. And I have to say that writing 156 of these without missing even a single week is a source of pride for me. Now that you know that about me, I hope you’ll allow me to share two quick stories with you that may help you to better understand why that’s the case.
Story 1. The Responsibility Speech
For three years in high school and early college, I worked as a Sandwich Artist at the Subway in Oregon. As I recall, I was pretty reliable as an employee, and reasonably competent as artist of sandwiches, but there was one day when all of that came into question, albeit not entirely my fault. My friend, Lon, decided that I was generally too uptight and I needed to relax and have more fun. So one afternoon, he came to my house (when I still lived at home with my parents) and he essentially kidnapped me and forced me to go hang out and play basketball or something. Well, by the time he returned me home in order for me to make it to my shift at Subway, I was already late. Waiting in the driveway was my Mom, Subway uniform in hand, furious that I was failing in my sandwich artistry obligations. She threw my uniform at me (lovingly, of course) and gave me a ‘responsibility’ speech for the ages. It still rings in my ears, and Lon has never let me forget it either, even though he played a big role in my tardiness. It was humbling.
Story 2. Paint Like Somebody Is Watching
During college, I ran across an ad that said something to the effect of ‘Run Your Own Business – Information Session Tonight’. For some reason, it was irresistible. Fast forward a few months and I was running a college student painting business with 11 employees. We painted over 40 houses that summer all over Northwest Ohio. To put it bluntly, it was a very difficult summer job. One of my hard-won clients was a very big name car dealership owner, whose name you’d surely recognize if I said it. He owned a very beautiful and valuable home, and I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to paint it. One day, I was out bidding on another job while one of my crews was finishing the day at this wealthy perfectionist’s home. I felt confident that my crew would button things up nicely, so I didn’t come back to that site before heading home. My pager went off (remember those?) and I found a payphone to call the homeowner back. He proceeded to tear me to shreds because my crew did not button things up nicely, and the dinner party he was hosting had discovered, with wine glasses in-hand, the ladders and paint buckets and brushes strewn about the place. He was furious, and for good reason.
About a week later, I decided we needed to get caught up on this job, so I chose to paint late into the darkness, by myself, to fulfill the scheduling promise I’d made. When this incredibly successful businessman found me painting in the dark, he said something to me that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “I see what you’re doing. I can see in you that once you find your niche in life, you’ll be very successful because there’s only one thing you need to know and you already know it. If you’re there for your customer, there is no competition. That’s it.”
So here we are, many years later. I learned some very difficult lessons that continue to drive me today. Whether it was my Mom’s responsibility speech in the driveway or the multi-multi-millionaire’s career advice in his backyard garden, the message was clear to me: take responsibility for your actions and be there for your customer. Those are the things I can control. I can’t control interest rates, or the stock market, or a big insurance company’s inability to keep their own application paperwork current. What I aim to do with this Weekly newsletter, and our progress reviews, our client events, our education sessions…all of it, is to be here for you in some meaningful way. It all comes from the place in me that’s been formed by people who cared enough to correct me and leave room for me to grow into a better person. I’m happy to pass on what I can to you, even if it’s in some small way, 156 weeks in a row and counting.
Thank you, thank you for being a part of this. Your attention is incredibly valuable so I’m doing my best to respect it and you.
All the best,
Adam Cufr, RICP®