Inspirational and thought-provoking words by themselves, these words come to life when stories are shared that relate to each of them.
Recently we attended our ConnectEd conference. This conference provides the opportunity for financial advisors from the three Advisor Group broker/dealers to come together for several days of education as well as an opportunity to see friends from all over the country. This year’s conference was at the Gaylord Center in Maryland. Directly across from Alexandria, Virginia the Gaylord has become a destination in itself! Many advisors brought their families, so they could see the DC attractions while they worked. For advisors, there were three main themes of the conference: Leadership, Service and Innovation. A primary keynote speaker was heard each day.
Leadership: George W. Bush was the keynote speaker this day. He was pertinent, funny, self-effacing and his timing was spot-on. I found myself wondering why we didn’t see this side of him when he was President. The job lays a heavy burden on the individual. No doubt, most are relieved to be back in private life. In addition to his talk, he answered questions from the audience with thoughtful candor. Leadership takes many forms. Most leaders are not former Presidents or even famous individuals; however their inner drive and actions taken are big reasons that changes, thought impossible, happen.
Service: This day happened to be 9/11 so the topic was appropriate. Remembering what happened that fateful day in 2001 is sobering for everyone. Marcus Luttrell, a retired Navy SEAL was our speaker. He is the sole survivor of Operation Redwing in Afghanistan. Saying that he didn’t really have any message other than to tell his story, he captivated us for well over an hour as his service dog lay quietly on stage. Recanting being shot off a mountain and having his three partners murdered by the Taliban he provided much detail about his ordeal. His words painted pictures for listeners. Being saved by a village in Afghanistan was almost an unbelievable event. He told how for thousands of years, this village held firm that it’s people would protect anyone who asked them for help. The contrast of these villagers with the Taliban was striking. His books, Lone Survivor and
more recently, Service: A Navy SEAL at War are gripping. When he closed his talk there wasn’t a dry eye of the 4000 listeners. We either had tears running down our faces or were sobbing internally. Several friends downloaded his first book that night and devoured it into the wee morning hours. It’s a read that will give perspective on what a bad day really is.
Innovation: Creative minds make changes that improve situations. Thinking outside the proverbial box comes more naturally to some than others. Walter Issacson has collected many experiences in his jobs as editor of TIME magazine, Chairman and CEO of CNN, the Aspen Institute and as author of several captivating biographies. He spoke of three biographies: Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs. The Jobs biography is his most recent. Giving interesting facts about each individual’s life and patterns kept our attention. Steve Jobs had a frequent comment rendered when someone said his desires were out of reach or not attainable in a certain time window. Saying, “Don’t be afraid. You can do it.” Motivated so many to achieve things they thought were outside their reach. This is a lesson for all of us.
Educational sessions filled the days with a wide variety of topics to select from. Continuing education is mandatory for us. There are requirements for the CFP professional designation, Securities licenses and Insurance licenses. Then there are the broker/dealer firm element requirements. Added up we get at least 80 hours of CE annually. That’s 2 full weeks of study!
In attending conferences I’ve come to believe that if you go away with one or two new ideas you can implement, then a successful experience was accomplished. Certainly thinking about how to better incorporate Leadership, Service, and Innovation in my life as well as inspiring others to do likewise was one message I came away with. We all have an impact on others. The many ‘love letters’ of appreciation received from clients that overflow my file for them are testimony to some of the ways I have provided leadership, service and innovation for them.