Face to Face

Creating a Culture of Intimacy

by Tony DiLeonardi

How can we create, or in many cases recreate, an intentional culture of intimacy to enhance productivity? The simplest way to do that is to do something different. Doing things different than before often leads to new perspectives, which usually lead to new opportunities. New opportunities inspire thinking, action, and lead to new production levels.

Early in my career, I was attending the top producer's conference for a large regional broker. I was one of 40 fund company representatives presenting to 250 or so top financial advisers-who at that time, were the best of the best. For three days we all sat together and listened as 40 asset managers presented their story and sold their products from the main stage. I can honestly say that out of 40 presentations, 35 were terrible. The two main factors that made me come to that conclusion were:

1. Presentation Skills: They lacked the ability to capture and engage the audience.

2. Content: The vast majority of presenters focused solely on the performance of their product.

I left that conference with two declarations:

1. I can present better.

2. I wouldn't sell based on the performance of a fund.

The first declaration was easy enough to fulfill with study and practice. The second took some serious thought. You see, the old model of presenting was based on a promise, and to be frank, was out of my control. How could I ensure a top-performing fund today, last month, or last year would continue that same way? By selling on performance, I'm giving my advisers the right to fire me if everything doesn't play out as I say. Talk about pressure.

I knew I had to figure out a different method to sell in the industry that went beyond the traditional sales model. Having only been on the job for six weeks at that point, I came up with a plan and made my third declaration:

3. I'm going to help financial advisers be better practitioners, grow their business, and manage their life.  

No small feat, but I was ready. I took on a completely different mindset in my approach to doing business. My focus became less about the product and more about the producer and the culture of the industry itself.

What's exciting about this strategy is that many successful companies are doing it today with extraordinary results. Take a look at Google: They have created not only a unique culture, but also a movement. At the core of their business model is that happy employees are productive employees. Google takes care of its people. They have built a campus where any need you could ever have-in work and in life-is addressed. From meals, to healthcare, to dry cleaning-all your bases are covered at Google. Source: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/googles-culture-of-success/.

Another company that has created an amazing culture for its employees and its clients is Zappos. Their business practices are so transparent, they have their 10 core family values listed right there on their website. Source: http://about.zappos.com/our-unique-culture/zappos-core-values.

1.     Deliver WOW Through Service

2.     Embrace and Drive Change

3.     Create Fun and a Little Weirdness

4.     Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open Minded

5.     Pursue Growth and Learning

6.      Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication

7.      Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

8.      Do More with Less

9.      Be Passionate and Determined

10.     Be Humble

What are your core values for your business? I encourage you to think this through and come up with what really drives you to do what you do for yourself, your employees, and your clients.