By Maurie Cashman
Originality, as defined by Wikipedia, â€œis a work created with a unique style and substance.â€ How much originality does your advisor group bring to your business?
â€œOriginality is unexplored territory. You get there by carrying a canoe — you can’t take a taxi.” –Alan Alda, American actor, director and screenwriter
Most good advisors are going to carry one or more certifications from a centralized credentialing agency
- Real estate salespersons brokers: Must take a prescribed set of courses and pass an exam. They then must take continuing education courses every three years to maintain their license and pay a fee. A broker must have been a sales person under another broker for a period of time before applying to become a broker. And pay a fee.
- CPAâ€™s: Must pass a rigorous exam consisting of several different topics and work for another CPA for a prescribed period of time. They must then take continuing education coursework to maintain their license. And pay a fee.
- Exit Planning Advisors. Depending on the certifying organization they must take coursework, pass and exam, take continuing education. And pay a fee.
OK, I could go on to MBAâ€™s, attorneyâ€™s, financial planners, etc. but by now you should be getting the picture. The certification process is not designed to produce originality. It is designed to produce compliance and conformity. That is not a bad thing â€“ at all. It is simply a fact.
Originality however, is not a theme that is emphasized and in most cases not encouraged. It is also not innate to most people in these professions.
Where Does Originality Come From?
In my experience originality is partially innate in an individual â€“ that is they are born with a certain curiosity about their environment. These people tend to be voracious readers of a variety of material that challenges them to think beyond the â€œcertifiedâ€ if you cross this line you die mentality.
They almost always have had a mentor who was very original in their thinking. Often more than one. Someone who pushed them out of their comfort zone and into areas in which they had little to no experience. These experiences, coupled with their formal training, produces advisors who can think through situations to develop unique solutions to see and capture unique opportunities.
They have taken calculated risks and many of them have had large payoffs. I am not talking about riverboat gamblers here. I am talking about having the experience of being presented with significant challenges and having the experience of both success and failure. The combination of the two tends to instill confidence in an advisor that there is more than one way to get to a solution and that rarely are mistakes unfixable. Sometimes they are necessary to get to the right conclusion.
How Do I Identify Originality in My Advisor Team?
- Integrity. You will trust them almost immediately. You will not feel like they are trying to sell you something. They truly have your best interest in mind at all times and you will feel that.
- They tend to ask a lot of questions. They genuinely want to learn about you. They may be rebellious and challenge the status quo. They will challenge your thinking. You will not always like what they have to say but you will admire their courage to say it. They will not always be right and will be quick to admit they are wrong â€“ if you can show them evidence.
- They tend to cluster in small groups. People who think with originality find a way to find each other. When they do, they form strong bonds and like to work together on projects due to their shared belief system. They tend to be outliers. An interesting book around the subject is in fact called â€œOutliersâ€ by Malcolm Gladwell.
- They are hard workers and ambitious. Their ideas and work will be different than that which you have seen before. You will recognize it quickly.
- They will typically give you more than what you asked for.
A caution: I titled this Originality IN Your Advisor Group for a reason. You do not need six advisors who have large degrees of originality. This will make you crazy. What owners typically need to craft a strong Ownership Transition Plan are one or two original thinkers and then two or three who can vet the ideas and help to shape them into strong strategies. What you need in this group are good listeners and problem solvers. Everyone has a purpose â€“ and all purposes should be serve