One habit I learned near the beginning of my financial planning career catapulted me ahead of many people who should have had better careers than I. Before I tell you what it is, some background:
I graduated from college with a degree in English. I was the reason why they now tell people to carefully consider your major before just randomly heading to college. I had no clue what I really was aiming toward. I only knew that I was supposed to head to college. At some point in the future, I thought I might like to write. I also liked speaking into a microphone. Being on television sounded like fun. So did running fast enough to enter the Olympics. Party planning sounded right up my alley because I enjoyed logistics and setting up big corporate functions.
In other words, I had no clue what I was going to do with my life.
When I was hired on as a financial advisor, the guy who recruited me said, “We usually don’t hire people like you, but I think you’d be good at this.” That quote doesn’t inspire confidence, does it?
By “not hire people like you,” what Marcus meant was that they didn’t hire English majors who thought that both party planning and the stock market sounded “kind of cool.”
By “you’d be good at this,” Marcus knew (from working with me in college) that I was a relentless S.O.B. who would succeed through force of will.
As I studied for my tests I realized I was lost. There were a variety of exams I had to complete before I could advise others, including the Series 7, Series 63, the state Life, Accident, and Health exam, and a Variable Annuities test, among others. I didn’t know an annuity from an IRA, but didn’t let the phase me. Nights and weekends I studied. I listened to financial radio shows and read books. Most had little in common with what I was learning, but the surround sound helped. In the end, I passed my tests.
But this was just the beginning.
I love it when people moan that their workplace doesn’t train them adequately or doesn’t provide improvement ideas. It’s not your bosses’ career. It’s yours. Sure, your boss will take credit for your awesomeness at stacking benjamins, but you’re strong enough to carry her on your shoulders. It’s fun to bring others along on your success ride.
Back to my story: I’d passed my exams, but now I had to lead clients. I possessed a basic understanding of the tools, but didn’t know people’s buying habits. I didn’t know sales. I didn’t know the varieties of applications that each of these tools might be used to provide freedom or comfort for a client. In short, I still didn’t know shit.
So here’s what I did:
My day was full from beginning to end. I had no spare time anymore to catch up on my lack of knowledge, so I created time. While other people were talking about the football game or their golf prowess at lunch, I was reading Dave Ramsey. While people drove home to music on the radio, I had books on tape by Suze Orman, the Motley Fool and others.
So, I ate and read. My books ended up with salad dressing and burger juice on the pages. Big deal. Whenever clients mentioned a strategy that I’d never heard of before, I grabbed a magazine. This education was priceless. I could see the results in my success. I was beginning to move toward the top of the first year advisor class. What was a little salad dressing?
Was that the grossest thing I did…eating and reading? Not hardly.
I still needed to move faster.
I needed bigger results. I couldn’t stop learning. I had to find out everything possible. That’s when I began my gross habit. My co-workers laughed at me. People would roll their eyes when they saw me coming.
Here it is: I took books to the bathroom and read. Call it multi-tasking. Call it whatever you want. However, I know that part of the reason I was able to sell my business for a big number was those trips to the toilet carrying Tom Peters, David Bach, or Nick Murray’s latest tome. What I learned with my pants around my ankles made me tons of money.
So here’s the lesson, Stackers: Find that little extra nugget. Flush away your frustration with your job. Relax on the throne of knowledge you’ll accumulate by using every possible moment constructively. Unless you want to just be someone else’s grunt, make the effort to push forward and learn everything you can.
Yes, I AM enjoying myself, thank you.
PS – Please nominate Stacking Benjamins for a Plutus Award at the award nomination page here. Nominations just opened yesterday and I believe we’re qualified in three categories:
– Best Multimedia for a Personal Finance Blog (Stacking Benjamins Podcast)
– Best New Personal Finance Blog
– Most Humorous Personal Finance Blog
Thanks for your support of this blog and podcast. In a short time we’ve really come a long way. It’s hard to believe we launched in early June!
Mrs PoP @ PlantingOurPennies
Ewww! I hope you didn’t bring your phone in there and talk to clients from the bathroom too. That might have lost you clients. =)
OMG, is this a secret guest post from Greg? He’s the worst toilet reader on the planet!
I knew long ago that Greg and I were twins separated at birth!
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma
I’ve known plenty of people who read in the bathroom. My roommate in college had such a habit of reading while doing his business that one time when he couldn’t find a book, he grabbed the dictionary!
Unless I’m entering a spelling bee, the dictionary won’t make an appearance near my throne!
Cat Alford/ Budget Blonde
I’m laughing so hard, and I’m laughing at Holly outing Greg in the other comment too. Hahaha. This must be a man thing. However, I do agree that reading is the key to most people’s success. No one does it anymore, so it’s good to be one of the peopel who does.
Cat, I totally agree. I was talking to friends and their 12 year old the other day, and the kid was proud of the fact that she doesn’t like to read. Are you kidding me? Does she have any idea what that means for her future? If she doesn’t change that view, she’s in trouble.
John S @ Frugal Rules
Ha ha! I LOVE it Joe! It’s all fun and games until you’re talking to someone on the phone about their portfolio and you can tell they’re “building their knowledge” that’s a post in and of itself.
“Building their knowledge.” I can just imagine someone grunting as they’re talking about investing with me….how ugly would that be?
DC @ Young Adult Money
Haha I was wondering where you were going with this. While that is kind of a gross habit, I have noticed many others do this exact same thing. It’s a bit easier to do without people noticing these days with a smart phone…
Ah! A closet toilet reader! I love it, DC.
Todd @ Fearless Men
Hilarious Joe! At work I was taking my iPad to the bathroom with no shame!!
That meant nobody was going to borrow your iPad any time soon.
Todd @ Fearless Men
What’s even better is that it was a work iPad
Nick @ ayoungpro.com
Haha, Kindle Reader on my iPhone works like a charm. 🙂
I actually now gravitate toward Flipboard on my phone when there isn’t any material handy….
I’m with Nick. All about the Kindle reader.
If you happen to watch HIMYM there is a great scene about Marshall taking magazines to the bathroom and everyone “knowing what’s going on in there.”
P.S. Cat, totally not a man thing. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid!
Joe, it is funny to know your reading habits in toilet but I am glad you made most of the situation, utilized your time well to get on the top of the subject. Reading, reading and reading is only way to update your knowledge and information to stay ahead of the race
Done by Forty
Ha! That is an awesome tip. I’ll admit that I have a mini library on top of the throne: The Power of Habit, Oops, and Collapse are sitting on the back of the toilet right now.
Matt @ momanddadmoney
Haha, all joking aside, the message here is great. There are always resources available for you to learn. You don’t need someone else to do it for you.
Girls don’t do this, just like we don’t pee on the seat, just can’t go there. It is a great example of multitasking to the max.
I promise I don’t pee on the seat, either. I have a brother in law who apparently has a fire hose in his pants that he uses to spray down the bathroom every time he goes. Thanksgiving is disgusting….
Pauline @ MakeMoneyYourWay
Voted! The podcast is getting better every time. I don’t like multi tasking that way but used to read during my commute and learned a lot while other people were just texting or playing tetris (yes, I’m old).
Thanks, Pauline! We’re pretty proud of it.
Playing Tetris! You’re not old. I remember seeing Pong on a Magavox and thinking, “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!”
Well, I like to read but I don’t think I’ve taken it that far. lol You have my votes! Love your blog.
Thanks, Alexa. You should try it some time. Then people can roll their eyes at you, too as you’re opening the door to the john with the latest issue of Forbes.
LOL, you made my day with this one, Joe. As for me, that’s exactly the kind of determination I’d want in a financial planner, grossness and all. 🙂
Common Cents Wealth
That’s awesome! I’m not sure I’d ever do this, but it makes sense. I also like the overall premise of always continuing to learn. So many people think that graduation is where the learning ends, but that’s rarely ever the case.
Aw, come on, CCW! Everybody’s doin’ it….
Budget & the Beach
Sounds like you got time management nailed down! I’ll vote for you!
Gotta stay quick!
Nice work Sehy! I can’t ever read something you write without a laugh a minute. I have never met a man so bold that can just put it ALL out there like you do. You can’t make stuff like this up. Awesome as always Joe.
To be honest, I don’t think your habit is THAT gross. That’s what bathroom readers are for! lol. I can’t say I’ve had bowel movements long enough that make me want to read something though. They really should have something better to read than those ads in the stall doors of public washrooms though. Perhaps in the future there will be scrolling ads…or do they have those already?? Maybe I did see it somewhere…
That’s absolutely hilarious, Emily, although the fact that George and I shared an idea is pretty scary….