Talk less and listen more. Remember, real empathy trumps erudition. It’s not that being smart isn’t important. It is. But being trustworthy is critical; and empathy engenders trust. What are clients really saying to you; what would they say if they could?
Get out of the office more each week. Become a professional observer, and truly see prospects and clients in their natural settings—at home, at work and at play. This is the only way to really come to understand them, what moves them, what pains them and what excites them.
Read more widely.Hell, just read more. Don’t stop at the Journal or Barron’s; or think that adding the Economist to the pile of reports from your firm’s investment gurus or those of asset management companies is enough. Stretch. Pick up the Atlantic Monthly or Mind. And check out new book publications regularly through, e.g., Amazon. You might find a few worth reading. Having a perspective—not just on the markets, but on America, the world and life–is key to being able to filter the signal from the noise.
Set aside time for reflection. Think about what you’re doing that you shouldn’t, and what you’re not doing that you should. Let your mind wander. Exercise your imagination. It’s one of your most differentiating abilities.
Each day remember to be grateful and to be present. Gratitude frees the mind from an absorption with things that are missing. Being fully present counteracts the endless multi-tasking and lets you focus on the important stuff: increasing your understanding of your best clients and enhancing your ability to provide unique value.