About a year ago I came across a TED talk by a man named Simon Sinek. The talk was titled “Start With Why” (you can find it here). Mr. Sinek is an organizational consultant and his “Start With Why” concept is rooted in his belief that the “why” is just as important (if not more important) than the "what" when it comes to decision making. He believes the key to achieving your goals is being able to nail down and then clearly communicate why you do what you do, which then allows others who have similar motivations to get on board. When I sat down this afternoon to write my last article before the holidays, a slew of topics floated through my mind. I contemplated writing about charitable giving and tax efficiency. I thought about what I could write about the economy or what I might be able to say about saving that might prove to be helpful, but none of those topics seemed appropriate. Instead, I settled on asking the question “why?”
It has been a crazy and exciting year for us. We published our first book, made plans to expand to a second office, and enjoyed substantial growth. I had the pleasure of meeting many of our clients during our summer give back event and a client appreciation dinner and was genuinely blessed to hear bits and pieces of their stories. Looking back on those events and other conversations like them over different mediums, I find myself smiling as I am reminded of why we at Cedarstone do what we do.
When I first started at Cedarstone I wasn’t quite sure if wealth management was what I wanted to do with my life. I had toyed with the idea of trying my hand at consulting or possibly going to work for a fund manager. I wanted my job to be valuable – to have some kind of worthwhile impact - and I just wasn’t sure if financial planning was something I deeply believed in. I broached this subject with Steve over a cup of coffee in his living room back when I had just started writing for Cedarstone. In what I expect to be one of the greatest pieces of advice I will ever hear when it comes to my career, he asked me quite simply, “what will last? What is the enduring variable?” It only took me a moment’s pause before I knew the answer. “People.”
The market is unpredictable. The future is unknown. My belongings are constantly breaking. But caring for people and making sure that they are taken care of is a very worthwhile investment – to me at least. It’s why I believe that doctors, nurses, and teachers are some of the noblest professions (in addition to parents, but parenting is so much more than a “profession”).
So in answer to the question “why do we do what we do?" It sounds cliché, but it genuinely is because we want to care for people. I love finance. In all of its intricacies and moving complexities, it captures my attention in ways little else has. I am pursuing the CFA designation largely because I want to learn all that I can about how the markets work, but at the end of the day, understanding how derivatives are priced or how arbitrage can occur in the currency markets is not enough for me. At the end of the day, I do what I do because I believe I can make a difference in the lives of my clients. I can combine my love of the financial industry with my deeply held belief that the greatest investment I can ever make is in people. If I can help them meet their goals and care about what they care about – then for me, that is enough.
As we begin the New Year in a couple of weeks, I would encourage you to consider your own “why?” Even for something that seems as trivial as financial planning, your "why" matters because it drives everything you do – including saving for the future. If you’d like to learn more about our “why” check out our What We Believe page. Whether you’re a client or a regular reader, know that we consider it a great privilege to serve you and we’d like to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas.
Sinek, Simon. "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action." YouTube video, 18:01. Sep. 28, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA.