Seeking Greatness

Seeking Greatness

I was dreading the two-and-a-half-hour flight.

After focusing on the industry for five days at a meeting, I didn’t feel like my normal writing habit while in flight. I rarely watch movies while traveling, but this time I made an exception: In Search of Greatness, a documentary interview of successful athletes asking what made them different than the competition.

In his segment, Wayne Gretzky made an observation that jumped out to me: he spoke about the loss of creativity in today’s world, especially with younger athletes. Several of the interviewees told stories about playing multiple sports when they were kids.

Today, kids are focused on a single sport, often working with specialists and trainers to give them an edge on the playing field. Gretzky played baseball as a child and loved it before he found hockey. He talked about decisions made on pure metrics – something we do in the financial industry all the time.

But metrics are only part of the story. Both Gretzky and Jerry Rice both said that while they weren’t the fastest person in their sport, they made up for it through practice, better fundamentals and creative thinking.

Why should our profession be different?

For the last several decades, financial advisors have been told to focus on growing recurring revenue and assets under management. We’ve attended seminars and mentored others on how to build a successful business. But we’ve lacked the creativity to shift according to changing demographic needs.

Our clients are faced with their biggest financial challenge– making their income last through retirement. We can’t simply manage assets the same way we did twenty years ago. Instead, we have to get creative in order to address our clients’ needs. Different solutions. Different products. Different models.

Which brings us back to self-awareness. It may be the greatest characteristic of any good salesperson. Understanding where your weakness lies and how to leverage your strengths can take you to great heights, but you can’t execute unless you’re self-aware.

Are you learning and using a full range of solutions to meet your clients’ needs? Or are you stuck in a model that doesn’t work? If so, develop more creativity in your planning and find ways to address the risks associated with longevity.


Winning Strategy: Learn and practice creativity. Kids excel when they learn multiple sports. Professionals excel when we learn and deploy multiple solutions for changing client needs.


About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. His latest book, “Free Throw for Financial Professionals,” is available now – learn more at