Written By Byron Kidder and Richard Rosso, CFP.
“Let me introduce an entity called You, Inc. This is a small, tightly controlled, privately-held company with the bulk of its productive assets invested in nontraded units of your future salary and wages. Your objective as CEO, CFO, and chairman of the board is to maximize shareholder value of You, Inc. while minimizing the financial risks faced by the corporation.” – Moshe A. Milevsky, Ph.D. – Author of “Are You A Stock Or A Bond?”
We get so tied up in our work and performing that we forget or (worse) put off the Human Capital Investment until we have time between projects. It drops on our priority list because there is never any “left over” time available after our commitments are finished.
The human capital investment means YOU are your greatest investment. A lifetime money-making powerhouse. You need to be higher on the priority list.
The top .01% of American households have ruled the roost, foremost since the Great Recession where stocks and real estate have been blessed with turbo tailwinds to returns (thank central banks and low/manipulated rates for much of the windfall).
Ostensibly, owners of capital have seen their wealth move far ahead since the 1970s. Those who build wealth through household income and rely on wages haven’t been so fortunate as the annual percentage change of real hourly wages for the bottom 80% of workers have been on a steady downward slope, especially since the onset of the financial crisis.
Those in the bottom 90% of household wealth held 35% of the nation’s wealth in the mid-1980s. Three decades later, the percentage has fallen 12 points or exactly as much as the wealth of the .01 percent rose according to Matthew Stewart in an enlightening and thorough analysis titled “The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy,” where he describes the 9.9% as meritocratic winners who left the 90% or “middle class,” in the dust. They are the professionals – lawyers, doctors, dentists, mid-level investment bankers, MBAs. You get the picture.
Per Stewart’s analysis, as of 2016 it took $1.2 million in net worth to make it into the 9.9 percent, $2.4 million to reach the group’s median and $10 million to get into the top .9 percent.
What am I getting at with all this data? Do you perceive opportunity or discouragement?
An investment in YOU, education, mastering a technical skill that’s in demand, increases the odds of escaping the bottom 90%, especially if synergized by likeability. In fact, likeability can get you hired. A field study by Chad A. Higgins & Timothy A. Judge in the Journal of Applied Psychology outlines how ingratiation (likeability), wins over self-promotion when it comes recruiter perception of fit.
In the popular book “The Science Of Likeability” by Patrick King, likeability is the ability to be more human, to appear genuinely approachable and relatable which could be a challenge in the age of electronic communication such as e-mail and text.
Back to Byron Kidder:
We have become desensitized to the fundamental skills necessary for social and business interactions in our quest for improving efficiency and productivity. My book, “It’s All About Everything,” is an easy to read step-by-step guide that refreshes these skills while simultaneously awakens your sought-after desire to reconnect with your passion, re-engage with those around you, and produce your vision of success.
Fundamentally, people want to be around and associated with people they like but far too many have difficulty in this area. They may have picked up bad habits or felt like being likable contrasted with being successful. Being likable will positively affect your growth, promotions, relationships, etc. You don’t need to sacrifice being likable to being successful. It is not a tradeoff. The great news is that likability can be learned!
Rule 7: Being likable.
Being likable is high on the list since it is Rule 7 of my book and let me assure you that it is in your power to raise your overall likability. How many times have you worked with somebody who is not likable?
They may have been arrogant, abusive, braggart, inattentive, malicious, or lacked integrity. After you have worked with them, do you choose to be around them again? Realistically, you would avoid working with them in the future if possible even if it means a cut to your bottom line. If you are like me, you remember unlikable people as well as the likable people, just for all the wrong reasons.
Being unlikable is not a career-ending move nor does it mean you should succumb to fate that comes with it. Few people start out unlikable but end up stuck in a set of patterns that turns into second nature. Bad habits can be ingrained just as well as good habits. You may be in a stressful situation, so you start getting grumpier as an attempt to cope. You may have in your mind a certain personality that is required to do your job, which dictates you need to behave a certain way, but it isn’t part of your natural personality and you are tired of pretending to be something you’re not.
Likeability encompasses a myriad of actions or attitudes that can be learned and changed. The goal is to increase the positive traits that compliment your integrity. If you have some set value system in place that dictates how you respond, interact, or live when nobody is watching, then you have a foundation that all scenarios can be measured against and dealt with accordingly.
Ever notice that negative people tend to attract each other? The same is true for those with integrity. Your reputation is bolstered by the company you keep. In my experience, integrity is everything and is the foundation of my book. I don’t want to have to think about somebody’s motives. Start small and add likable traits over time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you act with integrity, your positive energy will draw people to you. This leads to being consistently inspirational, which is a likable trait.
As with most things in life, there are a few traits that can be implemented for a quick reward and ROI. Try these first and expand your repertoire over a span of weeks to months. This includes being:
- Attentive and focused.
- Sincere and authentic.
- Intellectually curious and anxious to learn.
Being attentive to those you work with – a client, colleague, or vendor, will help you provide best in class service. You would not be successful if it were not for people choosing to do business with you. Because of this, never let appreciation for your clients go unsaid. I regularly share with clients that I enjoy working with them and value their relationships.
Get to know internal and external clients. Internal clients include colleagues, bosses, receptionists – everybody you encounter should have a positive impression of you. Small tokens of appreciation can simply come down to remembering birthdays or favorite hobbies.
Inform clients how you will be there. Provide several points of contact including a cell phone number. Accept calls above and beyond normal business hours. Back up words with actions. How many times have people told you they’ll be there if you need anything but disappear or disappoint when needed the most? Being present when things go wrong will boost reliability and reputation. When the inevitable happens and mistakes are made, face them head on, never make excuses. Own up to them. Then propose a corrective plan of action. You’ve now forged a relationship, made a client for life. Based on your reputation for follow-up and follow-through, odds are your chance of promotion will increase, too.
Etiquette cannot be emphasized enough because it shows empathy and inherently directs your focus on serving others. An action as simple as smiling when talking on the phone can make your voice sound more pleasant and confident.
Respond to inquiries quickly and professionally, even if to say you will follow up within the next few hours. You know the golden rule – treat others as you expect to be treated.
Sincerity and Authenticity Leads to Stronger Relationships.
Focus on client needs is valuable and produces amazing results only if you are sincere and authentic. Otherwise, you run the risk of coming across as fake or shady. When positive and focused on others, the energy is contagious. You are essentially creating a positive feedback loop. As my buddy Richard Rosso, says, “You know within 3 minutes if someone is genuine or not.” Likability inherently means you exhibit a certain amount of vulnerability when you are authentic.
Face-to-face meetings with clients are important to building likeability. You are showing them that you will always be there in a reliable fashion while adding value to the relationship. Only time can reinforce that you are walking the walk. Trust is the end result of consistently showing attention, care, and appreciation. Being likable helps get you the time and interactions necessary to build trust.
Trust is built over time, maintained through a myriad of actions and is a big component of likability. Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability (it’s human!) Richard has pointed out that “this adds to your memorability.” He is right. Likability will be one reason you’re remembered and called upon for repeat business or to handle an important task for superiors.
Intellectually curious and anxious to learn.
Likeability and genuine curiosity are linked. To be curious about other’s interests, family, hobbies, and concerns allows people to open up, share their stories. Taking the time to learn about the people you interact with exhibits care and authenticity. Focus allows you to understand a client’s unique situation so that solutions may be recommended. Working for a company? Be a detective and learn as much as possible. Study the annual report, learn the mission statement, ask questions to display genuine interest and likeability may gain you a mentor in influential places!
Being likable is a habit; habits are formed through routine and consistency. Self-assessment and objective discovery are crucial. What are those traits that make you likeable? Which skills seem foreign but worthwhile to learn? Taking an internal inventory will allow you to prioritize areas of improvement. Likeable people aren’t afraid or hesitant to ask for help or ask questions to gain understanding, either.
What if you feel overwhelmed and struggle to remain motivated? It’s easy to grow discouraged as wage growth has remained stagnant; most likely you’ll be expected to accomplish tasks that years ago were delegated to two employees. Listen, you’re human. You’re going to feel frustrated. It’s important to remain centered on the positive. For example, a morning ritual of gratefulness, catching and stopping yourself from complaining and focusing on the bigger picture of serving others will help work through tough periods.
Bottom line? People want to work with people they like. Likability is one part innate, another part learned behavior. Control over your attitude will boost likability. There are going to be times you won’t care about being likeable. We all have rough days. The goal is to prevent a string of bad days from changing your personality. Negativity spreads quickly. Likeability and negativity do not mix.
The rules listed in my book, “It’s All About Everything,” will help you raise the bar on likability. Be yourself, be vulnerable; focus on others and watch the positive energy returned to you.
Have fun with it. You’ve got this.
You’re on the right path to master likeability!
Richard Rosso, MS, CFP, CIMA is the Head of Financial Planning for RIA Advisors. He is also a contributing editor to the “Real Investment Advice” website and published author of “Random Thoughts Of A Money Muse.” Follow Richard on Twitter.