I recently traveled to Miami Beach to present at the 10th Annual MarketCounsel Summit hosted by MarketCounsel, a consultancy that supports the industry of independent investment advisers. I was asked to moderate a panel entitled, “Is that Personal or Professional? Exactly!” in which myself and fellow panelists — CEO of financial risk company Riskalyze Aaron Klein, startup advisor Amy Butte, and CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management Josh Brown — were set to discuss whether your personal and professional selves should be united or kept separate.
Of course, I believe that only by bringing your whole self forward, inclusive of your personal and professional selves (or as I like to break it down as The Works, your intellect, emotional intelligence and personal style) will enable you to feel true success and fulfillment. But not everyone on that panel felt that way, and it turned into a full-on debate.
Some of the experts by my side thought personal matters should be kept strictly personal, and professional matters should be kept strictly professional. I could understand where they were coming from, especially with their finance backgrounds — the idea of commenting on politics and culture could be polarizing in terms of how clients perceive you. However, I stuck to the DNA of my theory behind The Works and fought for the idea of uniting the two. After a lively discussion, we could all agree on one thing by the end of the panel: This issue is not black-and-white, and the uniting of the two domains is a very personal decision.
As I reflected on their perspectives, I thought about another way to consider how much to merge the personal and professional: Think of these two domains as a dial that you can turn up and turn down depending on who your audience is, while still remaining true to your values and beliefs. How you communicate with your energy and tone may change depending on who you talk to — be it with your body language or the way in which you frame an idea — but it’s important that your values and beliefs remain the same and you aren’t becoming different people for different audiences.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that you do not have to bring every piece of yourself forward at every moment, and certainly my point of view may not work for everyone at every point of their career. (Just think, how you talk about with your sister or husband is different than how you talk with your manager or direct reports.) But compromising who you are breeds regrets, regardless of whether you’re discussing something personal or professional. Conversely, if you are always true to yourself, then you’re never going to regret bringing all of who you are — yes, your whole self — forward.
BONUS VIDEO! While at the MarketCounsel Summit, I shot a video entitled “Why Does Social Media Matter for Financial Advisers?” for InvestmentNews. Click below to watch it.
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