Thursday, May 1, 2014

Wolf Of Wall Street and Income Producing Activity

I won't really spoil anything from the movie here - instead I'm going to spoil the post a bit right now. Most of the inspiration for this post is from the first few minutes of the movie while we are being introduced to Jordan Belfort and his budding Wall Street career. I would write a movie review, but... well trust me, it's better that I don't start that.

At the beginning of the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio's Jordan Belfort makes his way into his first Wall Street gig and meets a number of extreme characters. His lunch with Matthew McConaughey's Mark Hanna was, for me, one of the best parts of the movie. Hanna spoke about everything he did to be successful, clearly he was motivated by money and showed that he would do literally anything to get more of it. He offered that he was doing everything from alcohol to drugs to a number of other things to keep his edge every single day.

Moral notes aside, as the movie had its off-putting moments if you're the kind of person who has ever even driven past a church, Hanna's depiction of serving money was interesting to me. I say "serving money" because it reminded me of Matthew 6:24 - "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." I'm not going to try and enforce any moral code on Hanna, Belfort, or anything else that happened in the movie. Good stories inspire me to think about myself and Hanna's high level of success and the extreme choices he made to achieve it left me thinking about my own professional and personal success.

This isn't going to be about Matthew 6:24. The passage is another one that gets you thinking about how you define success, but it's a topic for another day. Rather this is about how Hannah forced as much income producing activity into his day as possible.

During a typical work day for me, I might spend 2-3 hours seeing clients, another 2 hours doing follow up, an hour reading on policy or product changes, an hour talking with colleagues, thirty minutes completing trackers and checklists, thirty minutes getting myself back on track after an interruption or after completing a task, and an hour at lunch. It would be easy to argue that all of those things have there place and that I appear to be pretty efficient at managing my time and getting a fair amount work done each day. You could also argue that spending just 25-40% of my time meeting with clients (the highest probability of income producing activity) is simply not enough to maximize success.

So how do I gear my day to shed more of the non-income producing activity in favor of more time with clients? Here are two things that I've made a habit in my work day that have made the difference for me:

Daily List

I already set a daily list of important items everyday when I first sit down at my desk. I look at items from the previous day that went undone and the items that most need to be done today and make a list. I try to keep it short. I first started this after hearing about the "6 Most Important Things" idea. Some days I have four, others eight, but I try to always have a list. To drive more income producing activities, I need to focus on what items are filling up that list. Half or more of those items should be about driving new production.

Personal Accountability

It comes down to me. I could ask to be managed, but like anyone else on Earth, I hate that. Being managed is a demotivator to me because I like knowing that I did something of my own volition. Simply then, I just need to decide that I'm going to push away service activity and adhere to more sales activity.