Whooo Aaaaare Yoouuuu?

Hopefully you read that in your best Cheshire Cat voice.

Who are you?  How do you tell people who you are?  What do you tell them? What is the outcome you want?

For the purposes of this post you are, your career.  I’m a [frustrated] banker.  Says so on my business card, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Anyone connecting to me knows, I’m a banker.  I’m also a couple other things… carpenter, blogger, horologist, auto mechanic, burger enthusiast, cyclist, and photographer however, I would surely be slapped by the leaders of those industries.  Point is, I am what is on my business card. So step 1 is define who you are.  Marketer, Writer, Lawyer, Lobbyist, Blacksmith, Philosoraptor, whatever, just put it on a business card.

How do you tell people who you are?  Shake some hands, tweet, blog, spray paint, get on TV, radio, billboards, license plates, and maybe even your favorite charities gala program.  “Touch” people constantly to remind them who you are.  Like their posts, say Hi to them when you see them, birthday calls, celebratory calls for life events, things you would do for friends and family. You’re just another person until someone remembers that you can help them.  After all that’s the goal, right?

So you know who you are, people know who you are, so now what do you tell them?  Well… what do they want? You can’t help anyone if you don’t know what they want.  “Well I want a bank account.”  Great!  So I’ll talk to you about how I can provide you the best bank account you’ve never had. Job done, pat on the back, next subject.  No! Stop being so single minded.  We’re way more complex than that.  What is holding them back?  What are their barriers? What makes them giddy? Of course they want a bank account but what value is there?  If they know who you are, they know what you sell; give them more!  I don’t post about our rates or product features, I post our 3:05 cafecito, our smiles, our beautiful branch, our rich history.  I re-post things I find that clients I want, want.

Ultimately, I would love everyone to open an account with me, and take out a commercial loan.  That’s what I sell.  That is the outcome I want.  I want someone to see my post and say “dang, that guy is more informed, and has more in common with me than, my banker, let me send him some business.” I in turn get a client that has my same interests and appreciates me more.  Win and Win. Try it out and report back.

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Today is a good day.

Miami is a beautiful city.  The weather is phenomenal (low humidity, 80’s, windy) . I’m not frustrated today, and neither should you.  Go outside and have a walk. Stay tuned for this months Halloween Special!

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An ode to Pitbull

Born Armando Christian Perez, Pitbull was born to Cuban parents in Miami, Florida.  He went to Miami-Dade Public Schools South Miami High and Coral Park High.  Cuban expatriates Celia Cruz and Willy Chirino, inspired his music.  Miami Bass Godfather, Uncle Luke helped launch him.  It was his drive and dedication to the latin community, to little havana, to Miami, that earned him the fans that gave him 26 awards and 113 nominations.  From the age of 3 he was reciting Marti poems to drunks at the bars his dad would frequent.

He did it.  He’s a celebrity. Mr. Worldwide.  There is no secret to his success, hard work, constant grind, and never forget where you came from.  Pitbull is to Miami what Jay-Z is to Brooklyn, what Dr.Dre is to LA, what Eminem is to Detroit.  Hate them or love them, they represent their home town.  In each of their albums you find the secrets to their success.

Damnit Man was a favorite from his MIAMI album.  He raps:
“Just look in my blue eyes and see the hunger and pain,dammit man But I don’t plan it man, because I do what I wanna do, move what I wanna move Y’all gonna see what I mean when I live out my dreams I’ma tell you like biggie told me, cash rules everything around me”
His motivation is his “hunger and pain” and he is going to live out his dreams by doing what he wants to do and move what he wants to move.  His mentor, Biggie.

In Hustlers Withdrawal from the same album he talks about how he saw the mistakes his father made and improved on them.  His father never saved, so he did. He encourages listeners that have chosen a path that leads to “dirty money” by rapping “You choose the road that you get to follow And you choose the people that you look up to as role models.”   He discourages people from selling narcotics singing “you can die from doin dope or dealin dope.”  Sure we can all be victims of circumstance, however in the end you choose your own path.  He knew this at age 23.

In 2009 he was awarded the key to the city in Miami. He opened up Sports Leadership and Management, a privately owned but open to the public, charter school in Little Havana.  He’s donated time and money to City of Hope, Pencils of Promise, Save the Music Foundation, STOMP Out Bullying, and World Vision.

He gained support from his community, had a dream, a mentor, worked at it, learned from mistakes, stayed humble, and gave back.  From that chico pitbull to Mr. 305, to Mr. Worldwide.

Pit Bull, un fuerte abrazo, I’m proud of you.

The Millennial Disruption

The Lost, The Greatest, The Silent, Baby Boombers, X, Millennials, and Z generation.  Millennials were born between the 80’s and 2000’s.  There was no defining moment, such as the Great Depression or World War, we were born after Generation X (the boomer’s kids), and given unadulterated access to the world wide web.  We taught our parents how to sign up for AOL.  We were first to use wikipedia as a source on our term papers.  We chatted with individuals half a world away about our differences.  We had our voices heard to who ever would click our hyperlinks.  HTML codes were copied and pasted to make our AIM profile, an extension of our personality.  Pre-teens defining themselves on the public stage.

Our generation fueled radical change in many industries.  We almost bankrupted the post office. Land lines are archaic.  Floppy disk manufacturing came and went. Digital publishing shook the print industry.  When was the last time you stepped into a bank or wrote a check?

Scartch, a Viacom company (MTV, VH1, Nick, Comedy Central, Spike) completed a 3 year study on something called the Millennial Disruption Index.  Basically, an index of industries that are most likely to end up in the same graveyard as VHS Rentals.  Guess who #1 is. THE EVIL BANKING INDUSTRY.  According to the study 71% of us would rather go to the dentist.  Ouch.

Why? It’s simple.  Banks have abused our trust.  Sales metrics in retail banking don’t account for financial education or community involvement.  If bankers got paid based on how many people they got out of debt vs. how many credit cards they sold, how much better off would we be?  What if each of the big 4 branches had scholarship initiatives or even tutoring? How about inviting clients to a beach clean up? Powering branches with renewable energy?  Providing special pricing on loans for Electric Vehicles, and LEED Certification renovations would be a step in the right direction.

A Millennial cares about the values of a company.  As a generation, we want to work with people and businesses who have social responsibility.  One major bank touted in 2013 that they spent $315,800,000.00 in grants to 19,500 non-profits.  Cool! Thanks! Except, in the same paragraph they say they have $1,400,000,000,000.00 in assets.  0.022%!?  That’s embarrassing. For every $1,000.00, they contribute 22 cents, and pat themselves on the back.  That’s not social responsibility, that’s a pitty check for a headline. Remember #askJPM #iamrepublican #mcdstories?  Get off our playgrounds, you are not doing right by us.

The question remains, are the new generation of bankers going the way of switch-phone operators?  Doubtful.  The Millennial banker will embrace technology to stay engaged with clients and, support people and businesses.  Vote with your dollar or bitcoin and the free market will sort itself out.

The Oppressed

Ever felt like The Man was holding you down?  “The Invisible Hand” working against you?  You are probably, very wrong.  First thing you should do is find a mentor.  Find someone who is doing what you want to do.  Can be a celebrity as much as it can be a neighbor.  Next, find out what made them successful.  Interestingly, most successful people are happy to share their story.  Celebrities have books written about their path to success, mostly because they are narcissists, but great information none the less.  For you, because I like you, I will share some of the common denominators I have found in these stories.

Luck.

Lucky, to have been born into a wealth family.  Lucky, to have been in the right place at the right time.  Lucky, to have impressed the right person.  Lucky, to have had the foresight of investing first. Success brought on by chance rather than by effort.  If only we could all be so lucky.  Sure you can create your luck, put the odds in your favor, but these guys didn’t even try.

Hardwork.

Very hard work.  Never stopping putting in hard work.  The grind, the struggle.  The guys that get the same amount of sleep in one week that the rest of us enjoy on a lazy sunday afternoon.  The kind of hard work that makes you question your existence.  Horse blinders with nothing but success in view.  You know what you want and you’ll make it happen because you can’t fathom doing anything else but be successful.

Focus.

Laser focus.  One thing and one thing only.  Take away every distraction.  If it doesn’t lead you to success it must be removed from your existence.  Time is crucially limited and not to be wasted on anything but success. Turn off your phone, close the blinds, shut the door and, focus.

Network.

My least favorite word. “I have enough friends why do I want more?”  Because other people need to know you deserve to be successful.  Nobody became successful by themselves.  The money and support came from somewhere. Family, friends, chambers, car clubs, fraternities, secret societies, school, work, IRC chats, online forums, whatever. People need to know who the hell you are and how hard you work to be successful.

Optimism.

Brainwashing optimism.  You have to believe you will be successful.  You, will be numero uno.  You have what it takes to get you to where you need to be.  You will never fail because fail is a negative word.  You will learn from your mistakes and you will be better than anyone else because of it.  I find optimism in reading rags to riches stories.  If Oprah became successful despite being born to a teenage single mother and raped at 9 years old, what the hell is stopping you?

Vacation.

Completely disconnect.  When you’re working at 1000% you need to stop and smell the roses.  We’re human after all.  Time is limited and the world is a beautiful place.  Find peace in nature and experience different cultures. Out of 365(.242) days, at least 30 should be reserved to completely disconnect, at least 7 should be continuous.  Doesn’t matter where or when just get out of the office, out of the house and go wherever makes you awe.

Philanthropy.

Give back.  Money is nice but, your time and attention is better.  Your soul will thank you and so will your community.  To whom much is given, much is expected.  Volunteer, serve on a board, collect funds, bring attention to a cause that is near and dear.  Be thankful for what you have been given and be mindful of those who weren’t so lucky.

To end, success is whatever you want out of life, only you can figure that out.  Once you know what you want, put on your horse blinders, and work at it, relentlessly.

Staying Relevant

Hi.  I am a banker.  Ever since a banker opened up my first bank account and had a friendly conversation with me about my future, I knew I wanted to help people this way.  Same banker referred me to my first job in banking.  Slowly I saw the industry embrace the internet as a means of allowing their clients to do everything themselves.  Tellers replaced with ATMs, Bankers replaced with online banking, and the rise of banks with no store-front.  Still, I knew I wanted to be a banker.

Started as a teller and now, I’m here. I’m a banker at a wonderful bank.  The reason I enjoy this bank so much is because of what I can offer my clients.  Everything a client has ever wanted from me in previous positions, I can now say “Yes” to, within reason of course. Had a tough month and you’re a little short?  I’m not going to charge you an overdraft fee. I’m going to see how I can help you avoid being short in the future.  Can’t make it to the bank in time?  We’ll stay open for you.  Better yet, you can leave your deposit in our night depository next to the atm and we’ll call you in the morning to let you know we deposited it.  Out of town and need to cut a check?  Send me who and how much and I’ll make sure they receive the check.  They’ve allowed me to represent the bank at various networking groups, making a name for myself.  I have met a lot of movers and shakers in every major industry.  It is absolutely delightful to treat people this way.

I couldn’t wait to start! I immediately shared it with my facebook/linkedin/instagram/close friends and family! I found a bank that cares, is fair, from Miami, and has weathered every economic event that killed badly run banks.  ::crickets::

Everyone I had built great relationships with, family, friends, clients, and colleagues couldn’t care less about banking with my bank.  I have access to the same tools that have brought success to so many people and I couldn’t wait to help!  Yet, I can’t convince even my best of friends to bank with me.  Even the ones who would benefit more than I would! Who can say no to executive lunches, business over cafecito, and birthday cards?  I digress.  After all, I couldn’t even remember who my banker was and I had switched banks 3 times since then.

Still, I want to be a banker.  More importantly, a banker that could not only support his family but, do good things.  My mentors assured me I had the right behavior, a good heart, the want to help, the want to give back, and I’ve always been humble.  So what was I doing wrong?  All the reports and statistics said I was doing a terrible job.  My managers and their managers and potential clients, all made me feel like I was numero uno.   Yet, I couldn’t produce at the level I had at other banks.  Dream job, and I’m flapping in the wind going no where.

Wealth Management.  Surely the clients who judge their actions by how much money is lost when doing things other than making money, could appreciate me.  They don’t have time to Google financial advice, CD rates and shop around for who can save them a 10th of a basis point on a loan.  They want to get things done and they want someone they can trust to get it done.  That’s me!  By specializing in Wealth Management I have effectively cut out all the people who don’t want to be my client and narrowed my target on who should be my client.  You can do the same by becoming a specialist in your field.

Educate yourself and become the expert your local news station wants to interview.

Overdraft Fees and the Rapture

There was a meme floating around the internet complaining about how much money banks make off of overdraft fees.  The picture quoted an amount that represented what every FDIC bank had charged in one year.  Yes, it is an enormous amount and yes, that money could have paid for a lot of great things that would have saved the tarnished image of the evil banking industry.  My problem is saying that the banks are being predatory and selfish by kicking you when you’re down.  There isn’t some evil Wizard of Oz character waiting for you to get close to $0 to then charge you the gas you forgot to account for.  Sorry to disappoint, but the order in which things get paid aren’t selected randomly or with prejudice.

Frankly, overdrafts are usually caused by neglect.  Every major bank has made a decent effort to make it difficult to charge such fees.  There are alerts, real time account information, and overdraft protection services.  Consumer protection laws have been passed to stop excessive fees from being charged and congress has urged banks to be more flexible. Every bank has allowances in place for refunding fees as a courtesy.

Mistakes happen, paychecks get delayed, and emergencies aren’t budgeted for.  Understandable. This article is for the ones living paycheck to paycheck that are habitual offenders.  Stop over drafting your account. /end

The easiest way to save is to stop spending.

Budget every last penny and make sure that saving is at least 10% of that budget.  You absolutely need a buffer to account for mistakes, delayed paychecks, and emergencies.  As a standard, if you work in an industry where work is scarce you should have, at a minimum, a 6/12 month reserve. Your reserve should be able to cover living expenses including housing, transportation, insurance, food, and something extra for unforeseen circumstances. If you’re confident that you can find work quickly should you get laid off or have a short “slow” season then, 3 months is considered adequate.  This is probably not the first time you read this advice, nor the last, but hopefully you consider it, if you haven’t before.  Build up the savings in your main checking account. Savings accounts have limits on how much you can withdraw before incurring a penalty (Reg D) and some banks charge for Overdraft Protection (automated transfers from one account to another to cover overdrafts).  Once you have your buffer in place then you can start sweeping money into a savings.  Once you have a nice chunk ($10,000) then split it and put it away for retirement.  Of course it doesn’t happen over night. Prudence and discipline will get you there.

There are plenty of beautiful things in this world that you can spend your money on.   Having TEN THOUSAND dollars to waste could make great instagram selfies.  Don’t do it.  Every time I spend a dollar I think of what I am getting in return and what is my dollars potential 10 years from now.  Future-me would be really pissed if I purchased a new TV today and was short a couple months later.  Retired-me, really gets pissed because chances are the TV won’t last long enough.  Hermits don’t outlive their wealth but they have boring instagram accounts.  It’s all about balance, completely a personal preference.  10% of your pay into savings is a good start, make it happen and you’ll never regret that you did.