Why I Won’t Hound You if You’re a Client

You won’t get this from me.

“If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.”
–Les Brown

When I founded my last company, my phone rang constantly. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always the ringing of customers who were dying to hire us and let us make their internal site search come as close as possible to divining the intent of their customers without the use of telepathy. Much more common were the phone calls of salespeople who were endlessly trying to get me to test out, try, or, worse yet, buy some of their products. About 98% of those callers immediately went into my Blocked contact on my phone, which has, literally, thousands of phone numbers on it and were reported to the FTC for violating the Do Not Call list, and, if I was in a particularly ornery mood, were reported to the BBB and to their state attorney general for good measure. For the 2% though, there was a possibility, no matter how remote, that we might one day want to use some of their services.

In those cases, I’d inform them that our company wasn’t ready to use the given service, but we were growing, and at some point, we might be interested. When we reached that point, I’d call them, but in the meantime, please don’t call me.

90% of those people were experts at selective listening. They heard the first part, conveniently “didn’t hear” the second part, and put me on their “tickle list” to call back three months later.

When they called me back, I asked them what part of “in the meantime, please do not call me” they did not understand, and they got the same treatment as the original 98% – addition to the Blocked contact (which never rings), etc.

I absolutely, positively abhor being hounded by salespeople.

That abhorrence carries over into how I operate nowadays. I’ve never done outbound calling, either at my last company or now. I figure (no matter how naïvely) that people who arrive here were looking for something.

Why I won’t go over to your side and retrieve the ball

As we’ve previously examined in “Monkey Brain Gets Hit by a Plague of Locus(ts),” our limbic systems – what I call Monkey Brain, since it’s the part of the brain that we share with our simian counterparts and that tells us to run away from woolly mammoths – like to inform us of who’s responsible for outcomes in our lives. If something good happens, then we’re responsible. If something bad happens, then it was the fault of anything and anyone but us. This is called the locus of control. When the locus of control is internal, then you believe that you’re responsible for the outcome that happened. When the locus of control is external, then you believe that something or someone else is responsible for the outcome that happened.

The key to being successful in life is to shift the locus of control to an internal one as much as possible. I try to live my life with an internal locus of control.

Because of my belief in the internal locus of control, I’m going to provide action steps, make suggestions, and ask you to get back with me when you’ve completed those things. I’ll confirm you received it, and then leave you to take those steps at your own pace. Unless you’re running up against a deadline that could cost you a lot of money (for example, a Roth IRA conversion or filing for Medicare), that’s the last you’ll hear from me until you’re ready.

I do this because I believe you want to be responsible for your financial future. It’s why you were looking in the first place and how the Fates conspired for us to be together. If I’m consistently holding your hand, then you get used to having me hold your hand/hound you/whatever, and, thus, your source of motivation won’t come from internal desires. I want to teach you how and why we come to the conclusions that we do during our time together so that, in the future, you don’t have to call me up and get further guidance, unless, of course, your circumstances have significantly changed (“Bill Gates left everything to moi?!?”). For us to get there, I’ll leave you with a lot of breadcrumbs, but I won’t walk the path for you.

If you want that level of hand-holding or you want someone to do it for you, I’m not the right person. You should go to a flat fee financial planner instead.

However, if you want to be responsible for the money outcomes in your life, controlling what you can and protecting yourself against what you can’t, then I’m thrilled to help if you think I can.

Just don’t expect many follow-up e-mails asking you if you’ve done things.

I personally hate being hounded, so I won’t hound you.

Too laissez faire, or just the right touch? What do you think? Tell me if you think I should change my style or not in the comments below!

Published by

Jason Hull was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business. He held a CFP certification from 2015 - 2021. You can read more about him in the About Page. If you live in Johnson County, Texas or the surrounding areas, he and his wife are cash buyers of Johnson County, Texas houses.

2 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Hound You if You’re a Client

  1. I think that approach will work well for certain customers, but probably isn’t right for others. Like you said, some will want a different level of hand holding. But I’m in agreement with the philosophy: we need to acknowledge that we really are responsible for our own initiative when it comes to our own finances. It’s a healthier perspective than thinking our financial planner is responsible. He or she will not bear the consequences.

    1. That’s right. By the time you realize that your “investment adviser” couldn’t actually beat the market, you’ll be behind the eight ball, and he’ll be retired!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.