Looking for answers in peculiar places
Before co-founding WIFS PDX (Women In Financial Services Portland) in 2007, I had discovered that staying at the top of my center of influence (referral partners) was paramount. I had built up a good network, but I wanted to help my clients more and give them access to resources above and beyond what my firm and I could offer. I saw a need but hadn’t yet figured out how to fill it.
Every successful business needs various talents, both internally and externally. While many business owners do it alone initially, it takes a village to scale to the next level. Doing it all by yourself leads to burnout and stagnation of your business. You may be able to “push through things” once and a while, but running a marathon in a full-out sprint isn’t an effective strategy. It leads to injuries and, commonly, dropping out of the race.
But knowing you need help and not knowing how to fill it isn’t entirely helpful either, and that’s where I was stuck. I knew that clients needed a circle of trusted advisors who cared about and complemented each other’s talent and experience. But having a slate of advisors to connect them with could sometimes be a struggle.
I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t be the only person to support these budding entrepreneurs, who are the people that they should have in their circle of advisors, and then it hit me one night in a dream. It’s incredible how the mind can churn on things once you put the intention out there, and then somehow, somewhere, it just hits you in the face. This was that dream.
I had dreamt I was pushing a grocery cart and walking through the lobby as though it was expected, heading for the elevator. When I got in the elevator where you’d hit the buttons for each floor, I saw a listing. First floor, financial advisor, second floor, attorney, third floor, CPA, fourth-floor, personal banker, and up the floors and advisors I went.
When I woke up from this dream, the pieces hadn’t quite connected. It wasn’t until I had coffee with my lovely friend Joyce that morning when the dots connected. The dream was so memorable I told her about it, and her response was insightful.
“Have you ever considered the universe could be telling you what to do?” she asked. She had a point, but how would this take shape? How do I go about doing this?
Then a few days later, a managing director of a financial firm approached me with the idea of starting a chapter of WIFS (Women In Insurance and Financial Services) in Portland. It was serendipitous how these signs were speaking to me within just a matter of days, and we set out to found the first West Coast WIFS Chapter.
You see, in 2007, when I had coffee with Joyce, WIFS had been around for over 70 years. There was no West Coast chapter; WIFS purely supported financial industry female advisors to advance their careers. While successful, membership was limited, and thus the growth and connections I knew every advisor was going to need to support their clients remained unfilled.
So we, the co-founders, put together a plan to expand the qualifications to advisors who consult and advise clients’ financial affairs. This opened the membership to Accountants, Attorneys, Bankers, Insurance Brokers, Mortgage Brokers, Realtors, and more. I’m proud to say the WIFS PDX chapter has a slate of talented women advisors from all walks of life who come together to build connections, strengthen their businesses, and support their clients.
Opening a chapter of WIFS has taught me a lot.
- It’s shown me that just because something hasn’t been done before does not mean it’s impossible.
- It’s strengthened my resolve that it “takes a village,” and when we work together to serve our clients, we build businesses and friendships.
- There is enough business for everyone. There are many financial advisors in the group; many of them are great friends. We each have our niche and experience to work with the clients we’re best suited to serve and refer businesses to others that can best support them.
- If you wait for the perfect plan, you won’t start. Take action, get going, and figure it out along the way.
- The mind is a beautiful thing; it can whisper solutions when you least expect them. You just have to be willing to listen to the sometimes unconventional ways your questions get answered. Take time to reflect.
- Share your craziest ideas with your trusted friends (board of directors). They can see it from outside the box.
I’m grateful I had the opportunity to help co-found the WIFS PDX chapter. I’ve met many friends and supported so many clients through the connections with these marvelous women.
Let’s stop trying to do everything ourselves and seek the advice and wisdom of those with complementary talents to grow our businesses and communities. It takes a village to build a successful business. Find those who support your vision, and lean in—you’ll be amazed at what a unique and fulfilling experience it can be.
Here’s to nurturing your network, building your community, and supporting one another.