January 6, 2003
As senior vice president, Alliance Capital, wholesaling for the Manhattan region, I oversee about 40 branches and 3,500 brokers. All the branch managers at Prudential, Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS--they all know each other, and everyone tries to get into Manhattan because then they get the accolade of, "Well, you made it."
This is the fair city here. If you get a Manhattan branch, you're done. You've gotten the platinum handcuffs.
Financially, the past 7-1/2 years I've been at Alliance have been the most productive of my life. It's very enjoyable, more than interesting, to work in a concentrated, dynamic territory like Manhattan, with the cush of a major, half-a-trillion-dollar company behind us. But as a caveat, I always tell brokers and wholesalers in other areas of the country, don't try this at home.
After attending the University of Washington--I'm from Seattle--and going to Wharton, I developed a reputation as a top-drawer broker. Next thing I knew, I was on an interview on this guy's boat, the CEO of a start up called Windsor Capital.
In my early 30s at the time, I took the post as his right-hand man, which meant also taking his calls 8 o'clock Sunday mornings. He was the chairman, the CEO. He owned it all. It was great learning ground. By default, I became a workaholic.
How did I get to where I am now? I don't work with brokers on the basis of, "I've got this hot new fund. Now sell it." I've always felt that if you sell it that way, you're going to lose it that way. If you become a true off-balance-sheet marketing department to the brokers, a resource that can help them draft their business plan, you become indispensable, and if they don't buy from you then, you'll get them later. Or your good reputation will reward you later.
There are just so many degrees of separation, especially in the brokerage business. Six? Four? If you have a positive impact on someone, they'll never, ever stop selling for you.
So, how do you help them draft their business plan? One way is to say to them in January, "What will it take to get you into the Chairman's Club' this year?"
There is a very simple way of getting anything you want out of life, and that is to let someone else help you get it. And by doing this, I've made many people and, in turn, investors, rich.
When they see me in the corner office at the major brokerage house, I look like I belong there. They want to know how I got there. I got there by being the relationships guy, the one who can pull the right people together and be the catalyst to help them pull it off.
My other secret weapon is that I have a wife who will handle entertainment with me, for my top producers, to share ideas, to understand where they're going, and to develop a true relationship. Because once you've had dinner with them and their husbands or wives, you become friends. It's about morale, getting closer, relationship building, in the context of now, you've got a lot more to talk about than business.
By providing an invaluable source of information, we earn the business by doing the job first. Then, of course, you are going to hire us.
And I get a thrill out of my guys doing well, positioning themselves to win.
Being viewed as a leader, sitting in the front-row seat of the Manhattan brokerage community, with an army of people behind me--both at Alliance and in the industry--is a level of success that's hard to describe.